A question from Julie:Good question, especially the part about still being able to read them. I'd love to be able to read Japanese but I'm quite a pathetic student (meaning I haven't put much effort into it and so really can't be surprised at my lack of progress!) so the books I have by Japanese authors are all in English translation.
I had an idea for a BTT question when I was taking a peek at one of my bookcases yesterday and spotted my old copy of the Aeneid in Latin sitting there. Maybe this question has already been done—but if not… Do you have any foreign language books and if so can you (still) read them?
But I do have a small collection of books in French that inspire guilt whenever I see them. Being Canadian, where a few years of French is compulsory, and having studied it a bit at uni as well, plus my year as an exchange student in France...well, it's the only other language I'd have a chance at reading in the original. The problem is at school we only basically memorised some words, and very basic grammar without learning how to have a conversation, and while I was speaking reasonably fluently after my year there, that was well over 15 years ago and I haven't had much opportunity to speak it since.
But that never stopped me from going to the lovely FNAC everytime I was in Paris or Brussels and coming away with several books. Each time trying to convince myself that I'd get back into French through reading. I did read Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi in French a couple of years ago but other than that, they've just sat there smirking at me.
Besides my old copy of Le Petit Prince, a few of them date back to the courses at university so they have technically been read but so long ago I don't remember anything about them. Some of the newer acquisitions (unread) are stories that I've already read in translation, thinking that would be a good start. For example, I've got some Amelie Nothomb, Maxence Fermine's Neige and Le Violon Noir, and Dai Sijie's Balzac et la Petite Tailleuse chinoise. Then there are a few classics that I've never read like Camus' L'etranger. And then a few contemporary ones that caught my eye. I was very tempted to get Suite Francaise back before it was even published in English. It's probably best that I didn't since at least the English translation I have in the stacks now has a better chance at being read somewhat soonish. And...let's just say there are a few more.
Because I know it'll be a bit of a challenge to read them, and I know I'd need to look things up having forgotten so much, therefore needing a dictionary nearby, I always put it off. Plus then I justify it by thinking that I should really be focusing on Japanese right now, and I do tend to get mixed up if I have 2 languages besides English swirling around in my brain at a time. If only I were actually studying Japanese. The curse of the eternal procrastinator, I guess. All I can hope is that someday I'll have the motivation to finally read these.