If you are one of those people that love to curl up on a couch with a blanket and read, you might like the idea that you can entertain yourself with a book while improving your English skills. I know it can be intimidating to start reading in another language, but it’s quite helpful in order to read dialogue, learn vocabulary and idioms, and see the word order of sentences, which will help you produce the language more easily. Also, it can help you slowly learn everyday conversations, because you’ll be reading the dialogue instead of trying to catch the words you’re hearing in real life or on TV. To help ESL learners, we collected the best English books to read for fun and learn English.

English CEFR Levels & Reading Levels

It is not easy to know your English level. If you’re not sure, learn more about the different levels and maybe take an English test, like the TOEFL for college or TOEIC for business English. If you’re not quite sure about the level or what these tests are, we have a blog that contains the perfect guide to language level tests.

If you don’t want to spend the time to learn your CEFR level, that’s not a big deal either. Just read the first few pages of the book on Amazon and see if you understand about 70%.

How to Read Books in English & Learn New Vocabulary

Before reading our list of suggested English books by CEFR level, scan our suggestions on how to learn while reading books in English.

  • Do NOT look up every word you don’t know.
  • DO keep reading even if you’re not sure what’s going on completely. If you even understand 50%, just keep going.
  • If you REALLY don’t know what’s going on, start looking up a few words to know what’s happening, and continue reading.
  • Just keep going. After you finish your first book in English, you will be more confident and learn more vocabulary for the next one. Most best-selling books will use the same English words quite often. This repetition will ensure you learn these commonly used words.

Complete Beginner Level A1 English Book

If you are brand new to the English language (A1 level – about 150 hours of speaking practice or classes) and only know basic words and phrases, this book will help you improve while understanding the story.

The Mystery of the Dark Lighthouse by Laura E. Williams.
This is a children’s book, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t enjoy it. No matter your age, children’s literature is always good to start your new language journey. Children’s books in English are easy but contain enough challenges for you to grow. Make sure not to focus on special words that might not be used on a daily basis. Instead, underline the words that come up again and again.

The story revolves around two siblings that live in a lighthouse. One day, scary things start happening and they try to figure out why. This book is entertaining, especially if you like a mystery. It will teach you new words and English phrases. And don’t worry, it’s not too scary. If you enjoy it, you can move on to another book in the 6-book collection. Note: they don’t have to be read in numerical order to enjoy them. It’s very intriguing because it includes pages to write down your clues when you try to solve the case.

Beginner Level A2 English Book

Now it’s time to start expressing yourself as you do in your native language.

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham.
She is an actress and this is her autobiography. What we like about it is the fast tone and that it truly has her personality printed in it: fun and chill. Her writing style makes you feel like you’re talking to a friend. This will help you elevate your conversational skills, which is how we spend most of our time, even if we use English for business purposes. You’ve got to chat with your coworkers outside of meetings to build your relationship, right?

In this book, you’ll also learn to introduce yourself in a way that is not quite so ‘English textbook.’ She doesn’t go into very philosophical views, which makes it easier for a CEFR A2 level student.

Intermediate Level B1 English Books

Now, it’s time to get better in every aspect of the language. You already know the basic words for everyday life, but you have to boost your vocabulary even more so you can understand English speakers even better – at work, with friends, on TV sitcoms, on the news, in newspapers, and in other books.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
This is a common teacher’s pick and one we would suggest for this level B1 of English. Yes, this is another children’s book, but again, we want to really solidify the basic English vocabulary that is used daily. It’s entertaining, even for adults, so don’t get skeptical. Since the book has a lot of humor in it, you might find yourself laughing out loud every now and then.

This is the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians saga. It is about Percy, a kid that discovers that he is a demigod and suddenly crazy adventures start happening in his life. He will have to go to a camp for other demigods. There, he will be entrusted to go on a trip to find Zeus’s stolen bolt. This is a fantasy book about Greek mythology; therefore, it will enhance your cultural vocabulary. It will also teach you about different styles of conversation: informal, because it has a lot of dialogues among friends; formal and refined, because of the Oracle and some mythical creatures. It’s important to learn a mix of formal and informal English, especially if you’ve only learned English in a formal classroom with English textbooks.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Another book slightly above Intermediate (B1) English level, is a debut novel about four people that live in the same town. They all face different problems and have different perspectives about life: from pessimistic to optimistic. It is very emotional and beautifully written. It might be repetitive at times, but that will help your reading comprehension. It will also sharpen your description abilities, as it has many poetic portraits of people, music, moments, and landscapes.

Advanced Level B2 Books for English Learners

Now that you understand most of the English you read and hear (B2 level), you can discuss things with native speakers and express your own ideas. At this point, you can probably work in English or have English-speaking friends and colleagues fairly easily, but there’s always room for improvement. You probably couldn’t lead the meetings easily, or follow the whole conversation at a dinner party with more than one friend talking at a time.

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
This is an advanced-level English book that will most certainly take you to the next level. This is an essay in which Woolf explains her views about women’s rights to be creative or to create and the issues that come with that. You can agree or disagree with her thoughts, and this type of critical thinking in English will only help you communicate at your job, with coworkers, and with clients. Reading this essay will help raise your confidence in English, giving you the courage to express yourself at dinners and in meetings. The structure and content of this kind of text will improve your writing skills and your logical thinking, as well. Woolf is a famous writer that will challenge your ideas and improve your English.

The Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath
Poetry is another way to push yourself in your second language. People tend to think poetry is not as important as other genres; nonetheless, it can help you with your more advanced English vocabulary: it will also help you learn figurative expressions. Poems can also help you with the rhythm of the language, which can help with intonation and pronunciation. You can choose one poem or a collection of poems by Plath. She also wrote one fiction book that will also do the trick.

The Benefits of Reading in English to Increase Your Vocabulary

No matter the author, the title, or the genre, every book you read will help you increase your vocabulary, from basic words to cultural and business terminology. It will also help you with your reading comprehension and writing skills, which will benefit you in your English classes or your work meetings in English. When you talk at school or at work, you will be better equipped to express your thoughts and defend your opinion. Reading English books can also improve your conversation skills – with the dialogues, you will learn how to properly express yourself in different situations, formal and informal. Plus, if you read out loud, your pronunciation can get better, therefore the confidence in how you express yourself will increase. As you can see, the benefits of reading in another language are enormous and will help you in everyday situations.

If you’re interested in improving your English language skills, you can try a class with one of our private tutors for just $35. Choose an English teacher, a time on their calendar, and get started today!