Foreign Languages, Reading, and Reading in Foreign Languages, Part 3

I can’t find a subtitle box

So I’m going with headings

Subtitle: A/K/A The Weirdest Language Project I’ve Started So Far

Sub-subtitle: Our Gratuitous Amazon Links Aren’t So Gratuitous for This Post.

In the beginning (as I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before), my mom was a youth services librarian. I helped her read a bunch of the books that she purchased w-a-a-y past the point when it was age-appropriate for me.

And then I got a BSEd in Curriculum and Instruction (the fancy way of saying “elementary education”) and had to read kids’ books both for the degree and for planning my classroom library. I ended up becoming a paralegal, but the kidlit was definitely a high point.

Fast forward, oh, nine years? Ten? Alex was a baby and Harry Potter was the next big thing. I was kind of dubious because once something becomes what everyone I know talks about, unless I was an early adopter, I feel kind of excluded by the topic.

But when we were house shopping (and in this very house, btw), one of the kids’ bedrooms had Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on the desk. It was this huge doorstop of a book and I was instantly intrigued. So I went out and got Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, and soon afterwards the rest of the series up to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I joined the fandom and wrote fanfic and waited impatiently for each book, despite growing sort of disenchanted with them as we got further into the series. More on this in maybe another book-blogging post.

Where to go next? Okay. While waiting for . . . . No, actually that came second, I think. Upon a quick visit to Wikipedia, yes, that came second.

In 2003*, Thomas joined a book club. One of the books they read was a mystery by a writer named Rick Riordan. Thomas told me about it, and it sounded interesting to him but didn’t do much for me.

In 2005, Thomas and I took a road trip and he wanted us to listen to an audiobook by Riordan on the trip. I was dubious until he told me that it was kidlit. So we gave it, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, a shot and I loved it.

Then, during the two-year hiatus between Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, one of my friends recommended Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series. I read the first two books. This had to have gone down earlier than 2006, because I remember talking to my mom about this. I wasn’t really gripped by it and stopped at two. I have no regrets about not reading the third book.

I realized after a bit, though, that I already had the perfect books to read (and reread) and plug to all and sundry, Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and the people I plugged it too would still kind of get in on the ground floor, because there were, at that point, only two books into the series.

Gratuitous photo time. I was tired last night. I forgot that I’d already dug up a second photo to post. This is the Dyfi furnace in Wales. Originally built so smelt iron, it also was used as a sawmill. At least, I’m almost sure that’s what it is. We were doing the American-style tour of the UK and didn’t have any time to dig around for interpretive signage or anything on that date. i snapped this picture out the car window and looked for what it was later.

At some point, Thomas gave me Harry Potter y el Prisionero de Azkaban as a gift, and I realized that I could get all of the Harry Potter books in translation as foreign language practice. I started with Chinese and got the Chinese translations of Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (for some reason, I can’t get typing in Chinese to work right now) and have spent the last couple of years working on them. I also have the Italian and German translations of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Then JK Rowling came out as a transphobe. I have friends, coworkers, and patients who are trans. My son has friends who are trans. I thus kind of reluctantly** decided to stop buying foreign translations of her Harry Potter books.

And then it hit me. Riordan has written, oh, dear, God, so many books in the world that started with The Lightning Thief. And so many translations! Spanish and German and Dutch and Vietnamese and Icelandic and Czech and Turkish and . . .

So, now the weird project. To get all of the translations of all of Riordan’s mythology books — Percy Jackson, Kane Chronicles, Magnus Chase, wherever else he ends up taking us. In every language we can get them in.

I know that I don’t speak Dutch, or Icelandic, or Turkish (and I barely speak Vietnamese and Czech, but I’m working on them!). But who knows where time and curiosity will take me in the future? And when I finally do start this degree, maybe I’ll have a classmate who wants to study one of these many languages and I can lend (with emphasis on lend!) a book or two to the cause.

I hope that Riordan is as great as he seems because I love his books so much.

At this point, it’s 1 in the morning and I’ve been writing for an hour. I have to work tomorrow so I’m going to leave this here and dig up a gratuitous travel photo sometime tomorrow (well, later today, I guess) and then post.

*I can remember what year it was because the only book they did that sounded interesting to me was The Devil in the White City, which was a new release that year. Thomas and I read it in parallel. I don’t remember if I went to the meeting or not, though.

** See also my growing disenchantment with the series.

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