Books for Adult English Learners

What are the best books for adult learners of English who want to get away from the coursebook and read authentic texts? There are so many to choose from that it can be quite bewildering. This list includes books recommended by English teachers and learners. All have been found enjoyable and effective for learning language through literature.

If you’d like to submit a recommendation, contact me using the form at the bottom of the page.

Links are to Goodreads. Most books are suitable for intermediate level and up.

Most frequently recommended:
The Giver, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The House on Mango Street

Also often recommended but extremely depressing:
Animal Farm, Heart of Darkness, Lord of the Flies

More lighthearted:
High Fidelity, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, The Enchanted April, Miss Buncle’s Book

Classics:
The Old Man and the Sea, The Pearl, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Rebecca,

Business and IT:
Freakonomics, Think and Grow Rich, Press Send, Swiss Watching

Children’s:
The Wind in the Willows, Winnie-the-Pooh, The Long Winter, A Bear Called Paddington, Charlotte’s Web

YA/Teen:
Holes, Thirteen Reasons Why, The Outsiders

Black Lives Matter
Autobiography of Malcolm X, The Hate U Give, March,

Science Fiction and Thriller
Ender’s Game, A Wrinkle in Time, The Martian, The Girl with All the Gifts

Memoirs:
My Life in France, Home, Growing Up, El Deafo

Inspirational:
The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Tuesdays with Morrie

Translated from other languages:
The Kite Runner, The Alchemist, The Diary of Anne Frank

Personal favorites:
Betsy-Tacy, Beauty, The Blue Castle, A Wizard of Earthsea, O Pioneers!

More suggestions for advanced readers:
Jane Eyre, Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

Popular authors many learners enjoy:
Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Danielle Steel, Janet Evanovich, Jodi Picoult, Sophie Kinsella, Nicholas Sparks, John Grisham

With many thanks to all who submitted suggestions, including Samantha Avery, Glenna Barber, Mark Burling, Lynda Britten, Lucy Edwards, Jillaine Farrar, Jessica Garner, Jennifer Jacobs, Rachel Lally, Julie Meraud, Hannah McCullough, Nicole Parker, Lizzie Ross, Carl Snell, and Jane Rebecca Soh.

Want to recommend a book? Tell me about it!