A Summer Challenge

I’m really beginning to dislike this whole “needing sleep” thing, as it’s getting in the way of all the things I want to do, most notably lately all the books I want to read. Now. I have a pile of books I’ve started and not finished, yet I keep succumbing to the lure of the library. Alas, I drive past it every single work day.

Now, one of those books in my long-abandoned stack is Le avventure di Pinocchio. Yep, in Italian…which may in part explain its unfinished state. And then back at the start of the year I believe I said I wanted to read a book in Spanish this year. I only have a shelf-full to choose from. So when I saw that Ekaterina at In My Book was hosting a challenge to get those of us who aspire to read in other languages to actually do so, I thought I’d better sign up.


The challenge runs from now through the end of August (phew, plenty of time), and asks us to read in a language (or languages) we aren’t fully comfortable in–the ones you have to work at. Well, given how much I’ve forgotten in the 10 years since I actually studied in Italian/13 since I studied Spanish, I think I’m safe there! There are levels: since my goals for the year include Pinocchio and a TBD Spanish title, I’ll aim for Intermediate, two books. She also has a category for films, Subs fan, which I will hopefully participate in as well. Helpfully, Ekaterina is counting short stories and adapted books, so that even beginners may participate.

Ekaterina asks:

What languages do you know? Note: even if you are a beginner, it totally counts! And don’t forget to mention what your mother-tongue is!

Spanish and Italian (based on knowledge of these I find I can sometimes work out a little basic French or Portuguese, but I’ve never studied either), and my mother tongue is English. (American variety.)

What is your history with these languages?

I studied Spanish from 5th through 12th grades in school–my last year we primarily focused on literature and culture. I took one year of Italian at university, knowing I would be spending a semester (four months) in Florence (Firenze), Italy. Alas, the Italians are so accommodating to tourists it could be sometimes difficult to actually practice what little Italian I knew. On the other hand, it proved useful for helping Italian tourists with directions. (True! I don’t think I look the least Italian, but for some reason I must have looked like I knew the way to the nearest McDonald’s/train station/etc.)

Do you use them or are you out of practice?

Rather out of practice, although I do listen to music in both languages. I occasionally read shorts posts online as well, but I’m afraid I’m all too quick to click on Google Translate.

Have you read some books in these languages? Did you like it?

I’ve started books in both. Other than for Spanish class I’ve never finished anything–sometimes it’s just easier to return to the mother-tongue than keep working so hard to read something that’s supposed to be fun.

What are your plans for the challenge?

To actually finish something for once! And maybe begin to recover some of the language skills I’ve lost.

Once I finish up my current stack of library books (I think I”m down to two), I think this challenge will be my next focus. After all, I think it’s going to take some time to get through Pinocchio

14 thoughts on “A Summer Challenge”

  1. How inspiring. I’m tempted to revisit my oh-so-rusty French, but I fear I’d need to limit myself to children’s books to have any hope of succeeding.

    1. Well, according to the sign-up post, children’s books are fair game! I believe one participant is planning on reading Italian translations of Dr. Seuss.

  2. Welcome! Spanish is my great love, it is so beautiful! And there are a lot of great books in it to choose from! I always have the same problem with German as you did with Italian – they immediately switch to English… Sometimes I pretend I don’t know it 🙂

    1. Thank you! I’m looking forward to the challenge. I really liked Spanish when I was studying it, but I let my ability slide a good bit. There are so many books I want to read, including quite a few I already own that my biggest problem will hopefully be choosing what to read!

      I did find in Italy that there were certain places I could go, such as the food market, where it was easier to stick with Italian because the vendors weren’t as used to selling to tourists.

  3. I’ve read Candide in French, and I feel like I read an abridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo in French. I definitely want to read more books in French. I’m mighty proud that I seem able to translate the French passages in Villette and War & Peace, which are half French if I recall. 😛

    Have fun!

    1. Thanks! It sounds like you’ve done more foreign-language reading than I have. I kinda want to take a French class just so I can learn to read the French passages in books! I could take one at the local university, but I’m not sure I want to spend quite that much money. Maybe I should look into language learning podcasts–I do have a long commute. 🙂

    1. I’m hoping it’s just the inspiration I need to actually practice my language skills. I have so many books I already own in Spanish and Italian that are just waiting for me to get around to it already. I hope you find the time to join in!

    1. I don’t think I’ve seen any challenge like it before. I made a very brief attempt at Italian with Pinocchio in January, but it didn’t take. Maybe this time… 🙂 Enjoy your own Italian reads!

    1. Thanks! I just need to get started. 🙂 I’m hoping it will be fun to try to brush up my very weak Italian…

  4. I’ve been trying to get rid of my sleeping need to some time because it also gets on my reading routine. But the more tired you are, the more you’ll sleep and the less you’ll read. The trick for me was to set time for reading: this evening I’ll read and do nothing more. No work, no friends, no family, just time for me. It’s no always easy but it works for me. I really hope you manage to find time, it’s so necessary to remain sane amid all the stress and obligations! Keep us posted and you know where to find us 🙂

    1. Sometimes, I swear, the more tired I am the harder it is to sleep! I think what really wears me out is less the lack of sleep than all the driving I have to do. Or at least, I haven’t nodded off over a book lately, so maybe I’m just physically worn out rather than mentally.

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