Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Now THAT'S a Reading Challenge!

Many of us have set reading challenges for ourselves. Read a certain number of books in a year. Read all the books by a specific author.  Read a book from every genre you can think of. Writer Ann Morgan set herself a challenge too – to read a book from every country in the world in one year.

This ambitious and daunting challenge is chronicled in her blog A Year of Reading the World.  She gave a great visual of her journey by taking a picture of her reading shelf as the challenge progressed.

Here is the list of books she read from each country.

Morgan's challenge soon became an international co-op as writers, librarians, translators, blog readers and literary fans all pitched in to help.  As you can imagine, being able to locate a book form every country - and in English - sounds nearly impossible.  But the world community proved itself to be as determined as Morgan to see this project succeed.  Many sent book titles to add to her list and others mailed the books themselves.  Networking led to  leads and new contacts, several volunteering hours of research on her behalf. One writer even penned a piece specifically for Morgan when, as a new country, South Sudan didn't yet have an offering for her collection.  I envy Ann Morgan for her persistence and ambition, and for the amazing journey she has taken...from her armchair.
(Photo: Darren Russell)
(Photo: Darren Russell)
"But the effort was worth it. As I made my way through the planet’s literary landscapes, extraordinary things started to happen. Far from simply armchair travelling, I found I was inhabiting the mental space of the storytellers. In the company of Bhutanese writer Kunzang Choden, I wasn’t simply visiting exotic temples, but seeing them as a local Buddhist would. Transported by the imagination of Galsan Tschinag, I wandered through the preoccupations of a shepherd boy in Mongolia’s Altai Mountains.  With Nu Nu Yi as my guide, I experienced a religious festival in Myanmar from a transgender medium’s perspective.
In the hands of gifted writers, I discovered, bookpacking offered something a physical traveller could hope to experience only rarely: it took me inside the thoughts of individuals living far away and showed me the world through their eyes. More powerful than a thousand news reports, these stories not only opened my mind to the nuts and bolts of life in other places, but opened my heart to the way people there might feel.
And that in turn changed my thinking. Through reading the stories shared with me by bookish strangers around the globe, I realised I was not an isolated person, but part of a network that stretched all over the planet.
One by one, the country names on the list that had begun as an intellectual exercise at the start of the year transformed into vital, vibrant places filled with laughter, love, anger, hope and fear. Lands that had once seemed exotic and remote became close and familiar to me – places I could identify with. At its best, I learned, fiction makes the world real."
(excerpt from /www.bbc.com/)

What Challenges have you done?  What is your dream challenge?

No comments:

Post a Comment