It’s hard not to be drawn to what Ann Morgan is doing, but it is not for me at the moment.
In 2012, I embarked on an eccentric project. Having realised how anglocentric my reading was, I decided to try to read a novel, short story collection or memoir from every UN-recognised country, plus former UN member Taiwan (then 196 nations in all), in a calendar year.
I set up a blog, ayearofreadingtheworld.com, and asked the world’s book lovers to help me. Pretty soon suggestions – and even books, manuscripts and unpublished translations – were flooding in from around the planet.
My criteria for choosing the titles I read varied and developed throughout the year. Sometimes I opted for national favourites. At other times I picked wildcards that intrigued me because they seemed at odds with the society that had produced them, such as works by exiled writers. And there were narratives that challenged my preconceptions in a huge number of ways.
Not all the books I read were set in the countries in question, but many were evocative of the regions they describe. Since then I’ve continued to seek out books that transport me to a different place. Here are 10 of my favourites: