Despite the pleasures of the blogosphere and the twitterverse, I generally prefer to take my literature in paper form. A cup of tea, a digestive biscuit and a good book. The quiet hush of the library and the musty aroma of slightly damp academics. The per-lunk of a freshly-minted journal as it drops through the letter box.

I took to writing book reviews a couple of years back, partly for the free books, partly to get a few things published and on the CV, but mainly to motivate myself to read more and read more critically. It is a different experience to read a book from front to back with a highlighter pen, a biro and a scrap of paper to make notes, and generally I find it very rewarding.

However, published reviews are generally limited to the current… books which are not more than a year or two old. So, I’ve decided to start an ongoing series of reviews on this blog – old books, books which didn’t quite hit the mainstream, books which can start fights, books which deserve a wider audience, books from outside the field of ELT which are nevertheless pertinent, or books which you really should just read!

I have a little stack of books in my office which I intend to attack over the coming weeks and months, but I would also love to hear from YOU. This seems a ripe series for guest postings – pick a book off your shelf that we all need to know about, write your reasons why in as few or as many words as you feel appropriate, and send it to me…..


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8 Thoughts on “books you should read

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention the lives of teachers » Blog Archive » books you should read --

  2. Great idea. And love “slightly damp academics”

    If you want to know where Darren gets his new books from, please ask me

  3. darren on December 5, 2009 at 8:46 pm said:

    Thanks Alex… as you know I received one from you this very week and it looks like a doozy. I’ll try to get it read within a year this time….

    If you want to get a brand new shiny book, get in touch with Alex here

    (and while you are about it, read through some of the reviews already there)

    Alex, a guest post from you would always be welcome. Any old classics you’d like to tell us about?

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  5. I too jumped on the reviewing bandwagon some time ago. Apart from that, I have a whole slew of methodology books from the Stone Age (i.e., the 80s) which could be interesting to read and compare what was “news” then to what’s “news” now…

  6. I love that idea… send me something! I reviewed Ben Goldstein’s excellent ‘Working with Images’ not so long ago, and couldn’t help but compare it to Andrew Wright’s ‘Pictures for Language Learning’, from the same series with a twenty year gap. Both approaches work very well, but it is fascinating to look back on a pre-internet age (which really isn’t so long ago).

  7. I’ll get right on it! Funny you should mention Wright’s Pictures for Language Learners, which is an all time favorite of mine. I think another of his, 1000 Pictures for Language Teachers (or something like that) probably improved my teaching skills more so than any other methodology book I’ve ever read.

    I think however that Jack Lonergan’s “Video in Language Teaching” (from the year 1984!) is the one most ripe for dissection. I’ll keep you posted! Congratulations on a great blog, by the way!

  8. I LOVE the sound of that! I just picked up a book from a dusty shelf in a backroom office that apparently cost three and six when it was published in 1961… How, asks the author, are the educational theories of Ancient Greece, Rome and Palestine relevant in the technological age. How indeed, E.B. Castle?

    No doubt teachers in the future, flying around in jet packs and teaching via thought transfer from microchips in their brains, will think us quaint too….

    The Andrew Wright book you mention is magnificent. When I was little I wanted to be a comic book artist or a palaeontologist, and those years spent toiling over a grubby notebook with a biro were the best preparation for a ‘career’ in ELT I could have had. A scribble on the board gets the point across, keeps things in English, lightens the mood and plants a memorable image all in a few seconds. By giving teachers the confidence to draw, Andrew Wright deserves a medal!

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