A weird thing happened to me recently. I was gifted the same book twice. I don’t really believe in coincidence so I took a little time to find out about why and whats so special about it and Ella Frances Sanders.

This might not seem all that strange to you especially if you are reading this blog for the first time. Books become popular and people often gift the same book. This is true unless you are a slow traveler like me. I am on a mission to own as little as possible and most of my friends and family know this. Gifting me a book is a big commitment. Don’t get me wrong I love books. I read at least two or three books a month and juggle my kindle, ibooks, libraries and the generosity of  friends and family members as I travel. I do however limit myself to owning them. This is really hard I’m not going to lie especially when it comes to a book like this. So now what do I do? I have two!

Ella Francis Sanders wrote a book about words, words that can’t be translated. I think for me the extra layer of magic is in the illustration. There is something that so simply illustrates the extra element of the word for me. The mood, the energy the thing that is essentially un translatable and this is what makes Ella’s book so special to me.

When I travel I often have intense debates with other travelers on the best way to explain expressions like “topsy turvy” or my favorite “watch this space” I was at my sons kindergarten today and one of the teachers and a parent were having a discussion on how best to translate a German word to me. Words and expressions and turns of phrase fascinate me. I was brought up bi lingual and my father spent most days learning another language, it is his unwavering passion from Navaho to ancient Hebrew to Esperanto he would pour over textbooks and dictionaries. Languages have become my passion too. I speak a few and most of them badly and lets not even get into my grammar and spelling! Aghhh

Anyway back to the book. This is my favorite Komorebi – ” The sunlight that filters through the leaves of a tree”



I was so intrigued by Ella and her book that I decided to contact her and ask her why and where and how and what’s next. I was lucky because she was lovely enough to answer me and now I can share our conversation.

Ella Francis Sanders and “Lost in Translation”

Hi Ella, I got in touch with you because serendipitously two people bought me your book “Lost in Translation”. More than just a coincidence I thought and off I went to find out more about you and especially your travels.

I’m curious how the book came about, I know from your bio that you wrote a blog but tell me the whole story…Did you travel to write the book or did the book come about after your travels?

It’s a rather back-to-front story. During 2013, I was working for an amazing company called Maptia, writing and illustrating for them while they were based in Morocco. Towards the end of my time with them, I wrote a short blog post entitled ‘11 Untranslatable Words from Other Cultures’, and the internet went nuts. It was reposted all over the place, and within a couple of months millions of people had seen it. One of the people who saw it was an American book editor and the rest of the story… seems so long ago now. Really, the book found me, I wasn’t looking for it at all.

The book covers so many languages how many countries have you visited already?

It covers quite a few, but the book could easily have been ten times as long (I simply didn’t have time, the deadline was crazy). It’s strange to think about where I’ve been, because there are so many more places I want to go to… but thus far I have travelled to France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Morocco, Ireland, Spain, and the US. It’s possible that I’ve forgotten a couple.

I’m a huge language nerd and spent a few years in Thailand where I learned some of the language which is really really hard but so lovely and simple. Do you have a favorite out of all the languages you have written about and why?

I suppose I’m a little in love with Scandinavian languages, as they feel closer to home. Especially Swedish. But I love the sound of Japanese, of Indonesian, of… everything? I feel so lucky to live in such a diverse and rich world.

Where are you planning to travel next?

I think next will be somewhere nearby, maybe northwards to Sweden or Iceland.

I know you are publishing another book very very soon can you tell me something about it that nobody knows?

Hmm, I suppose very few people know what is actually is. But if you go searching on a Penguin website, then you can find the title, what it’s about… it’s going to be published in September, so I’m hoping time speeds up a little between now and then. I could also tell you that the UK edition will have a completely different title (in other words I hope I don’t get too confused, or anybody else for that matter).

Thanks so much Ella, I hope you keep exploring the world for a very long time to come and sharing your experiences!

You are so welcome!

“Naz” The Urdu word describing the pride and assurance that comes from knowing you are loved unconditionally.


Don’t worry there are many many pages of magical words for you to delve into with Ella’s book. By sharing a few here I hope I can just inspire a little wanderlust in your Friday! A big thank you to the two special people in my life who bought me this book. You know who you are

“Jayus” A joke so terrible and unfunny that you cannot help but laugh.

Do you have a favorite travel book that inspired you? I would love to know about it. Here are some more of mine HERE

For more information about Ella Francis Sanders her beautiful illustration and inspiring books visit here here ELLA FRANCIS SANDERS


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