Lola’s Ramblings: Why I Read English Books

Posted August 27, 2015 by Lola in Lola's Ramblings / 28 Comments


Lola’s Rambings is a feature on Lola’s Review where I talk about me or ramble on about a book or non-book related topic. Usually these posts are everything that doesn’t fall under any standard header, like blog tours, book blitzes, cover reveals or reviews. Lola’s Ramblings posts are are personal discussions of a certain topic. Sometimes about book related topics and sometimes about non-book related topics. This feature was previously known as About Me. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Designs.

As most of you know I live in the Netherlands, my mother language is dutch and I read almost exclusively english books. One day I realized what an unique perspective this gave me and that it would be an interesting topic to talk about and explain why I only read english books and not dutch ones. How one day that changed and why I decided to keep reading english books.

How did I switch from only reading dutch books to only reading english books.

twilightIn case that picture didn’t give it all away already, yes it was Twillight that caused me to switch from dutch to english books. It’s happened years ago, I think it was in my first year of uni. Back then I had a part time job on saturdays at the bread deparment of a grocery story. I loved to read. I had lots of trouble with english in high school, but I was slightly better at it than german and french, I am horrible at learning new languages. Then one day during lunch break during my work I sat in the lunch room for emplyees and I saw some girl reading a book, it was called Twillight. It looked like a nice book, I based that only on the cover and seeing that girl read it. Soon after that I made a trip to my local bookstore to buy it.

And guess what? They only had the english version of the book and were out of dutch copies at the moment. Before that I only tried reading a fantasy book in english and didn’t understand much of it. I talked with the lady who worked in the bookstore and she advised me to just give it a try in english and that it was worth to read it in the language it was originally written in and that would make it better. I am not sure how I feel about that statement now, but back then I bought it and decided to read the book in english. And even though my english wasn’t that good, I could read the book and I loved it. I bought the rest of the series in english as well and never picked up a dutch book again after that. Okay that’s not completely true, some of my uni books were in dutch and I bought a few non-fiction books about job interviews and some other random topics. But once I realized I could read english books it was like a world of new possibilities had opened for me and I only read english fiction books from then on. I never looked back.

So dutch bookstores here don’t have as big an assortment of english books as dutch books, if you are lucky they have a small section of english books. Eventually I realized you could order english books online and realized they were even cheaper there. So yeah Twillight changed my life, I loved that book. Not only did it make me realize that I could read english books, I also found out which books I wanted to be reading. Up till then I mostly read high fantasy books and while I liked them, I didn’t love those books. I loved Twillight and I knew that book had something that was missing in those high fantasy books, romance drama, character depth and I wanted that in my books.

Once I went to uni my english vastly improved in the first year as all my study books were in english. I had to look up a lot of words that first year and always had a translation dictionary close by. But after that first year my english was pretty good and would only get better. Nowadays it hardly happens I have to look up a word and I can read english as well as dutch. I often don’t even consciously realize which langauage I am reading or talking or thinking in. I can switch in the middle of a sentence or throw random english words in my dutch language. Talking/ writing in only english goes a lot better than in only dutch for some reason. I have gotten quite some blanks stares from my mom when I used an english word in the middle of your conversation. I slip in english sometimes as well, but less often. It’s like my brain only makes the distinction between languages I can understand and read fluently and those I can’t.

Why do I read English books?

Rahcel Vincent and Harry Potter shelf

  • Because I can.
    My english is good enough to read books in english, so why not read english books as well. Reading and writing in english goes fluently for me. I sometimes struggle with the grammar, but I also do in dutch. Grammar will never be my strognest point. When I was younger I wasn’t good at english, so reading english books wasn’t an option as it wouldn’t be fun to read a book and look every word up. I actually read an english books before Twillight and I put it down as I couldn’t understand it enough. I read that book a year or two before twillight I think and that was a fantasy book so it probably contained somewhat more difficult language. As I couldn’t read those book enjoyable I never picked up english books. When I did get good enough at english there was no longer a reason not to read english books.
  • Because I prefer reading in english, dutch makes me cringe.
    Nowadays when I read a blurb or first page of a dutch book it jsut makes me cringe. Dutch isn’t a pretty language in my opinion. It feels harsh and crude, compared to english. I once read the blurb of Twillight in dutch as my mom bought it and I burst out laughing. It just sounds unnatural to me. This does not apply to all dutch text, I dont’have any trouble with reading recipes or non-fiction or labels etc. But with books? Dutch just isn’t my language of choice. I prefer reading in english, it feels more natural to me.
  • More variety/ more choice/ more etc
    There are more books written in english, which means there is more variety and choice when it comes to finding books to read. There are more options when it comes to readign books in english. Lots of books never get translated to another language, sor eadign in english gives me access to all those books originally written or translated to english. While there are a lot of dutch books, in general there are less people who speak dutch than english and thus also less books written in english than dutch. There are less dutch books, so less variety and less choiche. Also most people on the internet are english and that also means more people to talk with about books. So reading english books gives me more books to read and choose from.

