Expand your literary horizons with these 10 books in translation

Expand your literary horizons with these 10 books in translation

It’s called “the 3% problem.” 3% of books published in the United States were originally written in another language. (In France, that number is 27%, in Spain it’s 28%, Turkey 40%.) If you’re a U.S. reader, that is a teeny tiny piece of the pie!

That’s why the second category for the 2017 Reading Challenge—for those of you who want to stretch yourself this year—is “a book in translation.” This means any book that wasn’t originally written in your native language.

Why read books in translation? My friend put it well when she quipped, “I’m stuck in my head, I read to escape my own head, and my head happens to be an American head.”

Fiction—and to a lesser extent, nonfiction—helps us empathize with and understand other people and cultures. When we read only books written in our own language, we miss out.

When we only read our native language, we also miss out on so many great books! Contemporary stuff, of course, but also many of the classics: so many of the greats are only available to English speakers in translation. (Unless you happen to know French and Russian and Chinese. If that’s the case, I salute you.)

Series: A Book in Translation
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Author:
Kondo is a Japanese personal tidying expert (she doesn’t like to call herself an “organizer”). She originally wrote her decluttering manifesto to help the Japanese clients languishing on her waiting list. The publishers weren't sure if the book would translate across cultures, but it's become a global publishing phenomenon—so much so that now it's been parodied many times. Not all translations are good translations, but this one has been praised for preserving the quirkiness of her voice. More of thoughts on the book itself here) Translated by Cathy Hirano. More info →
The Time in Between

The Time in Between

Author:
Fashion, romance, and … espionage. If you loved Casablanca, try this novel set during the Spanish civil war. Sira Quiroga works her way from dressmaker’s assistant to a premier couturier, putting her in contact with the wealthy and powerful. When the British government asks her to spy for them as World War II gears up, she agrees, stitching secret messages into the hems of dresses. Translated from the Spanish, and the dialogue is a little bumpy in places, but the story is worth it. Is it perfect? No way. But engrossing? Definitely. Translated by Daniel Hahn. More info →
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Author:
This international bestseller was originally published in Sweden in 2009. It's drawn comparisons to Forrest Gump, because the 100-year-old man of the title finds himself involved in key political moments throughout the course of his long life. It's not to everyone's taste, but those who do often call it "clever," "quirky," and "un-put-down-able." (For what it's worth, I enjoyed it.) Translated by Rod Bradbury. More info →
The Little Prince

The Little Prince

This beloved tale (originally published in 1940) is the most translated book in the French language. This story works on several levels—children's tale, coming-of-age story, spiritual journey, allegory—which may be why it appeals to both children and adults. (The charming illustrations don't hurt, either.) Whimsical and wise, with just the right amount of absurdity. Translated by Richard Howard. More info →
Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina

Author:
“Happy families are all alike;” begins this classic novel, “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Fun fact: William Faulkner called this novel “the best ever written.” I know many readers agree with my assessment: this wasn't an easy read, but I'm so glad I read it. Numerous translations exist; if I had to choose one I'd go with Constance Garnett's, if only because Maggie Gyllenhaal does the corresponding Audible narration. (All 35 hours of it!) More info →
A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove

Author:
I couldn't get into this as a hardcover but then a friend with great taste suggested I give the audio a try. I started again from the beginning, and this time this grumpy old man story hooked me. The narrators' accents—especially for Ove—are fantastic. I laughed and cried and couldn't stop listening. But do yourself a favor: don't even think about finishing this novel in a public place, and think about removing your mascara first. Translated by Henning Koch, who translates all of Backman's full-length novels. More info →
My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan Novels Book 1)

My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan Novels Book 1)

Author:
I picked this up from my local bookstore's "blind date with a book" shelf: the bookseller had described it as "a masterpiece you probably haven’t read yet. Rich, intense, beautiful." This is the first installment (published in 2011) of Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet. The quartet revolves around the friendship between Elena and Lila; My Brilliant Friend begins when the girls are in first grade and carries them through adolescence. Thought-provoking, beautifully written, realistic enough to be quite difficult in places. Heads up: it's not an easy read, and has gotten enough hype that unrealistic expectations are a real danger. But readers who love this LOVE IT. Beautifully translated by Ann Goldstein. More info →
Crime & Punishment

