Around the World in 80 Books

Travelling hopefully…

For someone who says I don’t do challenges, I somehow seem to keep being tempted by them! This is another of the kind I like, relaxed, no strict rules, and most of all a completely open timescale.

Hosted by Sarah and Lucy at the wonderful Hard Book Habit, here’s what they say…

Here’s the deal.  You’ll need to read 80 books set or connected with the random destinations of your choice, then you blog about each book that you read en route. You can choose any books you like – this challenge is not limited to fiction – and the only catch is that you must read at least one book connected to each continent, one sea-based book, and a book that involves travel – think the Orient Express, flight, hot-air balloons, train journeys, car trips, etc… the rest is up to you.

Since I already tend to range fairly widely around the world of fiction (I think), I reckon this should be a challenge that I can mostly meet from my normal reading. So I thought it might be fun to go back to the original book that inspired the challenge and see if I can find books for each stage of Phineas Fogg’s original journey. Wikipedia not only tells me where Fogg and his faithful servant Passepartout stopped, but they provide a map!


Personally I think their route looks fairly dull, so I hope to do plenty of detours along the way. I’ll only be including books I recommend (unless I get stuck) and I’ll be adding them as I review them, so pop back occasionally to see where I’ve been. Here’s the plan…

The Main Journey

  1. London  – Martin Chuzzlewit
  2. Orient Express – Travels with My Aunt
  3. France – The Sisters of Versailles
  4. Alps – Crossed Skis
  5. Venice – Titian’s Boatman
  6. Brindisi – That Summer in Puglia
  7. Mediterranean Sea – Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas
  8. Suez – Something to Answer For
  9. Egypt – Palace Walk
  10. Red Sea/Arabian Sea – Lord Jim
  11. Bombay – Selection Day
  12. Calcutta – A Rising Man
  13. Kholby – The Jewel in the Crown
  14. Elephant Travel – The Elephant’s Journey
  15. Allahabad – The Sign of the Four
  16. Indian Ocean/ South China Sea – A Dangerous Crossing
  17. Hong Kong – How to Pick Up a Maid in Statue Square
  18. Shanghai – Death of a Red Heroine
  19. Yokohama – Around the World in Eighty Days
  20. Pacific – Moby-Dick: Or, The White Whale
  21. San Francisco – The Dain Curse
  22. Sioux lands – Days Without End
  23. Omaha – The Swan Gondola
  24. New York – Three-Martini Lunch
  25. Atlantic Ocean – Treasure Island
  26. Queenstown (Cobh) Ireland – Dead Wake
  27. London – The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Some of these will be harder than others so a bit of creativity might be required. Suggestions very welcome, especially for the places I’ve highlighted in purple, so please get your thinking caps on! Any genre…

The Detours

That leaves 53 spots for me to randomly tour the world, so here’s where I’ve been so far…

  1. The Hebrides – Coffin Road
  2. Florida – Their Eyes Were Watching God
  3. Iceland – Snowblind
  4. Himalayas – Black Narcissus
  5. Ireland – The Heather Blazing
  6. Channel Islands – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
  7. Australian Outback – Fear is the Rider
  8. Portugal – The High Mountains of Portugal
  9. Milan, Italy – The Murdered Banker
  10. Havana, Cuba – A Heart So White
  11. Saturn – 2001: A Space Odyssey
  12. Kabul, Afghanistan – The Kite Runner
  13. Vatican City – Conclave
  14. Dresden, Germany – Slaughterhouse-Five
  15. Scottish Highlands – Murder of a Lady
  16. The French Riviera – Death on the Riviera
  17. Kiev, Ukraine – The White Guard
  18. North Korea – The Accusation
  19. Chechnya – The Tsar of Love and Techno
  20. Japan – Penance
  21. Beijing, China – Braised Pork
  22. Ancient Greece – House of Names
  23. Bosnia and Herzegovina – Testimony
  24. Moscow, Russia – Doctor Zhivago
  25. Republic of the Congo – Brazzaville Beach
  26. Thailand – Behind the Night Bazaar
  27. Antarctic – Endurance
  28. Wales – The Great God Pan and Other Horror Stories
  29. Spain – The Man Who Loved Dogs
  30. New Zealand – The Ice Shroud
  31. Gibraltar – The Rock
  32. Canada – Brother
  33. Jordan – Appointment with Death
  34. South Africa – The Good Doctor
  35. Lebanon – Pearls on a Branch
  36. Colombia – The Shape of the Ruins
  37. Uruguay – Springtime in a Broken Mirror
  38. Ancient Rome – Imperium
  39. Norway – The Katharina Code
  40. South Korea – The Plotters
  41. Europe – Europe: A Natural History
  42. Colonial Malay – The Night Tiger
  43. Istanbul, Turkey – 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World
  44. Papua New Guinea – Mister Pip
  45.  Zululand – Nada the Lily
  46.  East Germany – The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
  47.  Mexico – The Pearl
  48.  Nigeria – Things Fall Apart
  49.  Öland, Sweden – Echoes from the Dead
  50.  Sicily – The Leopard
  51.  Ruritania – The Prisoner of Zenda
  52.  The Arctic – Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus
  53.   Romania – Sword

80 down, 0 to go!

