Summer reading recommendations (Linguistics-themed)
My book shelves are mainly lined with language-related books, having gradually accumulated them over the past few years. There are a few books that have really stood out to me, whether that’s because they were incredibly helpful in preparing for first year – or simply because I loved reading them. Before joining Warwick, I found it most helpful to read around the language topics that I was genuinely most interested in at the time, rather than reading solely to prepare for the degree. I wanted to implement the mindset that my degree is mine to enjoy and tailor to my own interests from the get-go – and not only about preparing for exams or grades.
Feminism and Linguistic Theory by Deborah Cameron
I read Feminism and Linguistic Theory during my first year of university, but I wish I’d read it sooner. The book not only explores Linguistics, but delves into social theory, history, politics and so on. The content is fascinating and informative, but it’s also written accessibly and would be, in my opinion, interesting for any level of linguist or layperson. It’s a prime example of read-what-you-are-interested-in: for me, I found reading around language and gender to be incredibly inspiring and motivating.
An Introduction to Language by Fromkin, Rodman and Hyams
I skimmed through this textbook before joining Warwick, and I’m so glad that I did. We used it a lot in one of our Linguistics modules, and it slightly lessened my workload for that particular module, as I’d already made some notes from the reading. Aside from that, the book has worksheets/activities at the end of each section, which helped to keep Linguistics fresh in my mind during the six-month gap between cancelled A-Levels and university. It wasn’t necessary to (pre)read this book, but it helped anyway.
What kind of creatures are we? By Noam Chomsky
This was one of the first Linguistics books that grabbed my attention, back when studying A-Levels and a Linguistics EPQ. It’s academically written and I found the style challenging in places, but the sheer breadth of the book – spanning language, philosophy, cognitive science and more – made it a really interesting read, particularly for placing language in the bigger picture.
The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language by David Crystal
I love this book – it’s perfect to dip in and out of as you please, as you can read the page-long sections that appear most interesting, without having to read the whole 400-page book. I found it helpful before starting my degree, because it’s concise, easy to read, and covers an incredible breadth of Linguistics fields – and thus acted as a good base for gradually developing my knowledge.
Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
Okay, so this isn’t technically a Linguistics book, but I still think it would be super helpful for any Linguistics (or other) undergraduate. The way the book accessibly explains data, data gaps, and patterns has definitely improved my knowledge of research in the modern world, as well as how research is used – or indeed, not used – in public policy. Linguistics has quite a strong research-led focus at Warwick, so a book that explores gaps in data, as well as the implications of such gaps, is not only fascinating, but beneficial for any aspiring researcher.
Despite the list above, try not to overly stress about doing loads of preparatory reading. Read what you want to read rather than what you think you should read, talk to your department if you have any questions, and focus on developing passion for your subject.