What are you reading?

Saw this topic on another language board, for one specific language. Forum members keep updating the thread with what they are reading; titles and a brief description or review… or sometimes just titles (finished that, starting this). The thread has been going on for some years now. I thought it would be interesting to have a similar thread on this multi-language learning site.

So, what am I reading?

I happen to have Chinese translations of the entire Sherlock Holmes series on the bookshelf at home. I also found alternate translations online that match audiobooks I also found. I’ve completed 2 of the 4 novels so far; A Study in Scarlet 《血字的研究》and The Sign of Four 《四签名》. I presumably need say nothing more about who Sherlock Holmes is and what he’s all about.

In German, I’ve also been reading translations from some books I used to read in English by R. L. Stine. The Fear Street book series. They’re written for teens/ young adults and aren’t very challenging, but they are suspenseful page-turning thrillers that I can finish in a couple days.

I’ve also completed 2 of those novels recently; Switched (Risiko) where two girls upset with their current situations magically switch bodies and lives, only to find out that one girl had tricked the other after murdering her parents and boyfriend, now leaving the other girl to pay for the crimes, but there’s a surprise ending.

And then Wrong Number (Falsch Verbunden), where a few kids mess around making harmless prank phone calls until one time it sounds as if a murder is taking place on the other end of the line, which makes them stupidly rush to the address (found in the phonebook) and get drawn into the case themselves, initially held as suspects and one boy jailed while the others are left to prove his innocence themselves, since police won’t listen to them.

Both of those have audiobooks too (reason why I chose to read them first). I need to get back to actual Chinese and German novels though, for the cultural value.

What are you reading?

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“The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro

heh, I’ve started reading the online Chinese version of “A Study in Scarlet” after you plugged the Mandarin audio book on that other thread. I’d just finished “Mastermind” by Maria Konnikova, so it is a good fit.

“Mastermind” starts with a discussion between Holmes and Watson, from “Scandal in Bohemia” :

[H:] “You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room.”
“How often?”
“Well, some hundreds of times.”
“Then how many are there?”
“How many? I don’t know.”
“Quite so! You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point. Now, I know that there are seventeen steps, because I have both seen and observed.”

Then a quote from William James: “the faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgement, character and will…An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence.”

As I am a bit of a grasshopper, I always have several books/languages on the go. My reading is often guided by what I can find in the local library or my favourite charity shops, Oxfam and Amnesty International.

In German I am swapping between two books: the first one being Jirina Prekop “Der kleine Tyrann”, a valuable resource for anybody faced with young children and their tantrums. I want to be a better gran than I was a mum! The other one I carry around with me is a translation of a Swedish novel: “Simon” by Marianne Fredriksson (of Hanna’s daughters" fame). I am interested in recent history and in Sweden, so it isan interesting and moving read for me.

In French I have just finished Pierre Péju “La petite Chartreuse” which I picked up when I was in Nantes a couple of weeks ago, along with two plays by Camus: “Caligula” and “Le malentendu” - in one book - in the nicest of 'librairies" near the hotel. There are moments when I hate it that I travel with hand luggage only. I could have bought myself silly.

In Spanish I am still/again reading José Antonio Marina “El laberinto sentimental” a textbook dealing with emotional intelligence. A fascinating book, quite hard going for me as my Spanish is still so limited. As light relief I have also got Carmen Rico-Godoy on the go “Como ser una mujer y no morir en el intento”: From the blurb “Lectura obligada para toda mujer…” It is hilarious in parts, I recognise my old self from years ago in a lot of the stories.

In English I am just reading M. Vargas Llosa “Aunt Julia and The Scriptwriter”, a novel with autobiographical elements. I am conscious that it is a translation from Spanish and as such not really allowed onto my nightstand, but it was a bargain at Oxfam’s. It is fascinating to see how wonderfully politically incorrect some of the scenes are. Another world. Two books I’d also recommend are “Half-blood blues” by Esi Edugyan, and Haruki Murakami “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki & His Years of Pilgrimage”. Edugyan is a Canadian writer. In her story she interweaves German and Afro-German-American history from the 1930 and 40s with Jazz, a great mix. I initially had some difficulty with the American slang words used, but I like learning :)) As to Murakami, I like all his books, including the autobiographical one about his Marathon running “Vad jag pratar om när jag pratar om löpning” - I picked it up in Stockholm years ago, but gave up and read it in English in the end. (I just might go back to reading it in Swedish over Christmas). What I particularly like about contemporary, well-written novels, is the insight into the mind of a writer or a translator they provide. If they make me stop and wonder how I feel about the issue in this sentence or this paragraph, I am a happy bunny.

Thank you for starting this thread!

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“Colpa delle stelle” di John Green
Hazel ha sedici anni, ma ha già alle spalle un vero miracolo: grazie a un farmaco sperimentale, la malattia che anni prima le hanno diagnosticato è ora in regressione. Ha però anche imparato che i miracoli si pagano: mentre lei rimbalzava tra corse in ospedale e lunghe degenze, il mondo correva veloce, lasciandola indietro. Un giorno però il destino le fa incontrare Augustus, affascinante compagno di sventure che la travolge con la sua fame di vita, di passioni, di risate, e le dimostra che il mondo non si è fermato, insieme possono riacciuffarlo. Ma come un peccato originale, come una colpa scritta nelle stelle avverse sotto cui Hazel e Augustus sono nati, il tempo che hanno a disposizione è un miracolo, e in quanto tale andrà pagato.

