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Books & Tips for CBSE NET English Literature

NET English Preparation Books and Tips


So much has changed about the UGC NET Examination. Hold on; the CBSE NET Examination I should say. And recent developments have confirmed that after this November 2017 examination, aspirants will have only one time a year party hosted by the CBSE authorities – a single time NET examination in a year. Moreover, this new decision also ensures one thing that the NET aspirants will have to work very hard in order to sail through or just be ready to wait for another year! Without getting into so much of abstract views, I will directly come to my business in this article. This article is only meant for the students and aspirants who are enthusiastic about cracking the NET examination with English literature as their subject. I will be discussing a few really good books which will help the English Literature aspirants of CBSE NET examination (for JRF as well as being eligible for assistant professor post). I shall also share some of the strategies which I am sure will help.

Talking of books for preparation of English Literature NET examination, there will be many people whom you will meet on the streets leading to colleges, universities or some coaching centres and they will tell you about notes from this person, cheats from that person, guessed-questions from that famous professor and so on and so forth. DON’T LISTEN TO THEM! The best books which will help you crack the exams are the textbooks and some of them are really very much helpful from the NET examination point of view. If you go through these books with proper attention and plan your studies well, you are good to go! Here are the books:

the essentials of Literature in English Post-1914: Well, this one is my personal favourite among the books for modern and post-modern English Literature. This sort of HD book by Ian Mackean is the one that you are gonna need for all your needs and queries in English literature post-1914. This book does not only contain facts, authors, works, and other related information about the English literature in England but it has all about English literature after 1914 in the world. This book has information on modern English literature in Canada, in South Africa, in Asia, America, Australia, Carribean Literature in English and all you need! The best part of the book is that it begins with an informative A to Z listing of the poets and authors who influenced the English literature after 1914. And at the end, you will be having the very important reference materials – list of all the Nobel Prize winners for Literature; list of all the Booker Prize winners; list of all the Pulitzer Prize winners; list of all the Orange Prize for Fiction winners; Commonwealth Writers’ Prize winners; The Whitebread Book Awards winners; and a concluding Time Chart of the main events in English Literature around the world after 1914 along with the major events which occurred in History and Politics. Before the charts and lists, you find a very useful Glossary of Terms which clarifies the concepts of modern literature in very short definitions. I will say it one last time – if you are serious about your Modern English Literature preparation for the NET Examination, you have to HAVE this book! One last but important thing, this book is a little costly and may cost you something around 1,700 Rs! You can buy this book from Amazon right now: link will open in new tab so that after making the purchase on Amazon, you can comfortably come back to this page and read about other books on the list.

Buy from Amazon: the essentials of English Literature Post-1914

A Critical History of English Literature by David Daiches: I still consider this book as the best study material for English literature NET examination (for British Literature in general). Don’t bother about anything else if you have the textbooks in your possession. If you try to prepare with notes and expert materials, you will certainly be on the losing side which you don’t want to be, for sure! This bundle of two volumes by David Daiches will open up the British literature from the beginning to the days of T S Eliot. If you study the books minutely, you can certainly point out the important literary productions, important dates and important events and that’s all you need for the NET examination! If you don’t have a good book for the history of English Literature, this is surely the bundle that you must have right now! If you want, you can purchase the book from Amazon right now by clicking the link below. The link will open in a new tab like above. Do come back once you have made your purchase.

Buy the two-volume set of David Daiches’ A Critical History of English Literature

Concise History of Indian Literature in English: You certainly have to tackle the questions which are asked about Indian Literature in English. You might well have studied this part of your syllabus during graduation and post-graduation. This book by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra is certainly a new addition to the list but it is worth buying because it’s updated as well as detailed. The author has done his very best in simplifying the Indian Literature in English for the students (in this case, the NET aspirants). After reading this book, you will have the major concepts of Indian Literature in English very clear before you and you won’t be asking for any more study materials for the purpose of NET English preparation. Buy the book from the Amazon link below and start reading now: the link will take you to a new tab where you can complete the Amazon job and come back to read this article further.

Buy Arvind Krishna Mehrotra’s Concise History of Indian English Literature from Amazon

A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory: This book by Raman Selden and Peter Widdowson and Peter Brooker is all worthy to be bought and studied (in fact, savoured) but alas! the book is a little costly according to the Indian standards and norms of buying books for English Literature studies. However, if you can afford and love reading quality books, this is the one and only book on Critical Theories in the contemporary age which will simplify almost everything to you in the simplest possible manner and will surely enable you to win good marks for all those tricky questions in the second and third paper of CBSE NET examination, English Literature. It does not only simplify the theories for you but also makes you understand in actuality. You will not have any worries about the Structuralism, Ecocriticism, Gay & Lesbian Theories and so many others… If you wish, you can buy the book from the Amazon link below. The book will cost you 2,037 Rs.

