Book of the week: The Princess Diarist

Améliorez votre anglais avec nos astuces ! Suivez-nous sur les réseaux et jetez un coup d'oeil sur nos formations en ligne.

Carrie Fisher’s memoir is quite simply, a small pleasure to read. The language used isn’t too difficult, yet it will teach you some very useful English phrases.

It’s an unpretentious book put together by the actor from past diaries as well as musings from the time of writing (Fisher died in 2016). It’s pleasant and fun, and a quick read. Really, it’s the perfect book if you’re not really into novels (romans) but would like to start reading a little bit in English.

For those of you living in and around Aix en Provence, you can get your copy from Book in Bar, on 4 rue Joseph Cabassol :

Enjoy reading? Why not join our English book club? We meet once a month to chat in English about books. If you’re interest, be sure to send me your request by filling out the form below. Minimum level: B1.

Book of the week: Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Book of the week: find out what book our team recommends this week! 
Envie de lire en anglais mais vous ne savez pas par où commencer ? Suivez-nous pour notre "Book of the week" !

Punctuation can often be a source of discord among writers, editors, teachers, students, and just about anybody else. It’s important to learn, but difficult to teach. It’s often overlooked, and generally perceived as boring. So why would you want to read a book about punctuation? Because this one’s funny.

Lynne Truss has written a very readable guide for punctuation. Her style is laid back yet informational, and while it’s not exactly a page-turner, it does keep you interested enough to want to keep going. Of course, I will freely admit that I’m a bit of a nerd and that this type of book is actually right up my alley. However, it’s really very accessible and highly recommended.


  • Easy to read.
  • You actually learn quite a bit, some of it even sticks!


  • It could use an index to make it easier to find information again without having to skim the entire chapter.

Have you read it? What did you think of it?

Links to author and stores

Word of the Day: paperback

Améliorez votre anglais avec notre mot du jour !

I love a beautiful hardback edition, but paperbacks are just so handy! You can always fit them in a bag, and they’re light and easy to carry.

When I’m faced with a decision between paperback and hardcover, I always have to ask myself if I plan on taking the book with me to read outside, or if I’ll just keep it on my bedside table for before bed. Hard choice!

So to be clear, a paperback edition is a small, flexible-covered edition of a book, like the one in the picture on the left.

Incidentally, I really enjoyed Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom when I read it years ago. I’d recommend it for someone learning English because it’s got lots of dialogue and the language isn’t overly complicated.

What’s your favorite paperback? Let us know in the comments! Have you read this book? Tell us what you thought of it!

Children’s books in French

If you’ve got young kids and you’re learning French, why not read some great children’s books with them!

Here is a series that my 4 year old adores! Written by Catharina Valckx, her Billy series is fabulous. It’s about a hamster that lives in the Far West with his dad and goes on local adventures with his friends: a mouse, an earth worm, a bison and more.

Here are some titles: Le Bison, La Fête de Billy, Billy et le gros dur, Haut les pattes ! and a few others. They’re wonderful!

So how will this improve your French? By reading out loud, you’ll be practicing your pronunciation!

What children’s books have you read in French?

My strategies for reading in a foreign language.

Hey everyone,

So, reading in a foreign language probably seems quite daunting. And, well, yeah! Okay, that last bit wasn’t a sentence, but suffice it to say that half the battle is really getting up the motivation to open up that book and keeping at it until it gradually gets easier.

For me, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, the first book I picked up by myself was Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Well, I got hooked on it (I was 22) and although I didn’t understand everything in it, my trusty little electronic dictionary provided help where I really needed it! It feels like it was ages ago, especially since in 2008 the Kindle touch hadn’t been invented yet. People also usually ask me why I didn’t just use my smartphone. I didn’t have a smartphone; I had a blackberry that was on pay as you go and 2G.

Anyway, the first bit of the book was hard because I kept having to look things up. Little by little, though, the same words kept cropping up, and eventually I remembered them. It helps that the dialogue is really very simple in Twilight and that generally the novel isn’t too complicated. So I kept going and eventually I found that I couldn’t put it down. I wanted more, and so I got the next book, and then the next one. When I finished the series, I was ready to read something a little more ambitious. So I went for Paul Auster in translation, I read Moon Palace and loved it. I was on a roll! So I just kept going, kept reading, and as if by magic, my vocabulary and understanding of grammar got much much better.

At the language school I attended, they bumped me up a level, and I was able to pass the B2 test after just 6 months of studying French, having begun as an A2. I was overjoyed! But it’s important to note here that I worked really hard. I kept a vocabulary notebook, did all my homework, spoke French at every opportunity that presented itself to me, and accepted any and all invitations to all French gatherings where I spent the better part of my first year completely silent.

So, here are some tips for reading in another language:

  • Don’t bother looking up every word, look up the ones you really need, and use the context for the rest.
  • Choose something relatively simple in the beginning, let’s leave the French philosophers alone for now.
  • Use an e-reader if you have one. It’s so much easier to look a word up on your Kindle than it is to type it on your phone.
  • Go for books you normally already enjoy. Stop by the local bookshop and ask about authors similar to ones you like. You can always go for your favorites in translation.

Finally, here are some authors I read and enjoyed in French:

  • Patrick Modiano – he writes beautifully and his books are short.
  • Laurent Gaudet – he also wrote some short and lovely books with beautiful descriptions.
  • Catherine Pancol – I like her because she writes about ordinary people, and there’s a lot of dialogue.
  • Françoise Sagan – I love her books, they’re simple, very well written, and generally short. Try Bonjour Tristesse to begin with.
  • Amélie Nothomb – she wrote some short stories that might be good to start with.

