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What to read: some recommendations

by Tomasz P. Szynalski

You probably know what you want to read in English, but in case you’re short on ideas, here’s a list of some of my favorite written English content:

  • Websites. Many websites, especially forums and blogs, are a unique source of written informal language. Unlike other written sources, such as books or newspapers, they are quite close to the way native speakers talk. For this reason, they are an excellent source of useful phrases. (Note: When browsing the Internet, don’t spend too much time reading things written by other English learners. Stick to content written by native speakers.)

  • Literature. Here are some books and authors that my friends and I have enjoyed. I am posting links to Amazon pages, so you can look inside each book and find something that you will like:
  • How-tos and self-help books. These four books provide extremely valuable knowledge that you can use all your life in everyday situations. (Note: If you use spaced-repetition software, it’s worth adding some of this advice to your collection!)
  • Science and philosophy books:
    • Why We Get Sick (fundamental explanation of disease from an evolutionary point of view; every patient and doctor should read this)
    • The Selfish Gene (this book will make you look differently at humankind’s place on Earth)
    • The End of Faith (this book argues that religion is dangerous and has no place in a world based on reason)
    • The Language Instinct (how do children acquire language? does language have a big influence on thought? is language a human invention?)
    • Guns, Germs, and Steel (why did Eurasians dominate the world? why did Europeans conquer Native Americans and not the other way around?)
  • Textbooks. If you’re studying at a university and you use textbooks written by English-speaking authors, you can get the original English versions. If you are learning a new computer language, you can use a book in English. You will learn your subject and English at the same time. And you won’t have to deal with poor translations.