Here are my answers to some of the questions I get asked most often about A Year of Reading the World. If you don’t find find what you’re looking for here, please feel free to drop me a line (ann’at’ and I’ll do my best to help.

How can I follow this project?

Although my Year of Reading the World is now finished, I do still write about books and related things on this site. If you’d like to have these posts emailed to you when I publish them, click the ‘follow’ tab in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.

Alternatively, if you want to keep up with post-world developments, including my forthcoming book, Reading the World: Confessions of a Literary Explorer, you can follow me on Twitter (@annmorgan30) by scrolling down to the Twitter button at the bottom of the screen. For Facebook users, there’s a dedicated A Year of Reading the World page (like it and you’ll make my day). If you’re a visual sort, there’s the A Year of Reading the World Instagram account, where I’m recording snapshots from the adventure of publishing my book this year.

And if you want to get in touch directly just leave a comment or drop me a line at ann’at’

How did you read 196 (plus one extra) books in one year?

With difficulty is the short answer! I had to be very organised. I worked out the amount I needed to get through every day (around 150 pages to keep on track to read four books a week) and made sure I stuck to it. This meant reading for two hours on my commute (I was working full-time for most of the year) and an hour or two in the evening. I sometimes read in my lunch break too.

In actual fact, the reading was only half the battle – writing the blog posts and doing all the research took as much time, so I got up early to spend an hour or two on this before I left for work. I was very grateful to the many readers who helped me out with information and suggestions along the way, and to my friends, family and now-husband Steve for putting up with me being quite boring that year! For all the hard work, though, it was a lot of fun.

How did you choose what to read?

This varied from country to country (you can find out the reasons for each choice by clicking on the country names on the List). Sometimes a book caught my imagination or just sounded so tempting I had to give it a try. At other times, visitors to the blog made very convincing arguments as to why I had to go for certain titles. A few books got so many recommendations that they were obviously national favourites. And in the cases of countries with very little work in translation, I was often lucky to find even one option.

How can I see what book you chose for each country?

You can find details of the books that were recommended for each country on the List. Click on the country name to see the review of the title I chose in each case.

Why is my country not on the list?

The list of countries I read books from is made up of the 195 UN-recognised sovereign states plus former UN member Taiwan. You can find out more about this here. In addition to works from the 196 states, I also read a book from one extra territory chosen by blog visitors to represent the territories not on my list. This was Jalal Barzanji’s The Man in Blue Pyjamas from Kurdistan. You can find out more about the Rest of the World contenders here.

What was your favourite book?

This is almost impossible to answer. I read so many excellent things during the project that it’s very hard to pick one out – my response tends to vary depending on what day of the week you catch me. Some of the books were wonderful simply because of the stories they told and the way they were written. Others were special because of the lengths people went to to get them to me.

However, I have drawn up a list of my ten favourite commercially available reads, which you can find below. Unlike some of the other books on the List, you should be able to buy copies of these:

  • Albania – Ismail Kadare Broken April
  • Canada – Nicole Brossard Mauve Desert
  • Czech Republic – Bohumil Hrabal Too Loud a Solitude
  • Mongolia – Galsan Tschinag The Blue Sky
  • Myanmar – Nu Nu Yi Smile as they Bow
  • Pakistan – Jamil Ahmad The Wandering Falcon
  • Serbia – Srdjan Valjarevic Lake Como (limited availability)
  • Sierra Leone – Ismael Beah A Long Way Gone
  • Tajikistan – Andrei Volos Hurramabad
  • Togo – Tete-Michel Kpomassie An African in Greenland

Will you review my book for your project?

Although my Year of Reading the World finished at the end of 2012, I have recently introduced a ‘Book of the month’ slot on this blog, where I write about one book I have particularly enjoyed each month. These books are usually suggested to me by other readers, publishers and experts, rather than the writers themselves. However, if you think your book might be of particular interest to me, you are welcome to leave a comment telling me about it.

I’m afraid I can’t provide feedback on unpublished works not featured on this blog. That said, I am always keen to hear about initiatives and events to do with reading, writing, literature and the world. If you have something you think I might be interested in, please feel free to get in touch (ann’at’

When is your book coming out?

Reading the World: Confessions of a Literary Explorer will be out in the UK on February 5, 2015, published by Harvill Secker/Random House. It is available for preorder from most major bookshops and e-tailers.

The book will be published in the US as The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe in May 2015 by Liveright/W.W. Norton & Co.


73 Responses to “Frequently Asked Questions”

  1. Daniela Petracco said

    Fab blog, I was at the Literature in translation talk at the LBF and I couldn’t wait to check it out. I work for Europa Editons here in the UK, I see you have several of our authors on your list, that’s great! Maybe I can suggest some more and/or provide you with books? Do get in touch. All best, Daniela

  2. level9lime said

    Excellent blog. Mine is similar, although admittedly less scholarly.

