Months ago, I was perusing my friend Martin's bookshelf on a warm night in Buenos Aires. Martin's a native Spanish speaker and enjoys literature, so it ought not have been too surprising that he had "La Idiota" by Dostoyevsky on his shelf. All of his fiction was in Spanish, which surprised me because his English is excellent and there are many wonderful books in English.

All of this triggered a conversation and much thinking, which ended up in a list of files that sat on my desktop. Allow me now to share this list with you.

Here are the books that I would recommend to fluent but non-native English speaker to read in English.

  • Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
  • Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
  • Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • Lolita, Vladimir Nabakov
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
  • Catch 22, Joseph Heller

There are others I could recommend, much of George Orwell and Mark Twain, perhaps some Raymond Chandler or Arthur Conan Doyle. But I think the books above are all excellent books, stylistically and otherwise.