Book review: Reading The World: Confessions Of A Literary Explorer

by Ann Morgan
Harvill Secker, £16.99;
ebook, £6.99

ANN MORGAN — who had blogged about her year reading only books by women — set herself a new literary challenge: to read one book from every one of the 196 countries.

Disappointingly, this book is less the story of this reading adventure — though her reviews of all the books are on her blog — so much as a reflection on the cultural and political issues of accessing a selection of writing that can be genuinely described as ’world literature’.

It is salutary to be reminded that our reading is hopelessly western-centric. But there’s a quixotic, contrived quality to the challenge Morgan sets herself — it’s almost colonial.

Many of the chapters are breezy discussions of well-trod, but vast and complex issues — censorship, big business and the internet, self-publishing, the economics of publishing, national identity — that feel like clever syntheses rather than new insights. Somehow, the pleasures and discoveries of reading get lost in translation.

More in this Section

New book reveals another dimension to Queen


Breaking Stories

Samaritans to listen for more than 12,500 hours this Christmas

PSNI issue photo of mother who died on family boating holiday

Temperatures to drop as low as -5C tonight

Amnesty to fight order to return ’8th Amendment campaign’ donation to US based foundation

Lifestyle

No wee feat: Daniel back in the charts with new album this Christmas

The League Of Gentlemen sketch troupe back on TV screens after 15 years

Get ready for the Jedi in latest Star Wars instalment

A heavy burden for such young shoulders caring for parents this Christmas

More From The Irish Examiner