114 Books From Around The World I Want To Read Before I Die

This post is an editorial digest by Culture Trip’s Social Media Director, and a repost from Medium.com
I’ve always been an utter bookworm: from my teenage years spent reading the likes of Anna Karenina and Crime and Punishment, to university where I studied and devoured French and German literature at Oxford, to ‘real’ adulthood where I find myself drawn to anything that doesn’t smell of airport bestsellers.

I can read like a madwoman, but there is method in the madness. Let me tell you about it: I’ve no time for bad literature, or accidental book choices. Most of the books you’ll see me reading have gone through a meticulous selection process: for years, I’ve been keeping a carefully curated list of all the books I want to read before I die – a lot of it filtered to fascinating, little-known contemporary novels, as opposed to the classics which I’ve already covered. Call me a control freak, but I really care about the quality of my intellectual consumption. And so should you.

Now, I want to share this mini-library with you. It contains all the books on my personal list I haven’t yet read.

A few points to note before you get reading:

1. The vast majority of ‘books to read before you die’ lists are terribly biased towards American and British literature. My list is biased towards the whole world. Around 80% of it is literature in translation. All available in English. Categorized by region, and then alphabetically.

2. This is my Wish List. Books I’ve yet to read, or books I want to re-read. Every time I read one, I’ll mark it as such and add in a date.

3. The list is subjective. I am no book critic. I just pick my reading very carefully.


A Heart So White | Author: Javier Marías | Country of Origin: Spain
Alone in Berlin | Author: Hans Fallada | Country of Origin: Germany
The Atom Station | Author: Halldor Laxness | Country of Origin: Iceland
Baise-Moi | Author: Virginie Despentes | Country of Origin: France
The Book of Disquiet | Author: Fernando Pessoa | Country of Origin: Portugal
Contempt | Author: Alberto Moravia | Country of Origin: Italy
Dead Souls | Author: Nikolai Gogol | Country of Origin: Russia
The Dig | Author: Cynan Jones | Country of Origin: Wales
Down and Out in Paris and London | Author: George Orwell | Country of Origin: UK
The Encyclopedia of the Dead| Author: Danilo Kiš | Country of Origin: Serbia
Enemies: A Love Story | Author: Isaac Bashevis Singer | Country of Origin: Poland
The Elegance of the Hedgehog | Author: Muriel Barbery | Country of Origin: France
Everything Flows | Author: Vasily Grossman | Country of Origin: Russia
Ferdydurke | Author: Witold Gombrowicz | Country of Origin: Poland
The Foundation Pit | Author: Andrey Platonov | Country of Origin: Russia
The Garden of Departed Cats | Author: Bilge Karasu | Country of Origin: Turkey
The Hare With Amber Eyes | Author: Edmund de Waal | Country of Origin: UK
Hunger | Author: Knut Hamsun | Country of Origin: Norway
I Served The King Of England | Author: Bohumil Hrabal | Country of Origin: Czech Republic
Intimacy | Author: Hanif Kureishi | Country of Origin: UK
Invisible Cities | Author: Italo Calvino | Country of Origin: Italy
Journey to the End of the Night | Author: Louis-Fernand Celine | Country of Origin: France
The Leopard | Author: Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa | Country of Origin: Italy
The Maker of Heavenly Trousers | Author: Daniele Varè | Country of Origin: Italy/China
My Struggle | Author: Karl Ove Knausgaard | Country of Origin: Norway.
Petty God | Author: Kaur Kender | Country of Origin: Estonia
Possession | Author: A S Byatt | Country of Origin: UK
Satantango | Author: László Krasznahorkai | Country of Origin: Hungary
Satan in Goray | Author: Isaac Bashevis Singer | Country of Origin: Poland
The Sense of an Ending | Author: Julian Barnes | Country of Origin: UK
A Short History of Decay | Author: Emil Cioran | Country of Origin: Romania
Skylark | Author: Dezső Kosztolányi | Country of Origin: Hungary
Steal You Away | Author: Niccolò Ammaniti | Country of Origin: Italy
The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories | Author: Bruno Schulz | Country of Origin: Poland
The Lost Daughter | Author: Elena Ferrante | Country of Origin: Italy
There But For The | Author: Ali Smith | Country of Origin: Scotland. Amazing title.
This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen | Author: Tadeusz Borowski | Country of Origin: Poland
Three Elegies For Kosovo | Author: Ismail Kadare | Country of Origin: Albania
The Time Regulation Institute | Author: Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar | Country of Origin: Turkey
Too Loud A Solitude | Author: Bohumil Hrabal | Country of Origin: Czech Republic
Traktat o łuskaniu fasoli | Author: Wiesław Myśliwski | Country of Origin: Poland
Twilight of the Eastern Gods | Author: Ismail Kadare | Country of Origin: Albania
The Twin | Author: Gerbrand Bakker | Country of Origin: The Netherlands
Vile Bodies | Author: Evelyn Waugh | Country of Origin: UK
The Wall Jumper | Author: Peter Schneider | Country of Origin: Germany
The Year of the Hare | Author: Arto Paasilinna | Country of Origin: Finland
The Year of the Runaways | Author: Sunjeev Sahota | Country of Origin: UK


20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth | Author: Xiaolu Guo | Country of Origin: China

