Adjectives to describe books and films:

action-packed: full of action.
   | My brother loves action-packed movies. Probably that’s why his favourite film is “Terminator”.

addictive: a book or film that you quickly become addicted to.
   | “Harry Potter” series by Joanne Rowling are so addictive! I couldn’t stop after the first book and read all volumes.

creepy: producing a sensation of uneasiness or fear, scary.
   | Noah finds Stephen King’s stories creepy.

dreary: gloomy or depressing.
   | I can’t stand dramas, thrillers and other dreary movies.

entertaining: funny and enjoyable.
   | Comedies are very entertaining.

futuristic: telling about the future.
   | “Star Wars” movie is futuristic and dynamic.

heartbreaking: that breaks your heart and evokes sad emotions.
   | When my aunt watched “Titanic” she cried all day! It’s such a heartbreaking film.

inspirational: evoking inspiration.

intense: a book or film loaded with actions and emotions that evokes strong feelings.
   | The play’s plot was very intense. Just a minute after a couple had a quarrel in the forest, the secret lover appeared and started a fire-fight.

tear-jerking: tragic, making you cry.
   | My sister is very emotional. I would rather watch a comedy with her than a tear-jerking movie!

thought-provoking: a book or film that makes you think of new ideas or that changes your attitude to something.
   | Ray Bradbury’s novel “Fahrenheit 451” is deeply thought-provoking. I had to rethink my attitude to legislation and censorship after I read it.

Advanced vocabulary:

action movie: film with fast moving scenes, often containing violence.
   | Last week I saw a great action movie with my brother at our local movie theatre.

bedtime reading: a book you read in your bed before going to sleep.
   | I’m really addicted to books! I can’t even fall asleep without an hour of bedtime reading.

box office hit: a very successful movie, in terms of money.
   | The new movie might be a box office hit, but I didn’t like it at all.

e-reader: a gadget for reading books.
   | My e-reader broke a few days ago, so now I’ll need to fix it or buy a new one.

from cover to cover: from the first page to the last.
   | I am a slow reader so it takes me a lot of time to read a book from cover to cover.

hardcover: a book with hard cover. Opposite to softcover.
   | My friend gave me a hardcover book as a present for my birthday.

page turner: a book which is so good that you cannot stop reading it.
   | My sister recommended me a great book. It was such a page turner that I read it in one day!

plot: a storyline of a book or film.

intricate plot: a very complex, labyrinthine plot.
   | The famous Leo Tolstoy’s novel “War and Peace” has a very intricate plot. It  tells a story of five different families and comprises of 4 volumes.

subordinate plot (subplot): a plot that is related to, but less important than the main plot of a story.
   | Ernest Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises” tells a love story of a man and a woman. However, the book involves many subordinate plots that raise questions about physical and spiritual affinity, trans-racial relationships and anti-Semitism.

threadbare plot: a simple, primitive plot.
   | The movie’s plot was threadbare, but cutely disarming in its own way.

unravelling of the plot: the way in which a story develops over time.
   | I first thought Jack London’s novel “Martin Eden” to be pretty straightforward. However, the plot unravelled in a very unpredicted way.

Useful idioms:

don’t judge a book by its cover: a metaphorical phrase which means “you shouldn’t judge someone or something by its appearance alone”.
   | When I first met Sam I didn’t find him handsome. But, as people say, don’t judge a book by its cover. He turned out to be the most interesting person I’ve ever met and we married soon!

to catch the latest movie: to see a movie that has just come out.
   | We need to hurry up if we want to catch the latest movie.

to flick through: to look quickly through a book.
   | I flicked through my notes to prepare for the exam as didn’t have time to study properly.

to know like a book: to know something extremely well.
   | I live in this city for my whole life and I know it like a book.

to read between the lines: to understand the hidden meaning about something.
   | When I broke up with my girlfriend, I didn’t want anyone to know that. But Tom saw us in the different corners of the classroom and read everything between the lines. He’s very discerning.



IELTS Speaking sample about  Books and Films  


Part 1     

Do you enjoy reading? 

Yes, absolutely! A great way to relax to learn something new is to peruse a book… I’m so addicted to reading that sometimes I can’t even fall asleep without an hour of bedtime reading. 

Do you like watching movies? 

No, not really… If I have some free time, I’d rather read an interesting book… Books leave us a lot of space for imagination, while in movies everything is spelled out for us… That’s why I find films boring.

What is the last book you read? And did you like it?

The last book I’ve read is “Theatre” written by William Somerset Maugham … and I absolutely enjoyed it! Maugham is my favourite writer of all time and I’ve read his novel from cover to cover in 2 days… I was truly captivated by the characters and the unravelling of the plot.

How often do you go to the cinema with your friends?

Quite often, to be honest… I like catching the latest movies with my friends, so we go to the cinema almost every week. I especially like action movies and sci-fi films.  


Part 2     

Now, have a look at the card and prepare a monologue.

Describe a book or a film that had a strong impact on you. You should say:
What was it
When you read or saw it
How it influenced you
And say if you liked it and why.

A book that I’d like to talk about is called “Flowers for Algernon” written by Daniel Keyes. You won’t believe, but I picked up this novel from a shelf in a bookstore because it had a beautiful cover! Although a proverb says “don’t judge a book by its cover”, I did exactly the opposite… and the book turned out to be one of the greatest things I’ve ever read… In fact, this novel is very intense and thought-provoking… It is set in form of diary entries of the protagonist – mentally-disabled man Charlie, whose IQ changes after brain surgery… It drastically changed the way I looked at how intelligence influences people’s attitude to others and to the world in general. Also, I had to overthink how many boundaries does new knowledge open and how mentally disabled people are treated in the society… In general, the book was somewhat tear-jerking for me, but I still highly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone looking for a powerful and inspirational read.


