Inalienable Rights of Readers

I want to share Gretchen Rubin’s list of a reader’s inalienable rights. I’m sure I’ve shared them here before, but they’re worth sharing again.

Many of you have heard the advice “read often, daily” as a way to improve your professional skills. This is good advice… until it starts to become a burden. As a translator (or interpreter), words are your job. Your rent-payer. The bulk of your waking hours. But reading should never feel that way—even slogging through the most dull, monotonous, poorly written text, you should enjoy playing with the words. Laughing at the ineptitude, or piecing together an improvement, or enjoying the one little phrase the original author actually did well amongst the pile of… not so good ones.

You may not have all these rights when you’re working, but when office hours are over and you just want to relax, please remember:

  • You have the right to read “below your level.” Just because you like Dostoevsky doesn’t exclude you from reading Mary Higgins Clark.
  • You have the right to read comic books, wine labels, and stories from your source-language country’s version of People magazine and call it research (or not!).
  • You have the right to give your eyes a rest and go to the beach/golf course/local bar instead.

In short, keep it fun!

(To that end, an illustrated version of the reader’s rights, translated from Daniel Pennac’s French by Sarah Adams, is available here. Quentin Blake for the win!)

What other professional reader rights can you add to this list? What do you read for fun?


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