Pretty, ain’t it?

While I am going to continue adding new countries to the list for a while, at least until I feel like there’s no good way to get books from the countries that are left without rather inconveniently learning new languages, we are basically done with this for 2021, as anything else I finish reading this year isn’t going to change the tallies any. I ended up reading books this year from all 50 states, plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico, along with 48 different countries, with Antarctica counted as a country for the purposes of the list. There are a few countries represented on my TBR shelf that I haven’t gotten to yet: Zimbabwe, Turkey, Egypt and Indonesia, and I have a book from a Cambodian author that I haven’t reread in forever that I’ll read this month as well. And come to think of it I have a compendium of Iraqi science fiction that I never finished, too, that I could go back to. So that’ll be 54 countries before I buy anything new. I’ve read books from just barely under 75% of the world’s surface, which doesn’t seem too bad for a year’s work.

Other countries I definitely want to read books from but haven’t found any yet: Pakistan, Mongolia, Israel, Finland, somewhere in Central America, and I feel like I could probably hit a couple more countries in Europe without working too hard. There’s a book on my Amazon wishlist from a Yemeni author that I’ll probably grab at some point too. After that, who knows. But I won’t be feeling like I’m done with this for a little while yet.

In the meantime: Leaving aside the US, the top countries I read from this year probably won’t be too surprising: the UK (6, mostly from England), Malaysia (3,) Canada (3), Australia (2), China (2, with one more to come since I have a Ken Liu book on the shelf), and South Korea (2, but both by the same guy). States represented more than once include Texas (7), California (5), New York (5), Maryland (3), Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin (all 2). Texas is the highest because Rachel Caine is from there, but that’s still four different authors. The largest places I read books from are pretty obvious from the map, but the smallest is Washington DC (68 square miles), Rhode Island (1214 square miles) and Trinidad and Tobago at 1981 square miles.

All in all, I’m … mostly glad I did this? Like, filling in the map was really neat, and going looking for new books to read from a specific place was fun, but one knock-on effect that I didn’t really reckon on was that I started deliberately avoiding reading multiple books from people or places that didn’t “count” so that I could drive the numbers up. I’ll post my unread shelf like usual on the 31st, but one thing you’ll notice if you look at it and you know my tastes in reading (and if you’ve made it this far in this post, you probably do) is that I have several books from authors I really like patiently waiting for me to get to them, because I’ve been prioritizing books I could color in a spot on the map with. I only read one book in December– and only one of the last fifteen books I’ve read– that didn’t “count,” and in the meantime there’s a damn Dandelion Dynasty book on my shelf waiting for me to get to it, along with a couple of other hotly anticipated sequels and another TJ Klune book that isn’t part of a series. So I’m not doing this again once I’m done with it, and I’ll update the site one more time once I feel like I’m done, but we’re not going to be organizing our reading by geography again anytime soon.

Mischief Managed, Mostly: A #Readaroundtheworld update

I am forty pages into Annie Proulx’s Barkskins, which is the duly designated novelistic representative of the great state of Wyoming, meaning that I have completed my goal of reading one book from each of the 50 US States, with Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. thrown in for shits and giggles. I’m currently at 39 different countries, a metric I intend to continue to pay attention to for a bit, as I’m still enjoying it, but I have to admit I’m glad to have this particular reading goal in the rear-view mirror. Barkskins is a bit of a doorstopper at 700+ pages, but based on the beginning of the book I think it’ll be a pretty quick and enjoyable read for all that, and once I finish it I have a beta read that I’ve been sitting on (for much too long) for a friend and an ARC to read and review, and then I can move into 2022’s project, which is to read whatever the fuck I want for a year and not worry about the details at all. I’ve had fun with my reading projects for the last several years and I’m sure I’ll revisit the idea again in the future but I want this year to be less about hitting a metric of some sort.

If you’re curious, here’s the list. Hopefully it doesn’t look too heinous outside the editor:

