In 2012 the British journalist and author Ann Morgan undertook a journey through the 196 countries in the world. It was a very unusual and ambitious journey. She wanted to read a book from every country, in just one year.
A Year of Reading the World from Vloop on Vimeo.
Looking at her bookshelves, Morgan was saddened to see they were dominated by British and North American authors. So she decided to read her way around all the globe’s 196 independent countries – plus one extra territory chosen by her blog visitors. The challenge she set herself to was enormous. Reading an average of about four books a week, while also working full-time, was just the first hurdle. Finding an English-translation from every country was also very tricky – just 4.5% of works published in the UK each year are translations.
But what did she learn from this experience? Find out from my Skype interview with her
The main things was the power of stories and the way that they can take you into someone else's head and show you the world and their perspective, which I don't think anything else quite has the power to do. Еven film don't quite do the same thing. And it's it's possible to look at the world through someone else's eyes when you're reading a story, and lose yourself, not entirely, but to a large extent. And I think that's a great way of breaking down barriers and helping people understand each other. And also it was very interesting for someone growing up in the UK - we have a very particular perspective on the world - Western perspective, and to see the world through other people's eyes and to realize how things look differently and to people in different places. There was a book that I read from Qatar and which was one of the first novels to be first Qatari novels to be translated in English. It was called The Corsair by a writer Abdulaziz Al-Mahmoud and there was a sentence in that book which stuck in my mind where a character says: "You would think differently if this land was your land and if these people were your people". And I think that summed up the project to me and realizing how differently things look from other perspective.