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The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  346 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
A beguiling exploration of the joys of reading across boundaries, inspired by the author's year-long journey through a book from every country.

Following an impulse to read more internationally, journalist Ann Morgan undertook first to define "the world" and then to find a story from each of 196 nations. Tireless in her quest and assisted by generous, far-flung strangers, M
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published May 4th 2015 by Liveright (first published February 5th 2015)
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Paul Bryant
As you may know, the idea here was to read a work of fiction from every country in the world IN ONE YEAR. It was inspired by AM’s realisation of how insular her reading had been throughout her entire life. She almost never read translated novels, only US & UK ones, like a lot of us. Who, me? Yeah, you. She points out that this insularity is encouraged by the universal recommendation concept of “if you like that then you’ll like this”.

With so much well-pitched material on hand, the prospect o
Feb 06, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was really disappointed with this book as I thought it was going to be about the books the author read during her year of reading the world. To me the most interesting bit of the whole book was the bibliography at the back! Instead of being about the books she read it was about such things as what makes a nation; how she came to choose the countries she included in her list of one hundred and ninety six books; the invidious influence of British Imperialism and American domination and how diffi ...more
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2015
The world came to the UK in 2012 when we hosted the Olympics, and as a challenge Ann Morgan decided that this was the time to discover the literary landscape of the world. Whilst the UK and Europe has a long history of books and reading, a number of countries don’t have this aspect to their culture; sometimes because they have a predominately oral history other times because the authorities don’t permit artistic expression.

First she had to choose the countries that she was to read from. Fairly e
Rebecca Foster
(2.5) Morgan, a freelance writer and book blogger, devoted 2012 to reading one book from each country of the world. If you’ve come to this expecting a thorough rundown of those nearly 200 books – how she chose them, what they’re about and what she thought – you will be disappointed. Many blog-to-book adaptations repeat content from blog entries, or streamline the year’s activities into an accelerated narrative. Morgan does neither; not a single paragraph from her blog made it into the book. This ...more
I love undertaking reading projects, such as Ann Morgan does as the basis for Reading the World: Confessions of a Literary Explorer. I have never, however, read only translated literature throughout the course of a year, as Morgan does. She decided, when the Olympics came to London in 2012, that she would read one work published in every country in the world during the course of the year, and blog about them. This sounds like an easier project than she found it, on the face of it; firstly, the d ...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

In 2012 Ann Morgan, a freelance writer, editor and blogger, set herself the goal of reading one book from every country in the world, sharing her reviews through her blog,

The World Between Two Covers is in small part the story of her reading adventures, but is more fully an academic examination of the challenges she faced in sourcing world literature.

Her first task was to determine exactly what defines a country, apparently there is some dispute, though she eventua
Jun 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this book under the title "Reading the World"

“As readers, we don’t travel. In fact for many of us that’s precisely the point: we open books to experience ideas and places that we don’t have the budget, time or stomach to go through in real life”

Ann Morgan set herself the challenge of reading a book from every country in the world. What a task that turned out to be! As her researches got underway in 2011, the remit gradually became expansive, and at times unwieldy, with many futile and fru
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Blogger Ann Morgan spent a year reading books from nearly every nation, 196 (plus one) books in all. This is the story of why she did it, how she accomplished it, and many questions and thoughts that arose in the course of the project.

I was surprised that the book was not very much about the individual books she read, but that was fine with me, since I was more interested in the logistics (How did she find get books from North Korea? How did she decide what constitutes a country? What was the q
Vivek Tejuja
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was about a year ago, when I was led to a site where I discovered a lady who was reading a book from every country. It was her reading project for the year and I was most intrigued by the concept. I then knew that I had to read the book of how it all began when it came out.

“Reading the World” by Ann Morgan is literally about a woman’s journey across the world through books from each country. It is obviously not as simple as this. There is more to the entire process and revelation which this b
I must confess it took me a while to get into this book and appreciate its premise. I mistakenly thought Ann Morgan was going to be directly commenting on or reviewing the books she had read in her international challenge . This she has done but on her blog page. Here she reflects more on the process and the politico-sociological challenges raised and challenges her readers to move away from white Eurocentric or America- centric viewpoints and seek out authentic world voices. Morgan has been on ...more
Oct 07, 2017 marked it as unable-to-finish
I'm not sure who the audience for this book is - but probably not readers like me who like reading memoirs about books. It is more of a Ph.D thesis on the world of reading and seems to largely exclude her personal experience with particular books. There is a nice list of books she has read from around the world at the end - but it isn't even annotated. Just a list of titles and authors.
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
My friends here on Goodreads know I read, in part, by a plan I call My Big Fat Reading Project. I have an essay I wrote about it that lives on my profile page. I have had different reading plans in my life of reading so when I heard about Ann Morgan's project to read a book from every country of the world in one year, I had to find out more. The blow by blow accounts of her project can be found on her blog: A Year of Reading the World at where she reviews each ...more
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
I loved this project when I first heard about it: Ann Morgan set out to read a book from every country in the world within one year. Her blog chronicles lessons from these books and I really enjoyed the premise and process of the project. The book itself is less about those books that she read and more about the process of such a project and the various considerations around it. (Fellow) dorky book lovers will enjoy this.
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars. I've been working on a books of the world project myself (albeit at an excruciatingly slow pace) and really enjoyed this. I think the low ratings come from readers who expected a rundown of the books she read - which is already available on her blog and would just be repetitive. Instead, she ties the books she read together through chapters that explore, among other things, biases in translation, the challenge of finding books in countries with oral traditions, and why reading novels ...more
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads
Frequently when bloggers make the leap to book publishing, the result is a pretty paper repackaging of their digital content, so I expected Morgan’s The World Between Two Covers to be a simple recap of her year-long project of reading books from around the world – a breezy literary travelogue, if you will. Instead, while the books she read do make cameo appearances throughout the text as well as being listed in an appendix, Morgan offers us something a great deal more interesting than simple reg ...more
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
When I first picked up this book I was excited about the concept of reading texts from all across the world. I could already envision myself with sails cast traveling figuratively to unknown lands. In my mind’s eye I saw clearly the vast array of colors that enveloped the people; could almost taste the exotic food as the aroma of culinary delights wafted into my nose. From looking at the cover, I expected Ann Morgan, “Blogger Extraordinaire”, to include us on her literary adventures. I expected ...more
Feb 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book was not at all what I expected, and I lost count on how many times I asked “what does this have to do with your journey reading a book from every country????” Sadly, I had many problems with this book and I felt a bit cheated. I will try to explain some of my problems with the book, but I’ll most likely forget something, or get too upset to continue developing my point.

I’ll start with some positive points: It was nice to publish the list of all the books read during the year; Although
Y'all are going to get really tired of me talking about this book between now and May, when it comes out in the US.

A very well-written examination of why the Anglophone (specifically UK, and US by extension) reading population and publishing arm reads little world literature, particularly in translation, and the roadblocks one encounters when trying to find and read literature (and, by extension, purchase legally) by authors from, say, Burkina Faso or Nepal or Kuwait or Monaco or Lichtenstein.
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Morgan could have recapped her blog or expanded her comments on the year of reading but she has done a great deal of thinking and research to write this insightful and unique book. She explores bigger issues of nationality, identity, translation, globalization and others through the lens of her reading experience. It would have been so easy for her to tick through her list and write a book that patted herself on the back for her effort but that would have been somewhat circular and done no more ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I’m glad I found this book at the library. I was all gung ho to buy it at B&N. Glad I didn’t, as it honestly isn’t my kind of book. Ann Morgan explores all the philosophical reasons behind why she decided to read a book from each country of the many countries are there?...what is a country, really? do you choose something representative from each place? I wasn’t terribly interested in all that discourse; I kept waiting to hear about the books she chose and read. And the boo ...more
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came to this book having been familiar with the blog which inspired it. I will be honest and say that I was expecting a different book entirely, one that might talk about the books in more detail. Instead this was a more analytical look at world literature and the future of the printed word in a modern globalisation world. Very interesting, but not what I was looking for. My mistake.
Apr 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a book about the books the author read in the year -it's about the trials and tribulations of finding books in translation. We do not want to read books which are only Western in style. It is about expanding one's cultural reading - something I aim to do over the next year.
Mar 06, 2016 marked it as never-finished
Though I think the premise of the book is excellent, I couldn't force myself to find it readable. It isn't poorly written, but it was more academic than I was in the mood to read.
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a truly interesting book. Published as, "A Year of Reading the World," in the UK, Ann Morgan writes a compelling treatise that begins when she realizes how ethnocentric and genre specific her reading had become. She decides to open her eyes and mind to discover what else is out there and so embarks on a 12-month odyssey to read a book from every country - 196, or 197 or 198 depending on how you view Taiwan and/or Kosovo.

It is quite by chance that Morgan discovers herself to be a "literary x
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: future, writing
This was an enlightening read to share how our experiences, languages, geographic locations, publishers, networks, and peers influence what we have read and will read. There is a much wider world of reading out there, we just have to be sure aware of this and to seek it out more. This was an excellent read about Morgan's year of reading more widely around the globe (documented on her blog with the full reading list: and her own reflections as what this means ...more
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it
This was interesting, but it's 100% process and nothing about the books, and that's not a good thing because:
1. At times she gets to be quite dull or just plain uninformed about the process. As one example of many, Morgan may have something to say about how we can obtain books from far away in the internet age, but she is far from the best writer on how the internet is changing our reading habits.

Hence we could have done without perhaps a third of that material.

2. I, and I suspect most readers,
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful book but I must confess that, at the outset, I thought it would be about the individual books the author had read and what she learned about the countries from each. Instead, the book presents the author's journey and her experiment to read a book from each country in a year--and all the challenges that come with that. And, there were many. At times, I was discouraged that a simple, enjoyable activity like reading can become so complicated and politicized, but--isn't that the ...more
Oct 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Originally published at Reading Reality

The World Between Two Covers is a book about thinking about what you read, and why you read it. By thinking about “why you read it” I don’t mean which genres you love (or don’t). The “why” in this instance is much more about “why are particular books available to you (or not)” than why you find a particular book or genre engaging.

Not that the author of The World Between Two Covers was not engaged with many of the books she read, and not that I wasn’t engage
Trenna Kelley
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-books-2017
I actually really enjoyed this book because it wasn't just about other books or lists of books but because it was about the process of finding and reading books from around the world and the I ate difficulties in doing so. I learned a lot, was challenged a lot and have many points of interest I now want to share with my students as we set off this year to tackle geography through classics and literature. I may need to go purchase the book, I listened to the audio, so that I can access more easil ...more
Cristian Cucerzan
Jan 24, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this book with more thoroughness and curiosity than I expected. It broached many 'issues' surrounding the subject of reading across different cultures and languages. Ann Morgan seasoned the writing with many anecdotes and some beautiful phrasing, which made me feel like the large amount of reading she did for her project and this book did influence her to be more 'writerly,' though maybe that is a projection of mine rather than a detectable cause.
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Ann Morgan is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in south London and continues to blog about books at
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