FAQ

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’annmorgan.me) and I’ll do my best to help.

How can I follow this project?

Although my Year of Reading the World is finished, I 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 or in the sidebar.

Alternatively, if you want to keep up with post-world developments, including my book, Reading the World or The World Between Two Covers, as it’s known in the US, you can follow me on Twitter (@A_B_Morgan) by clicking the Twitter button in the sidebar. 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’annmorgan.me

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.

How can I buy the books you read for each country?

That very much depends on the book. Many of the titles I read are widely available through the usual commercial channels. Others have to be obtained through specialist, local retailers – where this is the case I have usually given the details in the blog post about each book. Some of the titles may have gone out of print since my project and others are still not commercially available. I am hopeful that English-language publishers will be inspired to acquire these books in time.

Can you give me pdfs of the books you read?

No. I do not own the rights to the books I read and it would be illegal and unfair for me to share authors’ work in this way. The authors deserve to be paid for their writing. In a few cases, authors and translators have chosen to make the books freely available online. Where this is the case, I have usually included this information in the blog post about the book.

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?

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’annmorgan.me).

Thanks.

120 responses

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

    booksfromeverycountryonearth.wordpress.com

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

      • 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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

  9. 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!

  10. 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!
    Kathy

  11. 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!!!

      • 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. http://www.globalwomenln.org/ They are based in San Jose, CA, US

    • 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. Pingback: Reading on the Regular | The Daily Post

  17. Hi, I’ve only just found this delightful story from yesterday’s Independent article (http://tinyurl.com/kvlsfnc) 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!

  18. Hello Ms. Morgan
    Your reading book project is an amazing idea, of you’d like to read more book from other countries still, I’d like to introduce some to you.
    Would you please give me your email addresse?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Mahsa
      Thanks for your comment. My project is finished now, although I do still choose one book a month to review and add to the list on this site. You can leave suggestions here or send a message to ann’at’annmorgan.me.
      Best wishes
      Ann

      • Hi Again Ms. Morgan
        Thanks for your response
        I sent you an email but if you received that.
        I’m from Persia.
        persia has a rich literature and culture, there are great writers and poet and masterpieses in the history of persia that are worthful to read.
        I email you some websites introducing persian literature and books,ofcourse if you are interested in.
        besides it I studied English literature and translation at university adn writing article is my favorite job.
        I write about it in my email to you aslo.
        thank you very much and I proud of you for your nice project
        I wish you the best.

  19. I have watch your ted talk , and i find amazing what you did, I hope you dont mind but i must recommend Haruki Murakami books. If you don´t have already read it. It is one of the world best writers ( in my opinon) and i have almost certain that you can find all of his books in Inglish. Kafka on the Shore is one of te best books ever ( again in my opinion ). Sorry my poor English 🙂

  20. I was so happy to find your blog through twitter! 🙂 We are attempting to read a children’s book from every country in 2016. My kids and I are excited and would love any tips to find more difficult translations. My daughter is also wondering if the books should always be in print, or if we can read them on a tablet. We have found some translations on-line, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to include those?

    • Great. The lovely thing about reading the world is that you can set your own rules and do it your way. You decide what to include – no one reads the same world. Finding translations isn’t always easy as you’ll see in the different country posts on this blog (you can view them by clicking the country names on the list https://ayearofreadingtheworld.com/thelist/). It can involve some creative approaches and asking advice from cultural organisations/libraries/local bookshops and others. But lots has changed since I did my project and there are lots pf fabulous new translations out there for you to discover. For children’s books resources you can also check out the recent post I did (and the comments belowhttps://ayearofreadingtheworld.com/2015/12/18/tell-me-about-childrens-books-and-i-might-give-you-a-free-book/). Good luck!

  21. It is so exciting to see that there are so many people love reading these days! I love reading, I do have favourite books and I have read some of those 2-3 times (as an example, Herman Hesse’s book ‘Narcissus and Goldmund’, I read it three times, and each time I get something new out of it). Also, I like traveling, and every time I go to a new place, I try to get to know local culture, and as literature is a huge part of a country’s culture, I try to find some locally famous books before I go to the country or after. Thus, I came to an idea (just for myself) to buy a book from a country where I travel. (Instead of bringing some souvenirs what I rarely do.) Right after I got this idea, I saw your TED talk on my FB news feed and I really loved what you did! I will certainly use your list in the future.
    At the moment I’m reading an Indian epic ‘Mahabharata’ (by Krishna Dharma) recommended by my Indian friend.
    I have only one question to you. During the year of such intensive reading, how did you manage not to mix the stories and impressions made by different books as you were switching from one book to another quite quickly (as I can imagine)?

