English Reading List
Cool Reads for Cool Teens
READING KEY: * = enjoyable reading; ***** = enjoyable but challenging
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time* by Mark Haddon
A murdered dog, a 15-year-old boy, a broken family… leads to a very unusual detective adventure story with a twist. The 'detective' is a fifteen year-old youth who will capture your interest from page one. If you enjoy this, move on to Vernon God Little** by the curiously named DBC Pierre; this has been likened to the The Osbournes inviting The Simpsons round for root beer!
The Life of Pi** by Yann Martell
Yann Martell will tempt you to ponder big issues as you accompany an orangutan, zebra, tiger, and a sixteen-year-old Indian boy trapped in a lifeboat adrift on the Pacific Ocean… this is a wackily imaginative yet thought-provoking adventure story that is also, at times, rather gruesome and disturbing.
Do try Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees** if you enjoyed having your thoughts provoked by this author!
Lord of the Flies*** by William Golding
A plane crashes on a desert island; all adults are killed; a group of teenage boys are forced to survive alone... all hell breaks loose. A disturbing tale and a modern classic from one of our acknowledged best writers. If you enjoy this move on to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness****.
Brighton Rock**** by Graham Greene
Sunny Brighton as you’ve never known it: a subtle and dark view of life in violent gangland. A modern classic from one of the undoubted g-r-e-a-t-s of British mid-20th Century fiction. You might easily find yourself hooked on Greene's brilliant writing and want to try others from this same author - The Heart of the Matter****, The Quiet American**** or his acknowledged masterpiece, The Power and the Glory**** certainly won't disappoint.
The Godfather*** by Mario Puzo
A big, fast-paced story about the Corleone family and their mafia lifestyle. Exciting reading that grips and entertains. Make sure you see the three films, too – fantastic entertainment. If you liked reading this, try Puzo’s Omerta*** , another absolutely five-star crime story.
The Lovely Bones** by Alice Sebold
A murdered girl looks back on her family as they try to cope and uncover her murderer. Totally gripping! If you enjoy harrowing autobiographical stories you'll want to read this author's other popular novel, Lucky** - adult themes in both stories but both equally gripping and moving.
Fever Pitch* by Nick Hornby
A football obsessed bloke deals with relationships and life. Still a top seller. If you like this one, you’ll love Hornby’s other best seller, the “guy’s novel”, High Fidelity* .
Heart of Darkness**** by Joseph Conrad
A journey into darkest Africa and into the darkness of the human soul – a theme shared by Puzo’s The Godfather. This is an extraordinarily well written, subtle and sophisticated classic of English literature. When you’ve read it, be sure to see Apocalypse Now – a modern film based on Conrad’s classic tale.
If you like this level of subtlety and sophistication in your reading, you might also enjoy James Joyce’s The Dubliners**** – a classic and brilliant short story collection by Ireland’s top writer.
The Da Vinci Code*** by Dan Brown
A page-turning adventure story that will provide food for thought – not to everyone’s taste but a current best seller. Well plotted and with very short chapters make this a quick and easy read. If you like page-turners, you might also enjoy P J Tracy’s Want to Play .
(Un)arranged Marriage** by Bali Rai
Boy/parents culture clash but… no cheesy romance this. A top-rated first story from this young new author.
Don’t miss his Rani and Sukh*, too – a five-star recommended read.
Jane Eyre*** by Charlotte Bronte
One of the accepted classics of English Literature, Jane Eyre is the story of a young orphan girl and her life and search for love and happiness. Filmed for the big screen and TV several times but so much more satisfying as a book. If you enjoy this, you could try Villette*** , Bronte's darker, more mature later story.
Northern Lights*** by Philip Pullman
Do you enjoy a story with big themes to ponder over, all set within an enthralling quest for Good against Evil? This book – and the two others in the trilogy, The Subtle Knife*** and The Amber Spyglass*** are
three of the best selling books of recent years. Quality reading.
Great Expectations**** by Charles Dickens
Dickens is rated by many as England’s greatest novelist and this is often considered his best work. Written in the mid-nineteenth century, this is the tale of young Pip, an orphaned village boy and his extraordinary development into a proper gentleman. If you like Dickens’ wonderful characters and absorbing plots, you’ll surely also enjoy Dickens’ own favourite, the semi-autobiographical, David Copperfield**** .
How I Live Now** by Meg Rosoff
Set in today’s England, a New York girl – 15-year-old Daisy – copes with her wacky family, love and the outbreak of war in this teen/adult novel. A truly gutsy work of fiction well worth your time! If you enjoy "coming of age" novels like this, try the two most famous of them all, J D Salinger's Catcher in the Rye*** and Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar** .
The Great Gatsby*** by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Often called “The Great American Novel”, The Great Gatsby is set in 1920s New York; it captures the mood of the age to perfection. An acknowledged modern classic tale of wealth, power and loneliness. Move on to three other classic American stories, Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter**** , Stephen Crane’s short novel, The Red Badge of Courage** and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath** .
Pride and Prejudice**** by Jane Austen
The course of true love certainly does not run smooth for Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy in Austen’s most famous novel written at the end of the eighteenth century. Filmed several times, this is a tale of, erm… pride and erm… prejudice! If you enjoy Austen's writing and wry humour, try Sense and Sensibility**** , Emma**** and Northanger Abbey**** -this last one a tale with a fine, ironic gothic twist.
Daydreamer* by Ian McEwan
Weird and wonderful, this is fine imaginative writing from some say the top contemporary author. Surprisingly straightforward reading that you will not want to put down. If you become hooked, try one of McEwan's more
sophisticated yet still highly readable adult stories such as his outstanding Atonement*** .
Fahrenheit 451*** by Ray Bradbury
At exactly 451°F paper ignites. Books burn. And in this future society all books are burned. This is classic American sci-fi from one of their top writer. If you enjoy this -and you surely will! -try Bradbury's famous Martian short-story collection, the The Martian Chronicles** .
Wuthering Heights**** by Emily Bronte
A wild and darkly disturbing tale of passion leading to madness; written in the mid-nineteenth century and considered one of the greatest tales of English Literature.
The Colour of Magic** by Terry Pratchett
Zany, intelligent reading: a very funny and v-e-r-y weird story and the book that started the continuing and brilliant Discworld cult. A modern classic of its genre. If this hooks you into Discworld, you’ll have no trouble choosing your next book!
Chasing Redbird* by Sharon Creech
Teenage angst told in an utterly compelling tale by a well respected modern writer. An emotional yet deeply honest exploration of teenage issues. If you like this, you'll surely also enjoy Dear Nobody* by Berlie Docherty.