Reading Plans for 2017: The EU 27 Project

All of last week I’ve been catching up with reviews of books that I read in December and over the holidays, but what are my reading plans going forward?

Initially, I was going to take it easy in 2017. I dropped my Goodreads challenge to 120. [Yes, it sounds like a lot, but I’ve been reading between 155-180 for the last few years.]

The physical and electronic TBR piles are intimidating – almost a health hazard! So I’ve joined the TBR Double Dare Challenge of reading only from the books I already own for the first 3 months of the year. After single-handedly subsidising the publishing industry for the past 4 years, I resolve to buy no new ones for several months. Of course, that doesn’t include books I receive for review on Crime Fiction Lover and other sites, but no more novelties or even ARCs on my own blog.

I’ve already cheated slightly, following the death of John Berger. I remembered how much I enjoyed his Pig Earth when it was on my reading list for anthropology, but I didn’t own it, so… Well, it’s not my fault that he died just after the 1st of January, is it?

So those were my only plans, on the vague side of the spectrum. But then some ambition woke up in me.  The year that Britain triggers Article 51 would be a good year to read a book from every member country of the EU, I decided. Especially following the resignation of the UK’s ambassador to the EU amidst the frankly frightening cries of ‘traitor! pessimist! how dare you tell us that it might be complicated?’ (I’ve heard it all before in another country, but I never thought I would hear it here.)

27 sounds manageable, right? I’m excluding the UK, because obviously I’ll be reading plenty of home-grown authors anyway. A few of these books are sitting on my bookshelves already, while others will require a bit of research. Here is what I have to date, with gaps where I have nought. Also, some suggestions in italics and with question marks, in the hope I might be able to track them down in libraries and keep costs down.


Austria     Arthur Schnitzler:  Später Ruhm

Belgium    Patrick Delperdange: Si tous les dieux nous abandonnent

Bulgaria    Ilija Trojanow: Macht und Widerstand

Croatia    Miljenko Jergovic: The Walnut Mansion


Czechia [sic?]   Ivan Klima: Lovers for a Day

Denmark  Inger Christensen: Poetry?

Estonia    Sofi Oksanen – she is officially Finnish, but has an Estonian mother and writes about Estonian history?

Finland     Kati Hiekkapelto: The Exiled

France    Romain Gary: La vie devant soi – or can I get away with claiming that he is Lithuanian (born in Vilnius)?

Germany   Sascha Arango: The Truth and Other Lies

Greece   Nikos Kazantzakis: The Last Temptation (reread, unless I find something new)

Hungary   Miklós Bánffy: They Were Counted

Ireland   Davy Byrnes Story Awards 2009

Italy    Andrea Camilleri: Rounding the Mark

Latvia    Inga Abele sounds interesting, not sure if she’s been translated?


Luxembourg    Jean Portante?


The Netherlands   Gerard Reve: The Evenings?

Poland   Andrzej Stasiuk: On the Road to Babadag

Portugal    Fernando Pessoa: The Book of Disquiet

Romania    Ileana Vulpescu: Arta compromisului


Slovenia  Goran Vojnovic: Yugoslavia, My Fatherland

Spain    Javier Marias: Dance and Dream (Your Face Tomorrow Vol. 2)

Sweden   Liza Marklund: Last Will

Any suggestions would be gratefully received! And if you want to join in (with your own selection of books, of course, these are just the ones I happen to have to hand), please let me know in the comments below. If there are enough of us who want to do it, I might set up a separate linky. We have all year to do it, so that’s a leisurely book a fortnight. Or, even better: I see no reason why we might not meander over into 2018, very much like the EU disentanglement process itself.



77 thoughts on “Reading Plans for 2017: The EU 27 Project”

    1. Ah, yes, I have no knowledge of other European languages beyond French, German and Romanian, so I depend on translations! Let’s see what I can find!

