The SSiW Welsh Book Club 📖 📚 👓


E-ffrindiau / Ffenestri / Sgŵp / Cysgod yn y Coed - Lois Arnold

Lois Arnold has written a range of books for Welsh learners at all levels. She writes in southern Welsh.

The first book I read in Welsh was E-ffrindiau. It’s a series of emails between pen-pals (or email pals?) who are both learning Welsh. Its not the most exciting of stories, but what makes it great for learners is that the book starts with really simple beginner Welsh and slowly increases in difficulty as the characters become more proficient in Welsh.

Ffenestri is a collection of short stories covering a wide range of genres. The book is split into Mynediad, Sylfaen and Canolradd sections.

Sgŵp is my favourite Lois Arnold book. It follows the adventures of a junior reporter as she tries to uncover her first big story. Its an interesting story, and funny too. The book is aimed at Sylfaen or Canolradd level.

Cysgod yn y Coed is another collection of short stories, aimed at more proficient readers. Each story has a twist at the end.


says a lot about me but I’m fine with that

My partner is a childrens book illustrator and we have about four book shelves full of picture books and this sort of age books. No kids tho haha. Guests are usually puzzled!


I agree 100% with @Hishiv’s choices.

Two more by Manon Steffan Ros, this time in the Stori Sydyn series:

I read both with the help of a dictionary after learning for about a year. Both books have “yn llawn tensiwn” on the back cover, and they are indeed full of tension.

(Edited to add titles in case the pictures are not clear. " Y Stelciwr" and “Hunllef”.)


As someone else has raised it, I’ll add my 2 pence worth too:

Most of the stories in the Mynediad level section are written from the first person perpective (including one written by a cat!) and in the present tense, which is perfect for the beginner who may be more familiar with that tense. As the stories move towards Sylfaen level the short form past tense is introduced and the vocabulary becomes more challenging, although Lois helpfully includes a glossary of unfamiliar terms at the bottom of each page.

I’m on Level 1, Challenge 19 on SSIW and have been using DuoLingo for about a year (for what it’s worth) and I’ve made it midway through the Sylfaen level with little difficulty. A learner of virtually any level beyond complete beginner would find something they could read among the stories and poems of Ffenestri, and they’re decent stories in their own right. It’s a real confidence booster when you realise you’ve just read an entire short story in your new language.


I have just placed an order for Trwy’r Darlun and Trwy’r Tonnau and 3 other books with Y Lolfa. This could turn out to be an expensive thread. :slight_smile:
A good book for teenagers is a good book, and worth reading at any age.


I’m going for the big one … my favourite book in Welsh so far and maybe my favourite ever.

Blasu - Manon Steffan Ross

I don’t know why I say that this is my favourite really because it’s not, on the face of it, a very exciting synopsis but it’s told in such an amazing way you really make friends with all of the main characters and feel like you’re living there with them. It’s basically the life story of Pegi from childhood to death. I told you it doesn’t sound like much.

But it is, and a whole lot more. I was totally hooked with plenty to get excited over, plenty to be shocked by, plenty to fill me with warmth and plenty to get me blubbing like a baby. If I was to rate all the books I read on a scale of 1-10 this book would be my 10 comparison.

As far as trying to gauge a level for readers I would have to say that this book is firmly aimed at first language, adults. I was at a reasonable, intermediate level when I read it and I needed a dictionary (but saying that, I do like to understand every word when reading a book).

“Ai gwallgofrwydd oedd o, cymylau henaint yn tynnu pethau ddoe yn ddigon agos i’w cyffwrdd, i’w harogli, i’w blasu?’ Wrth edrych yn ôl ar ei bywyd, a’r teulu a’r ffrindiau a fu’n gwmni iddi ar hyd y daith, daw blasau o’r gorffennol i brocio atgofion Pegi. Ond nid yw pob atgof yn felys, ac mae rhai cyfrinachau’n gadael blas chwerw. Adargraffiad; cyhoeddwyd gyntaf yn 2012.” – Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru


Dŵr Dwfn - Conn Iggulden

Just for balance and to show that I don’t like everything that I read …

This, for me, was a little strange and difficult to get to grips with. I think it was either because of the writing style or maybe the dialect or maybe even just down to my mood at the time but it left me feeling like I’d wasted my time reading it. The story was actually pretty good so it is one of the books I should try again at some point, especially now my Welsh has improved since reading it.

