Ramblings: Literary translations

Back when I was little I used to only read books in Dutch, my native language. But after our move to the US I started reading in English because these were the books that were available to me. After moving back to Belgium I continued reading in English, but also some Dutch. At first reading English books was just a way for me to keep hold of this language, now that I’d mastered it. But now I see myself drifting away from the Dutch books if they were originally written in English. I have a couple of reasons for this, and here is where I tell you why.

Influence of the translator

However great a translated work is, it will always carry a bit of the translator with it. This is not necessarily a bad thing, this is just something that happens. They color the story a bit with their unique flavor of writing and sometimes they even adjust the book just a smidge because certain things don’t make sense in a different language (a popular one here is names). The translated works will always differ from the original more than just the language it is written in, and sometimes this is not a problem at all, sometimes it can be.

Language differences

Dutch is not a language that is spoken world wide, in fact not  a lot of people speak it. We in Belgium speak it (the Flemish part of Belgium that is) and people in the Netherlands speak it too. (Some ex-colonies also speak Dutch) All in all it’s safe to say that the Netherlands are the biggest group of Dutch-speaking citizens. Being the biggest group they spend more time/money in translating literary works to Dutch. It’s great that this causes more books to be translated to Dutch than there would be if the Netherlands didn’t exist (or spoke a different language). The thing with Dutch is that just like any other language is that there are different dialects within the language (just like with British English, American English and all the other kinds too). Reading books that were translated by a person from the Netherlands isn’t the same as reading a book from a Belgian translator, they use words we never do or differently than we do. And sometimes it’s these differences that make me feel a bit more distance to a book.

Speedy translations

A reason because of which I will reach for the original work 100% of the time is if the translation was done too fast. I’m talking about books that are coming out in the middle of a hype-epidemic and there is just a lot of pressure for the publishers to get the book out ASAP. It’s very often in these books that you find either sloppy translations or sloppy editing. In any case, you find turns of phrases that just don’t work in the language you’re reading the work in, where it was just clearly translated verbatim. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. That’s exactly what I mean in the first reason for reading original works. It’s always up to the translator to pick how they are going to take these turns of phrases and translate it so that it works in the new language. My favorite example is that I once read a book in Dutch that used the literal translation for “a robin’s egg blue sky”. This is not a thing in Dutch, there are a lot of words that can describe different hues of blue, but this isn’t one of them. In my opinion it is up to the translator to pick a good fit here, so we don’t feel these rough patches. This book clearly had a case of ” the speedy translation” because there were so many pieces were I could just tell exactly what the original text would be in English, it was a huge bummer.

 

So if you are someone who speaks a second language, let me know how you feel about translated works! Do you agree with some of the things here or do you feel differently? Do you have other reasons for wanting to read the original books? And to people who don’t read (a lot of) books that weren’t written in English, do you easily find translated works in your area?

Catch-up reviews #1

Since my blogging is less than regular these days I have decided to play catch-up with my overdue reviews by doing a couple of shorter reviews at once. Maybe this will help banish the looming tower of books that need reviewing to a more acceptable stack.

Animorphs #6-14

by Katherine Applegate

I like these books but they are pretty annoying to review. All the reviews I’ve done of the previous books feel like a variation on “fun characters, enjoyable storyline”. And it’s true for every one of the books. I just don’t know what else to say (mainly because I just keep waiting too darned long before getting to the review, and that just seems to be what these books boil down to). So this is me saying the characters and the storyline are still fun in 6-14. I have grown weary with the recap every time, but that’s what you get when you binge-read a series with recaps I guess.

First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson, #1)
Second Grave on the Left (Charley Davidson, #2)
Third Grave Dead Ahead (Charley Davidson, #3)
Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet (Charley Davidson, #4)

by Darynda Jones

So I enjoyed these books so much! I flew through them and I’m looking forward to getting back to this series. I love Charley’s spunk, the quotes at the start of every chapter make me laugh out loud more than half of the time, and the mythology is enjoyable. Is it a bit over the top? Yes, at times it really is. Did everything feel awesome during the whole thing? Not exactly. Did I find myself unable to stop reading these babies once I had started them? For sure! I think that, even though this is not an in depth review of the books, you get the gist of my feelings regarding these books…

Sea Wrack (Fredrik Broman #1)

by Håkan Östlundh

I read this book in Dutch, but it’s actually a Swedish book. I’m a big fan of Scandinavian crime fiction and this did nothing to make me feel differently about that. It was a very well done crime story that really had me reading fast by the end just to see how things would end. I have most of this series if not the complete series, and I will definitely keep reading these books as they will most likely be awesome too.

