Hello, fellow readers and travelers. I’ve had this idea for some time now: Starting at theUniversity 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.
The Idaho of my childhood was lovely, but like most readers, I have restless feet. There are around 230 countries currently recognized by the United Nations plus 566 federally recognized tribal nations inside the US, so there are many places to visit.
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. Wait, is it 2019 already? How time flies when you’re reading!.
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…
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.
Be safe out there, readers. It’s a dangerous big world.
PS–A Word About Monocultures
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. I wish politicians would learn the lesson of monocultures, but I think it suits their purposes not to realize, or to pretend that they don’t.
I am in process of editing 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.
Two excellent memoirs I read recently about mini-cultures within a larger culture:
- Mama’s Boy: A Story From Our Americas
Dustin Lance Black
Dustin Lance Black won an Oscar for his screenwriting on the Harvey Milk documentary, about the first openly gay person to be elected to office in California. (Milk was later murdered by a fellow politician.) Can a night of listening to the coming-out stories of all his friends change the mind of his Lance’s Southern, Mormon, military mother, who has been taught to despise homosexuals, not realizing her two sons are among them?
- The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and My Fight Against the Islamic State
ISIS kidnapped the author from her Iraqi village in 2014, killing most of the men in her family and forcing the women into prostitution. Nadia and her family are members of the Yazidi religion, a non-Muslim minority that worships a peacock deity and accepts no new converts to the faith. Despite having only a sixth-grade education and no home to go back to, Nadia has become a powerful symbol of hope and possibility for many.