Book Bloggers Abroad Recap

Book Bloggers Abroad

Book Bloggers Abroad is over! Over the last half year, 26 book bloggers have shared their experience of reading and blogging in the country they live in. We have got to know them a bit better and also learned something of their country.

The feature has been very popular and many people are sorry to see it has now finished. But all good things must come to an end, and it’s better to end on a high!

Here’s a recap of what you’ve been seeing the last 26 Thursdays:

We went to every continent (except Antarctica) and visited 17 countries. 5 countries were visited more than once (but always with a totally new story). Most people were natives to their country but in a few cases we had people that had moved to the country from elsewhere.

The continents

AUSTRALIA (3): we visited Australia twiceRachel of And the plot thickens… and Amanda of Desert Book ChickNew ZealandCat of Tell Me A Story.

EUROPE (8): we visited GermanyRikki of The Bookkeeperthe UK trice – Jane of For Books ‘ Sake, Carly of Writing From The Tub, and Jackie of Farm Lane Books Blog; France Charlotte of The Book on the HillThe NetherlandsGnoe of GraaslandFinland Milka of Read.Read.ReadBelgiumAlexandra of The Sleepless Reader

ASIA (6): Indonesia Novroz of Novroz’ Favorite Things; Sri LankaMystica of Musings from Sri Lanka; Malaysia Kah Woei of The Books of My Life; India twice – Misha of My Love Affair With Books and Tes of Tes at Home; Philippines Chachic of Chachic’s Book Nook; and JapanNat of In Spring It Is The Dawn.

AFRICA (1): Ghana – Kinna of Kinna Reads.

NORTH AMERICA (7): USA five times – Belezza of Dolce Bellezza, Mari of Bookworm with a View, Esme of Chocolate and Croissants, Cathy of Kittling: Books, Colleen of Col Reads; Canada twice – Lisa of Star Metal Oak Book Blog and Lydia of The Literary Lollipop.

SOUTH AMERICA (1): BrazilLarissa of Larissa’s Life

I’m very grateful for all you bloggers participating: thank you very much. I think lots of people have found new blogs and new blogging friends through Book Bloggers Abroad and that is very nice.

What’s Next?

Book Bloggers Abroad 2011 Challenge If you like, join me in the Book Bloggers Abroad 2011 Challenge. Every week over the last 6 months, the featured book blogger left some recommendations about authors from their country. I’m planning to read some of those. If you want to find some new authors from all over the world: join me!

And the new weekly feature on Thursdays is going to be the Back of the Book competition. Each week, I will show you the back cover of a book and you’ll have to guess which book it is. You are invited to send in your own pictures of back covers! Hope you’ll join me in this crazy competition.

Book Bloggers Abroad (27) – Japan

Book Bloggers AbroadWelcome to the weekly guest post in the Book Bloggers Abroad series. Every week a book blogger from a different country is featured who talks about what it’s like to be a book blogger where he or she lives.

Regrettably, this is the last post in the series! But there is the Book Bloggers Abroad 2011 Challenge, if you want something related.


Our guest blogger for today is Nat from Japan. Her blog is called In Spring it is the Dawn. She reads a wide variety of books, but she really enjoys reading books by Japanese authors or books set in Japan. She runs the very interesting Hello Japan! feature where bloggers are asked each month to undertake some task to do with Japan. Go and check out her blog!

In kimono

Me in a kimono for our engagement party. This picture was taken about 10 years ago!

I’m Canadian but I’ve been living abroad for about 15 years now. (Wow! It still surprises me when I think about it.) I first came to Japan not long after graduating from university where I got a degree in Applied Linguistics, in other words, Teaching English as a Second Language.

At first, I spent a year in Fukuoka, on the island of Kyushu, on a one-year Working Holiday Visa. It seems I was destined to return to Japan though as I ended up coming back, but to Tokyo this time, where I taught Business English at various companies around Tokyo for about 4 years.

It was during this time that I met the man who is now my husband. After we married, he was transferred to England for work and we spent almost 4 years there, first in London, and then in Cambridge. I loved it! Especially all those fabulous book stores!

We’ve now been back in Japan for a little over 5 years. We’re currently living in an apartment in the suburbs of Tokyo with our two very silly cats. It’s a fairly residential area but still quite built up (where isn’t around Tokyo?) and with the trains it’s very easy to access central Tokyo.

