Discussion Posts

The Annoying Truth About Bilingual Readers

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I can read in Portuguese, Spanish and English *gasp*. Yup, they’re three languages, which makes me think – I’m actually a trilingual :p . No guys, I’m not bragging. Although you’re probably thinking “Wow, that’s so awesome”, and it is a way, being a trilingual reader also has it’s bad, annoying moments.

However, let’s start by pointing out the awesomeness of reading books in several languages.

1st Awesome Thing: Wider range of books

Let’s face it, most new books are released in English first. For those who cannot read in English, it means that we most wait for several months until they translate the book to our less-known language. That means days and days and days on end watching everyone on the internet rave about that book, but we cannot read it. It’s like someone holding a candy just inches away from your reach – it sucks doesn’t it? Take this example: The Portuguese edition of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be released on September 24, 2016. In the UK it was released on July 31, 2016. Big difference, right?

Being a bilingual – or trilingual or whatever the number of languages you speak – means that you have the access to new English releases and don’t have to wait for translated editions, but that you can also read other awesome books that haven’t even been translate to English! Yes, that happens! I read a great book written by a Spanish author which in English would be called “The Auschwitz’s Librarian”. This book has been translated to Portuguese, Dutch, Czech, Romanian and Italian, but no English. See? English people don’t get the whole lot :p

2nd Awesome Things: Book covers

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Portuguese Version   English Version

Being a bilingual reader means that you can choose the book with the best cover because often they change from country to country. Sometimes the UK cover is better, sometimes the Portuguese cover is better, etc. I’m going to use the example of a book my mother read recently called Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale. If the English version was standing on a shelf in a bookshop, I would never pick it up. On the other hand, the Portuguese version is much more appealing and it would surely spice up my interest on the book.

For those who say “You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover”, well, I do. I will only pick a book from a shelf or check it out on Amazon if I have heard great things about it or if the cover appeals to me. The cover will make me read the synopsis and, if I like it, then I’ll buy it. I’m sure that books with pretty covers sell much better than their ugly cousins!

3rd Awesome Thing: Bookmarks

f31f7-the2bdressmakerIn Portugal, many books, not to say most of them, come with bookmarks that match the cover. How great is that? No need to search for random pieces of paper to act as bookmarks now! So far, I actually only saw this in Portugal, but please correct me if I’m wrong. Gosh, wouldn’t it be great if this happened worldwide? Imagine the possibilities!!! The book on the left is called The Dressmaker in English. My mum is reading it right now, but I already added it to my TBR list.

Now, to the bad stuff.

1st Annoying Thing: Mis-matched books

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When you read in several languages, sometimes you make the mistake of starting a book series with 2 Spanish books and ending it with 3 Portuguese books. I do my best to fight against this habit, but I have 2 MG book collections where this happened and it couldn’t be more annoying. The first one is the Fairy Oak series. It is about two twins, one with the power of the Light and other with the power of the Darkness. They have other magical friends, but also humans with no power whatsoever and their nannies are fairies. I LOVED these books, they were entertaining, full of action and the illustrations where amazing! This collection actually consisted of a trilogy, plus another quartet and another stand-alone book. However, the characters were the same in all books. I own all of them in Spanish, except for the first book in the trilogy which is in Portuguese. As you can see in the image on the right, the letters 2bddb-img_0186on the book spines are facing opposite directions. My mild OCD can’t face it. It just CAN’T!

Then, I have another MG collection of some really cool Ulysses Moore books about time travelling and secret doors (image on the left). In these ones, the opposite happened. The first book is in Spanish and all the others are in Portuguese. However, this situation is even more annoying because the first book is a hardcover and all the others are smaller paperbacks. Grr!

2nd Annoying Thing: Prices

Books in Portugal are expensive, and in Spain they are not much cheaper either. This means that every time I see a book on Amazon I’m like – gosh, this is so cheap!!! The reality is that in Portugal it is hard to find a young adult book for less than 12 euros which is about 10 pounds or 13 dollars. Expensive or what? However, all the money that could be saved on buying an English book on Amazon is spent on transportation fees. Oh well, that’s the life of a bookworm…

Now, don’t get me wrong – I LOVE being a trilingual reader and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I guess things aren’t fun without a few obstacles, right?

Are you a bilingual, trilingual or whatever reader? If so, tell me how it’s like. Do you have these moments of despair when your OCD can’t handle it anymore? 

If you only read in one language, tell me what that’s like. Would you like to read in any other language? Which one?

Thanks for reading and watch your step, or you may fall down the reading hole!

8 thoughts on “The Annoying Truth About Bilingual Readers

  1. I mostly read in English nowadays:) Even when I was still living in Portugal, I think most of my digital copies for review were still in English. Now being a Prime Amazon member, it's so easy and convenient to get access to new and every affordable books! I can also read in Portuguese and French, but I'd pick the original version anytime. With that being said, having a bit of diversity on my book shelves looks pretty cool too!

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  2. Thanks for your comment Nya! I too prefer the original versions – they're so much better – but since I prefer hard-copies over digital books, sometimes I just don't want to wait for the books to arrive through Amazon so I buy them in the language that's more at hand. Unfortunately, most bookstores in Portugal don't have such a great diversity of English books. Nevertheless, most of the books I read nowadays are in English since I studied in an international school and all my lessons were in English :p

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  3. I'm having a mini freakout over here because I'm also Portuguese! Olá!
    This is such an accurate portrayal of being bilingual. I loved the price part, nowadays I only buy books written in Portuguese when the author is a Spanish-/Portuguese-speaker. Loved it!

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  4. I'm trying to become a bilingual reader–English and German. I studied German in university and I lived there for 9 months and then a summer, but I never became completely fluent. Then I married a German! But we live in the US, and it has been hard to raise our kids with both languages. My husband rarely speaks German these days, even if he has a German coworker. But improving my German reading is something I'd like to do in the New Year!

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