Crime & Punishment

I don't like to throw the word "should" when it comes to reading, but everyone should at least consider reading this classic-for-a-reason. You could read it every year for the rest of your life and discover something new every time. Translations abound; mine is by David McDuff. More info →
The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind

This is the only book on this list I haven't read yet, and I'm including it here because it's my personal pick for this category. As numerous gushing readers have told me: it's a book about books, a mystery, a love letter to literature, a beautifully written masterpiece, a work worthy of a lifetime favorite list. The plot description reminds me of personal favorites The Thirteenth Tale and The Distant Hours. Translated by Lucia Graves. More info →
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Author:
Would you believe this is the only Murakami I've read? (SO FAR: feel free to tell me what to read next in comments.) If you want your nonfiction to make a linear argument, this is not for you: these are the collected musings Murakami jotted down over an 18-month period many moons ago, when he sold his jazz bar to write full-time. If you like the sound of your philosophical friend waxing poetic about running, writing, and life for 200 pages, read this now. (I'm in the latter camp.) Fun fact: the title is a riff on Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love; Rob Bell continued the theme with his What We Talk About When We Talk About God. Translated by Philip Gabriel. More info →

This list of just 10 titles will get you thinking, but there are literally thousands of titles to choose from. Share your favorites you’ve already read or the books in translation you’re planning on reading this year in comments. The more the merrier!

P.S. Get more details on the Reading Challenge, or sign up to get your free downloadable Reading Challenge Kit. Want more reading ideas? View the MMD Book List archives right here.

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118 comments

  1. Jennifer N. says:

    When I looked at my unread books for this category, I realized I have TWO unread books in translation: “Eva Luna” by Isabel Allende and “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Somehow I end up with a lot of Spanish translations! I was going to read Crime and Punishment for my pick, though, until I realized I already owned two, but it will stay on my TBR list.

    I read Anna Karenina in Russian Lit in college and I really enjoyed it, but I feel like that might be a classic I need to re-read. A Man Called Ove is lovely (I also listened on audio.) I just wanted to walk over to Ove’s home and cook him dinner. I’ve recommended it to others who also enjoyed it.

  2. Janet says:

    When I first began reading A Man Called Ove I thought, Oh God, another grumpy old man story. But then as I read on I was hooked and I too cried at the end. The Shadow of the Wind is wonderful and there are 2 follow-ups to it.

    • Inder Khalsa says:

      Oh, I love grumpy old man stories! (The Remains of the Day, Austerlitz, Gilead … ) I guess I should read this one too!

      Although, I’m reading War & Peace, finally, so I’m covered for “books in translation,” to put it mildly.

  3. Libby says:

    We did A Man Called Ove for our book club and everyone HATED IT except for me! I couldn’t figure out what it was until I realized that I was the only one who heard it on audiobook. That narrator captured Ove so well. He made him completely likable whereas if you didn’t pick up on the thoughtfulness of a crochety old man on your own, it might just be really really depressing.
    This is actually THE book that got me hooked on Audiobooks. I’m listening to Behold the Dreamers right now. I think that from now on, books about other cultures might be perfect for audiobook for me. 🙂

    • N G Marks says:

      I read a Man Called Ove and loved it, how could anyone read that book and hate it? I loaned it to my 85 year old Father-in-Law who loved it too. Everyone that I know who reads it loves it and I am just about to read My Grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry another Frederic Backman book that I expect to be just as enchanting as Ove.
      I am also an Allende fan, Daughter of Fortune was great!

    • Jennifer N. says:

      The only other Isabel Allende novel I’ve read was Island Beneath the Sea and it was beautiful and fascinating. I’ll have to look into those other two.

      • Laura says:

        The Stories of Eva Luna is my favourite book of all time. It’s the short stories that were told in Eva Luna. Allende is magic–she writes poetry in her fiction.

    • Liz says:

      I read Daughter of Fortune a very long time ago and remember really liking it, but can’t remember why. This may be a re-read for me!

