Novel Recommendations for ESL 272 StudentsESL 272 Book Recommendations
If you have completed my ESL 272 class, you should feel proud of yourself for finishing a substantial novel like Fried Green Tomatoes. I hope you will stay motivated and keep readings more books in English.
Below is a list of books that I recommend to you because they are at an appropriate level for you, now that you have completed ESL 272. I tried to pick some books that share the same themes as FGT because it will be easy for you to relate to those themes. If you are interested in a book, I recommend you check out the reviews on Amazon before you buy the book. Most of the descriptions of the books come from Amazon.
I hope you find some treasures here. Keep in touch and let me know if you read one of these books and what you think.
Books I Highly Recommend:
The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd
Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the unclear memory of the day her mother died. When Lily's fierce-hearted "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's fiercest racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. Review from Amazon.com
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, by Dai Sijie
A story of two hapless city boys exiled to a remote mountain village for re-education during China’s infamous Cultural Revolution. There, the two friends meet the daughter of the local tailor and discover a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation. As they flirt with the seamstress and secretly devour these banned works, the two friends find transit from their grim surroundings to worlds they never imagined. Review from Amazon.com
Blessings, by Anna Quindlen (the author of the story we read “Gay.” This book is easier than FGT)
In this tale, a teenaged couple abandons their newborn baby at the garage door of “Blessings” an estate inhabited by the wealthy Lydia Blessing, with the hope that she will have a better life here. However, it’s Lydia’s young handyman, Skip Cuddy, who finds the baby and decides to raise her as his own. The arrival of the baby changes the lives of everyone who grows to love her. This is a story about loss and regrets as well as hope and love. Review from Amazon.com
The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
When we first meet the main character of this novel, Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. Through Susie’s eyes, we learn about her murder, her family’s healing after her death, and her new home in heaven. This story is a page turner! You will want to keep reading until the end.
The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who's telling the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Amy Tan explores the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. Review from amazon.com
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (my number one favorite)
Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus—three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, justice, and the pain of growing up. Review from Amazon.com
This is a great novel, one of my favorites, but it’s not always easy to read. However, you will find similarities with Fried Green Tomatoes, which will make it easier to understand. For help with vocabulary and historical/cultural references, check the links on my website for this book.
Harry Potter series: I also recommend all of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling. I love these stories, and you will have fun reading them. They are especially great if you have children and you can read them to your kids, but they are just as fun and interesting for us adults.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett The Help is about a young white woman in the early 1960s in Mississippi who becomes interested in the plight of the black ladies' maids that every family has working for them. She writes their stories about mistreatment, abuse and heartbreaks of working in white families' homes, all just before the Civil Rights revolution. Review from Amazon.com
Water for Elephants by Sue Gruen This novel (soon to be a movie) is set during The Great Depression (sound familiar). The story follows an old man in a nursing home who reflects back on his life as a veterinarian for a circus. There is a big secret in this story and you can’t wait to read the end and find out who did it. Very satisfying read!
A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg (yes, same author of FGT) If you are interested in a short, funny heartwarming story set in the South again by Fannie Flagg, this is the book for you. It’s a sweet story about a man who goes to a small Southern town to die peacefully, but what he finds there awakens his soul and brings back his will to live.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini This is one of the more difficult readings on this list, but sooooo worth it. One of the most amazing books I have ever read. But be prepared for some heartbreak! The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend idyllic days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever, and eventually cements their bond in ways neither boy could have ever predicted. Even after Amir and his father flee to America, Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty. In part, it is these demons and the sometimes impossible quest for forgiveness that bring him back to his war-torn native land after it comes under Taliban rule. Review from Amazon.com