Best Book Only Read in L2

General discussion about learning languages
User avatar
Xmmm
Orange Belt
Posts: 240
Joined: Tue Oct 06, 2015 1:19 am
Location: США
Languages: English (N), Russian (intermediate), Italian (beginner)
x 376

Best Book Only Read in L2

Postby Xmmm » Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:25 pm

My native language in English.

The best book I've read (but only in Italian, never in English) is Il deserto dei Tartari by Dino Buzzati.

Why?

    It is a powerful book on universal themes, told in very simple language that is easy to read. This simple, easy language masks the author's iron fist, because the reader is in for a rough ride. Buzzati actually reminds me a lot of Graham Greene that way.

    It's very obscure to American readers. I had never heard of it before and only read it because I was studying Italian. My whole reason for language learning is to shake up the default sort order of what I read. In English, something called "The Tartar Steppe" by some guy named Buzzati would be at the bottom of my list and something I'd never get to. In Italian, though, it shot to the top--and I'm glad.

    Apparently, it was a precursor to and foundational novel for the development of magical realism (so says Wikipedia, but it seems plausible).

    It's very much a love it or hate it book.



Anyone else have a favorite they've never read in their native language, but only in L2?
2 x

William Camden
Green Belt
Posts: 295
Joined: Sat Nov 14, 2015 2:47 am
Location: Greenwich Mean Time zone
Languages: English (N), German (fluent), Turkish (fluent), Russian (fluent), French (semi-fluent), Spanish (semi-fluent), am studying Polish, have some knowledge of it, also studying modern Greek, basic knowledge of Arabic (mostly MSA, some exposure to colloquial dialects), basic knowledge of Latin and Italian, beginner in Scottish Gaelic.
x 314

Re: Best Book Only Read in L2

Postby William Camden » Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:33 pm

Maksim Gorkiy's Mother in Turkish translation.
Later note: it may be easier to find translations of Soviet writers like Gorkiy and Sholokhov into Turkish than into English. There are several reasons for that, though one that certainly springs to mind is that the book-reading minority of Turkey's population is often a little bit Marxist-influenced. (Most people in Turkey are not book-readers, however - a recent survey stated that either five or six hours of TV are viewed every day by inhabitants of Turkey. One minute a day on average is spent reading a book.)
1 x
: 8 / 25Greek FSI Part 1
: 3794 / 3794Greek Memrise
: 901 / 901'Tis Greek to me

User avatar
Kamlari
White Belt
Posts: 44
Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2015 7:36 pm
x 30

Re: Best Book Only Read in L2

Postby Kamlari » Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:35 am

Котлован by Андрей Платонов.

Platonov demolishes the Russian language to create totalitarian poetry, the way Lenin, Stalin, et cohortes demolished social reality to create a totalitarian utopia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Foundation_Pit
https://ru.wikipedia.org/Котлован_(повесть)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrei_Platonov
https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Платонов, ... Платонович

By the way, I read Gorky's 'Mother' in Russian. It's communist propaganda.
1 x
Frei lebt, wer sterben kann.

William Camden
Green Belt
Posts: 295
Joined: Sat Nov 14, 2015 2:47 am
Location: Greenwich Mean Time zone
Languages: English (N), German (fluent), Turkish (fluent), Russian (fluent), French (semi-fluent), Spanish (semi-fluent), am studying Polish, have some knowledge of it, also studying modern Greek, basic knowledge of Arabic (mostly MSA, some exposure to colloquial dialects), basic knowledge of Latin and Italian, beginner in Scottish Gaelic.
x 314

Re: Best Book Only Read in L2

Postby William Camden » Sat Apr 15, 2017 10:16 am

Kamlari wrote:Котлован by Андрей Платонов.


By the way, I read Gorky's 'Mother' in Russian. It's communist propaganda.


Well, I enjoyed reading it.
2 x
: 8 / 25Greek FSI Part 1
: 3794 / 3794Greek Memrise
: 901 / 901'Tis Greek to me

Finny
Orange Belt
Posts: 242
Joined: Sun May 22, 2016 3:01 am
Languages: Native: English.
Advanced: Spanish.
Intermediate: French.
x 451

Re: Best Book Only Read in L2

Postby Finny » Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:21 pm

Since reading is one half of my default approach with language learning (the other being listening), I've got a few. I actually really enjoy getting into a series in non-English; the main downside is that sometimes names get changed (e.g., having read "Cars 2" first in French, it wasn't until watching Cars 1 in English with the kids [because the DVD didn't have it in Spanish or French] that I learned that the tow truck, who is called Martin in all the French translations, is actually called Mater in English).

