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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.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 09 May 2010, 21:14
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Something tells me that it has already been mentioned, but George Orwell's Animal Farm is absolutely fantastic. I just picked up a copy and finished it in a few hours.

Overall, I think this would be an entertaining and useful book for anyone wanting to improve their reading skills. Besides, Orwell had a reputation for his thoughts on writing. He wrote a few essays on the topic. Interestingly, his ideas actually played a role in The Economist book, The Style Guide. I haven't read that one in particular, but most of its products are of high-quality.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 20 May 2010, 11:36
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Most of the classics are free. You can use google books or many other websites.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 24 Jun 2010, 11:12
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just about any book by Neal Stephenson can go into the 500+ behemoths -

1. Cryptonomicon - 2 parallel stories spanning across the globe and multiple timelines, one WW2 era and the other set in present day. superb book covering historical fiction, war fiction AND harcore technical concepts around cryptography [both WW2 era Bletchley Park/ Enigma code breaking as well as currently day cypher building and related stuff], computer hacking, phreaking and information security and general mathematical theory inc. prime numbers and modular mathematics. Probably the only book where a character debates the pros and cons of eating breakfast cereal with warm milk as opposed to cold milk [4 entire pages]

2. Anathem - dense and mostly theoratical book dealing with quantum theory and quantum mechanics, multiple universes and comparison of various philiospohies. rewarding read with a great ending

Not as big, but equally outstanding are

3. Snow Crash - the swashbuckling story of Hiro Protagonist, pizza delivery guy, freelance hacker and the greatest samurai swordfighter in the world who encounters an ancient Sumerian language virus in the virtual reality world he helped build, which puts the users into a coma in the physical world. Explores concepts of language and semantics, religion and mythology, politics, computer science and virtual reality

4. Diamond Age - possibly the greatest fiction book on the possibilities of nanotech. epic tale discussing race and ethnicity, sociology and culture, artificial intelligence and nanotech - all against the backdrop of brilliant and richly detailed exercise of world building

I admit it, I'm a Neal Stephenson fanboy :-D

another great example of a book being information rich while presenting it in essay size bits is John Brunner's angry masterpiece 'Stand on Zanzibar'. written in 1967, it discusses in prescient details the effects of over population, pollution, media saturation, eugenics, future shock and extrapolation of economic, social and technological trends

cannot post links to either books, but you can look them all up on amazon or wiki

As for short, breezy, fluffy reads, nothing can top PG Wodehouse's inimitable Jeeves and Wooster and Psmith series of books

edit to complete sentence

Last edited by yeahwill on 24 Jun 2010, 12:12, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 24 Jun 2010, 12:00
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:) Thank you very much for your suggestions!
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 14 Feb 2011, 09:25
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I like Fountainhead but sometimes it gets over my head. Basically I want to read as many different authors as possible. And I wanna read classical fiction work such as gone with the wind,atlas shrugged,just to name a few.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 06 Jun 2011, 05:29
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what about
"War and Peace" ,
"Finnegan’s Wake" ?
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 01 Jul 2011, 00:42
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From GMAT verbal and even other wise….would highly recommend

• Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
• Tao of Physics - Fritjof Capra
• A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking
• Any work for Alvin Toffler (from trilogy, Future Shock, Third Wave)
• No Logo – Naomi Klein
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 14 Jan 2012, 04:01
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Edit: Realized my error on why I wasn't seeing my own post. Deleted double post.

Not sure about any others here but I'm a fan of Goodreads. I use their site regularly to organize books I've read, and they're a great resource for keeping track of books you want to read. Adding books to your personal library is easy.

Anyhow, I went ahead and placed all of the books from the GMAT Fiction list into a list. It's friendlier than Amazon IMO, and there are plenty of ratings from well-read individuals.

--You can find the link for the recommended GMAT Fiction reading here.

Additionally, there are literally 1,000's of other types of lists, from "The best books of all time", "Best Books of 1990's", "Best Science Fiction Books", and even specifics like "Dealbreakers: If You Like This Book, We Won't Get Along."

Without getting too far off topic, there's only one more list on the site related to GMAT titled, "Vocab Building Great Fiction for GRE/GMAT/ACT Prep."

The books listed there are:
1. "Brightness Falls", by Jay McInerney
2. "The Reluctant Heiress", by Eva Ibbotson
3. "God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything", by Christopher Hitchens
4. "Orlando: A Biography" by Virginia Woolf
5. "A Countess Below Stairs", by Eva Ibbotson
6. "The Grandmothers: A Family Portrait", by Glenway Wescott
7. "Sophie's Choice", by William Styron
8. "Cannery Row", by John Steinbeck (looks familiar..)
9. "The City & The City", by China Miéville

Cheers! Hope this helps someone.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 16 Apr 2012, 16:41
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the great gatsby is avaialble as ebook on following link

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/f/fitzger ... index.html


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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 21 Apr 2012, 04:29
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Another book I love recommending to my students is 'A short history of nearly everything' by Bill Bryson.

