What books to read when applying to english at Oxbridge?

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thedragon
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I'll be applying there in 1 1/2 years and want to start reading more intellectual books (I read a lot, but not the stuff I would talk about in an interview, haha). If there are any important ones to read that would be great if you can list them! Thanks.
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Doones
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(Original post by thedragon)
I'll be applying there in 1 1/2 years and want to start reading more intellectual books (I read a lot, but not the stuff I would talk about in an interview, haha). If there are any important ones to read that would be great if you can list them! Thanks.
TBH reading anything is great. You don't need to specifically read "intellectual" books (whatever that means ). But try to widen your reading to improve your comparative techniques.

Perhaps start with your A-level syllabus books and expand to others by the same author, or different authors in similar genres.

Also if, for example, you only have to study an extract of a particular book for the A-level then the extension would be to read the whole book to understand the context of the extract.

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sweeneyrod
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You could look at some colleges' reading lists (here is King's).
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Jayd Shah
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Hi, I'm applying this cycle and I thought I'd try to help! I think what Cambridge like is both variety and a deeper focus on something you're truly interested in rather than just intellectualism. For instance (just an example!!!), you could expand on your A-Level text authors. If you're doing a Romantic poem, look up more Romantic poets. If you're doing Jane Eyre, look up Wuthering Heights. One important thing, however, is to expand beyond the twentieth century: that's really, really important (PM me if you wanna know why hhahaha). Try out some Shakespeare, Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello, A Midsummers Nights Dream are all fun stuff to read, and have really amazing dialogues - and of course, familiarizing yourselves with the Sonnets is good. Try not to just read ten or so sonnets and be done with it but rather look at the sonnets as a whole collection. All the classics are a good bet, as always.

A nice way to make yourself look attractive could be having a deeper interest in one area of literature, for example tragedy (Greek and modern), Romantics, or something. Make it so that you've read a whole lot on the subject, and have many varying authors to draw from. For example, my area of interest was postcolonial literature, and it would look pretty natural to the ATs probably since I'm ethnically Indian and blah blah, colonialism.

Anyhow, I wish you all the best in applying, and reading. It is a good thing to know you've got to read intellectual-type stuff for Oxbridge, because you do hahaha - the last week I was in a group of uni applicants for English overall and they were seriously discussing 1D fanfic and Rainbow Rowell as the only topics of conversation and I was stunned. So yep, Cambridge and Oxford definitely would like to see the classics on your reading list, and also some prominent twentieth century authors. Also read a lot of drama (Miller is a good start) and poetry (start with Wilfred Owen and work backward). Remember that if you're trying for Cambridge - Practical Criticism is a VERY large part of their curriculum, so best familiarise yourself with analyzing texts.

Good luck x
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ivybridge
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I personally think you should read what interests you. This is what a student at Oxford said to me on an open day and other students replicated the comments at Cambridge.

However, it would probably be good to challenge yourself. Find depth as well as breadth - explore texts from a range of themes and periods. You should probably also try and read a couple you don't think you'll like because it is important to be critical.
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