This Woman Read One Book From Every Country in the World: Here Are Her Favorites

Uri Friedman – The Atlantic – Tuesday December 24, 2013

Ann Morgan reading a book
Freelance writer and blogger Ann Morgan reads one of her many books. Image: Ann Morgan/The Atlantic

In the fall of 2012, Ann Morgan was wrestling with a problem few of us can identify with. No matter how hard she tried, she simply could not find a book to read in English from the tiny African nation of Sao Tome and Principe. At a loss, she appealed for help on Facebook and Twitter, only to be deluged with offers from around the world to translate whatever work she chose from the Portuguese-speaking island. A small army of volunteers in Europe and the United States ultimately came to her rescue, translating chunks of Olinda Beja’s 140-page The Shepherd’s House into English.

The crowdsourcing experiment was just one memorable moment in Morgan’s quest to read one book from every country in the world in one year—a goal she accomplished just around this time last year, as New Year’s Day approached. The London-based freelance writer defined her universe of countries as “all UN-recognised countries plus Palestine and Taiwan,” and added one additional territory—Kurdistan—based on a vote by readers of the blog she maintained for the project. That meant reading a grand total of 197 books, at a pace of four books per week and a cost of several thousand British pounds. . .

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