      1. From my own experience with reading Europe knowing German will help a lot with Eastern Europe as they don’t have a lot of their work aren’t translated into English -.- 🙂 (as someone who only have the Norwegian, Swedish, Danish in addition to English)

    1. As you can see from Bea below, I too shy away from the word challenge, which is why I called it a Project. But actually, I might as well admit I’m more of a flaneuse… maybe I can combine it with visiting each EU country as well (I’ve seen most of them in my loooong lifetime, some of them before they seprated into smaller states, but I’ve never been to the Baltic States, Malta or Cyprus).

  1. Great idea, but does it have to be a challenge? the word stresses me out 🙂 also, are your choices for each country final, or could we suggest others after having looked them up? Like, I don’t go for depressing/tragic ……

    1. God, no, it doesn’t have to be called a challenge. It can be called EU Meandering or travelling, which is probably more accurate. And no, you can have any choices you like, these are just the ones I have for myself because I already own most of the books listed. Feel free to choose whichever writer you want from each country.

      1. I like this, but may need 2 years for it 😦 as I have very little time, other books I must read and above all my resolution to carve out real time for writing. But if you start a group I’ll foloow and also add my books if different…

  2. I enjoyed Julietta Harvey, Ordinary Wars, a year or so back. Written in English, but she was born in Greece. This is the first of two novels about the Turkey-Greece conflict in the 20s & its aftermath. I’m intrigued by your EU reading challenge, but doubt I’ll have time to join. Will keep track, though

    1. Sounds interesting, thank you for the suggestion – that time period is fascinating. And I know what you mean about not having time to join. Not sure I’ll have time, but I’ll give it a whirl.

  3. Do put a slinky up, MarinaSofia. I can’t say I WILL do this, but as individual books get reviewed across this blog and others….who knows what I’ll find myself reading. I certainly always intend to read more in translation!

  4. Of course I meant linky, which my predictive slipped in as slinky, and, this time, attempted to change to kinky!. But I was keeping a beady eye on it. Foiled the sneaky predictive imp.

    1. Haha! I’ll do my best to put a slinky linky up, but please keep the kinkiness to yourself – unless it’s a literary work with some kinkiness enclosed. 😉

    1. I will do and let you know, as I think the more the merrier, even if you can’t commit to all 27. I’m always on the look-out for interesting new translations.

    1. On my way there now… I’ve actually met Ann and have her email address, so may be connecting with her for further suggestions. She still keeps track of all sorts of translated fiction and is a great advocate for authors from lesser-known cultures.

  5. Fantastic idea – I’m definitely in. I’ve just finished reading Kjell Westo’s The Wednesday Club, which I thought was excellent, so might use that to start me off with a Finnish entry 🙂

    1. Oh, lovely to hear you’ll be joining in! Of course, I’m bemoaning that there is only on slot for Germany and Austria respectively, or France, as I have soooo many unread books from those three countries! But hopefully I’ll sneak those in as well… as extras.

  6. I really like your idea, Marina Sofia! And you’ve got some great titles already, I think. I’ll be interested in following along as you make progress this year.

    1. The titles in italics may change, as I don’t own those books already, so I’m open to suggestions. Join in when you can! Crime fiction always welcome!

      1. Actually the old TBR’s not looking too shabby with regard to this project. Here’s a provisional list.

        Austria: Bernard Aichner – Woman of the Dead
        Belgium: Peter Terrin – Post Mortem
        Bulgaria: Illija Trojanow – The Collector of Worlds
        Czech Republic: Borumil Hrabal – Closely Observed Trains
        Denmark: Carsten Jensen – We, The Drowned
        Estonia: Sofi Oksanen – When the Doves Disappeared / Mati Unt – Brecht by Night
        Finland: Tove Jansson – The True Deceiver
        France: Paul Fournel – Dear Reader
        Germany: Sascha Arango – The Truth and Other Lies
        Greece: Sergio Gakas – Ashes
        Hungary: ? by László Krasznahorkai
        Ireland: Kevin Barry – Dark Lies the Island
        Italy: Fillipo Bologna – The Parrots
        The Netherlands: Tonke Dragt – A Letter for the King
        Poland: Marek Hlasko – Killing the Second Dog
        Portugal: Eca de Queiros – The Maias
        Romania: Preferably not Herta Müller …
        Spain: Javier Marias: Your Face Tomorrow Volume 1
        Sweden: Mäj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöo – Roseanna (and perhaps the rest of the Martin Beck series too.)

