Suggestions for reading material to improve reading speed and comprehension

άρτος

Member
English
I have been learning Modern Greek for several years and I am looking for suggestions for material to help me improve my reading speed and comprehension.

I have been reading poetry, listening to songs and reading some key modern literary texts (slowly!) but I'm after something lighter with interesting stories. Maybe crime, thrillers? Someone suggested children's books, but they don't really appeal.

Any ideas?
 
  • dmtrs

    Senior Member
    Greek
    I've proposed this on another thread sometime ago: a good way to read literature with a more or less everyday language and avoid the writers' mannerisms is to go for foreign literature translated into Greek. You miss the cultural element of reading Greek literature, of course, but you gain in terms of language and you can have a huge variety of books to chose from. Especially for English speaking people, the choices of books originally written in their own language are practically innumerable and can satisfy any taste -in fact, literature is not the only option; you can read history, politics or whatever.
     

    lentulax

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I'm not so sure ,dmtrs (though I accept that you're much better placed to judge!) - but I remember once , when I was learning some Greek and on holiday in Greece, picking up a Greek translation of a Mills and Boon novel (chick-lit! I'm male, but beggars ...) from the holiday-accommodation bookshelf, and feeling that there was a distinctly English flavour to some of the Greek. And for many learners, the 'cultural element' you mention is , I think, hugely important. My problem was similar to άρτος - I wanted to read Greek books written by Greeks for Greek readers, but not for children; but books which I could manage to read without so much effort that it became difficult to sustain interest; most novels are simply too difficult (mainly because of the amount of unfamiliar vocabulary); and looking at lists of book-titles and summaries, it's impossible to judge the level of difficulty for a foreigner. At that distant time (since then , I've been forgetting the little I learnt) I met a delightful young Greek woman, to whom I moaned about finding books in Greek that I was capable of reading, and a few weeks later she kindly sent me a novel she'd carefully selected for me ( Στην Πολυχένη, by Βεατρίκη Σαϊας-Μαγρίζου) - and she got it right : vocabulary and syntax were straightforward enough for me to make relatively smooth progress, though of course meeting new words and idioms too. I mention the title simply as an example - if only there were somewhere a list of novels, no matter what the genre, whose level of linguistic complexity is similarly within the range of the serious (but not masochistic) learner!
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    Another suggestion is reading books by Greek authors (older or contemporary) translated into English or other languages. So while reading the book in the original language, you will be able to look at its translated version, when needed, and that may be a help.
     
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    άρτος

    Member
    English
    On internet I found the series "Greek Easy Readers" or "Μythology in Easy Greek". In the same site there are also other maybe interesting titles for learners of Modern Greek.
    Thanks, they're OK, but I've done most of them.

    I'm not so sure ,dmtrs (though I accept that you're much better placed to judge!) - but I remember once , when I was learning some Greek and on holiday in Greece, picking up a Greek translation of a Mills and Boon novel (chick-lit! I'm male, but beggars ...) from the holiday-accommodation bookshelf, and feeling that there was a distinctly English flavour to some of the Greek. And for many learners, the 'cultural element' you mention is , I think, hugely important. My problem was similar to άρτος - I wanted to read Greek books written by Greeks for Greek readers, but not for children; but books which I could manage to read without so much effort that it became difficult to sustain interest; most novels are simply too difficult (mainly because of the amount of unfamiliar vocabulary); and looking at lists of book-titles and summaries, it's impossible to judge the level of difficulty for a foreigner. At that distant time (since then , I've been forgetting the little I learnt) I met a delightful young Greek woman, to whom I moaned about finding books in Greek that I was capable of reading, and a few weeks later she kindly sent me a novel she'd carefully selected for me ( Στην Πολυχένη, by Βεατρίκη Σαϊας-Μαγρίζου) - and she got it right : vocabulary and syntax were straightforward enough for me to make relatively smooth progress, though of course meeting new words and idioms too. I mention the title simply as an example - if only there were somewhere a list of novels, no matter what the genre, whose level of linguistic complexity is similarly within the range of the serious (but not masochistic) learner!
    I completely agree with this. Reading English books translated into Greek is a bit like going on holiday and taking all your food with you. It's possible, but why would you do it as you miss so much of the local culture?

    If only that list existed! Perhaps we should invite our native Greek speaking friends on the forum to make some suggestions to get the ball rolling?

    Another suggestion is reading books by Greek authors (older or contemporary) translated into English or other languages. So while reading the book in the original language, you will be able to look at its translated version, when needed, and that may be a help.
    Good thought, but a lot of stuff outside the classic moderns is not available in English.
     

    lentulax

    Senior Member
    UK English
    . So while reading the book in the original language, you will be able to look at its translated version, when needed, and that may be a help
    It would certainly be a great help, but trying to read two books simultaneously needs a degree of commitment and physical dexterity I've never achieved. Dual-language texts (text/translation on facing pages) really only exist for poetry (except for one or two low-level teaching texts) , and these I have found invaluable - in a few cases , like Seferis and Cavafy, the complete works are available in dual-language form (pub. Cape and OUP respectively) and I also have a few collections , like that made by M. Byron Raizis (Efstathiades, Athens), and individual works, like Ritsos' Romiosyne (Loizou Publications, London); most of these I got long ago, and maybe there are more available now.

    Learning Italian (much easier than Greek), I found detective stories (as artos suggests) very useful (providing you avoided those written in the Sicilian dialect or crammed with street slang), since they're by nature centred on plot , which helps sustain interest through the difficulties; but again, the learner needs advice from native speakers about which authors might be straightforward enough for him to tackle.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I agree completely with lentulax about the English books in Greek translation.

