5 Translated Self-Help E-Books to Read While Staying Home

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It’s the second week of ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown in Singapore. The libraries are closed, and online retailers are taking days or even weeks to deliver newly ordered paperbacks. If you will soon run out of reading material, worry not! In the second part of our 5 Translated Books series (read our first post: 5 Translated Pandemic Novels to Read While Social Distancing) for avid readers who are now stuck indoors, we have compiled a list of self-help e-books translated from Korean, Japanese, German and Czech which you can get from Amazon right away. 

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1. Grab and Go

Translated from Korean by Hannah Pang, Grab and Go: A Food Business Millionaire’s Secrets to Achieving What He Wants in Life distils the essence of Jim Kim’s success as a food business entrepreneur. What were the lessons he learned from a chicken farmer that transformed his management philosophy? How did he penetrate a $500 million food business industry with only three words – what were these three words anyway? What are his views on credit cards, Jack Georges bags, fruit trees and money, and why do these views matter to his success? If you are looking for stimulating perspectives and practical takeaways that will refresh your life and career, look no further than Grab and Go.

Read a sample and purchase the paperback from our website, or get the e-book from Amazon.

 

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2. The Art of Thinking Clearly

Translated from German by Nicky Griffin, Rolf Dobelli’s The Art of Thinking Clearly catalogues the cognitive biases that human beings are prone to, and which shape our everyday decision making: confirmation bias, authority bias, availability bias, liking bias, hindsight bias, gambler’s fallacy, false-consensus effect, and so on. By identifying these common cognitive biases, this compendium of ninety-nine essays helps the reader to recognise potential errors of judgement and, hopefully, make better choices. It is crucial to note, however, that Dobelli is an entrepreneur and philosopher – not a psychologist – so do not expect in-depth analysis of every bias mentioned in his book.

Get the e-book from Amazon.

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3. The End of Procrastination

Translated from Czech by Adela Schicker, The End of Procrastination: How to Stop Postponing and Live a Fulfilled Life by Czech entrepreneur Petr Ludwig offers eight practical tools to manage your time and end procrastination. Even though most of us face unending to-do lists, deadlines and dozens of emails, we can’t seem to take control of our time and tackle problems directly. The End of Procrastination helps us understand the science behind why we postpone things and equips us with the knowledge needed to overcome procrastination. This might be the book you need if you are struggling to complete your to-do lists while staying home.

Get the e-book from Amazon.

 

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4. Man’s Search for Meaning

Translated from German by Ilse Lasch, Man’s Search for Meaning chronicles Viennese psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. In Auschwitz he observed that everything could be taken away from prisoners except their ability to determine their own attitude, and this led Frankl to contend that humans are unable to avoid suffering but we can find meaning in it and move forward with renewed purpose. He developed the psychotherapeutic approach known as logotherapy, which suggests that human beings are most motivated by a search for meaning, rather than pleasure, in life. If meaning is what you are searching for in this trying season, why not pick up this book today?

Get the e-book from Amazon.

 

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5. The Courage to Be Disliked

Translated from Japanese, The Courage to Be Disliked: How to Free Yourself, Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga uses Adlerian psychology to show us how we can free ourselves from the shackles of our past, our doubts and the expectations that others have of us, and be happy. Written as a dialogue between a philosopher and a youth, The Courage to Be Disliked contends that all problems are interpersonal relationship problems, that feelings of inferiority are subjective assumptions, that life is a series of moments, and that you can be happy now.

Disclaimer: We do not fully agree with all the views presented in this book, especially those about denying and suppressing trauma which borders on victim blaming. If you would like to speak to someone, the National Care Hotline on 6202-6868 will offer emotional support to anyone whose lives have been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Get the e-book from Amazon. 

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5 Translated Pandemic Novels to Read While Social Distancing

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From Albert Camus to Orly Castel-Bloom, pandemics have been a muse for non-English writers for decades. The finest non-English writers [note: Albert Camus and Gabriel Garcia Marquez were Nobel Prize winners] have been using diseases and paranoia to connect with readers since time immemorial. As the world grapples with the coronavirus outbreak, we have specially compiled a list of translated pandemic novels to read while social distancing. 

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1. The Plague 

 Translated by Stuart Gilbert, French Algerian philosopher-writer Albert Camus’s The Plague (French: La Peste), begins with the sudden death of thousands of rats in the streets and follows with the outbreak of a plague carried by rats in a French Algerian city called Oran. Much of the novel is centred on a dialectic between two primary characters: Dr. Bernard Rieux and Father Paneloux. Dr. Rieux is an atheist, and he struggles to tend to the plague’s victims without thinking much about their suffering. Father Paneloux claims that the plague is God’s way of punishing sinners, and he sees his faith tested when a child dies of the plague. 