If english is your mother language, do you read books in other languages and why or why not?
If English isn’t your mother language why do you read english books?


28 responses to “Lola’s Ramblings: Why I Read English Books

  1. that is so neat you are from the Netherlands—and I actually love the language. There was this family I grew up around, and they were from the Netherlands, and the couple they were so cute together, and just as a kid I remember how unique they were and loved it when they would speak in their native language. English is my native language, but I am learning French more. I am hoping once I speak it and understand it better. Love this post and its always fun to learn new facts and history.
    Renee (@Addictofromance) recently posted…Tasty Book Tours: Scotsman Of My DreamsMy Profile

    • Maybe it’s because I grew up here that it seems less special? And I often think other languages sound more beautifull than dutch, but maybe that’s because I didn’t grew up with them. Okay with the exception of german that sounds even harsher than dutch, but I still like the language even though it sounds harsh and would love to learn the language once.
      That’s neat you knew a couple from the Netherlands when you were a kid. I always have a hard time imagining how Dutch sounds to english people.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: Why I Read English BooksMy Profile

  2. That’s funny, I just remembered my very first book in English was a Sherlock Holmes mystery I borrowed at the High school library πŸ™‚ My first years of studying English weren’t that good, but once my sister brought back a Beatles album, I sang along reading the lyrics and my English grades drastically improved thanks to that ! I’ve been reading books in English ever since, though I keep reading in French too.
    I love the French and English languages, but I also started reading in English because there was a wider choice of fantasy, urban fantasy novels than there was in French at the time. We have a much bigger choice now, but I often don’t like the translations : it looks like the translations are aimed to attract a 15 year-old audience and use their language, which is not the feeling you get when you read the original version. And now, just like you, I read in English because I can πŸ™‚
    Fortunately, I don’t often have to speak English because even if it sounds good in my head, the way to my mouth is distorted and I speak like a Spanish cow, lol !
    Great topic, Lola, I loved learning about how you got there πŸ™‚

    • I remember how I used to play english games and listen to english songs, but I only knew some of the words. It wasn’t until I started readign english books and had to read english nonfiction books for my study that I really got good at english. How interesting you also remember your first english book.

      French sounds very chic and elegant to me, but I totally suck at it. French language just makes no sense to me. I actually got to do an extra exam for french so I could satisfactory finish the course in high school and I spent the whole sumemr studying just so I could finish that test. I got an 8 (out of 10) and was so happy I never had to do anything with french anymore.
      That’s weird the translated books sound like they are aimed at a 15 year old. Here the translations are quite good I guess, but I just prefer reading in english.

      I am also happy I don’t have to speak english a lot, because as good as I am when writing and reading I always feel very self conscious when I have to speak english as I feel like my pronouncation is weird and it’s obvious that I am a dutchie. My boyfriend is much better at pronouncing things right.

  3. I’m not a big fan of Twilight, but this is a totally awesome reason to love it. It changed your life in a very tangible way! I’m kind of jealous because I’ve never read a full book in another language than my own. I’ve read lots of Japanese over the years, but it was in text books, and not a fiction book. I really want to read something in another language someday, so props to you. I think that’s awesome, and it’s such a great skill to have for the rest of your life!
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    • Here in the Netherlands it’s quite common to learn another language, we get mutliple options for language courses durinf high school (english, german, french, spanish, latin, greek and some even offer chinese). And most people here speak english at some degree. The older people usually have limited knowlegde of the english language, but most people my age are pretty okay till good at english as all high schools teach english and often university books are in english as well.

      I have no idea if I would enjoy Twillight as much as I did back then if I would re-read it now, but I am still fond of the book just for how it changed how and what I read. Japanese sounds like such a difficult language to learn! I hope you can read a fiction book in another language eventually!
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: Why I Read English BooksMy Profile

  4. English isn’t my first language too, I’m Filipino and like you, Tagalog makes me cringe. I’ve read romance novels in my native language and for some reason, it sounds cruder than the crudest English word! The sex scenes feels extra dirty, like I’d cringe and feel like I have to shower and wash my mouth! LOL

    Why do you think that is?