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers | Author: Xiaolu Guo | Country of Origin: China

Arresting God in Kathmandu | Author: Samrat Upadhyay | Country of Origin: Nepal | Read: January 2016

Behind The Beautiful Forevers | Author: Katherine Boo | Country of Origin: India | Read: August 2016

Bombay Stories | Author: Saadat Hasan Manto | Country of Origin: India

Cat Country | Author: Lao She | Country of Origin: China

Censoring an Iranian Love Story | Author: Shahriar Mandanipour | Country of Origin: Iran

The City Son | Author: Samrat Upadhyay | Country of Origin: Nepal | Read: February 2016

Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer | Author: Cyrus Mistry | Country of Origin: India

Colours Of The Mountain | Author: Da Chen | Country of Origin: China

The Corpse Exhibition: And Other Stories of Iraq | Author: Hassan Blasim | Country of Origin: Iraq

The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories: China From the Bottom Up | Author: Liao Yiwu | Country of Origin: China

The Demon Seed and Other Writings | Author: M.T. Vasudevan Nair | Country of Origin: India

The English Teacher | Author: R.K. Narayan | Country of Origin: India

Goat Days | Author: Benyamin | Country of Origin: India

The God of Small Things | Author: Arundhati Roy | Country of Origin: India

Haroun and the Sea of Stories | Author: Salman Rushdie | Country of Origin: India

I Have the Right to Destroy Myself | Author: Young-Ha Kim | Country of Origin: South Korea

In an Antique Land | Author: Amitav Ghosh | Country of Origin: India

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders | Author: Daniyal Mueenuddin | Country of Origin: Pakistan

Kitchen | Author: Banana Yoshimoto | Country of Origin: Japan. Loved the author’s name.

Life and Death are Wearing Me Out | Author: Mo Yan | Country of Origin: China

Noli Me Tangere | Author: José Rizal | Country of Origin: The Philippines

Please Look After Mother | Author: Kyung-Sook Shin | Country of Origin: South Korea

The Prophet | Author: Kahlil Gibran| Country of Origin: Lebanon

Revenge | Author: Yoko Ogawa | Country of Origin: Japan

Rickshaw Boy | Author: Lao She | Country of Origin: China

Songs of Blood and Sword | Author: Fatima Bhutto | Country of Origin: Afghanistan

The Sound of the Mountain | Author: Yasunari Kawabata | Country of Origin: Japan

The Vivisector | Author: Patrick White | Country of Origin: Australia

The White Tiger | Author: Aravind Adiga | Country of Origin: India/Australia

The Woman in the Dunes | Author: Kōbō Abe | Country of Origin: Japan

Women Without Men | Author: Shahrnush Parsipur | Country of Origin: Iran


A General Theory of Oblivion | Author: José Eduardo Agualusa | Country of Origin: Angola

A Grain of Wheat | Author: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o | Country of Origin: Kenya

Americanah | Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | Country of Origin: Nigeria

The Cairo Trilogy | Author: Naguib Mahfouz | Country of Origin: Egypt

The Famished Road | Author: Ben Okri | Country of Origin: Nigeria

The Fishermen | Author: Chigozie Obioma | Country of Origin: Nigeria

July’s People | Author: Nadine Gordimer | Country of Origin: South Africa

Leaving Tangier | Author: Tahar Ben Jelloun | Country of Origin: Morocco

Life & Times of Michael K | Author: J.M. Coetzee | Country of Origin: South Africa

Taxi | Author: Khaled Al Khamissi | Country of Origin: Egypt

This Blinding Absence of Light | Author: Tahar Ben Jelloun | Country of Origin: Morocco

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families | Author: Philip Gourevitch | Set in: Rwanda

Woman at Point Zero | Author: Nawal El-Saadawi | Country of Origin: Egypt


2666 | Author: Roberto Bolaño | Country of Origin: Chile

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius | Author: Dave Eggers | Country of Origin: USA

A Bend in the River | Author: V. S. Naipaul | Country of Origin: Trinidad & Tobago | Read: September 2016

The Chosen | Author: Chaim Potok | Country of Origin: USA

Dirty Havana | Author: Pedro Juan Gutiérrez | Country of Origin: Cuba

Dune | Author: Frank Herbert | Country of Origin: USA

The Feast of the Goat | Author: Mario Vargas Llosa | Country of Origin: Peru

Giovanni’s Room | Author: James Baldwin | Country of Origin: USA

In Cold Blood | Author: Truman Capote | Country of Origin: USA

The Labyrinth of Solitude | Author: Octavio Paz| Country of Origin: Mexico

A Little Life | Author: Hanya Yanagihara | Country of Origin: USA

Middlesex | Author: Jeffrey Eugenides | Country of Origin: USA

The Namesake | Author: Jhumpa Lahiri | Country of Origin: India/USA

Near to the Wild Heart | Author: Clarice Lispector | Country of Origin: Brazil

The Orphan Master’s Son | Author: Adam Johnson | Country of Origin: USA

Portnoy’s Complaint | Author: Philip Roth | Country of Origin: USA

The Snow Leopard | Author: Peter Matthiessen | Country of Origin: USA

Stoner | Author: John Williams | Country of Origin: USA

Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? | Author: Raymond Carver | Country of Origin: USA

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article