Being a mood reader, probably like many of you, I don't feel like reading any book at any time. Sometimes I want my book to make me laugh and sometimes I want it to make me think. Sometimes, I just want it to surprise me, stay away from conventions, and whack my head in a crazy awesome way. But when you go to the library with a set of restrictions, you're already limiting your book pile considerably. That's what happened to me most of the time.
There are certain countries I am already sick of finding recommendations from. And that has nothing to do with the country, just the amount of time I invested in looking for a book, and the lack of potential choices I could come up with. I didn't want to read much war. I didn't want to read deep texts. I also did not want to read a book written by a Western author unless said author was in that country for a considerable amount of time. I was not looking for expat experiences, I was looking for native stories. I wanted to read the kind of book I would pick from a US books pile. Why is that so hard to find?
I most definitely did not want to stop reading diversely. But I certainly did not want to spend a lot of time digging around for books.
Of course, I was doing it all wrong. As with any kind of project, I was adding all kinds of rules to make it more like a project and that was taking a lot of fun out of the picture. It took me a few months of minimal reading to realize that. But when that thought hit, I felt relieved. Relieved that I could read any book I wanted, as long as I was also trying to read more international. Relieved that I didn't have to read only one book from a country. What was I trying to do? Do a One Book Per Country In A Year project or just improve my reading?
So lately, I have been reading a lot more. I have a book going on my tablet/phone, another one at my nightstand, and a third in the car. One of those books is set in Russia, the second in Norway (second time this year), and the third is set in the US (fourth or fifth time this year). And it's cool. There's enough diversity to go on between these books and I'm having fun. Even if I didn't get to enough books, I have plenty added to my TBR.
So far, I've armchair traveled to 11 unique countries with 25 books to go between, and am visiting my 12th country right now. For a full list, check here. This is what my map looks like:
There's a lot of white space in between that is part "I am not finding a book I want to read from this country" and part "I have too many choices to pick from for this country". Also, I haven't read a single book from the South American continent yet.
The first half of this year showed me how difficult it was to find books not set in US. Don't take me wrong - there are plenty of books out there set in many other countries and published in the US, including translated fiction. There are many popular books too set outside the US. I could probably order online any of those books I want to read. I may even find some of them in my local bookstore, and if I didn't find it, they would probably be happy to order it for me. But I don't have an infinite budget. I like buying books but I like borrowing books from the library more. I wish my small town library had a more diverse selection. (To their credit, they do have a fair number of international books, just maybe not enough for me.)
So back to my point - knowing how many precious minutes I have spent, I want to continue making it easy for me.
- I'm going to continue being flexible about where I read.
- I'm not going to dig around for books from a certain country just before I try to decide my next read. This = frustration.
- I'm going to keep looking for recommendations and acquire some of these books if they are not there at the library.
- And I'm going to do what we always do at work - build a backlog so you never run out of work. Translated to this project - build a TBR so I never run out of books to read. (This is something I stopped doing because I didn't want to plan my reading, but I'm beginning to see the merit of it.)
This post is part of my Armchair Traveler project.