Summer in Other Languages: How did you do?

I’m a bit late in asking this, but wanted to check whether anybody else succeeded in reading one or more books in another language (or in translation) over the summer. If so, what was your experience?

I had ambitious plans, but in actuality I only completed two books, one in French and one in German. I am counting that as a success, however, since I did feel that my comprehension took a step forward through both.

Writing about both books helped to further my understanding, even though I did most of the writing in English. Making a summary of Die Kleine Hexe in German was an excellent exercise and I should do more of that.

I will continue to try to make steps in both languages. There are lots of classic children’s books I’d love to read in German — I have Emil und die Detektive by Erich Kästner and Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer already on my shelf. French has gone on the back burner for now, but I am interested in reading The Mersault Investigation by Kamel Daoud, a response to Camus’s novel, whether in English or the original language.

Is there anything else you can recommend, or anything you’d like to try?

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9 thoughts on “Summer in Other Languages: How did you do?

  1. I read in other languages all the time, especially if I consider English another language. I grew up with German but read a lot more in English in the meantime, mainly because there are more books. I have recently started reviewing my German books (Der Bücherwurm but I have two larger lists, one of German books only and one of Children’s books (where I’ve added the German titles if they are originally German). Maybe you find a book on there. Otherwise, let me know what kind of books you are looking for, how difficult they can be.

    1. You can decide which language you want to define as “other”! I shall enjoy exploring your lists. My level is not very high (Die Kleine Hexe was about right for me) but I hope to slowly build up over time.

  2. I had intentions… A bit late in the day now but I’ve now finished Astrid Lindgren’s The Brothers Lionheart in translation, and am now embarking on Part II of Friedrich Schiller’s classic The Ghost-Seer, also in translation. Earlier in the year, around midsummer, I read a collection of Italian short stories with a parallel translation, though I admit that I only read odd paragraphs of each item in the original language. It’s a start! I hope you run this event again, Lory, it’s good to have a focus for one’s reading at certain times of the year, so thank you.

    1. I love Astrid Lindgren. Always a great choice. I’m glad you made some other attempts too, every little bit counts in my book! I plan to keep doing this for myself, so anyone joining in is. a plus.

      1. I forgot to include a Maigret novella I also read this summer (also in translation) so that’s a plus! I definitely mean to carry on as I’ve started, especially as I’m also trying to note my reads for the European Reading Challenge.

  3. Well done! And yes, you REALLY need to read Daoud!

    This summer, I read/listened to 9 books in French. I’m French though and live in the US, so English and French may or may not count lol. I so need to go back reading in Spanish and Italian.

    Anyway, here is the list of my books:
    1. Nature humaine, by Serge Joncour: amazing author if you like connection with nature
    2. Compartiments tueurs, by Sébastien Japrisot: great classic author of thrillers
    3. La Disparition, by Georges Perec: THE major Oulipo classic, all written without ever using the letter -e. Would be easier in translation, the English translator (A Void) also avoided the letter -e. So smart plot
    4. Les Revenentes et autres lipogrammes, by Georges Perec. Other Oulipo variations. In Les Revenentes, this time, e is the only vowel used throughout the book. But the author took many liberties to reach that. Skip
    5. Impact, by Olivier Norek. Great author of thriller. This one on the theme of global arming and environment. Some may find it too preachy
    6. Alphabet, by Paul Valéry: beautiful poetry in prose
    7. Sur la lecture, by Marcel Proust: neat reflections on the presence of books in our life. NB: short book, lol, but definitely Proust’s style
    8. Un Trou dans la toile, by Luc Chomarat: thriller on computer and the internet, a bit disappointing though. Skip
    9. Tension extrême, by Sylvain Forge: awesome thriller on the world of connected objects. 2 persons with pacemakers die at the same second. Why? How?

    I hop you can find some good ideas here for your next French book

    1. You decide what counts as “other.” If you live in the US and are mostly surrounded by English, then French can count in my book! As always you have so many interesting choices to consider (and it’s good to know what to skip).La Nature Humaine sounds particularly amazing.

  4. Great choices – both Emil and Jim Knopf were firm favourites in my house (although I had to read them in translation for my children, who don’t speak German alas – they grew up with 4 languages, which I thought was more than enough at the time). I found Simenon’s Maigret books excellent reading for improving my French when I was learning and Francoise Sagan also has a very limpid style.

    1. Thank you! Lately I feel as though my reading has slowed to the speed of molasses flowing, but I shall keep all these marvelous recommendations in mind and hope that things pick up at some point.

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