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Around the World Reading Challenge Books week 1

My Around the World Reading Challenge books week 1 was fantastic!

Happy Friday, friends! It’s time for Friday reads and to share what you read this week and are reading this weekend and the week ahead.

Around the World Reading Challenge 2023 books

My biggest reading goal this year is to complete the Around the World Reading Challenge to read a book a week set in a different country other than the one I live in (the US). I hope you’ll sign up to join me, there’s a growing Around the World Reading Challenge Facebook group too! I’ve been collecting books from around the world now for 10 years and it’s time I started reading them!!

I am starting my reading travels in Africa because it’s my least read about continent. Here goes…

1. Ethiopia: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

I finished Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, a physician turned author. What beautiful writing in this family saga about two twin brothers coming of age in Ethiopia. They lost their mother (an Indian nurse) and their father (a British doctor) walked out during their birth and were raised by two Indian doctors their parents worked with.

It was an incredible story, so much powerful detail in the medical needs of the community, the experiences of its health care staff and community members and the physical environment and culture of Ethiopia. Cutting for Stone also dealt with the immigrant experience which also speaks to me (my parents are immigrants from India and I was born in the US).

We went to an Ethiopian restaurant once and I loved it, the flavors and customs were similar to my favorite Indian food my mom made growing up . Indian food is my comfort food so I relished the flavors as I read this book.

I really felt like I lived there and missed the characters after I was done reading the book. I cried, I laughed, I felt truly immersed in the experience. I read it on kindle, physical book and audio. The narrator, Sunil Malhotra, did a wonderful job bringing each character to life. I wish I had read the whole book on the Kindle so I could have highlighted all the quotes I want to keep, there were so many!

Cutting for Stone is a definite ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me, beautiful, incredible, tragic and amazing. I think this would be a great suggestion for a book club.

Here are a few more books about Ethiopia for your next reading adventure.

2. Egypt: Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

I started Nefertiti by Michelle Moran. Nefertiti is a confident teenager in 1350’s BCE when the story begins and I am enjoying it so far, only 18 pages in. This is another book i bought 10 years ago and now I’m having trouble with the tiny print.

Anyway, I read Michelle Moran’s Madame Tussaud in 2022, another historical fiction about Tussaud who lived during the French Revolution. Moran’s writing is incredible, she must do extensive research to give us a sense of time and place down to the most minute but captivating details. Even though the book was set during a horrific Reign of Terror, I learned a lot and really enjoyed it.

I’m looking forward to finishing Nefertiti but I have got some speed reading to do to catch up since my goal was to finish it by Sunday. I haven’t read nearly as much as I would have liked this week. …might need to get this on the Kindle Unlimited to help me out so I can read and listen at the same time and it will keep my place between the two. I really love and need that if I’m going to get through these 52 books this year. I have become a fan of audiobooks lately.

Join the Around the World Reading Challenge 2023!

Join the Around the World Reading Challenge 2023 newsletter and download this free workbook with lots of fun reading trackers!!

We have a Facebook group too with readers from around the world, so it’s been fun getting recommendations and sharing books we love.

Nonfiction Books

3. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Another reading goal is to read 12 nonfiction books this year, I didn’t quite get it last year. I started listening to Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert about unlocking your creativity. I am not sure if I will finish it, I’m feeling kind of meh about it so far. I really wanted my first nonfiction of the year to be Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt but it’s not at our library so I may get that on Kindle Unlimited too.

Should I Buy Kindle Unlimited?

I’m really torn between buying Kindle Unlimited so I can listen to the audio at the same time or buy the Kindle version of the book itself if I need it.

Pros for Kindle Unlimited:

  • I really love audiobooks and I listen to audiobooks more than I listen to music or the radio so I know I’ll use the audible version.
  • Reading at night on my Kindle Paperwhite helps me sleep and I can make the font bigger. My eyesight is not what they used to be. I still have to wear reading glasses even if I make the font bigger.
  • It’s also my goal to create Bookshelves of Joy in my home. So that means, my bookshelves only contain books I’ve read and loved (4 or 5 stars). Even if I get books from the library, I will buy my favorites in physical copy as a visual reminder of my experience with that book and so I can flag/annotate the parts I like afterwards. If i borrow something on Kindle Unlimited, I will end up buying the physical copy at my favorite indie bookstore to support a local business.

