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Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language

2.98 of 5 stars 2.98  ·  rating details  ·  815 ratings  ·  187 reviews
An eye-opening and courageous memoir that explores what learning a new language can teach us about distant worlds and, ultimately, ourselves.

After miraculously surviving a serious illness, Katherine Rich found herself at an impasse in her career as a magazine editor. She spontaneously accepted a freelance writing assignment to go to India, where she found herself thunderst
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published July 7th 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Kelli Marko
I had such high hopes for this book - a memoir of learning another culture via language immersion combined with information about second language acquisition and the brain. This is my kind of story. But, as one of the other reviewers so deftly put it, "I wanted to like this book, but it is fighting me all the way..."

There is plenty of fascinating information woven into the story about how we learn languages and I loved these parts. And it's been at times, painful, at times, boring, and at times
Sep 21, 2009 Marie rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who are REALLY interested in what it's like to learn Hindi
I SO wanted to like this book!!

After surviving cancer, Katherine Russell Rich decides she would like to learn Hindi. Eventually, she takes off for India to study Hindi there. She lands in Udaipur in the far northwest of India, very close to the border with Pakistan. (Very few people I know have been to Udaipur (or Rajastan), and the place is close to my heart because it's where my husband proposed.)

The week she arrives is September 11, 2001. Over the next several months, sectarian
I got this book from the library after I saw it in the goodreads genres list. I had no idea what to expect - the reviews that I glanced at were not that great.

However - I LOVED this book. I REALLY enjoyed reading it. It is as though I and the negative reviewers were reading two different books.

I can see how folks would be disappointed if they were expecting a travel memoir about personal revelations along the lines of Eat, Pray, Love, because this book is MUCH more like something by Mary Roach.
The Tick
I really wanted to like this book, but it had some major problems. It wasn't always well-organized; there was a lot of topic-switching within the middle of a chapter without any warning at all. She also introduced so many other people and then never really gave the reader a chance to get to know them, so when they showed up again I often didn't remember the first introduction these people may have gotten. I also had an issue with how negative her attitude seemed to be at times. Memoirs usually s ...more
I so wanted to love this book, but sadly I found it disjointed, weirdly and obtusely written and just...lacking. As other reviewers have noted, the academic asides on language acquisition hang together oddly with Rich's memoir of her year studying Hindi in India, and the narrative never flows. I never warmed to her as a narrator and Udaipur and its inhabitants never came to life for me at all. I found most of the stories she told neither interesting nor insightful, there was far much about Rich' ...more
Adult nonfiction/memoir. This book got decent reviews and sounds promising, but when I tried to read it the author's poor writing style/grammar/punctuation got in the way. The prose doesn't flow at all, and having to stop and re-read sentences or paragraphs on every page was ridiculous. I have trouble believing she is in fact a real writer, it's that bad.
Can I get the time back that was spent on this book? After two chapters I took it back to the store (and yes, those were two chapters too many). When the clerk asked "was anything wrong with the book?" I wanted to say "Plenty!" but refrained. Tediously written and super self-involved...are these prerequsites for publishing these days?
A surprisingly informative memoir. Not very intimate. For a full review:
While this book could have been enjoyable, it was lacking in many respects.

The author sometimes delved too deep into other published studies about language, and while some were interesting (like how humans are pre-programmed for language, but writing and reading are something that have to be learned), other times it was either not interesting, or she continued explaining past the point of interest.

Then, at other times, she would mention interesting things about the culture or people, just to mer
There are two broad motivations for people to learn languages: make a living or slip into another community. When Katherine Rich is diagnosed with cancer, she travels to India to rediscover herself and escape to another culture. Along the way,she is enthralled with the idea of learning an entirely different language: Hindi.

The book is an engaging, at times frustrating, account of her enrollment in a Hindi language school in Udaipur, Rajasthan and her experience with the Indian culture, customs a
Dreaming in Hindi was the first book selected for my newly formed book group and I wanted to love it. The book boasted an interesting premise, was well outside my reading comfort zone and the timing of our selection was all the more poignant with the recent passing of Katherine Russell Rich, so my expectations were quite high as I started.

Sadly, I did not love the book and I'm struggling to fully articulate why. The book roughly covers the space of a year in which Ms. Rich was in India, with sto
Jon Stout
Dreaming in Hindi recounts the author’s experience of living for a year in Udaipur, in the state of Rajasthan, in India, in order to learn Hindi. Interspersed with her day-to-day adventures are reflections on the process of learning a second language, which are partly the product of research after she returned to the states. Her interactions with her language informants, friends and fellow students are entertainingly erratic, and give unguarded glimpses both of her own foibles and also of an unf ...more
Sarah Sammis
Both of my children are in a dual immersion Mandarin program at their school. I'm not sure if that is what inspired me to read Dreaming in Hindi by Katherine Russell Rich but I will forever link the two as I read most of the book while waiting to pick up my youngest from school.

The author decided to take a year to learn Hindi as an adult exchange student. She had lost her job and had been diagnosed with cancer. So she thought a complete change is what she needed.

The book covers her time in India
I loved the parts of this book that dealt specifically with language, both Rich's descriptions of how her perceptions changed as she learned and used Hindi and her more academic reporting on neurolinguistics and second language acquisition. Several of the books in her bibliography look like they might be worth reading.

