The Illustrated Book of Sayings: Curious Expressions from Around the World

The Illustrated Book of Sayings: Curious Expressions from Around the World

by Ella Frances Sanders


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From the New York Times bestselling author of Lost in Translation and Eating the Sun, a charming illustrated collection of more than fifty expressions from around the globe that explores the nuances of language

From the hilarious and romantic to the philosophical and literal, the idioms, proverbs, and adages in this illustrated collection address the nuances of language in the form of sayings from around the world. From the French idiom “to pedal in the sauerkraut” (meaning, “to spin your wheels”), to the Japanese idiom “even monkeys fall from trees” (meaning, “even experts can be wrong”), The Illustrated Book of Sayings reveals the remarkable diversity, humor, and poignancy of the world’s languages and cultures.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607749332
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 09/13/2016
Pages: 112
Sales rank: 296,648
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

ELLA FRANCES SANDERS is a writer out of necessity and an illustrator by accident. She currently lives and works in the city of Bath, UK, without a cat. Her first book, Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World, was a New York Times bestseller and is now, perhaps ironically, being translated into many other languages. She still doesn’t know exactly how it all happened, but things seem to be going OK. 
She can be found at and various other social media places.

Read an Excerpt

The Illustrated Book of Sayings
is your introduction to some of the world’s strangest and most wonderful expressions. I say “introduction” because this book would need to be thousands upon thousands of pages long (and several volumes after that) to include all the curious, magical, and transcendent sayings we use to express ourselves. It is a beginning; for you and for me. 

The fifty-two proverbs, expressions, and idioms in these pages will perhaps give you new ways of thinking about the world around you; hopefully, they will breathe some magnificent life into the everyday—color the view slightly differently so that you might be able to see the previously unseen. Most of these sayings reference the natural world in some way—the landscapes and creatures and vegetables alongside which we have evolved—and this says an awful lot about how we have made sense of things in the past, and how we make sense of things now—whether the saying is from a Scandinavian language or an African one. We cast our line into the blue depths of the languages that we know, hoping to catch the right words, and reel them back into our heads so that we might be able to unfold a situation or happening with understanding and insight.

There is a quote that I cannot forget from Brandon Stanton’s photography project and subsequent book Humans of New York: “I’m learning to be more careful with my words. Words that seem meaningless at the time can end up having a lot of power. Seeds that you didn’t even intend to plant can fall off you and start growing in people.” 
The imagery that accompanies this quotation has been stuck in my head since I read it, and that handful of words has sat with me, patiently, throughout the creation of this book. I can no longer simply think of language in terms of letters and words; rather, I think of it as tall plants and tiny seeds and flowering vines that grow slowly but surely around us as we wander through this world trying to learn how we should live.

The sayings in this book are like plants that have, in many cases, been growing for centuries, passed down from one generation to another, grown through one community to another. They have helped us to understand ourselves and others—events that we live through together and the events that we live through alone. The expressions you will find between these pages have shaped and been shaped by diverse people and cultures. They have given us relief, given us reason to laugh, given us ways to describe both the mundane and the profound minutes from which our lives grow. They speak of birds and honey and lakes. Dancing bears and broken pots. Sponge cake and clouds and radishes.

These expressions are ageless, tireless. Subject to change but immortalized in memory.

And they are now yours.

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