Best Fiction Books For English Learners

Reading English books is a great way to get a grasp of the language. But where do you start? You don’t want to delve into Shakespeare’s collection; most English natives struggle to understand what Shakespeare is on about half of the time. Likewise, you don’t want to read children’s books. You need a middle ground, books that are accessible yet still challenge you.

I’ve listed my top 3 fictions books I recommend to my student’s if they want a gateway to English literature.

Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher
This is a great book for English learners. The story takes place in the present which means the grammar is simple and the book is a quick read. Also, the vocab is easily digestible because the story's told through a teenager’s voice.

But, if you’re looking for a light-hearted read; this book isn’t for you. The book deals with some very heavy issues right from the start. Suicide, bullying and sexual assault are common themes throughout the book. Although it’s a Young Adult novel I think people of all ages can relate. If you have a young person close to you, this book will provide added value as it enacts as a terrifying but realistic glimpse into some of the realities our young people are facing today.  P.S Netflix adapted the book into a series. Currently series one and two are available on Netflix.

Animal Farm, George Orwell
This is a book I read relatively recently which is surprising because it’s one of the greats. Orwell was a journalist, therefore his writing style is very clean, clear and direct. Although he uses a lot of extended metaphors, he doesn’t use complex sentences and overly complicated vocab which makes it pretty accessible for English learners.

On the surface, this is a story about farm life from the animals’ point of view. However, that's just a smoke screen. In truth, Animal Farm is a satirical political allegory that retells the story of the Russian Revolution but within the context of a farm, replacing humans with animals.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
I bet you’ve already read the Harry Potter series in your native language … TWICE. Who doesn’t love HP, right? Reading it in English would be a great first step into the world of English literature. Also, it’s British; so if you want to learn British English this book will introduce you to some UK-specific words and phrases.  

Let us know which books you've recently read!


What You Need to Know About British Summer Weddings

Who doesn't love a good summer wedding? There's only one thing Brits love more than a summer wedding ... and that's a ROYAL summer wedding. Yes, the whole country rallied together for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding in May and collectively held their breaths as the to-be-American-princess stepped out of her car to reveal her gown.

People were having parties up and down the country to celebrate this union of two souls. My Mum even shed a tear watching the couple exchange their vows. Two people she's never met, nor ever will.

There's something powerful about a wedding. And for me, there's nothing better than a summer wedding: sunshine, love and a free bar. What more do you want?

But with a wedding comes certain expectations and traditions. Here are a few things you can expect if you attend a British wedding this summer.

  1. The bride and groom cannot see each other the morning of the wedding as this is seen to be bad luck!
  2. The bride should wear "something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue". This is a tradition that dates back to the Victorians, they did this to bring good luck. Women usually wear a piece of jewellery to represent the 'old and borrowed' and a blue garter (a stocking underneath her dress) to represent the 'new and blue'. 
  3. "The cutting of the cake" - after the ceremony the bride and groom will cut the cake together to symbolise the beginning of them working together as a couple in their marriage.  

Along with traditions, weddings have a whole set of vocab and phrases that are associated with the event. I've listed some of my favourite words and phrases below. 

  • Stag do - a party held for the groom before the wedding (organised by the best man).
  • Hen do - a party held for the bride before the wedding (organised by the bridesmaids). 
  • Getting hitched/tying the knot - a more casual phrase meaning to get married.  
  • Cold feet/ jitters - loss of nerve or confidence often associated with having doubts before the wedding day.
  • Bridezilla - a bride who's behaviour is obsessive or unreasonable when it comes to planning her wedding. 
  • Shotgun wedding - a rushed or quick wedding, often associated with the bride being pregnant.
  • Mr Right/ Mrs Right - the perfect man/woman for you.
  • White wedding - a traditional wedding at a church with the bride wearing a white dress.
  • Always the bridesmaid, never the bride - said about someone who is never the most important person in a situation.

What do weddings look like in your own country? Tell us in the comments!