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
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
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
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
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.