Read Around the World

Ambassadors Recommend Which Books Best Represent Their Country

From the Danish memoir Out of Africa, which inspired the hit romantic Hollywood film of the same name, to the Dutch cartoon rabbit ‘Miffy’ (Nijntje) beloved by children across the globe, ambassadors from Morocco to Malta recommend the ultimate books that best represent their country.  

The Spanish Ambassador, Manuel de la Cámara Hermoso, recommends Don Quixote, which inspired the English word ‘Quixotic’, meaning extremely idealist, especially in a romantic, lofty, or extravagantly chivalrous manner.

Discover the legend of New Zealand itself, according to which, the North Island of New Zealand was fished from the sea by the daring demigod Māui, with the South Island forming from Māui’s canoe and Stewart Island forming from his anchor. in the book Māori Myths and Legends, recommended by Ambassador, Nicole Roberton.

TravelBird received around 50 recommendations from Ambassadors (shown below) and a further 50+ answers from embassy representatives.

Online travel specialists, TravelBird, released a study that reveals the ultimate book recommendations from ambassadors around the world. As books are a vehicle through which a reader can be instantly transported into another culture, TravelBird consulted with global ambassadors about which book they believe best represents their country. These suggestions are designed to help travelers get a flavor of a destination before they travel or perhaps inspire a future trip. The travel specialists decided to contact embassies for their opinions, because, as representers and promoters for their country, ambassadors are in a unique position to offer expert advice on everything their country has to offer. These results are part of a larger study that features travel recommendations and cultural insights from embassies across the globe.

Below are book recommendations from 49 ambassadors around the world.

TravelBird also received additional answers from diplomats and embassy representatives. Reply to this press release if you would like to view these additional suggestions. Please find a full description of how this study was conducted below the results:

The larger project began by contacting embassies in over 50 countries around the world and asking ambassadors several simple yet revealing questions about their homeland. Their answers offer cultural insights and unique insider tips on how to experience their country te way locals do. The questions were as follows:

