Around the World in 80 Books: Mexico and Sweden

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Welcome to the next installment in my Around the World in 80 Books Challenge!  It’s exactly what it sounds like: I’m trying to read 80 books from 80 different countries/cultures around the world, and to add a frugal spin, I’m trying to do it all for under $20.

Here’s my running tally so far:
England– Free Ebook- $0
Turkey– Gift- $0
Scotland– Free Ebook- $0
Sierra Leone– Library Rental- $0
Jerusalem– Won in a Giveaway- $0
Grand Total: $0

And today’s books were both library rentals, so I’m still running at $0 spent!


This book was amazing.  I thought it was going to be all mysticism and theology, but it turned out to be more of a new age self-help book.  Ruiz notes how the principles of his Toltec ancestry have been passed down, and while the tenants stay the same, the lens that people view them through is different.  His grandmother, his family’s great spiritual guide, sounds like she was a Catholic and viewed the tenants through analogies relating to angels and demons, but he uses the same tenants presented through a much more secular lens.  That’s not to say there’s no spirituality, just less religion.

The biggest point of this book:  love yourself.  All positive change comes from that.  We cannot make a positive change in the world or ourselves without coming from a place of love.  And when we do so, we have a lot more options as to what path we take next.  Not that those options aren’t there otherwise, we’re just more aware of them.  Great read.  Highly recommend.

I do want to read the predecessor to this book written by his father, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book).

I may still keep Mexico on my list.  While the Toltec aspect of it almost satisfies my self-set criteria for the challenge, it’s not really Mexican literature as Ruiz himself is a Mexican American.  I think I’ll count it as reading from a culture independent of my own, but I’m still open to suggestions from Mexico itself.


Written by husband and wife team, Per Wahlöö and Maj Sjöwall, this is a mystery novel set in 1960’s Sweden, which was contemporary at the time of publishing.  It’s the first in a series following the same homicide department led by character Martin Beck.  When I read a review of “The Laughing Policeman,” a later book in the series, on Northern Lights Reading Project, I knew I had to hop on board.  She said she wanted to go back and read the whole series, so I decided to start with Book #1 just in case that ended up being my situation, too.

I don’t usually read crime novels.  I think I read a John Grisham novel once, and a few Agatha Christie books in middle school.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I love, love, loved this one.  I’ll definitely be circling back after I finish this challenge to read the rest of the series.

The case centers around a rape/murder crime of a girl who was attacked on a cruise ship.  I don’t want to go into too many more details, as that’s the entire fun of this book: following the detectives as they go along to figure out everything from who the girl was to who committed the crime.  I guessed who the criminal was along the way.  I was wrong.  That’s not entirely surprising.  I’ve only ever been to one murder mystery dinner.  I ended up being the play victim, and I had to try to guess who killed me as a ghost.  I was wrong there, too.  So it’s neat to see a well put together story with well-constructed characters do something that I can’t:  solve mysteries.

In the intro, it’s stated that there’s more to this book than meets the eye.  There’s sociopolitical references and suggestions.  I picked up on the ones the intro’s author suggested, but I want to know more about 1960s Sweden now so that when I go back to read the others in the series I can really analyze.

On Deck

I’m not sure which!  I’ve been on the wait list for both of these, and just got a voice mail from the library that one of them has come in.

Have any suggestions for me?  I’d love to check them out!  I have the countries at the beginning of the post covered, as well as the ones below in my queue:

Norway: Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder  recommended by Poor Student
Canada: The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat recommeded by Messy Money
Afghanistan: The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg recommended by Savvy Working Gal
Nigeria: I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani recommended by Guiltless Reader
Philippines: May Day Eve and Other Stories by Nick Joaquin recommended by Guiltless Reader
Iceland: Scarcity in Excess by Arna Mathiesen & Thomas Forget
Sudan: The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih recommended by Kate Wilson
Russia: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy recommended by Prudence Debtfree
Kenya: Out of Africa by Karen Blixen recommended by Christine from The Wallet Diet

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10 thoughts on “Around the World in 80 Books: Mexico and Sweden

  1. Alexis

    I don’t usually read crime novels, as I’ve never been a person into crime related shows either, but I recently watched Sherlock Holmes on Netflix and have become addicted. I will definitely check out these books!

    1. femmefrugality

      i’m the same way! Never really got into all the different CSIs and all that. I like Psych, but more for the random references and jokes than the crime aspect. Roseanna was really, really good though!

  2. Suburban Finance

    Roseanna sounds interesting, I think I’ll check it out. Have you heard about Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window? It’s from Japan, about the values of unconventional education and it’s set during WWII. The ending was a bit sad, but I think it’s pretty interesting. It’s quite old though, it was first published in the ’80s.

    1. femmefrugality

      Roseanna was first published in the 60s, so I have no issue with the age! That sounds really interesting, actually. I’m learning that a lot of the interesting ones do have at least a tinge of sadness in them. I’ll be adding it to my list in the next update! Thanks so much!

  3. Prudence Debtfree

    The Five Levels of Attachment looks very interesting. Like you, I’m not drawn to crime books, but you’ve given Roseanna such a fine review, I’m intrigued. You really are doing a great thing here. Happy reading into the New Year!


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