A spontaneous challenge: Summer in Other Languages

As part of my personal language learning goals, I’ve decided to challenge myself to read only French for my pleasure reading in the month of July. I’m pleased the lovely Emma of Words and Peace has agreed to join me for a buddy read of Complètement cramé by the popular contemporary novelist Gilles Legardinier. Paris in July, hosted by Thyme for Tea, is an annual celebration of all things French, so I’m going to join in that for some inspiration and companionship as well.

Some other books I have on hand to choose from:

  • Toucher la vie by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Ta deuxième vie commence quand tu comprends que tu n’en as qu’une by Raphaëlle Giordano
  • Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • L’étranger by Albert Camus
  • Les plus belles contes de Suisse by Edith Montelle
  • Le chien jaune by Georges Simenon
  • Candide by Voltaire

I’m sure I won’t get to all of these, but to complete even one or two within a month would be an accomplishment for me. I shall also be trying to read more articles, blog posts and such, in an effort to boost my compréhension du français.

It occurred to me that perhaps you’d also like to challenge yourself to something else in a language other than your mother tongue, and reflect on the experience. That could of course be English — I know there are a lot of you amazing multilingual bloggers out there — or it could be a language you’re currently learning or learned in the past. It would be wonderful to hear from a variety of perspectives, and to celebrate many linguistic streams. Vive la différence!

So here is an invitation to read something in another language this summer, and if you wish, challenge yourself to meet one of the following goals:

Level 1: Tourist
Read one book in a language other than your mother tongue.

Level 2: Long-term visitor
Spend an entire month reading books in another language (total of two or more).

Level 3: Immersion
Spend the whole summer reading books in another language.

Does this challenge appeal to you at all? What would you read, and in what language? What level would you aim for? I hope you’ll share your plans with us, and let us know how you did at the end of the summer. I’ll be checking in to see how it’s going and to share my own progress.

26 thoughts on “A spontaneous challenge: Summer in Other Languages

  1. I am tempted. I have a few books in Flemish – also the public library is available to me! – but am too lazy to read them in place of an English book without some sort of prod. This might be the prod!

    I haven’t even heard of some of your possible reads, so look forward to seeing what you make of them…


      1. Yes there are – in fact the Belgians are very proud of their comic-strip history (and always amazed that British people have only ever heard of TinTin). That’s a great idea!


  2. Good luck with this! I couldn’t do it, even though I’ve been living for 40 years in a country where the main language isn’t my mother tongue. My dyslexia keeps me from reading in a foreign language.


  3. No, not really (never seem to have the opportunity to listen to them, to be honest. I’m the worst housekeeper on earth; my commute to work is short, and I only go into the office a couple times a week; my exercise is done in a class (if at all), and; any long-distance driving is usually with my husband who can read in both languages). But I get your point – I could certainly listen to a book in Hebrew rather than read it.


  4. Wow, brilliant idea! I don’t think my French would stand up to a whole book nowadays, and my Spanish isn’t there yet although maybe I could commit to working my way through one of my Spanish magazines!


  5. What a great idea! I’ve got quite a few women in translation this summer, but maybe I will read a couple in the original (Romanian, German and French are the languages I can cope with).


  6. I think I can commit to reading one book in French in July, although I have more than one on my shelves. Harry Potter is my first choice, but your mention of Voltaire reminds me that I have Candide as another option, not to mention a few very old French readers handed down to me from my grandmother. But — tourist level is the best I can hope for, with too many other things going on. Let’s see what happens!


  7. Last week I started reading a rather long book in French, because it hasn’t been translated. It’s been a long time since I used the language very much. It would be much harder except that I discovered on Kindle you can download a French dictionary (definitions are in French) which means you don’t leave the page or open some other book to get the meaning of a word. Fortunately I only have to do that once or twice per page, but it’s so fast it really helps with comprehension, and I”m almost finished with the book now.


    1. KIndles are cool. I’m still resisting the Evil Empire by not getting one, but I may cave at some point. The dictionary feature is really tempting.


  8. I decided to join in even though I am still so new with Spanish. I read Buenas Noches Luna several months ago, but then went into a slump with my studies. I recommitted in June and picked up La Isla de Abel (Abel’s Island), by William Steig for later. But maybe this is a good time to just dig in?


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