Aim at being stylish

I'd say my English writing is getting better. I used to take lots of time to write things in English, and I also made countless grammar mistakes in them. I still do sometmes, of course, but it's becoming easy for me to express my feelings in English. That's good progress, I should say. Somehow, I'm a bit nervous.

If I were a grade-schooler, I wouldn't mind what my writing looked like. As an adult, however, I suppose I need to aim at sophisticated writings even if they are written in English. I'd like to write something interesting. I'd like to amuse you with my writings. What should I study for it?

Do I have to read good writings? Learn from them? It might be right.

I used to enjoy a lot of books when I was a child. I loved spending time at a library and my mother called me bookworm. Before reaching the age of 9, I strained my eyes and needed to wear glasses in school. My mother tried to keep me away from books, but yet I couldn't stop reading. I guess my reading helped me a lot write things in Japanese.

I believe reading is a key to success. The problem is, which one should I choose to learn proper way of writing? There are so many books that I can't seem to pick right ones. Some people say "Huckleberry Finn" is the one to read for children, but others completely oppose to the notion.

I can't be choosy, but I'm interested in right ones to read.


No title

Huckleberry Finn is great literature, no doubt about it. Nonetheless, I wouldn't recommend it to many non-native speakers. The entire book is written in the voice of the character Huck, who speaks in dialect throughout. Here's the opening paragraph:

You don't know about me without you have read a
book by the name of The Adventures of Tom
Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That book was
made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth,
mainly. There was things which he stretched, but
mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never
seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it
was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt
Polly -- Tom's Aunt Polly, she is -- and Mary, and
the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book,
which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as
I said before.

You know English well enough that you'll easily spot some differences from standard English there, but it's the ones you don't see which could be problematic since they may influence your own writing. That isn't to say you should avoid exposure to various dialects, but simply that reading a long book in one may not be the best way to improve your own writing if that's your main goal.

Are you specifically looking for an old classic to read? If so, then based on your interest in Harry Potter, I think you might enjoy some of George MacDonald's fantasy stories. They may be aimed at children, but the writing is excellent and you will find much there to enhance your own skills. Here is a snippet from the beginning of The Princess and the Goblin:

The princess was a sweet little creature, and at the time my story begins was about eight years old, I think, but she got older very fast. Her face was fair and pretty, with eyes like two bits of night sky, each with a star dissolved in the blue. Those eyes you would have thought must have known they came from there, so often were they turned up in that direction. The ceiling of her nursery was blue, with stars in it, as like the sky as they could make it. But I doubt if ever she saw the real sky with the stars in it, for a reason which I had better mention at once.

One nice thing about older books like these is that the copyrights have expired. Anyone can freely and legally download them from the internet to read on a PC or to print out. For instance, here is The Princess and the Goblin:

Sometimes one can find free audio book versions, too. Librivox, for example, is a community of volunteers who record themselves reading aloud copyright-free books. Here is their audiobook of the same George MacDonald story:

They are many, many classics available on the internet, quite a few even with audio versions ready to put on an iPod or other MP3 player or listened to on your PC. You should take a look around those two sites I linked.

This is truly one of the best times in history to be studying a foreign language, particularly if it's English, when considering how much is available for free. You can easily browse through numerous books and stories to find one you wish to enjoy. If you prefer real books to computer displays and printouts, you can then order your chosen title cheaply from and have it in a few days. Being able to preview the book on your computer first means you'll never have to order blindly, not knowing whether you're making a good choice or wasting your money.

If you're looking for something more modern, check out Dear Reader ( By signing up for one of her free book clubs, you'll receive one chapter of a recent book in your inbox each weekday, up to five chapters total in a week. Sampling many different books that way, you're sure to find several worth reading further, plus you'll expand your knowledge of English greatly by exposure to many different stories and styles. Reading widely is one of the best ways to develop well-rounded language skills.

To Michael

Michael, I can't thank you enough. How wonderful you are! I can't have this wonderful information just by myself. Let me tell my friends studying English!
All info sound fantastic. I've purchased some books without a check in advance, so sometimes I got books which were not my cup of tea. Your suggestion is great. I'll do it!

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Hi Emi,
Glad I could share those with you! Please do tell your friends about them.

If you have some books that don't quite suit your tastes, or which you've finished and don't think you'll read again, BookMooch is a great way to find a new home for them and also get some more books for yourself. So what is BookMooch, exactly? I believe their own description says it best: "Give books away. Get books you want." Check out their site if you'd like details.

I like C.S. Lewis

I can't say I read many books, but the ones I've read are pretty good. One of them is a series of books written by C.S. Lewis. I really like his stories, epscially [����]The Chronicles of Narnia[/����] series. The English used in these books is a bit hard because it's an older book and is not written in American English (I believe) which I am most familiar with. But, the story is so interesting that you wouldn't care about some of the strange or difficult words.

I also like [����]Holes[/����]. Disney made a film based on this book, and I have both the book and the movie. It is written by Louis Sachar, and is easier to read compared to the [����]Narnia [/����]series. This is a book also aimed for kids, but they used it as a supplimental reading for the English program at my University.

If you get some time and a chance to read, check them out. You might like reading them.

To Michael

Another wonderful tip, thanks! How many things you know!? I feel like I'm a novice in this world... I rely on you! XD

To Tomo

Thank you for your wonderful advice! Actually, I've read Narnia series. Not every edition, though. Although I love the first one, I felt a bit bored with the second one, therefore, I didn't read the third one. I'm so interested in "Hole." Some of my friends told me that it was worth reading. I'll try.

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