100 books like Proust and the Squid

By Maryanne Wolf,

Here are 100 books that Proust and the Squid fans have personally recommended if you like Proust and the Squid. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Little Ones of Silent Movies

Ann Lewin-Benham Author Of Parsley: A Love Story of a Child for Puppy and Plants

From my list on how infants and toddlers develop literacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by children’s language development and am a word hound. For over five decades I’ve been a teacher, teacher trainer, school founder/director, mentor, founder/executive director of a large children’s museum; author of 6 classic textbooks on how children think and learn, and author/self-publisher of one of my many story-poems. My passions are writing, studying new findings in brain development, and launching top-quality schools in underserved urban areas. Between 1969 and 1990, I founded six schools, five still running, three as private non-profit schools and two as essential entities (one called the “safety-net") in their public school systems. The MELC is the only U.S. school accredited by Reggio's founders.

Ann's book list on how infants and toddlers develop literacy

Ann Lewin-Benham Why did Ann love this book?

At Gianni Rodare Scuola for 3-month to 3-year-olds, I watched 2 to 3-year-olds draw, a year-long project described in the book The Little Ones of Silent Movies by Loris Malaguzzi and Tiziana Filippini: The authors explain:

“Children are born with “insuppressible, vital, eager urges to build conversational friendships... Words that come later are not a sudden event born from nothing but emerge from a submerged silent laboratory of attempts, trials, and experiments in communication using tools children constantly improve through long preparation. The results—words and drawings—show the strong desire to communicate and interact, basic traits of children.”

I love this book because its text explains and drawings show the roots of language. It inspired me to observe babies more closely and introduce paints and markers.

Book cover of Understanding Learning and Related Disabilities: Inconvenient Brains

Ann Lewin-Benham Author Of Parsley: A Love Story of a Child for Puppy and Plants

From my list on how infants and toddlers develop literacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by children’s language development and am a word hound. For over five decades I’ve been a teacher, teacher trainer, school founder/director, mentor, founder/executive director of a large children’s museum; author of 6 classic textbooks on how children think and learn, and author/self-publisher of one of my many story-poems. My passions are writing, studying new findings in brain development, and launching top-quality schools in underserved urban areas. Between 1969 and 1990, I founded six schools, five still running, three as private non-profit schools and two as essential entities (one called the “safety-net") in their public school systems. The MELC is the only U.S. school accredited by Reggio's founders.

Ann's book list on how infants and toddlers develop literacy

Ann Lewin-Benham Why did Ann love this book?

1961: My life’s thrill was Danny’s birth—happy, loving, and by age 2, articulate speech that turned heads. But in Montessori school, despite numerous materials for writing and reading, he was called “hand retarded.” He struggled, only acquiring reading in high school. Today he is a clinical psychologist with honors galore! 1961: We knew little. 1971: First brain scan. 1977: Cognitive science was born as scientists from numerous fields began brain studies. In Danny’s youth, there were guesses and alleged treatments but little science.

Cognitive-Behavioral Neurologist/Kennedy Krieger Institute, Developmental Neuropsychologist and Professor Emeritus/Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Martha Bridge Denckla’s book, Understanding Learning and Related Disabilities: Inconvenient Brains, gives a scientific understanding of ADD, ADHD, ASD, and six other brain dysfunctions to parents, teachers, and others suspecting learning problems.

Wow! Dr. Denkla is so deeply knowledgeable. Her scholarship and explanations of conditions provide information to relieve readers' anxieties.

By Martha Bridge Denckla,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Understanding Learning and Related Disabilities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Children with developmental disabilities inhabit a gray zone: they live and learn under normal conditions in some aspects of their lives, while their "inconvenient brains" present a range of challenges in other school and life contexts. Dr. Martha Bridge Denckla provides parents and educators with general knowledge, research findings, and practical recommendations about a variety of these developmental conditions, including dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, problems with motor coordination, and executive dysfunction. Inspired by her efforts to explain these conditions to parents over 45 years of clinical practice, she provides a science-based understanding of the issues in an accessible…


Book cover of The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

Asya Pereltsvaig Author Of Languages of the World: An Introduction

From my list on how human language works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by languages since my teenage years, when, in addition to my native Russian, I learned English, French, Spanish, Latin, Hebrew, and Esperanto to varying degrees of fluency. But it was in college that I decided to pursue linguistics as a profession, in part influenced by one of the books on my list! After 20 years of doing scientific research and teaching linguistics at different universities, I switched gears and now focus on bringing linguistic science to the general audience of lifelong learners. Even if you don’t change your career, like I did, I hope you enjoy reading the books on my list as much as I have!  

