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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 29 Dec 2009, 04:59
Hello,
Thanks for this good list.

Since last 3 yrs I have been so overwhelmed with work, I virtually lost the reading habit. Now that I plan to get back to GMAT, it was refreshing to start with "Grapes of Wrath".

Please keep on adding to the list.

My humble contribution to the list - "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Paramhansa Yogananda.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 03 Jan 2010, 09:43
I have read through the thread and I have a question. As one is reading these books, what is the process for actively learning proper grammar and expression? Does it include:

1) Taking notes about grammar, style, punctuation
2) Writing down vocabulary words and looking them up
3) Other?

Thanks.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 03 Jan 2010, 22:21
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socal_gmat wrote:
I have read through the thread and I have a question. As one is reading these books, what is the process for actively learning proper grammar and expression? Does it include:

1) Taking notes about grammar, style, punctuation
2) Writing down vocabulary words and looking them up
3) Other?

Thanks.


Most things happen automatically. The only work that needs to be done is looking up new words that you encounter a few times (that means they are important enough and you will probably remember them with several iterations). I actually wrote out most of the words I encountered unless I felt they were extraneous. Then the second time I encountered those words, I would look up my notes and would also have a better chance at remembering it.

No other work is needed and is done by your brain automatically - the beauty of it all.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 11 Feb 2010, 21:48
thx for the great list! i'll get started on shogun since it appeals to me the most :-D
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 21 Feb 2010, 17:18
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is available for free in the below site. It is licensed copy.

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 22 Feb 2010, 11:38
Thank you!
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 23 Feb 2010, 04:58
thanks for this! Kudos!

does anyone know how to get good magazines on the cheap in tokyo?
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 27 Feb 2010, 16:54
A good book I have found is The McGraw-Hill Reader - Issues Accross the Disciplines. I find the compilation of essays very thoughtful and the writing very good.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 27 Feb 2010, 18:18
I highly recommend http://www.bartleby.com/ for some of the classics which aren't copyrighted anymore (eg Twain, Maupassant, Fitzgerald); it also helps you get used to reading long passages on a comp screen
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 18 Mar 2010, 12:01
I liked Fountainhead - full picture of ruthless scenario. I am looking forward to others too. Some of them aren't available in nearest bookstore nor my friends have them.

I am not into much reading habit earlier but I am amazed by the fact that I actually love to read, be it any genre. Thanks for the suggestion bb.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 31 Mar 2010, 10:55
That's an interesting idea to read books when english hasn't been the regular language for studying.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 29 Apr 2010, 05:42
have a list of books to read now :)...thanks for the post
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 09 May 2010, 20:38
Great list!! Where can I find the 13 point CR check list?

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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 20 May 2010, 10:25
hi guys. thanks for advises.
are there any free resourses to read? unfortunatelly i cannot buy books now.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 04 Jun 2010, 04:26
great list,

thanks a lot!!!
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 19 Jun 2010, 16:42
I already have some of the books and will start tomorrow! just fiction because i don't want to get stressed from technical books. (save energy for the gmat).
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 23 Jun 2010, 01:18
I am in Vietnam and can not buy the fiction books you recommend

Anyone, pls tell me where to download one of the fiction books you recommend.

Thank a lot.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 23 Jun 2010, 09:04
thangvietnam wrote:
I am in Vietnam and can not buy the fiction books you recommend

Anyone, pls tell me where to download one of the fiction books you recommend.

Thank a lot.

You can but them from Amazon or any local ebook websites. You do not need to read exactly the same books either. Just read any well written literature. You can download classics from either google books or Gutenberg project website. Plannet pdf also let you download some books. Most of the books mentioned above are actually freely downloadable.
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2010, 07:38
OK! Just finished about 1000 pages of GMAT fiction in one week. Now it's time to start research on good verbal prep books. Thanks for the great recommendations everyone. :-D
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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read) [#permalink] New post 02 Jul 2010, 22:25
Great list! I'd recommend that all non-native speakers read through most, if not all of these titles. Most native speakers had to read many of them in K-12 schooling

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Re: Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read)   [#permalink] 02 Jul 2010, 22:25
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