Ambassadors' Country of Origin Location Where Embassy is Based Name of Ambassador Book Recommendations:Title, Author, Publication Year
Argentina Finland Facundo Vila Martín Fierro, José Hernández, 1872
Argentina Norway Betina Pasquali Fonseca El Aleph, Luís Borges, 1945
Argentina Sweden Nélida María Cintreras de Ecke El Aleph, Luís Borges, 1945
Austria Germany Dr. Peter Huber Der Trafikant (English title, The Tobacconist), Robert Seethaler, 2012
Austria Hungary Elisabeth Ellison-Kramer Das Buch Österreich: Texte, die man kennen muss (translates in English to The Book of Austria. The text you have to know), Hans Rauscher, 2005; The World of Yesterday, Stefan Zweig, 1942
Austria Netherlands Dr. Phil. Heidemaria Gürer Die gute Küche: Das österreichische Standardkochbuch (translates in English to The Good Kitchen: The Austrian Standard Cookbook), Ewald Plachutta & Christoph Wagner, 1993
Austria Portugal Thomas Stelzer Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (English title, The Man without Qualities), Robert Musil, 1930-1943
Austria South Africa Matthias Radosztics Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (English title, The Man without Qualities), Robert Musil, 1930-1943; Das Augenspiel (English title, The Play of the Eyes), Elias Canetti, 1985 ; Die Dämonen (translates in English as The Demons), Heimito von Doderer, 1956; Die Tante Jolesch: oder Der Untergang des Abendlandes in Anekdoten (English title, Tante Jolesch: Or, The Decline of the West in Anecdotes), Friedrich Torberg, 1975
Canada Switzerland Susan Bincoletto The Promise of Canada, Charlotte Gray, 2016
Colombia Netherlands Juan José Quintana Cien Años de Soledad (English title, One Hundred Years of Solitude), Gabriel Garcia Márquez, 1967
Colombia Norway Jorge Leyva El Amor en Tiempos de Guerra (English title, Love in Times of War), Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1985
Costa Rica USA Román Macaya Cuentos de mi tía Panchita (translates in English to Stories of my Aunt Panchita), Carmen Lyra, 1920
Croatia Egypt Tomislav Bošnjak Gricka vjestica (English title, The Witch of Grič), Marija Zagorka, 1913
Denmark Finland Jetter Nordam Den Afrikanske Farm (English title, Out of Africa), Karen Blixen, 1937; Andersen's Fairy Tales, Hans Christian Andersen, 1835
Dominican Republic Belgium Aníbal de Castro Cuentos Escritos en el Exilio (translates in English as Tales Written in Exile), Juan Bosch, 1964; Más cuentos escritos en el Exilio (translates in English as More Tales in Exile), Juan Bosch, 1964
Dominican Republic Switzerland Julio Simon Castaños Z. La Mañosa (no English translation), Juan Bosch, 1935
Ecuador Netherlands Fernando Bucheli Memorias de Andrés Chiliquinga (translates in English to Memoir of Andrés Chiliquinga), Carlos Arcos Cabrera, 2013
Finland Austria Hannu Kyröläinen Putkinotko (no English translation), Joel Lehtonen, 1919
Finland Belgium Timo Ranta Kalevala, Elias Lönnrot, 1849
Finland Denmark Vesa Vasara Tuntematon Sotilas (English title, The Unknown Soldier), Väinö Linna, 1954
Finland Germany Ritva Koukku-Ronde A History of Finland, Henrik Meinander, 2011
Finland Norway Erik Lundberg Trollvinter (English title, Moominland Midwinter), Tove Jansson, 1957
Greece Slovenia Nicolas Protonotarios Odyssey, Homer, Approx 8th Century BC
Guatemala Switzerland Luis F Carranza Hombres de Maíz (English title, Men of Maize), Miguel Ángel Asturias, 1949
Hungary Belgium Nagy Zoltán A Pál utcai fiúk (English title, The Paul Street Boys), Ferenc Molnar, 1906
Hungary New Zealand Dr László Zsolt Szabó A gyertyák csonkig égnek (English title, Embers), Sándor Márai, 1942
Ireland Austria Tom Hanney Solar Bones, Mike McCormack, 2016
Israel Switzerland Jacob Keidar The Bible, The Old Testament
Italy Norway Giorgio Novello Il Nome della Rosa (English title, The Name of the Rose), Umberto Eco, 1980
Malta Austria Keith Azzopardi The Kappillan of Malta, Nicholas Monsarrat, 1973
Malta Germany Dr Albert Friggieri The Kappillan of Malta, Nicholas Monsarrat, 1973
Malta Netherlands Joseph Cole The Kappillan of Malta, Nicholas Monsarrat, 1973
Mauritius Belgium Y. Ramjanally Paul et Virginie, Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, 1788
Mexico Belgium Eloy Cantú Segovia Pedro Páramo (no English translation), Juan Rulfo, 1955
Mexico Denmark Carlos Pujante Pedro Páramo (no English translation), Juan Rulfo, 1955
Mexico Norway Jorge-Castro Valle El Laberinto de la soledad (English title, The Labyrinth of Solitude), Octavio Paz, 1950; La Región más Transparente (English title, Where the Air is Clear), Carlos Fuentes, 1958
Mexico Sweden Agustín Gasca Pliego Como Agua para Chocolate (English title, Like Water for Chocolate), Laura Esquivel, 1989
Morocco Norway Lamia Radi Le Petit Prince (English title, The Little Prince), Antoina de Saint Exupery, 1943
Netherlands Spain Matthijs van Bonzel Nijntje (English title, Miffy), Dick Bruna, 1955
New Zealand Austria Nicole Roberton Māori Myths and Legends, Alexander Wyclif Reed, 1964
Norway Greece Jørn Eugene Gjelstad Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way, Lars Mytting, 2015
Portugal UK Manuel Lobo Antunes Mensagem (translates in English to Message), Fernando Pessoa, 1934
Spain Finland Manuel de la Cámara Hermoso Don Quijote de la Mancha (English title, Don Quixote), Miguel de Cervantes, 1615
Sweden Denmark Fredrik Jörgensen Ett drömspel (English title, A Dream Play), August Strindberg, 1902; Nils Holgerssons (English title, The Wonderful Adventures of Nils), Selma Lagerlöf, 1907; Pippi Långstrump (English title, Pippi Longstocking), Astrid Lindgren, 1945; Rid i Natt (English title, Ride this Night), Vilhelm Moberg, 1941; I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 2011
Switzerland Austria Walter Haffner Das Kalb vor der Gotthardpost (translates in English to The Calf in front of the Gotthardpost), Peter von Matt, 2012
Switzerland Poland Andrej Motyl Die Physiker (English title, The Physicists), Friedrich Dürrenmatt, 1961; Homo Faber (no English translation), Max Frisch, 1957
Venezuela Switzerland Cèsar Mèndez Gonzàlez Doña Barbara (translates in English to Ms. Barbara), Ròmulo Gallegos, 1929
Vietnam Netherlands Ngo Thi Hoa Truyện Kiều (English title The Tale of Kieu), Nguyen Du, 1820

If a person is visiting your country for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?

  1. Is there a common cliche about people in your country which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?
  2. Which book, fiction or non-fiction, best represents your country?

“When it comes to travel advice, there is a whole ocean of information available, primarily from fellow travelers and industry experts. To enjoy a truly authentic travel experience, today’s travelers seek insider tips and advice from those people who know the destination best - local residents.” says Fiona Vanderbroeck, Chief Traveler Officer at TravelBird. “From eating a Parrillada Chapina in Antigua Guatemala to swimming in Oslo’s Sorenga seawater pool, these rare insights from international ambassadors give travelers a truly unique perspective on their chosen destination. We’re excited to be able to share these recommendations with travelers, prompting them to see things in a whole new light.”