What should I be reading?

We have been here three years now and my french is fine for general conversation (terrible grammer, of course), I watch only French TV and I can write with the aid of a spelling and grammer checker, I have so far not dared to do much reading, apart from the local paper and gardening magazines.

My new year's resolution is to start reading French literature, but which? I have downloaded the complete works of Camus and I will have a look at what Amazon has to offer for my new Kindle ebook reader. I hope there will be lots of free stuff as there is in English.

I have definately decided not to bother with childrens books or BD's, and would prefer modern language rather than classics (with classical language).

Any suggestions of where to start?

If this hasn 't been mentioned already : easy reader versions of French classics are good if your level is not very high. They are short and have a glossary. Your library may carry them .

On a different note: Les petits enfants du siècle is a good read.(great social picture of underprivileged youth)

It looks like this one will run and run - I'm most grateful for all your suggestions.

I have just discovered that included with my Christmas present - the Kindle ebook reader - was the option to download a French dictionary. This I have done and now any word in the text can be highlighted and defined(in French). The process is so quick and easy you can do so without major interuption to the flow of the story (at least, at the speed I read!)

This is a god-send and I recommend it.

Sadly, I have a Kindle but my relaxation is reading good english Lit. of which there is an abundance..I do read the La Provence and Vaucluse for local info. I would like any suggestions of good reads please?

je ne sais pas quoi lire...from " Je ne sais quoi".

Great topic for winter! Here are a few ideas that I have gleaned . I hope others will add their own , we could have quite a list.

Some suggestions which were made by others and on other sites:

Camus ( L'Etranger is a good one) ; L'élegance du Herisson; G .Simenon; Maupassant (short stories)

I would add: A. Gavalda, Philippe Labro ( his autobiographical writing of summers in the USA) , Marc Levy (some easy reading), Marcel Pagnol (esp.the regional writings: La Gloire de mon pere, le chateau de ma mere, le temps des secrets// Jean de Florette, Manon des sources, and the plays if you like theatre.) A. Nothomb (not always easy to follow but fairly easy style) , Boileau-Narcejac (mystery) and I put le Petit Prince in the lead. Another suggestion from one of my students: Les Orphelins Baudelaire

There are some books which are published w/ a glossary on the left page: nice for learners ; however, they are expensive.

I also like Daniel Pennac a lot. Also, Nicole de Buron: very easy reads.

I think that Zola would be a bit difficult; H. Bazin 's Vipère au poing is good also.

Another thought: it can be interesting and helpful to read a book which has a film version: for instance Nothomb's Stupeurs et tremblements. Also interesting : reading young adolescents' books which you have read in English.

I don't think the passé simple needs to be an obstacle: you can easily recognise the verb root and you get used to the endings in the context of tense choice.

More ideas later: I am going to the médiathèque this week and I will look ...

Bonne lecture à tous.

Thanks Josette, I knew i could rely on you! xx

Thanks Wendy; great idea!I am working on a list and will try tp post it in a day or two. Input and feedback appreciated naturellement.

Je lis, tu lis, elle lit, nous lisons, vous lisez, ils lisent....

Get Plateforme by Michel Houellebecq. He is France's Martin Amis, and writes clearly without trying to show off his elegant prose, the vice of far too many *great* French writers.

Hi Colin

we had to read l'Etranger by Albert Camus for A level and it is easily readable from the language point of view but it took hours of patience to grasp the meaning of the book.

Bryan Ansell is spot on with his advice but I read the translations of books by Ruth Rendall to start with. Georges Simenon is another writer from Belgium in the same style.

Marcel Pagnol with his "La gloire de mon père" is also uncomplicated reading and if you would like some social comment about kids in rough neighbourhoods, I really enjoyed "chiens perdus sans collier" by Gilbert Cesbron.

A friend gave me 'Parallel Text short stories in French/ nouvelles en francais' edited by Richard Coward ISBN 978-014-026543-9. The stories are modern, getting progressively more 'difficult', but it does mean you don't get bogged down in a lot of old fashioned words you are unlikely to use at this stage. One page is English, the facing page French, and it shows that it is impossible to translate everything directly. The stories are adult and not dummed down.

Hi Colin, I can recommend Claude Michelet's trilogy starting with 'Des Grives aux Loups' about the Vialhe family of farmers in rural France. They are my French husband's favourite books and we also have the DVD of the tele series which was made in the 80s. They are not only a great read but also a great insight into French agricultural life and its progression. I read them years ago in English and am working my way through them now in French. They are easy reading but Michelet tells a great story. We even have a daughter called Mathilde after one of the main characters! Good luck anyway. x

When I first wanted to read in french, a bi-lingual friend advised me to NOT read with a dictionary at my side but rather read like little kids would read a book that’s too old for them - they still seem to get the gist of it - and it’s amazing how often the context of the story tends to reveal the meaning of the words that you don’t know.

I tried ‘37.2〫le matin’ (known to us as ‘Betty Blue’) but it was a struggle, so then switched to Pagnol’s ‘Jean de Florette’ and ‘Manon des Sources’ and what a wonderful read that was, and there are the 2 wonderful films to back up the books - if you haven’t already seen them, of course - magnificent! I then simply HAD to go to Provence to search out the locations: the real places and the ones used for filming too. A truly memorable holiday.

If I might also recommend a tip re’ grammar/text books: try some of the ones the French would use for learning English. One of my favourites is ‘Pratique de l’Anglais de A à Z’. It’s helpful to see our language from the other point of view; you can look up ‘should’ for example, and take a trip along the rocky road to incorporating that into your french.

I’ve enjoyed reading the suggestions in this post and I’m sure that, as well as Colin, I’ll find some of them very useful myself, so thank you one and all.

Marcel Pagnol was suggested by several people but the copies of his books at the library were close-typed and small font, and my eyes just wont cope with that.I'll look out for something with larger type or buy it for the Kindle: you can have any font size you want with that.

I did join and took out L'Olympe des Infortunes by Yasmina Khadra. This was a heart over head decision I immediately regreted so I am making a start on the book my wife took out - far easier - Le voleur d'ombres by Marc Levy.

Would there be any interest in a SFN bookclub, do you think?

and he avoids using the passé simple ;-)

wordreference is one of the better on-line dictionaries + it's backed up by translators - see the forums for each entry BUT beware, sometimes it's way off track on specific stuff ;-)

miam miam !

With beer batter?

Worcester sauce, now there's an idea!!!

Steady on though Terry or I'll set the mother-in-law on you (she's the one that rears the ducks, kills them and makes the foie gras, kills the pig too and makes very good saucisson... she'd go ams at the thought of sauce on her produce ;-O

à +

I agree with Bryan any transalations of English/American authors but those who you really like, in my case it was Michael Connelly, Lillian Jackson Braun, Armistead Maupin & PD James, keep it light to begin with, after 20 yrs in France the only author's I appreciate are Gide & Zola

The parallel texts are a very good suggestions, I used them at some point when I was learning English, Spanish and Italian. By the way, the Easy readers also exist for Spanish, Italian and Greek.