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Reading for Pleasure

Selected resources from the University of Birmingham Library collection to help develop a lifelong love of reading.

Reading to improve English Language Skills

Reading for pleasure can also help to improve your English language skills

Why read?

Reading fiction can be a great way of improving your English language skills. It can help to expand your vocabulary, give you an insight into a particular culture, and help you practice reading in an enjoyable way.
In order to reach a wide audience, fiction will often use simpler language than what is found in academic texts. It also tries to mimic everyday use, particularly speech. 
Depending on what the book is about, you will experience language in a specific context. This can help you to use language appropriately in your everyday life. Therefore, it is worth reading different genres (types) of books such as science fiction, crime, fantasy, and realism. 

What to read?

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Click on the icon above to explore our Resource List that recommends fictional books that are not only a good read but accessible to learners of English.

Here are a couple of our favourites:


Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones: A young girl caught up in a civil war has an important connection with Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations.

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien: A timeless fantasy about hobbits, dwarves and dragons.   


Box of Broadcasts (BoB) is an off-air recording and media archive service covering 65 free-to-air channels from Freeview and Freesat. You can find Box of Broadcasts in the Databases section on FindIt@Bham

Watching programmes is another great (and fun!) way to improve your English language skills and learn about British culture and history.

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Period drama set in Birmingham

Peaky Blinders: Episode One [BBC]

Period crime drama set in 1919 Birmingham. Thomas Shelby controls the Peaky Blinders, one of the city’s most feared criminal organisations, but his ambitions go beyond running the streets. When a crate of guns goes missing, Thomas recognises an opportunity to move up in the world. Watch episode one on our Box of Broadcasts Playlist

{Not suitable for children under 15. Contains Adult themes}

Peaky Blinders Screenshot

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