Archaeology from SpaceParcak, Sarah2/13/212/14/21US/Alabama
The Raven’s GiftRearden, Don5/13/215/15/21US/Alaska
Son of the StormOkungbowa, Suyi Davies6/26/217/2/21US/Arizona
True GritPortis, Charles11/7/2111/7/21US/Arkansas
BumpWallace, Matt1/29/211/29/21US/California
The Future of Another TImelineNewitz, Annalee5/9/215/13/21US/California
The Hill We ClimbGorman, Amanda5/30/215/30/21US/California
The Hidden PalaceWecker, Helene7/12/217/18/21US/California
Savage BountyWallace, Matt7/20/217/24/21US/California
Fear and Loathing in Las VegasThompson, Hunter6/10/216/10/21US/Colorado
Rebel SistersOnyebuchi, Tochi2/20/212/23/21US/Connecticut
The Book of Unknown AmericansHenriquez, Cristina10/24/2110/26/21US/Delaware
Robbing the BeesBishop, Holley10/22/2110/24/21US/Florida
Treason of HawksBowen, Lila9/4/219/6/21US/Georgia
Sharks in a Time of SaviorsWashburn, Kawai Strong6/24/216/26/21US/Hawai’i
IdahoRuskovich, Emily10/1/2110/2/21US/Idaho
The Queen of Gilded HornsJoy, Amanda4/19/214/23/21US/Illinois
Hood FeminismKendall, Mikki5/23/215/26/21US/Illinois
Rise to the SunJohnson, Leah7/24/217/25/21US/Indiana
NightbitchYoder, Rachel9/6/219/8/21US/Iowa
Nubia: Real OneMcKinney, L.L.2/26/20212/21/21US/Kansas
Narrative of the Life of Henry Bibb, an American Slave, Written by HimselfBibb, Henry10/17/2110/18/21US/Kentucky
Into the DarkGray, Claudia6/17/216/18/21US/Louisiana
Billy SummersKing, Stephen8/10/218/14/21US/Maine
StillbrightFord, Daniel1/1/211/4/21US/Maryland
First, Become AshesSzpara, K.M.7/2/217/3/12US/Maryland
How the Word is PassedSmith III, Clint9/16/219/18/21US/Maryland
The Lightning ThiefRiordan, Rick12/29/2012/31/20US/Massachusetts
A Queer History of the United StatesBronski, Michael1/17/211/22/21US/Massachusetts
Unknown Man #89Leonard, Elmore5/19/215/23/21US/Michigan
John Crow’s DevilJames, Marlon8/18/218/20/21US/Minnesota
Concrete RoseThomas, Angie2/27/20212/27/21US/Mississippi
The Puppet MastersHeinlein, Robert10/12/2110/15/21US/Missouri
An Absolutely Remarkable ThingGreen, Hank2/7/212/8/21US/Montana
The Meaning of NamesShoemaker, Karen Gettert11/7/2111/10/21US/Nebraska
The Necessary BeggarPalwick, Susan11/23/2111/25/21US/Nevada
The Hotel New HampshireIrving, John10/31/2111/7/21US/New Hampshire
The Empire of GoldChakraborty, S.A.7/26/218/4/21US/New Jersey
The Assassination of Fred HamptonHaas, Jeffrey6/3/216/4/21US/New Mexico
The Traitor Baru CormorantDickinson, Seth1/10/211/14/21US/New York
The Monster Baru CormorantDickinson, Seth1/22/211/27/21US/New York
The Tyrant Baru CormorantDickinson, Seth1/30/212/6/21US/New York
Light of the JediSoule, Charles2/6/212/7/21US/New York
The Dead are Arising: The Life of Malcolm XPayne, Les & Tamara3/17/213/21/21US/New York
The Girl in the RoadByrne, Monica2/11/212/13/21US/North Carolina
Queen of the UnwantedGlass, Jenna10/4/2110/10/21US/North Carolina
The Haunted MesaL’Amour, Louis9/2/219/4/21US/North Dakota
African SamuraiLockley, Thomas & Girard, Geoffrey6/5/216/8/21US/Ohio
JuneteenthEllison, Ralph6/18/216/19/21US/Oklahoma
Cemetery BoysThomas, Aiden1/4/211/9/21US/Oregon
Jade LegacyLee, Fonda8/4/218/10/11US/Oregon
A Court of Thorns and RosesMaas, Sarah5/5/215/9/21US/Pennsylvania
The Book of AccidentsWendig, Chuck8/21/218/24/21US/Pennsylvania
When I Was Puerto RicanSantiago, Esmeralda11/25/2111/26/21US/Puerto Rico
The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird StoriesLovecraft, H.P.10/31/2110/31/21US/Rhode Island
Bastard out of CarolinaAllison, Dorothy10/2/2110/4/21US/South Carolina
Parasites Like UsJohnson, Adam11/17/2111/18/21US/South Dakota
Crush the KingEstep, Jennifer3/10/20213/13/21US/Tennessee
Ash and QuillCaine, Rachel12/26/2012/29/20US/Texas
Smoke and IronCaine, Rachel2/24/20212/27/21US/Texas
Pen and SwordCaine, Rachel3/31/214/2/21US/Texas
Persephone StationLeicht, Stina5/15/215/18/21US/Texas
Wings of EbonyElle, J.6/22/216/24/21US/Texas
Escaping Exodus: SymbiosisDrayden, Nicki7/8/217/12/21US/Texas
Heartbreak BayCaine, Rachel7/19/217/20/21US/Texas
LegionSanderson, Brandon9/13/219/15/21US/Utah
Open SeasonMayor, Archer10/10/2110/12/21US/Vermont
The House on the Cerulean SeaKlune, TJ6/8/216/10/21US/Virginia
Across the Green Grass FieldsMcGuire, Seanan1/29/211/30/21US/Washington
Calculated RisksMcguire, Seanan4/11/214/16/21US/Washington
A Promised LandObama, Barack5/30/216/3/21US/Washington DC
The Unquiet EarthGiardina, Denise10/15/2110/17/21US/West Virginia
When the Tiger Came Down the MountainVo, Nghi1/27/211/27/21US/Wisconsin
The Speaker for the DeadAddison, Katherine10/18/2110/21/21US/Wisconsin
BarkskinsProulx, Annie11/27/21US/Wyoming

