Read in Translation, Want to Read the Original

As those of you who have been following my blog for a while probably already know, my first language is Portuguese. The first fiction book that I read in its entirety in English was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, because I didn’t want to wait for the translation. It was only after 2010, however, that I started reading the original versions of English books more recurrently. Nowadays, I don’t read the translations of books originally written in English anymore. Not only is it a great way to practise my English reading skills, but ordering books from the UK is also cheaper than to buy them in Portugal.

There are three books by English authors that I read the translation into Portuguese, but that I’m eager to read the original version of.

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I read the Portuguese translation of Pride and Prejudice, titled Orgulho e Preconceito, more or less 13 years ago. The heroine of the novel is Elizabeth Bennet. Her mother is eager to marry all of her five daughters. Elizabeth is playful, intelligent and witty, but she also makes quick judgements about people. One of them is Mr Darcy. The misunderstandings between the two of them are also a consequence of his prideful nature and of the importance he gives to social status. The believable characters are accompanied by great moments of satire. Continue reading

My First Loves from Various Book Genres

‘What is your favourite book genre?’. Here is a question I haven’t got an answer for. Lately, I have been mainly reading books that can be categorised as literary fiction, a term I use despite having various reservations about it (an interesting topic for discussion which I’m not focusing on today). However, I also really like fantasy, dystopian novels and horror, for example. My reading taste is fairly varied in this regard.

When it comes to some genres, I clearly remember which book made me want to read more of the same sort. The books mentioned below are my first loves from a specific genre, although some of them denote influences from various other ones. They may not be my favourite books from that genre anymore, but I liked them enough when I first read them to continue picking up books with some of the same characteristics.

 

Fantasy

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

To have the third book of the Harry Potter series as my first love in the fantasy category may seem a bit strange. But this was the first book that I read in the series. I was around 13 years old, and it was recommended and lent to me by a friend, who apparently didn’t consider necessary to start the series from the beginning. And to be honest I don’t remember struggling to understand the plot at all. After falling in love with the characters and the world portrayed, I then bought Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone and from there read all the others books in order. Continue reading

Books I Recently Didn’t Finish

Life is too short to force yourself to read books you’re not enjoying at all until the very end. Although I sometimes persevere to the last page of books I’m not really liking as much as I expecting to, I only do so when I sincerely hope that they will get better or the ending will surprise me. I hadn’t DNF’d a book in quite some time, probably years. But this month I already didn’t finish two: The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell and The Castle of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino.

I’ve had The Road to Wigan Pier (more precisely the Portuguese translation titled O Caminho para Wigan Pier) on my shelves for quite some time, and to be honest I was not that excited about it. I didn’t choose it myself. It was an offer from a bookshop for buying a certain number of books there. As I was trying to read more non-fiction in November, I decided to finally pick it up. But the writing style was not grabbing my attention, and I wasn’t that interested in the subject being covered neither. The book delves into the life of the English working class in the 1930s, which could be a fascinating topic, if the first pages focused on just a couple of specific people and were more insightful.

The other book I didn’t finish this month, The Castle of the Crossed Destinies, is a collection of short stories based on interpretations of tarot cards. I was expecting the stories to feature characters based on the cards’ drawings, but I thought the plot would be taken a bit further. However, after reading the first two stories and having a glimpse through the others, it felt like we were just being presented with possible meanings for the cards being picked up by random people at a hostel, which used to be a castle, instead of being told a proper story. Continue reading

Books I Want to Read Before the End of 2017

There are only three months left in 2017 and there are still a few books I really want to read before the year comes to an end. These include fiction and non-fiction, novels and short stories. I’m expecting to love some of them, while others I have more doubts about. Nevertheless, I’m curious about what all of them have to offer.

 

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula is the book I have saved for Halloween. This is a horror story told through letters and diary entries. Count Dracula employs Jonathan Harker to advise him on a London home and, sometime after, alarming incidents start unfolding around England.

 

Ensaio sobre a Cegueira (Blindness) by José Saramago

I haven’t read a book by the Portuguese author and Noble Prize winner José Saramago in quite a while, but I plan to change that soon. Ensaio sobre a Cegueira, Blindness in the English translation, is a sort of allegory about how the population of a city becomes blind and is confined to an asylum. Continue reading

Favourite Dystopian Books

Lately the real world seems to be getting worryingly more similar to the ones portrayed by some dystopian novels, and my desire to read books from that genre is also increasing. By showing a regression of political, environmental, economic or social standards, they draw attention to real-world issues that should concern us all.

I haven’t read many dystopian novels, but I quite enjoyed the vast majority of them. There is something strangely appealing about reading a book that focuses on a community being plagued by an undesirable and frightening state of affairs. Today I reveal my three favourite dystopian novels, all delving into different types of societies.

 

1984 by George Orwell      

1984 takes place during a time of perpetual war, government surveillance and public manipulation. Power is in the hands of a single party, which is personified by the Big Brother. The protagonist of the novel, Winston Smith, works for the Ministry of Truth as a rewriter of historical events. He has an affair with Julia, who shares his animosity towards the Party. Continue reading

Neglected Books on My Shelves

Before choosing which book I was going to read next after finishing the last one, I had a look at my shelves and realised that there were some books there that I had bought a really long time ago and that remained unread. These are the three books which I believe have been neglected for the longest time.

The Ladies’ Paradise by Émile Zola

I really can’t remember specifically when I bought the Portuguese translation of this book, but it was at a time when I wanted to read more books by French authors. However, at the beginning of last year I finished Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert and wasn’t that impressed. So, my desire to read French classics waned a bit.

The Ladies Paradise recounts the rise of the modern department store in late nineteenth-century Paris. The store is a symbol of capitalism, of the modern city, and of the bourgeois family: it is emblematic of changes in consumer culture and the changes in sexual attitudes and class relations taking place at the end of the century.” Continue reading

The Time and Place Book Tag

The Time and Place Book Tag was created by Jen Campbell more than a year ago. I decided to do it, rather belatedly, after considering the possibility of giving away my three horrible Jane Austen’s Wordsworth Classics editions, but deciding to keep them because I associate two of them to a specific time and place in my life.

I decided then to do a blog post about the books that I remembered reading at a specific point in my life. However, I recalled having already seen a similar content around and, after some research, I rediscovered Jen’s video on YouTube. The Time and Place book tag consists on choosing 10 books from our shelves that we associate with a specific time and place in our lives, and explain the story behind the choices and what the books are about. I’m going to cheat a bit, since I’ve only chosen seven books.

 

Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

I bought these two novels in an independent bookshop in Soho when I was visiting London back in 2010 and read them one after the other. So, my memories of buying and reading them are quite similar. One day I was strolling through the streets of Soho with my friends and some weeks later I was back in Portugal commuting from University to home, after attending my master degree’s classes, while enjoying these two novels by Jane Austen. I clearly remember those being rainy days, when I had to wait for trains for ages. Continue reading