I’ve heard a number of folks say that Georges Simenon’s works are very good for those starting out with extensive reading in French.
Personally I don’t read French anything like well enough for extensive reading. However I did read a couple of Simenon’s detective novels in their German translations many years ago. I have to say that they didn’t make any very strong or lasting impression on my mind. (At around the same time I can also remember reading “Das Versprechen” by Dürrenmatt - and I can still very closely and vividly recall the plot of that…)
As for Russian literature, I would love to be able to read it! I would simply love it!
JayB, the first Simenon I read was a short novel–all his novels are short, as far as I know–annotated for learners of French, called Death of a Student (IIRC), which you probably can easily find, used; the annotations helped but were not really necessary. His books are quite addictive, once you get going. I started my wife reading them in English and she read a good 1/2 dozen in a row. She was always delighted when Maigret’s wife (Commisaire Maigret is the detective in many of them) played a part. Try them again, sometime.
There are several books I would very much like to read in German–favorites of mine, read in English years ago. And German is so useful for scholarship of Classical Greek and Latin. Maybe I’m not too old to learn it, one of these days. That would be great.
There’s no reason you can’t learn to read Russian, of course; it just takes application. From your profile you seem much more accomplished than I am as a language learner. So far I don’t read (much) first class literature in Russian. For two reasons: genre / popular fiction is so fun, and I’d like to be a very accomplished reader when I tackle the classics. Actually, Tolstoy’s prose is not difficult–it seems easier than, say, Dostoyevsky–and you’d have a leg up, knowing French.
The Maigret novels by Simenon are great. In fact, the first French novel I ever read on my own without any help and more or less completely understood was L’ombre chinoise. (ha, that was only a few months ago!) Simenon’s writing style is very accessible for intermediates, I highly recommend them. I was lucky enough to find a guy on craigslist who sold me a wine-box full of used Maigret novels (about forty or fifty of them) for next to nothing He told me he used them himself to learn French back in the 60’s, and I could tell he was kinda regretting letting me have all of them.
Well, I’ll certainly bear the Maigret series in mind if I ever get around to brushing up my French.
It’s very nice of Ernie to call me an accomplished language learner, but actually I’m really only accomplished at reading German. My second best language is Italian, and I struggle pretty hard to read anything “higher” than graphic novels for teenies in that - alas!
Basically I’m a very lazy person :-0
“I was lucky enough to find a guy on craigslist who sold me a wine-box full of used Maigret novels (about forty or fifty of them) for next to nothing He told me he used them himself to learn French back in the 60’s, and I could tell he was kinda regretting letting me have all of them.” ,a touching image !
Yeah, you do have to feel a little sorry for the guy…
(I find it very hard to give books away - especially those that remind me of younger days!)
Coming late to the party, but some of “foreign” reading that I liked:
The Wasps by Aristophanes
Hrafnkels saga freysgoða (anonymous)
Liebe deinen Nächsten and Schatten im Paradies by Erich Maria Remarque
Der Richter und sein Henker by Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Cien años de soledad by Gabriel García Márquez
Boquitas pintadas by Manuel Puig
Poems by Rubén Darío (I haven’t read nearly all of them)
Le grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier
Bonjour tristesse by Françoise Sagan
Un long dimanche de fiançailles and L’Été meurtrier by Sebastien Japrisot
La Marquise de Brinvilliers by Alexandre Dumas (read here on LingQ)
Essais by Montaigne (haven’t read all)
Je voudrais que quelqu’un m’attende quelque part (short stories) by Anna Gavalda.