Recommended Reading for English Learners
Some English learners like reading classics that have been translated from other languages. This includes poetry, plays, novels and non-fiction. Learners may already have read the books or seen the adapted films in their own language. Since they are familiar with the plot, characters or other content they may find these works enjoyable in English too.
- One Thousand and One Nights (Arabic)
A collection of Asian folk tales.
- The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz (Arabic)
The story of three generations of a Muslim family living in Egypt during the 20th century.
- The Quran (Arabic)
Islam's main religious text.
- Journey to the West by Wu Ch'eng-en (Chinese)
An adventure story about a pilgrimage towards enlightenment.
- Outlaws of the Marsh by Shi Mai'an (Chinese)
A fictional account of the Song Dynasty.
- Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong (Chinese)
A historical novel set during the Han dynasty.
- The Art of War (non-fiction) by Sun Wu (Chinese)
A Chinese military treatise about warfare.
- The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin (Chinese)
An epic about the Han dynasty
- The Tao of Power (non-fiction) by Lao Tzu (Chinese)
A non-fiction classic about the principles of success.
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (Dutch)
A journal by a young girl in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.
- Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne (French)
An adventure story about a Frenchman who tries to circumnavigate the world.
- Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (French)
The story of an ex-convict who tries to change for the good but can't escape his past.
- Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (French)
A doctor's wife tries to escape the emptiness of life.
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (French)
An adventure story about a man who was wrongfully imprisoned.
- The Little Prince by Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry (French)
A novella translated from French. A fallen pilot meets a young prince who has fallen to earth.
- The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (French)
A phantom falls in love with an opera singer at the Paris Opera House.
- The Stranger by Albert Camus (French)
A man struggles with the purpose of human existence after his mother dies.
- All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (German)
About the life of a German soldier after World War I.
- Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann (German)
A play about a man who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for power and knowledge.
- Heidi by Johanna Spyri (German)
A young girl in the Swiss Alps must look after her grandfather.
- The Castle by Franz Kafka (German)
An unfinished novel about a man who tries to gain access to a castle.
- Aesop's Fables credited to Aesop (Greek)
A collection of well-known moral tales.
- Odyssey (poem) by Homer (Greek)
A poem about a Greek hero who takes an epic voyage.
- Oedipus the King (play) by Sophocles (Greek)
A tragedy about a Greek man who fulfils the prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother.
- The Hippocratic Corpus (non-fiction) by Hippocrates (Greek)
A collection of ancient Greek medical texts.
- The Histories (non-fiction) by Herodotus (Greek)
An ancient cultural history book.
- The Republic (philosophy) by Plato (Greek)
A dialogue about justice.
- The Bible (Hebrew and Greek)
The main text of the Christian religion.
- Mahabharata by Ved Vyasa (Indian)
A Sanskrit epic about ancient India.
- My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi (Indian)
The autobiography of Ghandi
- Ramayana by Maharshi Valmiki (Indian)
A Hindu epic about good vs. evil.
- The Puranas by Indian writers (Indian)
Ancient text about religion and the history of the universe.
- Volumes of Poetry by Rabindranath Tagore (Indian)
- If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Valino (Italian)
A frame story about a reader reading a book by this title.
- The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (Italian)
A children's novel about a woodcarver whose puppet comes to life.
- The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (Italian)
A frame story with 100 stories told by a group of seven in a small village.
- The Divine Comedy by Dante (Italian)
An epic poem about Dante's life through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven.
- The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (Italian)
A murder mystery set in an Italian monastery.
- Poetry and Prose by Rumi (Persian)
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Portuguese)
An allegorical novel about a shepherd who has a recurring dream about finding treasure.
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (Russian) An aristocrat returns home to save her brother's marriage before getting involved in her own love affair.
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Russian)
A poor former student tries to justify his crimes and goes delirious trying to hide his guilt.
- Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (Russian)
An epic about the life of Zhivago during World War I and the Revolution in Russia.
- The Master and Margarita Mikhail Bulgakov (Russian)
A story about the Devil visiting the Soviet Union.
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (Russian)
A historical fiction novel about five Russian aristocratic families during the Napoleonic wars.
- Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (Spanish)
The adventures of a man who tries to revive chivalry.
- La Celestina by Fernando de Rojas (Spanish)
A tragic comedy written entirely in dialogue about a young wealthy bachelor and his love affair.
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Spanish)
The story of several generations of a family who found the fictional town of Macondo on a river in South America.