Cons for Kindle Unlimited:

  • I don’t like paying for subscription services, I prefer to buy what I need.
  • I want to make sure I get my money’s worth
  • I had a Kindle Unlimited trial before when I got my new Paperwhite and didn’t take advantage of the kindle + audio narration which is my whole reason for getting it
  • it’s really hard to tell if a book i need is available on KU before I sign up. For example, there’s a Kindle version and an audible version of Nefertiti, but I can’t tell if it’s available on KU.
  • the selection changes? are the books only available on KU for a limited time?

What do you think? Do you have Kindle Unlimited and have tips for me to help me decide?

Other Bookish Posts You Will Love

Linking up this post with other book lovers at It’s Monday, What are You Reading? , Sunday Post, and. Sunday Salon so go check out what other book bloggers are reading too!

So that’s what I’ve read this week and will be reading this next week, what about you?


  1. Good luck with your challenge! I need to get better about reading books set in places that are not the US or UK. I think finding a book from every country would be hard. Some countries don’t have very big populations, so they probably don’t get written about very often in English-language books.

    1. Thank you, AJ! I agree, finding a book from every country would be a challenge. It’s been fun and very interesting to learn about other cultures and their histories. Its true some of the smaller countries don’t have books written about them in English, but I did across a book written about Tuvalu, the smallest country in the world, so it will be interesting to give it a try! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

    1. That’s a great goal too to review all the books too! That’s one of my goals too, to review all the books I read. Thanks for sharing and stopping by!

  2. I don’t have KU. With a couple of thousand ebooks on TBR mountain, I don’t need more (which doesn’t stop me from buying more). I do have a subscription to Audible and often buy the Audiobook Add-On when I buy an ebook. I listen to audiobooks on my computer and not through my Kindle because I don’t like any sort of earphones or ear buds that I’ve tried so far. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  3. I added Cutting for Stone to my TBR. It sounds like an excellent book. I use Kindle Unlimited, though, I didn’t realize they offered audio. Thank you for sharing that. I like it, though I am loathe to pay for subscription services as well. On the flip side, by reading just one or two books a year, the service pays for itself. I tried it out knowing that I could cancel at any time, so it was a win-win for me.
    I do use Hoopla, Libby, and now, RB Digital from my local library as well.
    Hope this helps!

  4. I use Hoopla and Overdrive at my libraries to read ebooks and to listen to audiobooks a lot. I’ve never tried Kindle Unlimited, but I do often watch for bargain ebooks and I buy them now and then.

    The Around the World Challenge sounds delightful. I’ve been doing a perpetual world book challenge for more than ten years. Here’s a link to the Google Doc I use: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1_0pibb85CnYFZ580L72SS6VjTyiNMeRJjpxeosesMCk/edit#gid=0

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Deb! I was doing a travel the world in books perpetual challenge since 2014 but decided to make a more specific yearly one this year so I could increase my country count. I use Libby from my library for audio and Kindle books too. Usually I can find what I’m reading there, but Nefertiti is not and it’s not on KU either. I’m gonna check out your doc for suggestions for countries i haven’t visited or don’t have a book selected for yet. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I don’t have KU, but I do have an audible subscription and I use it all the time. I’ve been able to increase the amount of reading I do purely because I’m on the road so much, and having audible means I can read while I drive. The advantage to KU is that you can go back and forth, right? There have been times when listening that I wish I had access to a written copy (digital is fine) so I could highlight a selected passage.
    The books available do change. I learned that when I didn’t grab something I wanted right away, and it had gone away when I decided I wanted to get it.

    1. Yes, the advantage of KU is being able to go back and forth between audible and Kindle and it keeping my place. I do love highlighting quotes in Kindle and then exporting them into Notion so I don’t lose them. Are you able to capture transcripts of quotes like that in Audible? That would be really cool!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, i’ve thought about getting an audible subscription because i really do love my audiobooks too. and listening while i do errands, clean and work on a jigsaw puzzle! 🙂

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