From the New York Times bestselling author of Lost in Translation comes this charming illustrated collection of more than fifty expressions from around the globe that explore the nuances of language. From the hilarious and romantic to the philosophical and literal, the idioms, proverbs, and adages in The Illustrated Book of Sayings reveal the remarkable diversity, humour, and poignancy of the world's languages and cultures.

Ever feel like you are pedalling in the choucroute? Been caught with your beard in the mailbox again? Or maybe you just wish everyone would stop ironing your head? The Illustrated Book of Sayings (Speaking in Tongues in the UK) brings the weird, wonderful and surprising nuanced beauty of language to life with over fifty gorgeous watercolour and ink illustrations.

Here you will find the perfect romantic expression, such as the Spanish tu eres mi media naranja, or 'you are the love of my life, my soulmate', and the bizarre, including dancing bears and broken pots, feeding donkeys sponge cake, a head full of crickets, and clouds and radishes.

These phrases from across the world are ageless and endlessly enchanting, passed down through generations. Now they are yours.


This is a growing list of (nice) things people have said/written about The Illustrated Book of Sayings, and a growing-yet-poorly-organised collection of online interviews I've done for the book.


“A charming little book with delightful illustrations.” 

— San Francisco Chronicle

“. . .a charming collection of idioms that get lost in translation. The kinds of phrases you don’t often hear in traditional language lessons, these are the sayings that you learn when immersed in a culture. From the bleak to the romantic and straight-up weird, each one is explained in words and pictures—perfectly outlining the sometimes hard-to-comprehend concepts. There are too many favorites to list.” 

— Cool Hunting

“Ella Frances Sanders’ Illustrated Book of Sayings unlocks phrases that are unusual and delightful to the ears and, through charming illustrations, easy on the eyes.”

— Fathom

'Charmingly illustrated, expertly researched and hilariously written'

It's Nice That

'These idiomatic barriers to communication are actually quite beautiful' 

— CityLab

Times of India interview (print and online)


Featured in:

— San Fransisco Chronicle Gift Guide
— LA Times Gift Guide
— Fathom Gift Guide


The book is now out in the US, the UK, Italy, and Japan! Follow the links below to the place of your choosing, or run wildly into a bookshop shouting loudly that The Illustrated Book of Sayings is here.


If you don't live in the US or the UK (which is entirely possible), never fear. There will be Japanese and Italian and all sorts of other editions of the book. Check back here for more news on these fronts, which will be happening soon. If you cannot wait, the links below have good international delivery!