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Reading advice please :)

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Applying to Uni? Let Universities come to you. Click here to get your perfect place 20-10-2014
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    Hi,

    Warning in advance, this is probably a very daft question!

    I am due to start an English Language and Literature degree in October with the Open Uni. I haven’t studied English since school quite a few years ago so I am completely out of the loop.

    I love reading, but I have only really ever read simple chick lits (Marian Keyes, Paige Toon etc) the most complex books I’ve read are the Twilight series…

    So, if these exist, can you recommend any…starter books if you like…something more complex to ease me in to it before I start the degree?

    I have bought Looking for Alaska…is that a good one to start with?

    Thanks so much for your help!!
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    Captain Underpants is a good entry level book series to read.
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    Have a look through lists like http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2003...atures.fiction (for example) and pick a handful of novels (go for shorter ones) that grab your interest.

    Liked twilight? Look at Bram Stoker's Dracula for the original tale! Chick lit? Check out Little Women. There really is no official starter list for starting you up on this kind of thing, so I'd recommend sticking to your interests, but constantly expanding and forming opinions.

    For a uni course, I would also recommend you buy an "introduction to literature" book like http://www.amazon.co.uk/English-Lite...2&sr=1-1-spell for an overview of literary periods and key ideas, and maybe an "introduction to theory" book like http://www.amazon.co.uk/Literary-The.../dp/0631201882 for critical approaches. You'll probably find these fairly heavy and academic, but hopefully you'll be able to find one gentle enough that you can flick through a few chapters here and there without wanting to tear your skull out.
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    You've never read Harry Potter? :lolwut:
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    Try the Inheritance cycle by Christopher Paolini.. Perhaps the best books i've ever read tbh.
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    George Orwell's Nineteen eighty-four and Animal Farm are scintillating reads.
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    (Original post by xalex99x)
    Hi,

    Warning in advance, this is probably a very daft question!

    I am due to start an English Language and Literature degree in October with the Open Uni. I haven’t studied English since school quite a few years ago so I am completely out of the loop.

    I love reading, but I have only really ever read simple chick lits (Marian Keyes, Paige Toon etc) the most complex books I’ve read are the Twilight series…

    So, if these exist, can you recommend any…starter books if you like…something more complex to ease me in to it before I start the degree?

    I have bought Looking for Alaska…is that a good one to start with?

    Thanks so much for your help!!
    Looking for Alaska is not going to prepare you for the heavy literary reading you will have to engage in during a literature degree (although it is a step up from Marian Keyes, and Twlight). You need to dive straight into the classics, Bronte, Eliot, Dickens, Orwell, Wordsworth, etc.

    Do you have an A level in Eng Lit/Eng Lang & Lit. If you do re-visit the authors you studied then. If you haven't studied Eng Lang & Lit at A-level I think going straight into a degree is a huge jump, especially if you're not comfortable reading some of the above titles. Also doing a lit degree just because you enjoy reading is probably not the best idea, you have to love, and be good at the subject. The degree itself is heavy-going.
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    (Original post by starshine123)
    Looking for Alaska is not going to prepare you for the heavy literary reading you will have to engage in during a literature degree (although it is a step up from Marian Keyes, and Twlight). You need to dive straight into the classics, Bronte, Eliot, Dickens, Orwell, Wordsworth, etc.

    Do you have an A level in Eng Lit/Eng Lang & Lit. If you do re-visit the authors you studied then. If you haven't studied Eng Lang & Lit at A-level I think going straight into a degree is a huge jump, especially if you're not comfortable reading some of the above titles. Also doing a lit degree just because you enjoy reading is probably not the best idea, you have to love, and be good at the subject. The degree itself is heavy-going.
    This, my flatmates study Eng Lit and were forced to jump straight into Chaucer and Donne... Eng Lit is not as an easy degree as people always seem to make it out to be.
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    Try reading 'classics' like Frankenstein, Dracula, Lord of the Flies and so on.
    If you want to start easy, go with some of the original Sherlock Holmes short stories. (Anything from the first three collection - 'Adventures', 'Memoirs' and 'Return', I would recommend,as well as the Hound of the Baskervilles novel.)
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    (Original post by Cake Faced Kid.)
    You've never read Harry Potter? :lolwut:
    I agree. I started reading them when I was 14. They seem nice and "easy" books for starters.
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    I'd say it's not about WHAT you're reading, necessarily, but HOW you read it.

    You could struggle through Peace & War, Atlas Shrugged and the entire works of Dickens, it wouldn't prepare you for a degree in the slightest. You need to be analysing the books as you read - why does this character do that? Why might the author have said that, used that word or metaphor? Perhaps get a few classics and pick up a copy of the york notes for them to introduce you to that idea
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    You're right to start looking further afield - you'll probably be thrown straight in to some very difficult texts, and be expected to read them quickly and thoroughly.

    Jane Eyre springs to mind immediately, to get used to reading older works. It's very readable with wonderful characters and is essentially a dramatic love story. The Picture of Dorian Gray too, very short, gripping, definitely worth a go. Also you might want to try The Great Gatsby - America in the 1920's, beautifully written with fascinating characters and lots to think about.

    earthisearthis was definitely right about picking up a theory book as well. I'd really recommend An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory by Bennett and Royle - it sounds horrible but it's made up of brief introductions to a huge range of topics you'll want to be at least a little bit familiar with before starting. Very easy to follow and it will give you a good grounding in the basics.
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    Agree with the rest of these guys, you really need to know a bit about theory before you start, so you know how to approach the texts and why they're important. If you're into chick lits, maybe you could start with books like Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, and maybe a few of Shakespeare's plays, like the Merchant of Venice, or As You Like It.
    At degree level though you'd expected to be reading stuff like Milton's Paradise Lost and John Donne's work, which is far more difficult.
    I think it's great that you're taking initiative though, good luck with your degree!
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    Blindness by Jose Saramago, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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Updated: June 22, 2012
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