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Friday, June 30, 2017

Required Reading Around the World

School is out for the year, but some teachers like to assign books to be read over the summer.  As a former English teacher, I’m always interested in what books are considered required reading in different countries.  So I was really intrigued by an article which names books which are required reading in 28 countries.  Even more importantly, an explanation is given as to why each book is mandatory.  See the list at http://blog.ed.ted.com/2016/12/08/the-worlds-required-reading-list-the-books-that-students-read-in-28-countries/.  Many of the books are available for free downloading with the Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/).

The choice for Canada is The Wars by Timothy Findley.  It’s a great book but not one that was ever considered mandatory during my 30-year teaching career. 

The Guardian newspaper had a feature this past fall on the same topic.  Leading British authors were asked to pick international classics that should be on students’ bookshelves, but are often neglected by universities:  https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/nov/26/the-non-western-books-that-every-student-should-read.  The only suggestion I’ve read is the Cairo trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz. 

And on the topic of international reading, there are classics that have become associated with different countries as being one of the most important pieces of literature from the region.  Check out this map of the world where each country is represented by a book that is seen as either the most well-known or important work to come from that country:  https://www.bookstr.com/article/famous-books-make-up-this-map-of-the-world/3339?utm_campaign=705566_newsletter_172203&utm_medium=email&utm_source=The%20Reading%20Room%20&dm_i=2P56,F4F2,4M9UM2,1JXAI,1.