I’m not the one to tell you not to travel. And because she said, “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls,” I’m guessing Anais Nin isn’t one to tell you either. But what if we can’t travel, for whatever reason. Or what if we can’t travel as far or as avidly as we’d like? British writer Ann Morgan presents the alternative: ‘bookpacking’.
In her own words she told the BBC about a challenge she set for herself in 2012. It was to read a book from every country in the world in a single year. And this wasn’t merely about heading to the bookstore to pick out books to read from “all 195 UN-recognised states plus former UN member Taiwan.” Morgan first had to assemble a list of original works from every country, which was a massive challenge. As a remedy, she started a blog, to which the world responded, in the form of ideas and suggestions, offers to do research on Morgan’s behalf, and through rare unpublished manuscripts translated in English. In one case, a writer from the young country of South Sudan, wrote a short story especially for Morgan to read. And how she read. One book ‘every 1.87 days.’
I’m not sure bookpacking will keep me, or you, from actual travel. But Morgan’s effort is a revelation. She writes,
“In the hands of gifted writers, I discovered, bookpacking offered something a physical traveller could hope to experience only rarely: it took me inside the thoughts of individuals living far away and showed me the world through their eyes…I realised I was not an isolated person, but part of a network that stretched all over the planet…Lands that had once seemed exotic and remote became close and familiar to me — places I could identify with. At its best, I learned, fiction makes the world real.”
Thanks for reading.