Learning and perfecting any new language is a big task especially if you are no longer in the kindergarten. I mean, it is hard to go through the grind of ‘Ae’, ‘Ba’, ‘Ka’ when the mind is already a hardboiled egg, isn’t it!
English today forms the foundation of every single interaction you have with the outside world. Even the kids insist on speaking in English because their teachers tell them to do so. But there is still a sizable population in India which studies in hindi medium schools and when they cross the hedges and assimilate in big cities, language becomes a barrier. Do they have a chance to thwart the nightmare and improve their verbal ability with this book without going mad? Let’s see.
When Manish Gupta asked me to review his book ‘English Bites’, I thought of it as an autobiographical journey that spanned from being a novice to a smart English speaker, a bit boring if I may say. A book on ‘word power’ seems to hang dangerously close to Thesaurus. But as I moved from one chapter to another, it was a discovery in its own way of how learning a language can be fun too. Even the people who have always been English speakers can find a lot of new words and add to their vocabulary without the feeling of swimming in a dictionary. Not a dry book, mind you! Manish has used real life incidents, mostly funny to highlight the breakpoints in the uphill journey and that makes it a light read despite heavy content. A rare accomplishment, I say.
He has used jokes, a lot of trivia, funny pictures, and many anecdotes to emphasize on the words without making it sound like a discourse. He has introduced many tough words without taking away from the narrative and the meanings are explained then and there in the footnotes so you have a combination of Oxford Dictionary and a very interesting story telling technique. I think the author has done a commendable job with writing an approximately 330 page book on mastering a language without making it sound monotonous.
The style is simple and easy to digest but the pace needs to be slow. There is a lot of information at every page and to absorb it fully, I would recommend it as a slow read. Read one chapter; take a break and then move on to the next chapter to enjoy the process of learning. If possible, break longer chapters in parts too. The book certainly has a go-back- to-the-shelf- and-pick-it-up-again value not only for the words but also for the writing style.
The drawback: Some chapters could have been trimmed down to make them more satiable. After a point, they are little gyring for the mind.
The people who have been struggling with English, this is the best tool to have fun and yet learn at every step. This book does not ‘bite’ but gives you chunky, meaty bytes of life in true ‘Angrezi’ style.