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?


Ramblings:The Creation of a New Shelf

So, I had a huge currently reading shelf on Goodreads, and my newly discover friend, Liam over at Hey Ashers! (he just finished an awesome read-along to Throne of Glass, even if you were a fan of this book, you should check it out, his snark is on point!), suggested that instead of just letting all these books clog up my currently reading shelf, I make a new shelf where I can put all these books that I am sort of reading but not really. Behold, the new shelf: “Book Limbo” (combined with to read, because you can’t remove it of the currently reading list unless it goes to either read or to read, so yeah, Goodsreads, FIX THIS!)

These are the books that I never actively decided to stop reading, it’s just something that happened over time. They weren’t what I was needing at that time, or maybe something more interesting came along. Maybe it was just me getting into a reading slump and picking something else up to get me back out. There’s a myriad of reasons why books end up in Book Limbo, and this way I am able to set them aside in a less permanent way then I would if I were to just take them of my currently reading pile in total. Because these are books that I really do want to get back into, it just hasn’t been the right moment for that certain book. So until then, these books are in limbo.


Thanks again for the great idea Liam (and for getting me to actually do something with these books!)

Rambling: an ever-growing “currently reading”-list

For those who haven’t been following me on this blog for long, or maybe for those who haven’t picked up this fact before: I read a lot of books at the same time. I never really used to do this while I was younger, but then somehow it picked up. I think it used to be pretty low-key where I was just reading a very outspoken genre and then one day I  wouldn’t be in the mood for that specific genre and I would pick up a second book that would be exactly what I wanted to read at that time.

But then it started getting more intense, because when I started spending prolonged times at my boyfriend’s place and I’d sometimes be stuck without a book. And I’d just pick up one of his and start reading it whenever I was there. It wasn’t a big deal. But then I also bought an e-reader which was a super easy device for me to take to school (it was about a half-hour train ride each way) and get some primo reading time in every day on the commute. I don’t know if many people actually do own the same copy in both physical form and digital form, but I’m generally not one of them (I have maybe two books that I bought in hardback after really loving the e-book SOOO much). So that would be the third book on the stack on most days (at home I still prefer to read regular books).

And while I don’t have a problem with keeping all the storylines separate, I think the whole situation is getting a bit out of control at the moment; And the major culprit is this: picking up a book with the best of intentions but then not soon after the start, slacking off. And starting to read a different book on top of the other one. Before I slack off on that one also, and pick up yet another book. At this very moment Goodreads is telling me that I am “currently reading” 20 books! Most of these books I am definitely not actively reading at this very moment, but I really do want to get around to reading them some day soon (that just never seems to feel like today?!) It has definitely come to the point that if I were to pick some of these books back up that I would have to start right from the beginning because it has been so long since I last read in that book. Yet somehow it wouldn’t feel right to take them of that currently reading list, especially since I’m not disliking these books (I blame various reading slumps that I fell into while I started these books). They are currently in Book Limbo, but I hope to get them out there soon!

Is this something any of you have ever experienced? Have you ever had a book wind up in Book Limbo before? Or are you someone who would rather just read one book after another?


Rambling Reads

Rambling Reads is where I talk about what I’m reading at the moment. Currently I am actively reading 4 different books. While for some people this might seem confusing, to me it really isn’t confusing at all. This is mostly due to the fact that these books aren’t in the same genre which makes it very easy for me to keep the stories and characters apart.

The first book I’m reading is the Luminaries

I am really enjoying this book a whole lot though I don’t seem to be making a lot of headway somehow. For me this is definitely the kind of book that I have to read for at least half an hour at the time, preferably even longer than that. The reason for this being that it isn’t the most fast-paced of books. And while there is nothing wrong with this, if you only manage to read for about 15 minutes it will feel pretty unsatisfying. So I’m actually setting this one aside for those reading days.

