Reading Maze For Book Reviews

Reading for the Young & Old

Essay composition – a guide for students

At this time of year, students all over the country are gearing up for some serious exams on the horizon in May and June. A sensible student takes all the help they can get, so what books are out there for essay help?

A current best-seller is ‘One Step Ahead: Essays and Dissertations’ by Chris Mounsey. The author is a highly experienced academic and teacher, having taught English at the prestigious Winchester College for more than ten years and has also penned two other learning-related books aimed at assisting students with writing essays.

This guide is written in a clear and easy to ingest manner – as would be expected from an English teacher of such repute – and contains much useful information plus hints and tips, and some example essays.

Many students find that composing an essay is the hardest part as they get lost in the narrative process; this book takes the guesswork out and holds the budding author’s hand step by step. Essay writing can easily be learnt and is not a divine art.

As a teacher working at a college and not purely an academic, Mounsey has the inside scoop on what essays marked by teachers should conform to, i.e., what the education establishment is expecting.

There is also some relevant advice regarding the initial research stages; in today’s technology-led learning environments this aspect is very much altered from the situation a generation ago when the only source of information was a library with actual books. But its not all plain sailing with online resources and Mounsey steers the reader through the potential pitfalls.

An entertaining and thoughtful gift for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day presents can be universally trite (anything in the cute knick-knack range), unimaginative (chocolates) or ephemeral (flowers) so the gift of a book is a much better choice… but which to select?

If your mum has every cookbook every printed, consider a different type of book. Mothers with a sense of humour (and let’s face it, a sense of humour and an ability to laugh at life’s little trials and daily minutiae are fairly essential characteristics for mothers) will appreciate a recent release by journalist and writer Caitlin Moran entitled “How to Be A Woman”.

This book does not just cover motherhood, but looks at all aspects of what it means to be woman in today’s world…in a very light-hearted way. With plenty of laugh out loud moments, Moran strikes the balance perfectly between an entertaining read and a feel-good, life-affirming, thought-provoking work.  With a strand throughout reflecting the sexism still to be found in modern society, Moran poses and answers lots of female-focused questions.

Much of the narrative is autobiographical, having been distilled from Moran’s own experiences. She’s certainly had a varied life so far, as the daughter of a rock musician who was home schooled from the age of thirteen and had a career as a music journalist before writing for several newspapers and becoming a published author.

Overall, the message the reader is left with is a good one regarding a woman’s sense of self-worth in the world and an encouragement to everyone in general to celebrate women for what they are and who they are, rather than what they look like and how old they are.  All very positive for any one, of any age or gender – but a female reader who has shared the author’s experiences of teenage angst, pregnancy, childbirth, marriage and career struggles will gain the most.

Finding inspiration from death

The phrase ‘carpe diem’ (roughly: seize the day) is familiar to many, and undeniably is a very positive ethos which we as a species and as individuals could do well to keep in the foreground of our thoughts. Our time on earth is limited and it pays to remember this. But keeping that philosophy in mind whilst going about your daily toil can be difficult, as the stresses and strains wear away at our energy and intentions.

A new book which has just been published by psychologist Marie de Hennezel is a great reminder and a valuable tool in the eternal fight to celebrate the here and now in a life-affirming way. It is called ‘Seize the Day: How the Dying teach us how to Live’ and is based on the author’s personal experience of working with terminally ill patients in France over many years.

Already a best-selling author, her previous non-fiction book was an international hit. She describes how accepting death as part of life is essential in order to seize the day and find peace and joy in our everyday lives, using her encounters to illustrate the fundamental themes of the book. It’s easy to see why her work has been called ‘inspirational’ and even for the most cynical of readers, there are valuable messages to be found in every chapter. And what makes the themes more accessible is the fact that the book is based on real people, real life stories and real deaths; this is not some ‘hippy-trippy’ tome thought up entirely in someone’s head.

This is a worthwhile, life-enhancing book for anyone to read. After all, the one thing all humankind has in common is that we will all die. That’s never been in question – the more pressing issue should be how we live our lives before our time expires.

Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion

As a confirmed atheist with a scientific educational background, I do enjoy Richard Dawkins’ writing and agree with his philosophies. However, I have never read his best selling non-fiction work to date, The God Delusion, so have been rectifying that recently.

Focusing on dispelling myths concerning the existence of any sort of supernatural god-like being, Dawkins explores the topic at length from every conceivable angle. Whilst the book is packed with detail, facts and intellectual arguments, it is not what I’d describe as a difficult read and his prose is accessible enough for any type or age of reader.

He uses most of the major religions of the world and their associated creationist and figurehead stories to argue that god simply does not – and cannot – exist. Much of the book comes across as very personal, and this work has been criticised by some for a lack of scientific rigour and research, yet applauded by others for building a very convincing, logical yet readable argument against any sort of theism.

As the book proceeds, parts are linked back to his earlier subject matter of evolutionary theory explored in earlier works like The Blind Watchmaker. Dawkins expounds the Darwinist, genetic theories of the growth and development of all life as an anti-dote to the religious ‘God just made it happen’ creation myths and legends. Interestingly, his explanation that man created god due to his own needs and mental/emotional/spiritual requirements is probably the crux of his discourse and the point around which all the other chapters fall into place.

Even if you hold religious views, this book is a worthwhile read and will engage your attention. It has been said that the only certain mind is a closed one, so no matter which side of the theism argument you stand on, add this book to your reading list soon.

Writing Essays for Dummies

If you’re looking for some help to write your university essays then this book should provide you with some practical guidance. Writing essays for university can be quite daunting a lot more is expected from you than at A-level.

You will find Writing Essays for Dummies is split up into the following sections:

Part I: Navigating a World of Information
Chapter 1: Mapping Your Way: Starting to Write Essays
Chapter 2: Identifying the essay type

Part II: Researching, Recording and Reformulating
Chapter 3: Eyes Down: Academic reading
Chapter 4: Researching Online
Chapter 5: Note–taking and Organising your Material
Chapter 6: Avoiding Plagiarism

Part III: Putting Pen to Paper
Chapter 7: Writing as a process
Chapter 8: Getting Going and Keeping Going

Part IV: Mastering Language and Style
Chapter 9: Writing with Confidence
Chapter 10: Penning the Perfect Paragraph
Chapter 11: Finding Your Voice

Part V: Tightening Your Structure and Organisation
Chapter 12: Preparing the Aperitif: The Introduction
Chapter 13: Serving the Main Course: The Essay’s Body
Chapter 14: Dishing up Dessert: The Conclusion
Chapter 15: Acknowledging Sources of Information

Part VI: Finishing with a Flourish: The Final Touches
Chapter 16: It’s all in the detail
Chapter 17: Perfecting Your Presentation
Chapter 18: The afterglow

Part VII: Part of Tens
Chapter 19: Ten Tips to Avoid Things Going Wrong
Chapter 20: Ten Ways to Make Your Essay Stand Out

This book is set out so it can be easily understood, especially for beginners and even for seasoned writers who are looking to improve. It helps you with your writing style and also for those who are not 100% sure about proper structure and it’s a god send for those starting out at university. You can read on how to plan your time for essay writing, the best way to read through your reading list as well as how to take good notes which will help your essay writing. It also covers all the small details on how to write university essays such as hitting your deadlines with time to spare and information on referencing and plagiarism.

Writing Essays for Dummies is a must have for anyone having trouble writing essays, especially if you find you have been receiving lower marks, you can probably find out from this book where you have been going wrong.

Writing Essays for Dummies

Writing Essays for Dummies