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?