    Thankfully my parents, especially my Dad, really pushed us to learn and be good in English. I’m lucky my dad was a big reader too so we had a lot of English novels growing up. As I grew older, my love for books was encouraged too.

    And lastly, I read English for the language itself. Tagalog has so few words, its span is incomparable to the vastness of the English language, and I do love words. I love expressing myself in ten different ways.

    P.S. Thanks btw for the anti-spam counter thingy. I don’t think I can use it for blogger though. I’m thinking of installing Disqus intead.
    Braine Talk Supe recently posted…Loved It: Melting Point by Kate MeaderMy Profile

    • I never realized English wasn’t your first language! same here with dutch books, it just sounds crude and wrong. I don’t think I could handle reading a sex scene in dutch either. I have no idea why we experience out native language that way, especially when with english I dont have that issue. Dutch does has a lot of words, but I just don’t like the sound of the language.

      That’s neat your parents were so supportive and where big readers as well. My mom also read a lot to us and told us a lot of stories, so I am sure that helped. Although she isn’t too good at english, i learned that partly at school and then improved when I started reading english books.

      Nope you can’t use plugins for blgoger indeed. I am sorry! I think Disqus is a nice system as well, I heard good things about it so far.

  5. I’m a monolingual American so I am heartily impressed by those who speak, read, or write in another language. I can limp along reading French, Spanish, or Italian, but most European grade school kids could do better.

    My cousin translates English books into Italian for her job and she gets so frustrated that there are so many books that aren’t available in Italian.

    Love how you came to enjoy reading English books.

    • For me it’s pretty normal, as many dutch people know some english. I know a little german and the language sounds similiar enough to dutch that when I hear someone speak slowly I can sort of udnerstand what they mean, but speaking is much more difficult.

      I feel like there are so many more books that are available ine nglish and not in other languages, but I am assuming it’s a lot of work to translate a book and then publish it, so only very little books get translated. In dutch bookstores I often do see the more popular english books that get translated, but it seems that only the most popular ones get translated.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: Why I Read English BooksMy Profile

  6. English isn’t my first language, Arabic is, and I’m not completely fluent at it, yet. And it is true, the more I read the more I learned. And I read because I want to learn, and enjoy while learning. And just like you, there are more options or choices to choose from in English, so it was an eye opening. Not a lot of Arabic books that interest me are published, and all is either for children or adults, and rarely is YA.
    The first book that I read in English is And Then There Were None, and I had read in Arabic, but a lot it was a difficult read for me.Then one of my friends lent me Switched by Amanda Hocking and that was how I fell in love with reading YA. Ever since I read mostly English books.

    • In duthc books there is choice and there are YA books being published, but it’s more like in english there are so many more books to choose from. And you don’t have to wait years for the books to get translated.
      How was it to read a book in both languages? Was the experience very different? I tried an adult fantasy book before I tried Twillight and at that time it was too difficult for me, while the language on Twillight was easier to udnerstand and had less difficult words. And that really helped me ease into english when my graps on the language wans’t as good, nowadays I can basically read everyting and only rarely encounter words I don’t know.

      • Well, it was great and very different. It is the only book I read in both leagues, but I plan to read more book to really sense the difference since back then my English was weak.
        Some A\aspecs were easier to visualise in the Arabic version more, but there were parts in the original version that were missing in the translated one. However, the author’s brilliance really shined in the original ( English ) one.

        • I am hoping to re-read the Harry Potter series in english once so I can experience a book in two languages, it sounds like an interesting experience.
          I think the author their writing style or brilliance is probably harder to translate, although that’s interesting that in the Arabic version things were easier to visualize. Sounds like both versions have their own good points.

  7. I think it’s so cool that you can read and speak two languages. English is the only language I can read an speak. I took two semesters of Spanish in high school and I can say a few phrases and read a few phrases but that’s it. It was so hard trying to learn another language so I applaud you for doing it.
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    • Thanks! I am really glad I ended up getting so good at english, if you had told me this during high school I wouldn’t have believed you. Having to read english books for my study really helped as that way I was forced to read english and it really improved my knowlegde. I can imagine that living in another country for a while would have a similiar effects, where you are forced to learn the language.

      I agree that learning another language is hard, I am pretty bad at learnign new languages and had a lot of trouble with my language courses in high school. I always hope to learn german one day, but it’s so hard to learn another language and I just don’t have the time and motivation for it at the moment.

