Top 10 English Books To Read

By Jasmine on May 16, 2023

10 Best English Books To Read

10 Best English Books To Read

Learning a new language is a process that requires a lot of time and commitment. As language learners, we know that any tool that makes this journey easier is a huge win!

Did you know that you probably have one of the best language learning tools within reach right now? Since you’re reading this article, you’ve probably already guessed what it is. That’s right, it’s books!

Books are wonderful for a wide variety of reasons but as learning tools, they are invaluable! In this article, I want to give you a quick summary of reading enjoyable books can help you improve your English skills. I will also provide a list of some of my favorite reads to help you get started.

Most of this article is directed at English learners, but even if you’re a native English speaker learning a different language, this information is still useful.

Here is a quick rundown of everything you’ll find here, so you can go directly to what you’re looking for!

As you can see, there is a lot to get through, so let’s get started!

The Value Of Reading

If you are already an avid reader, you know how wonderful reading is. Books can transport you into new worlds and situations that you could never experience in real life. When it comes to language learning, books have even more benefits!

Relaxation = Better Learning

Reading is a consuming activity. Unlike playing video games or watching television, reading requires you to focus solely on reading. It’s hard to carry on a conversation or fold laundry while reading, right?

If you are reading a book that you truly enjoy, this can have an almost meditative effect on your body. Have you ever gotten lost in a story? Thought you had been reading for a few minutes, but it was actually a few hours. Then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Your muscles relax, your stress hormones go down, and you forget your worries (at least for a little while). Not only is this good for your physical health, it also facilitates learning! When you are relaxed and calm, your mind absorbs information more readily.

This means that learning new vocabulary words and sentence structures will be much easier when you’re reading a good book than agonizing over grammar workbooks and flashcards. Don’t get me wrong, those tools have their place, but if you’re looking for a learning experience that is both fun and useful, books can’t be beat.

Learning The Culture With The Language

Another benefit of reading English books is that they can help you gain a better understanding of English-speaking cultures and their communication styles. Every language is full of colloquialisms and unique phrases that you won’t find in traditional language learning platforms, but you will encounter them in books.

Books give you the opportunity to learn sentence structure, tenses, and many other grammar elements in an organic way that will help you gain fluency faster than just memorizing rules. Plus, as you have probably already noticed, many native English speakers do not follow the rules of English very closely, so reading English books will give you a much better idea of what modern English truly is.

Which English Book Is Best For Reading?

By far, if you get nothing else out of this article, I’m so glad that you’re reading this part. Are you ready? The absolute best English book that you can read for English practice is:

You’re Favorite Book!

I know this feels a bit like a bait and switch (a trick answer), but hear me out:

The best book that you can read to help you learn any language is a book that you truly want to read! And what better book than your favorite?

English Book Is Best For Reading

There is an unfortunate tendency for people to be a bit elitist when it comes to reading, especially if you are discussing English literature. There are so many well-known, classic English authors and everyone has their favorites. You’ll always hear people tossing out names like Jane Austen, The Bronte Sisters, Charles Dickens, and, of course, Shakespeare.

These are all wonderful writers, but are they the best for English learners? Probably not. Definitely not, if you are a beginner or even a moderate English speaker. These books are full of outdated words and terms that may have had different meanings when they were originally written. This can make them too heavy and confusing for those seeking to learn modern English.

You will find modern stories much more accessible. And again, choose something you know you will enjoy, whether that is romance, sci-fi, programming manuals, or even cookbooks! This is about learning, not impressing book snobs.

Remember how I said relaxation makes your mind more receptive to learning? If you combine that relaxation with reading content that you truly enjoy, you will be able to learn so much without even feeling like you’re trying.

Read what you love and you will inevitably learn!

The Top 10 Best English Books to Read For English Learners

These books are not in any particular order. I loosely grouped them by genre but as you can see, each book is pretty unique. Hopefully, there is something here for everyone.

1

The Pearl By John Steinbeck (Fiction / Novella )

Theme: Serious / Parable

Quick Summary: This is a short story about a poor fisherman named Kino who finds a pearl of great worth. Initially, Kino thinks that this pearl is going to greatly improve his life, but he soon learns that things are not always what they seem.

This story is written in the third person, using a style that reminds me of an old village storyteller. The narrator presents the experiences of Kino and his family as a parable, or cautionary tale, about the dangers of wealth and the belief that it will fix all your problems.

Through a variety of unfortunate circumstances, Kino is forced to fight off the greed of others as well as the greed in his own heart. In the end, he learns a very costly lesson that changes his perspective on what is truly valuable.

