An amazing month

Globe reader

It’s been an exciting time in the A Year of Reading the World camp over the past few weeks. First, BBC Culture asked me to write an article about the project (you can see it here, unless you’re in the UK, in which case you’ll have to paste the link into a proxy site such as to access it). They even sent a photographer round to my flat to capture me with some of the books – I’d never realised how tough it is to smile continuously before!

When the article went live, a flood of visitors came pouring onto the blog and with it media requests from all over the world. This led to articles in newspapers in Denmark, Sweden, Serbia, Macedonia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Hungary and many other places besides, as well as approaches from radio stations in Australia, Ireland and the US. In fact, I’m still getting requests more than three weeks after the event.

If that wasn’t enough, some mysterious person then posted The List on Reddit and things got crazier still. More than 42,000 people piled through to this site in a single day, making my head spin. It was humbling to think that so many people could take an interest in what I’d been up to – and very exciting to know that the idea of reading world literature appeals to so many others.

In other news, the World Bookshop Challenge has got off to a good start with feedback from various sources in the UK and abroad (so far, it seems, you’re unlikely to find literature from more than 70 countries represented on the shelves of a single bookshop).

As ever, the world’s readers have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help – and none more so than Paul in Waterstones Windsor. He not only counted up all the books from different countries in the shop, but also wrote a blog post about the feat and did a pie chart to represent his findings. He’s itching to tell someone about the shop’s Kyrgyz literature now, so if you’re passing through Windsor why not pop into Waterstones and make his day? (Apparently, he’s the one with the beard.)

However, Paul’s labour of love and my own foray into nearby Kirkdale Bookshop (which, the manager estimates, carries literature from 25–30 nations) have made me realise just what a tall order counting up the number of books from different countries can be in many shops. For one thing, most places don’t even demarcate books that way. You’ll find The White Tiger and Things Fall Apart rubbing shoulders with Rebecca and Cloud Atlas in the general fiction section – not to mention the international free-for-all that is the bestsellers list.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to modify the challenge slightly. Where counting is not possible, it’s more than OK to ask staff to give you a rough estimate. Though it won’t be exact, it will nevertheless provide an interesting insight. Of course, if you are as diligent as Paul, I’d love for you to hit me with your pie charts, but whatever you can find out would be great.

Thanks again for all your support. None of this would have happened without you.

Picture by Diane Cordell

42 responses

  1. Thanks to the BBC article, I’ve known A Year of Reading the World and immediately I’ve decided to start my own project. I’ve just finished my third book. It’s just the beggining, but I’ve learnt so much until now that I’m sure I’ll not be the same in the end of this journey. Thank you for being such a inspiration! 😉

  2. This project is so amazing and inspiring! You’ve inspired me to take a good hard look at my bookshelf. Like you, I read mostly British and American titles. I shall work to remedy that.

  3. Dear Ann, it’s a wonderful blog and initiative to discover! I came to know through a tweet by Elif Shafak. I want to do the same! I will also start reading the world 🙂 Thank you so much!

  4. Pingback: News and Numbers: The August 2013 Hot List — Blog —

  5. Great story and project! We’re a Shanghai-based short story reading group called Micro Readers United (MRU) and we’ve been reading short stories from around the world since 2009. It’s quite a challenge to find English translations online!

  6. Love that, the article was published by the BBC through it’s Worldwide service but you can’t view it in the UK because it’s not part of the UK license fee… do Americans or French people pay a license fee to view it? I think not. I need to avoid your blog honey, it gives me far too many reason to rant! Lol. Glad things are going your way anyway, congrats. 🙂

  7. Wow, good luck to you.I guess having friends in the BBC helps with promotion 🙂 Having started my own ’round the world’ trip through books way back in 2009 I am delighted to be publishing volume one of my travels soon – ‘Reading the World: volume 1’ is out next week 🙂

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