The Untranslated Book Club

The-Reading-Room

Heinrich Lukas Arnold. The Reading Room.

I have decided to add another tier to my Patreon—The Untranslated Book Club. Please do not rush to join it yet and read carefully what I have to say. The main goal of the Book Club is to encourage learners of a foreign language to read a long, challenging novel in that language reviewed on my blog. For the time being, I have chosen four most popular languages: French, Italian, German, and Spanish; there might be more in the future. If you are at least an intermediate reader in any of these languages, you can try. A simple test would be getting a copy of The Little Prince in your target language and trying to read it. If you can get 90% of the information without using a dictionary, you are good to go. Once you join the Book Club, you will also get the benefit of the previous tier—early access to my reviews. If you read only one foreign language, say French, then at the end of the reading period for the French book you can either cancel your subscription or switch to the lower tier. Here is the tentative reading schedule for the twelve-month period starting with October 4, 2021:

  1. October, November, December – Le maréchal absolu by Pierre Jourde (French)
  2. January, February, March – Horcynus Orca by Stefano D’Arrigo (Italian) — That’s a tough one, I know, but to get you going I will share my detailed glossary to the first ten pages.
  3. April, May, June – Schattenfroh by Michael Lentz (German)
  4. July, August, September – A Spanish-language novel (title to be announced). I do not have the Spanish-language title yet because the books I would like to include like Los sorias or La tejedora de coronas are very difficult to get, and it goes without saying that a novel for the Book Club should be readily available.

For the duration of your pledge,  you will have access to my weekly Patreon posts about the portion of the novel we are currently reading. Depending on the length of the book, those chunks could be anywhere between 50 and 80 pages a week. The posts will include a short summary, analysis of some interesting words and expressions, explanatory notes, and questions for discussion. Every month, the members of this tier will be invited to the exclusive Discord voice chat meeting at which we are going to discuss the part of the book covered that month, share impressions, ideas, and help one another with the most obscure or difficult aspects of the text. (If your time zone is anywhere between GMT+7 and GMT+12, maybe it’s not a good idea, unless you can’t fall asleep and feel like talking about untranslated literature with us!) It is not recommended to join the Book Club late as it might be too difficult to catch up with the others. Two weeks of tardiness is the maximum, in my opinion. Since all new Patreon supporters are charged immediately upon joining the given tier, I strongly suggest joining The Untranslated Book Club not at the end of the month previous to the one in which our reading starts, but at the beginning of that month. For example, the first week for reading Le marechal absolu starts on October 4, so you have 3 days, beginning from October 2, to do your pledge. Even if there is only one person participating, the reading will go ahead.

Before joining The Untranslated Book Club, consult this checklist, which will help you to decide if it’s a good idea:

  1. You have read my review of the book and it is the kind of book you might like.
  2. You can get hold of a copy, either physical or in e-format.
  3. You are at least an intermediate reader in the given language. (The Little Prince test)
  4. You have at least 2 free hours a day to dedicate to reading the book.
  5. You have the stamina and perseverance to continue reading the text despite any setbacks.

Challenge yourself and improve your reading skills in a foreign language by reading some of the weirdest and the most linguistically inventive untranslated books in that language!

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20 Responses to The Untranslated Book Club

  1. josepmitjavila says:

    Congratulations! Nice idea. I would like to join Stefano d’Arigo. So, if I understood you, should I join the club at the end of December 2021? Once finished the book, can I leave the club until a next interesting book for me?
    I’m unable to read French (literature level) or German and Spanish is my second mother tongue. Thus I can skip all these books.

    • Thanks for your interest, Josep! If you feel like doing this, you should join at the beginning of January (first couple of days) because you are charged immediately. Then you can cancel the membership at the end of March when we have the final discussion.

      • josepmitjavila says:

        Thank you.
        “beginning of January (first couple of days)”. I will have to put an alarm in my phone to remind me it. Big new year’s parties, you know. 🙂

  2. IronMike says:

    This is awesome! I’ll keep my eye on this. My Italian is approaching 90% Little Prince test, but I have my Russian test in Jan/Feb, so will have to pass for now. But my German might be up to snuff by April.
    Of course, if you ever do this in Russian, I’d say: Take my money now!
    С уважением,
    Mike

  3. I only read in Portuguese (my mother tongue) and, obviously, English; so pick like an untranslated Lobo Antunes or something and I’m in 😛 all joking aside, congratulations for your blog’s success, and here’s wishing this new project goes well 🙂 !

  4. Jake Hansen says:

    What a wonderful idea! Echoing Mike, I’d like to express my interest in a Russian-language club.
    I was up to my neck in Russian and passed the C2 exam at MSU back in 2019 but have since settled down back at home in the States (COVID + girlfriend + MA program). This would be an excellent way to keep up my philological chops :–)

  5. Bidé says:

    If I can make a suggestion about the book in Spanish, I would say “Proyecto Nocilla” by Agustín Fernández Mallo can be a book to be taken into consideration (it’s long and stylistically challenging, like most of the other books described in this blog).

  6. Miguel says:

    I would like to join for the Spanish and Italian sections. I can read Spanish fine, but my Italian requires more work (thus giving me impetus to read more easy Italian books in preparation in order to prepare.) When I read books not in English, I usually do so on a kindle so that I have quick access to word translations if necessary. Do you think that this is feasible?

    • Miguel says:

      On another note, I am desperate to read La tejedora de coronas with a group and am willing to do what it takes to make that happen.

    • Hi, Miguel. Thanks for your interest. It is possible for Italian if you focus only on Italian books these 3 months and thus boost up your high-frequency vocabulary. Horcynus Orca is a challenge even to native speakers. Fortunately, I’ll be explaining most of the Sicilian words there. As for Spanish, I haven’t decided yet which book it is going to be, but it will be definitely a long, complex, weird, and untranslated novel.

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