Reading lists

 

In the search for a new book to read, most of us just scroll down the list of bestsellers and  choose the latest. Today’s bestsellers seem to be a revival of 19 century novels; stories told over a thousand pages and often ending masterfully,  urging the readership to anticipate  an imminent sequel, just like a Holywood movie hit.

If you are happy with this situation, and bestsellers fulfil your reading demands, you needn’t read on. Mind you, choosing to read bestsellers  provides you with a topic to discuss over dinner with friends or over coffee with workmates. Personally, I share the opinion of  one of my favourite authors, Ian McEwan:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/11067429/Author-Ian-McEwan-Very-few-novels-earn-their-length.html

Language teachers often recommend reading as one of the most efficient ways of improving overall language skills, especially when the objective is passing a crucial language exam. Needless to say, I am the first to encourage  my students to read as much as possible, and am often asked for advice on which  book to choose. In the case of lower levels, there is an easy answer: choose a graded reader on whichever topic you like. However, when it comes to reading originals, recommending becomes a difficult task. A taste for literature is as personal as a taste for wine or food. Moreover, there is the  ongoing obstacle of me refusing to read books that are too long or too widely read, further worsening the prospects of finding the right option for my students.

As I’m quite choosy and, like most people, have limited time for reading, I often look for reading lists.Here are some you might find useful  when reading for pleasure, or reading  in order to improve your English skills:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/dec/29/the-best-book-weve-read-all-year-guardian-writers-and-readers-look-back

http://www.modernlibrary.com/top-100/100-best-novels/

https://penguinchecklist.wordpress.com/later-series/great-books-of-the-20th-century/

http://www.nytimes.com/pages/books/index.html

You may or not be convinced by this piece of advice, as it’s likely many of the books mentioned are of no interest to you or you have already read them.

For this reason, I’ll share my little secret with you. What I did this year is use Goodreads. I rated some books that I have read and liked, in order to receive a personalised list of recommendations. Although I have friends on Goodreads, I have always been reluctant to use it, as it is directly associated with Amazon. However, this time I have overcome my prejudice.

To my surprise, I have actually been presented with a  number of interesting titles and am now working on my reading list. I will try to buy the titles  in my local bookshops, though, as I’m terified by the notion of Amazon and similar websites wiping bookshops out of my city’s map forever.

If  you  think this might work for you, I encourage you to try it out. Good luck!

https://www.goodreads.com/

 

 

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