It's often said that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at what's on their bookshelves. What do my bookshelves say about me?Well, when I asked myself this question a few years ago, I made an alarming discovery.
I'd always thought of myself as a fairly cultured, cosmopolitan sort of person. But my bookshelves told a rather different story. Pretty much all the titles on them were by British or North American authors, and there was almost nothing in translation. Discovering this massive, cultural blind spot in my reading came as quite a shock.
我一直觉得自己是一个有教养的 比较与时俱进的人，但我的书架展现的却是另一回事 。大部分的书 ，作者都是英国或北美的，基本没什么翻译过来的书，在我的阅读里，我发现了这个庞大的文化盲点，确实挺惊人的。
And when I thought about it, it seemed like a real shame. I knew there had to be lots of amazing stories out there by writers working in languages other than English. And it seemed really sad to think that my reading habits meant I would probably never encounter them. So, I decided to prescribe myself an intensive course of global reading.
2012 was set to be a very international year for the UK; it was the year of the London Olympics. And so I decided to use it as my time frame to try to read a novel, short story collection or memoir from every country in the world. And so I did. And it was very exciting and I learned some remarkable things and made some wonderful connections that I want to share with you today.
2012年对于英国来说是非常国际化的一年 。这一年伦敦举办了奥运会，所以我决定把它当成一个时间段 去尝试从世界上不同的国家里，选一本小说来读，不管是短篇的还是自传的，所以我这么做了，非常刺激。我学到很多有用的东西，也了解到很多有趣的联系，让我很想今天跟大家分享。
But it started with some practical problems. After I'd worked out which of the many different lists of countries in the world to use for my project, I ended up going with the list of UN-recognized nations, to which I added Taiwan, which gave me a total of 196 countries. And after I'd worked out how to fit reading and blogging about, roughly, four books a week around working five days a week。
I then had to face up to the fact that I might even not be able to get books in English from every country. Only around 4.5 percent of the literary works published each year in the UK are translations, and the figures are similar for much of the English-speaking world. Although, the proportion of translated books published in many other countries is a lot higher.
4.5 percent is tiny enough to start with, but what that figure doesn't tell you is that many of those books will come from countries with strong publishing networks and lots of industry professionals primed to go out and sell those titles to English-language publishers. So, for example, although well over 100 books are translated from French and published in the UK each year, most of them will come from countries like France or Switzerland. French-speaking Africa, on the other hand, will rarely ever get a look-in.
4.5%对刚开始来说虽然足够 ，但这个数字并没有告诉你的是这些书中很多会来自拥有强大出版网络的国家，而且当中很多专业人士也很想把这些书卖给英文出版社，例如，虽然每年有超过100本的法语书，会译成英文在英国发行，但大部分是来自法国或瑞士 另一方面，在非洲讲法语的地区则几乎没有机会涉及到。
The upshot is that there are actually quite a lot of nations that may have little or even no commercially available literature in English. Their books remain invisible to readers of the world's most published language. But when it came to reading the world, the biggest challenge of all for me was that fact that I didn't know where to start.
结果就是，有很多很多国家根本进不了英文文学的商业区，根本进不了英文文学的商业区对世界上发行语言受众最多的读者来说，这些国家的书籍鲜为人知 。但当谈到阅读世界这一做法时，对我来说最大的困难就是 ，我不知道从何入手。
Having spent my life reading almost exclusively British and North American books, I had no idea how to go about sourcing and finding stories and choosing them from much of the rest of the world. I couldn't tell you how to source a story from Swaziland. I wouldn't know a good novel from Namibia. There was no hiding it -- I was a clueless literary xenophobe. So how on earth was I going to read the world?
我这一生几乎都在阅读，英国和北美的书籍，我根本不知道该怎么搜索寻找，去选择世界上大部分其他地方的作品。我没办法告诉你，要怎么去搜索斯威士兰的文学作品 ，我不知道纳米比亚有哪些好的文学作品，这些作品并没有被藏起来—— 我在文学上就是一个外盲，那么我到底要怎么去阅读这个世界呢？
I was going to have to ask for help. So in October 2011, I registered my blog, ayearofreadingtheworld.com, and I posted a short appeal online. I explained who I was, how narrow my reading had been, and I asked anyone who cared to to leave a message suggesting what I might read from other parts of the planet.
