I’ve always been a ferocious reader. I had the great fortune to have a father who let me read absolutely anything I wanted from both his own library and the town library (he had to sign a paper saying that I could take books from the adult section when I was still a child) and who encouraged me to use a dictionary. I’d be lying in bed reading at night and call out hopefully “Dad, what does ‘testimony’ mean” and he’d inevitably reply, “Look it up in the dictionary”. So I’d take my trusty Pocket Oxford from the bedhead behind me and look it up.
As a result, I grew up knowing the real meaning of words and how they are used. And I love words. I loved the Latin at church and I adored learning French at school. And my love of reading has never left me. I remember the very first book I ever read – an abridged version of Peter Pan. I think it probably shaped my whole life. I was fanatical about the Pollyanna series and read and reread them constantly. There was also Anne of Green Gables and Little Women, What Katy Did and The Bobbsey Twins, The Secret Seven and The Famous Five. But I soon left them behind for Gone with the Wind and Anna Karenine.
Dad had the complete collection of Maupassant’s short stories and novels (in English of course) which I devoured. How much I really understood I don’t know, but it introduced me to the fascinating world of France. My love of literature and French led me to an Arts degree with French honours despite my mathematical leanings and I was overjoyed when I came to France to discover that such a thing as a technical translator existed. I went on to get a masters in translation at ESIT in Paris and have been a freelance technical and legal translator ever since. What a wonderful excuse to have a bookshelf full of dictionaries of every kind!
One of my big problems has always been to find enough books to read particularly on a reduced budget when my children were small. Libraries obviously solved the problem for French books. I also made the wonderful discovery that my beloved Russian novelists translate much better into French than into English. Fortunately I found a library nearby which had a good collection of English novels so I reread all the classics. My taste in reading is very eclectic and I’ve always loved rooting around in other people’s libraries to see what I can find. I’ll read anything that someone recommends.
When I began teaching translation at ESIT, I started swapping books with my students. With the coming of Internet, especially sites like the Book Directory and Amazon where you can get the latest novels (well practically) without having to pay postage, my access to books changed dramatically. I can talk to my aunt in Australia about what she’s reading, order her suggestions off the Net and receive them within a couple of days! When we moved into Paris, I found a wonderful source of second-hand English books at Book-Off on rue Saint Augustin. AT 2 or 3 euros a time, I can fill my carry bag. They also buy the books back again (at 20 centimes!) thus eliminating the problem of where to put all these books once I’ve read them.
But there I was the other night, wandering aimlessly around, sifting through my bookcase and wondering what on earth I could find to read. I was sure I had a whole stack of unread books on a shelf somewhere. Sadly, that was not the case. I finally found Anita Desai’s Clear Light of Day which I had totally forgotten and am thoroughly enjoying.
But now, thanks to Leonardo, I have a Kindle with international 3G so will never be short of reading material EVER AGAIN – provided I remember to charge it of course!
11 thoughts on “I’ve Joined the Kindle Community!”
Lovely to read how your love of France/french bloomed 🙂 Got me thinking about where it started for me…..a grade 6 assignment on any country of choice..I chose France .cant remember why…then the opportunity in first form at high school to actually learn french..there was just no going back from there! Normally a bit of a ‘rascal’ student..I would sit in the front seat mesmerized by the ‘ecoutez et repetez’ coming from the huge old cassette tape player:)
As for what books sit on my shelves.?… anything to do with France of course! with a mix of motivational and spiritual books added to the mix . I have always loved spending time in bookstore….sadly we have had many close down here in Australia recently..Im sure it is due to the use of Amazon etc.of .which I am an absolute culprit . C’est la vie I guess .
You’ll enjoy checking out the bookshops in Paris, Jill. There are still a lot of them. When I’m looking for new French books, I usually go to the one just opposite the Comédie Française whose name escapes me. French people love the FNAC but even though it has a huge range of books, I don’t like it because it’s impersonal. Thanks for sharing the reason that you love France and French!
Always lovely to read your posts! I feel I’m travelling around Europe vicariously until I can do it one day perhaps with Jane.
My children gave me a Kindle for my last birthday and I am totally converted…though I have warned them that to give it to a voracious reader like me was dangerous. I can read a review, connect, check out a sample and buy – all within minutes if not seconds. Their inheritance gets smaller as I shop. The worst part of my recent holiday was that I forgot to pack the charger for the Kindle and because it is specific to the Kindle just had to make do with borrowed books and magazines till I got back home. Although I must admit I was unlucky that it needed charging while I was away because once charged it lasts a long time. For those who love the feel of books, I don’t feel they will ever disappear completely. Kindle is great for novels but for some texts and “coffee table” type books, it is just not the same. Following the Valentino exhibition in Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in 2010, one of my daughters tracked down a copy of the exhibition book (they were all sold out at the exhibition) and that is an example of what would not translate to Kindle – beautiful to hold and browse.
Hi Jane’s cousin! Glad you enjoy the blog. And thank you for “voracious” which is what I meant of course. Nothing like talking about my love of words then using a malapropism! You know, when I wrote it, I had doubts but I googled it and found quite a few hits. I’m obviously not alone in using the wrong word! I’m going to be very careful about packing the charger! I’ll need a list soon: iPhone, laptop, camera, MP3 player – it’s never-ending. At least I don’t need to take an adapter because I can use the one from my iPhone. Like you, I still treasure certain books. There is nothing I love as much as looking up the etymology of French words in my two-volume Robert’s etymological dictionary made of Bible paper!
You are going to SO love your Kindle. I’ve had mine over a year now and it goes everywhere with me. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever bought.
To celebrate your new Kindle-owning status, please help yourself to a copy of my book Heads Above Water (by Stephanie Dagg).It’s on a free promotion today, 26th April. It’s the account of our first couple of eventful years as expats in France. (The promotion goes on US time so it may not appear as free till a bit later in the day for us Europeans.)
Wonderful! Thank you Steph. I’ll check it out this afternoon and download your book. Jane’s cousin will be able to do the same.
I hope you don’t mind but I downloaded a copy too. Can’t wait to read it!
The more the merrier! I’ve just downloaded mine.
I loved Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven and Famous Five. I was also very keen on the Cherry Ames series. I am not sure who the author was but she was a nurse. I recall titles such as ‘Cherry Ames: Student Nurse’ and ‘Cherry Ames: Flight Nurse’. I suspect that they probably won’t have made their way to Kindle.