The book

My year of reading the world led to a book, published under two different titles in the UK and Commonwealth, and US and Canada, as you can see below.

The book examines the big questions I encountered during my adventure, such as how translation, censorship, cultural identity and technology affect the way we share and understand stories. It brings in some of the personal histories of the people I met on my quest, as well as my own reading experiences throughout my life, a whole lot more research and many other books. Ultimately, it explores how reading can change and shape us, and reveals the extraordinary power that stories have to connect us across cultural, geographical, political and religious divides.

(NB The book is not a blow-by-blow account of the titles I read for my literary expedition – to get that you can simply use this link and read the posts on this blog chronologically for free.)

 

Reading The World

Reading the World: Confessions of a Literary Explorer was published in the UK and Commonwealth in February 2015 by Harvill Secker/Random House. Order your copy here (or go to your lovely local indie bookshop and buy it from them).

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WorldBetweenTwoCovers (1)-001

The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe was published in the US and Canada in May 2015 by Liveright/Norton. Although the title is different, the rest of the book is identical to the UK edition – Liveright even kept my British spelling. You can buy it here (or get it through your local book store and help keep them going).

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The World Between Two Covers is now available as an audiobook (narrated by me) in the US and non-Commonwealth countries. You can listen to an extract and buy yours here. 

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BM

And if you’re curious about what I did next, my novel, Beside Myself, was published worldwide in English by Bloomsbury in January 2016, and will be coming out French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Thai soon. You can read more about how I came to write it in this post.

39 responses

  1. Hello, I just discovered your 2012 project (three years later, in Italy we say better late than never!). As a lover of words in every form and language I can just say AMAZING IDEA! I’m surely going to buy your book! And, as a wannabe translator I was also wondering if I’ll be able to find it in Italian 😀 (if not, I’ll go with the English version and I may try to to make my own translation of it!).
    Talking about translation, I imagine you chose texts in translation, for they most part. Wasn’t it difficult to find something translated from smaller countries or less spoken languages?

    I’d love to hear back from you! Thank you for your inspiration!

    Elena

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  3. Ann, I told you on Twitter I would send you some comments on my experience of reading The Book! It seemed most appropriate to post those comments here, but feel free to put my post anywhere else you wish. Because I want lots and lots of readers to know about your project and to read your book.

    The book was everything I expected and more. Even though I had read about your project and how you did it here on this site, I loved learning the in-depth stories of how you developed your initial idea, how you finalized the list of countries and decided on the books to read.

    But more than that, I appreciated how generously you let us readers into your mind, your psyche as a reader, and shared what the entire experience did for you and to you. You were brave to share both your opinions and your reactions, the changes you went through, and to summarize what must have been a tremendous amount of research. I finished the book in awe of the breadth of aspects that are related to reading beyond one’s own language and the ability with which you kept it all readable and entertaining as well as informative.

    I will be following your reading list, though not at the pace you set. My plan is to come back here to your site and read your reviews after I have read each book. My only problem is in what order to read the list, but you don’t have to help me. I love nothing more than making up reading projects for myself! Thank you so much for giving me another one-:)

    • How lovely. Thank you so much for taking the time to write so thoughtfully and in such depth, Judy. It’s very encouraging to read. Enjoy your literary adventures and do let me know what you think of the books!

  4. Hi Ann, I watched your TED talk today and am incredibly inspired by your journey. Way back in the day I was an anthropology major in college and as an avid reader of literary fiction I’ve naturally gravitated toward reading world literature. Your list is amazing and I am hoping to explore many of your recommendations.

    I have a question – have you read any works that have been translated from Yiddish? Isaac Bashevis Singer (Poland), Chaim Grade (Lithuania) and Shalom Aleichem (Ukraine) are amazing authors.

    Take care,

    Lisa Goldstein Kieda
    Salt Lake City, UT

  5. hi,my name is Sophie. I was so moved by your story. I am a Chinese girl, so maybe you can find grammar mistakes from what I have written. I just want to know that ,could you share the books you have read to me. maybe short pieces of…

  6. Hi Ann, I watched your TED talk today and I am amazed the idea of reading the world literary !!! Also I appreciate your reading lists from Bangladesh. I`m from Bangladesh living in London. I would like to recommend one more book from Bangladesh, which is `Maa` by Anisul Haque. This book is translated in English.

    Regards
    Sanjida

  7. Hi Ann, yes you`re right, the english title is `Freedom`s Mother’; its a story of a mother who did not eat rice from the day her son asked for rice to eat (later died in liberation war in 1971) till her death. Its a heart touching story.

  8. I saw your TED talk which was very good but only discovered your project today. I have been reading round the world using the Good Reading Guide World Fiction published by Bloomsbury which has a section for each country and recommendations as well as picking up books on my travels. Really looking forward to reading yours as well. The best place I have found locally to buy world books is Stamfords who sell a lot of maps and guidebooks but a lot of fiction as well.

  9. Hi Ann,
    Your story truly inspired me since I have been confining myself to Chinese and English literature only. I really think that I should start my reading journey as well but the big question is, there are even fewer Chinese translations of the world’s literature.Even though I can read in English but it would be very challenging to my fellow Taiwanese. By the way, glad to see that you’ve included Taiwan in your country list. There are many masterpieces as you may found out written by Taiwanese wordsmiths. I am wondering which Taiwanese book you’ve picked?

  10. Hello, I am a blogger from Korea. When I saw the list, I think I didn’t saw the Korean’s book. So, I would reccomend you “A hen get out of the garden”. In Korea, it means 마당을 나온 암탉. I hope you to read this book!
    (I’m sorry that there would be a grammar mistake, I’m only 13years old.)

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  12. Hi.
    Please try Persian Literature.
    it’s one of the richest fields of literature in the world.
    maybe you could start with Saadi or Hafez or Ferdosi poems they are all translated.

  13. Ann, I loved your ted talk and your story! I am definitely going to search for your book in my local bookstore. I am very interested to see what you learned from reading around the world! I think this is a wonderful project, and I’m so impressed that you kept it up and managed to blog at the same time. I would love to do something similar eventually, with poetry as well. It is such a wonderful way to grow closer to a language and a culture. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, they are truly inspiring!

  14. Hello, I’m highschool student of Korea. Recently I’ve had a class with your TED lecture. I have an interest about your project, and I want to recommend a book to you.
    Have you ever read 소나기(means shower in English)? It is very beutiful story with lots of rhetorical expressions. And it’s storyline is nice either. It is not that long so I guess you can enoghly enjoy it.
    I’m afraid that there isn’t any nice translation to deliver the meaning of it’s wonderful expressions, but I sure that it will either be very interesting and touching.

  15. I watched your Ted speech and I admire your work. It’s really inspring. I am a Turk and we have amazing literature that many people should read. Madonna in a fur coat from Sabahattin Ali and Çalıkuşu (The went) from Reşat Nuri Güntekin are one of my favorities. Of course there are more and more.

  16. Pingback: Book review: The World Between Two Covers | Words And Peace

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