Books are wonderful. We can learn as well as master any subject by diving our noses into books. They can teach us about different places, introduce us to different cultures and give us insight about virtually anything that we are interested in. Through books we meet other individuals, find out about their feelings, their experiences, values, socio-cultural backgrounds, outlooks on the world, systems of belief or even culinary preferences – which might differ from our own. But reading does not only teach us about others, but by getting into another – or even someone else’s – mindset, we also learn about ourselves. Already longing for your next read?
Judge a book by its cover
Have you ever thought about diversity as far as your bookshelf is concerned? Writer, author and blogger Ann Morgan from London has. Perceiving herself as a “cultured and cosmopolitan person” she noticed that her bookshelf conveyed “a rather different story” because the vast majority of books on her shelf were written by British or North American authors and included almost no translations from other languages. So she decided to add variety to her book collection by reading a novel, a short story collection, or a memoir from every country in the world over the duration of one year. And so she did.
Literary/literally blind spots
Getting hold of almost 200 English translations of books from all around the world proved to be a pretty challenging venture. Although there is an enormous number of books being published every year, most translations come from countries with “strong publishing networks” resulting in a large amount of literature that is not available to readers of the english language, which is the world’s most published one, too. For example, you can find translations of books in French written by French or Swiss authors, but it is almost impossible to find translated versions of authors of, for example, French African background.
Can you even imagine how narrow the corpus of available books translated into English actually is and how many wonderful books (and thoughts) we are missing out on, due to the fact that these are not commercially available?!
Lost and found in translation
196 books in one year. Ann Morgan tried it – so you don’t have to, or rather, so you CAN.
See yourself how she managed to get her hands on English translations of books from all around the world. From Panama to Malaysia, from Sweden to Palau, from South Africa to Turkmenistan to Portugal and back…
Watch & get inspired:
Header image: go.ted.com/readtheworld