Why It Made The List:

This is a short story, but not too short. There is enough content to convey a quality plot without bogging you down with lengthy descriptions or difficult words. The sentences are well formulated to convey information in a simple, but engaging way.

Another good element is that this is a timeless story. It is not set in a particular time period and the theme is one that people from all cultures can understand. This could explain why it has been translated into so many languages, including Spanish, French, Russian, Dutch, and Japanese.

Theme: Educational / Inspirational

Quick Summary: As the names imply, these books were designed to be used as bedtime stories for kids, but do not let that deter you.

I picked up Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls randomly one day as a gift for my goddaughter and I just fell in love with it. This book is full of single-page, true stories about female historical figures who changed the world. Each story is presented in simple English that is not too childish, making it enjoyable for people of all ages.

Stories For Boys Who Dare To Be Different is quite similar, only this one includes stories about influential men throughout history who have done great things in unexpected ways. These stories help to convey quality concepts such as the importance of kindness and perseverance while also imparting inspiring stories about normal people who achieved their goals.

The beautiful illustrations in both books only add to the engaging nature of these stories. Even though they were intended for children, I found all of the stories in these books uplifting and educational.

Why It Made The List:

The most obvious reason these books made the list is the length of the stories. Since almost every story is only one page long, there is no excuse not to skip your reading practice!

Another great element is sentence formation. These books were written to be both educational and engaging, so the language is simple but robust.

Lastly, these are books about real people who did incredible things. Reading these short stories will undoubtedly inspire you to seek out more books about these individuals which means unending ideas for future learning!

Theme: Serious / Parable

Quick Summary The Old Man and The Sea is an American classic. Nearly every person who attended an American high school has read this story. Is it everyone’s favorite? Maybe not, but it is a classic for a reason.

This is the story of an old fisherman named Santiago and his apprentice, or protege, Manolin. The story starts with Santiago being in the midst of an unlucky streak. He hasn’t caught a fish in over 80 days. His village has basically given up on him, dismissing him as cursed or just washed up.

Showing incredible perseverance, Santiago decides that he must travel further out to sea than ever before. He is rewarded for his efforts by catching the biggest fish he has ever caught. Of course, like all good adventure stories, there is a lot more to it than just catching that legendary fish.

Hemingway is well-known for his straight-forward, minimalist writing style. He wrote stories with depth and meaning that was simple enough that everyone could read and enjoy them. The Old Man and the Sea is no exception. This story covers big subjects such as faithfulness, purpose, and determination all the while keeping you engaged with the simple story of a fisherman trying to do something bigger than he has ever done before.

Why It Made The List:

This book is a great option for those who are ready to move on from short stories, but aren’t quite ready to take on a full-length novel. The language is simple and the sentence structure is strong.

The Old Man and The Sea is a great example of how you can convey big ideas with little words. Some of the vocabulary is a little bit outdated, but not enough to take away from what a great learning tool this is for beginner and moderate English speakers.

Theme: Lighthearted / Modern Fairytale

Quick Summary Charlotte’s Web is a sweet growing-up story about a pig named Wilbur. This well-known and much-loved story has had a couple of quality movie adaptations, so you may already be familiar with the plot.

The story begins with Wilbur’s birth and follows him through the adventures of being rescued from certain death, having to move, making friends with a spider, and eventually becoming a famous fair attraction.

This is a sweet modern fairytale full of talking animals and adventure. It deals with serious subjects such as the inevitable march of time, unavoidable change, and losing those we love, but in a kind way that makes it easy to understand.

Why It Made The List:

Charlotte’s Web is considered children’s literature, but there is a lot of value here for adults as well. The language is simple, but not too simple. This story is written in the third person, with a clear narrative style.

There is a lot of dialog, which provides quality examples of good sentence structure as well as some cultural examples of how English speakers communicate.

This is a pleasant, lighthearted story that draws you in and makes you want to keep reading, which is just the style we’re looking for when it comes to reading for language learning!

Theme: Mystery / Growing Up Story

Quick Summary The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Nighttime is a mystery about the murder of a dog in a small British neighborhood. The story is told from the perspective of a 15-year-old boy, Christopher, who has “some behavioral difficulties”. The character is often described as autistic, but no specific diagnosis is mentioned in the book.

The first-person narrative in this story perfectly captures the main character’s childlike logic and thought processes as he tries to work through solving the mystery of what happened to his neighbor’s dog. Little does he know, the curious incident of the dog is the least of the mysteries he will encounter during his adventures.

This story deals with a wide range of issues including forgiveness, the struggle of growing up, what it’s like to be different, and learning how to navigate difficult relationships.

Why It Made The List:

I chose this book because it is a quality example of first-person storytelling. Because the story is written from the perspective of a young teenager, the language is simple but engaging and often quite humorous.

The vocabulary in this book is much like you would expect, fun but not too complicated. The story takes place in Swindon, England, giving readers a taste of British English which is certainly a plus!

Theme: Serious / Based on True Stories

Quick Summary The House On Mango Street is a collection of vignettes told from the perspective of a 12-year-old Mexican American girl growing up in Chicago. Although this book is a work of fiction, the stories are based on the author’s real-life experiences, making some of the content a bit heavy, but thoroughly engaging.

This short novel covers a year in the life of Esperanza, who is struggling to find her place in the world. The narrative is in the first-person, present tense, so it draws you in right away. As you read you feel as though you’re right there with Esperanza as she deals with the struggles of making and losing friends, going through puberty, and trying desperately to find the light in what seems like an endless tunnel.

This book deals with some very serious subjects such as sexism, racism, sexual assault, and poverty, so it may not be for everyone, but if you’re looking for a rich, meaningful story, do not miss this one.

Why It Made The List:

This book contains 44 vignettes that range from just a couple of paragraphs to a few pages, making it less intimidating than larger chapter books.

The language is simple and straightforward, but still challenging enough that you are sure to learn some new words and sentence structures.

Lastly, this story is thought-provoking in a way that is not often found in such a short and accessible format, making it a must-have for English learners who are looking for more meaningful reading material.

Theme: Educational / Motivational

Quick Summary: With a name like, “Who Moved My Cheese?”, you may be thinking that I am about to suggest another children’s story, but you would be wrong! This is actually a well-known self-help book about how to deal with change in a healthy way.

The information in this book is presented in what initially seems like a silly story about two mice and two Little people. The four characters are in a maze where they are trying to find some cheese. Once they find a stash of cheese, they settle into a routine of repeatedly going back to the same location to get the cheese they need to survive.

Eventually, the cheese runs out and the lesson is found in how the different characters react to the change involved in having to seek out a new cheese stash. This book is deceivingly short and simple. How could a book with less than 100 pages and very simple English change your life? Good question, you’ll have to read it to find out.

Why It Made The List:

This book made it to my list for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it is so short and easy to read that you could easily finish this one in just a couple of hours. Secondly, it has the added benefit of improving your life by teaching you simple ways to better handle change, something we could all benefit from.

Lastly, this book has been translated into approximately 40 languages meaning it is a great pick for those who like to do a side-by-side comparison with their native language.

Theme: Educational / Inspirational

Quick Summary Who Will Cry When You Die? Is the best kind of self-help book: a simple one. This book contains 100 short chapters full of simple life lessons and suggestions for how you can apply those lessons to improve your life.

Sharma is well-known for writing hard-hitting self-help books that get right to the point. In this book he encourages his readers to examine their life through questions like, Who will cry when you die? This may sound a bit morbid, but it doesn’t have to be. Considering questions like this can help you realize who truly matters to you and what you should be spending your precious energy on.

This book uses simple statements to help you examine your life in an uplifting way and encourages you to build on the good things you already have.

Why It Made The List:

Sharma’s writing style is easy to understand, but still slightly challenging. Making this a good choice for those who want to challenge themselves in their daily reading practice.

The short, two to three-page chapters, or lessons, make this a great option for those quick study sessions where you want to read something but don’t have time to get too engrossed.

Lastly, this book is written in an instructional language that is slightly different from the other books on this list, giving readers even more opportunities to learn new vocabulary and grammar.

Theme: Educational

Quick Summary: For those of you who like to do two things at once, why not try practicing your English reading skills by reading about how to write in English? This highly influential book has been helping people improve their English writing skills for over a hundred years and it is still useful today.

This book teaches you about composition and form, commonly misused words, and how to use different writing styles. Best of all, this book is all about how to write simply and clearly, so that your writing is accessible to everyone. Knowing this, you can easily guess how simple this book is for beginner English readers.

The Elements of Style is an extremely short read and is full of useful information. Whether you want to become a writer or simply want a better understanding of English writing styles, this is a must-have.

Why It Made The List:

The summary pretty much tells you all the reasons this book made the list. It is easy to read, short, and educational. Another huge plus is that since it is an older book that has been used in many writing classes, you can find it very inexpensively online and at most used book stores.

