Difficulty rating: ★★✩✩✩ Intermediate
Genre: Storybook, Vintage
As you may have noticed, Borderlands has been inactive for the last few months... But hey, it's summer, and summer means internships, summer jobs and loads of planning! To make it up to you, Borderlands has true linguistic delight to share with you today: a vintage French storybook! I received Beginning Readings in French as a gift a few years ago from my aunt in preparation for my semester abroad in France. For me, this book holds sentimental value, as not only was it a gift from my aunt, but it was originally my grandmother's (who I didn't even know spoke French!) While I wasn't initially able to read any of the stories (my French abilities were rudimentary at best) I have since indulged in nearly all of the short stories and proverbs.
The fables range in topic, author and, admittedly, intrigue. One of my favorites, "Deux Habitants planétaires visitent la Terre", follows two gigantic humanoid aliens as they discover the earth and marvel at its triviality. Some stories are less interesting, such as the proverb "Le Meunier, son fils et l'âne", which is a simple, drawn-out proverb about a Man, his son and their donkey. Pretty dull, but hey, not all proverbs can feature existential space aliens!
Though some stories were nice, I found that the majority of Beginning Readings in French's proverbs were lackluster, or at least not what I was looking for. However, though the proverbs weren't exactly riveting, they are culturally significant. If you're looking to learn a bit about French culture and ideals (or perhaps looking to buff up on some big name authors like Voltaire), this is the book for you. Read it for the culture, not the plot. This book would be especially helpful if you'd like to practice some close reading, as each proverb is followed by a "discussion section" full of questions about the text.
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This book was intended for English-speaking audiences, particularly for French-learning adults, so the entire text is written with non-fluent readers in mind. You will need a fair grasp of simple French vocabulary, but there are little to no complicated grammar constructs, and most passages are written in present, preterite, or imperfect form.
Click here to buy Beginning Readings in French on Amazon!