  4. I hope you love The Shadow of the Wind! I almost brought it up when we recorded your podcast.

    What I Talk About When I Talk About Running has been sitting on my desk for years. I know I’ll love it. I’ve written several “running as a metaphor for writing” posts on my blog. Not sure why I keep putting it off. Soon.

    I’d add Sophie’s World to the list.

  5. Tacy says:

    Thank you for this – I am pinning this for later. And I just have to comment and say that I watched the movie A Man Called Ove with Stephen last night, and we really liked it. The acting is superb. It is well-cast. We were sitting on the edge of our seats, which is saying a lot for a (relatively) simple plot/storyline. I would like to talk to someone else about the differences between the book and the movie (my only quibble is they seemed to take liberties), but otherwise I give it two thumbs up.

  6. Laurel says:

    Les Miserables is one of my favorites. I even enjoy the sweeping diversions that happen throughout. I’m planning to read it in FRENCH this year (at least the first part) to work on my French language skills which are becoming extremely rusty. Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame is also high up there.

  7. Emerald says:

    I also vote yes for Love in the time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. I read this one so slowly because every time I picked it up I was entranced not so much by the story itself but by the beautiful way he told it. I didn’t want it to end.

    Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata left me with a lovely melancholy ache for days. I don’t even remember the story that well, just remember feeling connected to the part of our humanity that goes unfulfilled, that always wanted more.

    Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami stayed with me for several weeks after I finished reading it. I think I could read it 100 times and still be left wondering.

    • Carol Ross says:

      Kafka on the Shore was the first Murakami I read – I fell into completely and as you say, I could read it over & over, and I’d be left enchanted and wondering. After I finished Kafka, I read/listened to just about all of Murikami’s translated books, but not When I Talk About Running. Thank you – another to add to my list…

      Keigo Higashino, Camilla Lackberg & Hakan Nesser are writers whose translated mysteries I’ve enjoyed.

      • Emerald says:

        I forgot about Camilla Lackberg! I love her stories, although it took me a book or two to love the characters. I also enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series by Stieg Larsson. Completely forgot they were translated.

  8. Leslie Dupont says:

    I was surprised to see I’ve already read a few of the titles and a few are on my TBR list. A Man Called Ove was excellent and I highly recommend it. It also has a few literary bumps due to translation, but the overall gist is understood. Anna Karenina was one of my all time favorite classics, of course next to Pride and Prejudice! The Elena Ferrente books are on my list because of your numerous recommendations and the fact that I lived in Italy for 2 years. The 100-year-old man is a TBR and I’ll definitely be adding athe Shadow of the Wind to the list!! Thank you for some excellent translated works recommendations!

  9. Nancy B. says:

    There is a wonderful Spanish TV series on The Time in Between. Netflix carries it with subtitles under the same name. The subtitles are easy to read and not distracting from the film which is very engrossing, although it’s hard to watch while doing other things! Netflix has a lot of subtitled Spanish TV. The best series we’ve watched is The Grand Hotel (like a Spanish Downton Abbey only possibly better, more intrigue).

  10. Siobhan says:

    Monsieur Linh and his Child is one of my favourite books in translation. I heartily recommend it. It is a beautiful meditation on trauma and speaks to an experience I would not have considered.

    I also love Milan Kundera novels – a perspective which is about as un-British (I am British) as I can get whilst still being set in a recognisable Western civilisation.

  11. Claire says:

    I read I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin, a book originally written in Korean, based on a recommendation in the MMD challenge original post. The way the story slowly unfolded itself was magical and successfully took me outside my American, English-speaking head. 🙂

  12. Maud says:

    Thank you. Finally. You read my mind. I keep seeing your suggestions, and I’m usually surprised they’re American books for the most part (it’s worse with Bookbub: no foreign literature in their posts). I’m French, living in France, and I read books from different countries all the time. I hardly read any French books anymore. I used to. But there are so many great opportunities in foreign literature that I have FOMO. I love that I take a glimpse at how other people are living, thinking, interacting. I think the USA are too culturally isolated (having had lived there). I wholeheartedly recommend reading mostly foreign literature. But with the statistics you gave us, I now understand there is a difficulty in finding recent foreign books translated in English, and why. The US book industry is making a business decision by not publishing books that wouldn’t sell well. I’m sad you, US readers, are missing out on so much good stuff. Thank you for pushing the subject!

