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Reading Italian literature can be demanding for non-native speakers. Frequently referring to a dictionary becomes tedious, and, unless you wear blinders, resorting to the parallel-text version (Italian and English side-by-side) of a particular work becomes an exercise in futility as you try to avert your eyes from the English translation. With the constant safety net of an English translation just a glance away, it's difficult to commit your brain to the exclusive task of absorbing Italian. Fortunately, there's a new way to read recently published Italian fiction and nonfiction almost as effortlessly as reading books in English-the Linguality Italian Book Club.
Italian Literature? Ma, Oui!
Linguality, based in Cambridge, MA, was founded by a team with extensive experience in foreign-language publishing, university teaching, and pedagogical research. Linguality's French Book Club debuted in 2007 and quickly earned accolades from readers and language experts alike. Six times a year, contemporary French books are republished with an English introduction, extensive English glossaries, and author interviews in French on audio CD. Given the success of that venture, the company decided to branch out, and launched an Italian Book Club.
No Dictionary Required
The innovation in Linguality's Italian Book Club series is the format. The original foreign-language text is placed on every right-hand page, and an extensive English glossary, on the opposite page, allows readers to see the definition of bolded words in context. When the first selection was released, Walter Veltroni, renowned Italian author, journalist, former Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage, and former mayor of Rome, proclaimed that: "It's the literary equivalent of a subtitled movie!"
In fact, the glossary entries act more like turbocharged subtitles, boosting readers' comprehension and vocabulary. Typically there are over 2,000 entries per book defining every difficult word and expression, eliminating the need for a dictionary. As Linguality's publisher, Wes Green, says: "… a non-fluent speaker doesn't need a complete translation… or a dictionary. He or she just opens the book and starts reading in the foreign language."
Italian Book Club Membership Has Privileges
Another advantage of the Linguality Italian Book Club is that all books are complete, unedited texts-the original version that native Italians read too. Subscribers also receive an audio CD with a 30- to 45-minute conversation in Italian with the author, including a transcript with glossary of the dialogue as an appendix in the book. The publisher recommends that "readers have completed the equivalent of two years of college Italian. While each title is amply annotated, beginners may still find it difficult to contend with the texts."
With their specially annotated editions of Italian books, the Linguality Italian Book Club offers a unique method for those looking to dramatically improve their Italian language skills. Instead of waiting for the English version of a popular Italian book (few foreign-language titles are ever translated into English anyway), Italian language learners can take off the blinders and read the original without having to resort to the dictionary.
Italian Book List
A subscription to Linguality's Italian Book Club includes six hard-bound books with author interviews on CD. Titles in the series include:
- Va' dove ti porta il cuore (Follow Your Heart) by Susanna Tamaro
- La scoperta dell'alba (The Discovery of the Dawn) by Walter Veltroni
- Mamma Mia! by Fabrizio Blini
- Nel momento (In an Instant) by Andrea De Carlo
- L'Orda (The Hoard) by Gian Antonio Stella
- Il buio e il miele (The Darkness and the Honey) by Giovanni Arpino