One of the best and most effective ways to learn and improve your English is to read books.
Well, reading books exposes you to a lot of language in context so you can reinforce your grammar, sentence structure and even spelling.
You might learn new words and review those that you already know because you see them “at work” in a text.
Reading improves your writing too. Stephen King said this too. In “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” he wrote, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
But how can you know if a book is good for your current level of English? And with so many books in English to choose from, how can you pick the best ones for yourself?
No need to panic, I've created this list of the 11 best books for English learners for you.
Best Books For English Learners: How To Choose Books For Your Level
Reading books at your level is one of the most crucial rules of StoryLearning.
A way to discover if a book is too easy or too difficult for you is to follow the 5-finger rule.
Have you ever heard of this? It’s very simple. Have a look:
Easy, right? Choose a book, open it and see how many new words there are. Then decide what to do with the book.
Another way to choose a book to do a simple test: every time you’re not sure if the book is good for you, you can ask yourself if you would read it in your first language or not.
If you think you would, then it means that you’re interested in it. If not, then you’re probably not interested in the topic so you might want to put it down and find another one.
The 11 Best Books For English Learners
Here’s a suggested selection of 11 best books for English learners. These books are graded readers, so they're designed for learners of English.
Let’s see if you’re interested in any of these.
1. “1984” by George Orwell (Pearson English Graded Readers)
Genre: science fiction
This book is a classic. The story takes place in a world where people cannot do or say what they want.
They have to listen to Big Brother, the leader of the government, and follow his rules.
The government says everything is great, but one man named Winston doesn't believe it.
This is a book that warns us about the danger of a government that has too much power and control over people's lives.
2. “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley (Oxford Bookworms Library)
Genre: science fiction
The Oxford Bookworms Library is a graded reading series for English language learners and of their titles is “Frankenstein”, another great classic.
In case you don’t know the story, Victor Frankenstein is a Swiss student of natural science who believes he knows how to create life.
He takes pieces of dead people and constructs a new being, but the creature he makes is huge and terrifying, and everyone is afraid of him – even Frankenstein!
The monster is like a giant baby that wants love and affection, but no one loves him. So he begins to feel angry and, since he is very strong, he learns to hurt and kill others.
3. “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens (Oxford Bookworms Library)
Genre: historical novel
This is another graded reader from the Oxford Bookworms Library.
“A Tale of Two Cities” is a story that takes place in two cities – Paris and London – during the French Revolution.
There are two men in love with the same woman, and their lives are connected in ways they don't expect.
The book talks about love and friendship, but also about war and violence. It's an exciting story that teaches you about history and the importance of making choices that can impact our lives and the lives of others.
This book has an audio component too and you can get it here.
4. “Space” by Tim Vicary (Oxford Bookworms Library Factfiles)
The Oxford Bookworms Library has a collection, called “Factfiles”, that includes non-fiction graded readers.
Nonfiction books from this series can teach you about countries, cultures, science, nature and history.
This is one about space.
It’s a book that takes you on an exciting journey into the universe, where spacecrafts travel at high speeds, temperatures reach millions of degrees, and planets come in all shapes and sizes.
It’s available here.
5. “101 Conversations in Intermediate English” by Olly Richards
Genre: fiction / short stories
“101 Conversations in Intermediate English” transports you into a real-world story that unfolds between six English characters.
The story is set in England and includes expressions that are typical in British English.
However, since the conversations use mostly “neutral” English, you’ll have plenty to learn, no matter which English-speaking countries you plan to visit or whose varieties of English you want to master.
You’ll find dialogues from typical daily situations that will help you immerse yourself in a gripping English drama while learning natural, common phrases in English in the process.
6. “The Godfather” by Mario Puzo (Penguin Readers)
Genre: fiction / crime
You might have seen the movie “The Godfather”, so how about reading the book?
You’ll read about the story of the Corleone family, an organised crime family originating from the Sicilian town of Corleone.
Vito Corleone is the Godfather and the most powerful man in New York's criminal underworld.
He has a lot of enemies, but he also has loyal friends who will do anything for him. His youngest son Michael doesn't want to be part of the family business, but he ends up taking over when his father is shot.
The Godfather is a story of family, power, and loyalty in the dangerous world of organised crime.
The book is from Penguin Readers, a series of contemporary fiction, essential non-fiction and popular classics written for learners of English.
7. “Freddie Mercury” (Penguin Readers)
Freddie Mercury needs no introduction. He’s simply one of the greatest rock stars of all time.
In this book you’ll learn about his life, from when he was a shy boy in Zanzibar to how he later became the lead singer of Queen.
The book includes real images and photos of Freddie and his band and it’s available here.
8. “Digital Minimalism” (Penguin Readers)
Are you worried about the amount of time you’re spending online? Then this is a book for you.
It shows you how to use less technology in your life and it’s written by Cal Newport, a professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University in the USA.
Cal explains how technology can take over our lives and make us unhappy.
He suggests that we take a break from screens and social media, and only use technology when it really helps us.
Reading this book can not only help you improve your English, but you can also learn how to use your phone and computer in a more meaningful way.
9. “Short Stories in English for Intermediate Learners” by Olly Richards
Genre: fiction / short stories
This is an unmissable collection of eight unconventional and captivating short stories for young and adult learners.
You’ll read eight stories in a variety of exciting genres, from science fiction and crime to history and thriller – making reading fun, while you learn a wide range of new vocabulary.
The book includes:
- A glossary for bolded words in each text
- A bilingual word list
- Full plot summary
- Comprehension questions after each chapter
- Accessible grammar so you learn new structures naturally, in a stress-free way
10.”The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” by Agatha Christie (Collins Graded Readers)
Level: intermediate +
Are you a fan of mystery and detective stories? Then you’ll be happy to hear that Collins Graded Readers has a series of graded readers by Agatha Christie, an English writer known for her 66 detective novels.
One of these is “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd”.
The story is set in the small town of King's Abbot, where Roger Ackroyd is murdered and everyone is a suspect. Poirot, a famous detective, is called in to solve the crime.
Agatha Christie's classic novel will keep you guessing until the very end.
11. “Australia” by Jennifer Gascoigne (Macmillan Readers)
Level: intermediate +
Macmillan Readers are a collection of graded readers that includes popular classics, contemporary titles, original fiction, plays, autobiographies and non-fiction.
“Australia” by Jennifer Gascoigne is a title from the Macmillan Cultural Readers, factual books that focus on countries of the world.
They include chapters on history, traditions, daily life, cities, nature and sport.
Best Books For English Learners
So, did any of these books for English learners spark your interest?
I hope that this list of best books for English learners has given you some ideas about how you can start reading in English.
Reading is a fun and effective way to improve your English skills. And with a wide variety of genres and books available, there is something for everyone.
In fact, reading stories is the core of the StoryLearning method where you get fluent thanks to stories, not rules.
So pick a book that interests you, set aside some time each day to read. Over time, you will notice a significant improvement in your vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency.