This year, I decided to read more international. I don't like it that I have to be so mindful of my reading to make sure I read more diversely - I wish books set in far remote corners of the world were more accessible and also hyped a lot. Hype helps, sometimes. But if I were to blindfold myself and choose a book that came my way, an overwhelming percentage of them would be set in the US or written by US authors. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just that I wish to read more from international authors and if mindfully picking a book is what I should do to make that happen, that's probably what I would do.
This is the way I pictured my goal. I am allowed to read only one book from any country this year. Excluding ARCs (because it's not fair to add them to the equation), audiobooks (because I would prefer "listenability" when it comes to them than any other attribute), and nonfiction titles (because I only read nonfiction if I like the subject). So far during this slow January, I read 2 non-ARCs (technically 3) - Night of Many Dreams set in Hong Kong, and Boxers & Saints set in China.
Knowing that I can read only one book from a country is actually making my book-picking ritual quite fun. And encouraging me to read more from my shelves than the shining newer releases at the library. I don't quite know what I would do when I do come across a book that I desperately want to read now. But I was thinking of having a month in between when I could read anything I wanted to, setting notwithstanding. I'm all about flexibility and making sure I do meet my goals, not get frustrated at the effort.
Unfortunately, I'm beginning to realize that my home library is woefully lacking in diversity - something I am hoping to change over time. Still, my collection should be enough to keep me occupied for a few months, if not longer. I do have a few titles from the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Right now, I am in between books. I may not pick a new one until this evening or sometime this week, but I narrowed down to three books to pick from. One of them is Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance. Mistry is Canadian but Indian-born. That pretty much qualifies as Indian in my book. I've heard a lot of good things about this book, so I am looking forward to reading it.
The other option I have is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, set in Afghanistan - another remarkable book that's in everyone's favorite lists. And finally, The Legend of Pradeep Mathew by Shehan Karunatilaka, set in Sri Lanka. I got this as an ARC a long time back, long enough for it to lose its ARC badge. I have a feeling I will be reading The Kite Runner though I may follow it up with the other books as well.