The best books to learn English

by Andrea Byaruhanga
February 2, 2021

Do you like to read in English? Hopefully, your answer is yes!

Books are a great way to learn: For real-life vocabulary in context, novels are great. For more structured practice, there are a lot of textbooks with fantastic self-study exercises. 

If you don’t enjoy English books, maybe you just haven’t found the right one. Let’s discuss some of the best books to learn English!

Learn English with these 6 fiction books

1. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

If you like dramatic stories, check out this one. Taking place in Afghanistan between the 1960s and early 2000s, it focuses on the struggles of two women in Kabul.

Why this book?

This is a story with fascinating characters and beautiful imagery. The language isn’t so complicated that you’ll give up, but it’s challenging enough that you’ll learn some new vocabulary. 

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2. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This quirky story is about Eleanor, a strange 29-year-old office worker who lacks social skills and lives a very routine life. She then forms an unexpected but important friendship that changes everything.

Why this book?

This is a sweet, uplifting, and very funny story—it’ll keep you interested! It’s told from Eleanor’s perspective in a straightforward way. This book is written in British English, so you’ll learn lots of UK vocabulary.

3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Do you like a good mystery? You might enjoy this one! It’s a novel about a young boy, Christopher, who has autism. He sets out to solve the mystery of his neighbour’s murdered dog. 

Why this book?

The story is told through Christopher’s eyes, so it’s very clear and factual. As you follow Christopher through the story, he’ll hold your attention with his unusual perspective and interesting observations. You’ll also find UK English in this one.

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4. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

“Wonder” is perfect for readers who like emotional stories. It’s about Auggie, a 10-year-old boy with facial deformities, who struggles to fit in. This inspiring tale shows us the importance of kindness and acceptance. 

Why this book?

The story is told through the eyes of different characters including Auggie, his sister, and his classmates. Because the story is told from the point of view of young people, it’s great for learning informal vocabulary. The clear sentence structure also makes the story easy to follow. 

5. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma

If you want some inspiration, check out this tale of a rich lawyer named Julian. After having a heart attack, Julian decides to change his life, turning away from his money and searching for wisdom, peace, and purpose in the Himalayan mountains.

Why this book?

This isn’t a typical story: It’s a self-help book. At the end of each chapter of Julian’s story, you’ll find a summary with quotes and pieces of wisdom. You’ll also find new vocabulary to challenge you along the way!

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6. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Not a fan of novels? Maybe you should try this graphic novel (in order words, a book with pictures). It’s about Jin Wang, a Chinese-American teen who’s trying to find his identity. The book moves between stories of ancient times and the present day.

Why this book?

The style of this book is excellent for learning English: The drawings help the story come to life and move it along so you’ll never get bored. 

woman reading the best fiction books in english

The 3 best textbooks to learn English

1. Understanding and Using English Grammar with Essential Online Resources by Betty Azar

Although the word “grammar” is in its title, this textbook offers much more than just grammar exercises.

Why this book?

Azar’s book is full of helpful material: grammar charts to show the differences between written and spoken grammar, interesting reading content, and step-by-step writing activities. The online resource includes grammar coach videos and self-assessments. 

2. English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy

This popular grammar resource is a reference and practice book for self-study.

Why this book?

This grammar book is easy to read: It’s very structured and has clear rules, explanations, and examples. It not only tells you the correct way to say things, but it explains why. It also offers a lot of practice activities to help you improve!

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3. The New Oxford Guide to Writing by Thomas S. Kane

This one is all about writing! Kane explains everything from punctuation to word choice to essay structure. 

Why this book?

Kane’s book offers clear explanations, various examples, and lots of practice tasks. You’ll learn how to express your ideas in the best way possible. 

So, there you have our top recommendations. If you’re looking for structured reading help, look no further than Lingoda. Sign up for your free 7-day trial and choose from some of our reading classes today!