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HTLAL Book Club 2015

  Tags: Book Club | HTLAL
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Senior Member
Czech Republic
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Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 Message 57 of 69
18 March 2015 at 11:25am | IP Logged 
Another combination to recommend, the theme is the phantom of the opera

I am still reading the original, French Le Phantom de l'Opera by Gaston Leroux.
I was really surprised as the story is significantly more complex than the movie. I
cannot spoil the ending as I haven't finished yet.

However, I've recently finished rereading Mascarada by Terry Pratchett in
Spanish translation. I had finished just a day before his death. Awesome author,
awesome book, good quality translation, not an easy read for an intermediate Spanish
learner. But a Pratchettlover can get through and learn a lot.

I've tried listening to some of the songs from the movie in Spanish and I didn't like
the singer so I don't intend to watch the movie again and in dubbing. However, I'd be
excited to get to the theatre play in GB one day.

thanks for the link to your goodreads account, serpent

Edited by Cavesa on 18 March 2015 at 11:26am

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Senior Member
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Speaks: Russian*, FrenchC1, English, Italian, Spanish
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Studies: Ancient Greek, Hindi

 Message 58 of 69
18 March 2015 at 8:59pm | IP Logged 
In French, I am reading "Les jeux jaunes des crocodiles" by Katherine Pancol. I think, French learners, interested in
contemporary every-day life in France, would like this book.
In Spanish, I read Isabel Allende "La casa de los espiritus"
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 3941 days ago

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Speaks: Swedish*, English, French
Studies: Breton, Italian

 Message 59 of 69
21 March 2015 at 9:22am | IP Logged 
Don't know what to read next in French?

Try the Un livre, un jour web app.

You'll get to answer a few simple questions about what type of book you want to read, which adds a variety of filters to the search, and finally you're presented with a small selection. If you're not happy with your selection, you can then modify your filters without going through the quiz again. If you click on a title, you get a little more information about the work and a video presentation or interview with the author.

If you're unfamiliar with Un livre, un jour, it's a daily two-minute French television programme that presents a new book every day since 1991.
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Senior Member
United States
Joined 3849 days ago

291 posts - 444 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: French

 Message 60 of 69
24 March 2015 at 12:04pm | IP Logged 
Anya wrote:
In French, I am reading "Les jeux jaunes des crocodiles" by Katherine Pancol. I think,
French learners, interested in
contemporary every-day life in France, would like this book.
In Spanish, I read Isabel Allende "La casa de los espiritus"

Anya - thanks for sharing! The reviews are quite strong, and the book is available on Audible and Amazon in
the US. I purchased it with some credits I had
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
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Speaks: Norwegian*, English, Spanish, French, Romansh, German, Italian
Studies: Russian, Catalan, Latin, Greek, Romanian

 Message 61 of 69
05 June 2015 at 3:51pm | IP Logged 
Time for some activity again in this thread.

I've just finished the book "L'ami Fritz". This is a novel that was written in 1864 by Erckmann-Chatrian, which is the collective name of two writers, Émile Erckmann and Alexandre Chatrian, who worked together on a number of books.

L'ami Fritz is the story of a man Fritz Kobus, who inherits a big fortune and decides that he will live as an Epicurean the rest of his life, eating good food and drinking excellent wine, smoking his pipe and playing cards at the café with his friends. And he decides never to get married, as matrimony will disturb his peace. However, one day he meets a young country girl, the daughter of a farmer who works for Fritz...

In short, a rather banal love story, but it is an interesting novel because it depicts life in Alsatia in the 19th century, when it was part of Germany. And although Erckmann-Chatrian paints an idealistic picture of life in Alsatia at the time, their descriptions of characters in the book are quite amusing. The book also reflects the degree of religious tolerance that existed at the time in this part of France, one of Fritz' best friends is a Jew, the farmer who is the father of the girl is an anabaptist and so on.

Another book I am reading currently is in Russian, Moskva-Frankfurt-Moskva, by Georgij Turjanskij, who lives in Germany. The book is a collection of short stories, some of which are autobiographical, describing life in Moscow at the time of the Soviet Union. This book was a really pleasant surprise in the sense that it is the first book in Russian that I have been able to pick up and read quite fluently without looking up every second word in the dictionary. I don't know whether it is because he uses a rather straightforward vocabulary, or maybe my own vocabulary has improved a lot over the last few months. Anyway, it feels good to actually read in Russian!

