Ebooks are great for learning to read in a foreign language and, as a good book to start out with, Five Books contributing editor Ben King has selected L’Etranger, by the great French existentialist author Albert Camus. Translators are constantly making difficult decisions about how to render words in English—including in L’Etranger’s opening lines—so it’s almost always better to read a great work of literature in the original, if you can.
Normally, when you embark on reading books in a language you’ve studied, you need a dictionary to hand for the many new words you come across, which makes the going prohibitively slow and boring. With ebooks, you can have a dictionary open permanently. Whenever you come across a word, you simply press it and the translation—along with the full dictionary entry, to check idiomatic usage etc—appears instantly.
If you studied French at school, there’s no reason not to have a go at L’Etranger. It’s reasonably short and the French is reasonably simple. Impress yourself!