5 Books for Students Studying English in the UK

For those international students who want to learn a bit more about British literature, culture and identity whilst in the UK, reading is a great way to achieve this. Whether you have just arrived in the UK to start studying or you’re planning on moving within the next few months, we’ve put together a reading list that we think will help students who are studying English in the UK.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol is known as one of the most influential novels ever written in Britain. Charles Dickens invented Christmas as we know it in the Western world making it more than just a Christian holiday. A Christmas Carol is one of Dickens’ most famous novels and includes all the staples of Dickens’ writing. Throughout the book there is a strong social commentary on life in Britain at the time, particularly the working class. But it also includes a lot of humour, strong and memorable characters and a vivid account of life in London during the Victorian era. The book was so influential that it produced another word in the English language: “Scrooge” – a person who is selfish and mean, particularly when it comes to money.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

For someone who is looking to delve into the world of Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey is a good place to start. It’s the shortest of her six novels. It is a coming-of-age story about a young girl who is staying with wealthy neighbours in Bath. With a passion for everything “gothic” related, we follow the girl as she aims to learn more about the world around her. The one difficulty some non-native English speakers may find is understanding Jane Austen’s use of irony throughout the novel. However, once you get used to the tone it’s quite straightforward.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

We’ve included this book in the list, not only because it is a classic, but because of the clear writing style. It is very accessible to those who have English as a second language. Because of this, George Orwell’s famous farmyard-based allegory for Communist Russia is easily understood by all. In fact, George Orwell had a few writing rules that he adhered to: “Never use a long word when a short one will do” and “if it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.”

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Sherlock Holmes mysteries have become cemented in British culture. The stories are internationally famous, and the most well-known Sherlock Holmes novel is The Hound of the Baskervilles. Arthur Conan Doyle wanted to entertain a wide audience with his stories so his books are always written very clearly, meaning even those who don’t have English as their first language can enjoy them.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a great novel for those looking to dip into the horror genre. However, it is often referred to as an early example of science fiction. It tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a grotesque but intelligent creature in a scientific experiment. It’s a classic English novel written in 1818 and readers can get a feel for the English countryside as they work their way through the story. Readers shouldn’t have too much trouble with the text but there are two different narratives within the novel.