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One Woman's Goal to Read the World

A stack of books in front of a map of the world
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When you’re getting ready to travel abroad, be it for work or vacation, do you try to find a book to read either about or from that country? If you do, you might have found that it’s easier to find literature about or from some countries than others. In 2012, Ann Morgan found this out, too, but she didn’t let that stop her from reading the world. That year, she embarked on a project to read one book from 196 countries around the world, and wrote a review of each one on her blog, “A Year of Reading the World.”

Ann writes:

“It wasn’t easy — according to research by literature exchange platform Literature Across Frontiers, just 4.5 per cent of poetry, fiction and drama works published in the UK every year are translations. There are plenty of languages that have next to nothing translated into English. Then there are all the tiny tucked away places like Nauru and Tuvalu (I know, I hadn’t either), where not much is written down at all.”

So how did she find books in English from every country around the world? To find out, watch Ann’s TED Talk below, and then check out her blog to learn more about the project.

If you are interested in reading more books about and from other countries, why not check out Ann’s list? Or, if you find that too daunting, you can start with The Guardian’s World Library, which highlights three books from various countries such as Cuba, Ghana, and Chile.

I know I personally have a long way to go to read one book from every country around the world. But here are some books and authors from Ann’s list that I’ve read and recommend:

  • Afghanistan: Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
  • Australia: Jill Ker Conway, The Road from Coorain
  • Colombia: Gabriel García Márquez
  • Dominican Republic: Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  • Japan: Haruki Murakami
  • Liberia: Helene Cooper, The House at Sugar Beach
  • New Zealand: Patricia Grace, Potiki
  • Nigeria: Wole Soyinka, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Chinua Achebe
  • Russia: Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita
  • Sierra Leone: Aminatta Forna, The Memory of Love
  • South Africa: Nelson Mandela, The Long Walk to Freedom
  • Sudan: Tayeb Salih, Season of Migration to the North
  • Turkey: Orhan Pamuk, Snow
  • Zimbabwe: Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions

What’s next on your reading list? Let us know on Facebook!

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