Read for Pleasure

Nothing unusual happened that evening. Mom and Dad had been packing things since morning, with not infrequent and not-so-brief exchanges between them. Everything was as usual--expected. It’s amazing the way they get along. From time to time Mom spoke over her shoulder to me. “Steffi, have you taken your hairbrush? Don’t forget your school bag. Tell your dad he must take along his tool box. We might need it there.” Mom would have loved to carry the whole house with her.


“Honey, we are going only for a week!” Dad replied without expecting he’d have any effect on Mom. We left the house in our customary hurry, Granny’s last minute instructions ringing in my ears.


We reached the airport well in time. Mom considered it her personal achievement—reaching in time despite having a person like Dad for a husband.


This was my seventh trip from Los Angeles to London. My aunt—my Mom’s sister in London—is very fond of me. “Steffi, my li’l dear, you are like me—so very intelligent and beautiful.” I always wondered whether she was praising herself or me.


After a delay of two hours—nothing unusual about that—our flight was announced. We stood up and entered through the gate. I didn’t like the stewardess standing at the turn of the airbridge. She wasn’t smiling. I ignored her.


After a couple of Excuse me’s I occupied a seat by the window. I wasn’t particularly thrilled about that. I had sat by the window on four out of six flights earlier. Nothing unusual is expected on such flights—inside or outside the plane. The same stars, the same lights below, the familiar worn out smiles of the crew and the familiar doziness. Every time I travelled by air, I was only able to see a part of the wing. This time wasn’t an exception.


The plane was in the air. Mom and Dad fell into a deep sleep, with Mom’s head resting on Dad’s shoulder. I had tried all the entertainment channels available on the entertainment console, but I couldn’t find anything of interest. Finally, after an hour of experimenting, I settled on a channel that played soft instrumental music and I must have drifted off into a fitful sleep. Only some occasional coughs and a couple of sneezes disturbed the quiet.


It must have been about an hour and a half later when I heard a grating sound. I thought it was coming from the wing, a part of which I was able to see. After a minute, perhaps, another strange sound came from underneath my seat. I struggled to stand up without realising for a minute that I had a seat belt on. The grating sound was getting louder. Just as I managed to stand up, the plane tilted towards the left with a jerk, emptying the overhead luggage rack on the right on to the floor. I was hit on the head. I couldn’t decide what to do. I could neither scream nor shout. The plane was clearly in trouble. It was flying like a bus jolting along a bumpy trail through a forest.


Amidst the noise and jerks and jolts and chaos that convinced me I was going to die, I suddenly heard my Dad calling, ‘Steffi, come on, darling. Get ready, we are about to land. You have had a nice long sleep, haven’t you?’


 ‘Well, no…yes…I had a sound sleep.’ I said. ‘I heard a lot of sounds in my sleep’, I mumbled to myself, looking out of the window at the perfectly normal landing strip and airport buildings at Gatwick Airport.



“You have a heart of gold”. “You look great today.” “You have a lovely smile.”
How do you feel when someone says such things to you? You like them, don’t you?
Well, let’s pay compliments. Let’s find “good” things in others and tell them what you like about them. Let’s make today “better”; for you and the people around you or connected with you in some way. And please share your experience with me. 
Best wishes,
Some expressions for compliments are given below.
61 Ways to Pay Compliments

1. You look gorgeous/stunning/beautiful/charming!
2. You have a mellifluous voice.
3. You’ve always been my rock.
4. I admire your skills/dedication/commitment.
5. You have a vivacious personality.
6. That is an amazingly beautiful painting! You rock!
7. What a shot! I wish I knew how to play like that.
8. Your performance was just breathtaking.
9. The pizza is delicious. How did you make it?
10. You sing so melodiously. Who taught you?
11. I wish I knew how to write/sing/dress like you.
12. That's a really cute outfit.
13. Your selection is amazing.
14. I wonder how easily/effortlessly you do this.
15. You have a pretty face.
16. I love to listen to you for hours and hours.
17. You look stunning in this dress.
18. What a spiffy suit you have worn!
19. You have an amazing sense of humour.
20. Not many can do as efficiently as you do.
21. You are a sight for sore eyes. (Br Eng)
22. You have an enviable command of English.
23. You are a gifted artist.
24. I have a high regard for your commitment to quality.
25. You look pretty with your hair loose/down.
26. You are so cool—as cool as a cucumber.
27. You are the epitome of beauty.
28. You are endowed with all the qualities one craves.
29. You ooze with confidence.
30. Your smile is contagious.
31. Not a hair ruffled, what calmness!
32. What an effervescent personality!
33. You are truly indefatigable.
34. You have nerves of steel.
35. We knew we could depend on you.
36. You are a storehouse of energy.
37. You make one swoon.
38. You are a fatherly/motherly figure for your employees.
39. We can always fall back on you.
40. You are so resourceful and still so down-to-earth.
41. You’re so understanding and caring. Hats off to you.
42. You are radiating health and charm and confidence.
43. You have the gift of the gab.
44. You dance so gracefully.
45. You are a role model for many.
46. That dress becomes you.
47. That's a most becoming dress.
48. You are the life and soul of the party.
49. You look smart in this blue dress.
50. You have a captivating smile.
51. You are the picture of health / innocence.
52. You are always dressed up to the nines.
53. That beauty spot enhances your elegance.
54. I admire your calm demeanour.
55. What an elegant woman you are!
56. You have a bewitching smile.
57. You always steal the limelight / scene / show.
58. You have an angelic smile / face.
59. You’ll turn heads today—you look gorgeous.
60. You have carved out a niche for yourself in this field.
61. You have a heart of gold.

