Confession: I’m a Culturally Monogamous Reader

Want to be a better writer? Then be a better reader.

There’s a blog post on how one lady “read the world in a year.” She’s a voracious reader, from what I understand, but she realized one day that she didn’t read much past her culture and country’s literature. Recognizing that this was an issue for her, and feeling stunted by her multicultural illiteracy, she set out to compile a list of books from UN-recognized countries (195, plus one more (Taiwan), and read one book from each country for an entire year. That’s 196 books–in one year. I’m a rabid reader, but I don’t think even I hit that target annually.

At any rate, she did it!, and graciously provided her hard-earned list for us to walk in her footsteps, or forge our own.

You can check out her TedTalk for a better look at how her idea was conceived, and how she set out to read the world in one year. She has interesting tidbits on how people from around the world helped her reach her goal; some strangers even mailed her packages of books! Imagine being touched by a stranger, across the world, whom you’ve never met, and may never meet, in such a generous way. I have goosebumps just thinking about it.

I’ve decided that I, too, want to expand my reading list. I don’t want to be a culturally monogamous reader–I want to not only experience culture by traveling to other nations, but I want to read their words, understand their minds, feel their characters. Language and storytelling is a major part of many cultures, and understanding another culture means drowning–not just immersing–yourself in the literature.

I’ve broken down the list, which contains far more than 196 books (she keeps adding to the list, and this was a 2012 project for her, so you can imagine how many several hundred books are on that list now), into months. I’m going to give myself 1.5 years, not one year, to read through the list.

Since my mother was born in Trinidad, and my father was born in Syria, I’m going to read those countries first. I traveled to Morocco, so I will read that country as well early on. I also plan on heading off to Peru sometime soon, so I’ll read books from there as well to begin with.

From there, I’m going to randomly choose countries and read the books from that country. Spices up things a bit for me than going straight down a list–I won’t know what country’s next, so it’ll up the excitement for me.

If I don’t read the books in 1.5 years, that’s fine, because this is more about experiencing a piece of a culture than competing with myself to read as many books as possible in a given time period.

January 2016:
Trinidad & Tobago


March 2018:

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