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It’s Tadoku time again!

30 Jun

I’m entered in Tadoku again. I have to say, I’ve fallen out of the reading habit since the last Tadoku. Reading has never been a passion of mine and I tend to read sporadically, only when I have a book that holds the interest of my monkey mind. However, I know that my language skills improve across the board (speaking, listening, writing) when I read. It’s probably the most effective learning method I’ve used since I reached an intermediate level. So I’m dusting off the library card and I’m ready to get my read on!

Tadoku – end

2 May

Tadoku has finished and I read 645 pages and came in 33rd(?) place. I have to admit, I lost interest in reading in the past few weeks. I need to get back on the horse and finish off my 12 books goal (only 2 more to go!). I still have a list of authors and specific novels I want to read and subjects (like the boeren in South Africa) that I want to read about in Dutch. After completing the 12 books goal, I’ll probably up it to 25 books. I owe myself a milkshake as a reward after I’ve read 12 books : D

Adriaan van Dis is my favourite writer so far. I’ve only read his travel writing so far the way he writes and his attitude towards his subjects. I found the book ‘Het Beloofde Land’ very interesting because it was a look into the attitudes of white South African farmers at the time of Post-Apartheid and just before the presidency of Nelson Mandela. I was amazed by how small their worlds seemed to be. I imagined the white South African to be aggressively racist after reading about the violence in the cities but it was mostly a tentative and extremely fear based kind of racism in the country side. Those in the book were living in vast, sparse environments with nothing much to do than discuss the graduoise history of the white (Dutch) South African.

Now I’m going to read some fiction by van Dis, starting with De Wandelaar.

Reading more, not dying

6 Apr

This is how my victory will look.

It’s only day 6 of Read More or Die but it feels longer because of how intensely I’ve been reading. I’ve finished three more books since the 1st of April (granted, they were fairly short but I make up the rules here : P) and read 354 pages.

The competitive aspect of ReadMOD is incredibly motivating. I hate to admit it, but I have a ruthless streak and the image of the Japanese lovers flicking through their mangas and racing to the top ten has me rushing towards the nearest book to get an extra few pages read. It’s made me very picky about reading material. I’ve rejected about seven books because they seemed too difficult or not my style. I want to be able to whizz through the book and up my page count.

If you didn’t sign up this time, I’d recommend going for it in the next round. A month is a good amount of time to focus on reading and eyeing up your position ranking page will have you addicted to reading like it’s cocaine *twitch,  sniff* @_@

I’m looking forward to seeing how much my Dutch has improved at the end of the month!

Read More or Die

31 Mar

Yesterday I found out that the Read More or Die competition is starting a new round in April. The aim is to read as many pages as possible and you’re ranked against other competitors as extra motivation. I was just in time to register!

As you can see in the currently reading box I’ve started reading Kaas by Willem Elsschot. So far I really like it but I’m saving myself for tomorrow so I can get a good start to the competition. The language used seems a bit old fashioned but I can still follow the story so I’m not worried about it. It’s only a short book of 111 pages so as long as my competitive streak takes over, I’ll have it finished in the next few days.

De Eetclub

29 Mar

I give up! I’m seriously can’t get into this book. I’m over half way but the first half has been lacking drama and I find the characters rather flat and superficial. More so than in Nieuwe Buren. There’s more main characters, 10 instead of 4 and none of them are particularly developed beyond the stereotype of upper middle class businessmen and their Stepford wives. Maybe the end is incredibly exciting and thought provoking but I doubt it. Truth be told, there’s just not enough sex in this book to drag me through 😀

Next I’ll read something a little more…intellectual (or sexy).

A mini book review – Nieuwe Buren

16 Mar

I thought it would be nice to start reviewing the books I read, from the perspective of a learner. So…

Nieuwe Buren (in English, New Neighbours) is an accessible book for someone with B1/2 level reading in Dutch. The language is quite simple and based on action rather than description. For this reason it shouldn’t be considered a example of spectacular Dutch writing (or so my Dutchies inform me) but it is an interesting read.

The story is about a couple who have been trying for years to have a baby, finally get pregnant but unfortunately their baby is stillborn. Years of sex for the sake of getting pregnant and difficult artificial insemination treatments have left their relationship cold and it is at this point that they move into what would have been their dream home, had they have had a healthy baby to complete their family. The house is brand new, in a housing estate. They meet another couple, in the house opposite who offer them both a way out of their pain. And here’s where I stop before I spoil the rest of the book.

The book is narrated by the first couple. Both of them, alternately. Therefore you get two different perspectives of what’s going on, which often clash due to the characters’ lack of communication. All four characters are in many ways rather repulsive people who keep secrets from each other and seem to have no shame in destroying their relationships with each other.

In an interview (in Dutch) Saskia explains that the book is a critique of the sterile cookie cutter suburban world and the attempts of individuals to differentiate themselves from their neighbours. I honestly wouldn’t have got this from the book without having read the interview because other than the character of Peter, one of the two narrators, all of them seemed to have immersed themselves in this way of life without a hint of real rebellion. Peter is the only one who really delivers this message through the author’s frequent use of mostly English language song lyrics throughout his narrative. (It just so happens that Saskia Noort and I share the same taste in music (rock) : D)

All in all, I give it three stars (***) since the story had me hooked but now and then I got a little sick of the characters and the rather unrealistic chain of events.

Number 4 is duh, duh, duh, done!

15 Mar

Reading progress

Four books so far this year woo! *High fives self* Now I have to get my butt to the library. For some reason I’m feeling more drawn towards modern books instead of literary classics. They are, of course, easier and I get through the quicker. Next I’d like to read something by Herman Koch but I’ll have to wait since his books are always lent out.

Wanderlust and the Paradox of Choice

I’d like to talk about wanderlust and my competitive side. I seriously can’t go on a language forum without feeling like a child in a sweet shop. All those languages to choose from, all those people gobbling up French, Swedish, German, Thai…and then I want to push all the other children out of the way and steal them all. But I don’t, because of Dutch. It’s a constant battle to reel in my urge to collect more languages and create a more impressive profile. It would of course, be silly to try to learn a language for the sake of impressing others but it’s a mistake I’ve already made several times. Now I know what I really want, which is C2 level Dutch by the time I’m 26 (I’m 20 now) and to be trilingual by the time I’m 30. My ego says ‘12 years for two languages? You’ve gotta be kidding me?!‘ but my heart (which values simplicity) says ‘Go for it!

Inevitably, by the time I’m 30 I’ll be interested in something else so I know 30 year old me will be a lot more satisfied with 3 fluent languages than 20 unfinished ones. It’s getting scary all this talk of being 30 so I’ll stop typing now. Bye! : D

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