Value in reading scientific writing? Book recommendations?


I recently started learning French on LingQ. I have decided to jump into reading full books pretty early. I like reading about scientific topics. I specifically enjoy astrophysics and ecology, but I’d really be open to anything. My concern is that reading books on these topics won’t help my French very much. To address this concern, I’ve decided to stay away from textbooks and focus on less technical books written for the masses. I know English has plenty of relatively simple books that use everyday language on some “controversial” topics (evolution, climate, ect.). I would also be open to reading biographies about important scientists. I was thinking that I could read a French translation (with audio) of one of theses book to improve my French.

Is it going to be bad to start reading books so early?
Will reading books about science help improve my French, or should I stick to pop fiction and other novels?
Can anybody point me towards a French audiobook about science?

Thanks in advance!

Bonjour Nate. I am certain reading books on scientific topics is a great idea and will help your French a lot. You could try the French translation of Simon Sighn book on Fermat’s Last Theorem. I loved this book when I read it in English and then again when I read it in German. I think this is it

Hi Nate!

If you enjoy doing it, then do it! :wink:
Unfortunately I know nothing about astrophysics and ecology.

I just started reading “Pourquoi E = MC^2” by Brian Cox and Jeff Foresaw. So far, it seems clearly written and there’s all kinds of useful vocabulary. Unfortunately, there’s no audio.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

Savez-vous que vous voyagez à la vitesse de la lumière? Et non seulement vous, mais votre chaise, votre table, votre maison, la Terre elle-même? Bien sûr, nous ne parlons pas ici d’un voyage dans l’espace en trois dimensions, mais dans la structure profonde de l’univers: l’espace-temps. Vous trouvez cela difficile à croire? Pourtant, c’est bien ce que nous dit la fameuse équation d’Einstein: E= mc2! En talentueux passeurs de savoirs, Brian Cox et Jeff Forshaw nous révèlent dans ce livre les mystères de la théorie de la relativité. Grâce à eux, même sans bagage mathématique, vous pourrez percer les secrets de l’équation la plus célèbre du monde! Au sommaire: Chapitre 1: L’espace et le temps; Chapitre 2: La vitesse de la lumière; Chapitre 3: Relativité restreinte; Chapitre 4: L’espace-temps; Chapitre 5: Pourquoi E = mc2?; Chapitre 6: Et pourquoi s’en préoccuper?; Chapitre 7: L’origine de la masse; Chapitre 8: Déformation de l’espace-temps.

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Not exactly what you are looking for, but it might be useful for your reading-oriented approach to language learning:

It might be useful for you to read autobiographies by scientists whose field interests you.
Reading books in which “I”, the first person, rarely appears seems to be boring.
Autobiographies are written in the first person, and you can also learn how to express yourself by reading them.

Richard Feynman write two very good autobiographies. You could look for French translations of them. Unfortunately, I can only recommend English books that have been translated. Another popular science book that I really liked was Bad Science by Ben Goldacre. I read a German translation of that and it was really good. There must be a French translation.

You might also be interested in having a look through the works of Albert Jacquard. He was a French geneticist who wrote popular science books. I’ve read a few and they’re not too difficult.

Thanks everyone! I have one other question:

If I can’t find the audio recording for these books, would it potentially be detrimental to read them without listening to them? I could see that I might get the wrong pronunciation in my head and be stuck with it?

Thanks again!

I think if you do a lot of listening anyway, it won’t really be a problem to read them and not listen to them. I can only see this becomming a problem if you just read and rarely listen to the langauge.

My wife teaches English in Germany where we live. She related to me recently how a kid at her school learned to speak excellent English because he was a weapons nut - everything from knights in shining armour to guns. He wanted to speak to English speakers about weapons, so it seems he learned the vocab and the grammar followed after… Became one of the best in his class. If you love it, learn it :slight_smile:

A German guy told me that he learned English when he was a kid by playing endless computer games. This was a while ago before any games where translated. If you love it, learn it.

I know a few French-fry astrophysicists. I can ask them if they know any. Maybe you would prefer scientific blogs since they might be more digestable for you, depending on your level.

That would be awesome, thanks! I hadn’t thought about scientific blogs. I’ll take a look at those.

Haha. These are both awesome stories. I do love science, so I will learn. Thanks for your input.

Thanks! These books sound interesting. I’ll look for an audio recording of Au péril de la science.

Thanks for the advice. I’m beginning to agree that an autobiography/biography might be the way to go, at least a first.


Thanks for the encouragement!

This looks awesome. I’m definitely going to read this down the road. Thanks for your help.