What’s the end of the year for if not for end of year lists? And what better way and better topic to share in this digital age than the books I tackled this year. I’ll be honest: I’m not sure that I read a single book in English this year.
Nope, I’ve been too busy trying to improve my German. This time last year, my German tutor gave me two copies of “The Island of Blue Dolphins,” a children’s book I’m pretty sure I read when it was still age appropriate for me. One copy my tutor gave me was in English and the other was in German. No dictionary necessary! Instant translation! I was determined to finish it over the holidays. Amazingly, I did.
Since then I’ve been chipping away at books in German. When I was in Berlin in 2009, I bought a translation of Bret Easton Ellis’ “Less Than Zero” (“Unter Null” auf Deutsch). I’m not sure what I was thinking when I bought it; I had no clue when I’d have the skills to read it. Funny how things change.
To anyone trying to learn a new language, I recommend checking out parallel books — the left page is the foreign text (in this case German) and the right page is the mother tongue (in this case English). They’re fantastic and I highly recommend them as they’re generally very direct translations.
(And for the record, I started and gave up on reading “Seven Years in Tibet” using an English language copy because the English translation of the original German book is so terrible.)
- Unter Null – Bret Easton Ellis (Less Than Zero)
- Glamorama – Bret Easton Ellis (at +800 pages even my tutor thought it was perhaps a bit ambitious)
- Short Stories in German – ed. Ernst Zillekens (parallel book)
- Five Great Short Stories – ed. Stanley Appelbaum (parallel book)
- Der Vorleser – Bernhard Schlink (The Reader)
- Faserland – Christian Kracht (the first book I read without an English language cheat copy)
- Soloalbum – Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre (I’m halfway through!)
So, what did you read this year?