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J’ai comencé a lire Papillon de Henri Charrière. Selon Wikipedia: "Papillon (1969) est un écrit réputé autobiographique dans le bagne de la Guyane française à grand succès d’Henri Charrière. Dans cet ouvrage, vendu à plus de 13 millions d’exemplaires dans le monde, l’auteur y retrace ses aventures, omettant de préciser que certaines sont souvent celles d’autres forçats (dont Charles Brunier et René Belbenoît), ayant parfois eu lieu des décennies avant l’arrivée d’Henri Charrière sur le sol guyanais. Le surnom Papillon vient d’un tatouage de l’insecte sur la poitrine de l’auteur alors qu’il était à Calvi en 1926 dans un bataillon disciplinaire, un papillon image d’un espoir de liberté. Le papillon symbolise également la métamorphose de la Chrysalide en le bel insecte qu’est le papillon (Lepidoptera),et par analogie la transformation, la renaissance chez l’homme, comme ce fut le cas pour Henri Charrière. "

The Da Vinci Code in Polish. I bought the audiobook and have a pdf of the text so I’m creating a LingQ lesson for each chapter.

In Finnish I want to finnish my struggle with Karl Ove Knausgård’s “My Struggle1” (first of 5 books). I’m looking forward to read the rest of them, but I think I switch to the Swedish version pretty soon, or why not Norwegian…

Did you buy an ‘Audible’ audio book’? I have a few in Spanish & Portuguese by Paulo Coelho but haven’t found out how to convert them to MP3 so I could create LingQ lessons. Do you know how?

“In Finnish I want to finnish…”. Interesting. Looks like a double entendre plus a pun in spelling :slight_smile:

I re-read Haruki Murakami’s “The Wind-up Bird Chronicle” (these days I forget a lot) to prepare myself for reading it in Swedish. His sentences are often short and I thought it would be easy to re-read the book in Swedish

To my dismay I have found out that it may be much harder than envisaged. Wikipedia tells me that “Fågeln som vrider upp världen” is a translation straight from the Japanese edition (unlike some other European languages which used the English edition as a starting point). The Swedish/Japanese edition has not undergone the heavy editing which the English has seen, ie two chapters cut and others rearranged into a different sequence. No wonder one gets a feeling of disconnection at times… I shall now have to sharpen what wits I have left to follow the story in as much of the original story as is possible in a Swedish translation. Woe is me!

As a sweetener I am starting “Life after Life” by Kate Atkinson. It sounds very promising.

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I’m reading “Coming Clean: A Memoir” in English, from Kimberly Rae Miller.

It’s an amazing real story. The center subject of the story are the hoarders, and she tells about her own life and family. Her father have that problem and she tells everything that happened within her lifetime until she got married, telling about the issues they’ve gone through, the difficult moments and everything else.

I recommend!

In English, ‘The Empress Lover’ by Linda Jaivin, an Australian translator and writer fluent in Mandarin.

In German, ‘Als Hitler das rosa Kaninchen stahl’ by Judith Kerr (translated from the original English). It’s aimed at young adults and so far there are few enough unknown words that I can choose whether to look them up or make do without (depending on how lazy I feel…) while still keeping a decent grasp.

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Oh, I loved the Wind-up Bird Chronicle! Though it was so long ago that I read it, that I’ve forgotten most of it too… that’s so interesting about the translation issues. Though puzzling trails and rabbit holes sounds very Murakami :slight_smile:

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Like SanneT, I am a grasshopper too - but too much so! So I think this year for the first time a new year’s resolution will be to write a list of 2015 books (English and L2/German) and try to stick to it. Maybe that’s another thread…

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Hace diez días, comenzé una traducción del libro “Insurgente” de Veronica Roth. Yo leído el primer libro de la saga “Divergente” en inglés, así que quise leer el libro segundo en español. Puedo leer en español, una cosa que necesito hacer más, y puedo leer un libro que tiene me interés.
Comenzé leyendo el libro “The Linguist” de Steve en español, pero no tengo leerlo recientemente.
En el futuro, quiero leer el libro “Don Quixote,” porque tiene mucha historia del idioma español.

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Animal farm, in japanese. Takes me forever, but I’m about to finish :slight_smile:


I haven’t been reading much in a long time in any language for that matter. That’s why I am going to start to read Tintin in Spanish. I have read a Spanish book from cover to cover once before, it was Javier Cercas Las leyes de la frontera (the laws of the border). It was quite good even if it did not have anything to do with the Franco era. A lot of his books are about the Franco era, that’s one of the reasons I started to look for books written by him. I might start to read one of his novels once I get used to read in Spanish.

I would like to read “The count of monte cristo” in french but I don’t think my 1,574 words will get me very far.

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I’ve read a couple more Fear Street books in German, but I’m finally taking the plunge and opening up a huge Chinese novel called Ordinary World (平凡的世界), published in the 80’s and consisting of three volumes and over 1.1 million words… but which has come very highly recommended.

There is also an audiobook as well as a new 2015 TV series based on it. So, in case I burn out reading, I have other formats to enjoy the story which follows the lives of several peasants from the mid 1970’s onward and really gives an insight to how Chinese society was back then, during a time of social reform.

I’m only on Chapter 11 of the first volume, and the story is very descriptive and slow-going, so that’s about all I can say about it. But it’s good so far! I figure I’ll be finished with it in about… 5 years! :slight_smile:

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