#Readaroundtheworld: March update

You want me to nerd out about my little reading project, right? Sure you do. We’re roughly 1/4 of the way through 2021 already somehow, and I’ve read books from 15 US states and 17 countries so far, putting me on track to successfully read books from all 50 states and 68 different countries over the course of the year. Now, realistically, this first three months has been pursuing low-hanging fruit, and I’ve already read multiple books from several different states as well as the UK, and I have at least one other book by a Nigerian on my shelf waiting for me, so as the year goes on it’s going to get more and more difficult to find books that “count” for the series. I’m sure I’ll be able to get the US done one way or another, but the fact is books from Canada and Russia and Australia and the UK weren’t exactly hard to find, and I’m at the point already where I’m picking a country and Googling “Authors from XXX” to find books. There’s several easy ones left (and I have several books on my unread shelf that will fill in some spaces) but these first few months were definitely going to be the fastest ones.

I have been keeping track of the square mileage this has covered, because of course I am, and thus far, excluding the water, 21,418,356 square miles are filled in, which is 37.24% of the world’s surface. This will also be increasing much more slowly, as I’ve got Australia, Canada, Brazil and Russia done already. I’ll be filling in Antarctica and China next month, which are the biggest two chunks left, and after that it’s all smaller countries. Russia was 11.5% of the world’s surface all by itself, so I’m not going to be getting any more big jumps like that.

(How do I plan to fill in Antarctica’s 5.483 million square miles when no one lives there? I’ve decided Ernest Shackleton counts. My game, my rules.)

This has been a fun project so far, although for the most part my international “discovery” authors haven’t really set my world on fire yet, and a lot of the books I’ve really enjoyed this year from authors outside the US have been people I’m already familiar with. There’s also been a touch of strategic rereading going on; I filled in Italy by picking up The Name of the Rose for the first time in forever, and I’ll probably reread A Confederacy of Dunces at some point this year to take care of Louisiana. I might go back to Dumas to get France filled in. But for the most part it’s going to be authors I’m not familiar with, since that’s sort of the point of the entire exercise.

Remember, if you look at the top of the sidebar on the right there, you can follow along with me as I’m doing this if you’re so inclined. I should be done with Requiem Moon in a couple of days, and my next book after that will be another Rachel Caine, so I figured this was a good time to do an update.

Announcing #readaroundtheworld

I’m making it official today: having finished Tiffany D. Jackson’s Grown, which I might still review, and as such having read 62 books by 53 different women of color over the course of 2020, I find myself with no books by women of color on my unread shelf. As such, and since there’s only six days left in 2020, I’m declaring that project officially closed.

I’m calling my reading project for next year #readaroundtheworld. It will last through the entirety of 2021, and may in fact continue beyond that, because there’s no earthly way I manage to complete the globe next year, so we’ll see how much fun I’m having with it and move on from there.

The goal is to read one book from as many countries as I can, plus one book from each of the 50 states.

Now, the rules for the #52booksbywomenofcolor project were pretty simple: if the author considered herself a woman of color, she was. There was one author I ended up removing after initially counting them– Akwaeke Emezi is transgender and gender fluid, and actually removed their name from consideration for a women’s fiction prize in 2019, so their book Pet was removed from the list when I learned a bit more about them, and Rivers Solomon is included but is … also complicated. As far as I know the other 52 women would have no issues describing themselves as such.

This one’s going to be a little bit more formal in terms of what counts and what doesn’t, mostly because my choices for languages are 1) English, and 2) kids’ books in Spanish. So I’m going to have to read either a lot of work in translation or I’m going to have to play around a bit with what from means.


  • Authors who are at least second-generation Americans (ie, not immigrants or the children of immigrants) will count for either their current state of residence or the state of their birth. Expat Americans do not count for their current country of residence.
  • Americans who are immigrants or the children of immigrants can count for either their current state or the country they immigrated from. In other words, Ilhan Omar can count as an American from Minnesota or a Somali. It is preferable but not required that if a second-generation American is counted for their country of ancestry that the book being read be heavily influenced by or concerned with that country. For example, Daniel José Older and Malka Older, who are brother and sister, are both New Yorkers, and are half Cuban. Malka has, to my knowledge, written no books concerned with Cuba, but Daniel’s book The Book of Lost Saints, which is explicitly about being Cuban-American, would be OK to represent Cuba.
  • No book can count for more than one place. No author can either.
  • Authors from outside of the United States, in general, will count for their country of residence, with exceptions occasionally made for political refugees. For example– and I just discovered he lives in New York now but roll with this anyway– Salman Rushdie would be a perfectly cromulent Indian author, and Shokoofeh Azar, who is an Iranian refugee currently residing in Australia, would be legal as a choice for Australia but would probably better count as an Iranian.
  • Only the identity of the author counts. I don’t expect this to come up, but if I read something in translation it doesn’t matter where the translator is from.
  • Where possible, diversity in gender, sexuality and ethnicity will be deliberately sought out.

Any other cases will be adjudicated at that time. I may ask the Internet for advice but it’s my game so I make the rules, and if I can come up with a way to decide Stephen King is from Malawi then dammit he’s from Malawi.

I will keep track of my books via a spreadsheet (I love projects involving spreadsheets!) that I may actually perma-link in the sidebar of the blog and via coloring in countries and states as I read books on the map above, which will be updated on the site periodically. Despite Australia and Canada being divided into provinces/states on the map I’m using, I intend to treat them as unitary countries, so once I read a book by a Canadian the entire country’s getting filled in. I will also probably continue posting individual book entries on Instagram and I’ll keep a shelf for them on Goodreads. You should add me on both places, if you haven’t already.

In the meantime, who are your favorite authors from outside the United States? Give me some names! I’ve got reading to do!