The entire Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is great. I've read 1-8 in Spanish and 1-10 in French; I've never read any of them in English, and have no interest in doing so. It would just be weird at this point. Since the series is ongoing, I'm looking forward to reading more in the future.

The Hunger Games. I read 1-3 in Spanish and am currently in #2 in French. Again, no interest in reading them in English. As with the Wimpy Kid series, though, I'd be interested in reading it in an L(2+n) if I ever learned another language (most likely Portuguese or German).

With Harry Potter, I listen-read book 1 in Spanish and English, although I think primarily in Spanish, and I read book 2 in French. Years later I read 1-3 in Spanish and started 4 but never finished it. I plan on reading the rest of the series someday in both Es and Fr, but not yet.

For purely kid books, there are many, many more; my favorite series for preschoolers is the Princesse Parfaite series; we've got close to 30 of them and some of them are hilarious (e.g., Zoe est trop bavarde). And two elementary-aged stories I enjoyed lots are La Louve and La premiere fois que je suis née.
1 x

User avatar
Ani
Green Belt
Posts: 495
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2016 8:58 am
Location: Alaska
Languages: English (N), French (getting fairly proficient), Finnish (on hold) Greek and Russian (beginner)
x 901

Re: Best Book Only Read in L2

Postby Ani » Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:48 am

Are these "best books" supposed to be translations out of English or another language, into our L2? Or are we just talking about favorite books read in L2 only?

I have such a hard time choosing favorite books, and I wouldn't even try to choose a "best book" as I prefer to read for love and not merit. :)

My favorite book read in L2 this year was La Délicatesse by David Foenkinos.
0 x
But there's no sense crying over every mistake. You just keep on trying till you run out of cake.

Longinus
White Belt
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:56 pm
Location: United States
Languages: English(N)
Advanced: German
Intermediate: Russian, Albanian
Basic: The Language Formerly Known as Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian, Mongolian, Persian
Basic and Rusty: Polish
Dabbled: Old Irish, Homeric Greek, Hungarian
Wish List: Old Icelandic, Lithuanian, Sanskrit
x 88

Re: Best Book Only Read in L2

Postby Longinus » Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:37 pm

A great question! I would have to say Der Schimmelreiter, by Theodor Storm. Highly recommended if you're learning German. I've read other stories by Storm, and he's pretty easy for a non-native speaker.

Other German authors that I've found easy (and worth reading) are Siegfried Lenz, Stefan Zweig, Gottfried Keller, Eduard Moerike, E.T.A. Hoffmann. I love Thomas Mann, but he's not easy reading for me.
1 x

William Camden
Green Belt
Posts: 295
Joined: Sat Nov 14, 2015 2:47 am
Location: Greenwich Mean Time zone
Languages: English (N), German (fluent), Turkish (fluent), Russian (fluent), French (semi-fluent), Spanish (semi-fluent), am studying Polish, have some knowledge of it, also studying modern Greek, basic knowledge of Arabic (mostly MSA, some exposure to colloquial dialects), basic knowledge of Latin and Italian, beginner in Scottish Gaelic.
x 314

Re: Best Book Only Read in L2

Postby William Camden » Sat Apr 22, 2017 4:34 pm

Longinus wrote:A great question! I would have to say Der Schimmelreiter, by Theodor Storm. Highly recommended if you're learning German. I've read other stories by Storm, and he's pretty easy for a non-native speaker.

Other German authors that I've found easy (and worth reading) are Siegfried Lenz, Stefan Zweig, Gottfried Keller, Eduard Moerike, E.T.A. Hoffmann. I love Thomas Mann, but he's not easy reading for me.


