What are the best books in French to read in order to master everyday French?

What are the best books/titles in French to read in order to master everyday French? By that I don’t mean grammar books and words lists or any instruction books in the French language. I am looking for books written in an informal/colloquial style on a wide-ranging number of topics, be it history, science, society, film, education, etc. Would I be right in thinking that Paris Match uses more everyday French? If that’s the case, then that is the type of French I’m interested in learning for everyday spoken purposes. Perhaps someone can suggest some online magazines written in colloquial French.
I look forward to your feedback

I would suggest using the French translation of your favourite English book that’s written in colloquial English.

Any books from a genre you enjoy. I got the Hunger Games in French without having read them in any other language knowing that the story got good reviews here at the Dope and that while there were some invented words there weren’t too many. I’ve also enjoyed several historical novels, both translated and originally in French, as well as some from Georges Simenon. Take a look at what’s available in Project Gutenberg: any “street” slang will be outdated, but vocabulary is vocabulary is vocabulary.

For online periodicals, why mags only? Le Figaro is my favorite French webpage because not only does it carry the news, it’s got le conjugateur.

Uniqueorn, you seem to assume davidmich’s first language is English; I don’t think he’s ever said it is.

Quel brio, cette idée. Harry Potter, pour moi.

I don’t have any suggestion, but it seems weird to me to read a French translation of an English author to learn French. :dubious: If I wanted to improve my Spanish, I would read books originally written in Spanish.

The idea with that is to read a story you’re already familiar with. Personally if I was doing that, I’d chose something which was originally in French and that I knew from a translation (we did that in HS English). In my example of reading The Hunger Games, I was going to read them anyway and figured I might as well use the reading to work on my French; I was in the middle of a project in France where none of “my” locals spoke English or Spanish and my French was lousy going on worse, so I was reading and listening to French as much as possible.

YMMV, but I enjoyed Maigret books in translation so I bought all the ones I hadn’t read in french and read them. The only non-colloquial note was that when Maigret questioned the criminal, the latter would tell his story in the passé simple, which is not a tense used in ordinary conversation. E. g. “Je fût” for “I was”. But otherwise you could learn a lot of colloquial French that way. But nothing beats conversation with a real live person.

My recommendation would be to find some popular magazines in the language you’re studying - something like the equivalent of People or Time.

I once jotted down colloquial phrases concerning money from David Graeber’s "Debt:

The first 5000 Years of Debt". http://www.amazon.ca/Debt-First-5-000-Years/dp/1933633867
My list came to several pages. If I were learning native English phrases, that would be very helpful. I might try to read his book in French if it’s in translation, provided the translation were similarly colloquial in style.

If anyone can recommend any native French online translation tools for idioms I’d appreciate it;English-French or German-French, perhaps? I don’t know how good GoogleTranslate is with French idiomatic phrases. Any very comprehensive books on French Prepositional phrases would be helpful as well. I haven’t seen any very extensive ones. Just as Duden (12 volumes) provides a a very comprehensive overview of German, I wonder whether Larousse does the same for French, particularly when it comes to idiomatic expressions.

What about Le Petit Prince?

Ask and you shall receive.

It will take someone whose French is better than mine to check whether the translations appear to be colloquial (from what I see, there may be times when they can be and others where keeping true to the original requires a too-literal translation, and this is also interesting for a student of the language). All I did was go to amazon.fr and look for David Graeber in Livres en français - it was the first hit.

Google translate tends to suck at idioms. I’m being polite.

Most literary works tend to be in the Past Historic tense, which is not much good for everyday conversational French.

I learned many phrases of casual, even slang-y, everyday French by buying and reading Asterix comic books. Not to mention a smattering of ancient European history.

The best way to learn conversational language is to have conversations. Learning via the written word is definitely not ideal-- it’s easy to get dependent on using the skill of recognition, rather than actually learning the language, and that will eventually hurt fluency.

There are all kinds of online tools for getting connected to language partners via Skype. I’d use one of those.

I agree. Having natural conversations with native speakers is the ideal way to learn a language. Reading modern plays can also help.

Bonté gracieux!

It’s not a bad idea, but I think you shouldn’t limit yourself to Astérix. There’s a great wealth of French-language bandes dessinées in almost every possible genre, from comedy to documentary, and for absolutely all ages.

You can start here:

and you get the real accent :slight_smile:
Running for cover…

A simple answer is to do as I. The first book that I read in any new language is one that I’ve just read in my own language. I know the story so most of the blanks can easily be filled in by context and my own experience.

As far as technical books go, I am a bonsai gardener by hobby, so … again I know the “story” already.