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Readers recommend: Favourite books for improving your French skills

From classics to memoirs, Connexion readers give their top tips

Books as recommended by The Connexion readers to improve your French Pic: BiliionPhotos / Shutterstock

We recently wrote about the best books for improving your French and also asked you for your tips.

Fortunately, lots of readers contacted us with advice, which we are sharing with you, below.

If you have any more to add, do not hesitate to get in touch via sophie.parsons@connexionfrance.com

Reading tips 

Connexion reader JK recommends reading a book and listening to it on Audible at the same time. 

“The advantage of Audible is, of course, that you can change the speed of the narration,” she said. “I have yet to master the novel being read at full speed but always have it set to 0.8 initially and can generally up it to 0.9 before the end. 

“I tend to always read with a pencil (I was a teacher for many years!) and underline bits or vocabulary I am not sure of so I can go back and check later.”

Read also: Books to help improve your French

Another tip from JK was to use a vocabulary notebook to write down any new words you come across. 

“Sometimes a particular word is repeated a lot in a specific novel so that initially you might find yourself saying I have come across that before, to thinking it’s in the notebook, to looking it up in there and finding it in your own writing, and then the next time remembering it as you read it.”

JK’s recommendations are as follows: 

  • Tu comprendras quand tu seras plus grande - Virginie Grimaldi

  • Il est grand temps de rallumer les étoiles - Virginie Grimaldi

  • Changer l'eau des fleurs - Valérie Perrin

  • Je revenais des autres - Mélissa de Costa

  • Une fille comme elle - Marc Levy

  • Le cerise sur le gâteau - Aurélie Valognes 

  • Le jour où les lions mangeront de la salade verte - Raphaëlle Giordano

The classics 

You cannot go far wrong with the classics, as readers JM and BH pointed out. 

JM suggested L’Amant by Marguerite Duras, a very celebrated French writer, while BH recommended Bonjour tristesse by  Françoise Sagan. 

For beginners, Bonjour tristesse is a particularly good option as the language and structure are fairly straightforward.

Books about moving to France for a new life 

To add to our list about moving to France to start a new life, Mark Greenside wrote in to recommend his books, I’ll Never Be French (no matter what I do) and (Not Quite) Mastering the Art of French Living. 

Read also: Six books to read about moving to France for a new life

Joke books

One reader recommended telling jokes in the language you are trying to learn to improve your skills. 

It is true that even when your French is good, it can be difficult to capture humour in the second language, particularly the elusive deuxième degré!

Jeremy Taylor also wrote in to suggest a book he wrote to get your French comedy skills up to scratch:  Language Learning Joke Books by Jeremy Taylor.

Memoirs

MR recommends Les Battements du cœur du colibri by Roselyne Febvre. 

He said: “It’s about a mum’s attempts to help her son overcome drug addictions. Roselyne is a France24 chief political journalist, so she tells a story well.”

Related articles

Updated: Your tips on how best to improve French language skills
Tips on how to practise your French conversation skills in France

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