Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A History of the World in 10½ Chapters” as Want to Read:
A History of the World in 10½  Chapters
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A History of the World in 10½ Chapters

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  8,130 ratings  ·  584 reviews
This is, in short, a complete, unsettling, and frequently exhilarating vision of the world, starting with the voyage of Noah's ark and ending with a sneak preview of heaven!
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 27th 1990 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1989)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A History of the World in 10½ Chapters, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A History of the World in 10½ Chapters

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen1984 by George OrwellHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Guardian's "1000 Novels Everyone Must Read"
180th out of 567 books — 485 voters
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsFear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. ThompsonCoraline by Neil GaimanHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Trippy Books
104th out of 440 books — 629 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Oct 04, 2013 Brian rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Searchers
Recommended to Brian by: Derek Crim
The Prologue

Before I met all of you wonderful Goodreaders I was at the mercy of my paltry few well-read friends for recommendations of new authors and books. Derek Crim, childhood friend and fellow bookish enthusiast has offered up some winners: Chabon before “Kavalier and Clay”; O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series; Kurlansky’s non-fiction. In August of 2006 he gifted me a copy of this Barnes novel. Immediately upon completion of its reading it became one of my life-important books.

The Beginning
Riku Sayuj

This 'History' turned out to be very different from what my expectations were. In fact, it just marginally qualifies as a novel, but then I thought the same about Flaubert's Parrot too, so you might discount the opinion - both have been booker shortlists after all.

It is highly entertaining and the choice of narrator in each fragment is a feat of imagination. Barnes' obsession with history and its telling comes out in this book too, but this time not as a doubting narrator doggedly working again

The history of the world? Just voices echoing in the dark; images that burn for a few centuries than fade; stories, old stories that sometimes seem to overlap; strange links, impertinent connections. We lie here in our hospital bed of the present (what nice clean sheets we get nowadays) with the bubble of daily news drip-fed into our arm. We think we know who we are, though we don't quite know why we're here, or how long we shall be forced to stay. And while we fret and writhe in bandaged uncer
I originally assumed, based on its title, that A History of the World in 10 1/2 chapters was actually a history of the world in 10 1/2 chapters. I thought it would be a quirky, ultra-condensed version of all recorded history. And it IS quirky. But it's actually a series of history-themed short stories.

I had it on my wishlist based on the rave reviews from Amazon, claiming that the book is pure genius. A top review calls it a "sardonic, original, and mischievous mind on a tear." Too bad it bored
Jun 29, 2012 Kirstie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: My mom!

Ok, the first chapter of the book entitled "The Stowaway" is one of the most brilliant things i've ever read. If there ever was a more intriguing hypothetical account of Noah's Ark, I haven't read it.

Sadly, the rest of the chapters are not as amazing. They are worth reading and interesting. They are engaging and inventive. But, they still aren't 5/5 stars good. I'm a tough critic. This is a solid 4 star work with some real five star moments. Barnes proves he's a creative thinker and able to del

The Ship of Fools - Hieronymous Bosch, c. 1500

A set of deliciously intertwined stories. A wry humor on the nature of existence and history, and how adrift we are on it, and a poke in the eye of dogma and 'history' as a lie.

We start with Noah's Ark, and dance around human history from there - mad astronauts, cannibalism, and the legal defense of woodworms. All the pieces matter.
Moira Fogarty
I've had 'A History of the World in 10 Chapters' on my "to read" list for almost 15 years, but kept putting it off. Now I know why I was dithering. Despite the glowing commendations of university professors and English literature elitists, I simply could not warm to the text, clever though it was.

A loosely connected series of 10 1/2 short stories, art reviews, re-imagined histories, personal ramblings, epistolary travelogues and personal anecdotes, this is the epitome of post-modern fiction. Jul
Turns out the history of the world revolves around fabulation, woodworms, and love. Hard to argue with that. I really enjoyed this book, each of the 10 stories self-contained, but threaded together, with the 1/2 chapter bringing it all together nicely. Witty, educational, philosophical, self-deprecating, all things I was really in the mood for while riding a bike across Quebec.

Favorite lines, and there were many, so just a few now so I can harken back with fondness:

"A painting may be represente
Aug 15, 2007 Angie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like to make fun of religion
Julian Barnes became one of my favs after reading this book.
Each chapter reads as a sperate story but connected by a religious theme in each, albeit a skewed and revisionist view of various religions.

Chapter one starts the book with a hilarious re-telling of Noah's ark by a stowaway...a woodworm. Apparently the unicorn was tossed overboard because Noah became jealous of it's um...horn. Chapter 3 revisits the woodworms as they are being tried for heresey after infesting the Bishop's throne, caus
Hippo dari Hongkong

Melunasi utang ripiu
Terus terang buku ini sepertinya akan menjadi buku terahir yang dibaca bareng oleh "Durjana Book Club" setelah meronggeng bareng dalam buku Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk dan dan beromantis ria sekaligus curcol habis2an dibuku The Wednesday Letters dan setelah berkonferens sambil tereak2, sikut sana sikut sini, ledek sana ledek sini dengan diiringi puisi dengan daya setrum 1000 volt dari sang Malaikat Berbulu ahirnya diputuskan baca buku ini. Oh, how I miss the moment ketika kaum durja
Paul Wright
An uneven work, although the second and first half of the fifth chapters are brilliant.

