Read Around the World: El Salvador to Finland

We’re well into our blog series now with fifty countries covered to date as we read around the world, featuring a book from every country in the world. We’ll work alphabetically through all the countries in the world and add in some smaller countries and islands too, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe!

We’ll work alphabetically and the last list ended at Egypt, so today we’re covering ten countries from El Salvador to Finland.

Join us on our literary world trip as we read around the world in more than 200 books.

El Salvador

Bitter Grounds – Sandra Benitez

Bitter Grounds was the winner of the 1998 American Book Awards. The book spans 1932 to 1977 and is a beautifully told epic tale set in the heart of El Salvador where coffee plantations are the centre of life for rich and poor alike.

Bitter Grounds

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England

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

We were spoiled for choice for English novels, but ultimately it was the quintessential English novel, Pride and Prejudice that made the cut. A representation of an England long gone by, but traditional and lovely all the same.

Pride and Prejudice

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Equatorial Guinea

Shadows of Your Black Memory – Donato Ndongo

Set during the last years of Spanish rule in Equatorial Guinea, Shadows of Your Black Memory presents a young African man reflecting on his childhood, shedding light on cultural conflicts, ancestral worship and tradition giving way to modernity.

Shadows of Your Black Memory

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Eritrea

I Didn’t Do it for You – Michala Wrong

Scarred by decades of conflict and occupation, the craggy African nation of Eritrea has weathered the world’s longest-running guerrilla war. The dogged determination that secured victory against Ethiopia, its giant neighbor, is woven into the national psyche, the product of cynical foreign interventions. Fascist Italy wanted Eritrea as the springboard for a new, racially pure Roman empire; Britain sold off its industry for scrap; the United States needed a base for its state-of-the-art spy station; and the Soviet Union used it as a pawn in a proxy war.

I Didn’t Do It For You

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Estonia

The Man Who Spoke Snakish – Andrus Kivirähk

Set in a fantastical medieval Estonia, the Man Who Spoke Snakish follows a young boy who lives with his hunter gatherer family and is the last speaker of the ancient tongue of snakish, a language that allows speakers to command all the animals. A bestseller in Estonia, so popular a board game has been created based on it. Now it’s been translated to English so you can enjoy it too.

The Man Who Spoke Snakish

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Eswatini (Swaziland)

Scared – Tom Davis

Protagonist Stuart Daniels has hit rock bottom, going from celebrated photojournalist to failed husband in debt, when he is given one last chance to redeem his career covering the AIDS crisis in the country then known as Swaziland. Here he meets Adanna, a young orphan fighting for survival.

Scared

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Ethiopia

Sweetness in the Belly – Camilla Gibb

Like Brick Lane and The Kite Runner, Camilla Gibb’s widely praised new novel is a poignant and intensely atmospheric look beyond the stereotypes of Islam. After her hippie British parents are murdered, Lilly is raised at a Sufi shrine in Morocco. As a young woman she goes on pilgrimage to Harar, Ethiopia, where she teaches Qur’an to children and falls in love with an idealistic doctor. But even swathed in a traditional headscarf, Lilly can’t escape being marked as a foreigner. Forced to flee Ethiopia for England, she must once again confront the riddle of who she is and where she belongs.

Sweetness in the Belly

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Falkland Islands

Bleaker House – Nell Stevens

When she was twenty-seven, Nell Stevens—a lifelong aspiring novelist—won an all-expenses-paid fellowship to go anywhere in the world to write. Would she choose a glittering metropolis, a romantic village, an exotic paradise? Not exactly. Nell picked Bleaker Island, a snowy, windswept pile of rock in the Falklands. However total isolation and 1,085 calories a day are not good for productivity!

Bleaker House

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Fiji

Kava in the Blood – Peter Thomson

Kava in the Blood is a personal and political memoir from the heart of Fiji, juxtaposing the story of the Fiji coup against autobiographical reminiscences of this beautiful country. An excellent read and winner of the EH McCormick Award for the Best First Book of Non Fiction.

Kava in the Blood

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Finland

The Summer Book – Tove Jansson

n The Summer Book Tove Jansson distills the essence of the summer—its sunlight and storms—into twenty-two crystalline vignettes. This brief novel tells the story of Sophia, a six-year-old girl awakening to existence, and Sophia’s grandmother, nearing the end of hers, as they spend the summer on a tiny unspoiled island in the Gulf of Finland.

The Summer Book

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We hope you’re enjoying this new blog series, we’ll be back with the next journey through literature in a few days, starting with El Salvador.

As the series continues, you can try this search to find the rest of the blogs in this series. Alternatively if you’re looking for a specific country so far we have covered:

Afghanistan to Aruba

Australia to Belize

Benin to British Virgin Islands

Brunei to Central African Republic

Chad to Cuba

Curaçao to Egypt



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