      2. Have also been able to add:

        Croatia: Dubravka Ugresic – The Ministry of Pain
        Slovenia: Crumbs – Miha Mazzini

        So that’s 20/27 in the TBR. I guess I’m in!

  7. Fantastic, you are going to love it! My best time ever is when I read 52 countries. Here is my list, where you can find some European titles:
    I also did a European one, though it was more geographic, obviously we have some countries in common:
    You should get some great ideas here, as she organizes the European challenge, plus you can see what readers chose last year:
    and of course Ann Morgan’s site:

    I used to have a link to a blogger presenting a country, and then giving a whole bunch of titles for each, I can no longer find it! it was really good

    1. Thank you, that’s a great help! I fear I may now have too many ideas and not enough time… But perhaps it’s a forever project (unlike, possibly, the EU itself, I fear).

  8. That’s quite a challenge indeed, I’m sticking to my more general goal of a book a week and half my reads from around the world (which means not US/UK)

    To be honest I’m more drawn towards warmer climes and have my eyes on more Caribbean literature, SE Asian etc, however I will be reading Women in Translation during August for #WIT Month and so have some reads already on the shelf for that:
    The Complete Claudine by Colette (French),
    Iza’s Ballad by Magda Szabo (Hungary),
    Jenny Erpenbeck’s Visitation (Germany)

    On verra!

  9. What a great idea for a reading challenge! It sounds incredibly challenging so I hope you find books for all the countries and that you enjoy reading them all.
    I’m also trying to read my through my TBR this year and hoping to reduce it somewhat. Wishing you luck in reducing yours this year.

    1. I know I am stretching the definition a bit – but I still consider Herta Muller Romanian and Eugene Ionesco Romanian. OK, I suppose you could brand me a nationalist in that respect, but I think it’s because the environment there shaped them when they were growing up.

  10. Very interesting! I will dip in and out; there are plenty of eligible books sitting on my shelves. (A few years ago, I planned to read a lot of Eastern European literature, but then got stuck once I purchased the books.) I was excited to find out recently that both Dubravka Ugresic and Sofi Oksanen are readily available at my little libraries, so I hope you’ll be successful in your library search as well..

    1. I hope mine does too, but I’m not too hopeful – it weighs heavily in favour of current bestsellers (I think they sold off quite a bit of old stock when they had a refurbishment).

  11. Hmm…. I think I can combine this with my #WITMONTH & #TransThurs & #NovellaNov TBR piles… will investigate and report back. May not aim for all 27 but hopefully a good selection of them😄

    1. Definitely one to be combined with any other challenges… And allow yourself plenty of time. Hopefully we’ll get to read all 27 before the EU disintegrates completely.

  12. Great idea! I’ve hardly read any of these, so might try and join in (partly!). A project to beat Tsundoku, the habit of acquiring piles of books and not reading them (I’ve just written about it in my blog, I came upon this word and found it very amusing) Regarding Greece, you could try a detective story by Petros Markaris – they’re fun, a bit in the Donna Leon style.

    1. I’ve read two by Markaris already – but in French, as he’s very difficult to find in English (more’s the pity, as I think he depicts a very good picture of modern Greece, if a bit more gloomy than Donna Leon). I also met him in Lyon and he is utterly charming.

  13. I wish I had time to do that with you. Some countries are easier than others, right? I tried to do that once and never found anything from Luxembourg and Cyprus while I couldn’t figure out which one to choose for Ireland.

    Of course, I’m happy to see that La vie devant soi is on the list.

    For Greece, I suggest The Murderess by Alexandros Papadiamantis, if you haven’t read it yet. Or one of Petros Markaris’s crime fiction. (easier to find in French, I’m afraid)

    My boss is a Dutch bookworm and she keeps recommending The Evenings, so…

    And for Denmark, well, you can reread Andersen’s tales.

    Have fun! I’ll follow your reviews.

    1. Thanks for the suggestions and, even if you just do one or two, you are still welcome to join in. We need all the boost and awareness of other cultures out there that we can get, right?

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