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.

The list below includes books recommended by English teachers and learners. All have been found enjoyable and effective for learning language through literature. Most books are suitable for intermediate level and up.

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

Frequently recommended but very depressing:
Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, 1984

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

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

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

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

Holes, Thirteen Reasons Why, The Outsiders

Black Lives Matter:
Autobiography of Malcolm X, The Hate U Give, March, Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race

More Diverse Reads:
The Village by the Sea, Esperanza Rising, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, A Single Shard

Science Fiction and Thriller:
Ender’s Game, A Wrinkle in Time, The Martian, The Girl with All the Gifts, Fahrenheit 451

Graphic Memoirs:
El Deafo, Maus, Persepolis, They Called Us Enemy, American Born Chinese

The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Tuesdays with Morrie, Kitchen Table Wisdom, A Circle of Quiet

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, Growing Up, Jane Eyre

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.