When it comes to mental workouts there is nothing quite like trying to read a novel in another language for a real test! Being sleep-deprived makes it even more of a challenge. whilst on holiday I read “L’ecume des jours” by Boris Vian which has recently been rediscovered and made into a film titled “Mood Indigo” – I loooove reading in French but it severely tested my vocabulary and my knowledge of grammar structures. and it required so much concentration – sometimes I read a whole page before realising I had no clue what was going on; made my brain hurt!! I felt like I got the overall gist but missed the fine detail and some of the quirky little jokes and episodes were lost on me. after a break during which i read a few amazing novels in English (best of which was “We are all completely beside ourselves”) I have discovered an Italian novel “Those who leave and those who stay” (Storia di chi fugge e di chi resta) – not sure if it is going to be totally beyond me, but certainly it should rapidly help to increase my vocabulary. the novel is the third in a series by Elena Ferrante, tracing the friendship of two women Elena and Lila from their schooldays in the 1950s to the present day. Being the third in the series the book has a section at the beginning listing all the characters and relevant details about them….. Just reading this part showed up the limitations in my vocab instantly. For one character, Don Achille Carracci I failed to understand a SINGLE word in the sentence. His description was as follows : “L’orco delle favole, borsanerista, strozzino. E stato ammazzato” – After some investigation with a dictionary this translated as “The fairy-tale ogre, dealer in the black market, loan shark. He was murdered.” We’re really on the slow train here – let’s see how long it can take me to reach the end!! Ten years?? it might help to start on the first novel of the series but that would be making it too easy….. I will try to update my progress.