What Are You Reading? (2018)

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What Are You Reading? (2018)

Postby Dragonbones » Mon Jan 15, 2018 14:30

While in Mexico, I mentioned to my niece (15) that I was looking for something to read in Spanish that didn't have the vosotros form, and she recommended the Hunger Games (Los Juegos del Hambre) trilogy. I wasn't sure I wanted to read the YA (Young Adult) genre, but it's a decent level for me in Spanish, as I don't have to look up too many words, and I get to build up a Spanish library for my boys to read later. I'm halfway through book 3 now. The trilogy isn't bad, for what it is (writing for an older teen audience), but I think I'd get irritated if reading it in English. So, I believe I'll aim a little higher for my next read. Higher than Harry Potter too. I already have the Hobbit and LOTR btw, and a bunch of Agatha Christies.

Does anyone here have any recommendations, particularly in but not necessarily limited to the fantasy, adventure, mystery or sci fi genres, that are better written, at least in terms of plot and character development, which I could look for in Spanish? It doesn't have to be in YA; just not a particularly heavy, seriously literary work. I've got La Ladrona de Libros (The Book Thief) and El Libro del Cementerio (The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman) on the shelf for next, too. And I've heard that the Kingkiller Chronicles, which have been recommended to me, are a better read in English than in Spanish.

Recommendations of original Spanish works are of course welcome. I've got El Libro Salvaje (by Juan Villoro) standing by for after the Hunger Games.
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Re: What Are You Reading? (2018)

Postby jimipresley » Mon Jan 15, 2018 18:37

Have you tried any of Gabriel García Márquezes' stuff in Spanish, DB? Although his writing is dense with allegory, I didn't find the writing dense, deep or difficult in English. And 100 Years of Solitude is my favorite book. Ever.
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Re: What Are You Reading? (2018)

Postby Dragonbones » Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:13

jimipresley wrote:Have you tried any of Gabriel García Márquezes' stuff in Spanish, DB? Although his writing is dense with allegory, I didn't find the writing dense, deep or difficult in English. And 100 Years of Solitude is my favorite book. Ever.


EDIT: Thanks for the suggestion! Although I'm really looking for more straightforward novels first, not the allegory-dense stuff, I do think I'll pick that up and give it a go, since it's your favorite book EVER. (I didn't enjoy it in English class in high school, but that's probably because we were forced to read it.)

However, I'm first focused mostly building an easy Spanish library for my boys, so when they hit their teens, they have some light, popular stuff available (more like Isabel Allende’s El reino del dragón de oro (Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, for instance). I also have her Afrodita (Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses) on the shelf. And I’ve read Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s the Shadow of the Wind (English); might try some of his in Spanish next.
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Re: What Are You Reading? (2018)

Postby Dragonbones » Sat Jan 20, 2018 21:08

I finished the Hunger Games trilogy. I didn't care for the ending, but tastes differ. I liked the first book the most, followed by the second, and then the third. I probably wouldn't have liked it as much in English.

My last three books have been too tragic, too dark. As an attempt to lighten it up a bit, I'm reading Afrodite, Isabel Allende. I've barely made it through the prologue to page one, but I already like her irreverence and witty, often playfully naughty style. It's refreshing.
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Re: What Are You Reading? (2018)

Postby Icon » Sun Jan 21, 2018 00:48

jimipresley wrote:Have you tried any of Gabriel García Márquezes' stuff in Spanish, DB? Although his writing is dense with allegory, I didn't find the writing dense, deep or difficult in English. And 100 Years of Solitude is my favorite book. Ever.


Must have been a pretty clever translation. My first thought at García Marques is hell no. But must be high school test trauma. And the last one I read by him, something something Put as Tristes was about pedophilia. So nope for me.

I read Paolo Coelho in Spanish, heard Adulterio was not bad.
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Re: What Are You Reading? (2018)

Postby Dragonbones » Sun Jan 21, 2018 21:45

Icon, I imagine you're a good one to ask on novels originally in Latin American Spanish, rather than translations from other languages – what would you recommend as an ‘easy or enjoyable read’ for a young adult or adult? I can handle something a little heavier but want to start with books that I can collect for our boys to read after Harry Potter etc. when they hit their teens, and can work up from there. It’s very important for me that they find what’s on the shelf to be accessible, interesting, engaging… because they don’t have Spanish as their natural environment, yet I want to encourage them to read, read, read, to foster their ability in this language.
Back to specifics, for me, Coehlo’s El Alquimista was okay, but I think I’d grow VERY weary of that style if it were repeated. As for Latin American styles and García Márquez, I’m also not particularly into ‘magic realism’, although not against it if the work is otherwise excellent.
And I want to avoid depressing stuff, violent themes. I don’t want to read tragedies about suicides, stillbirths, deaths in childbirth, losing one’s wife or children or parents. All too close to home. Reading, at least for me, should be an escape, not fuel for one’s existing nightmares.
And books where you have to print out or take notes of the family tree to understand the bloody novel? No thanks.

