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Hopefully a possible book recommendation!

So I've read in French Le Petite Prince, am halfway through the first Harry Potter book, and am looking for the next book I want to read. But after doing a fair amount of investigation, I have a few things I want the book to be and not be. Hopefully someone here has read enough where they can help me. Skip to the conclusion if you don't want to read the ramble.

Now that I'm reading Harry Potter, which I am enjoying, I also rather not spend as much time as I am, learning words more in the realm of fantasy ie words I will either never use or seldomly. I am leaving these words to memorize later (if that), but I still have to look them up and write them down, so the less the better. Therefore I'd like my next book to be comprised of often used words. So apparently that means no sci-fi, dystopian, fantacy, horror..... I do love these genres but not at this stage of my language learning.

Also I've heard that its best for the book to be as much as possible written in present tense. Most books are written in past tense so this is a hard consideration to comply with. It basically comes down to asking people who've read the books. If anyone knows of a way to tell what tense a book is written in, in general without having to ask someone, as an aside that would be great.

Now this next one is again a stipulation I rather not make because like with the genres listed above, I would rather be reading those along with classical literature. The problem with classical literature again as with these genres above, the vocabulary is not something I would be using regularly, in the case of classical literature, because its just no longer in use.

Considering how slowly I'll be reading this book, I would like a book that's somewhat hard to read. I mean if I'm going to be scrutinizing every sentence anyway I might as well do that while reading a book you need to dig into anyways. On top of the fact these early books I will be rereading a couple times at least, in text and audio formats.

Segueing off my last point, while I don't expect anyone to do any research for me, a book suggestion that happens to be a popular one would be preferred, only because the chances of it actually having a companion audiobook is higher.

Lastly, I've heard a good amount about how translations of books never get it right, puns and jokes aren't the same, they try to simplify things so vermilion becomes red and copious because a lot.... and going off of the Harry Potter book I'm reading, the few times I have to reference the English version I see things are just left out or said differently (I'm going to have to read the book in English also). So a book suggestion who's author is French and written in French would be best. Though I'm going to post this on the general forum also, because I'd like to consider other books to.

In conclusion, I would like to read a popular, modern, deep book written in present tense without the use of uncommon words (cauldron, tesseract, holodeck..) Any suggestions that meets as many of those requests would be great..... and if at all possible I could really enjoy a nice thriller/mystery/crime novel at the moment. Thanks in advance.

October 30, 2017



For mystery/crime, you could try the Arsène Lupin books. Basically, if you enjoy the Sherlock Holmes stories, you'll probably like those. They are a little older (1905-1940, approximately), but fairly easy to read, with not too much dated vocabulary. The first one is a collection of short stories, which might be a good place to start, in case it's not what you were looking for (in which case, you can stop more easily).


Great question, but you should probably publish this in the French Forum to get a response.

I only have Italian books to recommend. ;)


As I put in the section about wanting a French book, ideally it would be written in French but I'm open authors that aren't French, and then I just get the French version of the book. More importantly is that the book meet the other criteria. So please suggest away.


Ah, i see!

I quite enjoyed “Silk”, by Baricco which is an Italian novel centered on the silk industry in France in the 19th century. The writing was lyrical but simple. Short sentences. Mostly present and simple past tenses.

As far as mystery novels, I have found those tricky as often they contain slang. I love them, but they can be a slog in Italian. I’ve started a few and given up. I do remember reading Simenon’s Maigret detective novels in French class in college, and can say they aren’t too hard to read, but I just don’t care for the series, as I don’t like Maigret. You could give one a try and see what you think. If you do like it, there are a ton of them.



Here is a discussion that was brought up in the French forum.


FYI in any books more complicated than children books you will have other verb tenses besides the present tense, past, future, conditional etc. What you won't encounter is the passé simple.


As you see, the question was long enough. I tried to say what I wanted as simply as possible. So what I should have said was that, even though books are written in a variety of tenses with most of it in past tense I would like book suggestion where a good chunk is in present tense. For example I hear the Hunger Games series has much of it in present tense. Thanks your your help, I'll look into the link now.


If you want present tense narration, try Red Rising, by Pierce Brown. Present tense and it was published just last year in French. However, it is science fiction (kind of YA-ish, like most SF) and a translation. You can "Look Inside" on the link above. (If that doesn't work for you, I can paste in a page or so if you ask); I'd skip to partway through chapter one to get an idea of how the book flows.

If you are interested in it, DON'T buy it in hard copy from amazon.com but from amazon.fr: on the U.S. site the book costs more than 6 times what the French site charges, which difference more than covers shipping charges from France to the U.S., if that's where you are. If you want Kindle (and you are in the U.S.) amazon.com is prob. your only choice, but you might try amazon.ca.