    • Carol R says:

      Ah, yes, exactly – books must make money! The publishing houses that used to publish riskier books are now owned by huge conglomerations whose interests are not in the development of new authors or the publication of books that will never hit the best seller lists. They have shareholders who demand profit. I worked for a smaller independent bookstore years ago and I see that there’s been a huge, sad change in book publishing… And of course the closing of so many independent and chain bookstores has had its effects, too. I love the ease and convenience of Amazon.com, but there’s nothing like walking into a store filled with books that you can touch, page through at your leisure, walk around with and consider…

      • Maud says:

        Yes, walking into a bookstore always gives me the feels. I don’t have to buy, sometimes I just roam the aisles. My local one used to be a furniture store I grew up in. I was friend with the owner’s kid. So it feels like home.

  13. I’m reading The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. It’s a dystopian novel about a world in which food is scarce and controlled by conglomerates. The girl in the title, Emiko, is one of the New People–genetically engineered and feared and disliked by many humans. Also, I really like to say the name “Bacigalupi.”

    Love in the Time of Cholera always gets my vote, too.

    Marie Kondo–brilliant. How much fun would it be to be one of her clients?!

  14. Natasha says:

    Awesome post!!! Thank you for listing “The Little Prince.” That’s one of the best books ever written.

    One thing to keep in mind with translated books – make sure it is a good translation!!! I’v seen some awful translations of my favorite books. The story, the mood – it can all get ruined.

    “Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov.
    “100 Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    “White on Black: A Boy’s Story” by Ruben Gallego
    Anything by Alexander Pushkin (he is the Mozart of Russian poetry)
    “Let the Right One In” by John Ajvide Lindqvist.
    “Fathers and Children” by Ivan Turgenev
    “Dead Souls” and “The Government Inspector” by Nikolai Gogol (well, pretty much anything by Gogol except “Taras Bulba”)

    I can go on and on…

    • Mary says:

      And how do you find the good translations? I have not found Amazon helpful and it is very hard to find out if a book is condensed or not.

      • Jennifer N. says:

        On Amazon, I try to find reviews from people that mention the translation (preferably those who’ve read several.) You could also Google “Best Translation of [Insert Name of Work Here]. You might find this is more important with certain languages, specifically those that are very different from English, like Russian or any of the Asian languages. I’d imagine German wouldn’t be too picky and I haven’t seen much controversy over Spanish or French translations.

    • Maud says:

      A good translation indeed. I tried to read Outlander in French, after having read it in English. It was baaaad. When I’m interested in a book but I see this guy translated it, I drop the book. Sadly.

  15. Anne says:

    I’ve read “The 100 year….”, “A Man Called Ove” and “The Little Prince” translated into my own native language, Danish – though I own a French copy of “The Little Prince” and could have read the two others in their original language, Swedish.
    Wondering how many % of the foreign books published here, that are translated to Danish? We are only 5,5 mio and most of us start learning other languages from an early age. Interesting……. since I tend to buy most books in the original language.

  16. Andrea says:

    I love this post! Thank you Anne! I like your friend’s comment about her “American head”. Reading books in translation has made me more aware that not only do other people live differently than I, but have very different ways of thinking about life as well.

  17. Victoria says:

    Thanks for this great list. I really like the sound of The Shadow of the Wind and The Time in Between.
    I also enjoyed On the Cold Coasts by Vilborg Davidsdottir, set in 15th Century Iceland. I didn’t love it entirely….but it comes to mind often and I would buy any more translations of his books for sure.

    • Maud says:

      The Time In-between has been made into a TV series a few years back.
      Thanks for the Icelandic suggestion. I personally read anything by Audur Ava Olafsdottir.

  18. Lisa says:

    Many of these listed seem like classics in their own right (like Allende’s books). For anyone who wants something that doesn’t necessarily have a message I would recommend any Jo Nesbo crime novels and Cornelia Funke fantasy children/middle school novels. She wrote Inkheart and several others that are very good.
    I have found that authors from Sweden/Norway area can be very graphic (at least the novels that we get in translation). Famous authors from Spain can be very hard to follow, plotwise. Since it is only a small sampling of that particular country’s literature, it is hard to know if the general readership is the same as we are or not.

