One Reader. One Year. 197 Books.

19 Nov
Credit to Ann Morgan

Credit to Ann Morgan

As a college student, finding time to read for pleasure feels impossible. With all of the other textbooks and novels you have to read for class, that last thing you want to do is pick up another book. Well, what if you decided to spend a whole year reading a book from every country? Yes, all 196 of them (plus one territory). In 2012, one British woman decided to do just that.

Ann Morgan is a freelance writer and sub-editor from the United Kingdom who is no stranger to these kinds of reading challenges. She spent 2011 reading books by women and blogged about her experience.

On her site dedicated to A Year of Reading the World, Morgan confessed her “knowledge of world literature was shamefully anglocentric” and that she mostly read British and North American writers. To change this, Morgan set out to read “[her] way around all the globe’s 196 independent countries—plus one extra territory chosen by blog visitors—sampling one book from every nation.”

Finding a book from every country, especially ones like Nauru and Tuvalu, proved to be difficult. But thanks to the help of her readers, Morgan succeeded in locating all 197 books.

In an article by Shirin Jaafari of Public Radio International, Morgan said, “Reading four books a week or, as it worked out, one book every 1.87 days, and writing blog posts, and then doing all the research to find the books and check out people’s suggestions was almost a full-time job. Except that I was already working full-time.”

After her experience, Morgan expressed in a blog post that “books were taking me places and opening up experiences I could never have accessed on my own.”

When was the last time you read a book from another country? If you’re looking for ideas, check out Morgan’s book list and choose one to read for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

By Philip Baily


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