  8. I took French in school, and picked up a (very very tiny) bit of Japanese. But even back when I was taking French, I never had a good enough grasp on the language to be able to read an entire book in it. And now that I’ve forgotten most of the French, I wouldn’t think to try it!

    But that’s awesome that you read in both your languages. To be honest, I never actually thought about the fact that English isn’t your first language. I mean, I KNEW of course, but it never really popped into my head when reading your blog. *laughs*
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    • I only know a few word japanese due to watching anime’s for a while, but it’s just a few random words I picked up. Here in high school english, german and french are obligatory the first 4 years, after that you can choose which courses to continue. And you can pick spanish. I forgotten most of the french and german I leanred in those years, although my german is a bti better as that language is easier as it’s more similiar to dutch.

      And thanks! I am always happy to hear when people say they don’t realize or think about the fact english isn’t my first language. It’s a big compliment to know my english is good enough that people don’t realize it isn’t my first language.

  9. I looooove that Twilight helped you with your English! That is awesome! And I’ve always thought your English was really good, even if like you said, your grammar isn’t perfect. You get your meaning across and I never notice any glaring mistakes. You’re also the second blogger that I’ve read a post from who said that they prefer English over their native language because theirs sounds harsh. I think she was German, which is my mom’s native language, and does sound really…angry, I guess. I have Lola and the Boy Next Door in German, because I keep telling myself to work on my German (I suck terribly at speaking but I understand pretty well if you speak slowly) so I can read it! My mom read a couple of pages to me, and then did direct translations and it sounded super cheesy! I hope I can read it myself one day, even if it probably does sound better in English. πŸ˜›
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    • Thanks! I am glad to hear that you never notice any glaring mistakes. Grammer is really my weak point when it comes to languages, my dutch grammer is just as bad, lol. Words makes sense to me, but grammar doesn’t. I just can’t wrap my head around grammar.

      I agree german sounds very angry and harsh, but I kinda like the language as well. I wish I could learn german as well as it’s my dream to move to germany one day. If people speak slowly I can pick up the meaning usually as german sounds similiar to dutch.
      Then again reading, talking or writing is a lot harder. I hope you can read a book in german one day. I think it’s nice to be able to read books in another language. Especially that first book you read in another lanaguage leaves a big impression.

  10. Noooo NO WAY hahaha Twilight got me into reading books in English as well! I tried with Harry Potter first, but I’d read it so often already that it didn’t hold my attention, but when Breaking Dawn came out, I didn’t care to wait half a year for the translation, so I just bought it in English and I never went back. I don’t know why I prefer it, TBH. I like the way the language flows, and some things sound good in English but ridiculous in German (especially corny stuff). Also, if I can read the original, why would I read the translation? I’m not saying all translations are bad or anything, but you always have to make compromises. And you’re right, there are more people to talk to online when reading (and blogging) in English! It can also suck because everyone’s so far away, and I’m not a part of the German book blogging community, but I just prefer it for some reason. And it improved my grades too!
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    • Oh that’s interesting the Twillight series also made you switch to english. I can imagine not having to wait half a year on the translation is a good reason to read it in english instead.
      I also am not a part of the dutch book blogging community, as I only read english books and blog in english as well. Although I do know a few other dutchies who blog in english. Although I agree it’s sad sometimes that everyone is so far away and chances of ever meeting them in real life are small because of that. I have the same with dutch, some things just sound weird there and normal in english.

    • Your french must be quite good then if you could attempt tor ead books in that language. I always foudn french to be such a complicated language, we had to take french for 4 years in high school and I just couldn’t grasp it.

      I actually have trouble remembering dutch words at times as well and then just sue the english word. Or when talkign with my boyfriend or sister I sometiems switch mid sentence and go to the other language as that fits what i want to say better? It’s weird how if you don’t know a word in one language sometimes you do know it in another language.

  11. This is great Lola! My first language is actually Spanish, but being born and growing up in the States, I actually learned English when I started school and I just sort of always read in English. I’ve tried to read Spanish books a couple of times, but like you it makes me cringe, LOL. I mean, I speak Spanish every day, but reading it is a different story. English just sounds better in my head. πŸ™‚
    Liliana @ Lili Lost in a Book recently posted…Monthly Wrap-Up: August 2015My Profile

    • Oh I never realized english wasn’t your first language. It must be nice to have learned two languages from when you were little. And I am the same with dutch, I speak it all day and that’s no problem, but reading it just makes me cringe. English sounds better indeed.

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