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Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read)

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Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2009, 00:37
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I am a non-native speaker and when I was studying for GMAT, I had a really hard time with the Reading Comprehension section - it was too difficult to digest in the amount of time allotted, often had new words, and took double the processing power to understand. I tried reading scientific articles and business magazines but I read only for the sake of reading and naturally in about 3 minutes I would catch my mind wondering somewhere else and having to get back to reading. I had to force myself to read and that's a horrible situation to be in. There had to be a better way to do this, and I think I found it - reading interesting books with strong written English. Now, rather than reading myself to sleep, I would stay up till 2 or 3 am with a dictionary next to my bed, unable to put the book down. When I read these books, I wanted to know what every word meant. I also was able to remember the vocabulary a lot better since I now was much more invested into the book and my reading was now done as a fun activity. Beat that!


Also, even though I started reading fiction books to get my Reading Comprehension up, after 3-4 good sized books I found that reading also trains your "ear" and helps with Sentence Correction. More and more I was able to pick out the issue with the sentence simply because it did not sound right and not because I ran through my 13 point check-list for CR questions. Eventually I scored 42 on verbal - back then it was 96th percentile, not too shabby for a foreigner.

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that reading fiction books can be very helpful for your GMAT and not only that -when I moved to the US, I found that besides good grammar, reading Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Fitzgerald books gave me insights into the culture and history that helped to blend in a bit better. (Many of the classic books listed are a required reading in the US high schools). If you are not a native speaker and serious about getting a good verbal score - I would highly recommend you pick up a reading habit.

Here is a list of fiction books I found most interesting. However, I hope that if you find any interesting books, esp. something that really impacted you, you will post them here as a recommendation and I will add them to the list (I am also looking for a recommendation for a new book to read).


Recent Classic Fiction
These are usually well known books that have some of the best style and rich vocabulary.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - One of the most romantic books on the list. Though it will capture you, leave a very warm feeling and may even make you cry, the main value of the book is its stunningly beautiful language and great history insights (Do you know who a bootlegger is?). 4 Amazon stars based on 1,223 reviews.
Review by diogoguitarrista: "The book is easy to understand because it is a romance. While reading, you imagine the scene, every detail.
You may find some "elder" words reading it, such as "any body" instead of "anybody", but nothing like you would find reading an original text by Christopher Columbus :lol: . Still, the story has a rich vocabulary."

Someone said that the book has some tough parts that could make one cry, but I did not even got "sad".

The bottom line: it worth both your time and your money


Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck - the most well know of Steinbeck's masterpieces. Not the best value for the money with only 92 pages, but it has the most cultural value as everyone in the US read, watched, or heard of it. 4.5 Amazon stars based on 1033 reviews.


Cannery Row by John Steinbeck - a story about a group of good-natured bums living in Salinas, Northern California in the 1920's and 1930's - the book has plenty of humor to keep you cracking through all 200 pages - a quick read. A movie with the same title has been made based on this book. 4.5 Amazon stars based on 233 reviews.


Daisy Miller by Henry James - definitely one of the most romantic books by James, but he has fantastic English - 3 line sentences and more on 128 pages. No reliable Amazon rating is available for this book


A Movable Feast by Earnest Hemingway - a very inspiring book about the writer's years in Paris. Ideal book for a trip, but works well for GMAT too - great language, good sentence structure, and great useful vocabulary. 4.5 stars on Amazon and recommended by several members as well.


Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov - great language and style. Also the annotated edition will keep you much more in sync with all the references. The most famous of Nabokov's pieces and one that coined a name for itself in history. 4.5 Amazon Stars.


Sidartha by Herman Hesse - if you ever wondered about the meaning of life or how to be happy - read through a short book about an Indian boy who seeks enlightenment and satisfaction. This is one of the most famous works by Hesse. He received a Nobel prize for his life-long contribution to the world's literature.


