UNESCO Cities of Literature Summer Reads

Each year, UNESCO Cities of Literature around the globe compile a list of books that their staff members recommend, one from each participating city. This summer, eighteen of the cities took part, pointing out books of interest by authors from these cities and countries. 

Readers of different tastes should find something to their liking, as the list contains both poetry and prose in various genres. The books are listed here in English, but you will be able to find some of them in other languges as well.

Barcelona, Spain

Death in Spring by Mercè Rodoreda. English translation by Martha Tennent.

Dark and dream-like tale of a teenage boy's coming of age in a remote village in the Catalan mountains. 

Bucheon, south korea

A Distant and Beautiful Place by Yang Kwija. English translation by Kim So-Young and Julie Pickering.

A novel which depicts the Korean people’s unfailing optimism and love of life.

Dunedin, New Zealand

Go Girl: A Storybook of Epic New Zealand Women by Barbara Else.

A stunning illustrated storybook with a powerful can-do message.

Melbourne, australia

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman.

A beautifully written and haunting story of love, loss, and redemption.

Lillehammer, Norway

One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway - and its Aftermath by Åsne Seierstad. English translation by Sarah Death.

The true story of one of our age's most tragic events, The 2011 Norway attack.

Krakow, Poland

The Old Axoloti by Jacek Dukaj.

In a post-apocalyptic world where biological life has been destroyed, this book asks the question: what makes us human and can we protect our humanity from destruction?

Ulynovsk, russia

The Frigate Pallada by Ivan Goncharov. Stanley Bill translated to English.

Goncharov  remains the only Russian writer to make a round-the-world trip and in 2018, his book celebrates its 160th anniversary.

Nottingham, England

Words Best Sung by Lee Stuart Evans. 

A coming-of-age story set in Notts during the sixties, both wistful and relevant, fun and poignant.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

The Harvest of Chronos by Mojca Kumerdej. Rawley Grau translated to English.

An epic, humorous and quite unique historical and philosophical novel about Central Europe in the 16th century.

Utrecht, The Netherlands

In Lucya's Eyes by Arthur Japin. David Colmer translated to English.

Amsterdam 1758, and a man is artfully seducing a woman.

Heidelberg, germany

The Last Journey of Soutine by Ralph Dutli. 

A novel about the wounds of the exile, the impotence of the letter and the overwhelming power of the paintings. 

Lviv, Ukraine

The Grand Harmony by Bohdan Ihor Antonych.

Poems on religious themes about the author`s journey to faith and his development into one of the greatest poets of his time.

Tartu, Estonia

Walker on Water by Kristiina Ehin. Ilmar Lehtpere translated to English.

A collection of poetry and prose combining surreal and fantastical motifs with modern realities.

Obidos, Portugal

Baltasar and Blimunda by José Saramago. Giovanni Pantiero translated to English.

An 18th-century love story intertwined with the construction of the Convent of Mafra, now one of Portugal's chief tourist attractions.

Manchester, England

The Life-Writer by David Constantine.

Following the death of her husband, a literary biographer resolves to explore the pieces of his life she never knew about, including a journey he made years before they met ...

Edinburgh, scotland

The Other Mrs. Walker by Mary Poulson-Ellis.

A twistingly entangled detective story with a difference.

Granada, spain

Poet in Spain by Federico García Lorca.

The fluid and mesmeric lines of these new translations by the award-winning poet Sarah Arvio bring us closer than ever to the talismanic perfection of the great García Lorca.


Children in Raindeer Woods by Kristínu Ómarsdóttur. Lytton Smith translated to English.

A lyrical take on the absurdity of war and the mysteries of childhood.