Is reading books in a different language a good way to develop you vocabulary?

Is reading books in a different language a good way to develop you vocabulary?
I love languages, particularly French, but I have trouble remembering vocabulary. Is reading a book a good way to develop this? I would read something like Harry Potter, something which I know very well in English. Also, in French literature I’ve heard that the past historic tense is used, which I haven’t learned. Would this be a problem, or would it be easy enough to pick up?

Reading a book with an audio file is a great way to learn any language.

About the historic tense : this is not really a problem. Most books, letters and essays are written in a a very “conversational” style. You can look up the meaning online in free French dictionaires if you get stuck.

You can find thousands free French books and audiobooks online now. There are longer texts (books) and shorter texts (poems, letters, etc). Audiobooks let you hear the text while you read it. This builds your reading and listening skills at the same time.

If you find that the person reads the book too fast then you can slow down the audio without distorting the voice. Most people don’t know this, but Windows Media Player and QuickTime both let you slow down the audio.

1. find a book you like that has an audio sound file
2. read the book quickly to look for words that you don’t know and look them up on the Internet
3. listen to the book while reading along with the text. If the audio is too fast – then slow it down!

I put a few links in Sources. One is an overview of online books and audiobooks in French. The second link explains how to slow down the audio. The third link is a good online French dictionary (that also lets you hear the French words out loud).