SATs Are Coming Up! Check out these Wordy Novels

High school is full of trials, but one of the most daunting is the SAT test…and it’s looming frightfully, with the next test date coming up on March 12. How are you planning to study? Will you drag yourself past the fun sections in Barnes and Noble to go buy workbooks in the test prep section? Don’t! Read these smart, vocabulary building books and learn new words the fun way.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
If you’re a word nerd, this is so perfect for you. Even if you aren’t, you’re bound to learn a few million dollar words in a memorable manner, because Frankie loves to explore “imaginary neglected positives” – words that should exist, but are only ever used in the negative, like “gruntled” (disgruntled) and “maculate” (immaculate), popularized by P.G. Wodehouse.
“…Mr. Wodehouse is a prose stylist of such startling talent that Frankie nearly skipped around with glee when she first read some of his phrases. Until her discovery of Something Fresh on the top shelf of Ruth’s bookshelf one bored summer morning, Frankie’s leisure reading had consisted primarily of paperback mysteries she found on the spinning racks at the public library down the block from her house, and the short stories of Dorothy Parker. Wodehouse’s jubilant wordplay bore itself into her synapses like a worm into a fresh ear of corn” (Lockhart, 109).

Rosebush by Michele Jaffe
This is a very fun guilty pleasure read – a mystery about an attempted murder. And since it’s full of words like “penchant” and “omnipotent,” it absolutely counts as studying.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
A classic. Sure, it’s a children’s book, but there’s no reason not to revisit it to study up on awesome vocab like “lethargic,” “quagmire,” and “doldrums.”

The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake
Reading The Gormenghast Trilogy is the kind of activity that will make you a better writer, which is a valuable SAT (and life) skill. Plus with reviews like these, it’s really worth a look:
“It can stand with the best that has been done in the English language.” –Chicago Daily News
“Shimmering nets of language capture details of an epic story.”- The National Observer
“Peake writes with genuine wit and a clear transparency, like a Dickens intoxicated with words, drunk with his own imaginings. Superbly evocative.”- New World
“Mr. Peake throws in all his forces of dream, vision, and language.”- Sunday Times

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
This is a great book. And I bet you “ersatz” is going to appear in that delightful verbal section and now you’ll be ready! Here’s an excerpt:
“The moo-like crowds, the endless visits from hapless relatives, the ersatz cheer, the joyless attempts at joyfulness–my natural aversion to human contact could only intensify in this context. Wherever I went, I was on the wrong end of the stampede. I was not willing to grant “salvation” through any “army.” I would never care about the whiteness of Christmas. I was a Decemberist, a Bolshevik, a career criminal, a philatelist trapped by unknowable anguish–whatever everyone else was not, I was willing to be. I walked as invisibly as I could through the Pavlovian spend-drunk hordes, the broken winter breakers, the foreigners who had flown halfway across the world to see the lighting of a tree without realizing how completely pagan such a ritual was” (Cohn and Levithan, 1).

For slightly more serious studying, check out one of these novels specifically written to include SAT words, complete with a glossary of definitions:

2 thoughts on “SATs Are Coming Up! Check out these Wordy Novels

  1. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about the SAT yet. I think I’ll wait until next year to start thinking about it. And besides, if it only includes words like “quagmire” or “soliloquy”, I’m going to ace the vocab.

  2. Don’t forget those Defining Twilight books. You know, those ones where they highlight vocabulary words within Twilight books… The first one has chapters like “impenetrable eyes” “thwarted enmity,” and “mutated purgatory.”

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