Summer Reading Part Two: What to Read?

In Uncategorized on June 25, 2009 at 10:00 am

Water for ElephantsEverymanSwann's Way: In Search of Lost Time, Vol. 1Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseThe Gold Bug VariationsMaurice: A NovelOne Hundred Years of SolitudeThe Things They Carried

 my read shelf

If I’ve convinced you that summer reading is a good idea, you might now wonder what to read. To get the benefits of reading that we talked about last week, you don’t have to read famous literature like Shakespeare. In fact, unless you love Shakespeare and want to read it every day for fun, I wouldn’t recommend it. What’s more important is to find something to read that you enjoy. If you’re interested in the environment, read about the environment. If you really love cooking, read about food. If you are fascinated by history, read history.

One way to find new books that you might enjoy is to use websites like GoodReads to connect with other readers who are reading the same book and learn about their thoughts. GoodReads is a social networking site for readers to share discussions about books. You can get suggestions about what to read, talk with other readers, and write about the books you’ve read. If you’re curious, check out my books on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/profile/kapope

Here are five novels from my list that I think international students might enjoy. Over the summer months, I’ll share more of my favorite summer reads with you …

1. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer
A novel about a 10-year-old boy who has to deal with the death of his father after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. The novel is hilarious and heartbreaking — one of my all-time favorites.

2. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
This is a book of short stories about soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s. This book shows the harshness of war and can be a tough read, if you’re squeamish about violence. It’s one of those books that’s hard to forget, once you’ve read it.

3. Hard Times, by Charles Dickens
Actually, I just finished reading this book. Dickens wrote this in 1854, when factories were first popping up all over England. The story is about a few characters in a factory town: two workers, the town’s teacher and his family, and the factory owner. In sharing the story of each character, Dickens questions the way workers were treated during the Industrial Revolution. The book also features a circus and a very smart dog. Since this book was written over a hundred years ago, some of the vocabulary might be a bit challenging.

4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
This is a book about a boy who is autistic and has a hard time understanding the emotions of others. A dog in his neighborhood is killed, and he sets out to find out who killed the dog. As he does, he discovers a secret about his family. Some of the most interesting parts of this book are how we (the readers) know things that our narrator (who is autistic) doesn’t.

5. Caramelo, by Sandra Cisneros
This is the story of a Mexican-American family over a few decades. It’s funny and beautiful. The author jumps around a lot in time and place, so although the vocabulary isn’t too tough, it can be a little confusing at first. If you read this, just go with the flow, and don’t try to keep events too organized in your mind.

6. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
It’s not officially a romance novel, but I’ve always thought of Jane Eyre as a romance. The story was first published in 1847 in England, and it tells the story of a girl who is an orphan and must make her way as a governess (a private teacher for a wealthy family). She eventually falls in love, under unlucky circumstances. Like Hard Times, this book was written over a hundred years ago, so some of the vocabulary might sound a bit strange.

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The ULS blog posted a nice round-up of American idioms about traveling. Check them out here.

Also, the Study Hacks blog (which has great advice for strategic studying for good grades) recently posted an example of a student who elminated the unneccesary from her schedule to focus on what really mattered. The student, Alice, had been struggling with “deep procrastination” and burnout. After applying the advice from Study Hacks, she was getting As, impressing her supervisor at work, and feeling much more in control of life. What I like about this approach is that it encourages students to slow down and really enjoy classes and learning, rather than packing everything possible into your schedule. Check out the advice that helped Alice improve her grades here.

  1. […] reading can increase your English vocabulary faster than any other type of English practice, and I shared a few novels that I think you might like. This week, I’d like to give you some tips on making reading […]

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