A Language Learner's Forum Book Club 2017

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Stelle
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Re: A Language Learner's Forum Book Club 2015

Postby Stelle » Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:48 pm

I just finished reading La ladrona de libros (The Book Thief, in Spanish). It's an absolutely beautiful, haunting book. I know that it's often marketed in North America as a young adult novel, but I think that it could just as easily have been marketed as adult fiction. It's a very difficult book to categorize.

Highly, highly recommended.
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Polyclod
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Re: A Language Learner's Forum Book Club 2015

Postby Polyclod » Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:20 pm

As my signature suggests I'm reading Die Nebel von Avalon, which is the German translation of The Mists of Avalon. I tried reading the English version about 15 years ago and couldn't get into it, but I'm actually quite enjoying it. I wanted to see if a long fantasy yarn would be too advanced for my level of German, but it's actually an easy read. It's just a really, really, really long book, around 1300 pages. But I've always been enjoyed stories about King Arthur, ancient Britain, etc, even if they're pure fantasy and full of laughable inaccuracies like this book. Still, it's got me hooked and that means more German reading, which is always a good thing.
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zatris
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Re: A Language Learner's Forum Book Club 2015

Postby zatris » Fri Aug 28, 2015 9:58 pm

Thought I could recommend here two Brazilian novels I like a lot (actually I very much love the first one) for the adventurous Portuguese learners.

Avalovara (1973), by Osman Lins. Easily one of my all-time favorites. Lins was very serious about his writing, and his aesthetically sophisticated and formally rigorous books show it. This particular novel deals with a writer in search of an ideal city, his three sucessive lovers, a woman who was born twice, an extremely precise clock and its journey from pre-war Europe to 1960s Brazil, a palindrome, and various other things. It's written under the constraints posed by a scheme involving a spiral and a square (the scheme itself is part of the narrative), resembling the kind of self-imposed restrictions Oulipo writers were fond of; think of Perec's Life: A User's Manual. There's an English translation available, published by Dalkey Archive Press. Be warned: it has a large enough vocabulary to send native Portuguese speakers to the dictionary now and then.

O livro dos mandarins (2006), by Ricardo Lísias. It's an insanely hilarious satire of the world of high finance and its often dubious ties with governments, written in a pastiche of self-help and business management and leadership books. It's a very savage satire, and can wade in pretty dark material sometimes, though always with an almost crazy sense of humor. It's exuberant, colorful, and fun. Between its maddeningly repetitive use of jargon and platitudes of the world it criticizes, its occasional use of extremely colloquial speech, and its reliance on a decent knowledge about Brazilian culture and the country's recent history to make sense of most of the humor, it can be a very hard read for non natives, but it's certainly worth it. It was published in Spanish some months ago.
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brilliantyears
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Re: A Language Learner's Forum Book Club 2015

Postby brilliantyears » Sat Aug 29, 2015 4:24 pm

I finished 気まぐれロボット last night. The level was probably too easy for me, and the stories (they were all 'short shorts' of 5 pages max) got a bit repetitive so the incentive to keep reading was missing somewhat. Still, I finished it. Wrote a slightly longer review on my blog (can I link here?), http://blog.brilliantyears.net/archives/3771

I've now started reading さわらないで by Kiyomi Niitsu. It's a horror story. Reading a full book instead of short stories is refreshing. The level is also a bit higher than the other book, and I have to look up more, but it's readable.
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sfuqua
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Re: A Language Learner's Forum Book Club 2015

Postby sfuqua » Sat Aug 29, 2015 7:55 pm

I'm about halfway through Fall of Giants, and the fun has slowed down. I guess it is inevitable. It is more fun to talk about how easy a war is going to be compared with the meat grinder that WWI became. It is more fun to make babies than to give birth. It is more fun to look forward to your infinite potential than it is to actually try to live up to that potential. Weirdly enough I would appreciate a little less melodrama and a little more history.

I guess the book is just showing reality; I hope we get through this slow patch soon, or I'm going to give this a rest.
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tomgosse
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Re: Not the Real HTLAL Book Club 2015

Postby tomgosse » Mon Aug 31, 2015 2:03 pm

Zegpoddle wrote:
tomgosse wrote:The first book in French that I am trying to read is Easy French Reader by R. de Roussy de Sales. It has three parts, a story about Marc et Julie, a section of articles Le Grandes Figures de L'histoire, and Histoires Célèbres.

This made me laugh because I'm about 20 pages from the end of the first book in the Spanish version of this series, Easy Spanish Reader by William Tardy. It has a similar structure: Part one is a story about "Enrique y Maria," Part two is a short "History of Mexico," and part three is a simplified adaptation of the picaresque novel Lazarillo de Tormes.

