Something I’ve been trying to do during my travels is read more. I stopped reading for fund, for the most part, in college, as I couldn’t or wouldn’t make the time. But I do enjoy reading, and I definitely have plenty of time during this trip, so I decided I would also try to tap into the culture of each country I visit through its literature. Here is a complete list of my reading while abroad, organized by country.
New York: I’ve been carrying Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin with me from the beginning because it is possibly my favorite book and certainly my favorite book about New York, so it serves as a sort of totem, connecting me back to my home wherever I go.
Providence: For my other home: The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle and Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff, both novels which pay tribute to H.P. Lovecraft and his unmistakable influence on horror, while also confronting his virulent racism by weaving their stories around that all too real horror. Howard would be apoplectic.
Ireland: By The Bog of Cats by Marina Carr; Portia Coughlan by Marina Carr; The Weir by Conor McPherson; The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh; The Lonesome West by Martin McDonagh; Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel; Translations by Brian Friel; Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett; Eh, Joe by Samuel Beckett; Not I by Samuel Beckett; Endgame by Samuel Beckett; Happy Days by Samuel Beckett; All That Fall by Samuel Beckett; Conversations on a Homecoming by Tom Murphy; The Wake by Tom Murphy; The House by Tom Murphy; The Playboy of the Western World by J.M. Synge; I ❤ Alice ❤ by Amy Conroy; Howie the Rookie by Mark O’Rowe; Our Few and Evil Days by Mark O’Rowe; The Walworth Farce by Enda Walsh; The Plough & the Stars by Sean O’Casey; Juno & the Paycock by Sean O’Casey; Purgatory by W.B. Yeats; The Cat and the Moon by W.B. Yeats; Spreading the News by Lady Gregory.
The Aran Islands by J.M. Synge; A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce.
Scotland: A hefty chunk of Robert Burns poetry.
England: Middlemarch by George Eliot; London Fields by Martin Amis; Morality Play by Barry Unsworth; “Leaf by Niggle” by J.R.R. Tolkien; Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman; Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees; “The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun” by J.R.R. Tokien.
France: The Stranger by Albert Camus; Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline.
Belgium: I read a bunch of Tintin books years ago, that’ll have to do.
Netherlands: The Evenings by Gerard Reve.
Germany: Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; Leck Mich Faust by Leonie Pichler and Alexander Rupflin; The Tin Drum* by Günter Grass; Death in Venice^ by Thomas Mann.
Poland: The Tin Drum* by Günter Grass; A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski; Grain of Truth by Zygmunt Miloszewski
Czechia: The Trial by Franz Kafka.
Italy: Death in Venice^ by Thomas Mann; Divine Comedy by Dante; My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante; The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.
Austria: Death in Venice by Thomas Mann; Fräulein Else by Arthur Schnitzler
Latvia: “Lāčplēsis” by Andrejs Pumpurs, trans. Arthur Cropley.
Russia: Red Cavalry by Isaac Babel; The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight by Gina Ochsner; Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin; The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Japan: Ten Nights of Dreams by Natsume Sōseki; Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama; The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi; Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami; Snow Country by Yasunori Kawabata; The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe; Death by Water by Kenzaburo Oe.
Travel by train: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Travel by boat: “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Post one-year mark/non-themed reading: The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson; The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro; Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen; A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens; The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard; Strange Weather by Joe Hill; No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis; The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin; Solar Bones by Mike McCormack; La Belle Sauvage by Phillip Pullman; Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert; Among the Living and the Dead by Inara Verzemnieks; I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison (the collection, not just the title short-story); The Decay of the Angel by Yukio Mishima; The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin; A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chamber; The White Album by Joan Didion; The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers;
*: Grass was born in (and set most of The Tin Drum) in the Free City of Danzig, which has switched between German and Polish control over its history. Furthermore, he was Kashubian in ethnicity, but grew up speaking German. So he counts as sort of a half point for both Germany and Poland.
^: Mann was Austrian (and wrote in German), but Death in Venice is set in Italy, of course. Another point shared between bordering nations.