6 Books for TEFL teachers this summer

Passport? Check. Wallet? Check. An engaging, wonderfully written, piece of prose that will transport me to another world, that will take me on a journey of emotions and ideas and, ultimately, leave me feeling both satisfied and exhilarated? Umm…

Oh dear… It’s a good job we’re here to help you pack one of the essentials – a great holiday read!

Here are six diverse titles, all connected by protagonists who work as English teachers abroad! Whether you’re in the mood for a something dark and gritty, romantic, or suspenseful, each book offers something different, so hopefully you’ll find something to your taste that you can pop in your hand luggage.

A book being read on a sandy beach

Necessary Errors, Caleb Crain, 2013

Set a year after the 1989 Velvet Revolution, Necessary Errors’ protagonist, Jacob Putnam, is a Harvard graduate who has taken a job as a TEFL teacher in Prague. Jacob and his vibrant social circle of expatriates experience a beautiful city undergoing radical change as the country transitions from communism. Necessary Errors is a rich evocation of life as an English-speaking expat in the Czech Republic during a pivotal and historic time.

Plum Wine, Angela Davis-Gardner, 2006

Set in 1960s Japan, Barbara Jefferson is an English teacher at a university in Tokyo. When her mentor, Hiroshima survivor Michiko Nakamoto, dies she leaves Barbara bottles of homemade plum wine but in the rice paper wrapping of each bottle is written a portion of Michiko’s life. With the help and companionship of pottery artist, Seiji, she sets out to uncover the mystery of Michiko’s life and the legacy of Hiroshima.

What Belongs to You, Garth Greenwell, 2016

The acclaimed debut novel from Garth Greenwell was described by Guardian critic, Andrew Solomon, as being “the best first novel I’ve read in a generation”. A tale of sexual obsession, What Belongs to You follows a TEFL teacher in Sofia who forms an intense relationship with a young male sex worker that forces him to grapple with past demons. Other critics have called it “hauntingly beautiful”, “devastating”, and “unsettling”; if you’re in the market for something gritty and exquisitely written, What Belongs to You, should be right up your street.

Bookshelves illuminated by hanging lightbulbs

Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell, 1933

Orwell’s first full-length work is a memoir documenting the author’s experience of destitution in Paris and London. The narrator had been teaching English in Paris, which had provided a scant income, but the work dries up and his savings are stolen, which leaves him penniless and hungry. He finds causal work in up-market hotels where the kitchens are squalid and the working conditions abysmal. After several weeks of misery, he travels to London in hope of a prospective job arranged through a friend – but things aren’t quite so straightforward.

The English Teacher, Yiftach Reicher Atir, 2013

This psychological spy-thriller is sure to capture the imagination of fans of John Le Carre and viewers of Homeland. Rachel Goldschmitt, an English teacher and retired ex-Mossad operative, empties her bank account and disappears after the death of her father in England, which raises alarm with Mossad, who set out to find her – and find her fast.  Her former handler, Ehud, leads the investigation, coming to question whether he really knew his agent at all.

Cara Massimina, Tim Parks, 1990

Booker-nominated Tim Parks gives us the story of Morris Duckworth, an English teacher in Verona who devises a sordid plan to get rich, which involves marrying one of his 17-year-old students. Unfortunately for Morris, the mother is entirely opposed to the match, so he convinces Massimina to elope with him and starts sending ransom notes to her family – and so the nightmare begins. Cara Massimina is the first comic thriller in the trilogy of novels that follow Morris’ psychopathic antics, which are both appalling and hilarious.

Do you know of any other books featuring EFL teachers? Let us know, we would love to hear your suggestions!

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