 

Review: Animorphs #2-5

So, anyone who has read my review on the first animorph book, or has been follwoing me on goodreads probably will have caught on to the fact that i’ve been reading a lot of the animorph books lately, but because they are quite slim books I think it’s easier to bunch a couple of them together per review. FYI, there will be some spoilers because these books just keep building off of each other and it would be very hard to keep talking about things without discussing some of the big storylines.

Here that goes!

 The Visitor (Animorphs, #2)

# 2:The visitor

The story in 50 words or less:

The animorphs find out that who another human-controller is, and it just so happens to be the father of a friend. Rachel takes it upon herself to investigate her friend’s situation.

The Encounter (Animorphs, #3)

# 3: The encounter

the story in 50 words or less:

Tobias has a bit of an identity-crisis after getting stuck in his hawk-morph. Meanwhile he also finds out about yeerk-supply runs the animorphs will try and sabotage.

The Message (Animorphs, #4)

#4: The message

the story in 50 words or less:

Cassie is getting some really weird dreams that turn out to be more than just dreams. Will she understand the message in time?

The Predator (Animorphs, #5)

#5: The predator

the story in 50 words or less:

The animorphs are now one member up from their original start-up and they now have knowledge about alien technology. Can they use that to help them in their fight againts the yeerks? Marco never wanted to be an animorph and is on the verge of quitting, can he find a reason to stay in the fight?

My take on the books:

 

I have to say I love these books, they are just such a quick read, things happen  at a quick pace though it doesn’t feel hugely overwhelming. That’s why I think it’s some real solid middle grade reading material. I also really enjoy how every book switches between the characters, it keeps things a bit fresher. Every character is very well-defined which is very fun. They all have such a different mindset and you can really read that too which is great. I strongly dislike different POV’s that all just feel extensions of each other, but that’s definitely not the case here. Everyone brings a different aspect to the story as a whole which really gives the whole thing another layer.

The morphing is a lot of fun, not only the description of the act, but also how the mind of the animal they are morphing into takes hold of the animorphs. I definitely love the seagul morph, it just cracks me up. And just like the POV’s feeling different everytime, the morphs also feel different which helps keep the story fresh (imagine all of the morphs being the same, how boring would that be!)

I am starting to dislike the beginning part where the story so far is recapped, though I will admit it’s done pretty well. I just read the first chapter diagonally now because of this though.

The stakes are definitely getting bigger, or maybe it’s more that they realise more and more that there is a lot more danger than they realised in this fight against the yeerks. There is also a lot of danger attached to just the morphing alone, even besides what happened to Tobias, and that’s something that is really becoming clear to these kids.

My rating:

3 stars ~ Entertaining middle grade books about an alien invasion!

Inside & Out Book Tag

So, I came across this tag on Fictional Living and it looked like a fun little tag. so without further ado, here are my answers:

1. Inside flap/Back of the book summaries: Too much info? Or not enough?

In general I think it has enough information, though sometimes I come across a synopsis which in my opinion gives a bit too much information (like a certain plot point that I would like to have discovered on my own). But what sometimes feels as too much information upfront can just mean that there are more surprises inside, which makes it alright.

2.New book: What form do you want it in? Be honest: Audiobook, E-Book, Paperback, or Hardcover?

I love hardcover books, just because they are sturdier and stay prettier over time. But I really enjoy paperbacks also because they are generally cheaper but also a lot more easy to read (no heavy books to hold for hours on end!). Seeing as I generally take my e-reader with me to pretty much anywhere (you’ll never know when a reading-opportunity will strike) I really enjoy e-books as well, though they can’t be added to your library which is a shame. Audiobooks is something I don’t have a lot of and don’t really listen to that often, so this is, for me, the least fun format for books.

3. Scribble while you read? Do you like to write in your books, taking notes, making comments, or do you keep your books clean clean clean?

I have never written in books if they weren’t books for school. I’m thinking of starting to add tabs to my books though because I really love quotes and I just want to keep better track of them in my books. plus I think it would be nice to be able to go back and just browse through some curated beautiful moments/quotes in my books.