Many words in English look or sound alike. It’s easy to get them confused. Enjoy reading the following *vocab gems*. Do please share them with others in your circle.

  1. I *wonder* a lot when my mind starts to *wander*.
  2. I sympathise with you if the *principal* of your institute is without *principles*.
  3. It's okay if you can't speak *snacks* and *snakes* properly, but don't *snack* on *snakes*.
  4. I am totally confused about *confusibles* and *confusables*.
  5. Make a *conscious* effort to learn the difference between *cautious* and *conscientious*.
  6. I *accept* that, *except* a few like you and me, everyone *expects* more than they deserve.
  7. If you are *adept*, you will find it easy to *adapt* yourself to new environments.
  8. It seems true that *abundant* things that we possess are actually *redundant*.
  9. You are bound to face problems if your *same* and *shame* sound the same.
  10. *Aspiration* demands *perspiration*.
  11. If you are in a dilemma about how the word *dilemma* is pronounced, or if you can use *over* in place of *about* after the word *dilemma*, you aren’t alone.
  12. It is my *disinterested* advice to you that you should not be completed *uninterested* in vocabulary.
  13. I don’t think you should be *indifferent* to the difference between *differ* and *defer*.
  14. If you speak *bury* and *berry* differently, you’re making a terrible mistake.
  15. If you don’t give *assent* to my *ascent* to the presidency, you will be in trouble.
  16. What a *bizarre* incident to see a zebra in the *bazaar*!
  17. If you release the *brake* now, it will *break* someone’s leg.
  18. I don’t want to listen to your *coarse* jokes during the *course*.
  19. The *council* failed to give proper *counsel*.
  20. Taking *cue* from the long *queue*, I decided not to go to the *quay*.

Dharmendra Sheth,
Founder, Fluentlingua,


#IELTS #TOEFL #SpokenEnglish #CorporateTraining #Fluency#Pronunciation #EnglishClass #EnglishInSurat

Why does one read books?

Ultimately it is to understand life.

Our individual experiences are narrow. But books give us the experiences of others, often the wisest of their generation, and lift us out of our narrow ruts.


Gradually as we go up the mountainsides, fresh vistas come into view, our vision extends further and further, and a sense of proportion comes to us.

We are not overwhelmed by

our petty and transient loves and hates

and we see them what they are

hardly noticeable ripples

on the immense ocean of life.

This larger vision enables us to see life whole and live it well.


This vision and sense of proportion are essential to keep us on the right path and steady us when storms and heavy winds bear down on us.


There is a strange magic about good literature. This magic comes to us slowly as we make friends with good books;

and when we have begun to feel it,

we have found the key

to the wonderland of books.

They never fail us, these friends

That neither age nor change.


I have got more pleasure from books than from almost anything. There is only one other thing which is, in its own way more magical.

And that is music.

Literature, art, music, science—

all make our life rich and deep;

they teach us how to live.


Mountains of new books continue to appear.

Many of them are boomed up for a while and then forgotten.

The avalanche of books

that is descending on us

is very largely trash,

and it is not easy to separate

the chaff from the grain.


A lapse of period will sift the good

from the bad and the indifferent;

and a book that has survived the test of time is likely to be good, to be literature.

It is far safer to read

the famous classics of old

that have influenced thought for so long.

With that background it is easier

to exercise a wise choice in modern literature.