To give a background, I will quote a reader 'Sarah' who has given a very accurate review, in my opinion:

Bryson's dead serious: this is a history of pretty much everything there is -- the planet, the solar system, the universe -- as well as a history of how we've come to know as much as we do. A book on science written by a non-scientist, this a perfect bridge between the humanities and the natural sciences. A course in the history of science should be mandatory for every teenager, and this should be the textbook.

Yes, it's a big, chunky book. No, it can't be trimmed down any further: when you're addressing cosmology, earth science, ecology and zoology, with healthy doses of chemistry and physics, plus the historical development of each, you're going to end up with a doorstop of a text, no matter how smoothly written. The wonder of Bryson's writing is that the reader doesn't get lost in these sweeping surveys. When name-dropping, Bryson always gives a short description of the person in question; if mentioned earlier in the book, he drops in a quick reminder to the reader. This is fabulously effective at giving the names some context, not to mention a little personality.

And indeed, isn't that what science education needs most: more humanity and less intimidation? Those science-phobes out there who freely admit their near-complete ignorance of the subject should do themselves a favor and buy a copy of this book. No, don't get it from your library. There's so much here you'll want to have a copy on hand to refer to later.

To those nerds in the audience -- myself included -- don't think your degrees mean you can pass this one over. As hyper-specialized as science has become, it's refreshing as hell to step back and take a look at things with new eyes. While there's not a lot here I haven't encountered before, there's a lot of information about how our current theories were developed that I didn't know.

(Also? It's heartening to read about the social ineptitude, blind spots, and how utterly incompetent many of these scientist were in other aspects of life. Makes me feel better about never finishing that PhD -- at least I have a life.)

Thorough, humorous, engaging, and educational: what's not to like?
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 27 Jun 2013, 00:02
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I have started to read The Great Gatsby last night, but I feel it is very meaningful ... Whenever you feel like criticizing any one, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.’
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 19 Nov 2013, 03:50
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Hi everyone,
this is my first post, however i am not new to this forum.
I am non native and as well as most of you have some problems with verbal, especially with RC.
I've recently finished one of world-famous fiction books - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and found that since this book is written in british english, it brings some discrepancies between rules used in gmat and those used in british english. I've already prepared for SC, and i am aware that some rules such as plurality of group noun are restricted on gmat but are common in brit english. Well, I was surprised to see 'consider x AS y' a lot of times, while reading this romance. So, i started to concern how actually it can affect my literacy. :( The usage is supposed to be right, but I am just afraid to take the wrong way. Whether it is really serious or I exaggerate? Whether it is better to stay close to american literature?
Thanks for your advices.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 12 Mar 2009, 17:48
Good idea... I am planning for 2nd attempt and its already clear that I was not able to understand much on the RC on my GMAT last time. I scored 33 on verbal but I was not expecting even that. Reading fiction should for sure improve RC skills. Thanks bb .. I am starting on your list right away :)
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 19 Mar 2009, 23:39
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List updated

ADDED:
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Sidartha by Herman Hesse
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 09 Apr 2009, 03:01
Great list. I would stress 'The Remains of the day' as one of the best novels to read. It does also make your verbal abilities better. I would like to recommend another book by Kazuo Ishiguro - "Never let me go". I didn't finish reading it yet, but definitely good book, especially if you like 'The Remains of the day'.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 19 Apr 2009, 22:34
Really nice to have such topics in this forum... Kindly continue the same...
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 10 May 2009, 21:03
There's a good place to read many kinds of books' professional analysis. We will have an insightful of the author's attitude and own experience related to the book and the origin of the book. This will enhance our experience of solving a set of RC questions

That's the Books review section of http://www.newyorktimes.com

BTW, any recommendation for an Astronomy book. This is a very tough topic for most of the test-taker (including me).
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 17 May 2009, 19:47
Thank you!! I should really read them
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 21 May 2009, 06:49
Thanks BB for the list and I'm starting with these books today -starting with 'Of Mice and Men'......

Do you think on ecan improve drastically in about 1-2 weeks because I have a lot to catch up with (especially the 25 tests here + PowerPrep + MGMAT CAT tests).

Your advice would be valuable at this time.

Thanks in advance...
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 24 May 2009, 20:08
priyankur_saha@ml.com wrote:
Hi, anybody has read this book -- "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama ?

of course reading book is one of the best arsenals to learn and build vocabulary. On other hand, watching good movies can also provide impulse of learning. Sometimes, I watch same dialogue multiple times to get the meaning. See the below conversation...

Movie Name: 'V for Vendetta' wrote:
Evey: Who are you?
V: Who? Who is but the form following the function of "what", and what I am is a man in a mask.
Evey: Well I can see that.
V: Of course you can. I'm not questioning your powers of observation, I'm merely remarking upon the paradox of asking a masked man who he is.
Evey: Oh...right.
V: But on this most auspicious of nights, permit me then, in lieu of the more commonplace sobriquet, to suggest the character of this dramatic person.
V: Voila! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it's my very good honour to meet you, and you may call me V.
Evey: Are you like a crazy person?


:-D really a crazy guy!!



I too liked this dialogue, really crazy one.

To bb- I feel your recommendation about books would not be complete without Fountain head and Atlas Shrugged(already there) and of course "God father".
Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read)   [#permalink] 24 May 2009, 20:08
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