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    Hey Coquette, I have to give you credit -- I'm convinced that Houellebecq's latest book must be some incredibly difficult read! Quite a few people I know read it, but its subject matter simply isn't my cup o'tea... I've realized more and more in recent years that literary taste really IS very personal, and that books which others have loved aren't necessarily going to be the ones you will love. I have fallen back on recommendations from people who really hit my taste on the mark the first time around, and I've gone back for more suggestions! I recently became a big fan of Murakami, especially Norwegian Wood...

    Speaking of which, strangely enough I prefer reading his books in FRENCH! And I'm American! I can totally relate to where you're coming from, though, because when I first finished my French degree I still couldn't read an entire French novel for pleasure, by choice, of my own accord! It took digging up a few authors that really struck my fancy, and making my way through the books fairly quickly, to convince me that reading in French really could be a pleasure. So now I rotate back and forth between French and English, depending on my mood. Although it STILL takes me much longer to finish a French novel!

    Oh, and by the way, really enjoy your blog! I think this is the first time I've commented, and look at how I've droned on forever and ever... Sorry about that! I live vicariously through you and your fashion gigs -- looks to me like you have an excellent fashion career ahead of you, and I envy that! (I enjoy fashion from the sidelines and have a bit of a humdrum day job, but well, I can't complain -- I'm living in France, which was always a dream of mine!)

    Congrats for persevering! I need to pick up another language for a job I want but am terrified of even trying.

    Congrats! But oh, I do feel sorry for your having to read Houellebecq even if I don't have ovaries. Couldn't read "Les Particules Élémentaires."

    I feel for you. I really really do.

    I read French at a reasonable rate but passed on buying the latest Houllebecq when I saw it at a bookshop in Oxford. Just as well it seems. Well done for finishing it, but there are less painful things to read, you know. :-D

    Book club? Where? When?

    I really enjoyed this post and I'm looking forward to hearing more about the book club. Can anyone suggest some contemporary French literature? I need to practice my French too because I, like Coquette, grew up in a French home where no French was spoken! Alas...

    I adore you for that sentence to your cousin Jeanne. I will arrive.... J'arrive. Oh the franglais I could say :)

    And you arent the only one who avoids reading in french. I watch TV for now that is enough :)

    I just took a graduate literature class in French and I had not taken a French class in four years. Here is a hint to getting through the books - find a great online dictionary this way you don't have to flip through pages. It really made it a lot easier for me to get through Victor Hugo's L'homme qui rit. I found a bunch of great free online dictionaries through yahoo.

    Before you go, here, take this Coquette, it's a book by Anna Gavalda. No, no I insist. You must read it, it will do you good. Really, you should try it.

    Ha! I have Gavalda's "Je voudrais que quelqu'un m'attende quelque part" collecting dust under my bed. It was, of course, loaned to me. Oh, the shame!

    lets be brutally honest- most people struggle to read novels in their native language so i wouldn't worry...

    do u still have french lessons?

    i read in french when i can't sleep...*hangs head in shame*

    I read French better than I speak it, which is not saying much at all. I have to look through the dictionary as well, and most often than not, I get really bored. I really like Milan Kundera, and I read one of his French works last summer. I can't even remember the plot. I read a lot of books too, but mostly English ones. Perserve! I applaud you!

    Aww Coquette... I am French and am an avid reader in the language of Molière... and I couldnt get to the end of "La Possibilite d'une Ile"! Way too slow for my taste. I don't think i even reached your speed of 20 pages per hour But now you have motivated me to finish it ;-)

    I think you should also try reading less "tough" books, more "fun" books that have more plot? This way you'll be eager to turn the pages to find out what happens and you'll pick up on vocab at the same time. If you want a list of recommendations, shoot me an email!

    "I will arrive" c'est parfait!

    Oh my god, of all the books to read in french... I feel for you.

    haaha It's so funny to read you literally translate "J'ai peur!"

    I know you didn't ask for advice, but...well, isn't this just the beauty of the internet: I found that reading easy books really improved my reading fluency. For me, classic children's literature (like Narnia, the Secret Garden) - they're surprisingly easy. It trained me to read more quickly in french, which makes getting through the tough stuff easier. ...when I actually pick the tough stuff up...

