Help me be a bookworm en francais.
March 19, 2010 9:00 AM   Subscribe

I need help building my French-language library. I'm looking for good books in French that aren't too tough for someone who isn't used to the language. All genres are welcome, but non-fiction and YA especially.

One of the upshots of the way I learnt French is that I just didn't read much, and that's impeding my grasp of the language. So I'm looking for books that are interesting and engaging without being too difficult in terms of language- so most of the classics are out.

I'm an eclectic reader in English, but I particularly love history, fantasy, non-fiction (Outliers, Freakonomics, and the like), YA (think Animorphs, Chalet School, CHERUB, Alex Rider) and chick lit (more Meg Cabot than Stephanie Plum, though.)

So any recommendations for books in those genres, or really, anything that isn't too literary but still well written would be fantastic.
posted by Tamanna to Writing & Language (13 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
My earlier question has some good suggestions. If you've not read Le Petit Prince that's a great start, and I can thoroughly recommend some French comic books, particularly Les Quatre Fleuves, anything by Guy Delisle, and the Kaboul Disco books by Nicolas Wild.
posted by handee at 9:08 AM on March 19, 2010

L'Etranger seems all fancy-pants but I didn't think it was actually that difficult, and I'm not fully fluent in French. Plus, it's a great book.
posted by sallybrown at 9:21 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know a bunch of (adult) language learners (including some people learning French) who read the Harry Potter series in their respective languages. Don't know if that's exactly what you're looking for, but everyone I know has been pretty happy with it.
posted by brainmouse at 9:25 AM on March 19, 2010

I read and enjoyed Les Jeux sont faits, by Sartre. It's a screenplay so it's not very difficult to read (a lot of dialogue, some description). It's about two soulmates who don't meet until after death, and are given the chance to live again to change that... but get caught up again in their life dramas.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:29 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

sans famille by hector malot is a great read.
posted by kimyo at 9:43 AM on March 19, 2010

Jean-Marie le Clezio - I think you know that name - uses pristine prose. If I were you, I would read some children books written by famous writers : Daniel Pennac, Jean-Marie le Clezio, and then move on to their adult oriented works.
You can check all theses websites : French Foreign Office page on Books (links to past pages on the left). Telerama (magazine) website books page with a list of the journalists' favourite books (many foreign books, but many French recent books also, reeditions included as well - they often review children books or comics, but interesting ones). A plus d'un titre is a very interesting Public Radio Program, you can listen to some of the past programs, and check the list of their guests, and then double-cross on the amazon French website (which includes user's opinions) to have a clue... L'atelier Littéraire is another interesting program.
I don't know how to say... A real must-listen-to if you're into French Culture (but maybe you know that one) is Le Masque et la Plume, a weekly program which has been broadcasted live for 55 years now. It features several critics who give their opinion on a few works and then discuss them, sometimes confront one another. This is especially funny when two critics give two completely different opinions in a few minutes interval. I gave you the link to their archives, each program theme (films, plays, books) is specified. Again, French works and foreign works are discussed. The three programs have podcast feeds that you can find on their own page (abonnez-vous au podcast).
posted by nicolin at 10:51 AM on March 19, 2010

Two previous questions were very similar to yours, especially the first one:

Recommend some French-language books (or sites) for a intermediate French-learner.

Recommend me some french comics or kids books!
posted by k. at 11:18 AM on March 19, 2010

posted by Confess, Fletch at 11:18 AM on March 19, 2010

You might also like either the simply written, short books by Annie Ernaux (autobiographical stuff, deep and grim) or Christian Bobin (christian oriented writer).
posted by nicolin at 11:20 AM on March 19, 2010

You know, there's no reason why you can't order French translations of the books you like in English (sure, you won't get exposure to French culture but you'll be reading something vaguely familiar to you and this will help you pick up on the little linguistic tics French has).

For example, I'm learning German and I've been watching the second Batman film with Heath Ledger.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 2:40 PM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I learned French as an adult and Et si c'etait vrai (Marc Dery) was a good read for me. It was made into a Hollywood film (Just Like Heaven) a few years ago.
posted by Cuke at 7:19 PM on March 19, 2010

Astérix le Gaulois: French, check; history, check; fantasy, check; YA, check. A series of graphic novels.
posted by gentilknight at 9:44 PM on March 19, 2010

For some reason, it was fairly easy for me to find French translations of Agatha Christie. Her language tends to be simple and direct, with lots of action to help you figure out words in context.

I also read Alexander Dumas Three Musketeers and the sequel in French - again good story and easy to follow if I didn't know all the words.
posted by metahawk at 11:16 PM on March 19, 2010

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