Reading is an excellent way to improve your English particularly if you can get stuck into a really good book. When you read a longer piece of text such as a novel, you will discover less common sentence structures, explore vocabulary and unravel meaning from English idioms. The more you read, the more you will want to understand the English language and the more your own language skills will improve, sometimes without you even realising it. In other words, you will experience innate learning.

A great way to start with reading in English is to choose books that you have already read in your own language, this will give you the gist of the story and allow you to concentrate on your understanding. We have chosen six easy-to-read books written in English to get you started on your English novel reading journey, we hope that you enjoy them. As you read try to focus on the story as a whole rather than the meaning of each individual sentence. Some tablet reading devices offer help with translation and definitions but we recommend using these as a last resort, as doing so will interrupt the flow of your reading. It also might help to read a translated synopsis of each story before you start and most of the books we have chosen are also available as films.


Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Published: 2003

Author: Mark Haddon

Nationality: British

Difficulty Level: medium

Christopher, who has communication and behavioural difficulties, narrates the Curious Incident. He is disturbed one day to find out that his neighbours’ dog has died and he sets out to investigate what has happened. The language used in this story reflects both Christopher’s logical nature and his problems with communication, because of this it is simple and easy to read. Originally published at the same time as separate adults’ and children’s books, The Curious Incident is both funny and moving and will make you want to keep on reading right until the end.



Title: The Old Man and the Sea

Published: 1952

Author: Ernest Hemingway

Nationality: British

Difficulty Level: hard

The Old Man and the Sea is a perfect book for learners of English because it is written in a very restrained way that avoids over description and uses short sentence structure. It is the tale of an elderly Cuban fisherman who struggles to bring home a huge marlin that he catches after a run of bad luck with his fishing. The marlin pulls Santiago’s boat for two days and then, once dead and fastened to the boat, it is eaten by sharks on the journey home. This is a story about determination and man’s relationship with nature but it also explores ideas about youth and maturity through Santiago’s relationship with his young apprentice Manolin.



Title: Animal Farm

Published: 1945

Author: George Orwell

Nationality: British

Difficulty Level: hard

Animal Farm is an English classic novella that is studied by most English children at some time during their school career. It is a short story with some colloquial vocabulary but a simple and easy to read sentence structure. It tells the story of a group of farm animals that rebel against their farmer. Initially all of the animals work together but before long the pigs start to take control and treat the other animals badly, mimicking the human farmers who came before them.  Animal Farm is a satire of events in the Soviet Union under Stalin and makes a comment on the topics of power and corruption. The animals’ original high ideal of, ‘All animals are equal,’ is all too soon degraded to, ‘All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.’



Title: Tuesdays with Morrie

Published: 1997

Author: Mitch Albom

Nationality: American

Difficulty Level: medium

Tuesdays with Morrie is a memoir of the time that the author Mitch Albom spent visiting his dying former college professor. During their fourteen Tuesday visits Morrie Schwartz taught Mitch important lessons about the meaning of life and Mitch recounts the humour and wisdom of these and the dignity with which Morrie greets his final days. This book, as well as being a great read, can teach us all a thing or two about how to live.


Title: Danny the Champion of the World

Published: 1975

Author: Roald Dahl

Nationality: British (Norwegian parents)

Difficulty Level: Easy

Roald Dahl is a great writer who knew how to craft stories in simple style for both adults and children. Although Danny the Champion of the World is a children’s book it has an adult theme in Danny’s relationship with his father. It also avoids the nonsense words and older language that can make some of Dahl’s other children’s books tricky for international readers. There are also some fabulous illustrations by Quentin Blake. Danny Champion of the World tells the story of how Danny discovers a dark side to his dad William’s nature. After William breaks his ankle whilst pheasant poaching, Danny and William hatch a plot to get revenge on the owner of the estate Mr Hazell by feeding his pheasants sleeping tablets. All does not go quite to plan but in the end Danny, his father and their friends all get pheasant for tea and Danny is hailed, ‘Champion of the World.’


Title: To Kill a Mocking Bird

Published: 1960

Author: Harper Lee

Nationality: American

Difficulty Level: hard

To Kill a Mockingbird is an American classic novel, loosely based on Harper Lee’s own childhood experiences during which she observed attitudes towards race that were both disturbing and incomprehensible to a child. In the story the heroine, Scout’s father Atticus Finch is a lawyer of high morals who represents a black man accused of raping a white woman. The relationship between Scout and Atticus and the lessons Scout learns from him are beautifully portrayed. Scout’s observations about the difficult events that surround her are full of irony and infused with an almost adult sense of humour. To Kill a Mockingbird is a longer novel and includes some Americanisms but it is a beautiful book and worth sticking with.


Not only will reading books in English broaden your understanding of the English language, reading teaches you about different cultures, helps you understand history and encourages you to form your own opinions. As well as all of this, reading has been scientifically proven to improve your mental health. What are you waiting for?

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