Asya's book list on how human language works

Asya Pereltsvaig Why did Asya love this book?

This book is why I decided to become a professional linguist! It’s a classic: it set the bar high for writing about language in a way that’s scientifically accurate yet gripping.

I was utterly mesmerized by a myriad of things Pinker talks about, like Nicaraguan Sign Language, Broca’s area in the brain, and the workings of words like “riff-raff” and “ding-dong” (and why we don’t say “raff-riff” or “dong-ding”). I also love the author’s fascination with, and admiration for, the beauty and complexity of human language and of the human mind. 

By Steven Pinker,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Language Instinct as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Dazzling... Pinker's big idea is that language is an instinct...as innate to us as flying is to geese... Words can hardly do justice to the superlative range and liveliness of Pinker's investigations'
- Independent

'A marvellously readable book... illuminates every facet of human language: its biological origin, its uniqueness to humanity, it acquisition by children, its grammatical structure, the production and perception of speech, the pathology of language disorders and the unstoppable evolution of languages and dialects' - Nature


Book cover of From Two to Five

Ann Lewin-Benham Author Of Parsley: A Love Story of a Child for Puppy and Plants

From my list on how infants and toddlers develop literacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by children’s language development and am a word hound. For over five decades I’ve been a teacher, teacher trainer, school founder/director, mentor, founder/executive director of a large children’s museum; author of 6 classic textbooks on how children think and learn, and author/self-publisher of one of my many story-poems. My passions are writing, studying new findings in brain development, and launching top-quality schools in underserved urban areas. Between 1969 and 1990, I founded six schools, five still running, three as private non-profit schools and two as essential entities (one called the “safety-net") in their public school systems. The MELC is the only U.S. school accredited by Reggio's founders.

Ann's book list on how infants and toddlers develop literacy

Ann Lewin-Benham Why did Ann love this book?

Kornei Chukovsky, leading Russian children’s poet, in his book From Two to Five, describes children’s “whimsical, elusive thinking—original, picturesque, amusing speech.” "Children two to five are earth’s most inquisitive creatures with questions evoked by the mind’s tireless need to comprehend its surroundings.” I know of no other author who so brilliantly captures children’s own words. I read this book over and over for inspiration.

By Kornei Chukovsky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From Two to Five as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This title is part of UC Press's Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press's mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1963.


Book cover of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language

Norbert Schmitt Author Of Language Power: 100 Things You Need to Make Language Work for You

From my list on learning and using language well.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my career in 1988 as an English language teacher in Japan. I originally went for a one-year adventure, but soon found myself fascinated by language, and how it is learned and used. This eventually led to a professorship at the University of Nottingham, where I have the good fortune to consult on language issues worldwide. I have researched language extensively, but all of my previous publications were meant for an academic/educational audience. I wanted to produce a book for general readership which outlines all that I have learned in 35 years of language research, and Language Power is the result. I hope you find it useful in your language-based life. 

Norbert's book list on learning and using language well

Norbert Schmitt Why did Norbert love this book?

This is the ideal coffee table book on language. It contains an astonishing amount of information on virtually every aspect of language, ranging from interesting tidbits that might be useful in a trivia game (How many languages are there in the world?) to more extended discussions of weightier issues (What is dyslexia?). 

It is the perfect book for dipping in and out of, because every page you might open up to contains something intriguing about the way language is described, used, learned, or lost. It is meant for a general audience, but when I read it, I found many new ideas that led me to advance my own academic research. 

The fact that it is now in its 3rd edition shows just how useful and popular this wide-ranging gem is.

By David Crystal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

This new, thoroughly revised edition of the acclaimed Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language incorporates the major developments in language study which have taken place since the mid 1990s. Two main new areas have been added: the rise of electronic communication in all its current forms from email to texting, and the crisis affecting the world's languages, of which half are thought to be so seriously endangered that they will die out this century. * All language statistics have been updated, and additional information provided about their linguistic affiliation * All topics involving technology have been revised to take account of recent…


Book cover of Words in the Mind: An Introduction to the Mental Lexicon

Norbert Schmitt Author Of Language Power: 100 Things You Need to Make Language Work for You

From my list on learning and using language well.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my career in 1988 as an English language teacher in Japan. I originally went for a one-year adventure, but soon found myself fascinated by language, and how it is learned and used. This eventually led to a professorship at the University of Nottingham, where I have the good fortune to consult on language issues worldwide. I have researched language extensively, but all of my previous publications were meant for an academic/educational audience. I wanted to produce a book for general readership which outlines all that I have learned in 35 years of language research, and Language Power is the result. I hope you find it useful in your language-based life. 