A worthwhile book deserves time and attention. Think of the pains and the great deal of thinking that the author has put behind what he has written;

and we just rush through it, and forget soon enough what we read.


A very good habit to develop is

to keep a notebook in which

we can jot down anything that


strikes us specially in a book we read. These notes help us to remember much.

It was neither the season nor the hour when the Park had frequenters; and it is likely that the young lady, who was seated on one of the benches at the side of the walk, had merely obeyed a sudden impulse to sit for a while and enjoy a foretaste of coming Spring.

She rested there, pensive and still. A certain melancholy that touched her countenance must have been of recent birth, for it had not yet altered the fine and youthful contours of her cheek, nor subdued the arch though resolute curve of her lips.

A tall young man came striding through the park along the path near which she sat. Behind him tagged a boy carrying a suit–case. At sight of the young lady, the man's face changed to red and back to pale again. He watched her countenance as he drew nearer, with hope and anxiety mingled on his own. He passed within a few yards of her, but he saw no evidence that she was aware of his presence or existence.

Some fifty yards further on he suddenly stopped and sat on a bench at one side. The boy dropped the suit–case and stared at him with wondering, shrewd eyes. The young man took out his handkerchief and wiped his brow. It was a good handkerchief, a good brow, and the young man was good to look at. He said to the boy:

"I want you to take a message to that young lady on that bench. Tell her I am on my way to the station, to leave for San Francisco, where I shall join that Alaska moose–hunting expedition. Tell her that, since she has commanded me neither to speak nor to write to her, I take this means of making one last appeal to her sense of justice, for the sake of what has been. Tell her that to condemn and discard one who has not deserved such treatment, without giving him her reasons or a chance to explain is contrary to her nature as I believe it to be. Tell her that I have thus, to a certain degree, disobeyed her injunctions, in the hope that she may yet be inclined to see justice done. Go, and tell her that."

The young man dropped a half–dollar into the boy's hand. The boy looked at him for a moment with bright, canny eyes out of a dirty, intelligent face, and then set off at a run. He approached the lady on the bench a little doubtfully, but unembarrassed. He touched the brim of the old plaid bicycle cap perched on the back of his head. The lady looked at him coolly, without prejudice or favour.

"Lady," he said, "dat gent on de oder bench sent yer a song and dance by me. If yer don't know de guy, and he's tryin' to do de Johnny act, say de word, and I'll call a cop in t'ree minutes. If yer does know him, and he's on de square, w'y I'll spiel yer de bunch of hot air he sent yer."

The young lady betrayed a faint interest.

"A song and dance!" she said, in a deliberate sweet voice that seemed to clothe her words in a diaphanous garment of impalpable irony. "A new idea—in the troubadour line, I suppose. I—used to know the gentleman who sent you, so I think it will hardly be necessary to call the police. You may execute your song and dance, but do not sing too loudly. It is a little early yet for open–air vaudeville, and we might attract attention."

"Awe," said the boy, with a shrug down the length of him, "yer know what I mean, lady. 'Tain't a turn, it's wind. He told me to tell yer he's got his collars and cuffs in dat grip for a scoot clean out to 'Frisco. Den he's goin' to shoot snow–birds in de Klondike. He says yer told him not to send 'round no more pink notes nor come hangin' over de garden gate, and he takes dis means of puttin' yer wise. He says yer refereed him out like a has–been, and never give him no chance to kick at de decision. He says yer swiped him, and never said why."

The slightly awakened interest in the young lady's eyes did not abate. Perhaps it was caused by either the originality or the audacity of the snow–bird hunter, in thus circumventing her express commands against the ordinary modes of communication. She fixed her eye on a statue standing disconsolate in the dishevelled park, and spoke into the transmitter:

"Tell the gentleman that I need not repeat to him a description of my ideals. He knows what they have been and what they still are. So far as they touch on this case, absolute loyalty and truth are the ones paramount. Tell him that I have studied my own heart as well as one can, and I know its weakness as well as I do its needs. That is why I decline to hear his pleas, whatever they may be. I did not condemn him through hearsay or doubtful evidence, and that is why I made no charge. But, since he persists in hearing what he already well knows, you may convey the matter.

"Tell him that I entered the conservatory that evening from the rear, to cut a rose for my mother. Tell him I saw him and Miss Ashburton beneath the pink oleander. The tableau was pretty, but the pose and juxtaposition were too eloquent and evident to require explanation. I left the conservatory, and, at the same time, the rose and my ideal. You may carry that song and dance to your impresario."