Noah in this telling is a little like the Mel Brooks Moses who was given fifteen . . . whoops . . . ten commandments. Here Noah loses most of his flotilla and a good part of the animal kingdom:
". . . he'd have been court-martialled if there'd been anyone around to sit on the bench. And for all his bluster, he felt guilty about losing half the Ark. Guilt, immaturity, the constant struggle to hold down a job b
The book is basically what it says on the cover: Ten-and-a-half short chapters, which together cover a lot of ground. It is not, as you may be led to believe, a book about history, however.

Rather, it is one of those books that somewhat reminds me of those Official Soundtrack albums they keep releasing: “Music composed for, and inspired by, X”. The stories are, in fact, all fiction. But rather than being history, they cleverly become part of history. Or they will do – for anyone who reads the boo
I love the story about his wife's neck and hair; very romantic. I believe the same wife was Martin Amis's agent and when he got a new agent J. and M. got in a big fight, or something? Hence the three stars; I'm more interested in his dust-up with Martin Amis than his writing. I suppose that's a personal problem.
John Maniscalco
Karl Marx once wrote "History repeats itself, first time as tragedy, second as farce." And essentially, that is what this book is about. From Noah's Ark to modern times, Julian Barnes shows how the same themes and human desires remain constant through time in a collection of short stories. It is a clever idea. Which is why it is somewhat difficult to admit that this book was such a disappointment.

The first chapter is told from the point of view of a stowaway on Noah's Ark which gives you the "tr

awalnya, saya makin tertarik baca buku ini setelah baca komentar lita kalau terjemahannya apik. jadi penasaran seperti apa yang terjemahannya apik. heheh. lalu menemukan kalimat seperti ini:

Kami akan menghilang secepat kami datang; bagi Anda kami seolah mimpi belaka bagi kalian. (halaman 57)
sementara dalam edisi bahasa inggrisnya:
We shall disappear just as we came, and we shall seem to you simply to have been a dream.(p. 43)

setelah itu saya langsung tidak meneruskan sisi obsesif kompulsif da
No, I am apparently in a minority of one but overall I find this book irritating. There are some wonderful moments and one chapter in particular, ' Parenthesis', is a joy from start to finish (24 pages long) but other chapters are tediously over written, and at times obscure, with occasional nuggets but little to detain, satisfy or inspire. Can appreciate that some ideas are well crafted, and much of the writing flows, but the topics covered are dull and uninteresting and , in my case, rarely ca ...more
My relationship with this book can be best described as that between a fickle lover and her loyal sweetheart. She spends many a day entranced by her quiet man's words, but the Neil Gaiman with its promises of unknown worlds is just too enigmatic to be not explored further. By the time she's back after her many escapades in the London Underworld, its Angela Carter with her post-apocalyptic love story (of sorts) that catches her fancy. Finally our guilty heroine crawls back into her old familiar b ...more
John David
For whatever reason, I like my fiction to cohere in predictable ways; oftentimes when that doesn’t happen, I leave a reading experience feeling less than satisfied. Chalk it up to being weaned on something other than the so-called “postmodern” novel. In several ways, “A History of the World in 10 Chapters” complicates my expectations. It can feel more like a series of short stories than a traditional novel – however, one cannot avoid the interconnectedness they share.

The chapters do span the s
Feb 12, 2009 Pamela rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who like pretentious, urbane work.
This was my introduction to Julian Barnes' work. It wasn't what I expected and maybe that's why it disappointed me. I was expecting a novel that takes one from point A to Z with consistent thread; this is a loosely thematic collection of short stories and essays. Had I selected it knowing that, rather than expecting a conventional novel, my opinion of it might be different.

Barnes' is an excellent writer, no doubt about that, and obviously a deep thinker. I'm sure he could wax eloquently over jus
Indah Threez Lestari
Udah lama liat di Gramedia tapi baru beli setelah mengikuti hasil konferensi meja bundar~eh rekan-rekan durjana (wan/wati) GRI.