Norbert's book list on learning and using language well

Norbert Schmitt Why did Norbert love this book?

Most languages consist of huge numbers of different words. For instance, estimates for English range from hundreds of thousands to millions of words. 

While no person knows every word in a language, they will still hold a repertoire of many, many thousands of words in their mind (their mental lexicon).  Dictionaries are useful for describing this ocean of words, but an intriguing question is how the human mind manages to learn and remember so many, and then to find the exact ones it wishes to use from the numerous alternatives. 

Aitchison’s genius lies in how she is able to draw on quite complex psychological research, but yet still distill it into a fascinating and very readable account of how the mind achieves these formidable tasks.  You will come away from this book with an increased appreciation of just how clever the mind is in acquiring, storing, and retrieving vast amounts…

By Jean Aitchison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Words in the Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book deals with words, and how humans learn them, remember them, understand them and find the ones they want. It discusses the structure and content of the human word-store or 'mental lexicon' with particular reference to the spoken language of those with English as their native language. Since the first two editions of Words in the Mind were published, work on the lexicon has expanded quickly. This growth is reflected in this third edition, which contains substantial new material. There is an extra chapter on layering and meaning change, and several others have been considerably enlarged. The notes and…


Book cover of How Languages are Learned

Norbert Schmitt Author Of Language Power: 100 Things You Need to Make Language Work for You

From my list on learning and using language well.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my career in 1988 as an English language teacher in Japan. I originally went for a one-year adventure, but soon found myself fascinated by language, and how it is learned and used. This eventually led to a professorship at the University of Nottingham, where I have the good fortune to consult on language issues worldwide. I have researched language extensively, but all of my previous publications were meant for an academic/educational audience. I wanted to produce a book for general readership which outlines all that I have learned in 35 years of language research, and Language Power is the result. I hope you find it useful in your language-based life. 

Norbert's book list on learning and using language well

Norbert Schmitt Why did Norbert love this book?

When I took my Master course in English Language Teaching in 1992, this was one of the suggested sources.

I loved it, and so did my fellow students, because it explained language learning in an extremely clear and straightforward way. Later, as a professor, I found that my own students were similarly enthusiastic. But do not get the impression that this is just a good ‘academic’ textbook. It was written for novice English teachers, many international, and so the language is non-technical and accessible.

Lightbown and Spada take the reader through the process of language acquisition step-by-step, with numerous examples and illustrations, and with a conversational writing style. This makes the book suitable for any interested reader who desires an introduction into how languages are learned, and how they should be taught. Now in its 5th blockbuster edition, with even more pictures and examples. 

By Patsy M. Lightbown, Nina Spada,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Languages are Learned as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now in its 4th edition, How Languages are Learned is highly valued for the way it relates language acquisition theory to classroom teaching and learning and draws practical implications from the research for the language classroom. How Languages are Learned is widely used as a reference book on teacher training courses, and for new and experienced practising teachers.


Book cover of Cambridge Grammar of English

Norbert Schmitt Author Of Language Power: 100 Things You Need to Make Language Work for You

From my list on learning and using language well.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my career in 1988 as an English language teacher in Japan. I originally went for a one-year adventure, but soon found myself fascinated by language, and how it is learned and used. This eventually led to a professorship at the University of Nottingham, where I have the good fortune to consult on language issues worldwide. I have researched language extensively, but all of my previous publications were meant for an academic/educational audience. I wanted to produce a book for general readership which outlines all that I have learned in 35 years of language research, and Language Power is the result. I hope you find it useful in your language-based life. 

Norbert's book list on learning and using language well

Norbert Schmitt Why did Norbert love this book?

We all want to use language well. But language pundits sometimes promote grammar rules (e.g. no ‘split infinitives’) that contrast with what we hear in speech all the time.

The source of the discrepancy is traditional grammar books, which originated in the 18th Century, and were based on Latin models. But English has always had a different grammatical structure than Latin, and so some traditional ‘rules’ have never made sense. Instead of relying on such traditional prescriptive grammars, it is much better to refer to modern descriptive grammars, which describes how English is actually used nowadays.

