Choosing a book for Donald Trump: Bonus World Book Day postcard from my bookshelf

Happy World Book Day! (At least to those outside the UK and Ireland, where we mark World Book Day on a different date to the rest of the planet. Don’t get me started…)

In honour of this day celebrating the joy of reading, many people give one another books. In Barcelona, for example, where the concept originated and the date coincides with Diada de Sant Jordi, around 10 per cent of the city’s book sales take place today as thousands of residents exchange written works and roses. I was there last year and it’s an amazing party!

As a result, I decided to follow suit and take the opportunity to send an extra postcard from my bookshelf. This translated book will be the only one I select for someone who didn’t apply to be one of my 12 recipients.

Below is a copy of the letter I sent accompanying the novel I chose.

Dear President Trump

Happy World Book Day!

I’m an author and TED speaker living in the UK. In 2012, I set myself the challenge of reading a book from every country in the world in one year. It turned out to be an amazing adventure, with people around the globe researching, translating and even writing stories to help me achieve my goal.

One nation turned out to be a particularly strong supporter of the project, however. Around a third of the views that my blog, ayearofreadingtheworld.com, has ever received have come from the US. That’s more than three times the number coming from my homeland, which was the second-most-interested country.

Many of your citizens, Mr President, are passionately interested in exploring stories from beyond their borders. Judging by the statistics from my blog, you are the leader of the world’s most internationally curious English-speaking nation.

In recognition of this fact, I wanted to send you a book as a gift. It’s part of a project I’m doing this year to celebrate the five-year anniversary of my original quest. Every month, I’m choosing a translated book to send to a stranger. Earlier in April, I posted a book to a book editor in New Orleans in celebration of the overwhelming American support my project received. However, as many people mark World Book Day by giving books as gifts, I decided to send an extra title today to you.

The book I’ve chosen is The First Wife by Paulina Chiziane, the first woman to be come a published novelist in Mozambique. It’s translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw and published by Archipelago Books, one of a number of US-based small presses doing great work to open up international literature to English speakers.

I love this book because it’s funny, challenging and thought-provoking. Like so many of the stories from elsewhere I have read during and since my quest, it turns a lot of the things we English speakers often take for granted inside out.

I know you’re very busy, so in case you don’t have time to read the whole thing, I wanted to share one passage that I think is particularly powerful. To me, this is a brilliant statement of why inequality works for nobody, even people at the very top:

‘The white man says to the black man: It’s your fault. The rich man says to the poor man: It’s your fault. The man says to the woman: It’s your fault. The woman says to her son: It’s your fault. The son says to the dog: It’s your fault. The dog barks furiously and bites the white man, and the white man once again angrily shouts at the black man: It’s your fault. And so the wheel turns century after century ad infinitum.’

I hope you enjoy the novel.

With best wishes

Ann Morgan

Which high-profile person would you like to send a book to and what would you choose? Let me know in the comments below.

If you’d like a chance to receive a postcard from my bookshelf, visit the project post and leave a comment telling me a bit about you and what you like to read. The next recipient will be announced on May 15.

11 responses

  1. This is such a fabulous idea. Trump famously doesn’t read, which is a truly horrifying thought. Reading is how we learn empathy, how we put ourselves in other people’s shoes and learn to understand the ways of others. I don’t want to jump to conclusions but the absence of books in Trump’s life explains a lot…

  2. What a lovely idea – and the perfect book for Mr. Trump – but I suspect he doesn’t actually read…lol!
    I have a list of all the books you are reading, and one day I will read them all too – I think it is a brilliant idea to read books from all around the world. I just finished the Exotic Rissole, by Tanveer Ahmed who was born in Bangladesh by grew up in Australia. I love books that give you a glimpse into different people’s cultural views and values. He thought rissoles (meat patties) were exotic when his friends mother cooked them because they didn’t have any spice in them. 🙂

  3. What a good idea to write and how well chosen your words. I fear that they have been written in vain but no harm can be done by a drip of sentiments of good sense.

  4. My wife says:” The book I have given away more than any other to all sorts of people is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. My fifth grade teacher read it aloud to us, taking us on an imaginary journey to the “lands beyond”. As a traveling reader it is a place you ought to visit.”

    Since Mr. T, by his own admission, doesn’t read much ( there was a call to inundate him with books early on in the first 100 days, and, unopened, he shipped them to some donation place) you will more than likely never get any response, or, if you do, it will be the “standard form letter” everyone gets. So, God on you for trying.

    What book might I send (aka what book do I give?) to the President? Well, there are three I give out. One is a book called “Incest in the Organizational Family: The Ecology of Burnout in closed systems” which is actually a business thesis that works well in church settings. The second is The Odyssey of Homer but the PROSE version, again out of print. I read it that way the first time and own many versions of the poetry one now, and by doing that I learned way more than if I’d struggled with the epic poem first. The third book is The Giver” by Lois Lowry, which I first read working in a bookstore and have sent home with many families. Tied with those are two kids’ books: There’s a Monster at the End of this Book, a “Golden Book” my now thirty something nephew gave to me when he was little and I used in Children’s sermons through my ministry, and The Quiltmaker- another kids book that talks about diversity.

    This is a brave thing to do Anne…..

  5. A gracious and thoughtful letter. Thank you for combining intentionality and kindness in your gift. A wonderful way to celebrate the occasion! And I’ll be adding this to my TBR pile as well. Happy World Book Day!

  6. Oh Wow, you are very clever! I really got a kick out of this–As an American who is beyond embarrassed by him… and acutely aware of the fact that he doesn’t read. 😦

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