Reading in German for the First Time

Forgive me for my unannounced hiatus – believe me, it wasn’t for lack of inspiration. You could say I was busy, though not much more than usual. But in my absence I found my way back into an old hobby – reading. I had procrastinated on my reading for a few months this year but I slowly found my way back in – a topic for another blog post.

So to really prove to myself that I am definitely back on the horse, I decided to come out of my comfort zone:

I read my first German book.

Actually, that is a lie because I have read Vater Bär kommt Heim when I was six, making it the first book I have ever read in my life but that was at a time when German was the only language I spoke.

The reason why I’m writing about this is because people who know me know that this is a breakthrough for me. I have avoided books that are written in / translated into the German language for years and years, for the same reason I don’t (usually) watch movies that are dubbed into German – especially if it has originally been written/filmed in English. I just don’t see the point in reading/watching a translated/dubbed version when I’m already able to understand it in its original version.

Another reason is because I did not feel confident with the language. I know I have been living here in Germany again for more than six years now after having been away for 13 years and I speak German everyday – at work and even at home – but it’s still not the language I feel most confident with. My thoughts are all in English and it remains as the language I prefer.

The thing is, I never learned German at school because I have lived my school years in the Philippines. It’s confusing for many people because they don’t hear an accent when I speak but sometimes I still have trouble finding the right words because I’m just missing a whole decade of practise, something that people would not know unless I tell them.

That being said, a couple of days ago I decided to be brave and downloaded Sebastian Fitzek’s first thriller – Die Therapie for my Kindle. It seemed like the perfect choice for a German author, and I have no regrets! It is fast-paced and well written and made me realise that it wasn’t an impossible task after all. I finished it within a few days and I really surprised myself with that because I’m a slow-reader. I was pretty sure I’d get bored after a few pages – possibly for lack of comprehension but it just wasn’t the case and I understood the story perfectly well. I’d love to read a few more of his books because this one just blew my mind and I decided to only worry about translated books from now on and welcome more German authors into my shelf.

I highly recommend this author to everyone whose first language isn’t German but is inspired to learn and get better. Reading really helps in shaping one’s knowledge of a certain language, giving them a chance to read a word for the first time and look back on how it was used in a sentence. After all, my English wasn’t any good until I started reading all those books. Time to use the same trick on my German. 🙂

#MysteryMonday – Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

I’m sure I’m not the only one that gets turned off by baits like “a gripping psychological thriller…” added at the end of every new book title. I know I had seen this book on Kindle-Shop around spring last year but didn’t buy it only because of this headline. It wasn’t until the price went down to 2,99 € that it really caught my attention!

Mystery Monday – (n.) A series of hashtags I wanted to try out and share with you. Why? Because I can’t stop talking about books anyway so I thought I should just talk about them here. I have been reading on a few mysteries (thanks to Goodreads Choice Awards nominations) and I’ve been wanting to write some reviews anyway, so…

My first book of choice for this series is Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris. It’s not the last book I read but it’s the one that stuck with me the most. As I have mentioned before, I am quite the slow reader but I’ve finished this one within 36h so I guess it’s safe to say that I was hooked. I had trouble putting it down, dreading the 8-hour gaps I had to take for work and sleep.

The conflict in the story was revealed about 30% into the book. By that time I thought: okay, mystery solved, what now? Well, that’s exactly the point. The rest of the story was about solving the problem, and it left me curious the whole time.

I don’t want to reveal too much but, from the title itself, this book will leave you claustrophobic. Very.

Ending

The ending has left me hanging. I read this on my Kindle and the book ended at 91%. By this time I was calculating how much sleep I will lose to finish the book that same night when one revealing factor has just concluded the story. My wife was in the same room while I was reading and I just said “Oh” and looked up and that caught her attention. I must have looked miserable because she automatically came over to comfort me because it’s probably safer to do so, considering I might smash my Kindle against the wall.

This book got me to read more of the nominees under the Mystery/Thriller category on Goodreads. I eventually voted for it for best Mystery/Thriller and best debut but it didn’t make the cut for either category. I especially loved the style and technique of the author’s storytelling and I will make sure to read some of their work in the future. It’s absolutely brilliant.