I studied German and Russian at university, which included literature, and Der Schimmelreiter was in fact the first book I had to read on the syllabus (Pushkin's Pikovaya Dama was the first Russian-language one).
I studied Russian from scratch at university so we started with short stories, whereas I had had some exposure to German at school (and in my case, in real life) and we started from a higher level. Several other Pushkin stories and long poems came later.
0 x
: 8 / 25Greek FSI Part 1
: 3794 / 3794Greek Memrise
: 901 / 901'Tis Greek to me

User avatar
emk
Brown Belt
Posts: 1100
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 12:07 pm
Location: Vermont, USA
Languages: English (N), French (B2+)
Just for fun (beginner): Middle Egyptian, Spanish.
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=723
x 3258
Contact:

Re: Best Book Only Read in L2

Postby emk » Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:39 pm

Le Déchronologue, by Stéphane Beauverger, which has won (according to Wikipedia) the Grand prix de l'Imaginaire 2010, the Prix européen Utopiales des pays de la Loire 2009, the Nouveau Grand Prix de la science-fiction française 2009, the Prix Bob-Morane 2010, and the Prix Imaginales des Lycéens 2012.

Maybe you need you need to be a hard core science fiction read to appreciate how good this book really is. There's a popular sub-genre of science fiction known as "alternative history", and one sub-sub-genre of this asks the question, "What happens if (semi-)modern people are sent back to a particular society in the past?" Some popular examples of this subgenre include:

  • Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
  • Outlander (the novels and TV series), about a World War II nurse sent back to 1743.
  • The much sillier Outlander, about a space fighter pilot dropped somewhere in the Viking era. This is notable mostly for this deeply unpleasant but highly efficient language learning technology.
  • 1632, a novel about a small West Virginia mining town that gets ripped out of the modern era and dumped into the middle of the 30 years war.
...and so on. For the most part, these books and films are pretty much fluff. They have a tendency to show off how awesome modern technology and knowledge really is.

But sometimes you get some of the very best ideas by talking a clichéd idea, and turning it around in a clever way. And that's what Le Déchronologue does. Instead of telling the story from the perspective of a modern person sent back in time, it tells the story from the perspective of somebody living in the 1600s whose world is being overrun by people from other times.

The narrator is a French-speaking pirate captain, a protestant and a Huguenot, who participated in a failed rebellion and who finds it much safer to live in the Caribbean. He's drunkard and cynic, but he sees himself as a principled man who happens to have done a few unfortunate things. He's keenly intelligent and observant. And his biggest concern is escaping the Spanish ships that are attempting to capture pirates.

But meanwhile, there are some strange ships on the waters: An armada which appears to belong the Alexander the Great. A US Navy destroyer. Strange dirigibles that float in the sky, disappearing and reappearing. And we see all this through the eyes of somebody from the 1600s, as he tries to understand and adapt to the changes in his world.

I particularly enjoyed the writing: It had all the charms of a classic sailing novel like Master and Commander, with a wealth of nautical details. The narrator is charming but unreliable. And—as befits a novel about the breakdown of time—the chapters are utterly out of order (including the chapter numbers), resulting in constant flashbacks and flashforwards. And there are many lovely "set pieces", opportunities for the author and the reader to enjoy the premise, including:

  • A pirate ship sitting in a harbor, with an MP3 player and a speaker system captured from who knows what ship, playing classical music over the waters.
  • A battle with cannons that disrupt time.
  • The battle which opens and closes the novel: we know from the first page that the narrator and his ship are doomed beyond all hope.
Anyway, if you're B2+ science fiction fan learning French, I recommend this novel highly. At least as far as I'm concerned, it's better than any alternative history that I've ever read in English, and if it were ever translated, it would stand an excellent shot at winning more prizes.
7 x

User avatar
rdearman
Site Admin
Posts: 2160
Joined: Thu May 14, 2015 4:18 pm
Location: United Kingdom
Languages: English (N)
French (studies), Italian (studies), Mandarin (studies),
Esperanto TAC (Only god knows why), Finnish (only in it for the cookies)
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1836
x 4204
Contact:

Re: Best Book Only Read in L2

Postby rdearman » Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:57 pm

emk wrote:The much sillier Outlander, about a space fighter pilot dropped somewhere in the Viking era. This is notable mostly for this deeply unpleasant but highly efficient language learning technology.


Deeply unpleasant or not, I need one, here... take my money.
0 x


Return to “General Language Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: eamon0989, s_allard and 9 guests