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What are you reading?

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murrayjames
6 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

how was it? 

 

In the essay, 张爱玲 discusses some of her novels and what kind of writer she is. She explains why she shies away from good-evil themes in her work, contrasts her way of writing with writers of other literary schools, and discusses romantic love in China. It was OK.

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PerpetualChange
On 2/3/2020 at 6:22 PM, imron said:

Chapter 26 is where things get real.

 

Oh yeah. Geez 😢

 

This one has really got me in its claws. I have to remind myself to look up new words! 

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imron
3 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

Oh yeah. Geez 😢

It was a real shock when I read that - I couldn't believe it had happened.  I skipped ahead and skimmed further parts of the book to see if it was some sort of mistake, and came across a passage where 鸣凤 and 觉慧 were out on a boat talking (or something) and was relieved that maybe I just hadn't fully understood the previous part and that it would all work out. Turns out I understood it perfectly and that the latter bit was just a dream.

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艾墨本

Just finished reading 嫌疑人X的献身 by 东野圭吾. It was a fantastic mystery novel that is based around the crime being know and how it was concealed being the mystery. On a scale of 1-10 in difficulty (1 is 活着 10 is 红楼梦) it’s like a 3 which should put it within reach of most.

 

next up is 红高梁家族

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Lu

Just finished Sanmao's 稻草人手记. It was a fun book, pleasant. Sanmao is famous for her travels of course, but also for her good humour and her good heart, and both of these traits are more visible in this book. Also some more windows on her marriage with her 荷西. Pretty easy to read too, except for two stories that were purposefully difficult.

 

Now starting 六人晚餐 by 陆敏. So far it's more difficult than Sanmao and I should look up & study some words while I read. Let's see if I'm going to do that.

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PerpetualChange

Well, finished 家.Interesting story, though I thought it was headed in a much different direction at some points, and some of the late plot developments didn't hit as hard as some of the others that occur early and midway through the book. It was definitely interesting to read, though, especially since it was written during a time a great turmoil yet without the bias that we who know the future are able to have in retrospect. 

 

I failed my mission to pick another novel. I have several, I'm sure not sure what I want to go with. I plugged a few into CTE, and the Jin Yong one I was most interesting in reading would be the hardest, so maybe I'll check out something lighter first. Part of me wants to go straight on to 春 but I could use a break. 

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imron

春 is really, really, really slow going.  It’s the  least interesting book of the series in my opinion and I found it a real drag to read. If you’re already feeling like maybe you want a break from that story and those characters, I’d give it a rest for now.  It will still be there in 10 books time when you are much better at reading and it won’t be such a slog to read.

 

Same advice for 金庸.  金庸 is great, but maybe wait until you’ve got 10 novels under your belt and it will be more enjoyable.

 

At this stage, while you are just starting to branch out in to reading native content, ‘easier to read’ should trump most other considerations.   As I mentioned earlier the other books will still all be there once you have finished. 
 

If you really want to read some 武侠, perhaps try something like 流星•蝴蝶•剑 by 古龙, which is in the same genre but which is supposed to be much easier to read. 

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Lu

Agreed with Imron on the slow pace of 《春》 and the difficulty of Jin Yong. Jin Yong should not be your second book, probably not even your tenth.

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PerpetualChange
7 hours ago, Lu said:

Agreed with Imron on the slow pace of 《春》 and the difficulty of Jin Yong. Jin Yong should not be your second book, probably not even your tenth.

Next book will be my 4th, but duly noted! 

San Mao it is, then. 

 

13 hours ago, imron said:

If you really want to read some 武侠, perhaps try something like 流星•蝴蝶•剑 by 古龙, which is in the same genre but which is supposed to be much easier to read. 

 

I'll give it a look. What's the logical lead-in to real Wuxia novels? Those fantasy/history novels with anime characters on the cover? If I could find a suitable Wuxia novel before I finish San Mao, that would be great. I have a 125 page condensed version of "Water Margin" for children that includes pictures and such. Maybe that would be a good starting place? 

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Geiko
6 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

What's the logical lead-in to real Wuxia novels?

 

I strongly recommend reading this article: A language learner's guide to wuxia novels. And 流星蝴蝶剑 is the perfect starting point.

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Geiko

By the way, I've just read a short story, 《隔离在家一个月,我与父母的关系变好了》by 邓安庆 (text here). It was written during the lockdown in Huanggang, Hubei, and I've found it both enjoyable and easy to read. It's also the text chosen for a translation competition, so if you want to challenge yourself, Give it a go!

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imron
11 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

What's the logical lead-in to real Wuxia novels?

I'm not sure there's a 'logical' lead-in as such.  Any new genre is always going to have a hump of new vocabulary and expressions that you'll need to get over before you can really start to enjoy what you are reading.  As mentioned above, 流星蝴蝶剑 seems as good a lead in as any.   For me, I tried reading 金庸 early on, but found that although I could understand it, it had too many new words per page to make reading comfortable, so I put it down and read a bunch of other things.  10 books later I came back to the same 金庸 book and it was much easier (see a longer post about this here).

