Make me read it: French edition

Thanks to all those who weighed in on my Make me read it challenge last month, I successfully knocked at least one book off my longstanding TBR pile! I’d love to ask for your help again, this time to decide what book I should read next in French (which will also count for my Summer in other languages project). You do not need to read French yourself, or have read any of the books, to express an opinion — I’ll describe the choices briefly, just let me know which one appeals the most.

  • Candide by Voltaire – The Enlightenment classic about a young man whose basic optimism about life and human nature is sorely challenged, leaving him with the conclusion that all one can do is tend one’s own garden.
  • L’étranger by Albert Camus – First novel by the Nobel prize winner, a core document of existentialism. I don’t expect it to be pleasurable but it would surely enhance my general educational level.
  • Le comte de Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas – not the actual very long novel, but an abridged version with exercises for language learners.
  • Terre des hommes by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – Wind, Sand, and Stars in English, the French author-aviator’s ode to flying and to the earth. I’m sure it’s beautifully written.
  • La Vérité sur l”Affaire Harry Quebert by Joel Dicker – Although I did not like the other book I tried by this popular Swiss author (or even finish it), I’m wiling to give his first, very successful murder mystery novel a try. It’s set in New Hampshire, which makes me curious to see how my former home is portrayed by a foreign author.
  • Maigret à New York by Georges Simenon – The well known Maigret series of crime novels, either in French or English. I picked this one up at a Little Free Library, also intrigued by the New York setting.
  • La Cerise sur le gateau by Aurélie Valognes – Another book by a very popular contemporary author of the Francophone world, concerning an older couple confronting the challenges of retirement. I suspect this would be the best choice for fluffy summer reading.

All right, I’m in your hands! What should I read next? In this case, I give myself three months (till the end of Summer in Other Languages) to complete the selection. I’m looking forward to finding out what it will be.

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24 thoughts on “Make me read it: French edition

  1. George Simenon is my first choice because it would be easiest to read, plus it’s a mystery, my favourite genre.L’strangers was On our first year university course many, many moons ago. It wasn’t bad. I remember the setting is Algeria. Candice by Voltaire was third year French 18Th century course. Heavier reading. Please forgive the crazy spellings. I am tired of correcting spell check. It won’t listen.

    1. No problem, I can decipher what you mean! I think you’re right, the Simenon would be short and highly readable, perfect for summer. I could always go on to one of the others.

  2. „Terre des hommes“ has been on my TBR since forever, too (I‘ve even got the same edition 😀 ). Along the lines of „make me read it, too“ I could see another buddy read coming on if you were to pick that one. (Yes, I know, we haven‘t even started the other one yet …)

    1. It’s been on my list forever too. I’ve started reading it twice but lost momentum, so I have to find the right moment somehow. Emma of Words and Peace is interested in reading French books together too, so maybe we could coordinate, if and when I finally get around to it.

  3. Terre des Hommes is gorgeous, but for ease of reading and brevity I recommend either the Camus or the Simenon. Nice, clear language in both. I found the Joel Dicker very overrated and have not been tempted to pick up any of his subsequent work…

  4. Nice to know someone else is reading in French. I have read “L’étranger” and “Le comte de Monte-Cristo” (I had that exact same edition, I believe).

    If you would like to know what other French books I read, have a look here.

      1. That’s what it’s good for. When I first started reading English books, they were picture books I read to my son who visited an international playgroup, then I carried on to children’s books and today I read everything. I still struggle through my French books but enjoy them all the same.

  5. H,, I left a long comment, but don’t see it.
    Let’s try again:
    for a fat one, go for La Vérité sur l’Affaire Harry Quebert. Yes, this one is very good!
    I love Le Comte de Monte Cristo, but you need to read the real thing, unabridged.
    For a short one, definitely L’Étranger, And after that, you need to read the spin on it by Kamel Daoud
    https://wordsandpeace.com/2016/10/04/review-meursault-contre-enquete-i-love-france-202/
    Enjoy your summer of reading. I posted by list for #20booksofsummer21 yesterday

    1. I’d love to read Le Comte de Monte Cristo in the original but I’m intimidated by the length! I’ll get there eventually. I’ll go check out your 20 books of summer now …

    1. The edition I have is not the real one and probably should not count as reading, but I think it could give me a good preparation for reading the actual book.

  6. Aged 17 I read the Camus in French and seem to remember enjoying it; in fact, I wouldn’t mind reading it again, either in French or in translation. Otherwise the Simenon appeals, mainly because I have a Maigret title already lined up for this summer, but if not then the contemporary novels over the classics would be my choice. But it’s not my choice! 🙂

    1. Well actually I’m asking you to make the choice for me! I’m leaning towards the Simenon myself but I have to try to tally up the votes here. It seems hard to settle on just one, so I might end up with a couple of candidates.

      1. Sorry, I wasn’t clear at all, what I had in mind was that it would be a collective choice, not just down to me! And I haven’t been very helpful in flipflopping, have I? I shall plump for Simenon as a light read!

        Actually, you remind me that I still have Deux Enquêtes de l’Inspecteur Maigret, a collection of two scripts based on Simenon novels which were broadcast for BBC Schools programming and which I haven’t looked at for four or more decades! I probably ought to bite the bullet soon…

  7. So pleased to see The Outsider by Camus on your list! Not to brag or anything, of course :), but I happen to own this book in five! different languages (French, Russian, Spanish, Italian & English). Yes, I am a huge admirer of Camus and existentialism. The only language I haven’t read it in but own is Italian. That would be too challenging for me to even attempt. I am biased of course, but I would pick that one, even though Dumas is always fun too. I read many “instalments” of Simenon’s Maigret because I’m a fan of crime mysteries, but each time they also left me slightly uncomfortable because of his portrayal of women. The Antoine de Saint-Exupéry one also sounds fun, I have to check it out!

    1. Thank you, you have made me way more excited to read L’étranger, which is good because it’s emerging as the front runner here. That is good to know about Simenon’s portrayal of women being problematic – I do still want to check him out at some time but he may not become a favorite.

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