Part 3    

Why do you think cinemas are still popular nowadays, even though people can watch movies in their homes?

I believe that there are several reasons for it… First of all, watching a film on a big screen is a lot more fun than watching it at home… Not to mention the fact that you won’t be able to see the movie on the DVD as soon as in the movie theater… You’ll have to wait a couple of months for the DVD release of the movieMoreover, a lot of people like the atmosphere of cinema with its half-light halls, popcorn and sound effects.

What do you think about e-books?

In my opinion, a paperback or hardback books are much better… Reading a book from an e-reader just doesn’t feel the same for me – I adore the sensation of turning pages and that special smell of paper. I think that the look and feel of a book can never be replaced by an e-reader… But I do understand usefulness of electronic books. It is very convenient to be able to carry hundreds of books in your pocket and have a possibility to read them at any time… Also, e-readers support keyword search, which paperbacks obviously do not. 

IELTS Books and Films Vocabulary

Part 1-style questions      

Examiner: Do you like to read books?

Marie: Yes … I love reading … I like nothing more than to be engrossed in a good book … I regularly take out books from the library and usually read them from cover to cover in no time … and I can’t go to sleep at night without some good bedtime reading

Examiner: How often do you go to the cinema?

Jemma: Unfortunately we don’t have a cinema near us so we have to go into the nearest town to catch the latest movie … I usually avoid seeing popular box-office hits which I’m not always keen on seeing … I prefer low-budget films sci-fi especially … and there’s a great cinema I go to that has frequent showings of films like these …

Examiner: Do you prefer reading books or watching films?

Louisa: I’m not really a big reader … I find books quite heavy-going … so I much prefer to see a film … perhaps it’s the special effects or the soundtrack … I don’t know … I just prefer a film …


Part 2 -style task

Describe a book you have read or a film you have seen. You should say:
   – what this book or film was
   – when you read or saw it
   – why you decided to see the film or read the book
and say if you enjoyed it and why

Pauline I like reading … especially English novels … it’s a great way to improve your vocabulary and there are so many fantastic authors to choose from … one book that came highly recommended by my teacher was The Mayor of Casterbridge … I was studying at a school in The UK at the time and she said it would give me a picture of what life was like years ago in the area I was living … well I have to say I absolutely loved it … it was a real page-turner … it’s a historical novel and the setting was a fictional town called Casterbridge … but actually it was based on a town near where I was studying called Dorchester … it had such a great plot … to cut a long story short it tells the story of the downfall of a man called Henchard the central character who lives during a period of great social change around the time of the industrial revolution … the reason I enjoyed it so much … apart from the great story … it gave me a picture of what life had been like in the place I was studying at the time … I really couldn’t put it down … a fantastic story … 


Part 3 -style questions   

Examiner: Is reading as pleasurable in digital format? 

Alise: Personally I prefer reading a paperback or hardback … especially if I’m reading a classic which I don’t think feels right as an e-book … but I can see it can be good for others … my grandmother has an e-reader and she loves the way you can enlarge the text …

Examiner: Do you think bookshops will survive the digital revolution?

Thomas: I think so … at least I hope so … I love flicking through books in a bookshop … online shopping is useful … finding out on Amazon if a book you want has got a good review … maybe getting one that is difficult to find … but I still love the experience of being in a bookshop …

Examiner: Statistics show that visits to the cinema are up despite the availability of DVDs and online downloads. Why do you think this might be?

Jamie: I think it’s the whole experience that the cinema offers … going out to see a film when it goes on general release … and seeing it on the big screen is more exciting than watching the film at home on TV … especially if it’s an action movie … and watching it with others makes it even more special … 


an action movie: a film with fast moving scenes, often containing violence

to be engrossed in: to be completely focused on one thing

bedtime reading: something to read in bed before you go to sleep

to be a big reader: someone who reads a lot

to be based on: to use as a modal

a box office hit: a financially successful film

to be heavy-going: difficult to read

a blockbuster: a film that is a big commercial success

to catch the latest movie: to see a film that has just come out

the central character: the main person in a film or book

a classic: of the highest quality

to come highly recommended: to be praised by another person

couldn’t put it down: wasn’t able to stop reading a book

an e-book: a digital book

an e-reader: a device for reading e-books

to flick through: to look quickly through a book

to get a good/bad review: to receive positive or negative feedback

to go on general release: when a film can be seen by the general public

hardback: a book with a rigid cover (see ‘paperback’ below)

a historical novel: a story set in the past

a low budget film: a film made with a small amount of money

on the big screen: at the cinema

a page turner: a book that you want to keep reading

paperback: a book with a flexible cover (see ‘hardback’ above)

plot: the main events in a film or book

to read something from cover to cover: to read a book from the first page to the last

sci-fi: science fiction

to see a film: to see a film at the cinema (see ‘watch a film’ below)

the setting: where the action takes place

showings: performances of a film

soundtrack: the music that accompanies a film

special effects: the visuals or sounds that are added to a film which are difficult to produce naturally

to take out (a book from the library): to borrow a book from the library

to tell the story of: to outline the details of someone’s life or an event

to watch a film: to watch a film on TV (see ‘to see a film’ above)  

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