Reading certainly offers one of the cheapest, quickest, and easiest ways to travel to so many places (real and imagined) while seated in our coziest armchairs! And one of the earliest books that took me on a journey around the world, was, well, Jules Vernes’ Around the World in Eighty Days. I recall reading it a few times over and then looking at atlases and wondering if Phileas Fogg’s trip would have really worked when and how he did it. It made me curious about travel, and eager for travel as well, and both of those feelings have stayed alive and well in me to this day.
Today’s featured book is inspired by that very book, and so very uniquely as well. Read on to find out more about the book and my thoughts on it.
The Book: Around the World in 80 Books
Title: Around the World in 80 Books
Author: David Damrosch
Publishers: Penguin Press (November 16, 2021)
Genre: Nonfiction (Adult) | Travel & Literature
Source: NetGalley digital review copy
Inspired by Jules Verne’s hero Phileas Fogg, David Damrosch, chair of Harvard University’s department of comparative literature and founder of Harvard’s Institute for World Literature, set out to counter a pandemic’s restrictions on travel by exploring eighty exceptional books from around the globe. Around the World in 80 Books is a global invitation to look beyond ourselves and our surroundings, and to see our world and its literature in new ways.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the digital review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
At once personal and not, looking inwards and globally, and about books and about travel, this book is a little bit of everything. The author, David Damrosch is a retired professor of comparative literature; and his experience and expertise shows, without speaking down to the reader. It is remarkable how Damrosch achieves the tone of conversing with friends while being proficient about his subject – books!
We take a literary Phileas Fogg-ish journey around the world with Damrosch as he introduces us to a wide variety of authors and their books across time and place. From well-known classics to popular contemporary reads and even children’s fiction, Damrosch uses each book to take readers on Fogg’s steps (almost), but not so wacky or fast-paced!!
I admit that the book is long, and so far, I have dipped into only parts of it, skimming over some sections, while truly relishing the opportunity to fully relish others. It can be a tough read in parts, but it is always engaging and compelling.
The book is divided into 16 parts, by regions of the world; each one features five books (or rather five authors). In doing so, Damrosch engages fans of literature and of travel from everywhere; people who are from a specific region of the world, and people who want to learn more about other parts of the world.
This is a very cool ‘books about books’ that is great for lovers of literature; it is also a unique ‘travel book’ that is bound to interest anyone who enjoys discovering places. As for myself, I am truly loving the exploration of of people, places, and times that are both familiar and unfamiliar, as well as old and new, through books; well, this book.
And it is sure to leave you with more books on your TBR; or want you to read old favorites once again!
Related Around the World Reads
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, do you love books like this? Books about books and/or travel? Have you read any similar books? As always, I look forward to your thoughts and recommendations.