Booklist of essential reading material for learning Chinese
This morning I was looking through old threads to find suggestions on (etymology) dictionaries (Changye mentioned a few I remembered). I realized there is no place on Cpod where you can look up info on specific study / reference material. Maybe we can post our favorite "old school" media (books) or reading suggestions in this thread so others can benefit from it?
I start with something I am busy with at this moment: Alice in Wonderland. You can find this book in Chinese (25 RMB) and English (21 RMB) in big Cities in China and I "read" (well try to read) both at the same time. First I read the English version, and then the Chinese and I think this will help me with my Chinese in the long run. I can be wrong, but it is worth to try and I like it. After I am finished with this one I might go for Harry Potter :-)
Not sure how to organize this book thing, but it is a start and any suggestions input is welcome!
bodaweiOctober 10, 2009, 09:52 AM
I read old bills, receipts, the backs of DVDs, advertisements, the messges sent to me by the phone company (about houses for sale), the blurb about my university, comics, airline magazines, journals, the ingredients for packaged foods (I can't eat gluten), the stickers on drink bottles, chocolates and ice blocks, menus, special offers that come from the bottled water company, my landlord's mail (just the envelopes), maps, signs on buildings, bus routes, etc. I have the best of intentions about reading good literature, but mostly my enthusiasm dies after one chapter (I'm stubborn enough to finish one chapter.)
Chantelle - how does this thread become a permanent record? It is not searchable, is it? [I have asked this question of ChinesePod staff twice now, with no response - I think that I am getting the message but an old friend told me: '' always ask a question three times in China".]
changyeOctober 12, 2009, 02:00 PM
Hi chanelle77 and tvan
I'm a responsible man. So let me take responsibility for the digression and introduce you good reading materials now. There is not much freshness in comparison with 哈利波特 or 爱丽丝, but I still think that 鲁迅散文 (thankfully, they are all short) are just worth reading for us. You can learn not only traditional Chinese way of thinking but also a little "out of date" wording and phrasing, hehe.
changyeOctober 10, 2009, 01:19 PM
I'm not diligent/patient enough to read novels in Chinese. Instead, I read several articles, colums, and editorials in some online Chinese newspapers and a blog written by a Chinese writer who lives in Japan with the help of Chinese-perakun every day.
Basically I don't read paper Chinese books except for ones on Chinese language/characters as I don't want to get frustrated by seeing 生词 and flipping a dictionary. I tried to read a Chinese novel through several times in the past without success......
I always try to read a variety of news, such as ones about politics, economy, science, history, accidents, murders, bribery and etc. My favoriate is "affairs/incidents caused by 中国老百姓". Such news articles are full of 地道的 words and phrases, which you never see in textbooks (and even in Chinesepod lessons).
zhenlijiangOctober 10, 2009, 05:29 PM
(A month ago I posted in Chinese about finding Alice on nciku. Guess maybe it didn't get read or understood because the Chinese was bad, haha. oh well)
I got the feeling at the time that people at nciku might often be getting ideas from looking here in CPod actually. Yeah and that's good.
A combo of books of "good writing" including fiction, journalism and other non-fiction etc. (my reading ability not yet quite there however. still trying to keep up with five-year-olds myself) with all the miscellaneous bits of copy and writing mentioned by Bodawei et al--instructions, recipes, packages, adverts--helps me to finally grasp the "real" sense and breadth of words, the consensus on the range a certain word is being allowed by the natives speaking the language. I'm sure newspaper and magazine articles and blogs can reinforce and show me what "range" is current. That's quite an overwhelming amount of reading though, for me.
TalOctober 11, 2009, 12:40 AM
哈哈！Don't take it to heart zhen. I tried reading some of the extracts (?) you posted and found them pretty hard going, so didn't in the end bother to absorb every word of those Alice threads. (In the end it comes down to how much time you've got available, right?)
An online version in the public domain is interesting though, because when I have time I'll convert it into a text file I can use with Pleco, then I can have instant dictionary definitions for any unfamiliar characters/words, (when I get round to doing this I'll put a download link here.)
