After some friendly post-party encouragement from @aran (in much the same way as an alligator gets hold of your leg in a Florida swamp), I’m in the process of making the mental switch to thinking of myself as a Welsh speaker, rather than a learner. Already, after only a week, there’s a subtle change of perspective, which I won’t go into here, but I will say a grateful thanks to the alligator, who gave up a significant chunk of a rare free evening to coach and advise me and others.
Of course, I still want to improve my Welsh. So, following an inspired suggestion from @CatrinLliarJones (thank you!), I’ve decided to take three weeks of the summer off to read, relax, and generally enjoy life. (Yes, honestly, this is an essential part of being a Welsh speaker – at least that’s what I remember through the gin-soaked haze!)
I’ve had some great suggestions of books from @gruntius (another big thank you) but I wondered, do other people have any suggestions for Welsh language novels that I can add to my reading list (non-fiction is fine too)? I’m not really looking for books specially written for learners. I’ve read some of the Bob Eynon books and the Stori Sydyn series, Effrindiau, etc, which are great for starting out, but now I want something a bit more meaty and interesting, with a really good story.
I’ve just finished reading Harri Potter a Maen Yr Athronydd (yes, it is a proper grown-up book!) and I’m currently reading Blasu, by Manon Steffan Ros, which is excellent (and weirdly, easier to read than Harri Potter). I also have Pluen, by the same author, and Dan y Wenallt, the Welsh-language version of Under Milk Wood, which is sitting on my shelf waiting for me to become a more proficient reader. And of course I’ll pick up a copy of O, Mam Bach!, as I hear it has a good funny story in it . Any other suggestions?
Helo@Isata - a few quick suggestions here that might fill the bill:
Golygon by Manon Steffan Ros (collection of her weekly short stories written for Golwg)
I Botany Bay by Bethan Gwanas (historical novel)
Y Nant by Bet Jones (detective story - a bit Agatha Christie-ish)
Y Plygain Olaf by Myfanwy Alexander (detective story)
Y Gaucho O’r Ffos Halen by Carlos Ferrari (historical novel set in Welsh colony in Patagonia)
Ac Yna Clywodd Sŵn Y Môr by Alun Jones (there’s also a book of revision notes for schools on this which might be useful)
Awst Yn Anogia by Gareth Williams (challenging and 500 pages and highly recommended by Bethan Gwanas, but I’ve gone into training using other novels before plucking up the courage to start on this one…)
Dysgu Byw by Sarah Reynolds (humourous)
Hanes Yr Iaith Mewn 50 Gair by Ifor ap Glyn (just published & based on pieces he did for Radio Cymru)
Gwales.com should give more detailed descriptions of these, some with reviews Hwyl, John
O, I have to read some Mererid Hopwood after hearing her speak. Thanks Margaret.
Martha, Jac a Sianco sounds interesting, too. I like an unhappy ending occasionally (though - shh! Spoilers!)
A CD might be too difficult for me, I find it hard to follow a story by listening. Conversation is easier because there’s context and visual cues, but with stories and radio I tend to get stuck on a word or phrase and miss what follows. Perhaps I should practice, though.
Thanks for the list @johnwilliams_6. I knew asking on the forum was a good idea. I’ve got a ready-made list already!
It’s a fascinating read which, although based around mathematics (but DON’T let that put anyone off!), manages to look at Welsh language and Welsh history too. Yes, there are some mathematical words that you wouldn’t necessarily come across in everyday conversation, but the writing style is very friendly and the chapters are quite short, so altogether it’s very readable.
I really enjoyed ‘Dewis’ by Ioan Kidd. I picked it up at a literature festival in Llambed after hearing one of the judges of a literature award talk about it and I really enjoyed it. It gives a nice taste of the Welsh spoken in the south around Abertawe way as well.
Manon Steffan Ros is a great place to start. After Blasu, you might enjoy her other major grown up books, ‘Fel Aderyn’ and ‘Llanw’, which are also well worth reading. She also writes a lot for younger people - of those, I particularly enjoyed ‘Pluen’ and ‘Prism’. I found sticking with one author for a while quite helpful, as you get familiar with her style and vocabulary.
Bethan Gwanas has also written lots of very enjoyable and readable stuff. One of my first books was ‘Hi yw fy ffrind’, which is a lovely picture of growing up in Wales. (I didn’t like the sequel ‘Hi oedd fy ffrind’ much though.) A couple of her books for younger readers that I particularly liked were ‘Gwylltiaid’ and ‘Pen dafad’ (about a boy who inexplicably turns into a sheep!)
