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.


Breaking Stories

President Higgins aiming for second term in office

Oireachtas Transport Committee to discuss Dublin gridlock and cycling

Survey estimates how much parents spend on their kids up to the age of 25

Sinn Féin and DUP leaders to meet Theresa May in bid to restore powersharing

Lifestyle

The biggest cancer killer will take your breath away

Hopefully she had an idea...

Power of the press: Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks discuss 'The Post'

More From The Irish Examiner