Those are the ones that come to mind, if you have any suggestions for books you’ve read and loved in a foreign language, leave them in the comments!

Here’s one of the first books I ever read in French!

Hey guys, so I found this book on my shelf today! It was one of the first I tried to read during a French class!

And now look at all the highlighted text!

I remember also reading a children’s book called Martine à la maison and underlining almost every word. Lol. But that was at the very beginning!

What was your first book in English or French, as a learner?

La Chamade, Françoise Sagan: go ahead, get reading in French!

Françoise Sagan, 1960 photo credit: public domain

Looking for a novel to read in French?

This was one of the first books I read in the language of Molière, as the French say!

My grandmother often talked of Françoise Sagan, so when I came across this gem in a used book store, I got it immediately.

Her language is beautiful, yet surprisingly, it wasn’t too hard for me to read. Give it a try if you’re feeling adventurous!

#francoisesagan #books #bookstagram #livres #français #france🇫🇷 #French #fle

initiation à l’anglais pour les jeunes enfants: les livres

Bonjour à tous et a toutes, 

Nombreux d’entre vous m’ont demandé de vous faire des recommandations de livres et de séries télé pour initier vos jeunes enfants à l’anglais.

Cela peut être tentant de dépenser de l’argent pour une après-midi en anglais, une fois par semaine pour vos jeunes enfants, mais en réalité, ce type de prestation n’est utile que si l’enfant est exposé à la langue plus d’une fois par semaine. C’est pareil pour tout le monde: on ne peut pas bien apprendre à jouer de la guitare si l’on pratique qu’une fois par semaine pendant deux heures; dans l’idéal, il faut en faire un peu tous les jours.

Alors, voyons comment vous pouvez faire, un peu tous les jours, en anglais avec votre petit(e).

Commençons par les livres. 

12 mois à 2/3 ans

Si votre enfant est vraiment tout petit, (moins de deux ans) j’adore la série de livres de Julia Donaldson et Axel Scheffler: Postman Bear, Rabbit’s Nap, Fox’s Socks et Hide and Seek Pig. J’avais acheté Fox’s Socks complètement par hasard quand mon fils avait un an, et il l’a tellement adoré que je les ai tous pris. Vous pouvez les acheter en cartonné avec des petites fenêtres à ouvrir pour trouver les différents objets perdus. 

Quand l’enfant est si jeune, le fait de ne pas “comprendre” ce que vous lui lisez ne le dérangera pas trop, il regardera les images, et petit à petit il commencera à comprendre et à vous poser des questions. 

Je ne parle qu’en anglais avec mon fils depuis sa naissance, pour moi c’est normal puisque je suis anglophone, mais vous pouvez aussi initier votre petit choux à une langue étrangère pour qu’il se sente à l’aise. 

2 à 5 ans

Voici une liste de livres simples, avec de super dessins:

Calm Down Boris! Par Sam Lloyd – celui là est cartonné et avec une marionnette. Il s’agit d’un petit monstre qui adore donner des bisous. Mon fils l’adore et on est toujours obligé de le lire plusieurs fois de suite. 

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus par Mo Willems – une histoire hilarante où le pigeon veut absolument conduire le bus, mais le conducteur a confié la responsabilité de ne pas le laisser faire, à votre enfant. En plus, il y a toute une série! 

Avec la série du dessus, il y a, du même auteur, les histoires d’Elephant and Piggie, qui sont tout aussi drôles. 

Pete the Cat par Eric Litwin et James Dean – ces livres sont super, je crois, pour initier les enfants à l’anglais car l’histoire est vraiment très facile, avec des petites chansons et des mots à répétition. En plus, il existe une série télévisée du même nom. 

ABC and 123: A Sesame Street Treasury of Words and Numbers édité par Random House. De supers dessins, avec des mots à côté; mon petit adore parcourir ce bouquin tout seul ou avec moi. C’est vraiment bien pour l’alphabet, les chiffres et le vocabulaire. 

Goodnight Moon par Margaret Wise Brown et Clement Hurd – je ne vais même pas essayer de compter le nombre de fois que nous avons lu celui-là! Pour résumer, on dit bonne nuit à tous les objets dans la chambre du petit lapin. 

Brown Bear, Brown Bear  de Eric Carle, ainsi que tous les autres livres de la série, y compris From Head to Toe et The Very Hungry Caterpillar. De très jolis dessins et des histoires très simples qui plaisent à tout le monde. J’ai récemment donné nos livres de cette série à la directrice de l’école maternelle de mon fils, car ils sont vraiment super pour commencer avec l’anglais. 

Voilà la liste de mes livres préférés pour commencer l’anglais avec votre enfant. Pour les plus grands, il va falloir que je fasse davantage de recherches, car pour l’instant, mon petit n’a que 4 ans et nous découvrons ensemble le monde de la littérature de jeunesse. Mais promis, je ne manquerai pas de poster un billet pour eux aussi ! 

Quant aux séries télé, je vais vous faire un autre article dessus. Mais entre-temps, mettez ce que vous voulez, mais en anglais. Jusqu’à l’âge de 4 ans, on va dire, cela ne devrait pas déranger votre enfant de ne pas tout comprendre, et vous allez voir, dans quelques mois, si il regarde des séries uniquement en anglais, il commencera à vraiment comprendre et à parler.