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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 04 Oct 2009, 20:08
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Just remembered an old trick - how to get good quality Magazines on the cheap side (only if you live in the US).

A number of mileage program including Northwest (currently merging with Delta) offer magazine subscription options. Here is a preview of some:
1. Business Week - 1,600 miles for 50 issues
2. Fortune - 1,400 miles for 25 issues
3. Harvard Business Review - 2,700 miles for 12 issues
4. Money - 800 miles for 12 issues
5. The Economist - 3,200 miles for 51 issues
6. WSJ - 2,800 miles for 190 issues
7. Financial Times - 2,000 miles for 305 issues

All are pretty much a fantastic value, since you can get 1 mile per dollar spent on the Delta/NWA credit card and up to 30K sign up bonus.

More info:
Delta Magazine Subscription
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 05 Oct 2009, 04:01
I just finished reading "The great Gatsby". Very different from I expected. It appears I understood wrongly the reviews :lol:
However, it is really a good book.
By the way, where are the starts the forum members used to rate the books?

PS: Started to read "Daisy Miller", by Henry James.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 05 Oct 2009, 09:16
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diogoguitarrista wrote:
I just finished reading "The great Gatsby". Very different from I expected. It appears I understood wrongly the reviews :lol:
However, it is really a good book.
By the way, where are the starts the forum members used to rate the books?

PS: Started to read "Daisy Miller", by Henry James.


Took the stars off - few were using the system and they were slowing the page down.
Let me know your review and I will post it next to the book however positive/negative it may be.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2009, 08:08
Can we pretty much assume anything by John Steinbeck would be a good read? I'm looking through Amazon and I see "Once there was a War" by Steinbeck. Any thoughts?
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2009, 08:34
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Thank you - posted.

diogoguitarrista wrote:
I liked "The Great Gatsby", though it was very different from I expected.
Be careful not to read what is this book about in Wikipedia, which has many spoilers.

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

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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2009, 08:38
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CiscoAmado wrote:
Can we pretty much assume anything by John Steinbeck would be a good read? I'm looking through Amazon and I see "Once there was a War" by Steinbeck. Any thoughts?


From style, language, and grammar perspective - probably.
From the plot - probably too (I've read about 5 or 8 of his books and liked everyone of them)
I have a long trip coming up and was looking for something to read - you sparked me to go with Steinbeck. However, I think I'll go with something lighter.

I'll probably get The Log from the Sea of Cortez and The Long Valley.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2009, 09:35
What about suspense type books? Mystery? Will those hold any up for valuable reads pertaining to GMAT fiction?

Any other genres?
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2009, 09:48
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CiscoAmado wrote:
What about suspense type books? Mystery? Will those hold any up for valuable reads pertaining to GMAT fiction?

Any other genres?


I'd say if that's what keeps you occupied and interested, then go for it. The way I look at it - the value of the book will depend on 3 elements:
1. How it is able to keep you engaged and interested in reading (probably high for suspence and myster)
2. Quality of vocabulary/language/style
3. Difficulty of text

Steinbeck is probably a bit on the lower side of difficulty but he has the interest and language but that makes it easier to get into it. If you pick up a very difficulty book to comprehend - not matter the language or plot, you will get tired. Faulkner is probably on the top of difficulty scale (along with Hawthorne) but both are too dry to my liking, so I can never keep up.

Just my thoughts - if you have any suggestions of your own - please don't hesitate to post them.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 08 Oct 2009, 03:13
Reading novels such a good idea !!!!

I strongly suggest to read all Dan Brown' book (p1 : ANgels and demons, p2: da vinci code, p3: digital fortress, p4: deception point... less good; haven't read The lost symbol yet), and Larsson's Millenium 1,2 and soon 3 (the girl with the dragon tatoo and the girl who played with fire; the third one will soon be published)...
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 01 Nov 2009, 22:39
Hello,

Can someone please suggest some good magazines to subscribe?

Thanks
KP
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 02 Nov 2009, 03:02
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impal wrote:
Hello,

Can someone please suggest some good magazines to subscribe?

Thanks
KP


already discussed in this thread (both on the first page and on this page) - just look through it
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 02 Nov 2009, 08:39
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I just want to second your opinion on the book Daisy Miller, by Henry James. The author uses a great deal of commas, dashes, and semicolons - great practice for the GMAT! Also, I found the story very captivating; I finished the book in less than three hours.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 02 Nov 2009, 12:18
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Sorry about Daisy Miller. It is a quick short one.... maybe you are not a romantic type :lol:

Good luck with Da Vinci Code - if it has good English - it works!
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 07 Nov 2009, 12:05
Great selection of books bb.
Cheers!
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 10 Nov 2009, 06:52
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Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of The Day is a great book and offers its readers excellent English.

But when it comes to Steinbeck, I'm a little more hesitant. The dialogue that he employs is too colloquial. His books are entertaining, but perhaps they are not the best source for SC strengthening.

Just my two cents. :wink:
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 10 Nov 2009, 07:26
Hey guys,

Just thought I'd recommend another book I'm currently reading.

Its called 'Ahead of the Curve' and its by Philip Delves Broughton, who writes about his experiences in the two years he spent at HBS.

Here is the link for its Amazon review: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/159420 ... 1594201757

A fantastic read not just for HBS aspirants, but, IMO, for anyone planning to do an MBA.

It'll not only help in improving your verbal skills, but also have the added advantage of giving you an insight into the functioning of one of the worlds top B-schools.

Hope you enjoy it. I certainly am!

Cheers.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 10 Nov 2009, 13:12
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But when it comes to Steinbeck, I'm a little more hesitant. The dialogue that he employs is too colloquial. His books are entertaining, but perhaps they are not the best source for SC strengthening.

Just my two cents. :wink:


Thanks! I probably found it somewhat similar, though the Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden had some challenging areas when he was jumping back and forth - I had to re-read some sections to make sure I understood what was going on.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 21 Nov 2009, 15:54
What about the Jhumpa Lahiri books??
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 15 Dec 2009, 20:09
Atlas Shrugged is awesome! I just keep coming back to Fransico's speech about money - a must read for every aspiring capitalist everywhere. Can't wait to get my hands on fountainhead once I finished reading this beast.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2009, 21:04
I think Jhumpa Lahiri's books are excellent abhiforu155! I especially liked her first book: Interpreter of Maladies and of course Namesake was equally as brilliant.

I think one book which needs to be added to the list is Vikram Seth's epic book A Suitable Boy. At about 1300-1400 pages (depending on if you're buying the hardcover or softcover version), its quite a lush, dense and beautifully written book which follows 4 families in post-partition India.

Seth just takes the writing to another level, a small testament: the chapter titles are described in a rhyming couplet!

READ IT!
Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read)   [#permalink] 28 Dec 2009, 21:04
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