World Book Day || Authors from Around the World

cartoon world map

Happy World Book Day! I realize that World Book Day is more for…young children, but I liked the idea of it. In celebration, I’d like to recommend recognize some books by authors from around the world. Yeah, I’m hijacking this day.

Africa || Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih
This is a beautiful story that gives an immense sense of culture and place. A Sudanese man goes to study in the UK and sleeps with women because they are exotic. It turns out that women sleep with him for the same reason. After he returns back to his culture, he mourns his loss of cultural identity--being neither anymore from ‘here’ nor ‘there’.

Asia || Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
I love Murakami and will take every opportunity to sing his praises. I’ve read many of his books, and Kafka on the Shore is one of my favorites. A boy, Kafka, runs away from home, has strange, subversive, and dark magical realism-ish adventures, and as you would expect, there are cats. Lots.

Australia || The Book Thief by Markus Zusack
Listen to the audiobook and you will not regret it. You may regret wearing mascara though. Set in WWII Germany, a compassionate (though not particularly soft) couple takes in young Liesel, and later on a Jewish man. As Liesel’s world begins to open up through a stubborn love of books, it is physically drawn smaller as the war marches onward.

Europe || Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Orphan Jane is abused by all whom she should be able to trust. After she is hired by Mr. Rochester to become a governess, she begins to unravel his secret and unconventional life, which wraps her up in its dark mysteries as well.

North America || Happy Birthday or Whatever by Annie Choi
This is a hilarious memoir about balancing the expectations of your family’s culture with the culture that you live in. Annie is Korean-American and her conversations with her mom had me in tears. If bicultural identity isn’t the thing that has made North America the way it is, then I don’t know what to tell you. PS Here’s a fun interview with the author.

South America || Dom Casmurro by Machado de Assis
Don’t let the fact that this is a classic Brazilian novel published towards the end of the 19th Century scare you off. This isn’t one of those books that has a bazillion (a brazillion?) cultural references that you won’t be able to understand (I’m giving a stink eye at you, The Tale of Genji). Told from the first person perspective of Bento, he recounts his relationship with his lover from childhood up to old age. But as the story progresses, you realize that not everything is as it seems to be, and it finishes with a haunting question that not only drives Bento mad, but continues to plague Brazilians today: Did she do it?

Leave a comment and tell me some of your international favorites!


  1. Hmm...I'm drawing a blank on some of these as well, but I might know some for the antonym and color challenge. I'm not sure if this works, but an antonym title might be Inside Out and Back Again by Thanha Lai. As for the color title, you can read Scarlet by A C Gaughen or Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce. And then there's also Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, but you might have read that already. I hope that helps!

  2. Oooh I looked those authors up on Goodreads... the people there like them too! I've been interested in reading a manga series but there are so many and some of them are overwhelmingly long. Kaoru Mori's A Bride's Story series seems so interesting. I love learning about the culture along the Silk Road. Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. I'm reading the description of the Emma series, and that sounds interesting too. I was put off by the cover art at first, but I'm glad I decided to read more XD

  4. The Book Thief is one of my favorite books ever. I'm a huge fan of historical fiction, and I can confidently say that it's one of the best historical fiction books I've ever read. I love how the narrator, Death, is so unique, and how powerful and heartwrenching the story is.

  5. These are hard! I guess for trilogy, I always recommend The Darkest Minds. It's really great! I only read the first Lord of the Rings book, I don't know if I'll be able to finish this trilogy! As for a book with a color on the title, I could recommend Cinder (Cinder is kind of a color, right?) and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, or Red Rising (though I didn't love this one, but a lot of people do). I can't think of anything for the other two though!

  6. I haven't read any of the ones that you suggested, but SO MANY PEOPLE keep telling me to read Cinder. I put a library hold on it yesterday, but there's quite a queue. The Darkest Minds trilogy looks thrilling!! Thanks for the recommendations :)

  7. Oooh I'm particularly interested in fairytale retellings. I hadn't head of Sisters Red, and it looks so intriguing. Thanks for the antonym suggestion as well. Inside Out and Back Again seems beautiful and poignant just by thinking about the concept of using poetry to address pain.

  8. ME TOO. At first I was kind of put off by Death because he talks so much in the beginning. But then I began to appreciate him and what he brought to the story. When I was listening to the end of the story, I was in the gym on the treadmill, and I started crying so much because of how beautiful and sad it was. I had to stop working out! It would have been a dishonor to the story to keep trying to run at that time.

  9. I love The Book Thief and Jane Eyre (okay, what else is new?). I'm not the biggest fan of Dom Casmurro though. I evaded reading it in high school and read it last year. It's just a little too sexist maybe (?) for me to enjoy. Maybe I'm being too rigorous. But the other ones I haven't read, they sound interesting, especially the one from Africa.

  10. I read some post recently by a girl wondering the same thing: what is her limit for reading classic books that are openly sexist, racist, etc. It reeeallly bothers me when I see that type of material in contemporary books, but I just kind of see it as educational when I read it in old books. I understand that not everyone sees it like me though! I have my own limits in other areas (I don't want to read descriptions about molestation or rape... even if it's for a good cause).