7 Favorite Books Translated to English

This year I decided to challenge myself to read outside my comfort zone. I started the Read Around the World Challenge as a way of reading more books set in other countries. But, what I’m finding as I go through the challenge is that I’m really enjoying reading books translated to English but were originally written in other languages. Books from the countries versus just set in them.

Spring Blog Hop 2020

I always find it fun to collaborate with other bloggers, especially book bloggers, so I’m always excited to participate in one of the bookish blog hops organized by Jo Linsdell. I enjoy getting different perspectives from other book bloggers and, of course, getting their book recommendations!

So, as part of the Spring Blog Hop, I asked other book bloggers what books translated to English that they have read and enjoyed. Here are their answers. There are some really great book recommendations here. I can see my to-be-read list already growing!

Books translated to English

1. Jo Linsdell www.JoLinsdell.com

Jo LinsdellThe Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri was originally written in Italian. I was tempted to get a copy in Italian (I’m bilingual) and probably will at some point, but decided on an English copy as it was recommended to me by my dad who read that version. I’ll definitely be checking out more books in the series too. 

About the book:

The Shape of Water is the first in Andrea Camilleri’s wry, brilliantly compelling Sicilian crime series, featuring Inspector Montalbano.

The goats of Vigàta once grazed on the trash-strewn site still known as the Pasture. Now local enterprise of a different sort flourishes: drug dealers and prostitutes of every flavour. But their discreet trade is upset when two employees of the Splendour Refuse Collection Company discover the body of engineer Silvio Luparello, one of the local movers and shakers, apparently deceased in flagrante at the Pasture. The coroner’s verdict is death from natural causes – refreshingly unusual for Sicily.

But Inspector Salvo Montalbano, as honest as he is streetwise and as scathing to fools and villains as he is compassionate to their victims, is not ready to close the case – even though he’s being pressured by Vigàta’s police chief, judge, and bishop.

Picking his way through a labyrinth of high-comedy corruption, delicious meals, vendetta firepower, and carefully planted false clues, Montalbano can be relied on, whatever the cost, to get to the heart of the matter.

The Shape of Water is followed by the second in this phenomenal series, The Terracotta Dog.

book cover of Shape of Water, book translated into English


2. Leslie Conzatti — www.upstreamwriter.blogspot.com

I read books in English (I am not bilingual… Too bad!) but there is one particular series that I really enjoyed that was originally written in German: The MirrorWorld series by Cornelia Funke. I really enjoy her brand of fantasy, from Dragon Rider and The Thief Lord to the Inkheart Trilogy–so when I saw a book called Reckless with her name on the spine, I knew I really wanted to read it!

It’s a whole new brand of fantasy, weaving old folklore and the fairy tales straight from the Brothers Grimm (the main characters, Jacob and Will, are actually named after Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm!) with their haunting beauty and deep moral compulsion.

The best thing about reading a book translated from a foreign language is the depth and vividness of the descriptions, the poetry within the prose that pulls one in and keeps one captivated until the last page. The series currently has only three books, but there are two more coming in the next couple of years, and I am so excited for them!

book cover of Reckless by Cornelia Funke

3. Laura Doherty – Tales of a Natural Spoonie – https://talesofanaturalspoonie.com

Up until 2019, few people had heard of The Witcher fantasy series by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. In fact, it could be arguably said that if Polish games company CD Projekt Red hadn’t asked for the rights to be turned into a computer game it might still be hardly known.

The game series brought The Witcher stories to a broader audience and now there is an RPG game, board game, and comics. Yet it was the Netflix series of last year that really brought this brilliant fantasy series to prominence.

If you have watched the show, read the comics or played the game I would whole-heartedly recommend the book series. As an idea of how long this series has been around The Last Wish (first book in series) was originally published in Polish in 1993 and the first English edition was first published in 2007.

Image of The Witcher book series, books translated to English

4. Valerie, Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews www.catsluvcoffee.com

A book that you might have seen on a book tour or two is The Devil’s Apprentice by Kenneth B. Andersen. The Devil’s Apprentice was originally published in 2005 in Danish under the name Djævelens lærling. There are six books in the series.

While I’ve only read the first one, I really enjoyed it and if I ever get spare reading time (HA), I plan to read some of the others. You can read my review of the first book here.

book cover of The Devil's Apprentice, books translated to English 

5. Veronica – The Burgeoning Bookshelf https://theburgeoningbookshelf.blogspot.com/

House on Endless Waters by Emuna Elon, due to be released in March 2020, has been impeccably translated from Hebrew.

Yoel Blum is a famous author and on a book tour to Amsterdam, he sees a photo in a history museum of his family only he isn’t in the picture and his mother is holding another child. As Yoel tries to piece together the information he writes his own story which includes the German occupation of Amsterdam and the treatment of the Jews. A unique and heartfelt look at the holocaust.

book cover for House on Endless Water, a book translated to English

My Favorites

So while I don’t read a lot of books translated to English, or at least I haven’t in the past, there are a few that I’ve read and enjoyed.

6.  Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

I had to read this book, in Spanish, in my high school Spanish class. I remember enjoying the story, but reading in a different language was really hard and labored. I had to have the Spanish-English dictionary at the ready all the time!

Don Quixote, first published in two parts in 1605 and 1615, is one of the world’s greatest comic novels. Inspired by tales of chivalry, Don Quixote of La Mancha embarks on a series of adventures with his faithful servant Sancho Panza by his side. The novel has acquired mythic status and its influence on modern fiction is profound.

7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling 

I know, I know! This one is kind of cheating!! But, my justification is that there was a reprint specifically for the U.S. version. The name was changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and some of the language was changed to accommodate our way of talking.

If you haven’t read about the adventures of the boy wizard, I highly recommend giving it a shot! While, yes, they are “children’s books.” I find that both young adults and adults also really enjoy the stories.


How about you? Have you read any books that were translated into English? I’d love to hear about them.  Leave me a comment and I’ll and add them to our list!

books translated to English

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