IELTS Topic: Books

Vocab & Idioms

Go over the following vocabulary and expressions with your tutor. Read the word/expression and definition out loud, and your tutor will go over anything you do not understand. Practice creating a sentence or two to make sure you know how to use the word/expression properly.

Vocabulary/ Expressions

bedtime reading (n) something to read in bed before you go to sleep
a classic (n) of the highest quality
an e-book (n) a digital book
couldn’t put it down (idiom) wasn’t able to stop reading a book
to flick through (v) to look quickly through a book
hardback (n) a book with a rigid cover (see ‘paperback’ below)
a historical novel (n) a story set in the past
a page turner (n) a book that you want to keep reading
paperback (n) a book with a flexible cover (see ‘hardback’ above)
o read something from cover to cover (idiom) to read a book from the first page to the last

Part 1 Questions

Here are possible questions that might come up during the test. Go over them with your tutor.

Topic

  • Do you like reading books? Why or why not?
  • What (kinds of) books do you like to read?
  • Did you read much when you were a child?

Part 2&3 Questions

Here are possible questions that might come up during the test. Go over them with your tutor.

Sample A

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe a favourite book in your childhood. You should say:
    • What is it
    • Who is the writer of the book
    • What was the story of the book
    • and explain why it is your favorite book from childhood.

Part 3 Questions

  • Let’s consider first of all why people write books. What do you think makes people want to write a book?
  • What qualities does a writer need?

Sample B

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe a book that had a major influence on you. You should say:
    • what the name of the book is & who the author is
    • how you first heard of the book
    • what the main story of the book is
    • and explain why it played such an important role in your life.

Part 3 Questions

  • Is reading as pleasurable in digital format?
  • Do you think bookshops will survive the digital revolution?

Sample C

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe a book that you enjoyed reading. You should say:
    • When you first read it
    • What it was about
    • Why you enjoyed
    • And say whether this book is popular in your country.

Part 3 Questions

  • Do you think it’s a good idea to teach children to read when they are very young?
  • How do you think reading habits will change in the future?

Sample Answers

Here are some sample answers. Go over them with your tutor.

Part 1 Questions

  • Do you like reading books? Why or why not?

    • Yes, I am really into reading because I believe that reading can be both entertaining and educational. Reading broadens my knowledge by opening up the whole world to me. While I’m reading, I can be visiting another country of a different time period, or traveling trough space. I can find out how people solved problems or think up new ideas.
  • What (kinds of) books do you like to read?
    • Oh it’s a tough question, or it should be more of what books I don’t read. I have a really open mind towards books and what genre they are. Classic literature, novels, autobiography, historical story–whatever I love reading them all.
  • Did you read much when you were a child?
    • Yes, I remember when I was a kid I’d like to take some historical books from my father’s bookshelf, and read the historical stories, which were really entertaining and educational for me. As a result, I’m very familiar with our ancient Chinese history.

Part 2&3 Answers

Here are some sample answers. Go over them with your tutor.

Sample A

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe a favourite book in your childhood. You should say:
    • What is it
    • Who is the writer of the book
    • What was the story of the book
    • and explain why it is your favorite book from childhood.

‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ which is also known as ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’, was one of my most favourite books in my childhood. I was so touched by this books and enjoyed it so much that I read it 2-3 times. This book was published from a diary written by a young girl named Anne Frank. My father gave this book as my 11th birthday gift and I read it when I was 11 years old. I have even read it when I grew up and was a student of the college. To my surprise, the book was as appealing and touchy as I found it in my childhood.

The book was adapted from the diary Anne Frank, who was a teenage girl around 13 years old at the time of writing her diary. She originally wrote in Dutch language and later this book was translated into more than 60 languages worldwide. She wrote the diary when she and her family were in hiding for two years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherland during the Second World War.

Anne got a diary as a birthday gift when she turned to 13 and she began to write in it from 14th June 1942. At that time, the Nazi invaded the Netherland and they were in hiding into a sealed-off upper room of Anne’s father’s office building in Amsterdam. They remain hiding there for two years and Anne wrote the events of the people living there, her personal thoughts and what happened that time.

She has a good relationship with her father and a poor relationship with her mother. She admired her sister’s talent and intelligence and calm nature. She was initially irritated about Peter, a boy of her own age and later on they two became very close. Thus a little girl wrote about the relationship, people’s mentality, perceptions of human, little joys and sadness of life and revealed the suffering of the people due to the war.

Anne dies when she became 15 years old after they were betrayed and found by the Nazi. Sadly she dies only 2 weeks before the British troops liberated the prisoners from the concentration camp. After her death, the diary was bit censored and was published with her father’s permission who was the only survivor from the Nazi camp.

The suffering of the people during the war, the feelings and thoughts of a young girl, her complaints and happiness, her perception of life were so brilliant that it touched my heart. I could not leave the book until I finished it and I was deeply touched to read the thoughts of a young and brilliant girl who was killed at her 15.


Part 3 Questions

  • Let’s consider first of all why people write books. What do you think makes people want to write a book?
    • To my way of thinking, there are various reasons why people decide to write a book. Some people have an important story to tell and that’s why they write their own autobiography. For instance, I recently read Richard Branson’s and it was fascinating. Writers of fiction, on the other hand, may just enjoy writing. Look at Stephen King, he’s written countless books and shows no sign of stopping. People like him seem to have a real passion for writing.
  • What qualities does a writer need?
    • Well, being a professional writer is a tough job and the whole creative process of planning, writing and redrafting a book can take years. So, I guess that dedication and self-discipline are prerequisites for any aspiring or established writing. I also believe that being able to connect with readers is essential.