Based on Oran’s actual cholera epidemic in 1849, The Plague has been regarded as a classic existentialist literature that encapsulates several existentialist questions that we are now asking ourselves as the coronavirus spreads further, shelves in supermarkets are emptied, and fears are channelled into racism against Asians: What is the meaning of life? Why do people suffer? Are humans good or evil? Can humans forge solidarity to fight suffering? How do humans deal with death?

 

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2. Plague and Cholera

 Patrick Deville’s Plague and Cholera (French: Peste et Cholera), translated by J.A. Underwood, is a fictionalised biography that recounts the fascinating life of French-Swiss microbiologist Alexandre Yersin, an infinitely curious and intelligent man who discovered the bacillus responsible for the bubonic plague – Yersinia pestis – which was named in his honour. A novel-travelogue that combines intriguing fact and fiction, Plague and Cholera details Yersin’s voyages and adventures from the Paris laboratories to a Hong Kong hospital where he identified and vaccinated against bubonic plague, and describes his keen interest in everything (medicine, agriculture, automobiles) except the arts, business and politics.

We can’t travel right now, but this multiple award-winning novel will keep the wanderlust in you alive and help you time-travel back to twenty years before the first world war, where ‘a plague epidemic in China, creeping closer to Tonkin, reaches Hong Kong in May.’

 

 

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3. Anna

 In Niccolo Ammaniti’s Italian post-apocalyptic novel Anna, translated by Jonathan Hunt, a virus known as the Red Fever kills off everyone over the age of fourteen on the island of Sicily, and leaves the children under the age of fourteen to fend for themselves. A thirteen-year-old child named Anna struggles to survive as she tries to protect her younger brother Astor, armed with a special book that her mother has created before her death that offers instructions on how to take temperatures, how to tell if someone has the virus, and how to dispose of dead bodies. And fate awaits as she slowly reaches the age of fourteen.

If the coronavirus outbreak has shown us the selfishness of adults, Anna makes it clear to us that the Sicilian children in Ammaniti’s novel can be just as vicious and mean-spirited. Anna, desperate and terrified, is not unsusceptible to violence and anger. Anna reminds us of what fear and desperation can do even to the young and vulnerable. 

 

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4. Human Parts

 Orly Castel-Bloom’s Human Parts (Hebrew: Halakim Enoshiyim), translated by Dalya Bilu, is set in Israel during the Al Aksa Intifada. It is a dry winter and a mysterious and fatal disease known as the Saudi flu is spreading as the economy lies in ruins. The hospitals are on the brink of collapse as the flu epidemic and endless rounds of terrorist attacks send masses of people to the hospitals.

People are dying and buildings are being destroyed, but the characters in Human Parts continue to watch TV, visit the laundromat and train to be beauticians. Life goes on, or at least the characters in Human Parts try to live with some modicum of normalcy, though they can never return to their former lives. Freelancers and office workers who have been badly hit by the coronavirus outbreak may relate to the characters’ struggle and resolve to survive the unusually chilly winter.

 

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5. Love in the Time of Cholera 

Love in the Time of Cholera (Spanish: El amor en los tiempos del cólera), translated by Edith Grossman, is a novel by Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez. When Fermina’s husband Dr. Urbino dies, her former lover Florentino with whom she had fallen in love fifty-one years ago, appears at her husband’s funeral. Florentino, though he has had hundreds of other affairs, has declared his eternal love for Fermina and is determined to win her back. “Fermina, he said, I have waited for this opportunity for more than half a century, to repeat to you once again my vow of eternal fidelity and everlasting love.”

Unlike other pandemic novels, Love in the Time of Cholera tells of a complex love story that explores the character of life in all its guises, and depicts lovesickness as a literal illness that is comparable to cholera. The title is a pun as ‘cholera’ in Spanish refers to both cholera as passion and cholera as a disease. Love, as Garcia Marquez suggests, is a disease that can outlast time and decades of war and cholera.

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How to Translate Better (Part 1)

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Translators can translate better and produce more accurate translations by reading the original manuscript closely, referring to a source-language dictionary, and setting aside time before deadlines to double-check their work.  

How to Translate Better 

It’s difficult to say what a good translation looks like, but we can easily identify a poor translation. The latter typically contains mistranslations and omissions, as well as conspicuous typos or awkward phrases. 

