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Stinley's avatar

Recommendations for easy book to read in french?

Asked by Stinley (5906 points ) February 27th, 2014

I’m learning French and I love reading. Does anyone have any books that they can recommend? I need simple language but would get bored with children’s stories

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9 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It may seem like a child’s book, but it really isn’t.

gailcalled's avatar

@zenvelo: You beat me to it. My first choice also.

Jean-Paul Sartre wrote some short stories and the play, Huis Clos that are pretty straight-forward but perhaps too advanced for a beginner.

His collection of short stories is Les Mouches.(short_story_collection)

thorninmud's avatar

One really useful way to go about this is to read works in parallel translation (French on one page, English on the facing page). Here’s an example. This way, you’re not limited to juvenile texts, you’re not constantly reaching for the dictionary, and you get the sense of idiomatic speech that a word-for-word translation can’t give you.

On the downside, the selection of these is quite limited.

Stinley's avatar

I have read Le Petit Prince in English but I didn’t really get it :-(

I like that idea @thorninmud. I am not a big short story fan but I think it’s because I am a fast reader and there’s just not enough to satisfy me normally, However this is not so in French so they might actually be perfect.

I was thinking about the Quick Reads books for adult readers that are not so confident – something like that would be good but they are only in English

zenvelo's avatar

You could also get Inspector Maigret stories by Georges Simenon. Not terribly complicated French although it is idiomatic, which is actually how one really learns a language.

Stinley's avatar

@RocketGuy that looks pretty funny. I have ordered it!

Stinley's avatar

@zenvelo I will look at Maigret. I’m not very good at reading ‘classic’ literature :-(

wildpotato's avatar

Le Comte de Monte Cristo. This is not an exact translation but is an adapted version for intermediate/advanced students. I found it an enjoyable and optimally challenging read back in high school.

Also, get yourself the French original and English translation(s) of most any article or short story in a subject matter that interests you, then – with a dictionary, at least at first – try your hand at translating it yourself and compare your result with the already-published one(s). I used this method to translate Montaigne, Descartes, even Proust, and it’s not as hard as you might think – I found it to be almost like playing a puzzle game. If you have a group that does this weekly with the same article and then meets to compare notes, it can be very helpful, plus you get into a lot of fun little linguistic debates.

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