Sunday, November 18, 2012

7 Continents, 7 Billion People, 7 Books - Reading Challenge 2013

UPDATE 2015: 
The new version of the challenge is online here:

7 Continents, 7 Billion People, 7 Books - Reading Challe
nge 2015



The idea of this reading challenge is to explore the world by books from different continents and countries, and by visiting various world lists while planning the reads, to encounter the one or other unknown angle and fact about our world.

This challenge was inspired by a global reading challenge in 2012, and the side effect it had: looking at books from a different, geographical angle. And: mapping our world in continents and books, which turned into the most popular blog post in my book blog so far, and lead to this surprise realization: "If you wanted to read around the world in 7 books, you actually would have to go and look for 4 books from Asia and 1 book from Africa - and then for 2 anthologies that cover the rest of the world in their pages." (here's the whole post: The World in 7 Books, or: mapping our world by continents. )

The idea for 2013 is to continue with the global reading and exploring from 7 new, interesting angles, including some trends of our modern civilization. Why 7? To keep it simple and playful, and leave space for extra reads that might be inspired by the lists. Also, with 7 continents, and the world population reaching 7 billions, the 7 seems to be the best number for this kind of challenge.

7 Angles and Books to explore the world 

The challenge: to select and read seven books, each belonging to one of the following categories:
- the 7 countries with the most population
- the 7 highest countries in the world
- the 7 oldest countries of the world
- one of the 7 megacities of the world
- the 7 countries with the most immigrants
- the 7 richest (or poorest) countries
- the 7 most rainy (or dry) countries

Below are some more details to the country categories, with links to country lists.


Challenge Guidelines: 
  • This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2013 – Dec 31, 2013.
  • Books can be any format (novel, non-fiction, poetry or story collection, anthology, as well as any phyisal format: print, ebook, audio)
  • You are welcome to count these books towards any other challenges as well
  • The sorting of the 7 lists is just a suggestion. 
  • When picking a country, the idea is to also pick an author from that country. If that turns out to be difficult, try to find an expat author who lived in the country for a while.

How to find books by country
How to find books set in particular countries? And preferably books that are written by an author who is coming from the country, or who has lived in it for a while? There are so many book lists and blogs out there, yet many are focusing on sales figures or author names or genre. But there are also some lists that focus on the country:
Finding books by country: helpful links + resources 

Resources, lists, links: 
Here are the 7 country categories, with links to the global lists, and with the top 7 countries listed already. For each category, pick a country from the top 7 list, and then pick a book from that country. The lists mostly are wiki-lists, as those often offer addditional search options.

1) The starting point: 
A book from one of the 7 countries with the most population
2) From most populated to the mountains:
A book from one of the 7 highest countries in the world
3) From high to old:
A book from one of the 7 oldest countries of the world
  • It's an own challenge to create a definite ranking of the oldest countries of the world, which makes this question interesting in its own way. Some references: About/Geography and here: Wiki-answers.
  • Some of the oldest countries: Japan, China, San Marino, Egypt 
4) From old to new:
 A book from one of the megacities of the world 
5) From megacity to migration:
 A book from one of the 7 countries with the most immigrants 
6) From people to money:
 A book from one of the 7 richest - or poorest - countries  
  • Link: List of countries by gross domestic product
  • Rank 1-7: Luxembourg, Qatar, Macau, Norway, Singapore, Brunei, Hong Kong
  • Rank 173-180: Congo, Liberia, Eritrea, Burundi, Niger, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone
7) From society to environment:
 A book from one of the 7 most rainy or dry countries  
  • Link: Precipitation by country
  • The rainy top 7: Guinea, Solomon Islands, Sierra Leone, Gabon, Burma, Malaysia, Guyana
  • The dry top 7: Peru, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Erimates, Kuwait, Syria, Djibouti

First Posts
January 2013: first posts from participants of the challenge are online, here some links and quotes: 
  • Fallen Words by Steve Wing @ hobnailballet: "Getting a jump on the reading challenge, and also exploring graphic storytelling, I read a Japanese book, “Fallen Words” by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. It is a remarkable dunk in another culture, which I know is one of the objectives of the challenge..."
  • Island Reads by Dorothee @ life as a journey: "I am still on Lanzarote island, and brought some world books as prelude for the world reading challenge. So it's in Spain that i read my first book from South Korea, and a novel from Marocco..."
  • Hey, it's only been a year by Maggie @ Urban Living: "I’m joining the “7 Continents, 7 Billion people, 7 Books” reading challenge for 2013. My plan is to shop my bookshelves for candidates–I definitely have many that fit the categories that have been collecting dust."
  • The Reading Challenge Edition by Nupur @ One Hot Stove: The end of the year is also the time to sit down and do some delicious planning for 2013. I've never done reading challenges before but they sound like fun, and I'm signing up to do 3 of them in 2013. Go big or go home, right?

To join the reading challenge, just enter the link to your blog here:


Jane Hammons said...

great idea; can't wait to begin; I'll have to fill my xmas stocking with related reads!

Maggie said...

Thanks, Jane, for letting me know about this. Sounds like a great challenge. I'm in. It might even prompt me to update my blog once in a while.

Dorothee said...

hi Jane, hi Maggie! Thanks for joining the challenge right away. I'm excited about it, too. Will be interesting to see which books everyone comes up with.

Anonymous said...

this is an inspired challenge given the need for understanding among the cultures of the world

Dorothee said...

Hi Steve, hi Tanya! Thanks for joining. So great to see the group grow. One of the ideas really is to get more of an understanding for other cultures, and also: to explore new authors, from new places. I think of it as a worldtrip in books.

Lauri said...

What a great idea! I'm looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity to explore other countries!

Michelle Stockard Miller said...

I love this idea! Thanks for hosting!

Dorothee said...

Hi everyone! Great to see that we are more than a dozen readers now. Looking forward to shared reading & reviews.

For the first step of the journey, there's now an intro post online: 7 countries with the most population: notes, clips, links

Please leave a note in the comments there when you blog about the book you read, i will do a roundup at the start of February and gather books and links.

Brigita said...

Great challenge and a fantastic way to get to know new authors, new cultures, new world views.

p.s. I sent you an email a while back about Worlds Apart. Since I didn't hear back from you I imagine I must have sent it to an email address that you don't check regularly or the email just got lost. Would you still be interested in me reviewing the book?

Siri said...

Hello Dorothee,
This is Veena, I am interested in joining this Reading Challenge. Can I join the challenge without a blog?

Dorothee said...

Hello Veena ~ yes, of course, please join. are you at Goodreads or at another bookpage where you add reviews? then you could link there - or just comment in the posts for each step.

and hi Brigita ~ i will write a mail back. sorry that something seems to have gone wrong with your mail.

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to this. Have just done Egypt: The Yacoubian Building by Alaa al Aswany. I recommend it.

Booksnyc said...


Where do we link our reviews for each category?


Dorothee said...

Hi Booksnyc, you are right, it would be good to have a linky list for each category. Also, there is a resources link list in another post that should be included here - i will go through everything in the next days, and update and add linky lists.

Dorothee said...

Thanks to everyone who joined! I wished this year would have given more time and space for this challenge - due to some work projects i wasn't able to continue the challenge. SORRY for that! I hope December will bring a bit of free time, then i would try and gather reading links in a summary post here in this blog. Sorry again, and i hope you still enjoyed the literary trips into different regions of the world.