  19. Anne says:

    The Art of Hearing Heartbeats may be the most delicious book I’ve ever read. It is translated from German. While the title makes it sound a bit medical, there is nothing medical about the warmth of the story.

  20. Mary says:

    “The Shadow of the Wind” simply took my breath away. Not only is it a riveting story with wonderful characters, it touched my soul in a way no other book has. The writing is so gorgeous that I had to stop and reread many passages…I can’t imagine it being any more beautiful in the original Spanish.

  21. Eva Ginnell says:

    What happened to some good old German books – classics like Thomas Mann or Hermann Hesse, or contemporary writers like Ralf Rothmann or Benedict Wells, Uwe Timm? The header picture, by the way, is a picture of a German town…

  22. Susan says:

    I actually liked Backman’s My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry even better.
    The Red Notebook – Antoine Laurain (it’s short!)
    Steig Larssen’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series (know your triggers)
    I liked Murakami’s 1Q84 but it is looong.
    Also, there are English language books from other countries that I would include this category – Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe about Nigeria is an important one.

  23. Mary says:

    I rather sound like a broken record than be remiss, so once again I would like to suggest The Count of Monte Cristo (translation by Robin Buss) and Dr. Zhivago.

  24. Phaedra says:

    I second (or third.. or fourth) Anna Karenina. Amazing. Absolutely worth the time. Love In The Time Of Cholera also fantastic. I see Dr Zhivago in the comments, too. So worthy.

    I seem to be reading lots of translations lately as I’ve been on a Nordic Noir kick- some work better than others (100% Jo Nesbo fan for those that can handle all the dark situations and have recently found Camilla Lackberg and love her, too) , but they are certainly a different style than American crime fiction.

  25. Donna says:

    Thanks for sharing, Anne. I read my first translated book in 2015 for the Reading Challenge (A Fairytale by Jonas T. Bengtsson, translated from Danish) and I’m so happy I did. I’ve read so many since then.

    A few favourites:

    You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris (translated from French)
    The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola (currently reading this one. It’s translated from French.)
    A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (translated from Swedish)

    For this year’s challenge, I’m reading The Door by Magda Szabo (translated from Hungarian)

  26. Diane says:

    I am reading A Very Special Year by Thomas Montasser originally published in German.
    It’s about 📚 and light mystery. Aunt Charlotte has disappeared but left her niece, Valerie, in charge of the bookshop.

    • sylvia says:

      Yes!! A great recommendation! And with the photos shared in this post I would have expected at least one book translated from German!!

  27. Gwen Willox says:

    For a Sack of Bones by Lluís-Anton Bau

    Translated from Spanish, set in Spain after the Civil War. It is so beautifully layered. About the after effects of war, about the sins of the fathers. This story is also about keeping promises. And it’s about revenge. Exceptional, layered story, full of fabulous parables & symbolism. Finished this book & immediately went to page 1 & started again. Brilliant.

  28. Gwen Willox says:

    For a Sack of Bones by Lluís-Anton Baulenas

    Translated from Spanish, set in Spain after the Civil War. It is so beautifully layered. About the after effects of war, about the sins of the fathers. This story is also about keeping promises. And it’s about revenge. Exceptional, layered story, full of fabulous parables & symbolism. Finished this book & immediately went to page 1 & started again. Brilliant.

  29. Hilary says:

    Funny that you mention Crime and Punishment as a “should” read book. In 2014 I started my personal Book of the Year project. Each year I pick a book of literary merit that I know I “should” have already read. It has to be approximately 500 pages or longer and it should be one of those books that people say, “I can’t believe you haven’t read…(Moby Dick, Middlemarch, Crime and Punishment, etc).” It’s a book that I know I should have read but haven’t because it seems daunting. I then make myself a reading schedule so I only have maybe 10-30 pages (depending on the book’s length) to read each week. Then, it doesn’t seem so intimidating. Well, at any rate, Crime and Punishment is my 2017 Book of the Year. I just now finished my weekly pages.

