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​A blog about books

Reading Lists

Jo Facer

I thought I would share some of my favourite reading lists with any teacher readers before the onset of the summer holidays.

I wish I could say I had a firm system for these lists. I always try to do one before a long holiday, or even a short one, and definitely one at the start of the year. My students are amazing, though; a small number will start asking me for recommendations and that is how I know it is time to wheel out another one.

I liked the “20 books you should read” format because I thought it seemed manageable. The first was originally made for a very high-achieving year 10/11 class who needed to be stretched and prepared for the rigours of A-level. I also included any books I loved at their age, or that I remember my friends loving. The sixth form list goes further, and has non-fiction texts which are critical but I think accessible.

KS4: 20 books you should definitely read:

Erin Morgenstern: The Night Circus

Truman Capote: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Tracy Chevalier: The Girl with a Pearl Earring

Stephen Kelman: Pigeon English

George Grossmith: Diary of a Nobody

Vladimir Nabakov: Laughter in the Dark

Emma Donaghue, Room

David Nicholls, One Day

Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns

John Irving, The World According to Garp

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Bill Bryson, Shakespeare

Daphne du Maurier, My Cousin Rachel

Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Vikram Seth, An Equal Music

Richard Llewellyn, How Green was my Valley

Steve Tolz, A Fraction of the Whole

Richard Russo, Empire Falls

Sixth form:

20 books you should definitely read:

1. Sebastian Faulks: Faulks on Fiction: The History of the Novel in 28 Characters

2. Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

3. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night

4. Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin

5. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

6. Truman Capote, In Cold Blood

7. Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

8. Bill Bryson, Shakespeare

9. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

10. Jay McInernay, Bright Lights, Big City

11. Andrew Marr, A History of Modern Britain

12. Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

13. Strunk and White, The Elements of Style

14. Jane Austen, Emma

15. Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

16. Sebastian Faulks, Human Traces

17. Sophocles, Antigone

18. Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie

19. Virginia Woolf, Orlando

20. George Eliot, Middlemarch

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