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Reading List

Read as much as you can during your A level English course. Your teacher will furnish you with some critical reading, but reading a selection from the following list will supplement your study of set texts and hone your literary criticism skills. Most of the books listed here are available in the school library, but you would be very wise to join your local library. Those marked with an asterisk are essential reading for any pupil of A Level English Literature. Poetry anthologies are not specified here. Choose a selection from each poet. 



Major writers of prose fiction published before 1900

Jane Austen                Pride & Prejudice*, Emma, Mansfield Park, Persuasion

Emily Bronte              Wuthering Heights*

Lewis Carroll             Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Wilkie Collins            The Woman in White, The Moonstone

Arthur Conan Doyle  Sherlock Holmes stories

Daniel Defoe              Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders

Charles Dickens         Great Expectations* , A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield

Alexandre Dumas      The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo

George Eliot               Silas Marner, The Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch

Henry Fielding           Tom Jones, Joseph Andrews

Elizabeth Gaskell       North & South, Cranford

Thomas Hardy           Tess of the D’Urbervilles*, The Mayor of Casterbridge

Henry James              Washington Square, Portrait of a Lady, The Turn of the Screw

DH Lawrence             Sons & Lovers*, The Rainbow, Women in Love

Ford Madox Ford      The Good Soldier, Parade’s End

Guy de Maupassant   Selected short stories

Jonathan Swift           Gulliver’s Travels

William Thackeray    Vanity Fair

Anthony Trollope      Barchester Towers, The Way We Live Now

Mark Twain               The Adventures of Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn

Major writers of prose fiction published after 1900

Chinua Achebe           Things Fall Apart

Richard Adams          Watership Down, The Plague Dogs, Shardik

Monica Ali                  Brick Lane

Kingsley Amis            Lucky Jim*

Martin Amis               London Fields, Time’s Arrow, The Rachel Papers

Kate Atkinson            Behind the Scenes at the Museum

Margaret Atwood      The Handmaid’s Tale*, Cat’s Eye, The Blind Assassin

Paul Auster                The New York Trilogy

JG Ballard                   The Empire of the Sun, The Drowned World

Iain Banks                  The Crow Road, The Wasp Factory, Complicity

Julian Barnes             The History of the World in 10 ½ chapters

Pat Barker                  The Regeneration Trilogy

William Boyd             Any Human Heart

Ray Bradbury            Fahrenheit 451

John Braine                Room at the Top

Bill Bryson                 Neither Here Nor There, Notes From a Small Island

Mikael Bulgakov        The Master and Marguerita

Anthony Burgess       A Clockwork Orange

AS Byatt                      Possession

Albert Camus             The Outsider*, The Plague

Truman Capote          Love in a Cold Climate, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Peter Carey                Oscar & Lucinda

Angela Carter             The Bloody Chamber, The Magic Toyshop, Heroes & Villains

Raymond Chandler   The Long Goodbye, Farewell My Lovely

Jung Chang                 Wild Swans

Bruce Chatwin           On the Black Hill, The Songlines

Jonathan Coe              What a Carve Up!, The House of Sleep

Joseph Conrad           The Secret Agent*, Heart of Darkness

Louis De Bernières    Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Roddy Doyle              The Commitments, The Van, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha!

Daphne DuMaurier   Rebecca, Jamaica Inn

Umberto Eco              The Name of the Rose

Jennifer Egan             A Visit from the Goon Squad

William Faulkner      As I lay Dying

Sebastian Faulks       Birdsong, Charlotte Gray

J Fennimore-Cooper The Last of the Mohicans

Fannie Flagg              Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

EM Forster                 A Room with a View, Howard’s End, A Passage to India*

John Fowles               The French Lieutenant’s Woman*, The Magus

Jostein Gaarder          Sophie’s World

G Garcia Marquez     One Hundred Years of Solitude*, Love in the Time of Cholera

Alex Garland                The Beach

Stella Gibbons             Cold Comfort Farm*  

William Golding         The Lord of the Flies*

Robert Graves            I Claudius, Goodbye to all That

Graham Greene         Brighton Rock*, The Heart of the Matter, The End of the Affair

David Guterson         Snow Falling on Cedars

Mark Haddon             The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

LP Hartley                  The Go-Between*

Joseph Heller             Catch 22*

Ernest Hemingway   For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Farewell to Arms

Susan Hill                   I’m the King of the Castle, The Woman in Black

Nick Hornby              Fever Pitch, High Fidelity

Keri Hulme                 The Bone People

Aldous Huxley           Brave New World*

Witi Ihimaera            The Whale Rider

John Irving                 A Prayer for Owen Meaney, The Hotel New Hampshire

Christopher Isherwood The Berlin Novels

Kazuo Ishiguro          The Remains of the Day*, Never Let Me Go


P D James                   The Children of Men

James Joyce                Portrait of the Artist, The Dubliners*

William Melvin Kelley A Different Drummer

Thomas Keneally       Schindler’s Ark, The Playmaker

Jack Kerouac              On the Road

Ken Kesey                  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Daniel Keyes              Flowers for Algernon

Milan Kundera           The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Hanif Kureishi           The Buddha of Suburbia

John Le Carre             Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Constant Gardener