    I think you might have a look at the detective novels of Petros Markaris. I'm not a fan, but the one I read seemed very easy on the whole, and the style of writing is straightforward, as far as I remember.
     

    lentulax

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I think you might have a look at the detective novels of Petros Markaris.
    Thanks for the suggestion - my Greek has lapsed, but I'll see if I can revive it. You'll appreciate our problem in the UK when I say that if you google the author's name, and check out ebay and amazon, you'll find his books in English, German, French , Italian and Spanish, before you finally find a copy in the original Greek (on p.3 of the Amazon list), which is despatched from Greece. I only hope that, in ordering it, I haven't deprived artos, whose initiative this is, of the chance of getting one himself!
     

    shawnee

    Senior Member
    English - Australian
    I find reading Greek subtitled film increases reading speed. Try Turkish serials with Greek subtitles - two languages for the price of one. And they should be easy to come by I'd say.
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    I think you might have a look at the detective novels of Petros Markaris. I'm not a fan, but the one I read seemed very easy on the whole, and the style of writing is straightforward, as far as I remember.
    I've read a couple of Markaris books in German and I admit I had the same experience: "very easy on the whole, and the style of writing is straightforward"!
     
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    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I've just remembered one of the very first books I read in Greek. It's a series of aphorisms, a great success when it was first published:
    Η δυστυχία του να είσαι Έλληνας, του Νίκου Δήμου.
     

    άρτος

    Member
    English
    I agree completely with lentulax about the English books in Greek translation.

    I think you might have a look at the detective novels of Petros Markaris. I'm not a fan, but the one I read seemed very easy on the whole, and the style of writing is straightforward, as far as I remember.
    Thanks you!

    I find reading Greek subtitled film increases reading speed. Try Turkish serials with Greek subtitles - two languages for the price of one. And they should be easy to come by I'd say.
    Interesting idea - thanks for the suggestion! Just started watching a series on Star TV called Το κόκκινο ποτάμι, a very interesting story about the lives of the Pontic Greeks caught up in the Asia Minor disaster. Unfortunately for me, there aren't any subtitles except when the characters are speaking Turkish and generally it's quite fast dialogue.
     

    ianis

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    The easiest thing to listen to seem to be lectures, lessons and similar presentations, because they usually speak loud and clear at slow pace and may write also on the board, those can be found on channels like Ελληνική Αγωγή, ESTIA TV and Φρυκτωρίες.
     

    larshgf

    Senior Member
    Danish
    If you want youtube videos where you can listen to greek and see subtitles in greek and english then try a search on youtube using "easy greek learn greek in the streets". You will find many videos with young people talking with people in the streets. It is not seen before (at least not by my humble person) that subtitles comes in greek AND english. I find it very helpfull! One of my (many) problems in my effort to learn greek is to understand the native speech. Sometimes (most often) the words comes like bullets from a machinegun. :)
     

    dmtrs

    Senior Member
    Greek
    The easiest thing to listen to seem to be lectures, lessons and similar presentations, because they usually speak loud and clear at slow pace and may write also on the board, those can be found on channels like Ελληνική Αγωγή, ESTIA TV and Φρυκτωρίες.
    They do speak loud and clear, but what are they saying?
    I'd be very cautious in choosing my sources when exploring a subject -or culture, in this case.
    The sources you mention, ianis, (at least some of them) share a specific ideology.
    If you are aware of this fact and/or accept this ideology, it's OK. But I believe you should be warned.
     

    larshgf

    Senior Member
    Danish
    I was once (by a danish women married to a greek) recommended novels written by Σόφη Θεοδωρίδου.
    Does anybody here know this writer and the level of language-degree of difficulty?
     

    ianis

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    They do speak loud and clear, but what are they saying?
    I'd be very cautious in choosing my sources when exploring a subject -or culture, in this case.
    The sources you mention, ianis, (at least some of them) share a specific ideology.
    If you are aware of this fact and/or accept this ideology, it's OK. But I believe you should be warned.
    Thanks for the heads-up dmtrs, was not aware of it, been watching videos from all of those channels and even though not knowing the meaning of a great deal of words but, because it is relatively easy to understand what they say and search in the translator (sometimes taking one hour to watch 10 minutes of presentation!), didn't notice anything unusual, nevertheless the videos watched have been about very specific subjects, maybe not very prone to convey, or detection of (by the more ignorant observer), certain agendas, and not the entirety of the themes displayed by those channels.
    Nevertheless there are a great deal of other channels and tons of videos featuring lectures and other similar presentations.

    BTW- Noticed however another channel which didn't mention on account of that which had content removed recently maybe on the grounds you mentioned.
     
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    ianis

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    There is (was) a Greek writer called Γιάννης Μαρής whose works seem to be popular.
     

    jcot05

    Member
    French - France
    Hi,
    Just an update on the subject: it was given the example of the books from Markaris. I've just started reading η εποχή της υποκρισίας
    Indeed it reads very easily, even if I miss maybe 10-20% of the vocabulary it's easy to follow and not tedious to read (no back and forth between the book and a dictionnary which kiils the reading experience). For reference, my modern greek level is between B2 and C1.
    Hope this helps others.
     

    Helleno File

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Well done jcot05! Hope you are enjoying it. I am similar to you. I've just started Markaris' Νυχτερινό Δελτίο, the first of the detective Κώστας Χαρίτος series. The style is mostly simple and direct and I probably get about 90% of the vocab. The rest is mostly police technical or colloquial Greek - > slang. Of the 10% I do look up quite a lot and check with with my teacher to get a feel for expressions as I am aiming to increase my informal Greek.

    The book draws you in very quickly and has a dark humour so it is not a chore reading it. The "hero" spends his spare time reading dictionaries so it might appeal to to WR types LOL, if not his wife!

    It's out of print I think at the moment. If anyone has difficulty getting it PM me for assistance.
     
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