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Thread: What good book would you suggest me?

  1. #1

    What good book would you suggest me?

    Hello there, it's still me, the Italian guy who is learning English, hanging around on these wonderful forums

    As it's said in the title... what book should I start from?
    I am reading Pride and Prejudice at the moment, which I think it's giving me a lot from a linguistic point of view, sometimes I even unconsciously find myself using some of its expressions... I find it a very refined English and it's giving me a lot of hints about how the language should be used...
    I'm almost done with that, so I am looking for a new one...
    The reason why I'm asking you for some advice is that I'm not fully able to choose appropriately yet, and there still exists the risk I inadvertently pick some readings which may be not suitable for me... In particular, I am concerned about the risk of picking up out of date expressions, as I am not fully able to discern yet... I would love to read something which value is out of any doublt, which can be defined as a classic, though isn't too old from a linguistic point of view... (I don't want to hang around in Texas this summer talking in Middle English...)

    Consider these factors:
    - I would describe my English level as upper-intermediate so far, and I definitely can read better than I write.
    - I'm learning English exclusively for my own "amusement"... I'm not one of those business-men looking forward to pass those tests such as toefl, ielts etc... I'm just interested in the language itself and in its literature... My learning style may be described as "English for English's sake".

    Thank you very much indeed!!

  2. #2
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    Maybe Wilkie Collins would be a good choice. Particularly I would recommend either The Woman in White of The Moonstone.

    He does have an almost modern feel to his writing so I do not think it will prove to be too anarchic linguistically. And though it is hard for me to judge what would be accessible for one who is still learning English, I would not think he would be any more difficult to read than Jane Austen is.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  3. #3
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    hmm, I have The Moonstone on my bookshelf. Indeed, it wasn't too bad language-wise.

    Trollope isn't too bad either. The Pictoure of Dorian Gray has some interesting vocabulary in it, but on the whole it reads quite nicely.

    Daniel Defoe, although from the 17th century, is suprisingly modern in feel.

    Actually I am more or less in your position... I read old books and then tend to use their expressions (sometimes). However, English is never so dated as other languages may be. So using an expression you read in an 18th century novel is likely to sound quite sophisticated instead of daft.

    My husband who is English would joke that Texas is not the most fantastic measure for English...
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'me ne se vide ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scne VII)

  4. #4
    Ebulliently Eclectic irinmisfit92's Avatar
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    If you do not want something too complex, read books by John Ajvide Lindqvist. He's a Swedish author most renowned for his novel Let The Right One In, which was later on made into a 2008 Swedish movie. It was then remade by Hollywood, and the movie was titled Let Me In; so perhaps you are more familiar with that.

    His books are recent, however they are pretty powerful such that you do feel that it is almost tantamount to literature.

    If you want to find classics that are easier to read, go read Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Stevenson and Dracula by Bram Stoker. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte is also really good.

  5. #5
    Hmmm. For very entertaining, if troubling, examples of fantastic but easy-on-the-eyes prose style, I'd suggest Nabokov's Lolita and David Sedaris's memoirs. But really you're entering a wide, wide world, with English lit. I'd definitely work my way up before attempting something like Dickens or Faulkner, both wonderful authors, albeit startlingly difficult to read.
    Talk to me sometime.

  6. #6
    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Italian83 View Post
    sometimes I even unconsciously find myself using some of its expressions...
    I am terrible in regards to that. I try to catch myself, but it doesn't help.

    I am currently reading "For Whom The Bell Tolls" by Hemingway and "que va" has become part of my everyday speech.
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

  7. #7
    Voice of Chaos & Anarchy
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    I strongly urge you to read recent popular fiction. Trollope, Defoe, etc. wrote in earlier times, so their language is a bit much for a bar in Texas. Defoe usd forms that no one uses any more. Those are easily understood by a native speaker of English, but they aren't what people use. The classics are not up-to-date, but Nabokov is. You might see what new books are coming out and randomly buy some. They may not be good, but life is a gamble.

  8. #8
    Can you tell us more about your interests, genres you prefer, etc?

  9. #9
    "Room with a View" by E.M. Forster is very straightforward, and you might like the Italian connection.

    But as you are going to Texas, shouldn't you be reading some American classics?

    Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain.

    Grapes of Wrath - Steinbeck

  10. #10
    Yeah I'd second Steinbeck. He's great.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by hawthorns View Post
    Can you tell us more about your interests, genres you prefer, etc?
    You're right...I didn't even tell you guys what genres I normally read... Well, I mostly like psychological novels, where characters are deep into their existential problems :-), I hate all those silly bestsellers with their colorful covers...
    I love the countryside, the wild, I like it when it's cloudy and rainy outside, I like walking alone in winter all wrapped in my trench coat because I feel a particular atmosphere.
    I graduated in Classics, majored in Greek literature, my preferred Italian author is Italo Calvino, I read Oscar Wilde, Emily Bronte, James Joyce, I've recently fallen in love with Kafka's works...
    Plus, I have a cat with whom I like to talk to better then to people.
    I'm learning English just because one day I woke up and thought that would be nice and I've never stopped since then.

    p.s. The Texas thing was just a joke... I'm not going to visit the U.S. in the near future, unless I win a bunch of money at some national lottery.

    Thanks everybody for your precious hints!! I've been writing down all of your suggestions and I will surely read many of the books you suggested me to try!!

  12. #12
    Chess Neely's Avatar
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    I love the fact that you woke up one day and decided to learn a language for language's sake, great stuff! I'll just offer you a few suggestions as you are likely to be inundated with books.

    Two English novels that's not been mentioned yet, that are solid classic works and very readable that I'd definitely have on your list are:

    * Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure
    * Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

    Thinking about your love of the countryside, especially if you like poetic prose, I would suggest you try the lovely Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee, and also perhaps it's follow up with As I Walked out one Midsummer Morning. These two are not as obvious as the above two and are a bit of a personal suggestion but are lovely books all the same. I wrote out a few passages in the review here:

    Also you can listen to the first part of it here as read by Kenneth Branagh.

    Also what about some poetry? Perhaps Wordsworth and Keats would fit the bill?

    Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).

    I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
    Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.

    Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.

  13. #13
    You're probably way ahead of me as a graduate in the Classics, but here's a few I've read and loved: Invisible Cities, Calvino; East of Eden, Steinbeck; Brideshead Revisited, Waugh The Worst Journey In the World, Scott (esp if you like the cold); South, Shakleton; The Trial, Kafka. Also, if you enjoyed the Brontes I'd highly recommend Villette. For psychological thrillers No Night is Too Long, Master of the Moor, and A Dark-Adapted Eye, Ruth Rendell
    Last edited by hawthorns; 04-07-2012 at 04:57 PM.

  14. #14
    By the way, what part of Italy are you from? My great grandparents were from Tuscany (somewhere), but we unfortunately can't trace it. I was in Rome two years ago and seeing the history I've only read about for so many years was like a dream come true. That city is like Disneyland for history enthusiasts. Wish I could go back...

  15. #15

    Cool Why not read what may be the best modern Italian novel ....

    in the English translation: The Leopard by Lampedusa. I read the novel and saw the movie with Burt Lancaster dubbed in Italian and enjoed both immensly.

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