This is in the “Stori Sydyn” series so is suitable for confident beginners or intermediate readers.

I would love to hear off others who’ve read it to get their opinion.


Hi yw fy ffrind / Hi oedd fy ffrind - Bethan Gwanas

Here we have two books telling one story separated by a massive cliffhanger. Please don’t be tempted to read them out of order, you’ll be disappointed. Bethan Gwanas has done an incredible job telling the story of two girls, Nia and Non, growing up together with all the ups and downs of normal life played out so vividly. I don’t think of these as two books and you shouldn’t either. Make sure you buy them as a pair because once you read the first one you won’t want to wait even a single day to pick up the second.

I realise that I haven’t really described much of the story but there’s not really much to say without giving things away. The whole story just seems to build up speed, watching the friendship of these two girls develop through thick and thin. Warning - Do not read the back cover of the second book … seriously don’t.

I think these books are aimed at the mid to late teenage group so probably an intermediate to proficient reading standard but with a dictionary I would go for it at any level. The reward is really worth the effort with these gems.


Thanks for this one. It’s great to see reviews that aren’t wholly positive.


Two more books for you:

Gêm beryglus - Richard MacAndrew (Author) / Pegi Talfryn (Translator)
This is part of the Cyfres Amdani series of books for Welsh learners. Its a Welsh adaptation of Man Hunt by Richard MacAndrew, a murder mystery story set in the Brecon Beacons. Aimed at readers at Canolradd level, and written in north Welsh.

Y llythyr - Helen Naylor (Author) / Dwynwen Teifi (Translator)
Also part of Cyfres Amdani. Its a Welsh adaptation of the English book Two Lives by Helen Naylor. The first half the story follows two young lovers in a Welsh mining village during the second world war. The second half follows the same two characters 50 years later. Written in southern Welsh, and aimed at Canolradd level.


I have the book First 1000 words in Italian from 1983… Everyone is still very white, matches are loose, bonfire uncontained. I look forward to buying the safer Welsh version…


Well, this is not a book but the audio track of books, which I shall either have to transcribe (good dictation exercise!) into 6mws Slack’s ymarfer-ysgrifennu channel, or see if I can persuade a local library to produce or purchase, one by one! The first story, Alun yr Arth a sbectol ei dad, keeps bringing to mind (inciting me to learn the lyrics “ar gof”) ‘Trons dy dad, (nics dy fam)’ but that’s because I am old enoughto be allowed to navigate YouTube on my own… unlike the intended readership of these books and listenership of this wonderful, free, LYFRAU SELOG app, and its partner CANU SELOG, from Menter Iaith Môn.


Then, as I find myself somewhat scatterbrained nowadays, and am poking bits of Welsh into bus or train journeys, or moments in waiting rooms, I’ve found the little books I have come across most useful, especially if each page or each spread makes complete sense on its own. So here are
Welsh Words (North), Y Lolfa, £4.95
Annwyl Dementia, CAA Cymru ISBN 978-1-84521-694-8, £9.99
both found in (Welsh-medium)Pethe Powys, Welshpool/Y Trallwng

Welsh for Visitors by Elin Angharad Davies,, £6.95 which starts mainly in English, but is a really nice gift, encouraging and with utterly sound advice for those keen to dare to communicate in Welsh, one of a series I found in Burway Books, Church Stretton, whose display of Welsh learners’ materials when I popped in recently really heartened me, as Welsh language never used to feature much at all in the town during my intermittent contact and/or residence 1984-2005. Progress!

