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Perhaps one of the benefits of having a break in our routine is the fact that it can give us the time and energy to return to projects that we’ve been putting off for a while. While a lot of people have been taking online courses or engaging in new hobbies over the last twelve months, we think that one of the most encouraging developments of 2020 onwards is that people seem to be reading so much more now.

 

There’s something about the escapism of reading that is always energising. Whether you like books to transport you away to magical worlds or to times of historical intrigue, nothing breaks the routine better than spiriting you away from your immediate environment and planting you somewhere different. Reading novels can give us an amazing insight into other people’s lives and situations and can really make us see the world differently in one way or another. Alternatively, they can touch upon universal topics but in ways that we had not necessarily thought of before.

 

But it’s not only novels that can offer us an alternative perspective. We can learn so much from reading non-fiction, whether this is in the form of autobiography, memoir, true crime, travelogues, or current affairs. At a time when our external world can often seem somewhat smaller, there’s never been a better time to expand our internal world and to open our minds to new arguments and ideas.

 

Translators are by nature both readers and writers, so we’d love to hear what books you’ve been reading lately (both fiction and non-fiction). Or, if you haven’t been reading for a while, let us know if there’s a particular book that made an impact on you at any point in your life. 

 

Leave your comments below, and share your literary habits with the world!

43件のコメント

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    Petra

    Reading is my main hobby. I read around 40 books last year.

    Dread Nation by Justina Ireland was excellent. 

    I also enjoyed Black Sun Rebecca Roanhorse and The Broken Earth trilogy. If you enjoy Fantasy/Sci-fi check these books

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    Katrina Paterson

    40 books is very impressive! Would you say you read more books than usual last year, or around the same amount? 

    'Dread Nation' looks like it should be amazing, based on the Amazon synopsis. What an intriguing concept - zombies, politics, and Civil War America! 'Black Sun' and the 'Broken Earth' trilogy also sound like very lively and engaging reads. 

    Thanks for your recommendations, Petra!

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    Petra

    I definitely read more last year for .....reasons :). I usually read around 20 - 25 books a year

    All three books have excellent social commentary that feels very relevant, even though they are set in fictional universes

    Thank you for this thread Katrina!

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    Ivan

    Currently, I'm reading Zig Ziglar's Secrets of Closing the Sale. Not a salesman myself, but I still find it very interesting and insightful, so totally recommend it especially for those who are at least somehow connected to the world of sales :) 

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    katrionajoyce

    I never read as much as I should but without a doubt the most exciting book I read last year was the biography of Marlene Dietrich written by her daughter Maria Riva. A fascinating and, umm, complicated life that spans almost the entire 20th century.

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    Busra

    I used to be a big reader, but i haven't read a lot in 2020. Though, among the ones i read, Kilomètre Zéro by Maud Ankaoua was by far the best. It gave me hope and faith to keep it up.  It was a great influence especially at all these times having passed with pain and loss of lives. The book was about a woman discovering her own spirit after being lost in wrong directions for so long. I strongly advise it. Wish everyone good time! 

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    Samantha Ovídio

    With the pandemic, the number of books I usually read almost tripled. Some of the best: 'The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo', 'Educated', 'Atomic Habits', 'The Testaments', 'Record of a Spaceborn Few' (this one is the third of the Wayfarers series) and 'To Be Taught, If Fortunate'. The last two are both by Becky Chambers, one of my favorite sci-fi authors. Her books dive deep into social dilemmas as well, and the universe she created is amazing, to say the least.

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    Katrina Paterson

    Petra - Thanks to you too for starting off the conversation and for sharing your recommendations! It will be really exciting to see which books other people come up with. 

    Ivan - Our first non-fiction recommendation - very interesting! Books about commerce can be really intriguing to read because they often involve a lot of psychology, which seems to be even more of a key topic when working with sales, as you say. That's great to hear that 'Secrets of Closing the Sale' is so insightful. 

    Katriona - The biography of Marlene Dietrich sounds fascinating, as she's such an iconic figure, and she certainly does seem to have lived through it all. We didn't know she lived to be ninety! The fact that the biography was written by her daughter must surely add a more personal element to the account of her life, too. It all sounds captivating! 

    Busra - 'Kilomètre Zéro' sounds like an amazing read, and very powerful (particularly during the times that we're living through now). Is it available in English? We wish you all the best, too!

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    Busra

    I've read it in Turkish version. As far as i've searched, they are available also in English and Spanish as well as French.

    Busraにより編集されました
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    Katrina Paterson

    Good to know, Busra! :) 

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    shevlane

    John Sugden's magnificent two-volume biography of Nelson: "Dream of Glory"/"Sword of Albion". Around 1,600 pages of sheer delight: I was sad to finish it!