我不得不寻求帮助。在2011年10月，我注册了我的博客ayearofreadingtheworld.com 然后我发了一条简短的求助。我解释我是谁 ，我的阅读面有多窄 ，我问有没有人愿意给我留言，建议我应该去读这个世界上其他地方的那些书。
Now, I had no idea whether anyone would be interested, but within a few hours of me posting that appeal online, people started to get in touch. At first, it was friends and colleagues. Then it was friends of friends. And pretty soon, it was strangers.
Four days after I put that appeal online, I got a message from a woman called Rafidah in Kuala Lumpur. She said she loved the sound of my project, could she go to her local English-language bookshop and choose my Malaysian book and post it to me?
在我在网上留了那条求助之后的第四天，我收到了一条消息，它来自一位在吉隆坡叫 Rafidah 的女士，她说她很喜欢我这个项目的意义，问她能不能去当地的英文书店，然后帮我选马来语书籍然后发给我？
I accepted enthusiastically, and a few weeks later, a package arrived containing not one, but two books -- Rafidah's choice from Malaysia, and a book from Singapore that she had also picked out for me. Now, at the time, I was amazed that a stranger more than 6,000 miles away would go to such lengths to help someone she would probably never meet.
我满腔热情地接受了。几个星期后，包裹来了，里面不是一本，是两本—— Rafidah 选的一本是马来西亚的书 ，还有一本也是她选的，来自新加坡的书 。当时，我都惊呆了，一个远在6000英里之外的陌生人，会如此用心去帮一个 她从未见过的陌生人。
But Rafidah's kindness proved to be the pattern for that year. Time and again, people went out of their way to help me. Some took on research on my behalf, and others made detours on holidays and business trips to go to bookshops for me. It turns out, if you want to read the world, if you want to encounter it with an open mind, the world will help you. When it came to countries with little or no commercially available literature in English, people went further still.
但Rafidah 的善良，成了那一年的常规。一次又一次，人们用他们的方式来帮我 ，有些人帮我做了研究，有些人在假期或出差的时候，专门跑一趟书店帮我找书 。事实证明，如果你想阅读这个世界，如果你想用开放的思维去与之交流，那么整个世界都会帮你。对于那些在商业上没什么机会进入英文文学界的国家来说，人们会更努力地去帮我。
Books often came from surprising sources. My Panamanian read, for example, came through a conversation I had with the Panama Canal on Twitter. Yes, the Panama Canal has a Twitter account. And when I tweeted at it about my project, it suggested that I might like to try and get hold of the work of the Panamanian author Juan David Morgan.
这些书籍的来源经常让我出乎意料举个例子，我的巴拿马阅读，是来自推特上我和“巴拿马运河”这个账号的对话。是的，巴拿马运河在有推特账号的。当我在推特上发布我这个项目的消息时，它建议说，我可能会想要去读一读一位叫 JuanDavid Morgan 的巴拿马作家的作品。
I found Morgan's website and I sent him a message, asking if any of his Spanish-language novels had been translated into English. And he said that nothing had been published, but he did have an unpublished translation of his novel "The Golden Horse." He emailed this to me, allowing me to become one of the first people ever to read that book in English.
我找到了作家的网站，然后给他发了一条消息，问他，他的西语小说 有没有被翻译成英文的。他答复说目前还没有出版，但他确实有一份未出版的英文译文，一本名叫《金马》的小说。他用邮件把译文发给我，允许我成为第一批阅读这本书 的英文版本的读者之一。
Morgan was by no means the only wordsmith to share his work with me in this way. From Sweden to Palau, writers and translators sent me self-published books and unpublished manuscripts of books that hadn't been picked up by Anglophone publishers or that were no longer available,giving me privileged glimpses of some remarkable imaginary worlds.
Morgan 并不是唯一一个 愿意用这种方式和我分享他的作品的作家 。从瑞典到帕劳 ，作家和翻译家给我发来他们自己出版的书籍 ，还有未被以英文为母语的出版商挑中的，或者是不再有机会发表的。所有未出版的手稿，这让我有机会一窥某些精彩的世界。
I read, for example, about the Southern African king Ngungunhane, who led the resistance against the Portuguese in the 19th century; and about marriage rituals in a remote village on the shores of the Caspian sea in Turkmenistan. I met Kuwait's answer to Bridget Jones.