As for The Little Book of Friendship and Quaker Faith and Practice, the latter contains a little Welsh (Cynghorion a Holiadau - which I intend to learn by heart, as the one thing I remember clearly from the back of Welsh Words is the suggestion that in past days people would learn a text by heart, such as the Bible). Yet I am sure that there must surely be (ought to be) Welsh language versions of both texts. I’ll be able to contact Quaker Bookshop, London, but wish me luck with - the booklet claims to be Crown copyright Public Health England and Alzheimer’s Society.

Re Welsh Words - I do not find it money well spent by me, really, but I am determined to make use of it. I’ll reply to anyone who asks me for a more in depth review, if there is interest out there. A South version exists, too.


I always find alun yr arth difficult to read out loud. I’m not sure if it is type language or what. I like the dewin books they are much nicer than Welsh equivalent to biff and chip books.


Brân i bob Brân - Rowan Coleman (Dafydd Morse)

Another book in the Stori Sydyn series. I’ve read a fair few of these Stori Sydyn books as they are usually very accessable and reasonably easy to read. This one doesn’t disappoint either. I really enjoyed this one for its light subject matter and character candidness with quite a bit of humour thrown in.

This is the blurb from my app … “A Welsh adaptation of a light novel about a young mother trying to come to terms with unhappy past experiences which include bullying at school and abuse from the man she is now separated from, and of the attempts of her daughter and friends to find her a new partner.”

Beginner/intermediate level.


Bryn y Crogwr - Bethan Gwanas

Here is another Stori Sydyn book, this time from the mighty Bethan Gwanas … and just for the incredible price of £1. This, in my opinion, is a very good book and worthy of a price tag 4 or 5 times higher.

This story is (supposedly) a horror about a tree surgeon who experiences some weird stuff going on while treating an old oak with an interesting history going back to the days of Owain Glyndŵr.

Again, Stori Sydyn = beginner/intermediate level.


You are right about expense of this thread. Y Lolfa staff will be working flat out at this rate to meet demand!


Since there are already so many books by Bethan Gwanas in this thread, I thought her most recent one would be a good addition too.
“Efa:Cyfres y Melanai” is a young-adult book, the first in a trilogy, and it deals with typical YA themes: first love, choices, family, rebellion, friendship. Also, like many other YA books it is set in the future, but not the future we would expect: in this book, people are back to living like in the Middle ages. In fact, I wouldn’t have even guessed the book was set in the future if we weren’t explicitly told so, but I expect there will be more about how the world got this way in the next books.
The main character, Efa, is a princess of a small country, and in order to become queen, she needs to kill her mother, the previous queen, in a ritual that symbolizes rejuvenation. The main plot is about Efa trying to find a solution to avoid doing that.
The premise was intriguing and you can find real historical parallels (Sultans in the Ottoman empire being forced to kill all their brothers, as a more recent one). The execution was good, too, though the scene at the end of the book was a bit gory for my taste (but I’m a very sensitive person and gory for me will probably be okay for 99% of other readers), and I don’t like books that end with massive cliffhangers. But it was a very good read overall: well-paced and suspenseful, with a likable main character. The language will probably be okay for intermediate learners.


Thanks for this. Eva was going to be my next book to read (after the one I’ve just started) but I didn’t realise it’s the first of a trilogy. I think I’ll put it off until I have all three in my hand. It sounds fascinating.


It is fascinating, I’m really looking forward to the sequel - according to my calculations, it should be out this November or December.
And thank you for all the wonderful reviews here - after reading this thread I’ve decided to add “Hi yw fy ffrind” to my list (something that I probably should have done earlier, since, as I can understand, it’s one of the most popular books in modern Welsh). I’ve also been looking at “I Botany Bay”, since I like historical fiction.
Right now I’m reading “Y Nant” by Bet Jones, which has been a nice detective story so far, but I’ll wait till I finish the book to write a proper review.