Bab I: Riwayat Nabi Nuh dari sudut pandang seekor penumpang gelap di Bahtera Nuh. Karena yang meriwayatkan seekor ulat kayu yang tidak bisa dijamin kebenarannya... tergolong sahih atau tidak ya...? *sok serius*
Julian Barnes writes for people much cleverer than me, but I always still enjoy.
How do you categorise a book which is part fictional, part non-fiction and part personal reflection? Or a book which links the era of the Old Testament to the near modern-day exploration of the moon? In some ways this is one of Barnes' most original and inventive books. It's very readable (as usual for Barnes) and thought-provoking, although at times the links between the very disparate stories seem tenuous, despite recurring themes like Noah's Ark, woodworm, religious belief and sailing the oce ...more
“Water sluiced down from a bilious sky to purge the wicked world” (9).
“I could occasionally find the situation funny, and give vent to the outcast’s laugh” (11).
“Noah, as you will have been told many times, was a very God-fearing man; and given the nature of God, that was probably the safest line to take” (11).
“…but I can tell you this: there was a lot of salted behemoth left over at the end of the journey” (14).
“…and managed to get him into bed without letting their gaze fall on those organs of
I really don't know how I feel about this one. My prof. raved about it, saying it was a great novel and, seeing as we both liked alot of the same works, I expected it to be damn good. Well, I just finished reading it and still don't know the significance of the title - that bothers me. Next, it started off good, with the retelling of Noah's Ark and how Noah really was...that was interesting - I had never thought of Noah that way. There were a couple of chapters that conveyed interesting irony an ...more
A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters, rather than being a straightforward novel, is a collection of somewhat related short stories with a couple of essays thrown in along the way. It starts with a firsthand account of the voyage of Noah's ark, related by a stowaway. It ends with a story about Heaven (well, New Heaven). Along the way, there are plenty of boat voyages (and mishaps), incidents of hope and faith (and challenges to both), conflicting views of religion, reflections on art and lov ...more
Minggu, 26 Juli 2009 - 02:57, dini hari, tempat tidur.

"Sejarah Dunia dalam 10 1/2 Bab", saya membayangkan sebuah kisah sejarah yang menyajikan fakta. Ternyata, sepertinya menyajikan fakta yang difiktifkan. Berkisah tentang spesies yang menyusup di bahtera Nuh. Dan, sepertinya spesies ini mempunyai sentimen pribadi terhadap Nuh. Entah, apa yang terjadi diantara mereka dimasa dulu dalam imajinasi spesies ini. Mungkin, kalau saat itu posisinya kuat, dia pasti sudah melakukan kudeta.

Bab pertama mem
Jul 02, 2009 Jamie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jamie by: Professor Gray
Shelves: short-stories
The proper rating here would be four-and-a-half stars, I think; I positively gorged on Barnes' wit and flashy prose, but I think the only thing that held me back from a full five-star rating was that, despite my intellectual engagement with the 'novel' (short story collection?), I often felt a bit detached from his characters. There wasn't the emotional resonance there, except perhaps in his sort of 'discourse' on love ("Parenthesis") and in the absolutely riveting chapter, "The Visitors."

I've been intending to read this book ever since my English Literature tutor raved about it back in my college years. So, put that weight of expectation behind it for starters. Add to this the considerable lure that both it and the writer receive in the press, and I think I was expecting something a little different. What we actually have here is ten - well, eleven let's be honest - short stories of varying quality. While they provide interesting viewpoints, in some cases, they either seem to en ...more

Julian Barnes A History of the World In 10 1/2 Chapters is a set of loosely connected stories revolving mostly around the story of Noah and the Great Flood. The first is a hilarious retelling of the story by a "stowaway" on the Ark. The second is an even funnier story of insects being tried in a criminal proceeding, made even funnier by the fact that the story appears to be based on actual historical documents of animals being tried during the middle ages. While the first two stories are funny,

I recommend the novel for its wit. It's equally clever as it is funny. However, it lacks the flow to be a truly engaging read. And yes, I get it, I get it. The novel is so fragmented because the history of the world is fragmented and composed of many layers and angles and registers. But all the cleverness of the world can't make up for a staccato reading experience. So yes, very good book, but Barnes has written many far more compelling novels.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
St. Anne's Readin...: Week the Last 1 2 Jun 06, 2015 10:32AM  
  • Augustus Carp, Esq. By Himself Being the Autobiography of a Really Good Man
  • According to Queeney
  • The Harpole Report
  • Mister Johnson
  • A Fairy Tale of New York
  • No Bed for Bacon
  • The Polyglots
  • The Adventures of Gil Blas
  • Slouching Towards Kalamazoo
  • Fireflies
  • Nice Work
  • Titmuss Regained
  • Illywhacker
  • The History Man
  • Towards the End of the Morning
  • Brewster's Millions
  • The Unbearable Bassington
  • The Wimbledon Poisoner
Julian Patrick Barnes is a contemporary English writer of postmodernism in literature. He has been shortlisted three times for the Man Booker Prize--- Flaubert's Parrot (1984), England, England (1998), and Arthur & George (2005), and won the prize for The Sense of an Ending (2011). He has written crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh.

Following an education at the City of London School
More about Julian Barnes...

Share This Book

“Women were brought up to believe that men were the answer. They weren't. They weren't even one of the questions. ” 139 likes
“Perhaps love is essential because it's unnecessary.” 68 likes
More quotes…