Thus, my reading challenge for 2011 is The International Book Challenge. It's fairly self-explanatory, but here are a few guidelines ("rules" sounds too strict; reading should be fun):
- The goal is to read books by as many "foreign" authors as possible. For the purposes of this challenge, foreign means not born in your country.
- Reading the work in translation is perfectly acceptable; some of you are able to read multiple languages, but most of us are not.
- Try to step out of your comfort zone. If you've never read a Korean or Somali novelist, ask your local bookseller to suggest a good one; you might be pleasantly surprised.
Here are the achievement levels, based on number of countries "visited" in 2011:
- Homebody: 0-2 countries visited
- Budget Traveller: 3-6 countries visited
- Frequent Flier: 7-9 countries visited
- Marco Polo: 10 or more countries visited
If you don't think 10 is an achievable number, consider the following partial list of novelists and their country of birth that are "foreign" to me:
- Roberto Bolano - Chile
- Umberto Ecco - Italy
- Carlos Fuentes - Mexico
- Amos Oz - Israel
- Geraldine Brooks - Australia
- Antonio Munoz Molina - Spain
- Mikkel Birkegaard - Denmark
- Paulo Coelho - Brazil
- Henning Mankell - Sweden
- Mario Vargas Llosa - Peru
Keep in mind that the list above doesn't mention even one of the "classics:" Alexandre Dumas (France), Anton Chekhov (Russia), Jane Austen (England), or James Joyce (Ireland), to name just a few. So the problem won't be finding enough authors, but rather paring the list down to a manageable number.
While there are no prizes for successfully completing this challenge, I can assure you that as a reader you will gain great satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. I may even post a list of the Marco Polo-level folks in a 2011 year end blog, if you send me your names.
Happy New Year, and happy reading.