    • Courtney says:

      Love this! I started doing this last year sort of by accident. I wanted to do ‘War and Peace’ for the “book that intimidates you” category of the Reading Challenge, but knew I’d never get through it trying to read it in a single month. So, I decided to space it out over a year, which meant only reading a couple of pages per night. It worked brilliantly, and I ended up really enjoying a novel I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. I decided to make a habit of it as you have, and my book this year is ‘Ulysses.’ All of these longer classics I could never get around to reading are suddenly so much more accessible!

      • Mary says:

        Excellent! I spread War and Peace over four months. I could not have gone faster or I might have lost content. I am wanting to read Ulysses, too! I decided on that a few weeks ago, and Les Miserables!

        • i read it last year after seeing the bad adaptation on the TV. I think i read it during 4 – 5 months and had some other reading in between, i read it as i saw in it the message that i wanted to have in my sermon in july, As i am a swedish women, most new books are not my native language so i read so many different books from all kind of countries.

          • Mary says:

            How extraordinary, Birgitta! How waouod love to know your insights and understanding of the novel and how you wove it into a sermon.

          • Mary says:

            I am sorry for the typo. I would love to know your insights…..
            Was it the BBC production that you found a bad adaptation?

  30. Britta says:

    You definitely need to read Murakami’s 1Q84 – it’s my favorite of the 3 books of his I’ve read was so far.
    I was excited to see I’ve read nearly half of the books on this list already. Good list!

    • Jo says:

      Yes, I loved 1Q84 too and it’s my favourite of his novels that I’ve read so far but I am definitely wanting to read more. I also liked The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but just couldn’t enjoy Hard Boiled Wonderland.

  31. Lindsey Back says:

    Note that Shadow of the Wind is one of 3 books (actually I have just discovered that there is 4)and I wish I had read them in order. I have included a link for a site which discusses this. Hope you don’t mind the link….
    http://smithsonianapa.org/bookdragon/the-cemetery-of-forgotten-books-the-shadow-of-the-wind-angels-game-the-prisoner-of-heaven-the-rose-of-fire-by-carlos-ruiz-zafon-translated-by-lucia-graves/ I really enjoyed all books but had to keep referring to Shadow as they are densely written.

  32. Anne says:

    Hopefully, nobody else has made this comment, but I wanted to chime in with some perspective. As someone with a PhD in a foreign literature (Spanish), I really appreciate the idea behind these posts, but I think that the stats you use are somewhat misleading. The reason why Spain, France, and Turkey appear to read so much more “foreign” literature is that bookstores in those countries sell many more books that were originally published in English! Remember that that counts as a “foreign” literature in those contexts. I am sure (this is based on a decade of traveling in Spain and Latin America) that of you looked at the percentage of books first published in a language other than English, those numbers for the European countries would be much smaller. Correct me if I’m wrong; if you do have such numbers, I’d love to see them!

    • as a woman with a swedish heritage and native language, the way of just reading swedish books is a small alternative. And translations is not always truthful. I remember when i in the 80th read the Shogun of James Clawell first in english than the swedish edition came out. I first thought the english book a little hard so i waited for it to be translated, but i had read enough for me to react when i came to chapter 27 or something. I controlled book editions and found the the swedish edition was one chapter short. I also realised that most of the things catholic in the book was not there in the swedish edition. This was actually permitted to the translator. This has made me very suspicion regarding at least translations to Swedish, as the whole meaning of the book was disturbed for me. Should i as living in a lutheran Sweden not be able to understand catholism. Crazy. But it can also be different between the english and the american. Do try to remember the book of Jeffrey Archer First among equals. The end in the english edition was not thought to be accepted in the US wherefore there was another end in that edition. This is just 2 examples. I just wonder how many there are. As i as present got a Kindle the other year, and that is not able to get translations in Swedish, my reading today is almost english/american. So i try to live in your countries as well as mine, and France, Italy, Spain and other

  33. Caroline L says:

    Consider listening to Shadow of the Wind. The narrator is Jonathan Davis and is excellent. It was one of my first audio books and I still reflect on both the story and how well it was read!

  34. Debbie Vietzke says:

    Marie Kondo’s “Life Changing Magic” was exactly that for me. Most of the philosophy behind her method is in the last few chapters.
    I LOVE YOUR BLOG!

