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The SSiW Welsh Book Club 📖 📚 👓


Heb Law Mam - Heiddwen Tomos

I didn’t realise before buying this book that it was written for the teenage market. This is the story of Efa, a teenage girl that has a lot going on at the moment … friendship challenges, a new baby sister on the way, a mam fighting cancer, a blossoming love life.

This is a very good story with lots going on to keep you from getting bored and, surprisingly given the sometimes sad subject matter, comes with plenty of laughs. Even though I feel, maybe a little guiltily, that the ending had a slightly rushed feel, I really enjoyed this book.

I believe the language used by the author has a southern lilt so will be easier for all you hwntws out there but, being a Gog, I didn’t have any trouble reading it. Definitely in the late beginner to intermediate level I would say.


Glad to hear a thumbs up on ffenestri. My library (Abergele, north wales) has started a book selection service (which I’m loving much more than going in a library and trying to choose myself). They have picked ffenestri for me this time ac dwi’n edrych ymlaen!


Here are a couple of my recent readings, over two posts:

Perthyn, by Sian Northey

This was an intriguing read. The first few chapters started out along what I thought would be a fairly standard Catherine Cookson style story as Helen and her young baby son Sion arrive in Penrhyndeudraeth (near Porthmadog) with an obvious air of mystery about their circumstances. Then, there’s a big twist (I had to read the twist several times to make sure I’d understood correctly!) and the story moves off in a different and intriguing direction completely.


and here’s book 2:

Fy sy’n Cael y Ci, by Rhian Cadwaladr

I loved this book. It is the story of Gwen, whose love life implodes the day after her 50th birthday, and who is in the middle of a demanding mother, demanding children, an ex-husband and ex-partner, a difficult boss, topped off with owning a misbehaving dog. Luckily she’s surrounded by good friends! I laughed out loud at several points in this story, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a very North Walian book, and I found at points it was easier to read the dialogue out loud to be able to ‘get’ how it was being rendered on the page - for example that helped me understand that yn 'rar was in fact ‘yn yr ardd’ :wink: but that’s a minor detail and def didn’t spoil my enjoyment!


Herio i’r Eithaf - Huw Jack Brassington

Another “Stori Sydyn” publication, this time an autobiography by this amazing guy. Huw made a series for S4C called “47 Copa” where he was talking to different athletes from different sports about what it takes to become successful, all while he was training for a gruelling endurance event. If you saw it you’ll know who this guy is.

This book is his story of how he reached this point in his life, through playing rugby as a teenager, through a brief but rather successful period doing triathlons to last minute challenges on the other side of the globe.

His attitude to life really comes out through his words in this book and it’s difficult to not feel inspired by him. There’s a lot to laugh at too, I was thoroughly entertained throughout.

Stori Sydyn = easily accessable for all but very new beginners … and only £1 too. Worth a punt (never gets old :wink:)


… and 47 Copa (and Ar Cefn y Ddraig, also with Huw) is now available on Amazon Prime (UK and N.America) :wink:


I have just finished Sgwp! by Lois Arnold and I am feeling very pleased with myself. It is the first book I have read properly - i.e. without struggling/looking up lots of words. Feeling very happy.
What next? Maybe Herio i’r Eithaf?


It was Ar Cefn y Ddraig that I saw him on first. I didn’t realise from watching them programs that he was already a well established athlete before these events. It’s a really good book and, considering his self proclaimed struggles with dislexia, was really well written.


I’m reading E ffrindiau at the moment, as a beginner I find I can understand quite a lot and it has little explanations at the bottom of the page


Well done @franhunni!! :slight_smile: Its a great feeling and achievement :slight_smile: Fi A Mr Huws by Mared Lewis next!! :slight_smile:


@stephen-22 I started with E Ffrindiau too. Good luck.
@Cetra - thanks for the recommendation.


Would anyone like to read Aran’s book? Described on the cover as both “pointless drivel” and “hugely entertaining and inspiring” :rofl: and compulsory reading for the SSIW course I think! :slight_smile: Happy to send it to anyone willing to cover the cost of postage and make a small contribution to my compulsive Welsh book purchasing disorder :slight_smile:


I would love to read it, please! And will happily put it back into circulation afterwards.


Nice one @caroline-18! :slight_smile: I’ll send you a private message to do the details :slight_smile:


Just to add my recommendation of Aran’s book - I read it on Kindle recently and it’s really enjoyable. Very funny, very illuminating, and very thought-provoking. It really illustrates how language is about identity, culture, history, family and so many other important areas of our lives - never “just words.” Plus there is a fair amount of Cymraeg scattered through it (and the final pages are all in Cymraeg so I’ll be coming back to those when I’m a bit more advanced!).


These are both brilliant books! :slight_smile:


How difficult would you say these are, @Cetra? I have not yet attempted to read them.


I’d say they are not for beginners but for more confident readers. And they’re not too difficult either. If you fancy some Gareth F Williams then O Ddawns I Ddawns is a good place to start first as its written for teenagers (and teenagers books are good for learners!) whereas these are for adults. Hope that helps!


Thanks, @Cetra.