Unfortunately, I was less impressed with other aspects of this book. Memoirs are often self-centred, but this one seemed especially so and it was hard to see the humour Rich seeme
Katie Rich went to India and fell in love with the country. When she returned to the states, she began studying Hindi. And then she got terribly ill with a bone cancer. During her illness, she applied to a Hindi-learning program in India and her acceptance into the program coincided with the unexpected remission of her cancer. She had her health all of a sudden and a chance to follow her dream. Her experiences in India, and in learning this new language changed her profoundly – Hindi began to sh ...more
Everything about this book should appeal to me. Exploring bilingualism and second language acquisition in adults is a topic close to my heart. Add to that the element of a travel memoir and you've got the base ingredients for a feast.
Unfortunately the final product didn't put the strands to the best use. It was, to my mind, like reading something in draft form. The various strands of the novel weren't pulled together in a coherent fashion and at times I found the writing style distracted from t
I don't know if I can say I truly read this book. I started skipping parts of chapters and then I ended up skipping entire chapters just to get to the epilogue. I wanted to like this book. I was looking for the humbling experience of immersing oneself in another language and culture mixed with humour and revelations. Instead I felt the author was whining most of the time. At times I even felt she was looking down on the people of Udaipur. I didn't like the writing style. In every chapter, Ms. Ri ...more
Rachel Brown
Rich spent a year in Rajasthan studying Hindi; the book combines anecdotes from her stay with tons of information on the science of learning a second language.

It starts out strong, but the parts become increasingly less integrated and the memoir sections become increasingly disorganized. There were a number of points where she referenced something as if she'd already told that story, only to explain it 50 pages later. The information was good and her prose, as in individual sentences, was good,
I loved the idea of this book, but in actuality, it was quite difficult to read. Rich fails on organization. The flip-flop between her time in India and the research she did is confusing. I was very excited by the prologue, couldn't wait to curl up with the book, but ended up giving up a little more than halfway through. I definitely think anyone who has immersed herself in a culture in attempt to learn another language can relate and enjoy. I just think someone should have gotten her to get the ...more
This book was especially poignant given Rich's death in April. Even though the book appeared to be about her experiences in India while learning Hindi, I found myself wanting to know more about HER and her struggles with her health and how she internalized the bizarre relationships she was forming. I loved the references to linguistics - which were frequent (warning to any non-linguistics-lovers). Rich struck me as a complex and brilliant woman who could have shared a lot more than she did...may ...more
Like so many other reviewers on this site, I really wanted to love this book. I studied Linguistics and Hindi in college. It seemed like 'Dreaming in Hindi' was practically written for me, and so it pains me to type what comes next:

This book is not well written. It's not interesting. It just isn't ... good.

This book spans a year that Rich, a middle-aged American woman, spent in Udaipur, India, with the express intention to learn Hindi.

This would all be fine, but she decided to cross-reference
I'm not sure why this book got so many bad reviews. It may not be perfect, sophisticated literature, but anyone who got so hung up on that really missed the point. This book is about cultural transformation, about the kinds of feelings and experiences that impact a person so deeply... The kinds of things that are next to impossible to put into words. The author tried, and in my opinion she succeeded. I was much too absorbed by her incredible journey, personal interactions, struggles, and victori ...more
Russell Sanders
Katherine Russell Rich's Dreaming in Hindi is a rich book, one that is filled with Indian lore, history, and the Hindi language. This memoir tells of Rich's year long trip to India to master Hindi, of her ups and downs as she does so, and of all the interesting and amusing people she met along the way. I was fascinated by all that. A devotee of Bollywood movies, I long to be able to speak Hindi so that I am not dependent on subtitles. Alas, I don't think that will ever happen, especially after r ...more
Forgive me but I must borrow a line from Jane Austen here: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of a good story must be in want of an editor."

Seriously, Ms. Rich's editor failed her with this total mess of a book. I was disappointed mostly that I felt like she had nothing but contempt for everyone she met in India, but the more I thought it, I think it was just her sense of humor getting lost in translation. Other GoodReads reviewers have sliced and diced al
Louise Chambers
Skillfully weaving her personal memoir with the facts and theories of Second Language Aquistion science, Rich takes us on her journey deep into both a language and a culture, along with her journey into the depths of brain science on the search for where languages are born, live, sometimes meet, and sometimes die.
As a linguist, one who's currently researching in India, I really wanted to like this book. I just didn't. The stories the author relates are rambling and the linguistic explanations she gives are sometimes off. (For example, there are not two morphemes in the word 'candy'.) Skip this one.
Aug 04, 2010 Naomi added it
Was very excited to start the book, but had a rough patch going through the middle of the book ... after doing some skipping/jumping, I finished it, but it was definitely a struggle. The scientific aspect of learning a language was all but lost on me, while others might find that fascinating.
Jackie Deleon
I didn't expect to like this book. After reading the back cover, I was tense, waiting for a chirpy, Eat-Pray-Love optimism to give me leave to put this memoir down after the first chapter. It never came!

Rich's portrait of India is complicated, at times rapturous and at others deeply troubling. It's clear she loves the country, though she never stops asking difficult questions and looking at aspects of the culture with a critical eye. Like the vast array of colors Rich is fond of describing in th
Something about her writing style bothered me a bit at times but for all the research on neuro-linguistics she did, it's fascinating overall. Very relatable for anyone who's into languages and has had cross cultural experiences.
Amanda Markham
This book called have been a masterpiece if the author had found the right editor. She could have drawn together threads of anecdote and academic research so much better. Neither are done justice, as there is simply so much jumping around from one topic/idea/vignette to another - even on the same page. Perhaps the best example of this is in the array of characters in the book. With the exception of the Jain family and Haelena, Rich has the habit of introducing you to a character briefly, and the ...more
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Katherine Russell Rich is an American autobiographical writer from New York City. Her first book, The Red Devil: To Hell with Cancer, and Back, told of a clash of cultures occurring when the author's breast cancer treatment caused her to lose her hair just when both romantic and professional difficulties came to a head.

Her latest book, Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language, details a
More about Katherine Russell Rich...
The Red Devil : A Memoir About Beating The Odds The Red Devil : To Hell with Cancer and Back

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