Sample B

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe a book that had a major influence on you. You should say:
    • what the name of the book is & who the author is
    • how you first heard of the book
    • what the main story of the book is
    • and explain why it played such an important role in your life.

Whenever I get time, I try to read books and the ranges vary from profession related books, technical, religious, fiction, classic and contemporary books. The book I would like to describe is a novel called ‘Kane and Abel’ and is written by the famous British writer Jeffrey Archer. Sometimes I read book reviews on the internet and after reading 2/3 books by Jeffrey archer, I tried to get the list of all books by Jeffrey Archer. I found that most of the Jeffrey Archer fans have recommended the book ‘Kane & Abel’. Some people even commented that this is the best book ever written by the same author. I made my mind at this very moment to read this book. After one month or so, I bought the book from a bookstore and started reading it.

The book was first published in 1979 in the United Kingdom and in the USA in 1980. The book was the international success and reached No. 1 position on the New York Times best-selling book list. The storyline started with the birth of two infants named Kane and Abel in the year 1906. One of them was born to a life of prosperity and ease in the USA in a rich family while the other one to a world of hardship and struggle. On different sides of the Globes, they grew up: one shaped by a luxurious upbringing, fine schooling and history he read, the other one who lost his mother at the time of his birth and did not know who his father was, well tempered by war, slavery and history he was part of. The story telling of Jeffrey Archer is magical and enchanting. Most of his story simply mesmerises the readers and for Kane and Abel the attraction worked even more. Every page I turned tempted me to read further. Not for a single moment, I could have stopped thinking about the events and characters of the books and that had a major influence on me. The characters have their own charismatic powers and followed their own paths. One is gold, meritorious while the other one is steel and have forfeited the Dead himself. On their journey in life, they confront each other and became the ultimate adversary of each other. In their relentless battle, both men knew that there could be only one victor- and one vanquished.

Across three generations and around a rapidly changing world, their war rages unchecked, for the love of a dream, the loss of an empire, and the lure of a fortune. Kane became the owner of the largest bank in the USA while Abel came to the USA as a penniless emigrant after the World War I. With intelligence Kane started flourishing the banking business, while Abel made his fortune at last in Hotel business. The first time they confronted each other as a bank owner and a debtor. Though Kane wanted to help Abel regain his business by financing further, but could not do so because of the bank’s board members’ decision. After that, Abel considered Kane as his greatest enemy and sought to destroy Kane. As time passed both had to fight their own fates but the vendetta remained in their hearts. When both men finally grew older, their son and daughter fell in love and got married. They never agreed on the marriage because of their personal hatred of each other. Abel succeeded to buy the bank stocks of Kane’s Bank to hold the power to veto Kane. At the end of the story both confronted each other for the second and last time. After that Kane died and after his death, Abel learned that it was Kane who backed him financially to start his hotel business. The story was told like a magician and is a powerful portrait of a world and two men that a reader would never forget.


Part 3 Questions

  • Is reading as pleasurable in digital format?
    • Personally I prefer reading a paperback or hardback … especially if I’m reading a classic which I don’t think feels right as an e-book … but I can see it can be good for others … my grandmother has an e-reader and she loves the way you can enlarge the text …
  • Do you think bookshops will survive the digital revolution?
    • I think so … at least I hope so … I love flicking through books in a bookshop … online shopping is useful … finding out on Amazon if a book you want has got a good review … maybe getting one that is difficult to find … but I still love the experience of being in a bookshop …

Sample C

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe a book that you enjoyed reading. You should say:
    • When you first read it
    • What it was about
    • Why you enjoyed
    • And say whether this book is popular in your country.

Although reading books is not my cup of tea, there is a book that I consider priceless in my life. That is “Twenty Forver”, a gift given to me by my father on my 18th birthday. It was written by a young student at University of Hanoi, Nguyen Van Thac who gave up his studying to join the army against US-backed South Vietnamese forces. The diary is about what he saw, what he felt on the way being moved to the South battlefield as well as in the fierce combats.
I still remember the time when I read the very first pages of the book. I was so fascinated by his sophisticated and polished writing style. Not to mention the vivid images about the daily life of young soldiers devoting their youth for national liberation.
futhermore, what I’m quite into this book is its truthfulness. you know, since it’s a diary, there is neither plot nor creation. Everything is real and seen under the , the optimistic vision of the student-aged soldier.
Um, in Vietnam, “Twenty Forever” has been so popular, so well-known that it became a bestseller in Vietnam and was adapted into a film in 2009, if my memory serves me right. This diary is a valuable source to stir the patriotism among the young generation.


Part 3 Questions

  • Do you think it’s a good idea to teach children to read when they are very young?

    • In my experience, I think teaching children that reading is fun–and not boring–from when they are young is very important. My grandmother used to say one’s education is finished by third grade–meaning once a kid knows how to enjoy reading and finding out information through text, they will learn on their own.
  • How do you think reading habits will change in the future?
    • Well.. the change has already begun, I think. We are consuming so much information on computers and phones, and we are no longer reading every details of a story but scheming through and moving onto the next topic. Maybe in the future, we don’t even need to read anymore; the information is fed into your brain directly!

Wrap-up

Go over any new expressions or vocabulary that you learned today.

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