25 April 2010

Weekly Geeks: Reading Globally

Weekly Geeks

So this week’s Weekly Geek task (if you chose to accept it), is to tell us a little about your experiences Reading Globally. Answer as many or as few of the questions below:
  • Do you deliberately read globally, and if so, do you track your reading in this area?
  • Have you joined any reading challenges which encourage reading from around the world? If so, what are they?
  • Do you visit bloggers who blog outside of your country? If so, what have you learned from reading their blogs? Consider sharing a couple of links to book bloggers who motivate you to read around the world.
  • Where do your reading around the globe book suggestions come from? Magazines? Web sites which feature books in translation? Publishers? Other bloggers? If you have a particularly great site for recommendations, give us a link!
  • Do you read books in translation as part of your global reading experiences? Share some of your favorite books in translation.
  • Is there a particular country, or countries, which you would like to learn more about? Why?
Something similar appeared as a Geeks topic nine months ago, and it turned out I’m not overly well-travelled. You can add China to that second map in the post linked to above, but that’s it.

I have done some non-US and -UK literary travelling this year, to France and Italy and Turkey and even Lithuania ... all of it from several decades to several centuries ago. Lithuania’s bound to have changed a bit since the fourteenth century. So, I don’t think that really counts.

(If WG were to ask about literary time-travelling ... I’d have a lot of frequent-reader miles!)

This time I’ve taken a different look through my reading records. Last year, around 70% of my reading was classics, historical novels, and non-fiction. In 2008 it was 62%, in 2007 it was 53%, in 2006 it was 65%, in 2005 it was 60%, and in 2004 it was 58%. So far this year the proportion is 50% (and rising). The overwhelming majority of the non-fiction I read is instructional-type stuff, history, or books about the quirks of the English language. Add to that (or rather, subtract as well as that) everything set in an alternate reality or the future, and the way I read doesn’t leave much room for present-day visits to other countries.

Last year when I mapped out where in the (modern) world I’d been with my reading, I felt guilty about concentrating my attention so heavily on America and England (especially the latter). Now, though, I realise that thorough globe-trotting isn’t possible without sacrificing my beloveds - classics, historicals, and non-fiction. In fact, on average over those years, less than 23% of my reading would qualify as contemporary fiction - and most of that is probably crime novels.

So in the interests of helping to expand my global reading: What are some good mystery novels or series set somewhere exotic in the present day?

And now I’m off back to Turkey ... in 1915.


  1. How about some great Australian mystery writers - Leah Giarratano's Vodka Doesn't Freeze is a police procedural set in Sydney or Kerry Greenwood has a sweet amateur sleuth series set in present-day Melbourne (the Corrina Chapman series, the first book is called Earthly Delights).

    If you want to go further afield some books that I have really enjoyed recently have been Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indriðason which is set in Iceland and is a combination police procedural and suspense novel or how about The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg which is set ins Sweden and is another procedural but has a bit more humour and a hint of romance as well as the whodunnit element? Or perhaps you'd like to go to Africa for Michael Stanley's A Carrion Death which is set in modern day Botswana and has a good whodunnit element along with some gentle humour.

  2. Oh wow! Thanks for that - I'll be looking out for all of those at the library.


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Header image shows detail of A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1776