    Oh, and whenever I relate these literal translations of conversations to english speakers, I always give myself a general foreign accent to really drive home the fact that I sound like a dumb stranger.

    Congratulations! Houellebecq isn't the easiest to read in french, even for french people...If you liked him I advise you another one french contemporary author named Frédéric Beigbeder...You can try to read my blog too...If you want my next comment here will be in french...

    Being French and an avid reader of books in English, I would recommend just skeeping the "dico" altogether. "Just read it!" You are bound to understand if not all and you'll be freed from the pain of getting out and back in the story...

    Although if I had kept one dico with me, I would have "skipped" the spelling mistake... ;-)

    By the way, your blog makes great reading!

    how about you start with petite spirou, or cedric...maybe that would be easier:)
    Your dad must be sooo proud:)
    you're an awesomely funny writer!

    I agree with Athena, I also read French better than I speak French, which is DEF not saying much. When I attempt to read French books, (hardly ever anymore) I scour the dictionary the entire time, losing the overall story to each individual word. I do like the translated novels with English on one side of the page and French on the other, it's sort of like reading subtitles while watching a movie.

    This was hysterical. Especially imagining what you sound like in French. And yes, me and my ovaries are groaning in sympathy that you were subjected to Houellebecq.

    hhmmm, my boyfriends insistence that i read in italian (i so enjoy my books--IN ENGLISH) is enough to make want to kill him. 'cuz i think he's right...

    Easiest to read (in terms of cleanest prose) was always Camus. Course there is the side effect of getting totally bummed out-- but he was a revolutionary in his use of passe compose-- so when I was studying (lo those many years ago) it was always the easiest to digest. I love me some Moliere but damn-- that's like elizabethan English-- and yeah, style wise, give me Camus over Proust-- what can I say? Long sentences give me hives.

    But excessively LONGGGGG ass comments? Oh, I'm fine with that.

    every once in a while i force myself to read something in french, spanish or italian just so that i don't forget how to do it.

    Oh, Coquette, I have fear, too, when I talk with my family in France. For me, it is my mother who was French. My father was an American soldier stationed in Paris at the end of WWII, and as they say, the rest is history.

    I love your website! Mon grand-père used to call me "ma coquette" and "ma coquine." Now I am wondering what these two words mean. I always thought they were just terms of endearment. Does anybody know?

    I don't need the dictionary when read in French, but I avoid it as well. Reading in English is just so, well, cozy. I don't think that will ever change.

    I have a few french books on my shelf- most of which I abandoned half way through from sheer boredom. The French are good at many things, but writing trashy, thrilling throw-away books is not one of them. Saying that however, I did read and like both Hell by Lolita Pill (and since the movie has just come out, how timely to read this one...) and L'egoiste romantique by Beigbeder (reminded me of ex-blogger Schuey...).

    Frankly, I have fear, Jeanne!

    I love it. Too funny! Great post.

    And it's just as fun to read your comments. I even learned something! Beigbeder = Chaos

    It's good to know there are people out there even *trying* to read in another languages...not to mention their native language...!

    Beigbeder is to Houellebecq as Eggers is to Coetzee.

    Congrats on reading french.

    Je cherchais un site de fahion et j'ai trouvé le tien! Quelle surprise de lire "Don't hate me because I live Paris"!
    Moi, j'habite Toulouse et j'adorerais vivre à Paris, mêm s'il y a plus de soleil chez moi que dans la capitale.
    J'ai pas eu le temps de lire un seul article (t'inquiète pas, je me débrouille un peu en anglais), mais j'ai une requête à te demander: vu que tu as vécu aux USA, pourrais tu m'aider à devenir bilingue? Et, en échange, je pourrais t'aider en français (si tant est que tu es du mal en français, bien sûr!).
    Parce que, même si j'ai que 18 ans, il semble qu'on est beaucoup de points communs (j'a-do-re les chaussures!!!!!).
    Désolée de t'avoir dérangé pour ça, si tu veux, tu peux me contacter à mon adresse e-mail.

