In 2018, DPL staff were challenged to diversify their perspectives--and their reading--with the Reading the World Challenge. It’s easy to get stuck in a reading rut, choosing similar titles, genres, or authors, and our reading challenge provided one way to try something new. Staff pinned over 300 sites on our world map, covering every continent and dozens of countries, as well as the whole of the United States. Some of the books we read and insights we gained include:
People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Perry (Japan), read by Lauren:” a true crime book that centers on the disappearance of a young British hostess working in Japan. This book really packed in a lot of information about Tokyo’s nightlife, the complicated relationship between Japan and ethnic minorities, and the inner workings of the Japanese justice system.”
Notes of a Crocodile by Qiu Miaojin (Taiwan) read by Erin: “This was a really fun and interesting way to experience the world.
An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science by Edward Larson (Antarctica) read by Brian: “I had fun reading some history from all the different countients. I even stuck my flag in Antartica, after all it does have a history, the history of the explorers.”
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan (Singapore) read by Le’ Trail: “One of the things I learned the most was the different types of food found in Chinese culture. They went in depth about the food ate during a typical Chinese New Year celebration along with the food that was commonplace to eat during tea time.”
The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu (Zimbabwe) read by Kristen
A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi (Syria) read by Wendy: “I learned a lot, but what impacted me more was the visceral experiences of many of the characters in the books. For example, A Land of Permanent Goodbyes let me feel and experience what is was like to be a refugee from a war-torn country.”
Other countries visited by staff included Sweden, Iceland, Morocco, Germany, India, Italy, Greenland, Serbia, Croatia, Tibet, France, and Australia. Participants generally enjoyed the challenge of expanding their reading, and are determined to continue seek out more works from other countries and cultures in the future. Some became more aware of their biases. Kristen noted: “I especially want to continue expanding my reading beyond what this challenge helped me realize are my usual international reads (France, India, France, the Arab world, France, Francophone countries in Africa and the Caribbean, France, Europe more generally, and - last but not least - France.)”
When thinking about your 2019 reading, consider Reading the World and expanding your own!