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Reference books and texts that are the most useful to a new student - particularly one studying English Literature?

There are so many course books to buy, there are so many reference options on the shelves. What texts will be truly useful and build a reference library to last a lifetime not just the college/university years? A short guide for parents and students.

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Over the years I've amassed quite a library of useful textbooks and reference material. However, there are some which remain infrequently used and others which may never have seen the light of day. This piece should help sort the truly useful from the completely useless.

This response is designed to give a short guide to those buying textbooks. The list is not huge but if money is limited try second-hand stores on campus and on-line vendors - there is always a bargain to be had. (Remember the old, battered version from the 1950's may have less gloss and pictures but the information will often be the same for a fraction of the price).

This list in no way replaces or substitutes the owning and reading of the set: plays, novels, and poetry on any course - these recommendations are reference works to aid the understanding of those texts.

People seem to be convinced that if all information can be gathered from ...