Theme: Educational / Entertaining

Quick Summary This book is so well-known that it has almost become a kind of joke in terms of the self-help genre. Do not let this put you off. There is a reason that this book has remained one of the most popular self-improvement books of all time.

This book teaches you exactly what its title implies. Carnegie uses simple language and straight-forward examples to help you become more successful in your social interactions. Of the books on my list, this one is the longest, coming in at about 300 pages, but it is worth the effort.

Not only will plain English and simple sentence structure in this book help you to improve your English, the real-life examples in many of the chapters will give you an inside look at how native English speakers interact. Some of the language is a touch outdated, but not enough to be a hindrance. Overall, this book is sure to improve your reading as well as your communication skills.

Why It Made The List:

I chose this book because of how beneficial it can be overall. With real-life scenarios and quality advice, it has something for everyone.

This book also has a light, entertaining style that is engaging, even if you do not usually enjoy self-help books, there is a good chance you’ll like this one.

Honorable Mentions

As you can guess, the ten books on my list are just a tiny example of all the wonderful easy-to-read books there are to choose from. Just in case that was enough, here is a short list of honorable mentions to add to your “To Be Read” list:

  • Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys These two series’ are some of the best easy-to-read mysteries you will ever find. They are written for young teenagers, so the language is simple, but the plots are awesome!
  • The Harry Potter Series By J.K. Rowling: Does Harry Potter really need explaining? Although the last few books may seem intimidating because they are so long, the language in these books is very simple, making them perfect for English learners!
  • Anything By Agatha Christie: The queen of all English mystery authors, Agatha Christie cannot be beaten for awesome plots and engaging characters. Her books are wonderful for beginners because they are short, easy to read, and impossible to put down!
  • Sherlock Holmes By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Did you know there are 56 Sherlock short stories? All of the stories are easy to read, but intriguing enough to keep you coming back for more. Once you’ve made it through the short stories, there are also four full-length novels that you won’t want to miss.
  • Comic Books! Comic books come in all genres and are probably one of the most overlooked language learning tools! Comics are a great way to ease yourself into reading in English because they are often short, very entertaining, and the visual elements will make the language more memorable.

What Is The Best Book Ever Written In English?

After all these recommendations, you may be wondering: But what is the best book ever written in English? Well, to be honest, there is not a definitive answer to that question. Since books are a form of art and all art is subjective, every person will likely give you a different answer.

Some people would say that it has to be one of the classics, such as Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, or Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Personally, I’m partial to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, but I can’t say that it is the best of all time, I can only say that it is the best to me.

Can we judge by book sales then? Not really, considering the first English book was published in 1473 (It was The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troy, if you were curious) and there is no way to compare book sales from 500 years ago to the mass-produced publications we have now, it would not be an accurate calculation.

We’ll just have to be satisfied knowing that with the millions of English books available to us today, there is surely a ‘best book’ out there for everyone.

Where Can I Read English Novels?

We are so lucky to live in the age of the internet! There is no shortage of places to find low-cost or even free English books to read.

Electronic Books: If you’re looking for English books to read online, there is a wide variety of reading apps available for every platform. Some of these include: Kindle, Google Play Books, iBooks, and many more. Simply go into your chosen app store and search “reading apps”. You’ll be surprised by the number of apps that offer free books. Many libraries also have associated apps that allow you to borrow electronic books for free, such as Hoopla or Libby. Simply check with your local library to get started.

Used Books: I have to say, my absolute favorite way to acquire books is the classic used book store. You can often find books in perfect condition for a fraction of the cost of buying new ones. Don’t live anywhere near a used bookstore? No problem, most thrift stores have a book section. There are also thousands of used booksellers online, such as Abesbook.com.

Your Local Library! In this digital age, too many people are too quick to pass off the library as an outdated institution. This is simply not true. The library is a wonderful place for readers of all levels, especially if you have a limited budget. Looking for English story books to read? Go to the library. Ready to move up to chapter books? Go to the library. The library will save you thousands of dollars while still providing thousands of hours of joy.

Best English Books To Read: Final Thoughts

Reading is one of the best hobbies you could ever take up, especially as a language learner. Books give you access to untold knowledge and unimaginable experiences. With so many books to choose from, you may find it difficult to choose which are the best English books to read, but just keep in mind that the best book for you is the one you enjoy the most!

I hope you have found this list both helpful and inspirational. Now go find a book!

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