It’s official

It’s Friday, and in keeping with my usual Friday state of exhaustion I have little to say tonight, but I wanted to mark this moment: the final books necessary to finish the goal of reading books from all 50 states have been ordered. Now all I have to do is read the rest of them. 🙂

Enjoy your evening, y’all.

#Readaroundtheworld: September Update

For visual comparison, here is June’s update.

I was never especially worried about being able to complete this project, but at this point I’m certain I’m going to be able to do it. I currently have, of the 52 Identified US Places that I intend to read books from (all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and DC, and I’ll totally throw Guam in there if I can find a book,) 36 states that I have read books from. For ten more– Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia, Missouri, and Rhode Island– I physically have the books I’m going to read and just need to actually read them. That leaves six states that I’ve yet to identify an author from: Arkansas, Delaware, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, and Wyoming, and for Nebraska I’ve actually got two possible authors. I own a couple of Alex Kava books already, and Chigozie Obioma looks interesting, but he’s a Nigerian who happens to live in Nebraska, and his books are set in Nigeria. Now, I’ve said many times that everyone should be reading more work from Nigerian authors, but I kind of want the book to be a touch more Nebraska-centered than his work seems to be. I’ll get to him eventually, because interesting, but maybe not for this project. The others? At the moment, no idea, but I feel like I have plenty of time. Feel free to make recommendations.

As far as countries: 37 currently represented, with a few more (without going and looking at my unread shelf: Poland, Kyrgysztan, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Saint Thomas, and North Korea) on the shelf somewhere. I’m going to focus on finishing the states in October, or at least getting as close as I can, and then I’ll keep checking countries off until I get bored with it or literally hit a point where I can’t find anything from any place left on the map without translating it myself.

Next year’s reading project: Read Whatever The Fuck I Want and Don’t Worry About It. I’ve had projects for several years running and I feel like I need a year off.

#Readaroundtheworld: June update

Looks a little different from last time, doesn’t it?

The Project is continuing apace, and since I doubt I’m going to finish reading the book I’m working on right now by the end of the month, I may as well go ahead and do this update now. The numbers are always kept up-to-date on the spreadsheet to the right there– because nothing good can exist without a spreadsheet, but let’s take a halfway-through-2021 (no, seriously, we are) snapshot of the numbers:

  • Twenty-nine separate countries, counting Antarctica as a country (I read a book by Ernest Shackleton; it counts because I say so)
  • Twenty-eight different US states, which includes Washington DC, again because I say so
  • Which accounts for 33,628,900 square miles, or 58.47% of the Earth’s land surface.

This means that technically I’m on pace– slightly ahead, in fact– to complete all 50 states by the end of the year, but it’s definitely getting more difficult across the board. I was at 17 countries and 15 states at the end of March, so you’ll notice neither of those numbers have doubled; I’ve pretty well plucked all the low-hanging fruit by now, and while there’s a few new countries represented on my Unread Shelf right now I don’t think there are any new states. More authors than I would have guessed live in Texas, and while there’s at least a couple of easy states left (I can always read a Stephen King book to get Maine, and, well, I live in Indiana) most of what’s left are going to have to be states that I specifically Google “authors from XXX” to find something to read.

I’m also starting to run low on countries where it’s easy to find authors whose work has been translated into English. This, in turn, leads to me ordering books that it’s less likely that I’m going to enjoy, simply because a lot of the time I’m just grabbing what I can find, and while there have definitely been some exceptions, I’m not finding that I’m discovering a huge number of hidden gems with this particular project the way I might have wanted to. I’m also backlogging books that “don’t count,” and probably 3/4 of my Unread Shelf right now is books that are repeat states or repeat countries. I got a lot of new places done in June, but July is going to have to be a month with not a lot of progress.

That said, filling in the map is still super fun. Ultimately I am going to finish this, because I’m that guy, it just remains to be seen how much of a slog those last few states create. I’m hoping for 40 countries right now, which actually ought to be manageable since I’ll be at 32 or so just with the books I’m due to read right now. And I’ve still got a solid six weeks of summer left, when my reading rate shoots way up. We’ll update again in September, but you can always check the links to the right if you’re curious.