Jump to content
Complete France Forum

What do you read in French?


JeremyTaylor

Recommended Posts

I'm curious to know what people read in French, either for pleasure, or to improve their French. I'm sure that reading is a great way to improve your language skills but it should be done in a pleasureable way, don't sit down with some Dumas and a dictionary, get something that you can read with no more than 2-3 new words per page. I lived in France for 5 years and wrote three short novels in very easy French while I was there. (Parce que je t'aime and L'amour par Internet are selling like hot croissants, the third, Bruno et l'amour, will be out in September). I'd love to hear what the first book you read in French was, and whether you actually finished it. Do you still read? If so, what? I look forward to reading you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The first unsimplified adult  French book I read was "Regain" by Jean Giorno, recommended to me by Gengulphus from this Forum.  To avoid having to look in the dictionary all the time, I bought the same book in English and read the two books chapter by chapter as a parallel text.

Before that I'd only read the usual Maigrets and Agatha Christies and before that again, I was reading books aimed at children and adolescents.  The vocab was a bit well childish and adolescentish but I learned lots and got used to past tenses, etc.

One of my favourite books is still le Petit Prince and I went to an exhibition of St Exupéry's works earlier this month.  He was quite a remarkable man and his war experiences were very interesting to read about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't read books for pleasure in French. I read the local daily rag for amusement and info..

French is my second language, I use it every day for work, club activities and general socialising.  For work and car club I have to deal with a lot of technical and legal French. It's not a problem for me, but when I fancy a relaxing read I always chose a book in English.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mostly newspapers and magazines for me - keeping up with what's on in the sports car world and the cinema is more relevant in French than in English.  But for relaxation, mostly I read in English because I'm speaking French all day now during the week and it comes more naturally to read books in English.   When I first arrived and was trying to reawaken my French I did read a few French translations of novels I knew (Dick Francis, Robert B Parker) well in English but I rarely do now that I'm using French so much on a daily basis.

My physio is currently reading English books, and she tells me that she finds the Famous Five perfect for learning English - might be some sort of a clue!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote user="cooperlola"]

My physio is currently reading English books, and she tells me that she finds the Famous Five perfect for learning English - might be some sort of a clue!

[/quote]

Well, the children do say things like, "I say, Julian old chap, I beg to disagree...." and some of the French must think that all English people speak like that.

I read a Poirot book in French recently (thank you, Swissie, I will look after it and return it) and laughed my head off when they were saying things like he was dressed in "un costume du Tweed"!

In one of the garden scenes, I was just waiting for the description, she had "un trug des fleurs dans la main" but alas, they didn't go that far![:(]

By the way, what is the French for a "trug"?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you ever tried a San Antonio? If you think you are fluent, and that your French vernacular is quite good - try it. You'll find 10000s on book stalls - bonne chance.

Slang,  invented and distorted words and expressions (especially English style. Can you guess what 'dans l'cul Paris Match' = ?  Or proverbs like 'vieux motard que j'aimais' for ' mieux vaut tard que jamais'). Not for the faint hearted or beginners.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mostly catalogues etc in French - Odd legal bits about development, rules about plumbing and electricity etc. It is very hard work for me to read for relaxation in French. Some Jules Verne because I like early science fiction. Like reading C.S.Forester and Conan Doyle in French in part because I know the plots well and so do not have to worry about the specialist vocab. Any Chester Himes I can get my hands on - will read James Baldwin - but find him very hard to empathise with - read Giovanni's Room when I was about 14. Henri de Montfried and any thing by Antonne St Expury except 'The Little Prince'

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote user="Swissie"]Have you ever tried a San Antonio? If you think you are fluent, and that your French vernacular is quite good - try it. You'll find 10000s on book stalls - bonne chance.
Slang,  invented and distorted words and expressions (especially English style. Can you guess what 'dans l'cul Paris Match' = ?  Or proverbs like 'vieux motard que j'aimais' for ' mieux vaut tard que jamais'). Not for the faint hearted or beginners.
[/quote]

I think I can guess two out of three. But it is a bit like mentioning the office bike in English. Or dropping yuor pants in German

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I try to read a national and a local paper each day.  I also try to read books - not fiction, but because I like French history, I try to read biographies and general history books.  I find new books very expensive, but have found it is possible to pick up second hand books relatively cheaply.  I also find the "for nuls" books quite good for certain things.  Unfortunately, my passive French (reading and understanding) is much, much better than my active French (speaking) as my brain doesn't work quickly enough to keep up with the conversation. [:(]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dans l'c...     is his version of Thank you very much, in fact.

