By: Rachel Unklesbay
I watched a TED talk a while ago that made me think. Ann Morgan talked about perusing her bookshelves one day and realizing something new about herself. Although she thought of herself as a well-read and rather cosmopolitan person, there were almost no books on her shelf from foreign countries. That meant that, as well-read as she thought she was, she hadn’t read any perspectives except those from English—and occasionally, American—authors.
Of course, I immediately started mentally sorting through my own bookshelves. I had a copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and a few college books from African authors. And aside from that, I had the same culture-blindness. I set out to do the same thing Morgan had: read a book from every country.
She did it in a year. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t have a kid, though. And I think her budget for book purchases was higher than mine. (Since she picked up a lot of her books while visiting foreign countries, I’m pretty sure her budget for everything is higher than mine.) Anyways, I didn’t set a time limit. I just made a list of countries, and started asking for recommendations.
Fortunately, my husband works at a bookstore. That makes the finding process a lot easier.
I’ve read 30 countries so far, and I’ve got about two dozen more on my bookshelf, waiting for me to catch up.
The most surprising thing I’ve learned so far? Scandinavian humor. I’m pretty sure my family gets their sense of humor from our Swedish heritage. Everything I’ve read from the north of Europe so far has had a dry, hilarious ability to laugh at the most unfortunate of circumstances. And I’ve enjoyed it so much, I’m now on a side-track reading as much Swedish geriatric comedy as I can get my hands on. It’s funny stuff.
If you’d like to know more about Ann Morgan, click here.
And if you’d like to track my progress or read my book reviews, check out this page here.
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