OK, so I know I said my next post would be about how to put a list of your own together, but I realized that I couldn’t answer that question without first answering the question of why you would want to put such a list together in the first place.
One obvious question that I’m sure you’re asking yourselves is “why do this?” It’s a fair question. Why read a book from every country? Doesn’t that sound extensive, and perhaps over-ambitious?
Sure, it is extensive – and definitely ambitious! But I don’t think it’s overly so. Clearly it’s doable – it’s already been done. But why bother doing so in the first place?
This is a very personal question, and I don’t think the answer is going to be the same for everyone. It’s going to depend on who you are, where you live, what your job is, how you view books to begin with, etc. For example, if you’re a teacher, you may solely be looking for books from around the world that you can use to teach your students about the world (which is a REALLY good idea, btw!). If you’re a librarian, you may be wanting to put a list of books together for a booktalk and/or recommendations for your patrons. Or perhaps this is a personal challenge, or more just for enjoyment/edification. Perhaps you’re planning a trip somewhere and you realize you don’t really know anything about the region where you’re headed.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. For me, this was a personal challenge that has actually been SUPER fun. I’ve learned a lot about the world that was never discussed in high school, or even college. Personally, I feel that as a human being living on this planet, it’s important that I am at least slightly knowledgeable about the rest of the world – even areas that I’ll probably never visit.
This probably also stems from how I view books. I look at books as a portal to other times and places. I remember as a kid always looking for books that contained something different – something other than what I saw around me every day and already knew about. I wanted my books to make me travel, even if I physically couldn’t do so. I remember getting so frustrated that most historical fiction books at my elementary school were about World War II. I knew about World War II! It had been taught to death! Yes, it’s a huge subject and yes, there should be books written about it, but that’s not ALL there is. I wanted to read and learn about things I didn’t already have a lot of information on.
Some of my favorite books as a kid were the Dear America series by Scholastic. These books were fictional diaries of girls from various time periods in America’s history – and they talked about some things we never in TOUCHED in school, such as the enslaved native peoples in California (Valley of the Moon), or the Great Migration between World Wars I & II (Color me Dark). I wanted to know more about these stories – the stories that weren’t really being talked about.
The Dear America series also had a sister series called the Royal Diaries. Instead of fictional diaries about time periods in American history, these were fictional diaries about real princesses around the world, ranging from Cleopatra to Anastasia. NONE OF THIS was covered in school, guys. And it was fascinating!
Sorry – I know I’m starting to rant. Let’s sum up:
The reasons why you would want to create such a list will definitely be varied from person to person. And that’s totally fine! Because there’s something out there for everyone 🙂 The first step will be identifying who you are putting this list together for – yourself or others – and whether it’s purely for enjoyment, or meant to be more of a challenge/learning experience. It may be a little bit of both! Once you know why and who you are putting this list together for, you’re ready to start putting a list together of your own.
Next I’ll be talking about how to actually physically put that list together (really!) – and how to find these books without buying a ton of new books and breaking the bank.