There are nearly 15,000 freelance translators in the United States alone. If you’re one of them, then you’ll need to continuously work on your craft to maintain a thriving career in this industry.
One of the best ways to do that is by reading books written about the art of translation. We’ve included 10 of the best of them below to get you started.
#1 Translation as a Profession – Roger Chriss
Translation as a profession is all about the business of translation. It teaches language professionals how to find new job opportunities, maintain client loyalty, and carve out a long and thriving career in the tough freelance translation industry.
#2 The Prosperous Translator – Chris Durban
This book focuses on breaking down real-world challenges that professional translators struggle with daily.
It’s a handbook for moving past the toughest parts of being a freelance translator and includes many insightful tips that should help you become a more well-rounded professional.
#3 Translation: A Multidisciplinary Approach – Juliane House
This book by Juliane House will help you think about the work you do as a translator in new ways. It takes a look at the art of translation from many unique perspectives and across many different industries.
It also focuses on the impact that new media and technology are having on the translation industry, among other topics.
#4 Becoming a Translator – Douglas Robinson
Becoming a Translator is a wonderful book for aspiring freelance translators to read. But early-career translators should still be able to get a lot of it.
The book covers everything you need to know about the translation industry and how it works. It’s full of actionable information that can help you become a better translator through specific changes to your daily practices.
#5 Confessions of a Freelance Translator – Gary Smith
Confessions of a Freelance Translator is a fun read that’s also full of great information. It offers a ton of advice for boosting productivity, marketing yourself, and staying organized, among other topics. But it talks about all of these things through real-life stories, which helps to make it a better read than most.
#6 Exploring Translation Theories – Anthony Pym
This book on translation theories is great for background information. It covers the science behind translation and talks about some of the most prominent theories regarding translation.
Read Exploring Translation Theories if you’re interested in learning more about the different mindsets and language goals that can be helpful to maintain as a working translator.
#7 Falsos Amigos/False Friends – Larousse
Falsos Amigos/False Friends is a book that’s all about the linguistic concept of false friends. These are words that look the same across languages but mean different things – for example, magazine in English and magasin in French, meaning shop.
This book is a good one to read if you encounter issues with these words on a fairly frequent basis and want to make sure that you avoid confusing the reader in your target language moving forward.
#8 Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World – Ella Frances Sanders
This illustrated book is a fun one that covers a collection of words that have no equivalent in English. It provides actionable advice for getting as close as possible to true meaning while translating these words.
The specific words covered may not be immediately relevant to your daily work as a translator. But the process the book outlines for translating words without direct translations can be replicated whenever you encounter this problem.
#9 Mox’s Illustrated Guide to Freelance Translation – Alejandro Moreno-Ramos
This illustrated book provides a new way to think about the challenges that translators face. Mox is a cartoon character who goes through the same struggles that freelance translators do.
The result is a humorous exploration of what it means to be a modern translator. You’ll learn a lot, and reading this book won’t feel like a chore.
#10 The Entrepreneurial Linguist: The Business-School Approach to Freelance Translation – Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner
This book is a great analysis of what it takes to build a successful business as a freelance translator. It covers all of the different strategies that you can use to establish stronger relationships with clients, build a network, and market your services.
Read this one if you’re interested in establishing yourself as an authority in a specific field of translation.
How Reading Translation Books Helps Translators
Reading these kinds of books can help translators in many different ways and regardless of where they’re at in their translation career.
For example, you might be a new translator who needs to familiarize yourself with the business of translation. There are books on our list that will take you from 0 to 100 in that area of knowledge.
Or, maybe you’ve worked as a successful translator for a while now. Reading some of these books could help you approach your work from a new angle or pick up new strategies to deliver more value to clients.