At some point, I started enjoying things not quite so contemporary. T. Llew Jones wrote a lot of classic adventure stories for older children, with an interesting historical perspective. ‘Tan ar y comin’ is a great read about Welsh gypsies in the 1930s. ‘Cri y dylluan’ is about the Merched Beca (Rebecca’s riots) in the 19th century.
I recently hugely enjoyed ‘Cysgod y cryman’ by Islwyn Ffowc Elis. It’s large scale family drama set (and written) in the 1950s, and a stonking good read, although rather obviously setting out to explore serious themes of communism, socialism and Welsh nationalism. (I was equally enjoying the sequel ‘Yn ôl i Leifior’, when I got distracted by the current Spanish-in-a-month project… to be continued!)
For something completely different, try ‘Ebargofiant’ by Jerry Hunter. It’s set in a dystopian futuristic community, hundreds of years after some disaster wipes out civilisation as we know it. Even much of language and writing have been forgotten, and Ed starts trying to piece it together. Warning - written in an odd sort of phonetic script, so not for the faint-hearted! However after overcoming (much!) initial resistance I absolutely loved it! (Thanks to @Novem for prodding me for long enough!!)
Well there’s a few more to be getting on with anyway!
This thread should come with a health warning! I have far too many books on my ‘must read’ list already, and now I’ve seen a few more I have to add!
But I’m currently reading ‘Dadeni’ by Ifan Morgan Jones, which I was a bit unsure of when I first started it, but after the first couple of chapters I got right into it and I’m really enjoying it now. It introduces you to some of the characters from Welsh mythnology, combined with contemporary events and frequent references to places in Llandysul and the Teifi Valley.
Croeso mawr @Isata - the inspiration you speak of came from you. Just talking to you in Cymraeg, even for a short time enlightened me as to how far down the ‘Welsh speaker’ road you have travelled. It seemed so obvious to me that what you now need to do is embrace it, live it, enjoy it and let it wash over you in a way that you haven’t let it before. I can’t wait to see how much your confidence blossoms as a siaradwr Cymraeg as a result of your popeth yn Gymraeg stay-cation. Please keep us updated, I am so looking forward to keeping up with your progress.
[quote=“Isata, post:1, topic:12714”]
After some friendly post-party encouragement from @aran, I’m in the process of making the mental switch to thinking of myself as a Welsh speaker, rather than a learner.
[/quote] Have you forgotten our conversation in the afternoon in Time cafe?
Anyway … [quote=“netmouse, post:13, topic:12714”]
I found sticking with one author for a while quite helpful, as you get familiar with her style and vocabulary
[/quote]I found this too, I’ve also read pretty much all of MSR’s and BGwanas’s books and haven’t found a bad one yet. Obviously some are better than others. I, however, really enjoyed ‘hi oedd fy ffrind’, quite a lot more intense than ‘… yw …’ but really gripping. Still waiting for the third one. Also, ‘I Botany Bay’ was excellent too.
I certainly have not! In fact, pointing out that Helen and I were discussing in Welsh whether we felt like Welsh speakers or not, is one of the things I’ve thought about most. I was going to mention it, and to thank you for that too, but my post was starting to look a bit like an acceptance speech, and as nobody’s given me an award (yet ) I thought I ought to try to keep the credits down to a minimum and get on with asking for book suggestions. But seriously, thanks!
And then you go and tempt me with Welsh mythology! I am starting to wonder whether I need 3 decades off work…
@netmouse, I love those suggestions! We did the Rebecca ‘Riots’ in history at school, and it was my favourite topic after the Chartists. I have to read that one.
I will. I think it’ll take me more than 3 weeks to make much progress, but I’m starting to realise there’s no deadline. Or finish point. Thank you for your lovely words. It’s strange how often we seem to need permission to enjoy ourselves!
Ha, I was only pulling your leg. Although I think it was actually Mark (@mintonman) that pointed that out to me before I pointed it out to you, he’s very perceptive.
This thread has inspired me to get my nose in a book more so thank you for that.
I now have 34 books in the ‘My Library’ app you suggested, and half a bookshelf still to put in. I’ve read 12 of those. It’s inspired me to restart the book I was part way through before I got stuck - I need that tick in the box!