I have found this thread very helpful over the last two years and thought it might be of some interest to others if I now did a round-up of my own reading journey in Welsh so far. It will be revisiting a lot of ground already covered, notably by Gruntius in whose footsteps I often seem to be following, but I thought it might be fun to add my own entirely subjective merit rating (expressed as marks out of 10), and perceived difficulty. As far as perceived difficulty goes, I should explain that I am now at a stage of being able to read Welsh with enough fluency to sometimes forget that I am reading in another language, though still needing to look up words every so often, and still capable of being seriously thrown by Welsh idioms (took me quite a while recently to work out that ‘yfodd o ar ei thalcen’ must mean ‘she drank it in one gulp’ and not ‘she drank it standing on her head’). Of course, when you first start reading a language the new words come at you like a blizzard, but I find that if you persevere and plod on you do get to the rather pleasant stage where it’s more a matter of the occasional snowflake wafting down, and with ordinary reading matter I’m just about there.

I should confess that my ability to read Welsh remains frustratingly far in advance of my ability to understand the spoken language. I do slog away at the Beca interviews, they’re a great resource but it’s no good, that woman’s tongue just works twice as fast as my brain!

There’s one notable omission here: the acclaimed ‘Awst yn Anogia’ by Gareth Williams. I bought it some time ago, but it’s quite long and I decided it would be better to put it off till I was fluent enough to enjoy it properly. I’m hoping that time is near, so that’s the first of my New Year resolutions, the second being to get to grips with Welsh poetry.

So, my list so far. My perceived difficulty ratings:
1 Suitable for learners to cut their teeth on
2 Next stage with a bit more vocabulary
3 Medium
4 More advanced
5 And still more advanced, with rich vocabulary and perhaps more dialect

Title Author Diff Rtg Notes
Llyfr Glas Nebo Manon Steffan Ross 3 10 Just superb – moving and beautiful
Blasu Manon Steffan Ross 4 10 And ditto (but I confess I skipped the recipes)
Merch Y Gwyllt Bethan Gwanas 4 10 Weirdly compelling. The first Welsh book I read where for long stretches I forgot I was reading Welsh at all
Hi Yw Fy Ffrind, Bethan Gwanas 4 10 Another gripping page-turner
Hi Oedd Fy Ffrind Bethan Gwanas 4 10 Ditto
I Botany Bay Bethan Gwanas 4 10 Superb bit of imaginative reconstruction
Bywyd Blodwen Jones Bethan Gwanas 3 9 Very entertaining
Blodwen Jones a’r Aderyn Prin Bethan Gwanas 3 9 Ditto
Tri Chynnig I Blodwen Jones Bethan Gwanas 3 9 Ditto
Babel Ifan Morgan Jones 5 9 Would be a 10 but I was confused by the last chapter which appeared to be a bit of modernist trickery
Llestri’r Dylluan Bethan Gwanas 4 9 Welsh translation of Alan Garner’s ‘The Owl Service’. I was helped by knowing the original very well.
Llanw Manon Steffan Ross 4 9 Bit slow at the start and took some getting into, but ultimately moving
Culhwch ac Olwen Gwyn Thomas 3 9 Modern retelling, a beautifully illustrated hardback that I picked up for a song
Chwalfa T. Rowland Hughes 5 9 An older form of the language, quite difficult in places, but very involving
O Law I Law T. Rowland Hughes 4 8 Again, older language
Merched Y Gwyllt Bethan Gwanas 4 8 Sequel to ‘Gwrach Y Gwyllt’, see above. Not quite such a wild ride as the first book, but still a good read
Y Nant Bet Jones 3 8 Agatha Christie-type murder mystery.
Craciau Bet Jones 3 8 About an earthquake on Anglesey. Good story; ending a bit perfunctory
Ar Drywydd Llofrudd Alun Davies 3 8 Detective story; good plot
Ar Lwybr Dial Alun Davies 3 8 Sequel to above; ditto
Oswald Lleucu Roberts 3 8 Quite a feat to make a story with rather unprepossessing hero still surprisingly engaging
Hunllef Manon Steffan Ross 3 8 Manon is always very clear and readable
Inc Manon Steffan Ross 3 8
Pluen Manon Steffan Ross 3 8
Fel Aderyn Manon Steffan Ross 3 8
Y Stelcwr Manon Steffan Ross 3 8
Yn Ei Gwsg Bethan Gwanas 2 8 In the ‘Amdani’ series. Fairy slight, but all good practice
Y Rhwyd Caryl Lewis 4 8 Good story; some very colloquial vocabulary
Bryn Y Crogwr Bethan Gwanas 2 8 The first Gwanas book I read; fairly short but vivid
Y Llythyr Helen Naylor 3 8 One of the ‘Amdani’ series
Arwyr Cymru Jon Gower 2 8 In the ‘Stori Sydyn’ series, short pieces on prominent Welsh figures. A fairly easy read, but quite informative.
Geraint Evans series of detective novels: Y Llwybr, Llafnau, Y Gelyn Cudd, Diawl Y Wasg, Digon i’r Diwrnod, Y Gosb Geraint Evans 4 8 Quite long except for ‘Y Gosb’, but all fairly clearly written and good of their kind
Igam Ogam Ifan Morgan Jones 4 7 Slightly tongue-in-cheek fantasy, more for teenagers, not quite my cup of tea
Pedair Cainc y Mabinogi i Ddysgwyr Alun Ifans 2 7 A beginner’s version, good for vocabulary
Chwedlau Cymrau I Ddysgwyr Eira Palfrey 2 7 Older book picked up in secondhand shop
Arwyr Gwerin Cymru i Ddysgwyr Eira Palfrey 2 7 Ditto
Darlun O Gymru Ddysgwyr Iolo Walters 2 7 Ditto
Lleidr Pen-ffordd Ifor Owen 3 7 Ditto