    • Hi Alina. The blogging really helped keep the books clear in my mind. When you are recording your impressions of books you remember them for much longer. Even now I can remember the books I read much more clearly than many things I have read since but have not reviewed. Good luck with your reading.

  22. Hello Alina, I am an upcoming author and my first book (fiction general/contemporary) is 3 weeks away from being released. The book is called “Coast to Coast” — It’s the story of a young Indian who travels coast to coast before finding the place he truly connects with and makes it his home.

    If you’d be interested in seeing the cover page, I’m more than thrilled to send that to you, and if that is something you like, I can send you my manuscript.

    You will not be disappointed. It will be worth your time. I am confident of that. Look forward to hearing from you.

    Regards,

  23. Hello again Ms. Morgan
    Sorry to delay
    I’d like to know, in which genre are you more interested to read the books, history, culture, literature, novel, etc.
    Thank you

  24. Hi Ann
    Just found your blog today. Am a great lover if books and reading lists. I have a suggestion for your list, Hannah Kent’s book ‘Burial rites’ a novel bases on the true story of the last woman hanged in Iceland.
    Cheers deb

  25. Dear Ms. Morgan

    Hello, I’m a student of Gimfl Foreign Language High School from South Korea, and I speak on behalf of Ti Time. a school club specializing in interpretation and/or translation of which I am club president. We, my club members and I, were all inspired by your brilliant TED speech, and we would be honored if we could contribute to your lovely plan. After searching your website, we realized you had already read works of literature from South Korea, and we wondered if we could send you some of Korea’s famous short stories as well(translated by ourselves.) Although we lack the skill and time to translate a long-length novel, we would be most eager to participate in your project, only if you would agree. If you did, we would translate short stories of Kim Yu-Jeong, who is one of the most famous authors of Korea, and whose works every South Korean students learn about at school. You wouldn’t have to worry about violating copyright laws, as he was already dead back in 1937. We would review and check any possible mis-translation with our many English teachers(a few of them are Americans). We were also thinking of sending the document in a Word file format via E-Mail or any other convenient digital form, as it would cause less hindrance for both parties.

    It would be a meaningful experience for all of us if you would grant permission for us to take part in such a widely-spread and inspiring project.

    Thank you for your time and consideration. I, with my club members, hope to hear from you soon.

    • Hi Eun Jung Lee, Thanks very much for your message. What a lovely suggestion from you and your club members. I would be delighted to read your translations of Kim Yu-Jeong’s stories. It would be fine to email them when they are all ready as a single Word document to ann[at]annmorgan.me ([at]=@). Thanks very much for your interest and generous offer and I look forward to hearing from you in due course. With best wishes for your studies, Ann

      • Thank you so much for your approval! I’m sure all my club members would be thrilled to hear the good news as much as I am right now! I, all of us, promise to translate as best as we can, as fast as possible. We won’t let you down. Once again, thank you very much! 🙂

  26. Hi!
    This blog is very inspiring! I’ve been thinking of doing something similar in French (but probably not 196 books in a year) because I’m from Montreal, Canada, and French books are slowly getting harder to get!
    Congratulations again on your project!
    Marie-Eve

  27. Hi. Am a big fan and enjoying working through your great blog. One question – I like to really immerse myself in longer books – and I notice that a lot of your choices seem quite short – perhaps out of necessity to hit your goal? Is there say, a top ten list of longer books that you would love to have read, or that are perhaps in your personal “to read” pile?

  28. Olá Ann!

    Acabei de assistir a uma palestra sua no Youtube sobre a saga de ler um livro de cada país do mundo. Achei incrível! Estou escrevendo em português pois não domino o idioma inglês. Sou brasileiro e moro no Brasil desde sempre. Pegarei a sua lista como referência e ver quantos deles tem tradução no meu idioma, sei que devem ser bem poucos, mas já é um começo, não é mesmo? Eu adoro ler, mas confesso que estou no mesmo patamar em que você se encontrava: livros de origem norte-americana ou inglesa. Preciso ampliar os meus horizontes!

    Tenho um blog de corridas, onde relato as minhas experiências. Mas penso em criar uma outra página, com o intuito de dividir com as pessoas as minhas experiências nas leituras. Também está em meus planos abrir uma conta no Twitter, visto que só tenho Instagram.

    Um forte abraço!

    Daniel

  29. I’m a teacher trying to meet a learning standard that requires students to read and understand stories from around the world. Can you recommend short stories to have my students read?

  30. Hi Ann, I’m a Chinese student i watched your TED speech a few days ago ,i know you’ve already finished your reading list and your amazing idea actually surprised me , but it’s so sad that i know you idea so late.Otherwise i would be very happy to send you some books,but still hope you enjoy your reading and writing😃

  31. Pingback: How do I do the reading-and-blogging thing? – Bookish Chronicles

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s