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    omer.gungor

    The best book I have "listened" last year is actually something I have read a decade earlier called, "Peace Is Every Step" by Thich Nhat Hanh. It was such an amazing book to listen. It's like meditation itself, pure joy! Sadly it's such a short one, perhaps a reminder that nothing is permanent, neither good, nor bad. Oh, think I'll just listen to it again for therapy! 

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    Miri

    This is a fun discussion!! Thanks Katrina..

    I love to read, I read mainly fiction and in that mainly science fiction. 

    Just finished a great book: A life eternal/richard ayre. About a person that found out he isn't dying. it's just written well.

    And another great book I read in 2020 is station eleven/Emily Mandel. Again, written really well.

     

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    aunvasaparar

    Hi there!

    One book that really moved me last year was Five Hours with Mario, by Miguel Delibes. It's about the monologue of a widow to her deposed husband Mario by his bed. The entire monologue consists of continuous disapproval of the acts of Mario during his life under the judgment of a profoundly conservative woman confronting through every statement the liberal way of living of her husband, all this in the historical frame of the remnants of the Francoist dictatorial regime in Spain, a period characterized by a simmering battle between an old and a new system of values. What is more shocking in the widow Carmen, as I see it, is that although her discourse is highly repulsive under a moral viewpoint, she is extremely human in her laments, a trait that the writing reflects exhibiting a spontaneous and non-mediated way of talking through all her harangue.

    I highly recommend it to all of you, it was a breakthrough!

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    Katrina Paterson

    Hi, everyone! 

    Omer - 'Peace Is Every Step' - that's a very interesting choice! I see that it's also available in print format. Do you think that listening to a book in audio format provides a different experience to reading it? 'Peace Is Every Step' sounds like reassuring reading in these complicated times, so thank you very much for recommending it to all of us :) We're really glad that it continues to have an impact on you ten years later. 

    Miri - I'm glad you're enjoying the discussion! It's great to read so many recommendations, of books from so many different categories, and I really hope we can all sort of feed off each other in this sense and be inspired by one another's reading. 'A Life Eternal' and 'Station Eleven' seem to deal with really big topics in life. I was curious to see, when I looked on Amazon, that 'Station Eleven' describes a deadly virus striking America, which is interesting given that the book was published in 2014. That's quite spooky! 

    Also as a general question to everyone, and following on from the topic of reading versus listening to books - does anyone have any thoughts about reading in print versus reading on an e-book reader? (If you have thoughts about reading/listening, please feel free to share these, too!) 

    Katrina

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    kundaliyabhavin

    I am a Civil Engineer and have keen interest in ancient architecture, scriptures and literatures. Reading books of history is a great choice. In addition to being associated with some social organizations, My favorite book is Chachnama written on the history of Sindh. I have submitted a research paper to be published in the History Journal.

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    Felipe

    I'm not a big reader in terms of volume but in the last few years I created the habit of reading at least a few pages almost every night before I go to sleep. My kindle app says I've been reading for the past 105 weeks in a row, so slowly but surely the knowledge I gain from these books is building up.

    I'm mostly a non-fiction reader, and the most interesting book I read last year was Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. The book aims to answer why some people are so good in certain areas, if it's innate or earned, and they do this by looking at the history of different people who excel in their respective fields.

     

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    Katrina Paterson

    Felipe - Thanks for your recommendation! 'Peak' sounds like a really interesting read, and also seems to have a lot to teach us in terms of maximising our learning of new skills. In fact, I was interested to see that the Amazon description specifically mentions language-learning as one of the areas that readers might like to improve upon, so it seems that it would have a lot to teach those of us here in the translator community. Sometimes slowly and surely is the way forward with reading!

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    omer.gungor

    It's quite practical to listen to certain books that doesn't require too much imagination or concentration. At first, you may be surprised to realize how many of the books actually sound quite like a radio show, or some sort of therapy session or a class. These are absolutely great to listen instead of reading in a modern work life where we often end up looking at a screen and reading stuff perhaps more than our eyes are used to. That's why I prefer listening to reading most of the time now. It helps my eyes relax while I can still consume the content I wish.

    Also, in Turkey, we do not have much of a book subscription service like kindle's in US etc.; but surprisingly, audio book subscription services are getting very common here and the monthly price is even less than a single paperback. So it's also very economical!

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    Katrina Paterson

    Omer - I agree with you that listening to things can be very restful sometimes. I sometimes listen to Irish-language radio while I'm walking about (raidiofailte.com in case anyone is interested) and even without understanding the language, it just provides such a nice aural backdrop to my city. I can imagine that actually listening actively must be a nice experience too. I hadn't heard that audiobook subscriptions were so economical in Turkey. That's good to know! 