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Senior Member
Russian Federation
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 Message 62 of 69
06 June 2015 at 7:37pm | IP Logged 
I've been reading David Eddings recently. His books are often called the fantasy equivalent of soap operas/telenovelas. Years ago I read one series in Finnish (and this helped a lot back then); in 2013 I found books 2-4 of another series in Italian at a great discount. I ended up getting the first part in German, and here's my review of it. TBH I meant to finish it before Tadoku, but with 20 pages left I just started the next one in Italian. For now the next one focuses on different plot lines so it's okay.

(one thing which is not quite clear from my review is that other series are far less repetitive and have characters that are very distinct from each other and easy to remember)

I've even worked on my Portuguese pronunciation while reading :D I decided to work on avoiding subvocalization, and in this particular case it did help both with enjoyment and reading skills. I wrote more about that here and posted a short recording in my log. I liked what I read somewhere, that when you think you're bored of a book, maybe that's just due to your own voice. I'm certainly not saying it's a good idea for all language learners, but my German reading was just surprisingly slow for my overall level. When I measured in the beginning of this book it was 2:30 min per page, and after the pronunciation/"speedreading" work it was 1:30 min per page, which seems reasonable to me. (I'm not sure I read faster than that in my best languages tbh) My comprehension did improve simply by reading more, but not the ease/speed/fluency of reading. I couldn't get into the flow before I started eliminating subvocalization, despite the fact that I rarely used a dictionary.

Edited by Serpent on 06 June 2015 at 7:48pm

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Senior Member
United States
Joined 3849 days ago

291 posts - 444 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: French

 Message 63 of 69
07 June 2015 at 3:27pm | IP Logged 
Le Silence de la Mer written by Jean Bruler, but published under the pseudonym of Vercours, is
included in Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century list. Published secretly and distributed clandestinely during
the Nazi occupation of France, the book quickly became a symbol of mental resistance against German
occupiers. The short story is simple with only three principle characters: an older man and his niece who are
forced to share their home with an occupying German officer.   Every day, the German officer tries to speak to
them. They use the only tactic that they have at their disposal to resist against the officer: silence. They do
not speak a word to him.

While only ~40 pages, I found this seemingly simple story thought-provoking and mesmerising.   Vercors
encourages the reader to reflect upon life in France during the Second World War and French relations with
the Germans, and manages to show the human within the enemy. I found this an easy read - appropriate for
an early intermediate, but rich in subtleties for a more advanced reader. I rarely enjoy reading books multiple
times, but I will read this again.

Edited by Mohave on 07 June 2015 at 3:53pm

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Mork the Fiddle
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3811 days ago

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Speaks: English*
Studies: Norwegian, Latin, Ancient Greek

 Message 64 of 69
14 June 2015 at 9:54pm | IP Logged 
Currently in Spanish I am reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. Murakami's novels read like traditional novels, except that there is usually something off-beat in them that turns them into science fiction. In 1Q84 Murakami toys a bit with parallel universes. In many of his long novels he makes what in essence is a tour of the thought, culture and paraphernalia of Western civilization, establishing very detailed backgrounds for his stories. Murakami also in this novel created two story lines that very slowly weave together as the novel goes along.

The pace is almost too slow, but Murakami is inventive enough to keep me reading.

Gabriel Álvarez Martínez translated the Spanish verison that I am reading, which comes in two volumes by Tusquets Editores in Barcelona.

In Spanish I am also reading Rimas by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836-1870), a series of short love poems with fairly easy vocabulary. Poetry requires intensive reading that paradoxically enough for me is restful after the pell-mell pace of extensive reading. Poetry is also kind of icing on the cake, letting one relax in melody, tone and rhythm and the richness of a language's vocabulary. Read on my Kindle.

My current French reading comes from the past. A page or two of Montaigne's Essays every day and a few pages of the Mémoires of the duc de Saint-Simon. The Essays are a Modern French translation. I first read Montaigne in translation in high school, and ever since his common good sense, the vastness of his reading and his adroitness in bringing examples from his reading to bear on his own writing and on his own life have attracted me.

Saint-Simon uses a clear and engaging style, but I am not very far along and can't say more about him than that. I'm using an aging (printed 1959) but unmarked secondhand Pleiade edition.

In Ancient Greek there is the Library of History by Diodorus Siculus. (Diodorus the Sicilian). Diodorus lived around the time of Julius Caesar and attempted a history of everything. Not nearly all of his work survives. The part I am reading right now covers the Peloponnesian War and concurrent, mostly military, events in Sicily. There is no easy Ancient Greek literature, so this is a bit of a slog. I spend an hour to an hour and a half a day on it. I am using a translation for the purpose of parallel reading, and I get through about 3 or 4 pages of the translation a day.

There is a sameness to the wars and battles Diodorus writes about, so there is a sameness to his writing and vocabulary. To a learner like me, though, sameness is a good thing.

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