"I'm shy on one word, lady. Jux—jux—put me wise on dat, will yer?"

"Juxtaposition—or you may call it propinquity—or, if you like, being rather too near for one maintaining the position of an ideal."

The gravel spun from beneath the boy's feet. He stood by the other bench. The man's eyes interrogated him, hungrily. The boy's were shining with the impersonal zeal of the translator.

"De lady says dat she's on to de fact dat gals is dead easy when a feller comes spielin' ghost stories and tryin' to make up, and dat's why she won't listen to no soft–soap. She says she caught yer dead to rights, huggin' a bunch o' calico in de hot–house. She side–stepped in to pull some posies and yer was squeezin' de oder gal to beat de band. She says it looked cute, all right all right, but it made her sick. She says yer better git busy, and make a sneak for de train."

The young man gave a low whistle and his eyes flashed with a sudden thought. His hand flew to the inside pocket of his coat, and drew out a handful of letters. Selecting one, he handed it to the boy, following it with a silver dollar from his vest–pocket.

"Give that letter to the lady," he said, "and ask her to read it. Tell her that it should explain the situation. Tell her that, if she had mingled a little trust with her conception of the ideal, much heartache might have been avoided. Tell her that the loyalty she prizes so much has never wavered. Tell her I am waiting for an answer."

The messenger stood before the lady.

"De gent says he's had de ski–bunk put on him widout no cause. He says he's no bum guy; and, lady, yer read dat letter, and I'll bet yer he's a white sport, all right."

The young lady unfolded the letter; somewhat doubtfully, and read it.

Dear Dr. Arnold:  

I want to thank you for your most kind and opportune aid to my daughter last Friday evening, when she was overcome by an attack of her old heart–trouble in the conservatory at Mrs. Waldron's reception. Had you not been near to catch her as she fell and to render proper attention, we might have lost her. I would be glad if you would call and undertake the treatment of her case.                                                    

Gratefully yours,
Robert Ashburton.

The young lady refolded the letter, and handed it to the boy.

"De gent wants an answer," said the messenger. "Wot's de word?"

The lady's eyes suddenly flashed on him, bright, smiling and wet.

"Tell that guy on the other bench," she said, with a happy, tremulous laugh, "that his girl wants him."

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.


Walk Like a Man (formerly Go On Alone!)

Walk like a man, even though you walk alone.

Why court approval, once the road is known?

Let come who will, but if they all turn home,

The goal still awaits you: Go on alone!

Follow your dream, though it lead to worlds unknown.

Life’s but a shadow, once our dreams have flown!

What if men cry, “Your dream is not our own”?

Your soul knows the answer: Go on alone!

Give life your heart! Bless everything that’s grown!

Fear not the loving! All this world’s your own.

Make rich the soil, but once the seed is sown,

Seek freedom, don’t linger: Go on alone!

Walk like a man, even though you walk alone.

Why court approval, once the road is known?

Let come who will, but if they all turn home,

The goal still awaits you: Go on alone!

A Slumber by William Wordsworth  

A slumber did my spirit seal;

    I had no human fears:

    She seemed a thing that could not feel

    The touch of earthly years.

    No motion has she now, no force:

    She neither hears nor sees,

    Rolled round in earth's diurnal course


    With rocks and stones and trees.

Ring Out Wild Bells by Alfred, Lord Tennyson


 Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,

The flying cloud, the frosty light

The year is dying in the night;

Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.


Ring out the old, ring in the new,

Ring, happy bells, across the snow:

The year is going, let him go;

Ring out the false, ring in the true.


Ring out the grief that saps the mind,

For those that here we see no more,

Ring out the feud of rich and poor,

Ring in redress to all mankind.


Ring out a slowly dying cause,

And ancient forms of party strife;

Ring in the nobler modes of life,

With sweeter manners, purer laws.


Ring out the want, the care, the sin,

The faithless coldness of the times;

Ring out, ring out thy mournful rhymes,

But ring the fuller minstrel in.


Ring out false pride in place and blood,

The civic slander and the spite;

Ring in the love of truth and right,

Ring in the common love of good.


Ring out old shapes of foul disease,

Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;

Ring out the thousand wars of old,

Ring in the thousand years of peace.


Ring in the valiant man and free,

The larger heart the kindlier hand;

Ring out the darkness of the land,

Ring in the Christ that is to be.


Of course you can play with them.
There’s no harm in them.
They are only words.
Words alone are certain good, said someone.
And someone also said:
Unlike sticks and stones
Words will never break your bones.
(That is called a rhyme. A rhyme
Is nice to play with too from time to time.)

