Discussion Post: Foreign Language Books I’d Love To Read


Yes, yes, I have a monstrous stack of English books I most likely won’t finish in my lifetime (the thought makes me cry a little). Yet, I am a greedy book monster, I want to read stuff I don’t have access to due to language barriers. Here’s a small list of things I wish I could read, and most likely never will unless Google Translate becomes crazy efficient in the future.

Saiunkoku Monogatari


Translated as Tale Of The Kingdom of Coloured Clouds, I was originally drawn to this due to the gorgeous cover (seriously, look at all the beautiful details!). The story follows the beautiful and intelligent Shurei. She’s the daughter of a scholar and absolutely determined to become the country’s first female official in the Imperial Court. There’s only one problem: girls aren’t allowed to take the Imperial Examinations!

Although Shurei meets many gorgeous men in the tale, she is steadfast in her goal to enter the Court and make a positive change to her nation. A story with a female at the forefront, talking of politics instead of romance? Yes, please! It also helps that she has a male harem rivaling Celaena’s.

Luckily, though we are not able to read the original light novels – we can see some of her story through the manga and anime, both licensed in English.

Journey Of A Flower

Hoa Thien Cot 3

This particular title probably won’t translate too well into English, being a Chinese fantasy, but I still wish I could read it! I have to admit half my motivation is due to the beautiful TV drama posters I’ve seen around the internet. This is a tragic dark fantasy, following a girl destined for chaos and darkness – and her apprenticeship with an age old immortal who represents all that is light and good. Sounds familiar? Yes, it does sound like every young adult book ever . Yet, the MC and her pining for the hero is poisonous to both their lives, as well as the spiritual world at large. and there’s no happy ending here.

I actually own the Vietnamese edition of these books, if only I didn’t read so slowly in my mother tongue *cries*

The Condor Heroes Series

Condor Heroes

OK, this is cheating a little since I have read the book when I was younger. While kids in the Western world grew up to Tolkien and Narnia – I grew up to watching adaptation of Jin Yong’s works and Journey to the West. I can say I know Chinese mythology quite intimately, even the made up one in Jin Yong’s novels. Spanning decades, with detailed worldbuilding and a thousand different martial arts sects and skillsets (this world’s equivalent of magic, I guess), these were the first fantasy novels I fell in love with. Although there’s a lot of focus on the heroics of men in these works, there’s also an army of kick-ass ladies. From Huang Rong: beautiful and cunning, to Xiao Long Nu: delicate yet resolute, each have their own agency and story apart from their leading men.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal

Sungkyunkwan Scandal2

One of the tropes I will never tire of is the girl-as-boy crossdressing, especially in stories like Mulan or Leviathan – where it enables our heroine to mix with the men and upstage them at their own game. Sungkyunkwan Scandal has the same appeal, featuring an intelligent noble woman who dons her disguise to join a prestigious male-only university. What unravels promise to be fun hijinks, plenty of eligible men and a cute romance. I’ve watched the Korean drama adaptation of this book and immensely enjoyed it!

As someone who yearns for diversity, especially from East Asian culture, I sometimes content myself with dreaming about the above books rather than face the sad under-representation in Western books and media. It’s also interesting to read things from another culture and point of view – and nothing beats consuming foreign materials.

Do you have any foreign books you would love to get your hands on? Or do you enjoy foreign entertainment? Let me know!

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I'm Aentee, a 20-something lover of books and shiny things. By day, I attempt to prescribe books to all the patients in my optometry clinic. By night, I read books, watch TV, and spend way too much time on twitter.


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  1. says

    I’d love to be able to read a foreign book one day! I’m terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE at other languages (I completely sucked at Italian–though I do still remember a couple of words / phrases) and I’d also love to read translated version of English books. I think it would be so interesting to see how they differ from the English versions.
    Kara @ Diary of a Teen Writer recently posted…NaNoWriMo Update: Week Three & Music InspirationMy Profile

  2. says

    I’m learning French at the moment, but it will be a while before I’ll be able to tackles something above the level of kiddies fairy tales. That said, if I magically gained the ability to speak Russian, I’d totally delve into their rich literary history, especially the myths and traditional fairy tales, etc.
    Hannah recently posted…Review: The Steep and Thorny Way – Cat WintersMy Profile

  3. says

    I have read a few books that were translated but I honestly felt like with both reads, that something must have been lost in translation, which makes me sad but there are some out there I wouldn’t mind trying. But, like you mentioned, my English pile is already out of control! :P
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  4. says

    I thought I pretty decent with languages once when I decided to major in Spanish in college. As it turns out, I am not. Actually though, the only reason I even passed the classes at all was because I could *kind of* read the stories (it was a Spanish Literature class), even though I couldn’t write, speak, or listen to it. Needless to say, that didn’t last long :(

    And is it bad to admit that I want all the foreign editions of The Hunger Games even though I can’t read them? Also, I feel like a typical jerky American not knowing any other languages :/

    I DO hope you get a chance to read these though, they look lovely!
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  5. says

    Ahh. The struggle of only being able to speak English. *hides* It’s a shame because these all sound absolutely amazing. Hopefully they’ll get translated to English sometime in the near future so I can read them. Thanks for sharing Aentee and, as always, fabulous post! ♥
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  6. says

    I must admit, that I’ve never wanted to read anything than other in English, mainly because I only know swear words in other languages and the few books I’ve read that have been translated INTO English, something has been lost in translation. It’s mainly the culture I want to explore, more so than the actual written word. Being immersed in another country through it’s characters. I’m curious though to those who do want to read foreign language releases, are they similar to your own culture and background? Really interesting topic Aentee, really enjoyed it <3
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  7. says

    These all sound amazing! It’s such a shame about the poor representation. If only more people could discover these! I only speak (so read in) English, so there isn’t really any other books I’d like to read – because I can’t! I really hope you manage to get to these Aentee. They all sound fantastic – thank-you for sharing! :)

    Denise | The Bibliolater

  8. says

    English is ‘foreign language’ to me… even if I speak, read and write it very well, it’s my second language, and I started learning English in school when I was around 10. I also read in French – which is also a foreign language. But I prefer English over Norwegian and French – I think it’s because there are so many books to choose from in English, and possibly also because I am working on my MA in English language and literature :D
    I do wish I could learn Japanese, though, because all those beautiful mangas are surely even better in the original language.
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  9. says

    actually, it’s kind of a blessing not to be able to have access to many languages, because then your TBR gets multiplies by 2 or 3…
    I’m French but blog mostly in English. I can also read Spanish.
    As I live in the US and am not rich, to say the least, my access to French books is limited – too expensive to buy and recent novels not often found in libraries. BUT i recently discovered that I could get French recent ebooks on netgalley.fr!!!: (I talk about it here: wordsandpeace.com/2015/11/28/book-review-la-septieme-fonction-du-langage-i-love-france-171/). That’s awesome, but then now there are SO SO SO many more books to add on my TBR!!! and like everyone else, I only have 1 life time… lol
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