So, any further ideas?
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Re: What Are You Reading? (2018)

Postby Mick » Sun Jan 21, 2018 23:27

I would say it depends on what you look for, TV novels are the ones you can turn the mind of, romance novels for the ladies and a Tom Clancy for the men. You mention Neil Gaiman, and i remember him back when he was making Sandman comics, I have a copy of "American Gods" I bought as a fly by trip and go about 100 pages in, it's hard to not think of his style of writing without the comic picturization that he used to work with.

Gabriel García Márquezes, I read and is fairly easy reading except the names chosen always were so close in my mind I would start to get confused who was being talked about. 100 Years of Solitude definitely not my favorite book, I much preferred "the doors of perception and heaven and hell" or "short stories" by Dostoyevsky, for easy reading but yet thought provoking books. Other authors such as Charles Dickens despite his books story lines being easy and enjoyable to understand, I find his writing to be incredibly boring.

Easy reading, while being along the lines of TV kind of fiction and entertainment is Patricia Cornwell. I went though at least half a dozen books before I was getting bored.

Or if you would like a Spanish theme, Don Quijote de la Mancha is a must.
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Re: What Are You Reading? (2018)

Postby Dragonbones » Mon Jan 22, 2018 08:19

Clancy's a good suggestion, thanks! I tried Don Quijote de la Mancha in Spanish many years ago and it was too hard for me (in part because it's a 400-year-old text), but my vocab has improved a lot, so I'll give it another go in a year or two. Just the first paragraph still has about a dozen words I'd have to look up (I just looked), and that pace isn't much fun.
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Re: What Are You Reading? (2018)

Postby Tempo Gain » Tue Jan 23, 2018 15:49

Just out of curiosity, why would it matter if it had the vosotros form?
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Re: What Are You Reading? (2018)

Postby Icon » Tue Jan 23, 2018 17:22

Dragonbones wrote:Clancy's a good suggestion, thanks! I tried Don Quijote de la Mancha in Spanish many years ago and it was too hard for me (in part because it's a 400-year-old text), but my vocab has improved a lot, so I'll give it another go in a year or two. Just the first paragraph still has about a dozen words I'd have to look up (I just looked), and that pace isn't much fun.


That is triple hell no way Jose. No Quijote.
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Re: What Are You Reading? (2018)

Postby Icon » Tue Jan 23, 2018 17:33

Tempo Gain wrote:Just out of curiosity, why would it matter if it had the vosotros form?


It is not just the vosotros. I mean Spanish from Spain is a whole different animal. I have a Spanish coworker now and lexicon is the first big problem, followed by preferred grammatical forms. It is one billion people speaking Spanish, of which over 500 million are mixing Spanish with local indigenous languages, not to mention the millions in the US mangling Spanish and English alike.

So a vosotros form does not only sound weird, it is the tip, the tell tale of a completely different usage and to most of us alien in terms of what you listen to in your environment. Like need English subtitles to catch up in really colloquial terms in Spanish movies.

I'd say it is even more alien for someone who has to use his Spanish in Mexico because Mexican Spanish is slowly evolving into its own thing. It is very rich, with French and English influence, plus all its own original terms and several very ancient indigineous languages. I'd be reading a lot of magazines, newspapers, blogs, rather than books, unless the books are very modern. You need the most updated info. Hence, the difficulty in vocabulary learning. To acquire, you have to understand and then be understood.

It is worse than English because you have the US Hollywood movies promting Midewest enounciation. But we do not have such hegemony in movies and TV. Mexico is the most influential...but only so far. Spain barely touches the surface, except in academic circles where the Real Academia still rules. But who knows for how long.
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Re: What Are You Reading? (2018)

Postby Dragonbones » Tue Jan 23, 2018 21:55

Tempo Gain wrote:Just out of curiosity, why would it matter if it had the vosotros form?


That’s a very fair question – but do you know what the vosotros form involves, and all that accompanies it?

