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Try to read one of the four "classics" or something easier, suggestions please.


Shadowdh

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Hi there all,

Well I have seen Rebels of the Water Margin, Red Chamber, Journey to the West and Romance of the three kingdoms on the shelf everytime I go into the book shop and now I am wondering if its worth me buying them to try to read or should I go for something easier or more modern (Harry potter perhaps as I already have book one in Chinese)...?? After doing some research about reading them and then looking at the text I must admit I feel overwhelmed and a bit daunted... they all sound interesting enough but difficult... suggestions/encouragement welcome... many thanks

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Probably too difficult for you at the moment as those books are at about an advanced high school level (comparable to Shakespeare for native English speakers, perhaps). What kind of materials have you been reading? I would start with newspapers or magazines. Some are easier than others (just as some English papers are easier reads than others).

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I say go for something easier. I've studied Chinese for six years and can enjoy the average novel, but I have no hopes of ever reaching the level that I can actually read the Honglou meng. Haven't looked at the others, but I don't suppose they will be significantly easier.

Harry Potter is fine, it helps that (if?) you already know the story. You could also try something Chinese that is not too hard.

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I wouldn't go for an abridged Honglou meng.

- If you want to read it for the story, better read a full English translation instead (Hawkes' is good). There's just so much in that book, and sure some is lost in translation, but even more would be lost in abridging (is that a word?).

- If you want to read it for your Chinese, better read something easier in full. At least you won't miss out on too much that way.

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Gato... I was thinking along the same lines... just been reading basic readings from books like practical Chinese reader, some articles (random) and just started to look at Harry Potter (yes that great literary masterpiece :mrgreen:) and also an Afanti book I have just picked up (just starting that today in fact)... any suggestions on the easy side of the magazines and papers.. cheers your advice as always is good and valuable...

Lu... yes I know the story, well up to the 5th book anyway, not had time to read the others... yet... any suggestions on the not too hard Chinese books...

Myriam... thanks for the info, didnt know they did that.

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[...]any suggestions on the not too hard Chinese books...
There are a number of sites with Chinese books online. Have you considered trying to read one using Wenlin or some other program?

You could try The Lady in the Painting (300 character level)

http://yalepress.yale.edu/YUPBOOKS/book.asp?isbn=0300114982

http://www.chinasprout.com has a number of bilingual English/Simp. Chinese books (search for bilingual). Prices are probably lower elsewhere.

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Thanks for those suggestions... looks interesting and definitely worth thinking about... I do like the book in the hand though and was going to buy a few (hopefully the wife doesnt see this) while I am here in China...

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The first book I read in Chinese was 活着 by 余华 (it was made into a movie by Zhang Yimou). That book is fairly easy as far as sentence structure, vocab, and plot. It's not too long, about 200 pages. You should be able to find it in most bookstores.

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Try some of these. They are probably a little easier than the more serious papers and magazines.

http://www.shnwzb.com/

《少年文摘报》 (Youth Readers' Digest; targeted towards 3rd-8th graders)

Some Wuhan daily papers

http://ctdsb.cnhubei.com/ctdsb.asp

《楚天都市报》 (written at about the junior high school level)

http://cjrb.cnhan.com/

《武汉晚报》 (a little bit higher level than the above)

http://weekly.news365.com.cn/

《新民周刊》 (mass circulation newsweekly published in Shanghai; at about 9th-grade level)

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If you are at the right level, then I think the abridged 红楼梦 mentioned by Myriam is extremely good. The right level is where you know basic word combinations based on say 1500-2000 characters and are used to reading materials not more than a few pages long, and want to move on to reading something longer that is not foreign friend propaganda and learn more vocab, but do not feel up to a full length novel yet.

The abridged 红楼梦 is written in simple language, and gives you the English and pinyin for the harder expressions every few pages, and it gives you a story to follow that is about 100,000 characters long.

Of course, this story should not be confused with the real 红楼梦 (for this I agree reading the Hawkes translation is really worthwhile). They get it down to 100,000 characters by simplifying the 宝玉-黛玉-宝钗 love triangle and cutting out anything not directly relevant to that. This makes definitely it learning materials rather than a serious attempt to tell the real 红楼梦 story.

The same people (Sinolingua I think) also do abridged versions of 茅盾's 子夜, 钱锺书's 围城 and 巴金's 家, 春 and 秋. While I think the abridged 红楼梦 is very good, these other books lend themselves to abridgement much more than 红楼梦 and are hence even better.

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They get it down to 100,000 characters by simplifying the 宝玉-黛玉-宝钗 love triangle and cutting out anything not directly relevant to that.
This is completely killing the book, if you ask me. Then why not just tell the whole story in five sentences. If the HLM were only this love story, I don't think I would have liked it as much as I do. It's a fun and interesting read (in translation at least) exactely because of all the sidelines and all the million characters.

活著 is a good book, I heard, and not too hard. Mianmian also writes rather easy, but you have to like the kind of novel. I read part of A Q in a bilingual edition, that also worked rather well, as would other Lu Xun works. Or you could try comics and manga.

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As I like reading but that my Chinese level is not good enough to go through novels, Chinese friends advised me the 读者series , which is a compilation of short stories around the same topic (see here the list of the topics). Not always easy but many stories are reachable for uper-intermediate level.

I also enjoy a lot this bilingual series with stories from my childhood (Gulliver's Travel, Robinson Crusoe, Aladdin...) which you'll find in all Xinhua bookshop for a few yuans.

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You could try 三毛's books. Also try 幾米's books (you can find them in any bookstores). Sample the on-line version of one of his most famous works "向左走向右走" here (click on the page numbers at the bottom to move forwards). His other works here.

You may also wish to take a look at this thread -> http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/1626-chinese-novels-for-laowais

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Hey, just a while ago I had a pretty long thread about this same topic. At the end I listed all of the books that I ended up buying (which, ironically, I have no time to read now, thanks to GREs and senior design projects).

The thread is here:

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/178-cool-chinese-characters12

Don' t know your level, but Duzhe magazine is easy and there are two issues monthly. Don't overlook the sections in bookstores for young readers, either. I don't know enough about Hongloumeng to comment about reading an abridged version or not, but you could definitely read an abridged version of some novel of lesser significance. Yonglin enjoyed the abridged version of "Gangtie shi zenme liancheng de"(How the steel was tempered) very much, and it seems there are many Chinese who have read this book at one point in their lives. :lol:

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Thanks for the links Pravit...

I have just bought 活着 it looks like its what I am looking for... started to read it and seemed about the right level while challenging my character knowledge and understanding nicely. Thanks for all the suggestions, I will try to look up the books/links/magazines and newspapers but as I have just picked up my books today I think they will give me enough to look at for the next little bit... cheers

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