Anyway, no great literature - but still the best test of anybody's fluency in popular French. The author is Frédéric Dard. I'll challenge you to try - MDR.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Local newspapers, anything that drops through my boite à lettres (being of course free) newsleters from the community de communes, notaires newletters etc, I subscribe to the particulier magazine but wont renew as most of the stuff is not actually news to me. Car magazines and anything of a general interest that I can pick up from a rédérie.

I once ventured into a librairie and found a book on local macabre history that was very tempting  until I saw the price €30 for a paperback [:-))].

I try to find books in my local bibliothéque that are informative on subjects that I am passionate about, that way they are not so much hard work to read, one I really enjoyed was "Les îles heureuses d'Océanie : le Pacifique à la pagaie" by Paul Therou, I had it booked out for 9 months as when I had finally finished it I re-read it a second time and got a lot more from it as my vocabulary had increased, it was my first real exposure to the past historic tense.

Since then I have read the Frecnh language versions of some books that I really enjoyed the English version of but then wanted to read in the untranslated original text, Papillon by Henri Charriére was a joy and I am currently reading "Le mort d'un general" (The birds of prey) by John Ralston Saul.

I have to agree, and sadly admit, that the majority of books that I read for pleasure are in English.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote user="Thibault"]

Unfortunately, my passive French (reading and understanding) is much, much better than my active French (speaking) as my brain doesn't work quickly enough to keep up with the conversation. [:(]

[/quote]

I can keep up with the conversation easily and even manage to keep track when (as usual) everybody is talking/shouting at the same time, but its another quantum leap to be able to join in the conversation because I am either ignored or not heard by those that prefer the sound of their own voice.  I am not willing to shout down the others in order to be heard, people think that I am timid, in fact only yesterday I received a drunken lecture on how I must overcome this, I tried to explain that I wasnt and what the real problem was but without being heard.

I do find one on one conversations much easier for the simple fact the other person may actually allow me to find my own words (usually after I have chastised them) but when I pause for a second in a group conversation I have several people simultaneously trying to finish my sentence for me as if I had a stammer impedeing them from continuing with the important business of what they have to say.

What is most frustrating is most of the time they actually say very little as pretty much every third word is eeuuuh...................... and the trailing eeuuuuh............ is automatically added to any word ending in an E or a consonant. Or they will just indicate an object, person, or subject followed by eeuuuuh................ expecting you to be telepathic and understand and most importantly agree with their unspoken opinion, which in this case is always negative.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cher Chancer, euh.. ne sois pas négatif comme ça  euhhh /......   Tu te débrouilles très bien en français euh......

[:)][;-)][:P]

You know, the situation is the same for me in let's say, a pub in England, people take it for granted that I understand, but when there are different conversations going on around me, I get lost and then I feel daft !!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote user="Frenchie"]

Cher Chancer, euh.. ne sois pas négatif comme ça  euhhh /......   Tu te débrouilles très bien en français euh......

[:)][;-)][:P]

 

[/quote]

MDR! MDR! MDR! LOL! LOL! LOL!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chancer, I quite agree with you.  And nowhere is it more in evidence than at our local council meetings and it's not just me (the lone english councillor) who finds it annoying.  One person starts talking (usually the mayor) and is soon joined by at least three or four other counsillors all talking together and across each other.  The net result is that no-one listens to anyone (they are all defending their opinions) and a council meeting which should be over is an hour and a half, takes at least two and a half hours. And rarely are decisions taken. 
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote user="Gemonimo"]Chancer, I quite agree with you.  And nowhere is it more in evidence than at our local council meetings and it's not just me (the lone english councillor) who finds it annoying.  One person starts talking (usually the mayor) and is soon joined by at least three or four other counsillors all talking together and across each other.  The net result is that no-one listens to anyone (they are all defending their opinions) and a council meeting which should be over is an hour and a half, takes at least two and a half hours. And rarely are decisions taken. [/quote]

I have been invited to sit in on a couple of different commitee meetings in France with a view to taking up a role and what you describe not only seems par for the course but to be the objective.

Coming from a (by comparison) dynamic business background I found them completely frustrating and didnt want to get involved but I got the impression that everyone else throughly enjoys themselves having a bit of power or infleunce that they lack in their main jobs.

Frenchie.

I was back at the eye hospital today and explaining something to the opthalmo when he said I could speak in English if I wished, I told him that I preferred to speak French (as usual) and that he must ask me to explain again if what i say doesnt make sense etc.

To my surprise he "I would prefer you to speak English as my French is very poor"! He was a Saudi-Arabian who has been here less time than I have, it was very bizzare after all this time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...