Dutch or English? International Reader

It might not have escaped your notice that I am not a native English speaker. If my plentyfull spelling mistakes don’t give it away then the covers of some of my books in book hauls or book reviews will. Or my book reviews of books by Dutch authors. But do I read only in Dutch or English or both?

I have touched a few times onto why I decided to start blogging in English which was a personal choice. English is something that has been apart of my life for a long time and it was my choice. My parents never tried teaching me English. They didn’t care about that. But on the Saturdays I would often watch tv during primary school. And I loved Scooby-Doo. But this they didn’t show anymore on the Dutch television. I found it on the BBC once and stuck to watching their morning program for years. It is how I learned English.  From there on English has been a constant.

When we finally got internet when I was 14 I found fanfiction.net rather quickly and started writing my own Beyblade (anime) fan fictions. I read all other fan fictions in English so why not write my own in English as well. I guess that is how I learned my English writing how it is now because I never did pay attention in English class. Though I obviously need to brush up a bit. When I still wrote stories I had a better grasp on spelling and grammar I feel. I think I might have had a better grasp of English grammar at one point than I did of Dutch grammar. Shamefull I know. In any case, I felt pretty cool at that age for doing that.

And at that age I didn’t buy a lot of books so I was dependant on my town and high school libraries for books. Obviously these were all Dutch. My high school did have a small English section but not that much appealed to me. I did read Ivanhoe for English class though. Don’t ask me why.  So when I did start buying books later on these always turned out to be English. I’d finally got the chance to read in English what I wanted. Let’s be honest. It was a cool thing. I was pretty low in confidence but English was one thing I knew I was good at so that is what I always grabbed at. What I felt comfortable with.

And hey, English books are cheaper than Dutch books so why would I buy Dutch books is how I felt at the start of my twenties. At the time of course I had little idea as to why Dutch books are more expensive. Translation costs and book prices set by law are a few of the reasons. Obviously I have learned a lot more about that in the last 4 years when I started looking more into these kind of things.

In the last year or so I have caught myself buying more in Dutch. When I started this book blog I only read international book blogs. It took me a while to discover the Dutch book blogs. But since then I have had more contact with the Dutch book blogging community and I have more an idea of the Dutch publishers we have and what they do in the community. Like with the Urban Books goodie bag and crowdfunding for the fourth The Others book. So my interest in the Dutch books has been piqued more because I am more involved in that side.

I’ll be the first to admit that I prefer to read in English more. It is often also easier to write reviews of books I’ve read in English because I write my review in English. Even the reviews of Dutch authors that I have to have a Dutch review for also I first write in English. The language in my head is often a mix of Dutch and English. My real life is Dutch but my online life is English.  I think I like having a foot in both.

But then we come to my struggle which got me to start writing this post. How do I choose which books to buy in Dutch and which ones in English? Never ending struggle that has been lately. Because I can’t very well buy every book twice no matter how much I like them. Though I’ll be the first to admit that I do have some in both. Sometimes I switch halfway through a series. Sometimes I have to when the Dutch publisher stops halfway through a series.

I shall be honest and say that price does affect what language I buy in. Especially when it comes to adult books. Actually I think I mostly buy adult books in English looking at my shelves unless it is a Dutch author of course because of the pricing. English adult (mass market) paperbacks just are a lot cheaper. With young adult this can differ a little. I feel a lot of the Dutch publishers do try to have special prices for a period of time like The Graces had.


Next I am a lover of the pretty covers. I am sorry. But I have a tendency to buy the prettiest cover.  And unfortunately this often turns out to be the English edition.I mean this is a preference things. Some really liked the Dutch cover for Rebel of the Sands while I highly preferred the English one.

If a book isn’t translated yet I am also not going to wait to buy a book if I can easily read it in English. Sometimes it takes years. However more books are being translated closer to the international release date. Caraval was even released three months before that date. That was a reason for me to buy the Dutch translation. I do have to say I am also more inclined to buy a book in Dutch if I have positive feelings towards the publisher. I feel like some Dutch publishers have a great social media presence naming Blossom Books for instance.

I have to admit that I buy books by favorite authors in English almost always. Since I do prefer to read in English I want to read their books in that language.

And lastly sometimes it is just more convenient to buy one or the other when I come across them first in a book store. I have impulse control issues when it comes to buying books. I thought we had established this already through my many lengthy book hauls. And looking back on my buying I think I buy Dutch books more on impulse than I do English books. And that has a lot to do with the above mentioned things.

So other international readers and bloggers, do you read in just one language or do you read in a mix of both your first language and English? And how do you choose what books to buy in what language? And bloggers, tell me, how did you decide to blog in English? 

