I refuse to be the Devil’s workshop (or the God’s for that matter since as we know both of them don’t exist, sorry Church), so on a rather lonely Sunday night after a day of studying I decided I am going to come up with an occupation for my brain for 2014. You know, those cheesy New Year resolutions that last at best one week and at worst until you are sober and you start thinking: “What was wrong with me to promise such a thing”.
So I poured myself a glass of wine and I started brainstorming. First thing I came up with of course is quitting smoking. This is going to happen eventually and I don’t find it that exciting and stimulating to spend an entire year on. I believe it’s going to be a one-off thing – one day I am just going to wake up and I will dramatically flush down the toilet all cigarettes (enough American movies for me!). I don’t need an entire year for that.
Next, I came up with various random ideas. I want to have As (boring and I really don’t want it), I want to do more interesting stuff (too vague), I want to take more risks (do I really?), I want to spend an entire year without yelling at anyone (impossible task and rather stupid), I want to learn a new skill (this sounds like a lame self-help book, no, thank you very much), I want to be a better person (I don’t, I am pretty awesome as it stands), I want to talk more to my friends (I already talk too much to them), I want to fall in love (I am not even going to comment on that one…), I want to travel (I will, so what’s the point of making it an occupation), I want to make sense of my life (I doubt this is ever going to happen so I give up now) and so on and so on. The longer the list became, the more despaired I felt, because my idle brain didn’t want to do any of this stuff. It didn’t want to do anything at the moment but finish Jorge Luis Borges’s Labyrinths and go to bed.
So the solution presented itself to me and I can’t believe I have been so stupid as not to come up with it earlier. Of course, nearly four years and a half ago, inspired by a friend of mine who had a blog about cosmetics, I decided I must have a blog myself. So, four years and a half later, this is one of the few good decisions I have made – and stuck to it. Brilliant – my 2014 brain occupation will be connected to reading.
A few months back when I read about freelance writer and sub-editor Ann Morgan’s decision to read a novel from each country in the world – and then blog about it – I was very much impressed. She completed the challenge in 2012 and documented it in her blog A Year of Reading the World. Apparently, defining a country is a tricky business. Everyone these days wants or claims to be a country, so eventually to avoid ambiguities Ann Morgan decided on the 195 UN-recognized states plus former UN state Taiwan. Then she asked the planet (literally the planet) for help and came up with short-listed titles from each country, among which she chose one. Of course, she had numerous difficulties, especially with small countries, which have a limited number of published manuscripts (let alone translations in English). Nevertheless, the writer, with the support of the world, managed to complete her challenge, which is pretty admirable.
Even as I am writing, I begin to see the magnitude of the challenge I am taking. Understandably, I don’t have the resources or the time Ann Morgan had to read these books, so I am going to make it a lot easier for myself. First, I will obviously use her list with all valid recommendations and pick a book for myself. Secondly, I am pretty sure that for some countries I won’t be able to find an available translation (a team of volunteers actually translated a book of short stories from the tiny island nation of Sao Tome & Principe so that Morgan had something to read), so I admit defeat now that eventually I will read less than 196 books. Finally, I am not entirely positive that I will have the time and capacity to read 196 books in a year (as my father usefully discouraged me in the beginning: “I doubt this woman was an investment banker”). Nevertheless, I will try my best to read as much of the world as possible in 2014 and we will see the result in one year’s time.
More random stuff: