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The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  416 ratings  ·  94 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 of se
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
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
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
(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
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
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.
Krista Morris
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What this book is not: a review or summary of books read.

What this book is: an interesting conversation about how one reads the globe.

Ann Morgan talks through topics such as why she chose to read a book from every country (plus a few) in a year, cultural identity, publishing and translation perspectives, dealing with culture shock, censorship, empathy, politics, how a country is determined, and more. I've found myself much more contemplative about what and how I read.

I'd recommend this to anyone
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
Sep 01, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is both a marvelous, ambitious endeavor and a disappointing conceit. I've been hunting for an idea exactly like hers, and had I thought of it first, would have approached it very differently. Her method of telling the story is very informative, but very droll, academic, and dry. I would have positioned it with more joy, more of an exploration, more diving into each book and extrapolating the lessons and curiousities and cultural differences. Her way was the least exciting way to explor ...more
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 added 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.
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
Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it
As other reviewers have noted, Morgan's book is less about her thoughts on texts from around the world (which I presume she treats on her blog) and more about her approach to amassing and reading them. I especially appreciated chapter 8 about the effects of reading literature on one's worldview and chapter 11 on translation. Other times I perceived the same experience that Morgan describes in being unable identify with the morals of certain writers, as I looked on from a distance at some of her ...more
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
Apr 26, 2019 rated it liked it
I mostly enjoyed the book - and I was really impressed with the scope of the project - but I was a bit disappointed in the book overall. I understand why the background information is there, but I was really hoping that she would write more about the books themselves. It's possible/probable that she covers that in her blog, but still...
May 30, 2015 rated it did not like it
Where are the books the author read? Yet another misleading book jacket led me astray. As an attempt to read more diversely (by authors of color, non-US/European, by underrepresented groups that I just typically don't read), I thought this might be a good book to give me ideas or inspiration for books to read. Instead it's really a series of essays in the author's treatise about the IDEA of reading books from around the world, but precious little about the BOOKS themselves.
There were mentions o
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
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.
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed. I was really interested in information about the books she read and how she acquired them. While spatterings of that are included, the best way I can describe the book is a woman who wanted to write a self indulgent textbook about the concept of reading. Some chapters are more interesting than others, but it mostly rolls on and on about what it is like to read in the modern era with large swaths of talking about publishing, editing, and translating and how it effects reading ...more
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
Jan 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
I tried so hard with this book over a period of three months. I really wanted to love this book. I love the concept of this book and Ann's journey. I've read parts of her blog and watched her TED Talk.

But this book just did not work. It was so, so very boring. It would have really benefit from an editor chopping much of it out, and just leaving the substance. The book is academic and rambling. The author tends to make a point about something - a really great point - in the first few pages of a
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,
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 books s ...more
Oct 06, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: could-not-finish
I DNFed this book, something I haven’t done for a long time. It’s not that the book was bad just misleading. What I was looking for was an account of the author’s experiences reading books from around the world, her thoughts, opinions, feelings with some of the geopolitical stuff weaved in. Instead it reads like a series of dry international politics lectures or a PhD thesis. I think her original blog is more like what I was looking for.
Jaclyn Day
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
I loved the idea of this book more than the book itself. Expanding your literary world must be intentional, as Morgan discovered, and so she begins working her way through 195 books from 195 separate countries. A book of book reviews sounds great, but Morgan has an academic, meandering style that makes it less pleasurable to read.
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