Thursday, 24 December 2015

Two Book Gift Reviews

Pic of two visually appealing books on red wrapping paper

Two books caught my eye in the Tate Modern’s gift shop on my recent visit. Firstly, I was delighted to find a book about translation within the vast range of books available. Nearby was a book that made me chuckle. It reminded me of my ending in How does a translator get geekier? 

Lost in Translation by Ella Frances Sanders
Lost in Translation is a delightful little book subtitled An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World. Other translators have already recommended this book. I wanted to stress the significance of finding such a delight outside our domain. The book was chosen to sit in that prime site near the tills at Christmas. It has great visual appeal. It made me think that translation has arrived.

Lost in Translation by Ella Frances Sanders

So many books about translation written by translators are text-heavy and barely contain any pictures. This simple little book restricts its choice of untranslatable words. The written explanations are brief. The pictures jump out at you. It makes translation a fascinating visual subject for the outsider.

My favourite word is the Japanese noun tsundoku. This describes leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with other unread books. An ideal word choice at the year’s end as I contemplate my pile of unread books to catch up on over the Christmas/New Year break.

Santa Claus and Reindeer
As this is Christmas Eve, I cannot fail to mention poronkusema. It means the distance a reindeer can comfortably travel before taking a break. Apparently, this is around 4.7 miles or 7.5 kilometres. Luckily, Santa Claus’s reindeer are magic and don’t need such frequent rests. Otherwise, there might be a lot of disappointed children around the world tomorrow morning.

As in past years, Norad is currently tracking the progress of Santa and his reindeer around the world. Google is also tracking Santa, but beware of the very irritating music. You can even find Santa on Twitter. See @OfficialSanta. I wonder if British astronaut Tim Peake has spotted him yet?

Star Wars: A Scanimation Book by Rufus Butler Seder
If you do not know that there is a new Star Wars film out, you must have been on another planet. 

Close to the Lost in Translation book, I discovered a children’s Scanimation book. It goes beyond illustrations. Encouraging children, especially boys, to read in this digital age is not always easy. This little book takes some famous scenes from the previous films and animates them. There is not a lot of text, but the movement and familiar characters draw you in.



It is a positive sign to find a translation book alongside one on Star Wars. We are succeeding in making our profession more visible. I wonder if we could persuade Rufus Butler Seder to animate translation next? If interested, you can find further information on Scanimation on YouTube.


Happy reading! Enjoy the Christmas and New Year break. I hope you enjoyed the change of tone in my light-hearted seasonal blog.




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