The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro - fantastic language and a very interesting book about the life of a British butler. A movie has been made based on the book, but it is not even 10% as good. 256 pages and 4.5 Amazon stars based on 196 reviews.


Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden - 2,500 Amazon reviews probably speak for themselves. This was the first book I read after starting business school - good language, captivating plot that will have you read through nights and a lot to learn about early 20th century Japan and the role of a Geisha. I read it over a course of several weeks and when I was finished, I felt a part of me was missing.


To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee - this story grew with and around single family in small city Monroeville, which said to be Herper Lee's hometown. Herper Lee delineated each character through the eyes of Jean Louise who was a girl between 7-8 yrs. This story helps identify each character based on its vicinity and consequences. (Recommended by priyankur)


Men without women by Earnest Hemingway - compilation of fourteen short stories so good reading guide for them who think that reading novel could waste precious preparation time. Stories are distinct and readers have enough room to juxtapose their thoughts with those of author. (Recommended by priyankur)


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (P.S.) - The book is meant to be read with concentration and a sound mind (which is very important in papers like GMAT). It is not only psychologically motivating (if understood), but also trains the reader's mind for complex texts. (Recommended by aknine)





Heavyweights (500+ Page Fiction Books)
Longer books but worth every page

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - a timeless classic and required high school reading, this book covers the lives of several families caught in the 1930's great depression. 464 pages of great English, interesting story, and full of cultural references. 4.5 Amazon stars based on 599 reviews.


The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand - a masterpiece by a master. Though very idealistic and sometimes extreme, Ayn Rand delivers a great story with strong structure, and many themes that will force you think about your life. 752 pages will slip by too quickly - you will miss the company of this book. 4 Amazon stars based on 974 reviews.


Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand - a "continuation" to the Fountainhead and the last book by Ayn Rand - her last and best masterpiece. I am reading it right now and thoroughly enjoying it. I am 150 pages through and look forward to another 1,000 for a rewarding read.


Wild Swans by Jung Chang - a fascinating journey through the 20th century history of China - may not be the best style book, but extremely captivating and educational. 544 pages and 4.5 Amazon stars based on 359 reviews.


Shogun by James Clavell - let the 1,200 pages not scare you - this will be a fast read about 17th century Japan. A TV-series was made based on this book. Good English, though language can get tough sometimes. 4.5 Amazon stars based on 309 reviews.


Guns Germs and Steel" - fascinating book for history freaks. Certainly improved my RC skills. An enjoyable book as well. (recommended by pbanavara)


Non-Fiction
Captivating and educational

The Naked Ape: A Zoologist's Study of the Human Animal by Desmond Morris - if you want a new perspective on the human race, learn what makes us who we are, laughing most of the way, this book is for you. 256 pages and 4.5 Amazon stars based on 52 reviews.


The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh - the only book on this list with a flawless record of 5 Amazon stars based on 255 reviews. If you are interested in code and how cryptography works - this book is almost a step by step guide - very interesting if you are into puzzles.


Future Shock by Alvin Toffler - The book is dense and idea rich and yet just 385 pages in length. (Recommended by urchin)


Other Recommendations
1. Non Fiction and Business Business Books mba-books-good-books-to-read-prior-to-mba-merged-74557.html - a collection of over 70 different book recommendations to enrich your views on Global Policy, Poverty, Leadership, Project Management, and just inspiring business books
2. The Economist Magazine (JohnLewis1980)
3. National Geographic Magazine (nitya34)
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Last edited by bb on 07 Jan 2011, 08:23, edited 31 times in total.
Future Shock book added
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 26 May 2009, 00:51
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Refreshing to see advice like this for acing the verbal component of the GMAT, bb. I attribute my strength on the verbal parts of standardized tests almost entirely to my steady diet of good books. :-)

For a real challenge when it comes to English, I'd recommend Vladimir Nabokov (his English novels, not the ones in translation). Great for vocabulary building, and as a good Russian, many of his sentences are grammatically complex and filled with dependent clauses. Good practice for reading comprehension and SC.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 26 May 2009, 00:55
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Refreshing to see advice like this for acing the verbal component of the GMAT, bb. I attribute my strength on the verbal parts of standardized tests almost entirely to my steady diet of good books. :-)

For a real challenge when it comes to English, I'd recommend Vladimir Nabokov (his English novels, not the ones in translation). Great for vocabulary building, and as a good Russian, many of his sentences are grammatically complex and filled with dependent clauses. Good practice for reading comprehension and SC.