  35. Lacey says:

    “Perfume” by Patrick Süskind is BRILLIANT. You’ll never forget it and you will find yourself recommending it to the strangest of people 🙂 a modern classic.

  36. Jamie says:

    I chose The Shadow of the Wind for my Reading Challenge pick for this category. World Wars + books seemed to be a good combination, and bonus that it’s in translation! I’m not sure if it was originally written in Spanish (it’s available in many languages) but The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cinseros is such a great book. It captures childhood, Latina culture, and the wistful longing of humanity all in readable, short chapters. Plus it’s only about 100 pages. You finish reading the book feeling like you read so much more than what was on the page.

  37. Anna says:

    Great list! I’m currently listening A Man Called Ove and really enjoy it. I’ve also read a few other books from your list. Marie Kondo’s book was on my list last year and I’ve picked up a few good ideas from her. Anna Karenina and Crime and Punishment I’ve read when I was in school and I did read them in Russian. Both of these books as well as War and Peace were required reading for high school kids back then. I’d like to recommend My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner: A Family Memoir by Meir Shalev.

    • Naomi says:

      I second A Man Called Ove! I really like the book, I am listening to the audiobook which happens to be narrated by George Newburn, who I think provides a perfect voice to the story and characters.

  38. Jo says:

    100 Years of Solitude would have to be my favourite book not written in English. I love it so much and have re-read it many times (which is saying something considering the size of my TBR list) – it’s quirky and magical and profound and unexpected and wonderful.

  39. Amy says:

    I was surprised by how small the number was! I never know which books are in translation and which aren’t, but I would definitely like to read more!

  40. Meg Hanne says:

    I would also recommend Resurrection by Tolstoy: just wonderful. Also, A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler, which is a beautiful, short novel about a man who lives his whole life in an Austrian valley, apart from when he is conscripted to war. It’s a novel that I found lingered long after I’d finished it. It was reviewed on BBC radio 4’s A Good Read a couple of weeks ago. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08crzr7
    Completely different: Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. Magical, funny, (a bit racy), and every chapter starts with an incredibly complicated recipe.
    Or, Ice, by Ulla-Lena Lundberg. A pastor and his wife move to a Finnish island that is so remote they don’t even speak Finnish. I love books about islands and extreme landscapes and climates, this one is totally engrossing, but one to avoid if you need cheering up.

    • Maud says:

      The movie Like Water for Chocolate was a bit disappointing after having read the book (Aren’t movies always disappointing?!). But nevertheless a good movie.

  41. Maud says:

    I will recommend to short French novels since I’m French:
    – The Silence of the Sea, by Vercors, a beautiful evocation of resistance in France during WW2.
    – Salt on Our Skin, by Benoîte Groult, very moving, a bit racy, about a lifelong love story between two people who have seemingly nothing in common.
    And I will also add :
    – the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy, as April mentioned,
    – anything by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, as Selvi said,
    – Perfume by Patrick Süskind, as Lacey suggested.

  42. I absolutely loved The Dinner by Herman Koch (and Dear Mr. M to a slightly lesser extent)…but he’s definitely not for everyone.

    And I’d love to find some time to read some Tolstoy, which I’ve embarrassingly never read.

  43. So, this is embarrassing. I recommended The Windup Girl as a translation, but it’s not. Sorry! In its place I offer Shūsaku Endō’s Silence. It’s deep and brutal, but beautifully written. The 1969 foreword by William Johnston provides critical background for reading. The film Silence, by Martin Scorcese, came out in December. I haven’t really wanted to see it because it’s supposed to be very violent and disturbing. Endō’s book can be disturbing, but the focus is on the question of faith, and what we expect from it.

  44. Jason says:

    I would recommend The Door by Magda Szabo. Though originally published in Hungary in 1987 and translated in English in 1995 by a small publisher, the NYRB Classics re-issue of The Door by Magda Szabo was one of the NY Times Best Books of 2015. The story follows the relationship between Magda (the narrator) and her enigmatic housekeeper Emerence. The revelation in the first pages may seem cliche, but what follows is a controlled engrossing narrative that uncovers more about Emerence through passages on her peculiar domestic routine. Szabo wrote such a complicated, but fully realized character in Emerence. Like the narrator, my feelings about Emerence constantly flip-flopped. I hated her, could not understand her motives, felt sorry for her, laughed with her, respected her, admired her, and simply accepted her as is, which can only be described as Emerence.