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    Antonella Z

    I love reading for fun, it has always been one of my favorite pastimes, but sadly enough, in recent years, I had to cut short on fun and read mostly for work. However, there is one book that has been accompanying me in almost every aspect of life, I have been reading and studying it for about 30 years now and can never get enough of it. This book is very peculiar. Let me see if you can guess. Here are some facts about it: it is the most widely distributed book in history: it is estimated that more than 4.7 billion copies (in whole or in part) have been printed. That is more than five times the number of copies of the next most widely distributed publication, Quotations From Chairman Mao; its writing began some 3,500 years ago; in whole or in part, it has been translated into more than 2,400 languages, so at least some of it is available in the languages spoken by over 90 percent of the human family; it has had a profound influence on the arts, including some of the world’s greatest paintings, music, and literature, while also having a profound impact on law; it is held in high esteem all over the world, yet it has endured bans by governments, public burnings by opposers, and attacks by critics —no other book in history has faced greater opposition​—and survived. It has also survived thousands of years of recopying by human hand and yet has come down to us essentially as it was written and in times past, many who worked on its translation, did it risking their own life and safety, had to go into hiding, flee their home country, endure heavy persecution. Moreover, it mentions scientific truths not discovered until many centuries later and contains unambiguous predictions that came true, as proved by historical facts. Finally, it teaches timeless principles that can help people of all racial, ethnic, and national backgrounds.  This book has been known in the western world as the Bible or Holy Scriptures. Have I given you reasons enough to give it a try and read it, if you have not already done so, of course? I hope I have. It has surely benefited me in many ways, I hope it is doing so or will do so for you as well.

     

     

     

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    Miri

    I like both reading and listening. I use them in different situations:

    I listen to books and podcasts when I walk alone or when I cook (takes me hours) or do other chores. Also on long drives. I read usually only have time at night before falling asleep. But also when I go someplace that I need to wait, like a doctor appointment, places like that.

    My library has both downloadable and kindle books, sometimes only one of them, so it choses for me :).

    As for e-books vs. paper, I completely moved to kindle. It's easy to travel with (I think I still remember that...), it has light to read in the dark, everywhere, it's easy to hold. I only read print books when I don't have a choice :).

    About station eleven - there are many apocalypse books that were written before COVID, the idea of a virus isn't new. And usually the virus is much worse then COVID in the books and movies. It gets you thinking. 

    I'll definitely check the recommendation here, usually books I never heard of!!

     

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    Katrina Paterson

    That's really interesting, Miri. I think at the beginning, a lot of people would have said that they preferred print books over Kindle in the sense of having the book in their hands, being able to turn over the pages, and so on. But I think that with time, we've come to see that there are indeed so many practical benefits to Kindles in terms of saving weight and space. And what you said about them having a light is so interesting - I hadn't thought about this, but it's true that this is a huge advantage in terms of being able to read with the lights out. I also think that one of the great advantages of having a Kindle is being able to download and access books immediately (though I think it also makes it easier to buy books with good intentions and then not get round to reading them). 

    At the same time, do you ever feel that your concentration span suffers when you read from a Kindle? I often feel that I concentrate better when reading print somehow.

    I want to check the recommendations, too - it's amazing how many, and how varied, the books that we've seen so far are! I hope that people continue to send more. 

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    Lara Fernandez

    Wow, guys! I'm loving the book recommendations and taking notes for future reads :) 

    I always loved reading but with a hectic life, work, and kids, books have somehow been relegated to the little pockets of time that I can squeeze here and there, and I don't read as much as I used to these days. Yet, at the same time, I am one of those people who keep buying books and piling them... "for when I have time to read". Anybody else? 

    I find it so interesting that this discussion has also brought up the differences between "listening to" and "reading" books, as well as paper versus Kindle.

    I am a "reading" person through and through and can't for the life of me, listen to a book. I always find that, no matter how hard I try, I get distracted and stop paying attention... and when I come back to my senses I just have no idea what they're talking about anymore, so I have to start over again. My husband, on the other hand, listens to audio books while he works and he can retain pretty much all the information -- I find this amazing!

    Some interesting books I (managed to) read last year: "Unbeaten Tracks in Japan" by Isabella Lucy Bird (a fascinating travel account of 19th century Japan!), "In search of Japan's hidden Christians" by John Doughill (a historical study of the evolution of Christianity in Japan, from the arrival of the first missionaries, to persecution, to the modern day), and "Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self" by Anodea Judith.

    (I feel like by just looking at the kinds of books I read, you guys now know me a little bit better! haha)

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    Katrina Paterson

    Hi everyone - thanks again for all your comments and suggestions! I see that some of the comments have come through in a funny order, so I'll write back now to the ones I haven't acknowledged previously. 