Thank you very much! I will include Lolita or do you have a better recommendation?
Reading is a wonderful hobby that I did not really have before the GMAT and now I can't think how I lived without books...

Here is also a great list of pre-MBA books (Non Fiction): mba-books-good-books-to-read-prior-to-mba-merged-74557.html
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 26 May 2009, 01:02
bb wrote:
Thank you very much! I will include Lolita or do you have a better recommendation?


Lolita is probably the best start to Nabokov, or maybe Pale Fire. The latter book has a 999-line poem as its center, so it can be a tough slog for non-natives (and ROI for GMAT might be kind of low, as "poetic license" allows one to do crazy things with grammar!).

For a real treat, check out Ada, or Ardor. Full of multi-lingual puns -- lots of playing around with English, French, and Russian. One of these days I'll get my French good enough so I can get all the jokes.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 26 May 2009, 02:52
Skitalets wrote:
Lolita is probably the best start to Nabokov, or maybe Pale Fire. The latter book has a 999-line poem as its center, so it can be a tough slog for non-natives (and ROI for GMAT might be kind of low, as "poetic license" allows one to do crazy things with grammar!).

For a real treat, check out Ada, or Ardor. Full of multi-lingual puns -- lots of playing around with English, French, and Russian. One of these days I'll get my French good enough so I can get all the jokes.


I agree with you -- Lolita is very dense and ripe in literary words. I have this book but have not finished it yet because of convoluted language. Utterly, theme of this book is maverick as Nabokov contoured Humbert's adore with adolescent nymphet Lo-Lee-ta.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 07 Jun 2009, 21:15
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Just added Memoirs of a Geisha to the list.

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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 15 Jun 2009, 23:54
Thanks a lot for the list.. :-D.

However, I would like to add 'Zen and the art of Motorcycle maintenance' by Robert M. Pirsig.
The book is meant to be read with concentration and a sound mind (which is very important in papers like GMAT). It is not only psychologically motivating (if understood), but also trains the reader's mind for complex texts.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 16 Jun 2009, 14:50
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Thank you - I have added your recommendation to the list - sounds very intriguing!

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (P.S.)



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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 14 Jul 2009, 10:19
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Have another recommendation -

Storm

The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger

The Perfect Storm
There has been a movie made based on this book but the book is infinitely better. The best parts about this book for me were:
1. Very interesting insights about storms, boats, etc
2. History of the Fishing industry - a great overview and terrifying reality of the profession (somewhat similar to the Deadliest Catch on Discovery)
3. Even though the books is something in between documentary and fiction, it is very well written and has a great "plot".

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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 28 Jul 2009, 04:45
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i personally find any fiction/non fiction book helpful...
as much as you can read, it'll be better for your English.. it always has new words, new phrases, plus every writer has his own style, which i find very helpful...

personally i read anything even LOTR..( coz i like reading..:D)
how about the books by Salman Rashdi? has anyone read it?


Edit: Bibliography by Salman Rushdi: http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html? ... ive=390957
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 29 Jul 2009, 21:50
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Hey bb,

I have just joined the community and am liking it here :)

Thanks for putting in so much effort!

Saying that the 'God Father' series is good in its language would be an understatement. It is a classic and offers abundant philosophical and psychological thought to the reader. Not to mention being an absolute unputdownable book :)

Also, I would like to recommend some classics for the list:

- Moon and Six Pence ( Somerset Maughm)
- Women in Love ( D.H.Lawrence)
- Mayor of Casterbridge (Thomas Hardy)

These offer excellent English in terms of both vocabulary and reasoning.