比如说，我读了 关于南非国王Ngungunhane 的书籍，他在19世纪领导反抗葡萄牙人。我也读了土库曼斯坦的里海岸边，那些偏僻村庄的结婚仪式。我还读了科威特版本的《BJ单身日记》。
And I read about an orgy in a tree in Angola.
But perhaps the most amazing example of the lengths that people were prepared to go to to help me read the world, came towards the end of my quest, when I tried to get hold of a book from the tiny, Portuguese-speaking African island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe.
Now, having spent several months trying everything I could think of to find a book that had been translated into English from the nation, it seemed as though the only option left to me was to see if I could get something translated for me from scratch. Now, I was really dubious whether anyone was going to want to help with this, and give up their time for something like that.
花了好几个月，用尽所有我能想到的办法 ，去找一本从别的国家翻译成英文的书 （但都找不到） 我觉得剩下的唯一方式，就是看能不能重新去翻译，我当时也没什么把握不知道是否有人愿意帮我 ，愿意花时间来为我做这样的事 。
But, within a week of me putting a call out on Twitter and Facebook for Portuguese speakers, I had more people than I could involve in the project, including Margaret Jull Costa, a leader in her field, who has translated the work of Nobel Prize winner José Saramago.
但，就在我在推特和脸书上发出寻找会讲葡萄牙语的人 ，这一消息的一周内 ，我找到的人多到超乎预期，包括有Margaret Jull Costa，在她领域的杰出人才 她翻译了获诺贝尔奖的文学作品 《若泽·萨拉马戈》。
With my nine volunteers in place, I managed to find a book by a São Toméan author that I could buy enough copies of online. Here's one of them. And I sent a copy out to each of my volunteers. They all took on a couple of short stories from this collection, stuck to their word, sent their translations back to me, and within six weeks, I had the entire book to read.
In that case, as I found so often during my year of reading the world, my not knowing and being open about my limitations had become a big opportunity.
When it came to São Tomé and Príncipe, it was a chance not only to learn something new and discover a new collection of stories,but also to bring together a group of people and facilitate a joint creative endeavor. My weakness had become the project's strength.
说到圣多美岛和普林西比岛 ，不单是一个学习新知识的机会 ，探索新文学作品的机会 还将人们聚集起来 ，团结起来创新努力的机会，我的局限反倒成了这个项目的优势。
The books I read that year opened my eyes to many things. As those who enjoy reading will know, books have an extraordinary power to take you out of yourself and into someone else's mindset, so that, for a while at least, you look at the world through different eyes.
That can be an uncomfortable experience, particularly if you're reading a book from a culture that may have quite different values to your own. But it can also be really enlightening. Wrestling with unfamiliar ideas can help clarify your own thinking. And it can also show up blind spots in the way you might have been looking at the world.
When I looked back at much of the English-language literature I'd grown up with, for example, I began to see how narrow a lot of it was,compared to the richness that the world has to offer.
And as the pages turned, something else started to happen, too. Little by little, that long list of countries that I'd started the year with, changed from a rather dry, academic register of place names into living, breathing entities.
每翻一页 ，便长一智 ，积少成多，我年初列出的国家列表从一些列枯燥充满学术的地名，变成了活生生会呼吸的实体。
Now, I don't want to suggest that it's at all possible to get a rounded picture of a country simply by reading one book. But cumulatively, the stories I read that year made me more alive than ever before to the richness, diversity and complexity of our remarkable planet. It was as though the world's stories and the people who'd gone to such lengths to help me read them had made it real to me.
These days, when I look at my bookshelves or consider the works on my e-reader, they tell a rather different story. It's the story of the power books have to connect us across political, geographical, cultural, social, religious divides. It's the tale of the potential human beings have to work together.
And, it's testament to the extraordinary times we live in, where, thanks to the Internet, it's easier than ever before for a stranger to share a story, a worldview, a book with someone she may never meet, on the other side of the planet. I hope it's a story I'm reading for many years to come.
还有，它是一个证明的故事，证明了我们现在的这个时代，由于有互联网，让一切变得前所未有的方便—— 让一个陌生人来与来自地球另一半素未谋面的另一陌生人 ，分享一个故事，一种世界观，一本书。我希望这是一个我阅读这么多年所追求的故事。
And I hope many more people will join me. If we all read more widely, there'd be more incentive for publishers to translate more books, and we would all be richer for that.