January 4, 2009

21 Cultures Reading Challenge

There is a challenge called Around the World in Books with the goal of reading a book from every country in the world. I find that a little daunting for myself. So I have decided to begin a smaller challenge.

My challenge to myself is to read 21 books about 21 different cultures. It can be modern culture, old traditions and customs of a culture, or in some cases, a special story that takes place in a different culture or land. It does not have to be nonfiction, but it should not be a fictional culture. The challenge starts now and ends on December 31, 2009.

Here is my list of books I would like to read, as well as the culture the book centers around.

AFGHANISTAN: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (Jan. 2009)

AFRICA: Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan (five stories set in 5 places in war-torn Africa)

AFRICAN-AMERICAN: What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage (Apr. 2009)

ALGERIA: The Stranger by Albert Camus

ARABIC: The Arabian Nights or The Thousand and One Nights

BURMA: The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma by Thant Myint-U (Thanks to Debi for this recommendation!)

CHEROKEE: Myths of the Cherokee by James Mooney

CHINA: Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong and Howard Goldsblatt

DOMINICAN-AMERICAN: How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

HAITI: Away from You by Melanie Finn

INDIA: A Passage to India by E.M. Forster (August 2009)

ITALIAN: I'm Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti (recommended by Rob of robaroundbooks) (November 2009)

JAPAN: Princess Manako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne by Ben Hills (March 2009)

NAVAJO: The Scalpel and the Silver Bear: The First Navajo Surgeon Combines Western Medicine and Traditional Healing by Lori Arviso Alvord and Elizabeth Cohen Van Pelt (May 2009)

NIGERIA: A Worthy Legacy by Tomi Akinyanmi (July 2009) Note: While this book is more specifically about a grandfather and his legacy, it also takes place in the country of Nigeria and is a wonderful book.

PAKISTANI-AMERICAN: Saffron Dreams by Shaila Abdullah (Sept/Oct 2009)

RURAL AMERICA: Way off the Road: Discovering the Peculiar Charms of Small Town America by Bill Geist

SIERRA LEONE: A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah (August 2009)

SLOVAKIAN ROMA: Zoli by Colum McCann

SRI LANKA: A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman (September 2009)

SWEDEN: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Thanks to Debi for this. I was trying to figure out how to fit this book into a challenge!)

VARIETY OF CULTURES: Christmas Around the World by Mary D.

Links to Reviews by Other Participants in the Challenge:

1. Debi- In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom by Qanta A. Ahmed (Saudi Arabia)
2. Debi- A Bottle in the Gaza Sea by Valerie Zenatti (Israel/Gaza)
3. Debi- House of Stone: The True Story of a Family Divided in War-Torn Zimbabwe by Christina Lamb (Zimbabwe)
4. Debi- The Crucible by Arthur Miller (Puritan New England)
5. Debi- The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (England)
6. Debi- Fax from Sarajevo by Joe Kubert (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
7. Debi- Legend of Chun Hyang by CLAMP (Korea)
8. Debi- Javatrekker: Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee by Dean Cycon (various indigenous cultures)


  1. Hi Rebbecca,

    Do you know Wendy from A Novel Challenge (http://novelchallenges.blogspot.com)? I just started helping her out with posting about challenges and we were wondering if we could post about yours.

    I know that you made it a personal challenge but there may be others interested in joining you.

    Please let me know if it is okay for me to post about your challenge.


  2. Absolutely! Anyone can join in to any challenge I have listed here as a personal challenge. I know there are some similar ones out there, so I did not want to step on any toes. I would love for anyone interested to pursue the challenge!

  3. I'm in - my post is here and I'll list my boos shortly:

  4. Oh no, another challenge I'd like to do. I'm in so many I'll have to let you know after I get all the other challenge posts done.

  5. I'd love to give it a shot! The beginnings of my list are here. Thanks for such a fun challenge!

  6. I am so excited to have each of you on the challenge with me! I can hardly wait to read your reviews! :)

  7. This is Judy/Intergalactic Bookworm. I am going to read the Cherokee Indian book that you have listed as my great great great grandma (I forgot if it is on my Hatfield side or my Lengington side of family, I will let you know later); she was a full blooded Cherokee. Judy

  8. I have a typo in my post. It is Lenington. Judy

  9. Judy- My great (x3) grandmother was also a full-blooded Cherokee. I think a lot of people have Cherokee in them! It is a fascinating culture and I enjoy learning more about them. Let me know what you think of the book when you read it! :)

  10. I am asking this time, not going ahead and copying. May I copy your book challenge addict square?


  11. Haha...it isn't even mine. I copied it from somewhere....:)

  12. I'm in. I'll post about the challenge and come back with a link and any reviews of those already read.

  13. I just found out about this challenge and would like to participate.

    I enjoy reading about different cultures and HF so I will go back and see what I have read so far this year that meets this requirement.

  14. Beverly- Glad to have you join us! Do you have a blog, too?

  15. I loved this challenge. here's my wrap up post:



Thank you for visiting! Leave a comment and share your thoughts with me!