My Favorite Classic Translated Books

Don’t get me wrong, I love British authors like Shakespeare and Jane Austen or American authors like Ray Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized so many of my favorite books, both classics and modern alike, weren’t originally written in English. So today, I want to share my favorite translated books. I’ve also decided to break this list into two parts, classics and modern books. Next Saturday I’ll come out with my favorite modern translated books, because I picked out so many for this list that I didn’t want this post to get too long… So let’s get into classics first!

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Language of Origin: Russian

Publication Year: 1866

Anyone who knows me shouldn’t be surprised to see this book on the list. I read it a couple years ago and it is such an amazing book! Honestly, anything by Dostoevsky is brilliant. It tells the story of a young man who murders two women and then is consumed by guilt after.

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Language of Origin: French

Publication Year: 1930

This is a comic book series following journalist Tintin and his dog Snowy (named Milou in the original French) as they go on adventures, solve crimes, and find treasure. I was a massive fan of this series when I was a kid. So much so that I own the complete collection of the comic books!

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Language of Origin: Chinese

Publication Year: c. 1592

This is one of the greatest Chinese classics out there, a fantasy adventure about Sun Wukong, the infamous Monkey King, as he seeks to gain power and is forced by the gods to guide the monk Tang Sanzang to bring Buddhism to China. It’s a beautiful fictional tale with fighting, Chinese gods, and magical abilities.

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Language of Origin: French

Publication Year: 1844

Who doesn’t know this epic adventure story of four musketeers tasked to protect France and the king against the evils which seek to destroy it? I read this book back in high school and I have loved it ever since!

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Language of Origin: Greek

Publication Year: c. 801

I mean, who doesn’t know the epic tales of The Iliad and The Odyssey, by famed Greek writer Homer. The former tells of the war campaign on Troy, including some ridiculous interference from the gods, while the former follows one of the soldiers attempts to go back home while surrounded by fierce, monster infested oceans. I confess I enjoyed The Iliad more, but both are exceptional books!

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Language of Origin: German

Publication Year: 1946

Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist who survived German war camps during WWII and wrote about the psychology of how people survived and gained power in the camps. It’s a great book which speaks of evil is such realistic ways. I highly recommend it as the best book about the Nazi war camps.

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Language of Origin: French

Publication Year: 1869

Honestly, any of Verne’s books would fit on this list, as I’m a massive fan of his and have been since high school. This story tells of ocean survivors who are picked up by the mysterious submarine called the Nautilus and it’s vengeful captain Nemo. It’s an adventure and so ahead of its time when it came to science. Such an amazing book!

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Language of Origin: Italian

Publication Year: 1532

This Italian classic is pretty much a how-to for gaining power. Machiavelli, a nobleman, wrote it to gain favor in Italy again by helping the leaders understand how to gain power. It has been a massive influence on modern philosophy, and the book may be bloody depressing but boy is it interesting.

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Language of Origin: French

Publication Year: 1943

This is a magical story set on the dark backdrop of WWII, following a young prince as he travels around and sees the world. It’s a beautiful children’s story which adults can enjoy as well. Sadly, after writing this book, Saint-Exupéry died while flying in WWII. But if you learn a bit about his life, you’d be surprised by how this story was influenced by his own experiences.

What are some of the translated books you love? Have you read any of these? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, thank you so much for reading, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,


14 thoughts on “My Favorite Classic Translated Books

  1. I tend to gravitate towards French Literature a lot. It’s not really my favorite per se, but ‘Le Petit Prince’ is my most likable at the moment. I just finished Zola’s ‘L’Assommoir’ and I’ll see how I feel about that book in a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! The Little Prince is one of my favorites as well. I haven’t read Zola. I’ll have to look up his books! And I will admit to half of these books being by French authors, so clearly I really like French authors too. Jules Verne, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas. All so good!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually, Norwegian Wood is not too long and I’m sure he wrote a few shorter ones. A lot of the time I will borrow or request books, rather than buy them, which limits me to what’s available – so it depends on the selection of translated works.

        Liked by 1 person

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