Buy Raman Selden’s A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory from Amazon

Beginning Theory: Well, if your wallet size does not allow you buying that heavily-priced book above, you can go for this book by Peter Barry. Peter has certainly not that depth for you in the store, but he will surely make things easier to understand in the terms of literary theories for you. By reading this book carefully, you can find yourself able to answer the questions asked in NET English examinations in the second and third paper from the critical theories part. The best part of this book is the language in which the author has written it. The language used in the book is very simple to comprehend! You will love reading this book and you will also be spending very less – just 290 Rs! Buy this book from the Amazon link below:

Buy Peter Barry’s Beginning Theory from Amazon

If you study all these books carefully and according to a well-designed study plan, I am sure NET English examination will not be a hard nut to crack! However, make sure you are serious enough about the preparations. The moment you go lax and lazy, be ready to prepare next year once again! Below are some important points that I want to share with all the CBSE NET English examination aspirants:

1. Care for the concept: Don’t use the ‘Ratta maro method’ or you will be defeated! Always care to understand the concept first. If you read something with attention and detailed vision, you will have no worries remembering the important dates and events. Never bother about memorising the ‘ten objective question sets’ for an age; go for the age completely. You will have more than 50 objective questions and answers in your mind!

2. Don’t be an Ullu (owl): Yes, I mean it! Don’t you dare be an ullu and spend the nights trying to memorise objective questions. Waking late in night is surely an ullu thing! Take proper time for your sleep. It’s not about how much you can remember – it’s always about how much you can understand. So, you need to keep your mind in a conscious and fresh condition to receive and comprehend and remember. Overexertion of the mind in the final days of the examination can be rather harmful too! So, don’t study for TOO longer periods; rather study with proper attention for an hour or two and take a little break. Try playing with poetry in the break to please your mind and also learning the tricks to recognise the background of poetry (composition, poet, possible events etc).

3. Never land yourself in a FALTU group study: People always believe that group study can be a better option for examination preparation. I do believe that notion. Nevertheless, it’s not necessary that for the sake of group study, you land yourself in a group of non-serious aspirants! So, if the group is enthusiastic, it’s always better; if the group is dead intellectually and rather coaching centre types, leave that group and spend your time in the library for better results.

4. First-timers and the question papers: Yes, it happens! If you are a first timer facing the CBSE NET English Literature examination, the question paper might baffle you! Don’t bother; use that experience to learn the nature of the question paper and keep that in mind. It will help you preparing well for your next attempt and then you will certainly do better. So, for all those first-timers, I will say – chill! Take it easy! Enjoy! Be enthusiastic and never lose hope!

5. All the very best guys! Go to the examination centre and make me and yourself proud!

(If you have questions, you can ask those in the comment section and I will try my best to respond as soon as possible.)

Alok Mishra

First and foremost a poet, Alok Mishra is an author next. Apart from these credentials, he is founder & Editor-in-Chief of Ashvamegh, an international literary magazine and also the founder of BookBoys PR, a company which helps writers brand themselves and promote their books. On this blog, Alok mostly writes about literary topics which are helpful for literature students and their teachers. He also shares his poems; personal thoughts and book reviews.

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. Hi Alok,
    THank You for such detailed and wonderful recommendations. It will certainly help me in the preparation for UGC Net. Just a suggestion though, you have not mentioned any book for postcolonial, i.e.commonwealth literature studies. Would you please suggest me any names? It will be a lot helpful. Thank you.

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  3. Hey, this list is pretty useful. keep up the good work. Also, I completely agree, having conceptual clarity is much more important than possessing factual knowledge in order to crack this exam.

  4. Hello Alok… Just wanted to know if i can find this book by Ian Mackean… Its around 10k on amazon… Really need this one.. Please suggest something

  5. Good evening sir , From 2018 July CBSE net exam pattern and syllabus will be changed.So I request you to guide accordingly for the same. Looking forward for your reply. Thank u .

    1. Dear Jyotsana, I am well-informed about the changes and until now, only the pattern of the exam has changed. We will have to wait and watch; once the notification is out, I will surely write another article about the preparation in the current year. Thanks for your information!

      1. Good evening ,
        Which literature novels or authors should we emphasize on.
        They have been asking lines from any novel . The period timings are vast and the number of books are enormous.

        1. Dear Deepali, this is the absurdity of NET for English literature. They can ask anything – even the name of the cat of T. S. Eliot! However, you need to focus mostly on the novels which were written post-1920 because the majority of questions are asked from this period. Nonetheless, you should also be ready with the prose fiction produced in the Victorian era. The world-class novels such as Austen’s, Dickens’ and some of the Russians’.

  6. Thank you Sir. I have very little time to cover NET syllabus. So. I feel very nervous for two reasons 1st this is my first exam. And. 2nd, I completed my MA 40 days ago. So i had very little time to complete syllabus. So. I feel more and more stress as the exam knocking at the door.

    1. Dear Subir, NET has no syllabus! This is just about your understanding of English literature from the earliest period to the day you are living at present. And it’s common to have such feelings when you are about to appear for the first time. You just need to take this chance to understand the nature and mood of the examination. Once it’s done, then you need to start your serious preparation for the examination. If you will think more about it right now, it will only bring further stress and complexities! Just let it go casually now. Read whatever you can and read it lightly.
      All the best!

  7. Thanks for these wonderful tips sir. I bought the essentials of English literature after 1914 as you suggested and that is a wonderful book! I am sure it will help me a lot! Thanks

    1. Ity,
      if you are a serious candidate inspired about NET, you should start the preparation as soon as you begin your graduation. The early you begin the better are the results! Moreover, it should be kept in mind that the syllabus of your graduation or postgraduation is the real key. If you finish them the best way and your concept is clear, there is nothing which can hold you back. Good preparation for NET doesn’t mean sitting long hours and memorising the objective questions; it just means understanding clearly whatever you read.
      All the best!

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