1. Wonder by R. J. Palacio
The Korean translation of this book is also entitled “Wonder”, and a movie of the same name was also released. The author of Wonder, R. J. Palacio, pours his own experiences into the novel. In the particular case of this novel, he went to an ice cream shop with two children, where they came across a girl with a severe facial deformity. The children cried loudly and ran away, and the incident inspired him to write the novel. It is classified as children’s literature, so even beginner level English learners can read it easily. Still, the content is both mature and heartwarming. After reading the novel, you can’t help but feel touched.
- Genre: Children’s Literature
- Publication Date: February 14, 2012
- Difficulty: ☆☆☆☆
- Plot: The main character, August or “Auggie”, was born with a facial deformity disorder. He underwent 27 plastic surgeries and, with the support of his family, goes to school at the age of 10. However, he is not able to adapt to school life easily and is teased by others. Nevertheless, he manages to become friends with Jack. Auggie has a change of heart when he hears Jack gossip about him, but soon they clear up the misunderstanding and become true friends. Julian is punished for constantly bullying Auggie, and his schoolmates gradually open up to Auggie. Auggie eventually learns to communicate with his friends honestly and adjusts to school life.
2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
As the first installment in the Harry Potter series, the story first introduced us to Harry Potter and a magical world. Since it is a story that is already well known for its film adaptation, it is not difficult to read the book itself. It is appropriate for studying English because the story deals with a magical world, making it fun and fascinating. So once you start reading, you have no choice but to read to the end. However, the author, J.K. Rowling, is British, so there may be unfamiliar English words and expressions used throughout the novel. In addition, there may be several characters who do not appear in the movie, which may get confusing.
- Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
- Publication Date: June 26, 1997
- Difficulty: ☆☆☆★★
- Plot: This is the story of Harry Potter, a boy whose parents were murdered by dark magic when he was born. Unaware of his true nature as a wizard, he was raised by his uncle and aunt as an ordinary Muggle (normal people who cannot use magic). However, that all changes when he is suddenly thrust into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. At Hogwarts, he meets Ron and Hermione, who become Harry’s friends, and he inherits the enormous fortune his parents left him in the wizarding world. He later obtains the Philosopher’s Stone, which the Dark Lord Voldemort tries to take for himself. In the end, Harry saves himself from Voldemort without giving in to the temptation of using the Philosopher’s Stone.
3. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
This is a book that will make you reflect on the meaning of life and why you should live. The multiverse, a concept that become popular nowadays, makes an appearance here and makes it fun to read. It is said that a film adaptation is in the works now. Similar to the Korean novel, “Dallergut Dream Department Store,” the story largely takes place within dreams and fantasies. The book shows that we have many regrets in life, but in the end we cannot find any peace even if we try to go back to the moments that caused our regret. A Korean translation has also been published, so you can read them together.
- Publication Date: August 13, 2020
- Difficulty: ☆☆☆★★
- Plot: Nora Sid feels dissatisfied with her life and attempts to commit suicide at her home, but when she opens her eyes she finds herself in a place filled with mist. There is a library the size of a small supermarket, and a clock that is stuck at 00:00:00. Inside the library, which is full of green books, is Mrs. Elm, the librarian. In this place, Mrs. Elm can read Nora’s thoughts, and she informs Nora that she is now in Noragawa, a place caught between life and death. She calls the place the ‘Midnight Library,’ and she says the books in the Midnight Library show all the other lives one could have lived. So, when you open the book, you experience another life where you made a different choice from the one you made in your original life. After experiencing these various lives, Nora eventually discovers that her original life is in fact the happiest and most valuable, and as her library collapses, Nora returns to reality and feels at peace with it.
4. The Passenger by John Marrs
The trolley dilemma is the main theme of this novel. At first you may be indifferent to the eight hostages when you view them from a distance, but the more you read about the story of each of them, the more you can’t bear the idea of sacrificing any of them. There are a lot of characters, so it may not be easy to follow the story, but the storyline is well crafted. There is also a huge twist, so you have to read it to the very end. It’s a pretty long book, so after reading it, you’ll swell up with pride!
