How To Be Happy: Reading Around The World

I have decided to read my way around the world and I need your help! I want to find books that will teach us something about how to live happily or that are an expression of aesthetic beauty. My intention is to seek out, and celebrate, loveliness in every corner of the world. It is a treasure hunt for joy and wisdom.


The whole world?! What inspired you to undertake a project like this?

Some of my favourite books recently have been about happiness in different parts of the world and three in particular captured my imagination.

The first book that awakened me to more joyful ways of living in other parts of the world was Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying. Next I discovered Meik Wiking’s Little Book of Hygge and then I ventured into Finland with Joanne Nylund’s Sisu.

Additionally, I’ve been reading some amazing translated fiction: Elefant by Martin Suter and The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-mi Hwang. Reading books from around the world was making me super-happy.

About the same time, I found Sophie from Portal in the Pages who was attempting a reading-around-the-world challenge. Before I knew it, a seed had been planted in my mind. Maybe I could do this too!

So what are the rules for your Reading Around The World project?

Firstly, there are no rules. This is a project of pleasure, not pressure. But the aim is to read a book from each of the United Nation’s Member States.

It’s going to be a leisurely trip. I’m allowed to stop in a country if I want and immerse myself in its culture, selecting several books if my interest is piqued. Or I can settle for a quick stopover if I am feeling restless and tick off the country with a single book.

Ideally, I want this project to help me see the world through fresh eyes. But inevitably my perspective will be influenced by who I am, where I come from and what I have known. Consequently, I am not going to be too precious about the relationship of the author to a country. They may have been born there, lived there, travelled there or have come to know it through academic study. The key quality I am seeking is that the author, or the work they have produced, feels authentically connected to the country’s values and culture.

I will read all books in English – alas, my language skills won’t permit otherwise. Where I am unable to find an English translation of a book that contributes to my knowledge, or experience, of happiness then I am allowed to turn to other media – an academic paper, a poem, art, music, film, a recipe – in order to find a little piece of joy from that part of the world. Sometimes I may read books, cook and find a piece of art!

The only real criteria is that whatever I find should enrich my life in some way: make me feel good or spark a new way of thinking about something.

How will you track your progress?

There will be a number of ways to keep in touch with my progress on this project.

I will be writing regular blog posts letting you know what I have learned about happiness! Any individual book reviews I do will appear in the library. For an overall summary, I have a list of the countries I’ve visited in books.

If you prefer something a little gentler then you may like to subscribe to my YouTube channel where I post a video every Sunday. I try to make them super cosy and my favourite videos are the monthly reading vlogs, which are little hauls of happiness in themselves. Or at least that is the aim!

Finally, the book I am currently reading will always be listed in the sidebar of this blog and you can follow me on Twitter or connect over on GoodReads.

Can I join in?

Yes, of course!

The best way to participate is to join the GoodReads group. Here you can keep up-to-date with all the current reading plans and chat about the books. Alternatively, if you subscribe to my YouTube channel then you’re unlikely to miss anything and we can talk about the books in the comment sections.

Are you the first person to Read Around the World?

No! Lots of people have undertaken reading around the world projects. If you like this kind of challenge then you might want to have a look at the following blogs:

The difference with this project is the focus on happiness. That and the fact I’ve decided to be super flexible and include other art forms too! Some might think of it as cheating but I like to think of it as a creative commitment to shining a light on some of the loveliest, happy-making things I can find in each country.

When will you be starting?

The intention is to set sail at the beginning of March.

The first book I’ve chosen to read is Beth Kempton’s Wabi Sabi so do get your hands on a copy if you’d like to join in!

Reading around the world-2

I hope you’re as excited about this project as me! If so, please let me know what books you think could shine a light on happiness in your part of the world or spread a little wisdom. I’m really looking forward to reading all your suggestions.

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