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Young, Tory. Studying English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008

Review by Anna Sikora-Carelse

Studying English Literature, by Tory Young, is designed for students who find the transition from a secondary school style of writing to an academic style challenging. It is also aimed at mature students who are new to academic writing

Young believes that one’s decision to study literature is typically based on a passion for reading, rather than writing, and especially not academic writing. This often leads to self-doubt. The textbook addresses this problem by offering practical advice on structuring essays, developing ideas, or formulating arguments. The book answers questions concerning word counts, plagiarism, the usage of the personal pronoun ‘I’, and the differences between the ‘Works Cited’ and ‘Bibliography’ sections, while providing specific examples of quotations and citations in the MLA style. The author disputes the popular notion of the comma as a ‘breathing space’ (125) and outlines the basic rules of punctuation. She also advises students who are terrified of long lists of secondary reading on how to choose relevant information by adopting the ‘skim reading’ technique. While the book offers guidance on initiating the writing process, it gives limited advice on improving it. As a textbook, however, it offers exactly the kind of practical instruction that any new student requires.