I'm not the first person to set out to read a novel for every country. Or, to be more precise, a novel set in every country - a practical and logistical concession I was forced to make. The idea came to me independently, but I was sure that I would find it a well-trodden path.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by how relatively few my fellows were. The Reading Around the World challenge on Goodreads is thriving, and there are a number of blogs in varying degrees of progress. Some accept non-fiction, and some are less rigid about reading one book for each country. It is, after all, a somewhat pedantic goal. It is from all of these, and other sources, that I have compiled my list - and I'm still very much open to suggestions for its improvement.

After some thought, I've settled on these three principles for the undertaking:
  1. I will read a book set within the modern geographical boundaries of each and every UN recognised nation, in addition to Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Palestine.
  2. The book must be fiction, preferably in the form of an extended narrative.
  3. There will be no corner-cutting - two hundred different books, two hundred different authors (or more, in the case of collaborations or compilations).
I've chosen to call it the Rushlight List, a name inspired by Jim Flynn's Torchlight List: Around the World in 200 books (which, I'm perversely pleased to say, I've neither read nor consulted). If I chance across a better book from/about/set_in a country, I'll edit it in - a list like this can never be categorically finished. As I progress, I'll make a blog entry for each country and the book I read for it; what I learned, what I thought of the book, some background, and whether I felt like it was a good choice.

I don't consider myself particularly worldly, and I very much doubt that this project will change that. My principal aim isn't to learn about the world itself, but instead to learn about its literature.

1 comment:

  1. Hi – great to meet a fellow literary world traveller! You may be interested in my website This charts my journey around the world through reading books, which I commenced in May 2009. I have some different criteria to your own travels (each country must be adjacent, and books must be written and set post-1990). But you may find my list useful in filling in some gaps! I have also included disputed states such as Nagorno-Karabakh & South Ossetia. Sadly, I have neglected my own blog of reviews lately, but hope to be up to speed again soon. Look forward to following your travels!