EU reading challenge

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I have spent almost three years feeling pretty low about Britain voting to leave the EU, but I have decided that in this bonus time created by the latest extension, I want to do something to celebrate the EU. So I’m going to try to read a book from every one of the 28 EU countries (yes, that’s including the UK).

Ideally, I’d like every book in the challenge to be written by an author from the designated country and set in that country. But if that’s not possible for every country, then I’ll take one or the other where I need to. I already have several books to get started with, but I’m going to need to do some research/get some recommendations to complete this.

I started by making a pile of books from my TBR that are by EU authors. There are some duplicate countries in here, so I have some decisions to make (again, recommendations will be welcomed). And I’ve only included one book from the UK – the collection of Welsh legends known collectively as The Mabinogion.

pile of books photoClara’s Daughter by Meike Ziervogel (Germany)
I am the Brother of XX by Fleur Jaeggy (Italy)
The Polyglot Lovers by Lina Wolff (Sweden)
The Melancholy of Resistance by László Krasznahorkai (Hungary)
The Periodic Table by Primo Levi (Italy)
Moravagine by Blaise Cendrars (France)
To Leave with the Reindeer by Olivia Rosenthal (France)
The Memoirs of Moominpappa by Tove Jansson (Finland)
Moominpappa at Sea by Tove Jansson (Finland)
Dimanche and Other Stories by Irène Némirovsky (France)
The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Spain)
The Sea by John Banville (Ireland)
The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq (France)
The Iliad by Homer (Greece)
The Odyssey by Homer (Greece)
The Mabinogion (UK)

A couple of those are already questionable. Strictly, Fleur Jaeggy is Swiss (though she has spent most of her life in Italy and writes in Italian) and Irène Némirovsky was Ukrainian (but spent her adult life in France, which is where she wrote her books). Since neither Switzerland nor Ukraine is an EU country, I should probably strike those two off the list. And honestly, while I do really want to read both The Iliad and The Odyssey, it might be ambitious trying to fit that into the next few (six?) months so I should probably add Greece to this list of countries that I need to find a book from:

Czech Republic

This calls for a spreadsheet. Do leave your recommendations (titles must be available in English please) in the comments or send them my way via Twitter. And if anyone wants to join me in this challenge, I might even make a logo of some kind.

Let’s celebrate the EU!

4 thoughts on “EU reading challenge

  1. Kätlin Sarik April 15, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    My husband works with Tim and asked me to recommend you some EU books (I am from Estonia).
    I think it’s a wonderful challenge that you have set for yourself.
    I’m not really sure which genre do you like the best, therefore I’ll recommend you few different ones.
    My favorite Estonian author at the moment is Indrek Hargla, he writes historical themed fiction/crime novels. You can find his books in Amazon. I recommend “Apothecary Melchior and The Mystery of St Olaf’s Church” it’s a first in a series of books.
    If you are not into crime novels, you could try Andrus Kivirähk “Man Who Spoke Snakish”, also available in Amazon. At least in Estonian it was quite a funny book, it’s fiction but at the same time it gives you an idea of Estonian historical past and folklore.
    If you find that neither one of these books are to your liking, you can check out Jaan Kross. He has won many literature prizes and has quite few books available in Amazon.

    I hope these recommendations help you on your quest and good luck.
    Kind regards,

    • Kate Gardner April 15, 2019 at 5:32 pm

      Thank you so much Kätlin.

  2. ireadthatinabook June 8, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    If you enjoy crime fiction Georges Simenon is an easy option for Belgium, but of course most of his novels seem to be set in Paris. Otherwise the novels from Peirene press are usually well worth reading and cover much of Europe. So far I’ve read Chasing the King of Hearts (Poland), Shadows on the Tundra (Lithuania) and Soviet Milk (Latvia) and a few non-EU authors from them, all of which were good.

    • Kate Gardner June 9, 2019 at 9:04 pm

      Agreed, I think I’ll be turning to Peirene for a lot of this challenge.

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