Chuo Dor

Chuo Dori, the main shopping street in Ginza, Tokyo

I’m still teaching but mostly private lessons now, tutoring, and at a small English conversation school. I’m not working full time, but I do commute a lot. This year I’ve been struggling to blog as often as I used to and I’m not entirely sure what changed other than I’ve been dealing with some personal issues this year. I guess they’ve taken their toll. I’m also not the fastest reader but start getting withdrawal if I don’t read for a couple of days. Basically, it seems that there is never enough time to read and blog as much as I’d like!

I get most of my books in little padded envelopes from overseas. Imported English books can be rather expensive here so The Book Depository is a real life-saver! It really doesn’t make sense that I can order a book to be sent half-way round the world (with free shipping no less) that’s cheaper than buying the same book at a local bookstore! But I’m not complaining. I also get a few books here and there from publishers or authors for review. Plus since getting my Sony Reader earlier this year, I’ve started reading more e-books which is pretty convenient for my train commutes, and the fact that my bookshelves are stuffed full and there is literally no more room.

Kinokuniya Shinjuku South Bookstore

Kinokuniya Shinjuku South Bookstore (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

However, I do still pop into my favorite book store, Kinokuniya Shinjuku South store, whenever I’m in that part of the city. From what I’ve found, it has the biggest selection of English books in Tokyo, and the prices can sometimes be reasonable, especially on mass market paperbacks. In fact, I bought a couple of books there last week! So I will occasionally get something there, but mostly I just enjoy browsing. As easy and convenient it is to buy books online, I still miss wandering around a bookstore simply browsing and seeing what catches my eye. One of the things I really like about Kinukuniya is they have a nice selection of Japanese literature titles in a dedicated section.

Kinokuniya Shinjuku South store.

The Japanese literature in translation section at Kinokuniya Shinjuku South store.

When we were still living in our old apartment in a different area of the city, I had a library card to a newly-built library that was within walking distance from our apartment. They had a few shelves of English books and I would occasionally take out the odd book. You could only have the books for 2 weeks though, and they seemed much stricter about returning books on time. Since we moved to a different area of Tokyo about a year and a half ago, I haven’t bothered to get a new card. The closest library here is a few train stations away and a little out of the way. Plus it’s not like I need to borrow books with my giant TBR of unread books at home!

Usually I read wherever I can. In bed at night. Curled up on the sofa. On the train. Our apartment is somewhat spacious by Japanese standards but still quite small by Canadian standards and I dream of the day I can have a reading room with a comfy chair and all my books around instead of crammed into bookshelves and in stacks all over the place.

One of our cats, Jiro

One of our cats, Jiro, curled up on the sofa beside me during the last 24 Hour Read-a-thon.

I studied French in school and later spent a year there on a student exchange but it’s been many years since I spoke it or read it with any frequency so my French has become quite rusty. I do have some French literature books though that I picked up on our travels in Europe, and that I still hope to read someday. However, English is my native language and the language I read and blog in.

In fact, even though I live in Japan, other than in local shops, my daily life takes place almost entirely in English. Therefore, sadly, I can’t read in Japanese, or even speak it all that well either to be honest. I’d love to be able to read manga, or Haruki Murakami’s novels, in the original language.

I could simply suggest Haruki Murakami’s Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World as one of my favorite books by a Japanese author, but he is such a big name, most people have probably already heard of him. Although, excuse my little bit of self-promotion, I’ll be hosting a Murakami Reading Challenge next year and I’d love it if you’d join.

Instead I’ll recommend another favorite Japanese book of mine, The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki. It’s the story of four sisters set in the years just before WWII as Japan is embracing Westernization and modernization, losing some of its traditional culture in turn. At its heart it is an Austenesque story of these four women. I reread it earlier this year and loved it just as much as the first time. It’s available at, The Book Depository and other bookstores.

If I’m allowed to mention a Canadian author as well I’d suggest Ann-Marie MacDonald. I’ve loved both her books but would especially recommend her first, Fall on Your Knees.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland

Well, there you have it. Thank you Judith for letting me join in your Book Bloggers Abroad series. I’m so glad I was able to get in before the deadline!


