Friday, 20 February 2015

Books I have read in French

Posted by Rosie

I often get asked how I learnt to speak French.  One thing I have found has helped considerably is to read books in French as it increases your vocabulary and knowledge of phases.  I started with toddler books but am now able to tackle booked for adults.  I do prefer to have read them in English first and so I know the general storyline and it doesn't matter if I don't understand every word. But if a word or phrase keeps coming up that I don't understand I will go and look it up.

So here are a few books I have tackled in French:

All sorts of Roald Dahl books including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, Matilda and the BFG.  It was interesting reading the BFG with all the made up words!

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

Spiderwick - Tony Diterlizzi and Holly Black - I am now quite the expert of the French terms for elves, goblins and suchlike.

All Creatures Great and Small - James Herriot.  The translation managed to put an accent into any farmer who spoke but I very much doubt it bore any resemblance to a Yorkshire accent.

Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone - JK Rowling  This is called Harry Potter à l'école des Sorciers in French and Hogwarts gets renamed Poudlard as Hogwarts is not a word the French can say easily.

Longbourn -  Jo Baker.  I was recommended the book by a French friend so bought the English version, loved it and read the French one straight afterwards.  It is a modern day writing of the servants who worked for the Bennets of Pride and Prejudice fame. 

The Boy in The Stripped Pyjamas - John Boyne.   A painfully sad WWII story


Sarah's Key - Gilles Paquet-Brenner.  In French this is called Elle s'appelle Sarah and another very sad WWII tale.

Fear the worst - Linwood Barclay.  This was a thriller about a father's search for his daughter and not really my genre at all.  However a friend lent it to me and I did enjoy it in French.

And now for some that were a bit more challenging:

The War of the Worlds - HG Wells

Animal Farm - George Orwell.  I have read this in English more than once and loved it but found the French incredibly hard. I often finished a whole page without really understanding what had been written and I only got to the end as I knew the story enough to carry me through.  It was a couple of years ago so maybe I should try it again.

1984 - George Orwell.  This wasn't nearly as hard as Animal Farm but still proved challenging.

Around The World in 80 Days - Jules Verne.  Older son read this in second year secondary school so I hope he understood more than me.  I did OK but there was plenty I didn't understand, even though I know the story in English.

And finally a French classic:

L'Etrangère - Albert Camus.  I think I understood what was going on but having never read in it English I can't be sure.  It was what I would call an "interesting" read.  Have you read it?

Could you recommend any books for me to read in French?  I did want to Try "The Help" but worried that the deep south accent may make it hard.
 

16 comments :

  1. Try Souad (can't remember the author but its on Amazon for a couple of Euro's. Easy reading but a hard read (if you know what I mean).
    I read "La Peste" by Camus when I was working in Oran (the book is based in the city, so thought it apt).
    Went to the cinema on Sunday to watch my first French film (I don't watch films generally, but L'enquete is based on fact so was happy).
    My French is nowhere near as good as it should be, but I didn't have a problem with either the books or the film.
    Enjoy the reading if you choose them.

    Chris Brown
    nosh216.com

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Chris, I'll look out for Souad. My French could also be a lot better but I have also managed a few French films. Many thanks for popping by and commenting.

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  2. This post was so helpful! I was just thinking about tackling a children's book in French this week but wasn't sure where to start. I haven't really done any French since school but I was pretty good at it then. I might try a toddler book first and then Roald Dahl seems like a good place to start.

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    1. Glad I could be helpful Charlotte and thanks for commenting. let me know how you get on reading in French.

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  3. I'm going to start doing this as it is a great way to pick up vocab. I can't remember the last time I read an English book though, I love reading but just don't seem to have the time to sit, relax and read. I had the idea of doing it with my favourite magazines though!

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    1. Magazines, books, tourist leaflets etc - it's all good to read and all helps develop your language skills. Good luck and I hope you find some reading time. Many thanks for popping by the blog.

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  4. Such a good way to develop my language skills, seems scary at first, but slowly and surely will get there...

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    1. It has helped me no end and I love it when I actually remember how to say something that I first read in a book. It was also quite useful for working out when the boys were swearing!!

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  5. Reading children's books is a great way to start off reading in French. When we moved here, we also found the Maigret books by Georges Simenon were excellent for improving our vocab. Although they are a bit dated now, the stories are good and there are many books in the series, so I can highly recommend them. #AllAboutFrance

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    1. Thanks Vanessa - I'll look out for some of those.

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  6. There's nothing like reading in French to improve your language skills. My first book in French was Lord of the Rings - not a good choice in retrospect because of all the names. I recommend reading on a Kindle, because you can hold your finger on a word and get the translation immediately. You may like YA books. Try Manu Causse's Romeo@Juliette, which is a series of emails/letters between an English teenage boy and a French teenage girl - a letter in English and a reply in French. Hope this helps. #AllAboutFrance

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    1. I don't have a kindle but I do like the idea of instant translations on them. I will look out for your suggestions.

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  7. I am sure my French is so much better because I helped my son learn to read when he was at school here. Starting at the beginning is definitely the best way!

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  8. I agree - and all that grammar helped too!

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  9. I must admit to being rather slack about reading novels in French. I read newspapers, magazines, blogs and other online articles daily but I can't think when I last read a book in French! I read heaps as a way of relaxing and reading in French just isn't as relaxing for me but I do keep saying I should read more. Maybe this is the prompt I need to find a book and get going! Thanks for linking to #AllAboutFrance

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    1. Now you see I rarely read any of what you have mentioned but know I should ... I also enjoy simple French crosswords so I suppose that means you don't do those either!

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