Recommended Books and Novels List that every MBA / CAT Aspirant Should Read

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

Recommended Books and Novels List that every MBA CAT Aspirant Should Read

Reading books and novels is a very important part of CAT exam preparation. It not only helps you develop your reading speed to help you with the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension section of the CAT 2020 exam but it also helps you become better at the other areas of Verbal Ability like jumbled sentences and critical reasoning. A few days ago, I took a free class on ‘How to Start Preparation for CAT exam‘. In the class, I tried to answer a lot of queries from confused and often unnecessarily worried MBA aspirants. As a part of that class (the class recording is available here), I told students that in the beginning of their preparation – they need to focus on developing skills that will help them do well in the CAT 2020 exam. And one of these skills, perhaps the most important one, was to develop a reading habit. As an MBA aspirant, you need to spend at least 1 hour a day towards reading.

The three books that a large number of teachers / seniors recommend for this are:
1. Word Power Made Easy for improving your vocabulary
2. Wren and Martin for improving your grammar
3. How to Read Better and Faster by Norman Lewis for increasing your reading speed.

While all of the above are fantastic books, I personally do not find them much fruitful for most candidates. These often end up being too boring and something that students give up in the middle. How to Read Better and Faster by Normal Lewis might be an exception as it is not voluminous but increasing their reading speed is hardly something that CAT / MBA aspirants should be worried about. You get more than enough time in the CAT exam these days (at least for the last 5 years). The key to high performance lies in understanding the questions and the passages and not rushing through them. Rushing through passages helps if the passages are really simple and you have direct questions on them – it is not the case when it comes to the CAT exam.

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  • So, the question then arises as to what should be done to actually improve in it? The answer is simple. You need to go back to the root of the problem. Most CAT aspirants have an issue with Verbal Ability / Reading Comprehension because they don’t really read books regularly. I have been teaching CAT aspirants for a decade now (Yay! – just realized that while typing this post. It will be 10 years in July 2016) and under extremely rare circumstances I have met someone who reads a book a month on average and is struggling with Verbal Ability. As a matter of fact, even if you read 5 books in a year, you should be more or less comfortable when it comes to Verbal Ability. You can and you should directly dive into CAT level problems and you would realize that you are still swimming around in your comfort zone. The problem, however, is for the majority of the CAT aspirants who don’t read regularly and / or the only books that they have read was written by Chetan Bhagat. I will not get into the merits or demerits of reading Bhagat as that would probably become a rather long rang. Be that as it may, if you are in the category of the majority CAT aspirants mentioned above – it is not too late. As a matter of fact, it is never too late. You can and should start reading books, novels, and magazines as soon as possible. Reading newspapers and editorials will also help but there are too many breaks when you read a newspaper and you need to keep shifting from one article to another. There is no ‘FLOW’ That is the reason I strongly recommend that MBA aspirants read as many books as they can during their preparation period. Not only it will help you improve your Verbal Ability, it would open up a whole new world for you.

    Books and Novels for MBA aspirants – Beginner Level

    If you are not a regular reader, I would suggest that you start with something simple and easy and then move on to books which are slightly harder to read. Some easy to read books that can start with and they would also motivate you:
    Old Man and the Sea
    The Alchemist
    Harry Potter (Series)
    Sherlock Holmes (Series)
    Lord of the Flies
    Animal Farm
    Brave New World
    Train to Pakistan
    Slaughterhouse 5

    Books and Novels for CAT aspirants – Moderate Level

    Once you are done with the above list, or may be even half of it, probably you should try out another list that is slightly harder.
    Dealing with Indian issues:
    The Great Indian Novel
    India after Gandhi
    Midnight’s Children
    Argumentative Indian
    The Last Mughal

    Dealing with global issues and economics / management:
    The Selfish Gene
    Guns, Germs, and Steel
    The World is Flat
    Tipping Point
    The Black Swan
    Thinking Fast & Slow

    I am personally not a big fan of biographies / autobiographies but there are a few that you can give a try.
    Losing My Virginity
    Straight from the Gut
    Steve Jobs (Walter Issacson)
    Business Maharajas
    Banker to the Poor

    Recently released Books and Novels for MBA / CAT aspirants

    I do what I do – Written by Raghuram Rajan, former Governor of RBI, it is a collection of speeches he delivered during his stint as the Governor. What makes it really interesting and riveting to read is his commentary on the economic and political context prevalent at that time.

    Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a book by Yuval Noah Harari. It surveys the history of humankind from the evolution of archaic human species in the Stone Age up to the twenty-first century, focusing on our own species of human, Homo sapiens.

    Hit Refresh is written by the Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. It tells the inside story of the company’s continuing transformation, while tracing his own journey from a childhood in India to leading some of the most significant changes of the digital era and offering his vision for the coming wave of intelligent technologies.

    Why I am a Hindu is a book by Shashi Tharoor. The book is divided into two parts. The first part deals with the history of Hinduism and the second part deals with how religion and politics got intertwined with each other in India

    I am sure I have missed out on many great ideas but I am also sure that if you try and go through even half of the books mentioned above, you would significantly improve not only your Verbal Ability but also your chances in the Group Discussion / Personal Interview stage. These books will open your mind and expand your horizons. Do not think of it as a task that you need to do to increase your chances at cracking CAT, but think of it as something that will make you a better person.

    Other posts related to Tips for CAT Preparation

    Recommended Books for CAT Exam Preparation
    Best Book for Logical Reasoning (LR) and Data Interpretation (DI) preparation for CAT 2017 Exam
    How to Avoid Distractions while Preparing for CAT
    How to Analyze Mock CATs to Improve your Scores and Percentile
    5 Benefits of Preparation via Online CAT Coaching Course

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    18 responses to “Recommended Books and Novels List that every MBA / CAT Aspirant Should Read”

    1. […] the following way: 20% of your time – Reading books, novels, magazines, newspapers. Here is a list of recommended books for CAT aspirants. 25% of your time – Basic fundamentals of Quantitative Aptitude. Be clear with all the […]

    2. […] Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis – A brilliant book for building your Vocabulary. This book is probably the best possible way to develop a good vocabulary. The problem, however, with this book is that it is voluminous and bulky. Rarely have I come across a CAT aspirant who has been able to stick to this book for over a month. They start it with full gusto but give up on it in the middle. If building vocabulary is your focus, using some mobile apps is a good idea. The best possible “realistic” way to build a good vocabulary is to read books. Here is a list of recommend books for CAT aspirants. […]

    3. […] that you could lay your hands on. If you do not know what to read or from where to start, here is a list of recommended books for MBA aspirants. If that list overwhelms you, here are some ideas to start with: Old Man and the Sea by Ernest […]

    4. […] one of the earlier posts on this blog, we had discussed the important books for CAT preparation and how reading helps with tackling the verbal ability section. If you go through a lot of the […]

    5. prateek says:

      i impress it

    6. Hadawale Mayur says:

      really helpful…..thank you!

    7. […] and novels, it will help you do better in the Reading Comprehension part of the CAT exam. Here is a list of books/novels that I […]

    8. […] style. As you would know, some of the most popular movies are based on best selling narrative books. So, you can start with reading the plot summaries of your favourite movies to get a glimpse of the […]

    9. […] bottom-line: read and practice as much as you can. This will help you identify the tone accurately and in a lesser […]

    10. […] You can also see Recommended Books and Novels List that every MBA / CAT Aspirant Should Read […]

    11. […] Recommended Books and Novels List that every MBA / CAT Aspirant Should Read Best Book for Logical Reasoning (LR) and Data Interpretation (DI) preparation for CAT 2017 Exam How can one effectively utilize a career gap while preparing for CAT? CAT Prep 2018 – Study Plan for Working Professionals Study Plan for CAT 2018 Preparation – What to do from Today? 5 Benefits of Preparation via Online CAT Coaching Course […]

    12. Niteen Mishra says:

      1984 is not among the easiest to read for sure, same for Catch-22

    13. Shristi says:

      I am going to just start my graduation . It will be my 1st year. I want to start CAT preparation from now itself. Suggest me some ways.

    14. abhijeet says:

      I am starting my graduation . i want to prepare for cat . give me some ways to join online cat coaching

    15. Dipayan Dey says:

      I scored 35% in class 10th and 61.18% in diploma. I am currently pursuing my graduation and I am scoring 7.5 cgpa. I want to go in a good college for an MBA. How can I compensate to get admission to a good MBA college?

    16. Vinay says:

      Train to Pakistan has
      bad voacablary brother

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