Books I've Read in Another Language

Hello all!


Today I want to share some foreign language reading experiences with you. 

This year, 2020, I experienced a language learning first. I was able to read a book in Dutch, a language I had only been studying for a few months at the time. Without help from Google Translate, I fully understood what was going on and I loved watching the story unfold. I was excited and surprised at myself for being able to do it!

Since then I've started other books, one which is more challenging and one that I'm turning the pages of very quickly. I hope that sharing each book with you and my personal experience with it will help you get some ideas flowing about how to kick your language studies up a notch. So I put together this post to inspire you to find books of your own!

Left: a few of my secondhand foreign language books... or treasures, as I call them.



1. Incendio, aka Playing With Fire 

by Bestselling Crime & Thriller Author, Tess Gerritsen

This was the first book I have ever read in another language. It was thrilling! And not just because it was a thriller, although I think that really attributed to why I was able to finish it. It hooked me from the first chapter. 

Tess Gerritsen has a very easy, straightforward writing style, and I found that that was perfect for me and where I was in my Dutch studies at the time. It was also a very short read, which encouraged me to finish it within a week.

The original title is "Playing With Fire". Try translating the title into your target language, adding "Tess Gerritsen" after it, and see if it's available!





2. Hart Van Inkt, aka Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

This book is very sentimental to me. It was my favorite book around age 12. The main character is a 12 year old girl named Meggie whose dad has a special ability to make fantastical things appear from stories as he reads aloud. She grows up without knowing this about him, because his talent has a dangerous side effect of taking something from the real world to replace whatever comes out. Meggie discovers this and she learns that its the reason her mother has been gone for over a decade. Then she find out that she also has the talent for it. They have fantastic and dangerous adventures battling a greedy villain who forces Meggie's dad, Mo, to read him riches and worldly treasures, keeping the family imprisoned.

When I saw the familiar red spine and title font on a thrift store shelf, I almost squealed out of pure joy. I had left my English copy in the states with my youngest sister, who shows almost as much interest in reading as I did (I devoured every book I could get my hands on). Seeing it again in a language I was currently learning and was growing a love for is a treasured moment I look back on, especially since I was so far from home.

As far as reading comprehension, this one is quite challenging for me to digest in Dutch. It is filled with lovely, descriptive words, the likes of which I've yet to come across in my short time studying Dutch and probably won't ever use. However, I am able to use what I know about the story and the plot to make guesses about words I don't know, which is a very, very good thing to do to use your brain's natural functions in your favor.


3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon... or: Het wonderbaarlijke voorval met de hond in de nacht

This is my most current read. I picked up the first copy in another thrift store in Holland (called kringloopwinkels if you're wondering) and picked up two others within a couple months as well. Like most of my books, all three copies are secondhand. The first time I saw it, I knew I had heard of the title before. I flipped it over and read the back cover, then leafed through the first few pages. What struck me as different about this book is that it is written from the perspective of a 15 year old boy with Aspergers. He likes numbers, facts, and things that make sense. So the sentences are very direct and to the point, making it an easy read in any language. That being said, it's not boring at all. It's funny and charming and interesting. 

I have three copies of this book, two in Dutch and one in English. All found in thrift stores or markets. Currently, I'm reading them side by side: a few chapters in English, a few chapters in Dutch. I usually read the Dutch chapters aloud to myself, just to get extra practice. So far it's been incredibly easy to understand, half because of the way it is written and half because I already know what is being said as I've already read it in English. I'm only on page 40 or so, but I'm already enjoying it immensely.

Luckily, this story has earned international attention, been adapted for Broadway, and is surely available in the language you are studying!


Parting words of advice...

So there you have it! Those are the books I've been reading in my target language. I don't understand every single word I read, but I'm enjoying myself, reading things that interest me and learning along the way, which are the best things you can do for your language studies.

You don't have to spend a bunch of money, either. Do what I do, thrift shop! If your target language isn't widely spoken in your community or area, try online stores. There are tons of libraries and thrift stores who list their items on other websites, like thriftbooks and Amazon.

If you want to explore more options for cheap or free books, check out this blog post from A Dime Saved.

And if you're learning French, make sure to check out these great titles on UrsaReads.com and give her a follow!


Until next time,

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