Good Books for EFL Students
It's not at all fashionable to like books, but we don't care. We like books. It's not much of an exaggeration to say that some of our best friends are books.
If you have the time and the inclination to see what amazing things have been written in English but are not sure where to start, we have a few recommendations. Of course everything depends on your tastes and your outlook on life. Personally, I'm not into Harry Potter books, but millions of readers disagree. If you like books about schools for wizards with boy heroes that slay monsters, read them - they'll be fun and they'll do wonders for your English.
The books below are ones that we have enjoyed.
"The Confessions of Georgia Nicholson" Louise Rennison
Louise Rennison's books are great for teenagers who are more interested in what's going on in the darker corners of their classmates' parties than in boy wizards flying around on broomsticks. She writes in a beautifully British chatty style using lots of gorgeous English words like "snog" (which means "kiss"). She says some great things to raise the spirits of young people for whom growing up and getting what you want are not the easiest things in the world.
"A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" Dave Eggers
Eggers tells the story of how he and his little brother, Toph, set off across America, wounded but liberated, after their parents died. The title might seem arrogant, but it is in fact true. A story which is, in turns, funny, sad, impressive, uplifting, and written with the strong language of someone who has been kicked, but who refuses to lie down and suffer.
"Catch 22" Joseph Keller
A humorous book about war for people who would never think about reading a war story. With his witty dialogue and commentary Heller brings out all the craziness not only of war but also of life generally, and also a massively touching description of a young life lost in the line of duty. An unforgettable book that added a new phrase to the English language.
"Hey Nostradamus" Douglas Coupland
If you've read our little piece on the Columbine High School massacre you will want to go deeper into the lives of those involved. "Hey Nostrodamus" is a work of fiction but it is based on the massacre. It tells the stories of a girl who got shot and the boyfriend who tried to save her life. Another book written in a very accessible style of English.
"Catcher in the Rye" J D Salinger
The classic story of the teenage boy - Holden Caulfield - who is sick of the insincerity, the falseness and the heartlessness he sees around him. The first story of a teenager who turned his baseball cap around the wrong way, got fed up with all the nonsense and dropped out. A story that continues to be powerful and relevant despite the years that have passed since it was first published.
"The Prodigy" Herman Hesse
Anyone who feels they are under pressure at school or remembers feeling that way must read this book. The story of what can happen when a child is put under too much pressure to succeed. Hesse's plea for sanity in education.
"A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" Douglas Adams
A cult book - very funny and very popular - about strange forms of life on planet earth and in other corners of the universe. Adams has a great imagination and a talent for making the ordinary seem hilariously bizarre. The whole story builds up to the big question about the meaning of life. Find out what the answer is.