Listening Topic: Literature – Informal conversation about books

A. Anne, Cora, and Brent are discussing these books. Listen to their conversation and note the main reason why each book is important to the person who describes it.

1   The Joy Luck Club (Anne) ____________________

2   The Catcher in the Rye (Cora) ____________________

3   Treasure Island (Brent) ____________________

B. Read the statements. Then listen to the conversation again. Write T for true or F for false for each statement.


 Before reading The Joy Luck Club, she had never read a book about Chinese Americans.

 Her father comes from China.

 After she read the book, she became more interested in her own background.

 She didn’t see the movie.


5   She identified with the main character in The Catcher in the Rye.

6   She thought the main character was dishonest.

7   She had to read the book for school.

8   Before reading the book, she was not usually interested in English classes.


 He found Treasure Island at his home.

10   He read the book every day.

11   He read the book more than once.

12   He didn’t understand the illustrations.



Answers may vary slightly.

1   The Joy Luck Club was important to Anne because it was the first book she could identify with.

2   The Catcher in the Rye was important to Cora because she identified with the main character, and it described her experience.

3   Treasure Island was important to Brent because it appealed to his imagination and had good pictures.


1 T   2 T   3 T   4 F

5 T   6 F   7 T   8 T

9 F   10 F   11 T   12 F


A: Anne, B: Brent, C: Cora

A:   What are you reading?

B:   The Bone-Setter’s Daughter.

A:   That’s an Amy Tan book, isn’t it?

B:   Yep.

A:   Oh, I love Amy Tan! Have you read any of her other books?

B:   Yeah, most of them. I’ve read …

C:   Which one was your favourite?

B:   I don’t know. I like them all. This one’s pretty good.

A:   The Joy Luck Club was a really important book for me.

B:   That’s the one about the mothers and their daughters, isn’t it?

A:   Yeah. I read it when I was about fifteen, and I really identified with it! You know, when I was growing up, I didn’t know very many other Chinese Americans, and suddenly here was this book and it was like the story of my life! Here at last were some characters that I could identify with! It was great!

A:   Thing is, it actually got me interested in China … really for the first time. My father was born there, and he still has family over there, but he never really spoke very much about it, and after I read that book I started to get interested and I wanted to know more. So I suddenly started asking my parents all these questions, and I wanted to speak more Chinese at home.

C:   Wow.

A:   Yeah, and then we went there on a vacation shortly after that and it was like I discovered all this family that we had over there. It was so cool.

C:   All because of The Joy Luck Club.

A:   Yes, it was, really, in a way.

B:   Did you see the movie?

A:   Oh yes, I did, and I loved the movie too.

C:   I felt like that with The Catcher in the Rye.

A:   Really?

C:   Yes. I know it’s a really typical teenage book, that everybody has to read in high school, but it was a bit like what you felt. You know, you feel that no one understands you, and suddenly you read a book that just describes exactly your experience.

C:   The kid in the story … what’s his name?

B:   Holden Caulfield.

C:   Holden Caulfield! That’s right. He was always going on about other people being phony, because adults just seemed so … what’s the word … so insincere and … kind of … like dishonest or something to him. That’s really how you feel at that age, I think. At least that’s how I felt.

B:   Did you read it in high school?

C:   Yeah, and I remember it was the first time I ever liked a book that I had to read for school! After that, I actually got interested in English classes.

B:   The first book that I remember was Treasure Island.

C:   Treasure Island? Really?

B:   Yeah. When I was little, we’d go to visit my grandparents in Brooklyn … on Sundays … every Sunday. And the adults would have a big lunch, and talk, and I’d be really bored. But they had a lot of books. So one day I started to look through the books and I noticed Treasure Island because it had these great pictures of pirates, and ships, and desert islands. The illustrations were beautiful.

A:   Yeah.

B:   And then I started to read the story, and I was hooked! And after that, I’d pull out that book every Sunday and read it. It must have been at least a year. When I was done I just started all over again because it was quite difficult, so a year later I understood a lot more. I can still see some of those pictures.

C:   I’ve never read …

B:   It just really appealed to my imagination. For years after that I used to play pirates and look for buried treasure. That was all I wanted to do.

A:   That’s why books are so great for kids. They open up a whole world of possibilities to you.

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