Do give these a try.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 29 Jul 2009, 23:05
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Welcome and thank you for the suggestions.
I look forward to reading these myself. Will add them to the list shortly.

P.S. Mayor of .... only has 1!!! review on Amazon. Never heard of this book but would think Thomas Hardy would be more popular than that.... link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/048643 ... 0486437493



rookieR wrote:
Hey bb,

I have just joined the community and am liking it here :)

Thanks for putting in so much effort!

Saying that the 'God Father' series is good in its language would be an understatement. It is a classic and offers abundant philosophical and psychological thought to the reader. Not to mention being an absolute unputdownable book :)

Also, I would like to recommend some classics for the list:

- Moon and Six Pence ( Somerset Maughm)
- Women in Love ( D.H.Lawrence)
- Mayor of Casterbridge (Thomas Hardy)

These offer excellent English in terms of both vocabulary and reasoning.

Do give these a try.

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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 29 Jul 2009, 23:36
Oh..thats surprising!!!!

I guess more people read works such as "Jude","Tess of the d'Urbervilles","Far from the Madding Crowd" etc by Thomas Hardy....

Do give this one a try though - you would enjoy it m sure!
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 04 Aug 2009, 17:42
I like your compilations....I have trouble with RC and am looking for ways to improve my verbal for my second GMAT journey. I see you included Sidartha....great book. I love Herman Hesse and I read it in German. My best friend bought it for me when I really nedded it most in life.....

I guess, I should try to read the English version!

Thanks for the great postings...

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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2009, 04:44
Harry potter series by j.k.rowling
the Lord of the rings by J.R.R Tolkien

Harry potter is specially for those who dont like reading or dont read ..for them it is great start ...i never use to read books before reading hp ...but now i am book worm
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2009, 22:02
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I guess many among us have read these books; however, who have not yet can give them a try.

To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee - this story grew with and around single family in small city Monroeville, which said to be Herper Lee's hometown. Herper Lee delineated each character through the eyes of Jean Louise who was a girl between 7-8 yrs. This story helps identify each character based on its vicinity and consequences.
&
Men without women by Earnest Hemingway - compilation of fourteen short stories so good reading guide for them who think that reading novel could waste precious preparation time. Stories are distinct and readers have enough room to juxtapose their thoughts with those of author.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 17 Aug 2009, 10:22
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priyankur_saha@ml.com wrote:
I guess many among us have read these books; however, who have not yet can give them a try.

To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee - this story grew with and around single family in small city Monroeville, which said to be Herper Lee's hometown. Herper Lee delineated each character through the eyes of Jean Louise who was a girl between 7-8 yrs. This story helps identify each character based on its vicinity and consequences.
&
Men without women by Earnest Hemingway - compilation of fourteen short stories so good reading guide for them who think that reading novel could waste precious preparation time. Stories are distinct and readers have enough room to juxtapose their thoughts with those of author.



Thank you! I liked the "To Kill a Mockingbird". I am not sure it has spectacular English, but 5 stars on Amazon means something :wink:
I am adding them to the list.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2009, 23:16
visiting the thread after long time..
i started The Economist(print edn) recently. As a subscriber, audio edition(word by word) comes free

i feel i will get back the tempo i was lacking for months

specially in RC(quick reading) and CR where I am always lazy :)


Also short stories (with good command of english) are better than Novels

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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 24 Aug 2009, 02:22
Hi mates,

during these summer days, I'm reading National Geographic magazine since I feel unconfortable with texts regarding nature on the RC section...

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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 26 Aug 2009, 21:01
Thanks a lot for the list. Please keep updating.
Time to get started again ..

PS: I won't recommend 'Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck to any one.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 19 Sep 2009, 12:17
Good post. Thanks for all the book recommendation.
Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read)   [#permalink] 19 Sep 2009, 12:17
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