  3. letizia said

    great idea for a blog, wish I had discovered it sooner! I’ll definitely be reading some of your past posts as well. Happy reading!

  4. Love your idea for your blog! A literary trip around the world, congrats, this is very unusual and welcome!

  5. Cabiria said

    It’s a fantastic idea, love it! And of course I follow you :)

  6. Hello Ann- I found your blog while doing some searches. What an amazing idea! Just so you know, I’m not particularly representative of Armenia. I grew up in Los Angeles and now reside in Boston. My collection is more or a less a meditation on immigration and family. I can’t write in Armenian and “Bringing Ararat” has not been translated into Armenian. I’m not trying to be a downer or anything, just being honest here. If you still would like to read it at some point, and you can’t find it in the UK, just shoot me an email, and I can send you a PDF version. Oddly, my newest book, which is a thriller (and pretty much the complete opposite of “Bringing Ararat”), is being published by a small UK-based press. Small world. Anyway, I wish you the best!

  7. Laura4NYC said

    What an awesome project!

  8. Kathleen said

    You’re absolutely right about India! Impossible to grasp easily. I was fortunate to spend 3 weeks there in 2011, mostly in the south, far northeast, and north central. Every state and region is distinctive and amazing. A very complex system. Thanks for the book suggestion!

  9. Wow! Great Work and an amazing idea…I’ll follow you :) Good Luck!

  10. sdudeja said

    Your blog is simply amazing…
    and yes i definitely follow it… :)

  11. Re3ecca said

    Woop, I just made your day! ;) Just wanted to say I’m really loving this and looking forwards to going back and reading all your posts when I have some more time :) How quickly do you usually read these books? It seems like you manage to update so often!

    • Thanks Rebecca. Reading 196 books in a year works out to something like one book every 1.87 days. But some books are long and some are short. I aim to read four a week. Thanks for stopping by.

      • Re3ecca said

        Wow, that’s great. I used to read loads but got distracted by college/uni (required reading gets annoying!!). I think I need to get my game on and get at least a book a week in.

  12. shelly said

    I can’t wait to hear how your year went. I just found your list on the web and that alone is worth gold. Thanks for sharing it, Shelly

  13. Hi

    I just reblogged your page on India through the wordpress platform.

    Thank you once more for this pilgrimage in books.


    Suneetha Balakrishnan

  14. abrameld said

    Hi Ann, I love reading World literature, particularly novels, so I’m planning to read your all your blogs. I don’t know if you’ve read a novel about Sri Lanka yet? If not, I can recommend Brixton Beach.

    • Thanks very much. The project ends on 31 December, so I have finished all my reading for the year – just two last posts to go – but I’ll add Brixton Beach to the list when I next update it so other readers can check it out.

  15. abrameld said

    Thanks Ann, it could go under UK too as it’s a very good example of 1st generation immagrant experience, but it also gives a huge amount of insight into the civil war in Sri Lanka. I’ve looked at your list and look forward to reading many of the titles listed – I’ve read some but there are plently there for me to enjoy. Thank you for getting back to me and please keep blogging. All the best from Anna.

  16. Mary Okeke said

    Very interesting, I am a blogger as well on African Lit. keep it up. I have added some of the novels you mentioned in my TBR.

    Keep it up!

  17. Asha viswanathan said

    Awesome, Superb,
    I keep wondering how to encourage little kids to read. You showed me the way!
    It’s so inspiring.

  18. Hi
    I am writing from kerala.felt great reading you.
    All the best for you.

  19. radhika235 said

    I have nominated you for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I love your posts, and I hope you will accept this gesture from my end. My follow-up nominations post is
    Have a lovely rest of your day! :)

  20. Iwant2seetheworld2 said

    Hey Ann,

    I have just found out about “A year of reading the world”.Your project was amazing.

    Well guess what? I am going to copy you but I won’t do it in a year. I’ll take my time so it should take a few years. But who cares as long as I can travel too. However my concern is I am not too sure whether or not I’ll be able to reach all 196 books from all over the world as it might be difficult to find some but I have your list and I’ll follow that one.

    I’ll do my very best to read as much as I can. It is a challenge is it is good for the soul to have some!

    I am planning to start next year, when? not sure yet as I have plenty of pending books to read :-)

    Once again, well done! You should be in the Guinness book though.

    All the best!

  21. Kathy Crawford said

    I just found your blog after reading a British newspaper online. I am hoping to read as many of your recommended books as I can find. I am a retired teacher living in Las Vegas who has lots of time to read. Several years ago I started to read books from outside the English-speaking world but it is definitely difficult to find many that have been translated.
    Congratulations on your accomplishments!

  22. Daniela Rodríguez said

    It’s an amazing idea, I’ve been trying to expand my knowledge about differents cultures of the world, my native language is spanish so my collection is mainly in spanish, but I started reading in English, so I´m a little slow :(
    The big question is, how can I get those volumes?? because you said that several books are unpublished

    Congratulatios you’re the best!!!