These are based on thousands of examples of real written texts and spoken discourse, and so they can confidently report how English is really used in today’s world. The Cambridge Grammar of English is one of the best examples. 

By Ronald Carter, Michael McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cambridge Grammar of English as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A major reference grammar offering comprehensive coverage of spoken and written English based on real everyday usage. With its clear, two part structure, this is a user-friendly book from the world's leading English grammar publisher. The accompanying CD-ROM (Windows only) makes Cambridge Grammar of English even more accessible with: * The whole book in handy, searchable format. * Audio recordings of all the examples from the book. * Links to the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary online for instant definitions of new vocabulary.


Book cover of The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman

Mike Albo Author Of Another Dimension of Us

From my list on putting you in a trance (in a good way).

Why am I passionate about this?

As a queer teenager, I loved reading because it transported me away from my oppressive reality and into another one. My friend, writer Virginia Heffernan, calls it ‘The Trance’—when you’re so into a book, time and space fall away. Recently I learned about the work of cognitive neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf, who writes that “deep reading” of dense, poetic works (not the “skimming” we’re always doing now in our digital culture) uses, remarkably, all areas of the brain—carving neuronal pathways, engendering empathy, imagination, self-reflection, and more. No-brainer: reading is really good for you. While there’s no lack of classics that can do this, here are obscurer titles that have put me in a trance.  

Mike's book list on putting you in a trance (in a good way)

Mike Albo Why did Mike love this book?

An evil mastermind has taken control of the city, using huge contraptions to envelope it in hallucinations that have plunged its inhabitants into a land without reason. Just what powers Doctor Hoffman’s generators are revealed at the end and I always think about it. I read this years ago and it has always stuck with me. Written in 1972, Carter’s book is a warped premonition of today’s fractured mind. Rereading it has been difficult, I’m reminded once again of Maryanne Wolf’s work—how much easier it was for me to deep-read weird books like this when I was younger, before my life became a battle against distraction. Now, I feel like we must all strive to maintain sovereignty over our own attention.

By Angela Carter,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Desiderio, an employee of the city under a bizarre reality attack from Doctor Hoffman's mysterious machines, has fallen in love with Albertina, the Doctor's daughter. But Albertina, a beautiful woman made of glass, seems only to appear to him in his dreams. Meeting on his adventures a host of cannibals, centaurs and acrobats, Desiderio must battle against unreality and the warping of time and space to be with her, as the Doctor reduces Desiderio's city to a chaotic state of emergency - one ridden with madness, crime and sexual excess.

A satirical tale of magic and sex, The Infernal Desire…


Book cover of Whole Brain Living: The Anatomy of Choice and the Four Characters That Drive Our Life

Margaret Paul Author Of The Inner Bonding Workbook: Six Steps to Healing Yourself and Connecting with Your Divine Guidance

From my list on healing and connecting with your Divine guidance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve known since I was 5 years old that my passion in life was helping people be all they came to this planet to be. I have been working with individuals, couples, businesses, and groups, and teaching courses for 54 years. Having had many years of my own psychotherapy, and 17 years into practicing traditional psychotherapy, I was not happy with the results, so I prayed for a teacher or a process that would really work. 38 years ago, I met Dr. Erika Chopich and we co-created the powerful Inner Bonding process, brought to us by our higher guidance, that rapidly heals on a very deep level, far beyond traditional psychotherapy. 

Margaret's book list on healing and connecting with your Divine guidance

Margaret Paul Why did Margaret love this book?

I’m delighted with this book because it so aligns with the work I do. Dr. Taylor is a very well-known neuroanatomist, who has scientifically discovered so much about how the brain works, and I love how what she discovered lines up exactly with what we’ve discovered that I’ve written about extensively. In the few conversations I’ve had with her, I’ve been blown away by how much her research validates our process of Inner Bonding. This powerful book will help you to understand so much about yourself. 

By Jill Bolte Taylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Whole Brain Living as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover how to tap into the present moment, shift out of anxiety and gain a sense of deep inner peace by understanding the brain's two hemispheres.

At age 37, Harvard neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor suffered a massive left-hemisphere stroke that took away her ability to speak, walk, read, write or remember any of her life - and gave her an unprecedented, profound experience of dwelling in the right hemisphere and the sense of oneness and peace to be found there. Her recovery led to her writing the New York Times bestseller My Stroke of Insight, being named one of Time…


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