- Genre: Mystery / Thriller
- Publication Date: April 1, 2019
- Difficulty: ☆☆★★★★
- Plot: Libby Dixon, who is part of a jury in a trial dealing with various issues related to self-driving cars, is confronted by a situation in which eight seemingly random people are held hostage by eight self-driving cars. Among them is, Jude, whom she fell in love with at first sight. The eight hostages are headed towards an unknown destination, trapped in an autonomous vehicle. The mastermind, who is pulling the strings behind a computer screen, grabbed the world’s attention through social media. She asks the jurors to decide which of the hostages to kill by voting. To make the decision, they will be given a chance to interview the eight people for a short period of time, and eventually the hostages will be sacrificed one after the other.
5**. A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backmand**
Not only has the book already been adapted into a movie of the same name, but a Korean translation has also been published, both of which can help you while reading the English original. Although it is a Swedish novel published in 2012, it is both strange and fascinating to see that the main character, Ove, who can simply represent a older generation in modern days. The book can be a little confusing because it features so many characters, any by turn names, many of whom are simply side characters. Nevertheless, you can definitely see why many people consider this a must-read, as you can experience the comfort and emotions of living within a community in the book.
- Genre: Drama
- Publication Date: August 27, 2012
- Difficulty: ☆★★★★
- Plot: The main character of the plot, Ove, no longer has the will to live after his wife Sonya’s death. He resolves to commit suicide, but every time he tries a situation arises that needs Ove’s intervention. He helps fix his neighbor Patrick’s car, takes care of a cat with nowhere to go, and even saves somebody who was about to be run over by a train. Ove is a cranky curmudgeon, but he still manages his own affairs in a frank manner, and he keeps delaying his death to help others.
I’ve looked at books that range from easy to difficult. I’ve been trying really hard to read English novels, but I can’t tell if my English has really improved or not. Don’t you get upset when you get that feeling?
While reading English novel, here are some simple tips to help you overcome the obstacle of studying English. You can even kill two birds with one stone using these tips!
1. Read together (via Reading Club or Book Club, etc.)
It’s easy to give up halfway when reading alone, right? Find friends to read English novels together, or apply for various book clubs that are already in service. These days, English book clubs are becoming more and more popular in everywhere. If you are having a hard time finding a reading mate, try to find some in AmazingTalker (화상영어)!
2. Don’t look up every word while you’re reading!
When I first started reading a document, I kept a dictionary next to me and looked up words I didn’t know right away. However, over time I found that it was difficult to keep track of the novel’s plot, and I began to wonder if I was reading a novel or just looking up English words.
So, when you come across a word you don’t know, focus on the story by looking at the context or sentence as a whole, and then try inferring the meaning of the words! If a word you don’t know appears over and over again, that word is probably important to the story, so just look up the meaning of one or two of these important words! If you read this way, you can quickly immerse yourself in the book and study while reading English novels.
3. Read the same book over and over again!
Select some of the books you liked best and read them over and over again. Then, you will be able to study English and discover new meanings hidden within the text!
4. Use translations, movies, dramas, and more!
What if you started off really trying to read English novels but still can’t understand anything? Don’t give up, and refer to the translated version in your native language or a movie/drama based on the novel. If you know the storyline to some extent, then reading in English will become far less difficult.
5. Use audiobooks!
Try to read the novel while listening to an audiobook version of it, which can easily be purchased online. You’ll be able to learn how to pronounce words you didn’t know, intonations, and more! I will introduce you to a site where you can purchase English application audiobooks.
6. Read it aloud!
If you read an English novel aloud, you can naturally practice speaking and pronunciation in English! In particular, since novels contain a lot of colloquial and conversational expressions, you can learn expressions that can be used in real life. Use simple and easy tips to read English novels together and develop your English skills!