34 thoughts on “Around the World in 80 Books

  1. Venice – ‘Death in Venice’ by Thomas Mann. A bit obvious, obviously, but you can tie it in with your ‘Film of the Book’ strand.


    • A book called Beauty on Earth by Charles Ferdinand Ramuz, that was recommended to me by another blogger. But I haven’t actually got it yet, so I’ll check out The Dark Valley and see if it appeals more – thank you! All my projects are kind of on a pause at the moment because I’ve sillily allowed myself to develop a backlog of new books for review and I need to catch up with them over the next few months. But then I’ll get back into this one properly…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. At the end of 2017, I swore off doing book challenges. I’m drawn to them like a bug to a light, though, so I’m semi-doing two challenges this year. Can’t seem to help myself. In my own personal book challenge last year I set out to read a book set in each continent, but I never got to Antartica. This Around the World in 80 Books Challenge sounds like something I’d enjoy, but it might take me several years to complete.


    • I managed to avoid challenges for the fist couple of years of blogging but now I seem to be doing about a million of them! I’m thoroughly enjoying this around the world one, even though I’m expecting it to take about four years to complete – I’m over the halfway mark now. So far I’ve just been seeing where my normal reading takes me, but I’m soon going to have to start hunting for books set in specific locations. Which will be fun… 😉

      Thanks for popping in and commenting, and I highly recommend Endurance by Alfred Lansing for Antarctica if you like true life adventures… 😀


  3. I love the idea of retracing Fogg’s journey (and adding a few more destinations…) through literature! And I can confirm that Brindisi features in ‘That Summer in Puglia’. With regard to Egypt, you might want to have a look at Naguib Mahfouz’s ‘Palace Walk’, the first novel in his ‘Cairo Trilogy’.


    • Oh, that’s great about Brindisi – you wouldn’t believe how hard it’s been to find a book for that spot! So I was delighted to see yours, especially with such a positive review attached. It’s on the way, so hopefully I’ll be reading it within the next couple of months. And thanks fro the Egypt recommendation – I’ll look into that one… 😀


  4. Great challenge! I have my own challenge to read only 35 books set in different countries of the world, and I am already feeling both the pressure and inability to come up with titles for some countries. I find it a bit difficult to have a lot of choice re books set in the Middle East. Ok, I have Mohsin Hamid down, but that is as far as I go for now 🙂


    • I’ve loved doing this challenge – it will have taken me over four years by the time I finish it. Some countries are nearly impossible to find translated books from so I still have big empty spaces on my map. I’m pretty sure I’m going to continue in some way even after I make the original 80 countries. Ha – the Middle East has nearly defeated me too, but I have two or three selected now… I’m hoping they’ll turn out to be good enough to recommend… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This looks like such a fun challenge! I did a “global reading challenge” back in 2011 and really enjoyed it. I don’t see anything from Brazil on your list (unless I missed it). Have you read any of the Mario Silva mysteries by Leighton Gage? I discovered them when doing my challenge and loved the series. The author has since died, so there are only seven, I think. Did you read Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese? That would cover Ethiopia. It was one of my favorite books I read last year!

    Doing a global challenge really made me branch out of my comfort zone.


    • I’ve loved doing it and, like you, it’s led me to read lots of stuff I otherwise wouldn’t have gone for. I’ve got books to complete the challenge now – hoping to finish this year. But I’m woefully short on both South America and Africa though, and I’ve had so much fun doing it that I’m thinking of doing something similar when this one is finished, so thanks for those recs! I’ll hang onto them and hopefully be able to add them in to whatever new “travel” challenge I decide on.


  6. Great Idea, inspiring me to do the same.
    Recommend, Burmese Days by English George Orwell (will learn a lot about the country (now Myanmar) rather than the story just being set there.


    • Oh, thank you – I haven’t heard of that one – shall investigate! I’ve loved this challenge – it’s led me to read lots of books I might not have picked up otherwise and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed most of them. If you do something similar, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have! 😀


    • Oh, this would be a great theme for a book club, I think. I’ve enjoyed it hugely and it’s led to me reading all kinds of books I probably wouldn’t have thought of trying otherwise. Hope you and your clubbers have fun with it if you decide to make the journey! 😀


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