Books books books

Whenever I pass a bookshop or library, I feel a strong urge to go in a have a browse. I often end up in the language section and find myself thinking that such and such a language course would really help me with my Spanish/Russian/Japanese/etc, or that I can’t live without a particular dictionary, grammar book or phrasebook. I usually manage to resist actually buying anything, at least I have done for the past few years.

I used to be almost incapable of going into a bookshop without buying something. These days I tend to borrow books from the library instead. It saves a lot of money, and I never know quite what I’ll find there, which is kind of exciting in some ways.

Sometimes I buy a language course, dictionary or other language learning book on an impulse, thinking that it might come in handy one day. I get round to reading most of them eventually, though some have been perched on my shelves for years without me taking more than a cursory glance through them, if that.

I often spend too much time looking for the perfect language course/book/website rather than actually studying.

This entry was posted in Language, Language learning.

11 Responses to Books books books

  1. Polly says:

    You pretty much described my behavior down to the letter. I almost never miss an opportunity to go into a bookstore. My first stop is the language section and I always have to resist the urge to purchase a language book/course.
    I have language courses that I haven’t cracked open yet. I’m sure that someday I’ll get to them. But, when I bought them, I felt I had to have them. HA! So compulsive. I’ve toned my language purchases down, now.
    I’ve been making good use of the public library throughout 2007. But, for certain topics, like travel guides, the library’s books are a little outdated. Same goes for programming and certain sciences and for any political issues. Our library’s language section is DISMAL. Or, maybe, I’ve been spoiled by Border’s.

  2. James says:

    come to chile. There are no books on language learning in the shops here (apart from a few english phrase books). Nothing on Spanish, nothing else, actually.

  3. Polly says:

    No language books? Why not?

    Hmmm…Which level of Dante’s inferno would that be?

    I have a Chilean uncle and aunt-in-law and cousins that I suppose I should visit someday. I think they live in Santiago. My uncle is not a native Chilean, but his wife is. I’ve heard they have good skiing in (our) summer.

  4. Miro says:

    In Karlsruhe (southern Germany, 300,000 inhabitants) they recently opened already third huge bookstore with a decent section of foreign language books: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish and Turkish. I can spend an hour there at least once or twice a week. They also have a good section with dictionaries and language courses for dozens of languages. Popular are also several different editions of language calendars (EN/DE/FR/ES/IT) with quizes for every day.

    For the French books it is always better to take a tram or train to some nearby French town (Strasbourg is just one hour train away). Although you can get the same maps of France and many French books in Germany too, they are usually 30-60% more expensive than in France. For third language courses you can than choose whether to buy them in French or German. The approach may be different, since Spanish is more similar to French than to German, Swedish is the opposite. And the language courses concentrate more on differences between the two languages than on the similarities.

  5. rek says:

    Today I bought the levels 3 and 4 books for Sogang University’s Korean course, which I’ll study on my own after I move back to Toronto this weekend. Tomorrow I’m going to the Gwanghwamun Kyobo store to get some from Seoul National University for a friend.

    The foreign (English) section in large Korean book stores is impressive. I’ve never seen anything like it in stores back home. And the books they carry are different too: Marx and related titles are really prominent here.

    As much as I hate the homogenizing force of Chapters/Indigo/Coles in Canada, I love wandering around cavernous book stores, just looking at covers. I’m a graphic designer by trade and nothing inspires me quite like a table covered in books. For actual shopping I prefer Book City (the Bloor West location, in Toronto)…

  6. Muhamed says:

    Yes! Bookstores! 🙂
    I used to get pretty angry with Cardiff bookstores for their ridiculous lack of decent books on and in Welsh… Amazing!
    (And that’s me coming all the way from Bosnia to learn Welsh :D)

  7. James says:

    Books here are absurdly expensive (frequently more expensive in real terms than they would be in the UK, and the cost of living is a third of the cost of living in the UK).THere is tax on books, and people don´t read. They reckon that a 1/3 of university students don´t have sufficient reading comprehension to learn anything from reading. I saw a book of proverbs (the only one that was even half serious looking, with references to where it´s used and when) and it cost over $100. It´s published in Spain and the cost online is €33, so it´s managed to double in price by being sold here. In terms of cost of living it´s like having a bog standard Oxford Book of proverbs (I have it in the UK) cost 150 quid or $300. Totally out of the question. I find it really depressing as I love browsing in books shops. Well I loved it. I hope that I can find some Spanish books more cheaply in guatemala and Florida.

    It´s really depressing.

  8. Polly says:


    They reckon that a 1/3 of university students don´t have sufficient reading comprehension to learn anything from reading.

    Wha’?!? That’s terrible. I can’t imagine that.

    Yet, they have internet access. Go figure.

  9. James says:

    The education system is just so bad… lots of learning by rote in the short term memory the day or two before the exam and they are not taught how to read. I set a book for my philosophy course that i disagree with in the hope that my repeated comments wll catch in their minds and they will start (just start) to think more critically

  10. renato figueiredo says:

    Incredible as world is so small, all problems said above as overtaxing, lack of language books on bookstores, few languages on sales (English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, are the main languages in medium cities) When a miracle occurs you can find Serbian Japanese, Romanian and dictionaries. Lack of bookstores happens here in Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul State, Southern Brazil, also teachers who say that students aren’t interested in reading specialy if they have internet access. People here also don’t know what is reading, don’t understand the messages, and graduated people speak wrongly, the most comon is Tu vai (you go) the correct is Tu vais. Bookstores with dignity you can only find in Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo, Brazilian biggest cities.
    By the way where Polly lives? in paradise?

  11. Polly says:


    “By the way where Polly lives? in paradise? ”

    You are very close. I live in southern California. 🙂

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