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What are you reading?


skylee
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On 7/16/2022 at 5:47 PM, PerpetualChange said:

Finding 平凡的世界  kind of difficult.


I was thinking about that this morning (I’m a few chapters in). The process of reading it has felt surprisingly laborious and slow. The vocabulary feels simple enough, but the story doesn’t seem to have a natural “flow” to it. It feels a bit on the literary/poetic side of things. I often have to stop and/or re-read stuff. I’ve encountered a few isolated phrases (not too many) that made no sense at all, and I’m thinking that I should probably be taking note of them and asking questions about them on a new thread! But I’ve just kept moving.


And yes, I do feel like the characters and plot lines will become unmanageably numerous. Not too bad so far, but it could get out of control really fast. The main character has so many friends, family, and acquaintances.

 

The advantage to reading this stuff, I suppose, is that it makes the flat/prosaic stuff (like Chinese news or other literature for mass consumption) feel way easier by comparison.

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On 7/17/2022 at 12:47 AM, PerpetualChange said:

Finding 平凡的世界  kind of difficult. Lots of expressions and maybe colloquialisms that I'm just not prepared for? I feel I am still getting the gist of the plot, though. Still, reading every chapter twice because that seems to help confirm that I've comprehended enough to move on. And of course, reading so slow I keep forgetting who everyone is. 

Generally when I get this feeling, I tend to evaluate the book as being too advanced for me, and choose something a bit easier. I'm still too early in my reading studies to tell if that's a good strategy or not, but on the other hand, I find it incredibly difficult to remain interested in something that I have to continuously re-read.

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On 7/17/2022 at 3:17 AM, Woodford said:

The advantage to reading this stuff, I suppose, is that it makes the flat/prosaic stuff (like Chinese news or other literature for mass consumption) feel way easier by comparison.

Hmm, yes my ultimate goal is to be able to read literature comparable to e.g. Game of Thrones, where there are many interlocking plotlines and characters expressed using verbose, flowery language, and be able to understand without difficulty. A long road ahead for me! And it sounds like you are aiming for a similar level of mastery.

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On 7/16/2022 at 9:17 PM, Woodford said:

I’m thinking that I should probably be taking note of them and asking questions about them on a new thread

I would gladly participate if you want to go ahead and start something like that. It may keep me from abandoning the book sooner than I would otherwise!

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On 7/17/2022 at 7:09 AM, PerpetualChange said:

I would gladly participate if you want to go ahead and start something like that.


Once I collect another example sentence or two, I’ll try opening up a thread!

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On 6/20/2022 at 5:29 AM, 黄有光 said:

I finished 猫城记。

 

What was your impression of this one? Was it difficult? Interesting? Was the vocabulary useful?

 

I'm planning to read this book next, but I'm a little worried about the language/story being dated since it was written in the 1930s.

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@becky82 Oh my god where did you get that??? I need one so bad.

 

@dakonglong The entire novel was a very pointed criticism of China at the time of writing. Opium, corruption, warlords, indolence, the Century of Humiliation...it's all there. I would say it was fairly difficult, yeah. There are a lot of sections where a monologue or description of something is drawn out over several paragraphs, which for me was a higher level of reading comprehension than I possessed and made those sections very difficult to confidently understand. It was also kind of boring in a lot of parts. The characters are very flat and the main character never does anything except observe events from the sidelines, even if the events are so tumultuous that they would be expected to immediately impact him.

 

Overall I am glad I read it. My verdict is that it is academically interesting, but not fun per se. I can't answer your question about vocabulary though, sorry.

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On 7/17/2022 at 10:18 PM, 黄有光 said:

There are a lot of sections where a monologue or description of something is drawn out over several paragraphs, which for me was a higher level of reading comprehension than I possessed and made those sections very difficult to confidently understand.

 

That book was my 10th one overall, and while the vocabulary was pretty simple, I found the old Beijing dialect to be really confusing. The language was rather vague in places. Not awful, but a little tricky.