4. Does it matter to you whether the author is male or female when you’re deciding on a book? What if you’re unsure of the author’s gender?

This is never a deciding factor for me. I never pick a book up based on the gender of the author (nor do I ever not pick up a book over this). I pick books based on many different things (have I enjoyed this author’s work before, does the synopsis sound good, did someone recommend it to me, does the cover look beautiful, etc.)

5.  Ever read ahead? or have you ever read the last page way before you got there? 

I only do this accidentally when a certain paragraph or dialogue will catch my eye while reading. I will flip to a next page and my eyes just catch on something in all caps or with some indents or something. Though this has definitely happened less since getting my e-reader because I see less text at once.

6.  Organized bookshelves, or Outrageous bookshelves?

I try to keep my bookshelves organized now that I have new ones (and don’t have to stack my books three deep). The only problem is that when I buy new books I don’t immediately put them in their place (it’s a fair bit of work seeing as I arrange my books on author’s names) so it always gets a bit out of control after a while.

7.  Have you ever bought a book based on the cover (alone)?

Not that much. Usually it goes along with a good review by someone. I have added many a book to my TBR based on just a cover, though when actually buying books I’m a bit more selective.

8. Take it outside to read, or stay in?

I like both. Inside can be so nice and cozy, I especially love it when the weather is horrible outside. But reading outside, in the garden, sitting under a tree with a nice little breeze can also be a lot of fun. The only really important thing is that there is not a lot of distracting noise.

New on My Shelf #2

So this feature is where I tell you which books I have added to my ever-growing TBR-list on Goodreads and why I felt inclined to add it. Sometimes it may also include books that I bought and other times it might be about books I’m getting rid of (physical books or TBR-books). I will include a couple of keywords for every book(though as I’ve not read it yet I’m just pretty much guessing about all of this based on the synopsis) but will always link to the goodreads page as well. Let’s get this party started!

Added to my TBR:

Ico: Castle in the Mist

Ico: Castle in the Mist

Keywords: inspired by a video game, locked in castle

Okay, first-off I know those aren’t technically keywords (they are more of the key-phrase variety, but it’s my blog, so I do what I want). Secondly, this is just something that I had to add to my TBR, because I just really loved this game! I was really horrible at it, and it scared me sometimes, but I thought it was really intriguing and would love to find out more about the story behind this game, which is exactly what this book offers.

In Search of Lost Dragons

In Search of Lost Dragons

Keywords: Dragons!, journey, artwork

So dragons are epic, that much everyone should know. And here we have a book that gives us some beautiful dragon-centered artwork from the viewpoint of a reporter who is on a journey to find dragons. And I have seen some of the artwork (also, there are maps in this book!) so I’m sure this is gonna be a great book, if only for all the dragons alone!

City of Saints and Madmen (Ambergris, #1)

City of Saints and Madmen

Keywords: collection of stories, puzzling, hard to grasp

Once again not strictly keywords, but this book was so difficult to compress in just a couple of words. The synopsis on goodreads stays pretty vague but intrigues me so much. I have to admit that this book will probably be a hit or a miss for a lot of people because it seems like it could get quite weird. But I am really interested in this book and that’s why I added it to my TBR. Also, did you notice that gorgeous cover? I also really like the title. I might be a teensy bit shallow.

Forbidden (The Books of Mortals, #1)

Forbidden

Keywords: post-apocalyptic, zombie-esque, cure

It’s been quite some time since I have read a book about zombies, and though these aren’t “really” zombies, they pretty much qualify as such. The premise looked pretty interesting, tough decisions to be made (what with the cure and all). It seems like it will be part of a series, which can be awesome or really disappointing, depending on how this first book turns out. So here’s to hoping that this book is great and subsequently followed by some great other books!

Tigana

Tigana

Keywords: psychological warfare, grief-stricken sorcerer, 2 conquerors

So this is obviously a fantasy book, published in 1990 (this book is older than me?!), and it has a great rating on goodreads (4.1!). It’s also a stand alone book, which is not something you find all that regularly in fantasy, so that’s cool. It’s about two dueling armies, there’s magic involved, psychological warfare, etc. By putting this on my TBR I am hoping to find a fantasy book with a rich world, fleshed out characters, a moving plotline (or more!) and no silly in-between books you sometimes get in series.

Have you been adding books to your TBR recently? If so, which ones (maybe I should add them too?!)? Are any of the books I’ve added on your TBR as well?