    P.S.: I hope you understand french, I'm too tired to translate those sentences!


    I like Houellebecq lots better than Flaubert. It takes Flaubert eighty meaningless words to say what could be said in just two, whereas Houellebecq's words actually mean something. And he is so pessimistic! Houellebecq at least has a utopian hope...

    Besides, I think Houellebecq is actually impartial. He hates everybody.

    What's going on in the Left Bank; with all the rioting?

    I'm so glad you're doing that; you're making your life richer.

    I really enjoyed Houellebecq's "Extension du domaine de la lutte".
    As for "La Possibilité d'une île", I hate to quote myself, but I will make an exception:
    "ça ressemble à du Valéry Giscard d'Estaing sous poppers..."
    Good luck with the reading :-)

    Oh, and I forgot to add, if it wasn't clear from my semi-cryptic post... I have ovaries and I adore Houellebecq. One of the greater novelists of our time. His best work might be "extension du domaine de la lutte," which is oddly translated in english as "whatever."

    Ah, how I miss the Frenchspeak.

    Schuey was compared to one of the greater novelists of our time? Ew.

    To petite and all of you who want to train their french:
    If you want to read french, you can begin with translated english books (is that englaish?): the french version of a book you have already read is a good practise.
    Then, you can read some contemporary authors like Marc Levy (with "Et si c'était vrai..."), Bernard Werber ("Nous, les dieux"),...

    If someone wants more informations, just e-mail me at this adress: [email protected]


    PLEASE, could you guys stop recommending ANY book by Marc Levy. If you're intent on learning french, you should at least read someone who actually KNOWS how the language is written. Try Jean-Philippe Blondel (Accès Direct à la plage) Frédéric Beigbeder (L'Amour dure trois ans) or Laurent Mauvignier (Apprendre à finir). And I find the idea of reading a book translated in English positively stupid: Translation almost always loses half the style of writing and unique expressions that will, eventually, make the difference between trying to blabber in French or actually mastering the language, AND, the best way to learn a language is to STOP translating from your mother tongue and actually begin to think in that foreign language. The completely different grammar structures of French and English makes it quite obligatory to do so... Thus said...

    First of all, I don't think Marc Levy is a bad author (even if Stephen Spielberg film was a mistake!).
    Secondly, when you just begin learning a language, that's a stupid idea to read specialist books: doing step by step is better. Translation is really subjected, I accord it, but read a book you don't understand a word is worth.
    So, I can't agree you when you write this, sorry!

    Not the place for a litterary debate.

    Anyways, I don't see how Beigbeder, Mauvignier and Blondel are "Specialist" writers. The big mistake in learning a new language would be to think that you have to begin with "easy" stuff. As long as the text or book is interesting, you can read anything.

    I should know, I have been teaching French as a foreign language for 2 and a half years. Then again, the titles I suggested are not too 'difficult'.

    And, last but not least, Marc Lévy IS a crappy, crappy, half-assed and BADLY written novelist. 'Nuff said

    "And, last but not least, Marc Lévy IS a crappy, crappy, half-assed and BADLY written novelist. 'Nuff said"

    That's so true. I would say what he writes is "neuneu" and "cucul la praline".

    I think Beigbeder is a total twat... hence I had no qualms about Schuey being compared to him. ;p

    You know, I' a french student and when I have learning stuff all day long, I don't what to read Beigbeder. I prefer "easy" novel, I have already headache!
    But, that's not because I' sick of Beigbeder that I tell he isn't a good author, that's not my style, that's all.
    All this to say that if you prefer Beigbeder, say it, but don't think the authors you don't like are crappy, that's too subjected!
    And, for all who like chck litt', don't be frightened to say it, the life is too dark to not assume what you like!

    I don't want to argue, by the way, I just want to express my opinions and to assume it.
    Bye, and smile!

    Ok cyrielle, but if you need "easy" novels to read, at least try "Accès direct à la plage" by Jean-Philippe Blondel, it's easy, it's fantastic, and way way WAY better than anything Levy has ever dreamt of writing...

    OK, I will read this novel and I would be able to compare!
    See you then!

    Please, tell me when I do english mistakes!

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