Harper Lee                 To Kill a Mockingbird*

Doris Lessing             The Cleft, The Summer Before Death, Memoirs of a Survivor

Primo Levi                 The Periodic Table, If this is a Man

Penelope Lively         Moon Tiger

David Lodge               Small World*, Changing Places, Nice Work

Frank McCourt          Angela’s Ashes

Ian McEwan               Atonement*, Enduring Love, Amsterdam, The Child in Time

Hilary Mantel             Wolf Hall, Bring Out the Bodies

Yann Martell              The Life of Pi*

David Mitchell           Cloud Atlas, Number Nine Dream

Nancy Mitford           Love in a Cold Climate

Toni Morrison           Beloved, Song of Solomon

Iris Murdoch              The Sea, the Sea

Haruki Murakami      Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles

Vladimir Nabokov     Lolita, Pale Fire

VS Naipal                    A House for Mr Biswas, The Mimic Men

Kate O’Brien              The Last Of Summer, Mary Lavelle, Land of Spices, That Lady

Michael Ondaatje      The English Patient

George Orwell            1984*, Animal Farm, Down and Out in Paris and London

Boris Pasternak         Dr Zhivago

Alan Paton                 Cry the Beloved Country

Mervyn Peake            The Gormenghast Trilogy

DBC Pierre                 Vernon God Little

Sylvia Plath                The Bell Jar

Max Porter                 Grief is the Thing with Feathers, Lanny

E Annie Proulx           The Shipping News

Jean Rhys                   Wide Sargasso Sea*

Arundhati Roy           The God of Small Things

Salman Rushdie         Midnight’s Children*, Shame, The Moor’s Last Sigh

JD Salinger                 The Catcher in the Rye*

F Scott Fitzgerald      The Great Gatsby*, Tender is the Night

Carol Shields              Larry’s Party*, The Stone Diaries

Lionel Shriver            We Need to Talk About Kevin

Alan Sillitoe                The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

Dodie Smith               I Capture the Castle

Zadie Smith                White Teeth, On Beauty

A Solzhenitsyn           One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The Cancer Ward

Muriel Spark              The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

John Steinbeck           Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath*

RL Stevenson             Treasure Island, Kidnapped

Bram Stoker               Dracula

Kate Summerscale    The Suspicions of Mr Whicher

Patrick Suskind         Perfume

Graham Swift             Waterland, The Light of Day, Last Orders

Donna Tartt               The Secret History*

Paul Theroux             The Old Patagonian Express, The Mosquito Coast

Scarlett Thomas        The End of Mr Y

JRR Tolkein                The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Leo Tolstoy                Anna Karenina*, The Death of Ivan Ilych

Anthony Trollope      Barchester Towers, The Way We Live Now

John Updike               The Rabbit Trilogy

Kurt Vonnegut           Slaughterhouse 5*

Alice Walker              The Colour Purple

Evelyn Waugh           Brideshead Revisited*, Decline and Fall

HG Wells                    The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine

Edith Wharton           The Age of Innocence

John Williams            Stoner

Jeanette Winterson   Oranges are not the only Fruit, Sexing the Cherry

Tom Wolfe                 Bonfire of the Vanities

Virginia Woolf           To the Lighthouse, Mrs Dalloway*

Richard Wright          Native Son

John Wyndham          The Day of the Triffids, The Midwich Cuckoos


Simon Armitage

WH Auden

William Blake

Gwendolyn Brooks

Robert Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Robert Burns

Lord Byron

Geoffrey Chaucer

Gillian Clarke

ST Coleridge

EE Cummings

Emily Dickinson

Carol Ann Duffy

TS Eliot

UA Fanthorpe

Robert Frost

Thom Gunn

Seamus Heaney

Ted Hughes

John Keats

Philip Larkin

Louis MacNeice

Gerard Manley Hopkins

John Milton

Wilfred Owen

Sylvia Plath

Adrienne Rich

Christina Rossetti

Siegfried Sassoon

William Shakespeare

Percy Shelley

Stevie Smith

Wole Soyinka

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Derek Walcott

William Wordsworth


Sophocles                               Antigone, Oedipus Rex

Samuel Beckett                      Waiting for Godot, Endgame

Alan Bennett                          The History Boys*, Talking Heads, The Lady in the Van

Edward Bond                         The Sea

Bertolt Brecht                        Mother Courage*, Caucasian Chalk Circle

Robert Bolt                            A Man for all Seasons

Harold Brighouse                  Hobson’s Choice

Anton Chekhov                      The Seagull, The Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters

Shelagh Delaney                    A Taste of Honey

Ben Jonson                             The Alchemist*, Bartholomew Fair

Christopher Marlowe            Dr Faustus*, The Jew of Malta

Arthur Miller                         The Crucible, Death of a Salesman*, All My Sons

Harold Pinter                         The Caretaker*

William Shakespeare            Any play

GB Shaw                                 Pygmalion

Richard Sheridan                  The School for Scandal

Tom Stoppard                        Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Jumpers, Arcadia

Timberlake Wertenbaker     Our Country’s Good*

Tennessee Williams              A Streetcar Named Desire*, The Glass Menagerie

Alexander Zeldin                   Faith, Hope and Charity