    Samantha - 'The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo' sounds amazing! I really want to read it now. I was also inspired by the way you described Becky Chambers' work. I think that all the best sci-fi involves some kind of social commentary, and I often think that science fiction is a really interesting way of exploring current and future moral dilemmas, since a lot of it seems to touch on scenarios that seem way-out but actually have many parallels with real-life problems. As an aside, I love the Brazilian Netflix series '3%' and 'Omniscient', both of which are set in dystopian worlds but have much to say about the current state of affairs in the real world. Thanks for your recommendations! 

    Shevlane - A very interesting choice! 1,600 words sounds like quite the door-stopper, but it's great to really get immersed in a long read. I read Hilary Mantel's 'A Place of Greater Safety' years ago and that's another huge read, but I became really involved with the characters and I too was devastated to finish it. It's great to hear that you enjoyed the Nelson biographies so much! 

    Aunvasaparar - 'Five Hours with Mario' sounds like another truly gripping read. Carmen's character sounds complex and fascinating, and I often feel that the key to a great literary work is great characterisation. It's also interesting to read books that shine a light on a different historical and social context. Is the book in English or Spanish?

    Kundaliyabhavin - Reading books about history, like Shevlane's recommendation about Nelson, is always a great choice and, as clichéd as it sounds, it does seem that having an understanding of the past helps us to place contemporary events in some sort of context and to better understand the present. That's wonderful that you've submitted a research paper - we wish you all the best with it! Translation and writing go hand in hand, since both require creativity, excellent research skills, and an ability to think critically. Thanks for your comment and recommendation! 

    Antonella - Thanks for your lovely, descriptive comment and for telling us more about the impact that the Bible has had on areas as diverse as art and law. I agree with you that the Bible is a fascinating piece of writing, and I think that regardless of whether or not we personally subscribe to its teachings, we can appreciate the huge amount of human effort that went into writing, translating and distributing it, as you describe. One thing I've always found intriguing is the number of idioms in English (and probably other languages) that originate in the Bible, even though many of them sound very secular to the modern ear. 'A sign of the times' is one more obviously 'Biblical-sounding' example, but 'to move mountains', 'by the skin of your teeth', and 'the blind leading the blind' are others, and there are many more. Thanks for sharing! 

    Lara - I'm also guilty of buying books that I don't get round to reading! And I also can't stop myself from drifting off when listening to audio books. I know that some people swear by them, but I always get distracted and stop listening. I think that Omer's recommendation, 'Peace at Every Step' seems like it would be amazing in spoken form, though, and I guess there must be some books that lend themselves better to 'listening' than others. I like when the author of the book reads it and you can get a feel for their tone of voice. Your choices are very eclectic - I like them! 

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    Ivan

    I'm more into reading comic books, contrary to popular belief, comic is not a genre, it's a media, so it's not all about superheroes.

    I always try to support indie comic books, and this author, Joshua Hernandez, make some really good stories.
    It is called El Ombligo de la Luna (The Navel of the Moon) wich is what "Mexico" means.

    It is about a group of kids traveling through the country trying to save the world from some evil force, encountering a lot of creatures from aztec mythology, it is heavily inspired by games like Earthbound.

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    Katrina Paterson

    Hello Ivan - thanks for recommending 'El ombligo de la luna' and for being the first person to leave a visual comment (anyone else who's curious to do the same - please don't be shy!) I have to confess that I wasn't aware that comics were not a genre. We certainly learn a new thing every day, and I think one of the cool things about these forum discussions is that we all have such different interests and experiences so we can learn so much from each other. The pictures from the comic look amazing, and I like the link to the Aztec mythology, too. Are the Aztec creatures good characters or bad characters? Do you know if 'El ombligo de la luna' is available in English or other languages? 

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    aunvasaparar

    Hi, Katrina.

    The original is in Spanish: that's the one I read. Yet you also have it in English!

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    Katrina Paterson

    Good to know, Aunvasaparar! I want to check it out now :D 

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    gunnarbu

    Hello all

    Certainly many good book tips here, I hope to try some of them later. Myself, I converted to Kindle app on my iPad many years ago, and have stayed with that ever since - very practical, except while on vacation, when you really want the feel of reading a physical pocket book on a park bench or a sidewalk cafe. So, for a suggestion, not a book that I have read recently, but probably the strangest one I have ever read is Egalias Daughters - A satire of the sexes by Gerd Brantenberg. In this book women are called 'wim' an men are called 'menwim' and it is the 'menwim' who stay at home and take care of the household and the children. I say no more - this is a must-read if you want to twist your mind over roles turned completely upside down! Gunnar

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