It’s not just a single, different pronoun (which would be trivial, like you vs. thou, boot vs. trunk, something between quaint or charming depending on the sex appeal of the speaker, or formal or archaic in flavor for the Latin American reader/listener – and I’ve seen the latter used to fair effect; I think some Disney flick had a figure like the Lion King had the bad uncle speaking in vosotros form to sound like royalty IIRC), but a change in the very conjugation of all verbs and pronouns and so on, which is a bigger deal.

Add to that extensive differences in basic vocabulary, slang, and so on, and seeking out Latin American writing or translators becomes quite desirable. It’s not a perfect analogy, but would people here rather read a Taiwanese translation of a Western novel, or a PRC translation? It doesn’t only look or sound odd, but it’s often hard to understand, at least for me, an only semi-native reader/speaker.

Take into account the fact that the Spanish languages (plural; or dialects or regionalects if you prefer) of Latin America have been evolving independently for a VERY long time, with quite a significant influence from not only indigenous languages, but also other sources (like Icon says, there are heavy French and English influences in Mexican Spanish, as just one example, but particularly an accumulation of independent evolution).

For instance, there are many, MANY words in Mexican Spanish which are Nahuatl in origin (or otherwise somehow different from Spain) and I personally encountered many stumbling blocks in communication just this past year when trying to use words (perhaps three dozen, in just 9 weeks) that I had learned from books from Spain with my relatives there. Of course, speakers/readers from other Latin American countries experience similar difficulties.

Just a VERY few examples of Nahuatl-based or purely Mexican words which are common in Mexico and which I’ve actually had to use in the past 4 months are (yes, I've kept a list, as I'm homeschooling my eldest son on this): chapulín, cenzontle, comal, escamoles, mapache, tecolote, tlacuache, zopilote, jitomate, achiote, camote, escuincle, g/huaraches, hule, metate, molcajete, papalote, petate, popote, zocalo and tianguis. There are many, many more, and I’ve omitted the many that have become standard in other LA and Iberian Spanish like chile, chocolate and cacahuate.

Again, as Icon rightly mentions, it’s important to take into account the recency and source of the input language. This is particularly vital in Spanish, much more so than in English. As she notes, there is no hegemony at present in Spanish, globally. The two leaders are Mexico (by FAR the largest nation of Spanish speakers, at 127.5 million) and Spain (my beloved ancestral home and the traditional source of literary standards, but at a third of the former, a mere 46.56 million). I’m sure you could find FIERCE debates on which of the two should rule, but from my Latin American perspective, with a population of 46.56 million in Spain, and more than 639 million in Latin America (now we're talking far less than 10% for Spain), the momentum is not in favor of the very grammatically conservative (read fossilized) Castillian (i.e. Iberian, i.e. SPAIN) Spanish. I can’t say how ‘snobbish’ Iberian speakers might be regarding Latin American Spanish, but I can say that some Latin American readers find that only being offered Castillian Spanish in printed works quite irritating.
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Re: What Are You Reading? (2018)

Postby Dragonbones » Tue Jan 23, 2018 22:04

Icon wrote:
Dragonbones wrote:Clancy's a good suggestion, thanks! I tried Don Quijote de la Mancha in Spanish many years ago and it was too hard for me (in part because it's a 400-year-old text), but my vocab has improved a lot, so I'll give it another go in a year or two. Just the first paragraph still has about a dozen words I'd have to look up (I just looked), and that pace isn't much fun.


That is triple hell no way Jose. No Quijote.


LOL; that is a very (ahem) direct response. I was trying to be more diplomatic. But your response is much better, actually. Kinda like
A)_"I'd like some easy reading material in English, you know, like for teenagers whose native language is not English."
B) "Have you tried Shakespeare?"
A) "Can you fucking READ?!" (with apologies to Mick, who was surely offering heartfelt advice, and who I'm sure can take a joke).
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Re: What Are You Reading? (2018)

Postby Tempo Gain » Wed Jan 24, 2018 01:57

Thanks! That's more of responses than I expected. Is it fair to say than that "vosotros form" is a kind of shorthand for "Spanish from Spain"?
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Re: What Are You Reading? (2018)

Postby Icon » Wed Jan 24, 2018 09:08

Tempo Gain wrote:Thanks! That's more of responses than I expected. Is it fair to say than that "vosotros form" is a kind of shorthand for "Spanish from Spain"?


It's the telltale.
"Lo urgente no deja tiempo para lo importante". Mafalda
None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else

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