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@黄有光@Woodford thank you both! In that case, any recommendations for a next book? So far I have read 小王子,撒哈拉的故事,饥饿游戏,你是我的荣耀,and I'm about to finish up 暮色. I try to alternate between translations and native Chinese literature, so that means my next book should ideally be untranslated. My original plan was to read either 毛成绩 or 人生海海 but based on your reviews here I'm worried that either/both may be too obscure in terms of either too much antiquated language (毛成绩), or too much regionalism (人生海海). I would definitely prefer something relatively recent and with pretty standard Mandarin so that the language I pick up will be applicable in day-to-day life (你是我的荣耀 was perfect in that regard). So now I'm also considering 蜜汁炖鱿鱼 and 盗墓笔记. Any thoughts? Thanks!

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@dakonglong I am afraid I am still in the early stages of exploring native literature myself, so I don't have much in the way of things I can recommend. Unless you're into gay BDSM erotica, and in that case I have one (1) recommendation.

 

I'm going to read more native literature next year.

 

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Today I learned there are Chinese translations of the novelizations of Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, respectively, 是,大臣 and 是,首相.  They're gigantic books (both around 650 pages long).

 

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Update: Ah, these bad boys arrived.  There's no way I'll finish them, but hopefully I have fun along the way.

 

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Currently reading:

  • 地球人的小商铺 by 醉饮长歌
    • http://www.jjwxc.net/onebook.php?novelid=3489332
    • I have around 30% left.
    • The story is about an architectural designer, living in the big city, who get selected to access a special interstellar farming spacial dimension. In this dimension, he builds his own farm, modifies the landscape, starts a shop, meets other interstellar beings etc - essentially he's playing Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing in an interstellar dimensional world.
    • I find this novel to be quite hard, it's super heavy on agricultural, business, architectural and technical terms.
  • 彩虹琥珀 by 木更木更 
    • https://www.gongzicp.com/novel-180254.html
    • Just started this, 5% or so into it.
    • Romance between a banker and a CFO.
    • Quite heavy on banking and investment terms so far, pretty technical at times. I hope the banking and investment side will ease soon as it's quite hard (and boring to me).
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On 7/18/2022 at 1:19 AM, dakonglong said:

What was your impression of this one? Was it difficult? Interesting? Was the vocabulary useful?

I read this one some time ago (and I thought I wrote about it on the forums, but I can't find anything). The vocabulary is often quite old: the book was written when the whole 白话 thing was still in development, and you'll find some words that you won't encounter in any new texts. It's strictly satire, you don't read it for the character development or the world-building, but for the criticism on Chinese society of the time. And not just of the time: I found it surprisingly current. It even kind of predicts the students beating down the teachers in the Cultural Revolution. It's not my easiest read ever, but definitely not the most difficult one either, once you've gotten a handle on a few old-fashioned words. I enjoyed it.

 

I went on a train holiday and in the end I brought 冯唐's 《北京,北京》. Feng Tang is a big deal in the Chinese literature world, I had only read one short story by him (which I liked a lot), so I thought I should see what the fuss is about. In addition to his literary reputation, Feng Tang has a reputation of being enormously sexist. This book bears that out. There is probably a story and something poignant and interesting under there, but it's kind of buried under alllll the attention for big boobs and slender waists and the looks and virginity of assorted women. The man can't go two pages without mentioning boobs and that is not even an exaggeration. It's a bit tiring. It's not even original: Zhu Wen did it with more attention to society, Wang Shuo did it with a more intriguing story, Wu Ang did it even though she's a woman, Han Han did it earlier. Feng Tang can certainly write, though: the book opens with three friends sitting in a hutong, drinking beer and eating peanuts, and the scene is described marvelously. I'd say this book so far is better-written than 《像少年啦飞驰》, so if you want a book in this genre, 《北京,北京》 is a good choice.

 

I'm 70 pages in, I'll update if my opinion changes.

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I'm not as advanced as you folks in my language ability, it seems. I'm just working through a graded reader - a shortened, localized Chinese translation of "Voyage au centre de la Terre" ("Journey to the Centre of the Earth" - it was originally in French) - 《地心游记》。

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On 7/31/2022 at 4:41 AM, becky82 said:

Reading non-fiction is more my style: I'm not only learning/practicing Chinese, I'm also learning about other things.  I'm not anticipating this particular textbook will take a long time (I have a maths PhD, but I'm not familiar with some vocabulary, and Chinese teaching standards).

These would be just the kind of books I would love to read right now. However, for convenience sake they would have to be ebooks with OCR-ed text (to look up words easily). 

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