Reading Books from Around the World

Belle Reading

Excuse the title. I couldn’t think of anything less generic 🙂

But one of my goals last year (and moving forward) was to read more translated books- or just more books from other countries. Same with films but that’s another post. My goal is to hit every country in the world. Kind of like literary traveling and for the most part I did really well and appreciated the experiences even if I didn’t enjoy all the books I found some great ones! So I thought I’d do a wrap-up.

And if anyone has any recommendations I’d appreciate it. Alas they do have to be translated.

There's No Such Thing as an Easy Job


I’ve talked about this one before. It was one of my top books of 2022 and for me one of the most relatable protagonists I’ve ever read. So if you’ve ever wanted a mindless low-impact job you don’t have to stress and after going through several come to realize you may be the problem. This book may be for you .

Molly of the Mall


Another highly relatable protagonists. Molly is a literature major who works holidays and summers at the mall. She’s great fun. I didn’t love the relationships but they weren’t too bad and it was mostly on the side regardless. I did love her paper on Canada’s cheese potato and laughed out loud several times during the book. There was also a Due South reference for which I give big points.

The Colony


This is about two very different visitors to an Irish island over a period of several months and honestly I have never wanted to kick two people into the sea more. The author does a very good job of capturing the people on the island and the way of life that’s already getting a little lost. I actually liked the idea of the one guy trying to chronicle and capture a language but the fact that he kept obnoxiously telling the people to speak it for him when they spoke in English- just point proven. He can go into the sea with the artist.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead


I listened to this on audiobook which I’d actually recommend. The narrator’s voice was so good, so soothing that it definitely lulled you into a false sense of going one way when it shouldn’t have. Yeah I’m trying to be spoiler free on this one. But it’s the story of an old woman who starts investigating the death of her neighbor and how few people in charge are willing to take her seriously. Of course she’s also a big believer that it was the animals striking back.

There’s some animal violence in this (mostly mentioned) that I didn’t love but the end makes up for it.

Clash of Civilizations over and Elevator in Piazzo Vittorio


Also about the murder of an asshole who was being in the elevator. This is a multi- POV as locals and residents discuss the murder a lot of whom are quick to blame it on whatever immigrant or neighbor/immigrant they have a beef with while having no idea what’s going on in reality.

The book is maddening at times but impressively somehow very funny. If I was to try to sum it up: it’s about how little you know people when you are judging them on one thing but how much people think they know because of it. It’s messy. It’s life. It was highly enjoyable and well written.

The Ice Palace


This is about a young girl who disappears in the ice on her way to school one day as well as the girl who had a strange encounter with her the evening before.

And yeah this one was… weird.

I thought it was going places that it didn’t. I never really got what the deal was between the two girls. Some of the writing was nice especially anything involving the ice but the story was just a let down for me. Felt like it could have been more.

The Bread the Devil Knead

Trinidad and Tobago

This was another expectations thing. Because it was a Women’s Prize Nominee going into it I didn’t know that much and only picked up on the funny bits. And yes the main character could be funny and very witty as was the writing.

But this was also very heavy.

Althea is a fashionable store manager dreaming about bigger things but stuck in a physically abusive relationship. The story actually kicks off when she witnesses the murder of a woman in much the same relationship as her. This is also about familiar abuse both sexual and physical so be warned.

I did like this book and the characters and atmosphere though- plus it one of my favorite covers of the year.

The Employees


So this one is about a group of employees on a spaceship participating in witness statement sort of things about events concerning objects that have appeared.

Yeah I gave this book four stars when reading it and I remember that much but I have to admit it didn’t stay with me. I think this is another one I picked up after it was nominated for awards…. Great place to find international/translated fiction. Book awards.

Speaking off…

Build Your House Around My Body


So this is about two women who go missing decades apart but they are linked.

Mostly I remember this book… having a super fucking slow start and being confusing. But having its moments and pulling it together in the end. It’s definitely more about the history of Vietnam so I wouldn’t get to caught up in the mystery. You may wind up frustrated.

And to be fair like I said, I don’t remember it that well. I just remember parts I really loved and parts that I did not care for- a true mixed bag for me.

Which is better then…

The Woman in the Purple Skirt


This is about a woman who’s obsessed with (re: stalking) another woman. I listen to this on audiobook as well and while the narration was fine I just didn’t like the story. Not big on stalking. The main character wasn’t even someone you could really feel sorry for and it started kind of slow.

Which was fine because I really disliked the last 25% or so and the ending.

Winter in Sokcho

South Korea/ Translated from French

This was tricky on how I am judging this… from the language the book is translated from (which in this case would be French) or from where the book is set…

But I just didn’t like it. It’s about a young woman in a dead end job who plays tour guide (and more) to a visiting French comic-artist looking for inspiration in what he deems the “authentic” career. Didn’t like the relationship. The main character is stuck and I found the story pretty weak. Plus I do remember thinking her relationship with her mother is unsettling.

Overall though I’m pretty happy with my reading it’s definitely something I plan to continue this year. I need to branch out for sure and add some more countries. (For instance I already have 3 French books on my TBR.) But I’m definitely pleased with the progress I made and the books read even if I didn’t love all of them.

One thought on “Reading Books from Around the World

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  1. I always want to read more internationally than I do so your post filled me with envy and inspiration! I don’t know what the year ahead will hold but I think this is such a fun idea – as well as a great way to make yourself more well-rounded and more well-read – and I am really hoping I can follow your lead. Time will tell…

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