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Books with around 2000 base words? Guidance towards HSK5

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Hi all,


I have studied 2 semesters full time as a language student at a university in Guangdong and recently passed HSK4. I have read all Chinese Breeze Books (汉语风)which have been published so far from Level 1 (300 base words) to Level 4 (1100 base words). Based on HSK4 and the university program and their books, I estimate to be able to read around 1800 words.


I will plan to take another semester uni-classes next year to prepare for HSK5. Now I am looking for books which are written with around 2000 base words (not too difficult for my level but also not too easy). Since Chinese Breeze right now only goes up to 1100 base words, I am wondering what books can support my way to HSK5 (2500 words)?  I am thinking of any "chinese teenager type" books? Does anyone know any good books he/she can recommend, which will help me to overbridge my current holiday time up until early next year and already guide me towards HSK5? I am looking for interesting material (stories etc), the HSK5 standard course books I know and I will look into them from next year onwards. Right now i look more for "enjoyable" content similar to Chinese breeze at my current level which will push me further 🙂


Cheers, yanux

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As you seem to get closer to the upper intermediate level, I would not spend too much time with graded readers / Chinese breeze-type materials if I were you. You can have a try with content aimed at native speakers - not really fond of chinese teenager type books, though.


I don't know how you feel about novels, but I was around this level when I dig into 慕容雪村's 成都今夜请将我遗忘, which is an excellent novel about modern urban China. The author's style is witty and use a somewhat non-formal or "chatty" language even in his prose, and you can learn useful expressions from it. I must add that it was very hard for me at first, and I could get through the first few chapters at a snail's space, but once your start picking up the vocab your speed will increase a lot. Also accept that this will be the level when those damn chengyus come into the picture.

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I agree with ZhangKaiRong. At this level, you should be ready to start tackling native materials. And the good thing is, then you can choose whatever you find most enjoyable.


In my opinion, though, you would be better off reading prose, such as the magazine 读者 which is available at most roadside news stands. The problem with novels, I find, is that the language used is very flowery - difficult for a learner, and not really practical to use in everyday life. It is also closer to the kind of text you might encounter in the HSK. The other advantage of 读者 is that it consists of articles of just 1-2 pages in length, which means, if you are reading slowly, you are less likely to run out of patience/interest than with a novel. But ultimately, it depends on your personal preference.

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Thank you both for the helpful suggestions. I probably try both ways: Novel + Magazines.


I am originally from europe, do you think it for the statt it will be easier to read a western novel which has been translated to chinese than a china origin novel? Because the western novel won’t have the “deep chinese thought” in it. Or would you argue that going form HSK4 to 5, that I really need to get that exposure to chengyu etc? Thanks a lot for all your great suggestions :-)

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I took more than a look at HSK 5 word list, and estimated I knew about 2,000 as well. Personally I think there is no need for a book. If you really want to cover the bases for HSK 5, for every word (each word in each phrase), load the CE-DICT dictionary and find the word using "Find All" in Excel. In a dictionary of over 100,000 phrases, you would find many matching phrases.


Lotsa fun! :D

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I think others make a good point about trying to read native material. However, if you find it hard and you're looking up too many characters/phrases and really not enjoying it, I'd still opt for easier material to help you transition. Pleco has some graded readers based on 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000 words you could try. I found reading a book in Chinese translated from English, where I'd already read the English version, to be easier than non-translated books. I think 活着 is a common non-translated first book for Chinese learners. I would say it's not so much harder than the 3000 word graded reader, once you get familiar with some of the phrases the author commonly uses. The book itself is much more interesting than the graded readers that I've read.

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