If you want to read this book, it’s probably cheapest in Kindle edition at 3,99 €.

Goodreads Reading Challenge 2016: 30/30

I am quite proud of my this year’s reads. Not so much about the number because I know that with my love for books, I should be able to do so much better than that, but I am proud of the books that I have read – all 30 of them!

2016 has just been a big year for me and my reading. I was able to reach my personal goal of finishing all of Sheldon’s novels, read my first biography, found some of the best books of all time, and finally got around to some of the books that I know I should have read looong time ago.

Here’s a list of all of the titles I have read this year:

  1. Nineteen Minutes – Jodi Picoult
  2. Rage Of Angels – Sidney Sheldon
  3. Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  4. Like Being Killed – Ellen Miller
  5. The Ice Twins – S.K. Tremayne
  6. We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  7. Leaving Time – Jodi Picoult
  8. Dark Places – Gillian Flynn
  9. The Grownup – Gillian Flynn
  10. Change Of Heart – Jodi Picoult
  11. Morning, Noon & Night – Sidney Sheldon
  12. Before I Go To Sleep – SJ Watson
  13. Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
  14. The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad #2) – Tana French
  15. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #1) – Ransom Riggs
  16. Confessions Of A Murder Suspect (Confessions #1) – James Patterson & Maxene Paetro
  17. The Sky Is Falling – Sidney Sheldon
  18. A Time To Kill – John Grisham
  19. The Other Side Of Me – Sidney Sheldon
  20. The Private School Murders (Confessions #2) – James Patterson & Maxene Paetro
  21. The Interview With The Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles #1) – Anne Rice
  22. Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll
  23. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
  24. Behind Closed Doors – B.A. Paris
  25. The Woman In Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware
  26. The Girl In The Ice – Robert Bryndza
  27. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
  28. The Pocket Wife – Susan Crawford
  29. The Berlin Conspiracy – Tom Gabbay
  30. The Picture Of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

I started the year off with Jodi Picoult – a personal recommendation by a very dear friend who worships her, and I read two more of her books. Americanah is a book I have been wanting to read ever since it came out a few years ago and it easily became one of my favourite books of all time. Like Being Killed has also been sitting on my to-read list for while thanks to Goodreads book recommendations. Books like Dark Places and Before I Go To Sleep have left me disappointed but I soon found other thrillers that are really great like Behind Closed Doors  and The Girl In The Ice. I loved Tana French’s  In The Woods which I have read last year so I was excited to read The Likeness and enjoyed every word of it! Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children has hit the theatres this year and I got to read the book just in time for the movie. I found James Patterson’s Confessions series on sale at TK Maxx (three books for 6,-€ !!!) and thought I should give them a try. As it turned out, it’s not exactly for my age group but it was entertaining nonetheless and I have decided to send them over to my tweeny cousins in the Philippines for them to enjoy. I have watched my father reading John Grisham ever since I was little and it was this year when I decided to read his books as well, and so far made it to A Time To Kill but I already hoarded other titles from the nearby used bookstore – just like I did The Vampire Chronicles. I am excited to read them all after finally having read Interview With The Vampire, and there have been talks about a TV series! Really mainstream book-to-movie titles like A Clockwork Orange and Fight Club, where my only regret is not having read them sooner, also made it to my read list for 2016. I’m happy to have read The Secret Garden – a classic which I have loved as a child, and another classic, The Picture Of Dorian Gray, which has caught my attention after watching Penny Dreadful. I know it might be considered cheating but off my list, We Should All Be Feminists and The Grownup are an essay and a short story, respectively – but they are available in print and were considered to be put on the list by Goodreads. It was also my first time with audiobooks, so my wife and I have listened to Luckiest Girl Alive and The Pocket Wife during our road trips. And to close this year off, I have read a book I got from one of the many used bookstores in Bratislava, a title that has caught my attention right away: The Berlin Conspiracy. Ah, finally. To live in a place that people write books about. 🙂

I don’t think I will up my goal for 2017, though. I just don’t think I’m there yet. To everyone else who has reached their goal, congratulations! And to all the others who haven’t, that’s fine. I’m sure it’s been a busy year for all of us. 🙂 Let’s try and make 2017 another great year!

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