Click on the world for a Google Maps picture!

Thanks Nat, for letting us have a look at your life as a reader and blogger. I also think Hard-Boiled Wonderland is Murakami’s best novel (and that he is one of the best writers around!). But I also liked Fall on Your Knees, which you mentioned. A very special book.

Don’t forget to take a look at Nat’s Blog. If you have any questions or comments for Nat, just leave them in the comments section.

I hope you enjoyed the Book Bloggers Abroad series. I enjoyed it very much myself and would like to thank past participants too for showing us some of their world. If you like, you can join me in the Book Bloggers Abroad 2011 Challenge and read some of the books that have been recommended by guest posters in this series.

Book Bloggers Abroad (26) – Canada

Book Bloggers AbroadWelcome to the weekly guest post in the Book Bloggers Abroad series. Every week a book blogger from a different country is featured who talks about what it’s like to be a book blogger where he or she lives.


Our guest blogger for today is Lydia from Canada. Her blog is called The Literary Lollipop . She reads both literary and popular books. As she says herself: “No genre is left on the shelf”. Go and check out her blog!

Me and Rowan

Me and Rowan


I live in Ottawa, Canada. I’m not married but I live with my crazy but cute miniature schnauzer, Rowan, who is an absolute diva. I love her to pieces, though.

Although I finished school over three years ago, I sometimes still feel like a student. Ottawa is a small city, compared to Toronto, but I’ve grown to like the “small town” vibe of the capital of Canada. It’s a government city, as it’s the home of the parliament buildings, so the urban atmosphere has a tendency to be on the traditional side. Everything is very well developed (perhaps over developed) with malls and box stores.

Downtown is always a great place to find cheap books and yummy Shawarmas. I sometimes wish we could have kept a little history in our architecture; there’s nothing special about the landscape when you’ve got a Walmart in the distance…

My Bookshelf

My Bookshelf


I am not specifically loyal to only one book  store. My favourite places are Chapters, which is a GIANT chain of Canadian book retailers, and its online store. However, I’ve recently become drawn to used bookstores and Bookmarket has proven extremely resourceful. There is also a hole-in-the-wall bookstore next to an independent movie theatre (“The Bytowne” if you’re curious) on Rideau street that is an incredible source of hard to find and unique classics, novels, and rare finds. I usually am able to find what I’m looking for. The only time I couldn’t find a specific title, I tried The Book Depository for the first time, which turned out very, very well. I’m impressed with the promise of free shipping.

I don’t normally have electricity failure or internet disruptions, unless we’re having an especially heinous winter or electrical storm. Either way, it’s unlikely that our weather will be so awful as to affect our internet. Even our earthquake didn’t cause a hiccup in the connection.
My circumstances: During the summer I have more time to read. Once September hits, work kicks into overdrive and doesn’t let up until February, when things finally settle down. I don’t have a housekeeper, although that sounds absolutely fabulous. I work full time, so my time for blogging (recently) has dwindled, and I have a lot of hobbies outside of reading that monopolize my time as well. In addition to reading and writing, fitness is a big part of my life, so I’m usually at the gym for an hour (5-6 days a week). Also, I train for half-marathons when I have the extra time.

My Marathon Number

My Marathon Number


Something I would like others to know about my country: No, we don’t live in igloos and no we don’t pronounce it “a boot.” Okay, I’m kidding, of course. Joking aside, there are a few things about my country (and city) that I would love to share with you all:

  1. The National Art Gallery is an often overlooked tourist spot; check it out any time of the year and its glittering glass roof will dazzle you and the giant spider sculpture out front will astonish you.
  2. Ottawa’s endless Shawarma and Pho restaurants are totally tasty.
  3. If you ever get the chance to visit Grosse Ile in Quebec, I highly recommend it. You’ll be absolutely haunted saddened by the Irish history captured on that tiny piece of picturesque land.
Bike Path where I run

Bike Path where I run

Where I read: At the moment, it’s been raining for nearly two days, so I definitely can’t go outside to read. However, in the summer I love to read on the balcony, if it’s nice and humid. Right now, I love to read on my new couch, or in bed, with a mountain of pillows behind me and my comforter pulled up to my chin.