    • Thanks – yes, that’s the big challenge. Although a lot of authors are self-publishing translations of their books to ebook nowadays. Best of luck with your reading adventures.

      • Dawn Hardwick said

        Just came across your blog and the list of books….I’m here in Houston, TX, US and was looking for a project that I could take on and be a part of the World….and here it is. Thank you for the great posts and taking on/completing such an inspirational project! I am part of a group you might enjoy checking out: Global Women’s Leadership Network. They are based in San Jose, CA, US

      • Thanks Dawn. I will certainly check your project out when I’m back working on If Women Ruled in the New Year. Enjoy your reading!

  23. Ooh, an experiment that really excites us. You will so many fabulous things from reading novels ‘set in’ location and find so many new books. SUCH a great idea!

  24. Ooh, an experiment that really excites us. You will learn so many fabulous things from reading novels ‘set in’ location and find so many new books. SUCH a great idea!

    • Thanks very much. I was reading books by writers from different countries rather than set in them (although many of the books were set in the writers’ homelands). I certainly learnt a huge amount!

  25. Loved your idea, and looking forward to your next book and whatever cool project follows!

  26. Aaron Soldner said

    I was curious if it would be possible to share any resources. I am trying to explore literature and Cuisine through Africa and your blog has been a great resource for the former. As you can imagine I am having/will have trouble with some countries (for instance Comoros, South Sudan, São Tomé and Príncipe, etc.). If perhaps you could ask your providers if they would be willing to share some of their hard work, I would be very appreciative. Thank you and thank you for your blog!

    • Thanks Aaron. I get a lot of requests like this and I am hopeful that this will persuade publishers to take on the manuscripts I read so that those behind them can be properly rewarded for their work rather than simply sharing them for free. I’ll keep the blog updated as this takes shape. Best of luck with your own projects and thanks for stopping by.

  27. AnnaP said

    Hi, I’m an English teacher and with the Football World Cup coming up, I was thinking of ways of challenging my very high ability Year 10 class. I would like them to attempt to read something written from a country participating in the World Cup. I was just wondering if you would say that all of your books listed are suitable subject matter for 15/16 year olds to read? Can I point them in the direction of this blog, or do I need to be more circumspect? Thanks,

    • Hi Anna

      Thanks for your comment. What a great idea for your class. The books listed are varied – most would be suitable but a few are quite explicit. Probably the best thing to do would be to go to ‘The List’ and click on the country names of the relevant nations – these will take you to my reviews of the books I read for each nation and will give you an idea of each book. In terms of the other recommendations on the list, I can’t vouch for all of them – I’m still catching up myself! Hope that helps. Best of luck with it.

  28. Hello Ann! I stumbled upon your blog after randomly clicking on your Filipino book review – it’s a wonderfully intriguing book, I agree! I am an avid reader and placed this journey of yours on my bucket list – I would love to extend my readings (both genre-wise and location-based) and was wondering about tips on reading close to 200 books in a year while balancing out real life, since this will be my final year in college. Could you also give some tips on book review writing? I love how your reviews seem to flow and are both easy to understand yet so different from usual book analyses – definitely not the generic ones you find on the back of paperbacks!

    • Thanks. Great to hear you want to read more widely. Your last year of college may not be the best time to try to read 200 books in a year – it took me three-four hours a day – but you can certainly always read more adventurously. The trick is to set aside time for it. When it comes to writing book reviews, there is no real secret other than practice and trying to be honest, I think. Good luck!

  29. diego said

    awesome !

  30. Lee said

    How do you acquire all the books you read? Did you buy all of them? How can you get so many people to send your translations and manuscripts? I know you have a website, but how to make a project like this successful? I am tempted to start a plan like this. I also sent this interesting challenge to my friends.

    • Hi Lee. I did buy most of them (it was a pretty expensive year). Some people kindly sent me books too, which helped. I was amazed by people’s generosity in sharing their work during the project. I can’t really explain how it took off, other than people said it captured their imaginations and wanted to help me achieve my goal. Best of luck with your own reading adventures.

  31. […] blog’s menu gives you all the information you need, from what she did, to frequently asked questions, to the list itself. This list, organized by country, is bookmark-worthy; it’s a better way […]

  32. magnusopod said

    Hi, I’ve only just found this delightful story from yesterday’s Independent article ( and want to work my way through your quest. However, the WordPress theme you’ve got going on doesn’t really lend it’s self to reading from the past forward. Is there any chance you could amend the theme so it at least has a next/prev link on each article? Otherwise all of us recently acquired completists end up zig-zagging up and down the monthly archives.
    Thanks for your time, and all the best with the book!

  33. Don said

    my copy of the book came today! Yeah!

  34. Thanks Amy! Hope you enjoy looking through the posts.

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