16 thoughts on “Dutch or English? International Reader

  1. This is a very interesting post! I also used to read in Dutch, when I was young. Then I started reading in English in high school when my favorite series wasn’t being translated quickly enough for my tastes. I’m kind of sad to say that I barely read in Dutch anymore…

    I do want to support Belgian/Dutch publishers. And translators. But I also feel like sometimes, a lot can get lost in translation. The idioms, the feel of the book,… I don’t know, it just isn’t always the same. For example, the Percy Jackson series feels (even more) middle grade and juvenile in Dutch. I do want to start reading more in Dutch. But I think that process will start with me picking up books that were originally published in Dutch, instead of translations. I have however picked up translations of non-fiction books from the library! Maybe that’s a way to start again, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is something about reading in our own language, but at the same time English is something I love as well so it can be hard to choose. It would be a shame though if Dutch publishing became even smaller though.

      And I agree on the translation. I read The Lightning Thief in Dutch and wasn’t quite as taken with that as I ended up being with some of the later Percy Jackson books I did read in English. I do think that translations have gotten better. They try and retain the feel of the book better I think.

      Oh read De Verborgen Universiteit by Natalie Koch if you want a place to start. 😀 I hope you’ll be able to enjoy reading in Dutch again.


  2. Ik lees zelf tegenwoordig zowel veel in het Nederlands als in het Engels. Maar er is een periode geweest dat ik echt enkel Engelstalige boeken las, vooral vanwege de prijs en het zoveel grotere aanbod.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so interesting! I wish I could claim a second language – I used to be able to read and write in French (I was never very confident with speaking…I’m sure I sounded like a 3rd grader) but never really had the chance to use it and so now I barely muddle along through reading it. Boo. 😦 I loved reading about how you use both languages though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that happens a lot with languagues like French and German and so on when they are a second language that is being learned (unless you live in Canada/Belgium). They just aren’t as widely used outside of their own countries. Which is a shame really.


  4. I can totally relate to you since my first language is Hindi. In India though, they start teaching English in kindergarten itself so I have been learning it since quite a while. Also, ABSOLUTELY NONE of the books in English are translated into Hindi, so I cannot really express my views on that topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that is really early! They do start teaching English here in primary school now, earlier than when I was that age and I think there has been talk of starting earlier like in kindergarten as well.

      Is there a specific reason those aren’t being translated?


  5. This post is fantastic. I always wonder what reasoning goes into book choices when a person can read in more than one language. Pili, from In Love With Handmade, always reads English speaking author’s books in English, even though she is Spanish. I always have wondered why because after German, Spanish seems to always be a common translation for English books. 📚

    Elizabeth, from So Long… & Thanks All the Fish said her Korean boyfriend was amazed at how different, and better, the Harry Potter books were in English than the Korean translations. Has this ever come up for you? Also, a German friend of mine from MyLeaky became aware that entire scenes from The Perks Of Being A Wallflower were cut from the German translation, after we were discussing it in a book group on that site. She was wondering how many other translated books she had read that had missing scenes. Have you ever come across this? ✒

    I have been wanting to try and read an entire book in French ever since I realized I could read and pretty well understand a French Harry Potter fanpage on Facebook. I have always been able to read other languages better than speaking or writing. The author of Gates Of Thread and Stone was supposed to send me a French translation of that book, but I think she forgot. I should remind her so I can do a post about challenging myself next year. 🗼

    Anyway, I am hugely impressed by you and Pili, and Anne from Inked Brownies writing your blogs in English! And I am thankful you do because I love reading your blog and discussing things things with you. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Long comments are love. ❤

      A lot of people feel that certain things are lost in translation like jokes, metaphors and so on. And I think there was a time where translating was just that, translating the words. There was no try at retaining the feel of the book. I do feel that has gotten a lot better for books I have read in Dutch in the last few years. Still I hear pleny of people complaining about young adult books that have been translated. And Jolien from the Fictional Reader pointed out in an above comment that some ya and mg books sound more juvenile than in their original language which I agree with. So a lot of people choose to read the books in the original language.

      I never did read the Harry Potter books in Dutch as I was very late to the Potter party and by then I mostly read in English if I could. But I think I would find it strange reading it in Dutch as I know the names are translated as well. I am so glad that they dont translate names in books as often anymore because to me the Dutch names sound so weird. But to Maarten, who did read Harry Potter in Dutch those are more familiar.

      I've never heard of scenes not being in a book. That is so weird. Where they scenes about specific topics or something?

      Oh you should remind her yes. It's great that you can read in French like that. I was never any good at that language. I've always been better at reading and listening to German than I have been at writing it or speaking it as well.

      ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. One of the scenes in The Perks Of Being A Wallflower that was cut in the German translation was when a character was in a park soliciting sex. We did ask her if she thought it was because it was not appropriate in Germany for teen reading (which I would have wholeheartedly agreed with because I had a problem with that scene), but she said she thought Germans were more liberal when it came to those things, so she didn’t think so. I can’t remember what the other scene was about, but it was one of the diner scenes.

    Liked by 1 person

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