A local Ottawa writer I enjoy is Alan Cumyn. His novel Losing It is absolutely hilarious. He was writer-in-residence for a period of time at the University of Ottawa, my old academic stomping grounds.


Click on the world for a Google Maps picture!

Thanks Lydia, for letting us have a look at your life as a reader and blogger. I would love to go to Ottawa sometime. My husband went and loved it there. I think I’ve heard of Alan Cumyn and I must check out his books, thanks for the recommendation.

Don’t forget to take a look at Lydia’s blog. If you have any questions or comments for Lydia, just leave them in the comments section.

Next week Nat from Japan will be visiting us for the twenty-seventh Book Bloggers Abroad guest post. Don’t miss it!


There will be only one or two more guest posts in this series, but you can join me in the Book Bloggers Abroad 2011 Challenge and read some of the books that have been recommended by guest posters in this series.

Book Bloggers Abroad (25) – USA

Book Bloggers AbroadWelcome to the weekly guest post in the Book Bloggers Abroad series. Every week a book blogger from a different country is featured who talks about what it’s like to be a book blogger where he or she lives.


Our guest blogger for today is Colleen from USA. Her blog is called Col Reads. She reads a mixture of books, but mainly literary fiction from all over the world, and classics. She also likes to join in with readalongs and challenges. Go and check out her blog!

Please give a little bit of information about yourself:
I work, read and blog in State College, Pennsylvania, USA. I live within a few miles of Penn State University, one of the country’s largest research universities and the home of the famous Nittany Lions (well, famous if you’re an academic or a college football fan, anyway).

The Lion Shrine at Penn State University

The Lion Shrine at Penn State University is an iconic image -- people wait in line to have their pictures taken here, and wedding parties often stop here as well

State College, located in Happy Valley (you can’t make this stuff up!) is a very typical college town, with a busy commercial district near the university, residential areas right outside of the commercial district, and lots of nothing between here and Pittsburgh to the west, and Philadelphia to the east!  I live here with my husband of nearly 20 years and our two daughters, ages 16 and 10.

Where do you get your books from?
I try to avoid buying books – because money spent on books is money I’m not spending on travel! I have the good fortune of having access to an amazing university library and a fine community library, so there are very few books I haven’t been able to borrow. I do buy some titles when I can’t wait to read them, and usually have at least one book at a time on my iPhone.

Pattee/Paterno Library entrance at Penn State

This is the Pattee/Paterno Library entrance at Penn State

What are your circumstances?
I am a full-time college professor, so research and teaching take up most of my days. I am also the mom of two very busy girls, so my afternoons revolve around dance classes, swim classes, piano lessons, Model UN meetings – you get the idea. Finding time to read and blog is a challenge, but one I find rewarding enough to pursue as often as possible.

Where do you read?
Loving to read is part of our family identity, and our living room is a place where each of us has at least one book to cuddle up with when we get the chance. I have also been known to spend my lunch hour in Pattee Library’s second floor reading room, which has the comfiest chairs you can imagine. Or when it’s warm enough, the Adirondack chairs of the university arboretum are lovely for reading!

What language(s) do you read in?
In addition to English, I read in Spanish quite a bit. My next Spanish language read is El Pergamino de la Seducción.

This is my favorite chair

This is my favorite chair, surrounded with books, and a glass of wine within reach!

Please suggest one national author that you love.
Funny question, because I’m a world literature reader. When I read US authors, it’s usually because I’m in the mood for non-fiction or humor or both—I recommend Carl Hiaassen, Christopher Buckley and Dave Barry, all of whom have made me laugh until I cried at various times, to truly experience the snarky side of American intellectualism. Buckley’s Boomsday was a favorite.

Worldmap-State College

Click on the world for a Google Maps picture!

Thanks Colleen, for letting us have a look at your life as a reader and blogger. I love your cozy living room. I could read there all day! I love college towns, I think you live in a great area.

Don’t forget to take a look at Colleen’s blog. If you have any questions or comments for Colleen, just leave them in the comments section.

Next week Lydia from Canada will be visiting us for the twenty-sixth Book Bloggers Abroad guest post. Don’t miss it!


There will be only a few more guest posts in this series, but you can join me in the Book Bloggers Abroad 2011 Challenge and read some of the books that have been recommended by guest posters in this series.

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