On Saturday morning I was pondering what to write about this week. And what to my wondering eyes did appear in my Google Reader? The latest Weekly Geeks topic, that’s what. It’s all about “reading globally,” a subject near and dear to my heart and one that I’m feeling a bit guilty about. So I’d like to take this opportunity to confess my sins …
I began reading globally in 2007, reading authors who were from countries outside the United States. I “visited” 20 new countries that year, and 20 more countries in 2008. I set myself a perpetual challenge to read authors from all 192 countries in the world, and kept track of my travels on a map (which is on display at those links). I was an active member of a Reading Globally group on LibraryThing, and found it a great source of recommendations and discussion. Yes, I was a veritable Phileas Fogg when it came to reading globally.
And then, in 2009, I ran out of gas. Six books. That’s it. How embarrassing. My problem was finding books from “new” countries that appealed to me. You’d think, having visited only 58 of the 192 countries, that there would still be scads of great literature in translation out there. And I’m sure there is; I just wasn’t discovering it. I decided to change my travel plans; here’s what I wrote at the time:
I’m thinking of my Reading Across Borders journey like one of those hop on / hop off bus tours in large cities. For now, I’m going to hop off the bus and go where my mood takes me. I will probably still read books in translation, but not necessarily from “new” countries. It might be interesting to read one country’s literature in greater depth. Whatever I choose to do, I can’t lose sight of the “fun” part of reading!
Well, I hopped off the bus all right. I’ve been on a global reading hiatus for nine months! Oh, don’t get me wrong: I’ve read a few books in translation this year. I just haven’t been actively seeking new global reading experiences. But all that is about to change.
Last year, I was very excited about the launch of Belletrista, a bi-monthly magazine featuring the work of women writers the world over. Every issue has been chock-a-block with interesting selections, not to mention author interviews and other features. My 2010 reading goals include reading 6 books from Belle’s treasure trove of reviews. I’m no longer looking exclusively for new countries; rather, I’m combining two interests: global reading and women writers. Now I just need to get on with it.
Once I finish my current book (Marilynne Robinsons’s Gilead, which is wonderful), I’ll read my first Belletrista-inspired work: The Housekeeper and the Professor, by Yoko Ogawa. This book has been on my wishlist since the Belletrista review, all the way back in September. I just picked it up from the library yesterday.
I’m ready to hop on the bus again, and am looking forward to more global literature discoveries.
Read more from The Sunday Salon here.