Ian Middleton

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A great book for practicing English reading skills.

What’s a good book for practicing English reading skills?

This is a question I often get asked, and my answer is always the same: Notes from a Big Country by Bill Bryson. The main reason I suggest this book is because each chapter is very short, two pages typically. So it’s the kind of book you can pick up and put down easily. It doesn’t take so long to get through a chapter, and each chapter is a story in itself, so there is no need to take time to get into a story. You can easily read a chapter on a bus or train to town or work, or one quick chapter before you go to sleep at night. Essentially, these are a series of short articles taken from a magazine and compiled into one big book.


Bill Bryson is an American writer who came to England as a teenager. He met an English woman and they married, had children and lived for the next 20 years in Yorkshire, northern England. One day though, they decided to move back to America. Now the America that Bill Bryson remembered was not quite the same. Also, he left America as a teenager and was returning as a mature man with a wife and children. His outlook, understandably, had changed. The editor of the Sunday Times Magazine, somehow managed to convince Bill to write a series of articles about life in America after being away for such a long time. As a full time writer and author of several other books, Bill, as he emphasized, really didn’t have the time. However, the editor seemed not to hear this and Bill ended up writing these articles. And thank god he did, because the result is a brilliant, funny and insightful look at American society from a slightly Anglicized American!

Short but sweet

So as I said, this is a great book to practice your English reading skills because not only is each chapter short, and each a story in itself, but most importantly it’s a great read. It’s easy-going, funny and engaging. Reading should be fun, and in order to effectively learn English you need to read things that are fun and interesting. So get your copy here at Amazon.
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