Friday, July 19, 2013

"Reading the World" sounds like the best idea ever. What should I read?

Me, reading at a Shakespeare performance in Boston two nights ago. BOOKS ROCK, Y'ALL.

I was just forwarded this article from Bonnie (the lady behind Small Things, Great Love, and who you can chat with on Twitter), and immediately had to share.

Here's the premise: BBC contributor Ann Morgan decided to spend one year reading a book from every country in the world. Now, normally these sorts of endurance challenges don't interest me (she had 1.87 days to read each one... I love to read, but no thanks!), but this one actually seems like really good training for folks who like to travel a lot. There was a point to this exercise - to broaden horizons, yes, and also to expose anglophone bias in publishing.

"Before I knew it, people all over the planet were getting in touch with ideas and offers of help. Some posted me books from their home countries. Others did hours of research on my behalf. In addition, several writers, like Turkmenistan’s Ak Welsapar and Panama’s Juan David Morgan, sent me unpublished translations of their novels, giving me a rare opportunity to read works otherwise unavailable to the 62% of Brits who only speak English. Even with such an extraordinary team of bibliophiles behind me, however, sourcing books was no easy task. For a start, with translations making up only around 4.5 per cent of literary works published in the UK and Ireland, getting English versions of stories was tricky."

So I think I'm going to try a light version - I want to seek out some of the books off of her list, starting with the countries I know the least about (though I probably won't be able to do as well as she did in getting unpublished manuscripts and the like...bummer! That sounds awesome!): Azerbaijan, Honduras, Nauru,* Turkmenistan...

My imagination is going CRAZY right now. 

What are your favorite books from other countries? What do you recommend I read, preferably something not originally published in English?

* It's not often you can name a country I've never even HEARD of... bring it!

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