Interesting point about capital letters in Pinyin, Bob. From a certain point of view (the Chinese one! remember Pinyin was invented by and for the Chinese, not to help 外国人 learn Chinese,) they are unnecessary and/or superfluous. It's we who grow up with the Latin alphabet and English punctuation who flinch when proper capitalisation is absent, to Chinese people it just doesn't matter!
chanelle77October 10, 2009, 10:07 AM
Hmmm: I guess it is not, but not sure. I tried to look up things in (other) threads, but that did not work to well since the search functions does not look into comments (at least it does not for me).
I love to read packages and (silly) advertisement folders as well :-). Sometimes something all of a sudden makes sence (e.g. Great Lakes Apple Juice and I can READ the characters, ok not too exciting but for me it was a small victory). Today I picked up a great promotion folder from a supermarket with lots of bad english as a bonus!
Maybe "we" can extend the thread to books AND advertisements or anything readible on paper. Your suggestion is great!
BTW there should be a pic in my post, but I get the feeling it is not working.
TalOctober 11, 2009, 02:22 AM
I guess so too changye, and on the whole I agree with you! I'm considering making the effort to read Alice in Chinese because I'm sure it'd be good for my character recognition.
As for 哈利波特, I wouldn't want to read it in any language! 哈哈！
tvanOctober 11, 2009, 08:32 PM
@changye, re: transliterations, no kidding. My home state is California, which had an nice, simple, original transliteration of 加州。 However, when I happened to glance at the Chinese version of the drivers' handbook at the DMV, it read 加利福尼亞. Whose idea was that?
All I can think of is that some bureaucrat decided that our state needed a name one character longer than our governor's, 施瓦辛格.
In all seriousness, most good quality Chinese overseas newspapers include proper names in parenthesis. Many (overseas) Chinese tell me that they prefer this as they often can't figure out transliterations.
changyeOctober 12, 2009, 12:34 AM
Owing to 加州牛肉面, noodle restaurant chains that are seen everywhere in the PRC, California (加州) is definitely one of the most well-known states of the USA here in China, although I think that not many Chinese people know how to write "加利福尼亚" precisely.
People who come from Philadelphia or Vladivostok might feel a little dizzy when they first see Chinese names of their cities, 费拉德尔菲亚 and 符拉迪沃斯托克, but no need to worry, guys. Fortunately enough, there are shorter names for them, i.e. 费城 and 海参崴.
I sincerely sympathize with people from Buenos Aires. They just have to settle for "布宜诺斯艾利斯".
chenhuaOctober 12, 2009, 08:14 AM
this is my first time to see these interesting things,and that is really funny. In China, most of us may think it is normal,and i can say we know "加利福尼亚" .In chinese culutre, the names of places just two or three characters,such as 北京，上海.
chanelle77October 12, 2009, 09:15 AM
@tvan no worries about the thread jacking :-)
I am reading in a chengyu dictionary before I go to sleep (I have serious issues yes I know). Anyway I found this one funny and thought I'd share: 猫哭老鼠 mao1 ku1 lao3 shu3 i.e. shed crocodile tears.
tvanOctober 12, 2009, 11:34 AM
@chanelle77, you have issues all right! However, I can't talk. I'm currently working my way through a book called, 兒童學成語 (儿童学成语), which is a children's book for overseas Chinese kids.
I like it better than the adult variety because it has pictures.
bodaweiOctober 12, 2009, 11:40 AM
I forget to mention that in my list above - last time I was here we bought quite a few kids books. You're right Tvan, the pictures are great. I have a kids book on Tang Dynasty poems - the great thing is that each poem is explained (in Chinese) at the bottom of the page. Not quite as good as Poems With Pete but not bad either.
changyeOctober 11, 2009, 01:28 AM
Once I gave up reading a translated Western novel partly because I got fed up with transliterated words (person/place names and etc) in it (and mainly becasue I'm not a diligent guy). Personally I hate seeing such words when reading Chinese. I would prefer reading Chinese texts about Chinese things, where I see less foreign proper nouns. I guess there are tons of transliterated words in 哈利波特!!