Sunday, January 22, 2012

Reading French


(As a side note which may end up taking over this World, we're in Hong Kong! And I'm valiantly catching up with French, hence this World's title and subject. After all… this is called 'write YOUR world,' not 'write THE world.' At some point when I find a really interesting cultural subject I'll write about it, but there isn't much in China we've seen that's interesting past Chinese New Year, and I haven't experienced that yet.)

In December, during my near-obsession with creating challenges for myself during 2012 (and the days afterward), I decided I was going to actually learn French.

The first step, I decided, would be to easily comprehend the language. And for that I needed a large amount of material. What better way than to read a classic in French? Not only would it get a classic novel off my to-read list, I'd also be learning French at the same time!

I chose Les Trois Mousquetaires by Alexandre Dumas to be my book. It's about 900 pages (you can't say I shirk!), but it's a classic, and I've got six months in which to read it in.

I have the FreeBooks app on my iPod touch (best. Application. Ever.). It offers about 20,000 free books— most of them were published pre-1923, but there are books in German, French, and I think even Spanish. Most, of course, are in English. They are all free once you buy the app, which I think costs 99-499 cents. A BARGAIN. The only problem with the application is that when you search for one book, you end up downloading at least three. Titles, it seems, are very alluring.

Anyway, the Freebooks app uses pages— I use the page marks on the middle-sized text setting in order to decide how much French I'm going to read each day. On average, I'd need to read 17 pages a day. I'm reading 35 pages a day the first week, 42 the next, 49 the week after, etc. After all, at the beginning, it takes a lot longer to read 5 pages than it will at the end.

The plan was practically fool-proof. 5 pages took about 20 minutes, more or less, and I always have about three hours of complete free time each day. EASY, right?

Wrong. On January 6th I stopped reading. This was a mixture of laziness and 'better things to do,' and without realizing it I slipped further and further and further behind.

Very bad when I want to read 366 books this year. I had to catch up. 

I enlisted the iPad as a dictionary and the iPod as the book, and decided to read at least 12 pages a day until I caught up.

I started reading… and read 23 without any sort of 'gah… when will this be over?'

I even decided that the English translation I have sucks in comparison to the French. It feels too old compared to the 'newness' of the French version. 

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