A Book in Translation
A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove

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 →
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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 →
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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 →
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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

$12.576.95 (AUDIBLE DAILY DEAL)
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 →
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The Time in Between

The Time in Between

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 →
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Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina

Audiobook: 1.99 (Whispersync)
“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 →
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 →
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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

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 thoughts on the book itself here) Translated by Cathy Hirano. More info →
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The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

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

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 →
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My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan Novels Book 1)

My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan Novels Book 1)

$24.473.95 (AUDIBLE DAILY DEAL)
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 →
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