Is Marc an exchange student from France who is studying at American student Julie's high school? Or maybe Marc is the American and Julie is the visitor? I wonder how closely the books track each other despite the different target languages and cultures. (There's also an Italian version and maybe a German?) I found the first part rather boring because it was so obviously artificial and contrived.

Marc is student living in Paris. Julie is an American who lives in Paris with her parents. He studies English, she studies French.

Part Two was marginally more interesting only because Aztec society was so Gothic and the history of the European colonization of Mexico was so rapacious. It felt strange typing the words "sacrificios humanos" into my Anki deck. Not exactly high-frequency vocabulary these days, but it was fun to learn.

The third part is the best because young Lazarillo grows up to be such a shameless rascal, learning from the examples set by his entirely brutal and corrupt elders.

I wonder why the French version didn't include a "Histoire de la civilization française" as part two. Or are all the "grandes figures de l'histoire" French?

In the second part, Les grandes figures de l'histoire, the biographies include Vercingétorix, Charlemange, La Révolution française, Charle DeGaulle, and Jacques Chirac.

And what "famous stories" are included in part 3? Simplified adaptations of Maupassant's "The Necklace"? Flaubert's "Un coeur simple"? Stories are fine, but I prefer the single continuous longer narrative in the Spanish book. Lazarillo's adventures are so funny and engaging that I can't wait to read each succeeding chapter--which is *exactly* what a really effective reader should do. Now that I'm hooked by the story, learning the new vocabulary is a pleasure, not a chore. But I no longer write out answers to the exercise questions--that just bored me to tears.

The third part has stories by Alphonse Daudet, Émile Zola, and Guy de Maupassant.

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extralean
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Re: A Language Learner's Forum Book Club 2015

Postby extralean » Sat Sep 12, 2015 10:39 pm

Ohh, do any of you guys use goodreads? I'm always on the lookout for new things to read. I have the same username there as here.
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sfuqua
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Re: A Language Learner's Forum Book Club 2015

Postby sfuqua » Thu Sep 24, 2015 1:26 am

I recently started Auel's Clan del Oso Cavernario. I read the book many years ago, in English, and it occupies a unique niche somewhere in between science fiction, romance, and adventure. It tells the story of an orphan "modern human" who is raised by Neanderthals. The story is somewhat unbelievable, but what do you want, Ayla is the main character and sooner or later you know she is going to domesticate horses or discover natural antibiotics or whatever. I quite like it, I am a pushover for stories about tough women.
As a language learner I find the book surprisingly challenging, because of the profuse vocabulary concerning the natural world. I'm not so good with trees and plants in any of my languages.
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Right now working on glossika for Spanish and French.
And of course, I'm working with a bunch of sentence cards in an anki deck.
I listen to and use my fossilized Tagalog everyday.

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daegga
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Re: A Language Learner's Forum Book Club 2015

Postby daegga » Thu Sep 24, 2015 1:58 am

sfuqua wrote:I recently started Auel's Clan del Oso Cavernario. [...]
As a language learner I find the book surprisingly challenging, because of the profuse vocabulary concerning the natural world. I'm not so good with trees and plants in any of my languages.


I listened to the audiobook of all 6 books in either Danish or Swedish. I find that my mind does an incredible job at ignoring all those details when they are presented as audio. So its plant, tree, weed, bird, some wild animal etc for me instead of whatever the author used. Except when they have a similar name in English or German.
Have you also read the last one? It felt quite different in its makeup than the others.
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IpseDixit
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Re: A Language Learner's Forum Book Club 2015

Postby IpseDixit » Fri Oct 16, 2015 10:27 pm

My latest reads:

A Game of Thrones (in English) - I'm a big fan(atic) of the HBO series and finally decided to read the books as well. I was very impressed to find out how faithful to the book the first season of the series is. I like G.R.R. Martin's style and although there are several archaic expressions, that didn't slow me down and in fact I devoured the book.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (in Italian) - another book that I read because of a movie (namely Blade Runner), I was a bit reluctant because my previous and first encounter with P.K. Dick's work wasn't that great. But DADES has made me reconsider this author in a positive way.

The Lord of Flies (in Italian) - I bought it because I thought it was a dystopia (which is a genre that I love) but I'm halfway through it and still haven't seen any real dystopic elements. So far I've found it quite boring and I'm not ditching it just because I have 100 measly pages to the end.

After The Lord of Flies I plan to read The Dispossessed by U.K. Le Guin (in English).
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