Hello, fellow readers and travelers. I’ve had this idea for some time now: Starting at University of Idaho, where I noticed that my lit classes seemed to be rehashing a lot of books by old dead English-speaking white guys.
Now, I don’t have anything against ODESWGs, as long as they’re interesting. (Like Gerald Durrell.)
- But really, Hamlet three times? I’m a mental vegetarian, thanks.
- The Sound and The Fury twice? (Once was too much.)
- Oedipus Rex again? I wanted to poke my *own* eyes out.
- Our Town? I’d rather be in Chinatown.
- There had to be more WORLD literature out there, and I was determined to find it.
Please join me on my 365-day venture Around the World By Armchair as I attempt to read one book from every country on earth before the end of 2013. Er…2014. Well, perhaps 2015… Nope, o.k., 2016? Everybody has a 5-year project. It is now 2017. How time flies when you’re reading!
And, if I incorporate the suggestion of a Native American friend and include the 566 federally recognized tribal nations inside the U.S. – and they are sovereign countries – well, I might get finished by the time I turn 90!
That’s ok – like C.P. Cavafy famously said, it’s the journey.
The photos of the Oriental Express appear here because that’s one of my big regrets in life: I had the opportunity to come home from Japan via that famous train, but I chickened out at the thought of crossing the Russian Steppes alone. It’s not the journeys you take…it’s the ones you don’t.
Right now I am storing the books I’ve read in the 1980s version of an old steamer trunk: the kind you might have taken on the Oriental Express in an Agatha Christie mystery.
At project’s end, I plan to donate the books to a local charity for teens. For those who may feel “stuck” in Spokane…
On my blog you’ll also find:
- my healing mandalas and other artwork
- along with gluten-free pages for those of you forced, like me, to take a journey of a different (and sadly permanent) nature.
“As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery…
…keep Ithaka always in your mind.
arriving there is what you are destined for.
but do not hurry the journey at all.
better if it lasts for years…”
Ithaka, by Greek poet C.P. Cavafy
PS–I work for an indie bookstore filled with lots of books. The opinions expressed on this blog are my own. They don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of the bookstore or its staff. Just me. An individual person who happens to have a job expressing opinions about books–good, bad, or ugly. I try not to judge other people’s traditions, especially not from a position of inexperience, but sometimes I can’t help it–if you’re cruel to animals, I’m going to say something about it. If you feel you need to control women’s bodies…ditto.
If you know something I don’t, please comment. I enjoy learning and if I’m wrong, I am capable of changing my mind.
Be safe out there, readers. It’s a dangerous big world.
PS–A word about monocultures. Added July 2017.
As I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve (slowly) become aware of the concept of monocultures. Like multi-tasking, a monoculture is something that many people think is real, but does not, in actual fact, exist. Like many people, I base my opinions on my own experiences. In my experience, Japanese people are polite, German trains are on time, British people have a dry sense of humor, and Arab men think American girls are easy.
It has been hard for me to step back and realize that I haven’t met every single Japanese or British person, or Arab man. (German trains, though. They’re awesome!)
Once, my dear British friend Julia came to Jackson Hole for a ski vacation. I met her there. Her friend N. seemed to immediately dislike me, and I couldn’t figure out why. Surely any friend of Julia’s should be a friend of hers. Instead of chatting about the ski slopes, our amazing hotel, the fun night life of Jackson Hole, the Silver Dollar Bar, oysters and Bloody Marys, what books we liked to read, etc., she started grilling me about the Second Gulf War (then in progress). What were our news media telling us? What they heard in the UK was different. I was insulted and shocked that she assumed I supported the war, since I loathed Dubya and hadn’t voted for him. I was in fact convinced that there were WMDs in Iraq and that Saddam Hussein needed to be deposed, however, and this woman had the nerve to lecture me about how “we” had no right to invade other countries. Um, have you ever heard of a little thing called the British Raj? Ha!
Anyway, it shocked and hurt me, not to mention insulted me. And it is an experience I should have learned from. I know in my head that in any country, there are reasonable and unreasonable people. Religious and non-religious people. Power-hungry greedy people and others who just want to live their lives. Criminals and citizens. People who love animals and people who aren’t that into them. Gay people, transgender people, straight people. Different skin colors of people, although the organs underneath are identical.
I am combing back through the years of this blog, trying to find any places where I might have said “the Chinese” or “the Fijians” and altering it to “most” or “many” or “some”. If I do not find them all, please forgive me. It is still a journey.
I wish the politicians in America (and elsewhere) would learn the lesson of monocultures, but I think it suits their purposes not to realize, or to pretend they don’t realize when they do. I resent President Trump calling our Mexican neighbors rapists and criminals. Americans are rapists and criminals too. But the majority of us–and them–are decent people.