Today, there’s entertainment everywhere you look. You can watch the latest show on Netflix at any time. Why would you need to read a book?
Simply, because it’s better for you! If you want to know the power that a good book can have, the American professor Mason Cooley said that ‘reading gives us somewhere to go, when we have to stay where we are’. Books can make us feel like we’re living a life different to our own, and, especially at a time when we’re all trapped in our homes, can transport us somewhere else. Now more than ever, reading is important to our mental health.
Did we mention it’s also very valuable for a student of English? Books are full of new vocabulary, and reading is scientifically proven to improve both your vocabulary and your level of empathy – this means how sensitive you are to other peoples’ feelings and experiences.
If you want to get a head start on your English reading, here are six books that you can read to improve your English. Don’t worry – there are no spoilers here!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
The younger you start reading, the better! This classic book is written for children, but could also be a good reading exercise for beginner students. It tells the simple story of a hungry caterpillar, who eats a great number of things : including a slice of cherry pie, a sausage and a cupcake! Eventually he gets tired and goes into his cocoon to fall asleep – you’ll have to read it to find out what happens next!
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
This book from Afghan author Khaled Hosseini tells the story of Amir and Hassan, two boys from Afghanistan, who are separated by political events and revolution in their war-torn country. Amir is able to escape to the United States with his family, but Hassan is not. Later, an adult Amir must return to Afghanistan to find Hassan and his family, and to make amends for his past. The book is a moving story of friendship and redemption.
The Lord Of The Rings – J.R.R Tolkien
A more challenging read for more advanced students, this epic fantasy story is too big for one book – it’s split into three! A small hobbit (a small, human-like creature), Frodo Baggins, has the task of taking a great and powerful magic ring to a dangerous place, to destroy it for good and save the world from the dark lord Sauron! It’s about the fight between good and evil, and the significant things that even small people can do.
Animal Farm – George Orwell
What if the animals on a farm all took control of the place? In this story from British author George Orwell, the animals on Manor Farm, tired of being abused by the farmer, take over the farm in a revolution. But, although this sounds like a funny situation, the book is not a comedy. As the story goes on, the animals, particularly the pigs, are changed by their new authority in a powerful cautionary tale of the corrupting effect of power!
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Attwood
This story from Canadian author and poet Margaret Attwood is a dystopian story – this means it imagines a future where things have gone wrong! In the story, the United States has become the Republic of Gilead – a dictatorship which is controlled by extreme religion, and women have very few human rights. Offred, a female servant in this country, must make her way under a cruel and oppressive system. It’s another chilling cautionary tale, but this time from a feminist view.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
How would you feel if you were the last human being left alive after the Earth exploded? This book from British author Douglas Adams tells the story of Arthur Dent, a man who survives the destruction of Earth, thanks to his friend Ford Prefect (also an alien). The two of them must now travel together in a huge and unfamiliar universe, meeting all kinds of strange aliens and people, with the ever-nervous Arthur always out of his comfort zone! It’s a touching story of human survival and resilience, which is also hilarious!
So, do any of these books interest you? Before you pull them out of your shelves, why don’t you take the chance to practise your English with the exercise below!
Find the bold words in the text which match the descriptions.
- Something you haven’t seen before (adjective)
- Something that makes you scared and worried (adjective)
- When you learn what happens in a book before reading it! (noun)
- Being able to deal with difficult things (noun)
- Something that makes people act in the worst way they can (adjective)
- Important and meaningful (adjective)
- A system where one person has complete power (noun)
- When you’re uncomfortable doing something you haven’t done before – (adjectival phrase)
- Destroyed by war (adjective)
- To make it right when you do something wrong (verb phrase)
- A story that that tells you how to avoid things going wrong (noun, 2 words)
- An important, difficult job (noun)
- Making yourself free from the bad things you’ve done (noun)
- Very funny (adjective)
- Something you haven’t seen before (adjective) – unfamiliar
- Something that makes you scared and worried (adjective) – chilling
- When you learn what happens in a book before reading it! (noun) – spoiler
- Being able to deal with difficult things (noun) – resilience
- Something that makes people act in the worst way they can (adjective) – corrupting
- Important and meaningful (adjective) – significant
- A system where one person has complete power (noun) – dictatorship
- When you’re uncomfortable doing something you haven’t done before – (adjectival phrase) – out of your comfort zone
- Destroyed by war (adjective) – war-torn
- To make it right when you do something wrong (verb phrase) – to make amends
- A story that that tells you how to avoid things going wrong (noun, 2 words) – cautionary tale
- An important, difficult job (noun) – task
- Making yourself free from the bad things you’ve done (noun) – redemption
- Very funny (adjective) – hilarious