The second book is 1Q84

I have only just started this book and I really wanto to get into it more. I’m really enjoying the writing but it’s actually not very wll matched with my mood at the moment (hence the other three books that I’m also reading). Plus this is also a little bit in the same boat as the luminaries, at least for now. The story hasn’t picked up speed (if it ever will) and while there is nothing inherently wrong with that I will refer you to my previous paragraph as to why this is not a casual reading book for me.

The third book I’m reading is the Wise Man’s Fear

I have just recently finished the name of the wind (review coming up soon) and i was so in love with it. So i had to pick up the second book right away. I love this world and I love the characters and I’m really really loving the format actually. I can see how it’s not for everyone but it’s definitly for me. Though I’m not very far into this book I have no doubt that this will change shortly because I’m just itching to read this (right after I finish book number 4!).

The fourth book on my currently reading list is Mr. Kiss and Tell

This is the second Veronica Mars book, I’ve just speedread the first one (review will also be appearing sometime soon) and I just had to read the second one right away. I loved the series with a fiery passion and the books are not any different. I love how I can visualize the characters and I just really love that this series is contuining, even if it’s in bookformat instead of a tv series. But this one is almost finished and then I’ll go back to binge-reading the other three books on this list.

Rambling: 40 Days of Dating

So this is partly just talking about something I found but on the other hand it’s also a bit of a review. And on that cryptic note I’m just gonna dive right in!

So a couple of days I stumbled upon a site called Forty days of dating Right now it actually starts on a video about the book that they have released. But before this was a book it was actually just the site behind the video. And that site was the documentation of a social experiment, conducted between two friends. As the site name might have made you guess, it’s about forty days of dating. So if you put those things together you get the whole idea: two friends who date each other for forty days straight without them having any feelings beyond friendship at the start. Jessica is a serial monogamist who dreams of true love and wants to find it just like her parents and grandparents before her. Timothy on the other hand is a serial dater who shies away from most relationships from the moment things take a turn for the serious. They decided to head into this experiment to find out more about each other, themselves and their dating styles. At the start of the experiment they set some ground rules such as “see each other once a day”. They thought up a questionnaire that they would fill out on a daily basis and that is what this site is. All 80 questionnaires, sorted by day and interspaced with pictures, drawings and sometimes even videos.

And now for the review-y part of this rambling blogpost! When I started reading these people’s daily thoughts on each other and dating I was enjoying it a whole lot. I was completely engrossed and wanted to find out how this would work out in the end. Would these people still be able to be friends afterwards? Would they end up dating? What will they find out about each other and themselves during these forty days? To summarize: I was stoked, hooked, excited. I speedread through about half of the days but after that it sort of slowed down for me. Not because I came less curious about the outcome per se, but more so because I wasn’t enjoying the format any more. The same questionnaire for every day became a bit tired. After another short while it became clear to me how this thing would end.

But the thing that was most poignant to me about this whole experiment was definitely how much both views differed on occasions. At times both parties really remembered things very differently mostly because they were clearly focused on different aspects of these shared moments. And there were definitely some times at which I just really wanted to knock their heads together because clearly they wanted to do good, but it didn’t always work out that way. For example: Jessica was suffering from cluster headaches a whole lot during the course of this experiment. But she is the type of person who doesn’t really tell people about these headaches because she doesn’t want to drag people down with her. So she doesn’t share it when she is suffering from these headaches. On the other hand there is Tim, who is constantly thrown by Jessica’s behavior which is just all over the place (due to headaches coming and going over the course of he experiment. And cluster headaches, or suicide headaches as they are also called, can definitely influence anyone’s mood). This results in a lot of miscommunications and unnecessary tension between the two parties. A lot of this could have been foregone if Jessica had just been open about these headaches, so that Tim would know her state of mind. This is definitely not the only case of me being frustrated with the experiment. There is a lot of miscommunication, and I really don’t blame these people at all, it’s not just them, it’s everyone having these situations happening to them in their lives. It’s just annoying when you see both sides and understand so much better why things are going awry when they could have gone smoothly if there had just been better communication.


In any case this is an interesting read. I’m wondering if I’m going to pick up the book or not. You should definitely check out the site and let me hear your thoughts about it all!