I’m a Korean-English translator, and a publisher who edits and proofreads translations to ensure they are ready for publication.

And I’ve seen countless mistranslations, omissions and almost-too-liberal modifications of content structures on translators’ part – which I’m pretty sure will make authors – if they can read English – scowl at the translators. 

Therefore, I’ve decided to start this series of blog posts to share some good disciplines that will help translators translate better.

Just a note before I begin: I’ll be using Korean-English examples because that’s what I translate, but I hope most readers will still find the next three points useful.

1. Put on Your Glasses.

Misreading happens. Because we are careless creatures. And misreading leads to mistranslation.

Therefore, it’s of paramount importance that translators always, always put on their glasses when they read the original text closely to avoid misreading it.

Even a minor misreading, and hence mistranslation, can distort the meaning of a text. 

Here’s an example from Buckle Down: How I Invented South Korea’s First Automobile Engine written by Dr. Hyun-Soon Lee, which Harriett Press will be publishing in May 2020. 

“대학 내내 나는 매일 실험을 하면서 전공 책 속에 파묻혀 살았다.”

Wrong: Throughout college, I sat for tests every day and lived buried in my textbooks.

Correct: Throughout college, I conducted experiments every day and lived buried in my textbooks.

The bolded Korean word is 실험 (shil-heom – experiment) and not 시험 (shi-hom – test). If we aren’t cautious, we might have misread and mistranslated the sentence.

And readers may have found the mistranslated sentence kind of peculiar, because which college in South Korea makes students sit for tests every day?

The correct sentence in which the author, Dr. Lee, had conducted experiments every day makes sense because he was an ever-conscientious engineering student who had shut himself in the lab to conduct engineering experiments day in, day out when he was in college.

2. Refer to A Source-Language Dictionary. 

Another way to avoid mistranslation is to work closely with a source-language dictionary.

I’m not sure about other language pairs, but many Korean-English translators rely a great deal on Naver’s and Daum’s Korean-English dictionaries. (I do too, which is how I can tell that other translators do when I look at their translations of texts and dramas.) 

But these Korean-English dictionaries aren’t always correct or accurate. And if we rely entirely on their definitions, we’ll land ourselves in trouble.

This is why, besides Korean-English dictionaries, I also always refer to the Korean dictionary, and sometimes the Chinese dictionary, to be certain that I have the correct definition of the word I’m translating.  

Here’s a simple example.

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Naver’s English dictionary defines 치사하다 (chi-sa-ha-da) as cheap (see above). This isn’t correct, but you’ll likely have seen them in English subtitles of Korean dramas. 

On the other hand, Naver’s Korean dictionary offers a fuller and more accurate definition (see below).

It defines 치사하다 (chi-sa-ha-da) as behaviour or speech that is petty and disgraceful. Very different from cheap, isn’t it? 

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I can still recall how cross I was, when a close friend from South Korea jokingly called me cheap in a text message, which he had actually meant petty. (His English was as poor as my Korean nine years ago.)

I knew he didn’t mean what I thought the word meant, so I blamed it on Naver’s English dictionary and chided him. 

I don’t think it’s nice to use the word cheap on a close friend, and it’s certainly not nice to use it incorrectly in our translations.

It’s hence advisable that translators always refer to a source-language dictionary.

3. Set Aside Time to Double-Check Your Work.

It’s a no-brainer to double-check our work. But how many translators are actually disciplined enough and can set aside sufficient time before deadlines to do that?

I’ve seen translations spotted with mistranslations and omissions, which show that translators have not checked their work. Perhaps due to time shortage or sheer indifference.

I usually set aside at least one month or three weeks before a deadline, depending on the length of the original text I’m translating, to review the entire book again – sentence by sentence.

And I must say, it’s such a crucial (perhaps, the most crucial) part of my translation process because the quality of my translation always improves considerably after I’ve removed all the mistranslations and rectified the omissions.  

There Is a Better Translation

We can always translate better and produce better translations if we pay more careful attention to reading the original texts, work with a source-language dictionary, and set aside time to review our translations. 

I once read Barbara Wright: Translation as Art, which juxtaposes the late Barbara Wright’s – one of the most outstanding translators of French literature – excellent translations with other translators’ translations of the same works.

And a very important lesson I took away from that was: there is always a better translation.

I believe that translators can always produce ‘the better translation’ if we have the right disciplines. 

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P.S. If you’re looking for a competent translator to translate your book (Korean-English, English-Korean), contact us at editor@harriettpress.com.

And if you’re looking for high-quality translated books, visit our shop today!

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