What? They have turned nasty?
They’ve clawed you and bitten you?
Dear me, there’s blood all over the place,
And broken bones.
They were perfectly tame when I left them.
Something they ate must have disagreed with them.
You mean you fed them on meaning?
No wonder then.


A smile costs nothing, but gives much.
It enriches those who receive,
without making poorer those who give.
It takes but a moment,
but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it.
and none is so poor but that he can be made rich by it.
A smile creates happiness in the home,
fosters good will in business,
and is the countersign of friendship.
It brings rest to the weary,
cheer to the discouraged,
sunshine to the sad,
and is nature’s best antidote for trouble.
Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen,
for it is something that is of no value to anyone
until it is given away.
some people are too tired to give you a smile.
Give them one of yours,
as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.
-- Anonymous

The Art of Life by Ira D Schogam

“Life, beautifully lived, is an art.” Yes, whether we will or not, we are artists. To each has been given, by a benevolent Creator, the raw materials out of which life is made.

When we begin our task of living, these raw materials are in the rough, as a stone just taken from the quarry- a shapeless mass, often unattractive, and seemingly with very limited possibilities- awaiting the skill of the Master Artist.

Michelangelo, the great artist of the Renaissance, once said he could see an angle on the rugged stone on which he was working, and that his task was to liberate it.

This is the business of life, namely, to make out of the rough materials of daily opportunity, the shapeless mass of the past, a life that is attractive and beautiful and of enduring value.

Many are merely dabbling around making some strange monstrosity, some childish caricature, some ludicrously grotesque figure, which excites only a sense of humour, or of pathos, because of its incongruity.

Others are content to copy life after a common pattern with no skill of artistry, and no sense of life’s true values.

A few, in harmony with Father’s perfect plan, are creating masterpieces of exquisite beauty, of lasting enjoyment, and of rare accomplishment, which will be classic in the annals of the history of man.

Whether our lives are beautiful and sublime, or commonplace and unattractive depends to a large extent upon our skill as artists, our concept of the beautiful, and our appreciation of the true values of life.

Creative art demands the price of discipline, of hard work, and of eternal persistence.

True art is the product of skill in creative expression which is innate, and to which has been added long years of study, of practice, and of painstaking evaluations.

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too:

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,

Or being hated don't give way to hating,

And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;


If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;

If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same:.

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;


If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings,

And never breathe a word about your loss:

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"


If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,

And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!


The following is a passage from a BBC book on pronunciation. Practise reading it aloud with correct stress, rhythm and intonation. Find out the audio and video version of this passage on this website. It is advisable to record your own reading and compare it with the one given on this website.


The weather in England can change very quickly.  One day last week, I went for a walk in the country.  When I started, early in the morning, the weather was beautiful. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and there were no clouds at all. In the middle of the morning, a sudden change came. A cool wind started to blow. Black clouds covered the sun. And in a very short time it started to rain heavily. There were no houses in sight, and I had no coat with me. So I got very wet indeed and very cold too. After about an hour, I managed to catch a bus, which took me home. But when I arrived, I was shivering and sneezing, and I’ve had a cold ever since. I ought to have taken my coat. We sometimes say that England is the only country, where you can have four seasons in one day.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.


How happy is he born and taught

That serveth not another's will;

Whose armour is his honest thought,

And simple truth his utmost skill!


Whose passions not his masters are;

Whose soul is still prepared for death,

Untied unto the world by care

Of public fame or private breath;


Who envies none that chance doth raise,

Nor vice; who never understood

How deepest wounds are given by praise;

Nor rules of state, but rules of good;


Who hath his life from rumours freed;

Whose conscience is his strong retreat;

Whose state can neither flatterers feed,

Nor ruin make oppressors great;


Who God doth late and early pray

More of His grace than gifts to lend;

And entertains the harmless day

With a religious book or friend;


—This man is freed from servile bands

Of hope to rise or fear to fall:

Lord of himself, though not of lands,

And having nothing, yet hath all.

The following material gives you different shades of meaning of the word "cast". If you want to learn more such words, visit "pictures" section of "Free Material" on this website.

1)      He is going to resign—the die is cast. (=certain, decision made)

2)     Advertise on TV to cast your net wide. (=widen your reach)
3)     Her words cast a spell on/over me. (=have a magical effect)
4)     Cast your mind back to that event. (=try to remember)

Self study: Everyone in her family is cast in the same mould.

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