The Booktrekker: Introduction

My name is Pam Giarrizzo, and I’m thrilled to have been invited to guest edit this month for Global Literature in Libraries Initiative. I embarked on a project a few years ago to explore the world through reading, cooking, and giving, which means reading a book, cooking a dish, and making a donation to a nonprofit organization in every country. My list consists of the 193 countries that are voting members of the United Nations, as well as the two countries that are non-voting members, Palestine and the Vatican. I’m reading the countries in alphabetical order, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. This month, I’ll share some of my favorite books and experiences from this project, so let me introduce you to my project more fully:

Exploring the World through Books

Reading and traveling have been two of my favorite pastimes for almost as long as I can remember. Or, as I learned to say early on in my Spanish classes at Casa de Español, “Me gusta viajar y leer.”

So I was caught completely by surprise when I saw a Facebook post recently about how author Ann Morgan had found a way to combine the two: she decided to spend a year reading a book from every country in the world. How on earth had I never thought of that?

I read Morgan’s book about this project, The World Between the Covers: Reading the Globe, pored over her blog, “A Year of Reading the World,”, and watched her TED talk. And then I decided to start reading the world myself. What better way to experience all the countries I’ll never be able to visit? For that matter, what better way to remind myself of the many wonderful trips I’ve had the good fortune to take?

My project will differ from Morgan’s, not only in what I will do, but in what I won’t. For starters, I’m not planning to do all this reading in just one year. I’ll take my time and savor the experience, although to the extent possible, I’ll try to keep to a book-a-week schedule.

In order to make this project my own, I’m also going to add a couple of components. While Elizabeth Gilbert’s mantra was “Eat Pray Love,” mine is going to be “Read Cook Give.”

First, I’ll read a book, preferably fiction, about the country I’m exploring that week. I’m planning to read the countries in alphabetical order, which will allow me to skip back and forth from continent to continent, from region to region.

Next, I’ll prepare a dish from the country I just read about. I’m vegan, so whatever recipe I decide to cook will be vegan too. Whenever possible, I’ll try to cook something that was mentioned in the book, but we’ll see how that goes.

Finally to honor the book’s author, I’ll donate a small sum of money to an organization or cause that will benefit the author’s country. The donation will likely not be more than $25, since multiplying that amount by the 195 books I plan to read will eventually total almost $5,000. But researching organizations for this purpose will help me feel a deeper connection to the country.

I’ll be blogging after every book, and I hope you’ll enjoy following me on this literary journey. If you have book, recipe, or nonprofit organization recommendations for any country, I’d love to hear them.

FIRST STOP: AFGHANISTAN

(Originally published on September 17, 2016.)

Pam Giarrizzo is a retired attorney who loves traveling, reading, and giving. She isn’t particularly fond of cooking, but she nevertheless reads, cooks, and gives for her armchair travel blog, The Booktrekker. Pam and her husband Phil live in Northern California, but they travel to Colombia often to visit their California-born son, their Argentine daughter-in-law, and their Colombian grandson. You can explore the world with Pam by following her blog at The Booktrekker or on Facebook at The Booktrekker | Facebook.

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