Why you need to read books in English!

Do you read books in English?

Can reading books in English be as useful for your English as watching comedy series?

I love reading. I love to become part of a different word, time or character. There are some difficult words that I learnt from reading and later had to find out how to pronounce them.  There are hardback* books, paperback* books and e-books*!

Today I’ll be writing about these areas with vocabulary notes in purple:

  1. The advantages of reading in English.
  2. How to choose a book for your level.
  3. Genres/kinds of books.
  4. Practice of the Second Conditional.
  5. Book Clubs.
  6. How to talk about a good/bad book.
  7. Recommended Books.
  8. Listening comprehension with a great talk about book design.
  9. An audiobook – 1984.
  10. A reading challenge.
  11. A quiz on this week’s vocabulary.
  12. The answers to last weeks Air travel quiz.

Vocabulary: Hardback book = a book with a rigid cover. Paperback book = a book with a flexible card or paper cover. e-book = an electronic device to read books.


Advantages/ benefits of reading in English for students of English

It has been shown that reading in English helps many different aspects of your English. Some of these benefits are:

  • Seeing in context the phrasal verbs, dependant prepositions, vocabulary and normal collocations.
  • Improved ability at doing Use of English exercises in English exams.
  • Faster reading in general.
  • Better reading comprehension skills and strategies.
  • Better language confidence.
  • Increased vocabulary knowledge.
  • Improved writing in English.
  • Increase in general English level – including listening skills.
  • Improved speaking fluency and accuracy.
  • Better attitude and motivation to learning.
  • More enjoyable bus rides!


Click here to read the paper by Richard R. Day on this subject.

How to Choose a book for your level

There are special books which are graded books which means they are re-written to be suitable* for lower levels. I think as your level gets higher, it is more fun to try to read normal books the way they are. When you are trying to decide which book to choose in the library or bookshop there is a useful rule to follow.

Open the book at a random* page, now, on one page count the number of words you don’t understand.

  • If you understand every word – Well done! The book is ok for you.
  • If you don’t understand 1 or 2 words = it is ok for you, work on figuring out* meaning from context.
  • If you don’t understand 3 words = it is ok for you if you are willing* to guess the meanings from context and perhaps use a dictionary occasionally.
  • If you don’t understand 4 words = it will be a challenge, but if you are ready for a challenge – try it!
  • If you don’t understand 5 words = it may be more hard work than enjoyment. And perhaps you will lose interest*. Try it if you like but it could be too hard to read.
  • If you don’t understand more than 5 words per page = probably the book level is too hard for you to enjoy.

Vocab:  suitable = appropriate for, right for.  random = any, selected without thought.  to figure out = to calculate, guess. to be willing = to be ready to.  to lose interest = to stop being interested.

Kinds of books

We can say kinds, types or genres of books and it means the same. These are mainly fiction genres but there are non-fiction books too.

fiction = not real, invented. E.g. Alice In Wonderland, The Jungle Book.

non-fiction = real eg. A biography, a history book.


Book genres


If your life was a book, what kind would it be?


Book genre question, kimgriffithsenglish

Remember the Second conditional?

If + past simple, would + infinitive verb.

If my life were a book, it would be a comedy!


Book Clubs

In England Book Clubs are very popular. They are groups of people who meet to talk about a specific book they have all read in the previous weeks. They say what they liked, didn’t like and their opinions of the book. The choice of book is usually decided within* the group.  They often have their meetings at libraries, bookshops and in community centers. It is a social activity as well as an intellectual meeting. If you feel like joining a book club you could go to your local bookshop or library and ask if there is a local club. Even in non English speaking countries here maybe book clubs at English bookshops or possibly at local English schools.

Here are some of the kind of questions they talk about at book clubs.

Book club questions

Describing a good book, Kim Griffiths English

Describing a bad book, Kim Griffiths English


Recommended reading!



A hundred books recommended by the Guardian paper.

Click here to visit the Guardian article and list.

Have you read any of these books? In your language or in English?

Listening Comprehension


Do you choose your books depending on the jacket*, dust cover* or cover? A lot of work goes into those design and the cover of the book can almost make or break* a new book!

In this great and funny talk by Chip Kidd he talks about his work designing books. He designed the Jurassic Park book cover so I think you are familiar with his work even though you didn’t know it!

Click here to watch Chip Kidd’s talk on Tedtalks

Vocab:  book jacket = book cover. Book dust cover = the extra paper around the book cover to protect the book’s cover. To make or break something = to make it successful or unsuccesful.


Try an audiobook!


1984 by George Orwell is a classic! It is about how someone thought the future could be. Some of the ideas unfortunately seem closer and closer now.

This is on YouTube, the full book divided into 3. They have put the page they are reading from on the screen so you can read along too! Which is brilliant if you find it difficult.

Click here to see the YouTube audiobook 1984 part 1

Click here for the second of three parts of the audiobook 1984

Click here for the third and last part of the audio book 1984

Book reading challenge

Book challenge. Kim Griffiths English


Last weeks quiz on Air travel answers

Click here to visit the post and quiz

Air travel quiz Key. Kim Griffiths English

This week’s Book genres and descriptions Quiz

Describing books and genres Quiz. Kim Griffiths English


Now, to answer the first question I have asked today. Yes, reading can improve your English as much, if not more than watching TV comedies.  However, I recommend doing both – but not at the same time!

Well, that’s all for now! There is a lot more vocabulary related to books and in the future I’ll write more.

If you have any questions or comments please put them in the comments below.

Also, tell me your favourite book in the comments please 😃

See you soon!









About Kim Griffiths

Hello, I'm Kim. I'm a qualified English ESL teacher with a CELTA A qualification and I have over 25 years of experience teaching English to non-native speakers. I love teaching! I also write about English, sing jazz, paint and make things.

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