  45. Corby says:

    The Department Q books by Jussi Adler-Olsen. Great cast of characters, each with unique back stories and nice surprising twists. First in the series is The Keeper of Lost Causes.

  46. Molly says:

    I LOVE Shadow of the Wind! This was a book I picked up from the bargain table at the book store that turned out to be amazing. I’ve only read it once because my copy got lost in a move, but I find myself thinking about it quite a bit. I really need to buy another copy and reread it. Enjoy the mystery of it!

    • Jennifer Dade says:

      The Shadow of the Wind is one of my favorite books ever! Have you read the prequel? Not quite as good, but still still a remarkable read if you loved Shadow.

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  48. Jennie says:

    I’m reading Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian. I found it at a used bookstore and bought it because the title and cover spoke to me. When you announced the “in translation” category, I went looking for it on my “to read” shelf. I’m looking forward to it!

  49. Tory says:

    I read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running a couple of years ago, because I like running, and it was interesting but made me think I probably wouldn’t care for Murakami’s fiction. Fast Forward – my husband bought me The Wind Up Bird Chronicle for Christmas and I’ve been trudging through it ever since. It’s really strange – the literary equivalent of a David Lynch movie. I’ll have to see how it all ends before I decide if it was worth it, but I’m doubtful I’ll be reaching for any of his other books any time soon.

  50. Chenay says:

    The Shadow of the Wind is wonderful! I honestly picked it up at my used book store just because I liked the cover. It was a wonderful surprise.

  51. Katie says:

    How funny; I was going to suggest a Murakami novel for this category, then saw the last book was WITAWITAR. I’m reading Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World right now and it is weird but wonderful. The dual-setting structure is interesting and the whole thing is just very…Japanese. Which is exactly the point of reading books in translation!

  52. Katia says:

    I love the photo of the idyllic street in Rothenburg o.d. Tauber. My husband and I visited the town 8.5 years ago and fell in love with it immediately. 🙂 As for the books, I love Anna Karenina, the Little Price (currently reading it with my eldest at bedtime), and A Man Called Ove. Thank you for this list. I have added new-to-me titles to my ‘to read’ list.

  53. Mark Wonderful says:

    February 23, 2017 AND I just ordered ‘A Man Called Ove’ from Better World Books. For an unknown reason books translated from ‘Scandinavian’ put me in a dream state while reading. Maybe it’s the 50% Finn blood in my veins. And besides ‘Ove’s’ description pretty much is the description of me…

  54. Bill says:

    I read ‘A Man Called Ove’ and the “Dragon Tattoo” trilogy plus 1 last year. And since I haven’t read a “classic” in a while. I’ve decided to try ‘Don Quixote’. I’ve made in through the 64 pages of Introduction, translator’s notes, note on text, chronology and Prologue and now I’m ready to begin Chapter 1. Woo Hoo! Wish me luck! See ya in a few months,… or more.

  55. julie b says:

    I just finished “A Man Called Ove” and absolutely loved this book although a bit concerned the main character was a curmudgeon (loved the hero’s journey back to life). “Shadow of the Wind” is one of my top 10 books. I had the good fortune to meet the author at a local bookstore which led to the charm and loved it so much I bought the audio version which was outstanding (it’s one of those books to can listen to time and time again….like West with the Night). “The 100 year old Man” was a delight! I’m currently reading Marie Kondo and love that it is challenging me to think about “things” differently.

  56. Ginny says:

    I just finished reading The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain. It’s French, set in Paris, and a really good, fairly short read.

  57. HilaryT says:

    Just finished “The Shadow of the Wind” – it is wonderful! I loved every bit of it. What a great story teller.

    And “A Man Called Ove” was one of my favorite reads from last year!

  58. Barbara Wilkes says:

    You must include The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery–one of my favorite books of all times. The writing is so beautiful and the story is wonderful. I have read most of the ones you have listed and will make sure to get the others. Thanks for your recommendations.

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