FWIW, I read the book last year in English and wasn't thrilled at all (in spite of its being my sort of reading), as the present tense really was annoying to me. But looking at it in French makes it seem much more attractive.

IMHO (and I learned to read French pretty much the way you are--on my own and by bulling my way through books I wanted to read), you would really do yourself a favor by learning the past tenses now. Treat this the way you treat vocabulary by doing a little at a time and looking up what you come across that you don't know. For instance, work through the chapters in this book that teach the past tenses, working all the exercises from questions to answers and then vice versa. Or do the same w/ a copy of this book (used copies are even cheaper, and it's just fine w/o the CD). Then pay laser-eyed attention to every French tense form you encounter until they become second nature, which won't take long.

Anyway, good luck. If you want other book suggestions I could give you some. But my reading is mostly SF, YA books, older books, or translations--not what you want--so I won't suggest more unless you ask.

Oh. The customer reviews on amazon.fr are almost always in the present tense, and they can be really interesting, besides. And browsing around the site you may find just the book you want to read. Look through what's new in detective novels, etc.


I'm going to keep looking, but the combination lock just got a bigger dial and a whole lot more turns. By the time you exclude books and audiobooks that are just way beyond reasonable in price, along with books that just don't have audiobooks, plus including the cost of the English book it just not worth it. I know getting a book that fit all those descriptions was sort of impossible, but I was hoping to get some feedback on what my intentions were and hopefully a book suggestion that was close to what I wanted, but when you add everything else it's just not worth trying to get that perfect book. I guess I didn't think it all the way through. I think I'll try to start with what audiobook I can get from the library, then hopeful either the English or french book version is also available then I just have to buy the last piece of the trifecta. I think I'll have to leave a French written book for later when thats all I need to buy. Thanks for your suggestions, I'll keep them for later reading, along with everyone else's recommendations. And I'm taking your advice on the present tense topic, besides once I start being able to watch movies and videos, thats when I start taking in the present tense. Thanks again.


Second hand bookstores are a good source for cheap books. The public library, on site and on line are good, especially with Spanish and in bigger cities there could be other languages. For present tense, 1st person narratives would work and I do suggest the graphic comics for French for the present tense, current word usage and they are just plain funny, more for adults/teens than children. My favorite is the Asterix set.


Just how good is your French? Are these stories easy for you? If not, they are the place to start.

If they are easy, you may want to try audio (with links to text) on litteratureaudio. They are almost all old works there, but most of them are classics, and they are free. The newest author (w/in last 15 years) that I've seen there is Serge Brussolo, whose style is generally fairly simple; however, there seem to be no links to text [added: there are text links now], so you would have to buy copies of the books, which can be quite inexpensive on ebay; also, his books available there are fantasy for children (but quite amusing). A classic author with a fairly simple style would be Maupassant (there is also a whole website devoted to audio of his books). Voltaire is even easier, but his French is a bit archaic, especially past tenses, so he probably isn't for you yet. You might enjoy Sans Famile by Hector Malot, which is for children, but the story is quite enjoyable, and the prose is pretty simple, especially once you get through the very beginning.

The suggestion of books by Simenon quite rightly indicated that his stories are fairly easy (and extremely interesting), without too much difficult dialogue, and you can probably find audio for them on audible.fr.

The suggestion of BD's (French comic books) is a good one.

Well, I hope you find something you like and that will help you improve your French.


Your links have been a great help, thank you very much. I looked though the list of free audiobooks and 20000 leagues under the sea was there and I still have the english version from when I was made to read it as a kid, and I did a quick search and in the http://www.gutenberg.org/ website the French version is there for free. Hopefully the speech is not too archaic.


No Jules Verne shouldn't be archaic and it would be in the original language as the English version is a translation.


You're welcome. Thanks for mentioning that the links are helpful--often I wonder if comments are even looked at.

> Jules Verne

Cool! Actually, the reason I started to learn French was to read Journey to the Center of the Earth and Dumas' Three Musketeers. Here is a page linking to Jules Verne books in French, in case you like to read on a computer, and many in English and some in Russian and other languages. 20000 Leagues Under the Seas is one of his best.

BTW, some of the old translations into English were not good/accurate but the more modern ones are mostly much better. JV's French is a little old fashioned, naturally, and sometimes rather fussy, but not bad at all (IMHO) and his books are definitely worth reading. Should they prove difficult at first, you can find adapted versions to practice with before starting an original version. That's what I did after I'd studied a little grammar (and while I continued studying it): read a WAY adapted version of Around the World in 80 Days (which I didn't really want to read all of, anyway) and then read Voyage to the Center of the Earth.

Many out-of-copyright books, including JV, can be found here in quite nice e-copies. Search w/ "Rechercher les ebooks" at the top right. Besides literary classics, there are plenty of good adventure and popular books.

Best of success! Please ask if you have other questions (hopefully I'll see that you have posted).

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