 

My advice would be to put aside all the more difficult books that you really want to read, and focus instead on books that are relatively easy to read (but that you also find interesting), and focus on getting a large number of finished books under your belt.

 

The main reason is that there are a whole bunch of soft-skills related to reading that you only build up by doing a lot of reading.  Things like being able to parse word boundaries efficiently and making sense of prior context to understand current happenings, and being able to do that at a speed conducive to reading for long periods of time, and building up the mental stamina to read for long periods of time and so on.

 

Those skills will help you immensely once you start to read more difficult/advanced texts, plus you'll have also picked up vocabulary from the easier books that will make the more difficult books less difficult.

 

All the books you really want to read will still be there waiting for you, and you'll be able to enjoy them that much more if you put in a bit of effort first to bulk up your reading skills.

 

11 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

Next book will be my 4th, but duly noted! 

Nice.  I personally found it took about 4 books before reading for long-periods of time (> 30 mins) was not a chore, and it was around 8 books before reading for longer periods of time became comfortable.  This was doing a minimum of 30 mins of reading every day over a period of several months.  When I got back to 金庸 it meant I could happily sit down and spend an hour or two in a single reading session without feeling exhausted.

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jannesan

I read 地久天长 by 王小波 early this year (my first novel) and I thought it was pretty good.

Now I'm on the last chapter of 撒哈拉的故事 by 三毛, which is quite entertaining, I just don't find her and her husband very likable.

In terms of understanding I think these two are quite easy, just sometimes 三毛 uses quite a few 4 character expressions that I didn't understand.

 

Now I have finally settled on the next novel to read, which will be 许三观卖血记 by 余华 because I'd like to get used to the author's style before reading 活着.

I am always pre-learning all unknown words of a chapter, that occur at least 3 times in the whole book, before going on to read the chapter.

I think a lot of people here will disagree with me on how effective this approach is, but it just makes it a more smooth and enjoyable experience for me.

I only very rarely look up words while reading and even if I don't understand a sentence here and there I don't get lost.

 

 

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imron
34 minutes ago, jannesan said:

I think a lot of people here will disagree with me on how effective this approach is

Learning frequently occurring words from what you are reading, is one of the most efficient ways to learn new vocabulary.

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PerpetualChange
14 hours ago, imron said:

This was doing a minimum of 30 mins of reading every day over a period of several months.  When I got back to 金庸 it meant I could happily sit down and spend an hour or two in a single reading session without feeling exhausted.

Thankfully I am a docile creature, reading far more than 30 minutes per day is no problem. If anything, I find myself cutting my reading time short because I start to worry about all the new words I'm glossing over, and so once I've identified 5-10 good  words to add to my Pleco deck I just stop as I don't want to waste the good learning materials. 

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艾墨本
12 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

so once I've identified 5-10 good  words to add to my Pleco deck I just stop as I don't want to waste the good learning materials.

Just keep reading. You won't "run out" of more words to learn. If anything, the more you read, the more clearly you'll be able to identify the words worthy of learning as you'll have had that feeling "I should learn this word" several times. Additionally, it's been clearly shown that the stronger your feeling of "I want this word" is, the more likely you are to retain it for a longer period of time (See Laufer's Involvement Load Hypothesis, though it is edging on theory nowadays).

 

17 hours ago, jannesan said:

read 地久天长 by 王小波 early this year (my first novel) and I thought it was pretty good.

I don't know this one. What is it about? Why just "pretty" good?

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imron
3 hours ago, 艾墨本 said:

Just keep reading. You won't "run out" of more words to learn.

Exactly!  I was going to say something similar.

 

I would also add that 'good' words will re-appear on a later day, and if they don't then they weren't good words for you to be learning at this point anyway (because the best words for you to learn will be ones that you'll see again).

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imron
16 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

Thankfully I am a docile creature, reading far more than 30 minutes per day is no problem

The main thing I was trying to point out in that sentence was that of mental exhaustion.  I can spent entire days reading books English without suffering from mental exhaustion.  When I first started reading Chinese however, I found that I quickly tired of reading long passages of text, and it took a while to build up the stamina to read in Chinese for long periods of time without feeling exhausted afterwards.

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jannesan
12 hours ago, 艾墨本 said:

I don't know this one. What is it about? Why just "pretty" good?

 

It's basically a love story of 2 guys and a woman that work in some sort of military farming camp.

It's pretty short and not very complex, but interesting enough with quite easy language.

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murrayjames

Today I finished reading the short story 《牛车上》 by 萧红. Next up is the book for our Chinese Forums May 2020 reading project, 《草鞋湾》 by 曹文轩.

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