There are some books everyone should read before they die, this is a list of novels every student should read. It is a list compiled of information from the internet, from parents, from friends and from a couple of literature graduates.
The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
This is my favourite book of all time. It is cleverly written with interesting use of language and amazing quotes such as ‘they hung in the air in the same way bricks don’t.’ It is a book set at the end of the Earth and explores a truly British idea of what would happen if the Earth ended.
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby is a story which explores the American Dream through the characters increasing need for wealth and to be known. Gatsby throws huge infamous parties to try and attract one person. It is a story which shows how you can risk everything for one thing, and explores the perils and worth of doing so.
Harry Potter – J.K Rowling
These books were the series of our generation. The first, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was released 21 years ago. This means that many people grew up with the stories. If you haven’t read them, you’re missing out on some of the most incredible and well-loved stories ever.
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit – J.R.R Tolkien
The Hobbit is a prequel to The Lord of The Rings, and all should be read together as a collection. These books tell an epic fantasy story which follows Hobbits, Elves, Man and a Dwarf on a journey across Middle Earth to stop Sauron from ruling Middle Earth. Along with the Hobbit, the three books in The Lord of the Rings are The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. As a collection, The Lord of the Rings is the highest selling set of books ever.
1984 – George Orwell
Orwell’s vision from 1948 is still visionary in parts of the world today. All over the world, 1984 is still very poignant in today’s society. Big brother is always watching.
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice is a story which follows the Bennet family, a father and his five daughters who are all expected to marry. It is a narrative that explores the different prejudices which the young women face as well as the gossip, and pride that tries to stop them from achieving their goal.
Everyday sexism – Laura Bates
This book was started as an online, interactive blog where members of the public could share instances of the everyday sexism they encountered. Sexism has become so normal and expected in our society, that Bates released this book to try and show the general public that sexism is still happening and still real.
Animal Farm – George Orwell
Animal Farm was a critique on Russian Communism, by someone who was a communist. The story sees pigs planning an uprising against their farmer master – this was a metaphor for the Russian revolution. It’s a fantastic story to introduce you to the ideas of Russian Communism and history.
How To Be A Woman – Caitlin Moran
How to Be a Woman is a semi-autobiographical non-fiction book by Caitlin Moran, it explores her own views on feminism and also explores her early life and how feminism shaped it.
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner destroys pre-conceived ideas of Afghanistan and teaches its readers about how the Russian’s invasion of 1980 affected life. The story also explores redemption and how a lie as a child can influence all of your life choices.
The Colour Purple – Alice Walker
The Colour Purple is an account of black lives from a black women’s perspective, written by a black woman, that broke through into the main stream very fast. It is now considered a modern classic and won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and novels every student should read. When it was made it when into a film, it was produced by Steven Spielberg and featured both Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg in their film debut. The book explores themes of love, longing, racism and ideas about a woman’s role within society.
The Importance of Being Ernest – Oscar Wilde
The Importance of Being Ernest is a play written by Oscar Wilde in 1895. It is a play that uses confusion as a catalyst and language to push the story along. The wording is quick and quaint and the story led the bedrock for comedy in the 20th century.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is a story set on a Greek island during the second world war. It is a narrative that explores love as a many faceted thing. The book opens and explores lust, and then longing, and then enduring love.
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Brave New World is a text that explores what would happen if a ‘utopian’ society was manufactured. It explores how people would be made, not born and how they would enter the world in a pre-determine caste system – based on intelligence. The narrative of the story explores how this is different from our society and the issues it would cause for people still living in a ‘free society’. It is one of the most famous depictions of the future ever and was ranked 53rd on the Observers’ top 100 greatest novels of all time.
Money – Martin Amis
Money has been described as one of the defining book of the 80s of novels every student should read. It is a book about greed, hedonism, excitement but ultimately the vacuous and superficial high-octane culture that was around in the 80s. The story follows John Self, who is a consumer of both the 1980s English and American Greed Culture.
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat – Oliver Sacks
If you have an avid interest in psychology, and let’s be honest in this day and age who doesn’t? Then the Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat is a fantastic collection of clinical psychology cases to intrigue anyone. The cases are from Oliver Sacks’ own experiences and are exciting to read and learn about.
The Savage Garden – Mark Mills
This book is a modern-day mystery novel, with two murders set over 400 years apart. The novel explores how these two events are bound and connected. A student from the University of Cambridge undergoes a project to explore a garden, he believes the garden has a strange energy and believes that this garden is the key to solving the mystery of the murders. It’s a fantastic summer read and every day creates more mystery and intrigue.
On the Road – Jack Kerouac
On the Road is a novel by Jack Kerouac that document his and his friend’s journey across America. Kerouac allows music such as jazz and be-bop to influence his writing and his journey. Some critics argue that this musical influence is more important than the actual events of the story. It’s counted as one of the great American novels, one of the novels every student should read. and a modern classic.
The History of Bees – Maja Lunde
This book is an increasing likely and realistic dystopian future. This book is about a world imagined without bees. It talks of the issues of climate change and the refugee crisis. Simply the novel explores what would happen if the bees disappeared. With this in mind, the story also immerses you with three main characters: Williams, George and Tao; the story moves around in time to give a bigger overview of what will happen if the bees die.
Casino Royale – Ian Fleming
Casino Royale was the first James Bond novel written by Ian Fleming. These novels every student should read, first published in 1953 depicted espionage just after the second world war. Fleming himself had been a naval intelligence officer and used this career to influence his knowledge on the books. The James Bond series became one of the most loved book series of all time (in England), Casino Royale featured Bond trying to disarm and kill a Russian spy, through playing at Baccarat.
Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath was written by American novelist John Steinbeck in 1939. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and Steinbeck referred to this novel heavily when he received his Nobel Prize in 1962. Grapes of Wrath is a story set in the Great Depression and features a family’s decision to leave their home state of Oklahoma in search of work in California. It is a journey and shows the perils of live at this time and one of the best novels every student should read.
Twelfth Night – Shakespeare
There is always a Shakespeare for novels every student should read. Twelfth Night is a comedy play and very fun to read. It explores love, confusion identity and ship wreck. One character, Viola, pretends to be male to get by and consequently falls in love with a man. Unfortunately, he falls in love with Viola pretending to someone else. The play was made more accessible for young people by being the basis of the film ‘She’s The Man’.
Atonement – Ian McEwan
Atonement is a very powerful story which explores the power of a child’s voice, and whether you can truly atone for your sins. The story follows a young girl who sees something she shouldn’t have and lies about it. This lie affects the lives of many people, the book takes you through these people’s lives at various points to explore how they have been affected.
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
We can pull down as many statues as the government thinks necessary to hide our past, but novels such as Hark of Darkness really highlight and explore the true dark history of England.
Sherlock – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
With the release of the BBC adaptation of Sherlock, it is a great time to go back to the original novels. From reading these, you can see the inner workings of Conan Doyle’s ideas and a more in depth exploration into the characters of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.
Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart is one of the greatest novels every student should read, which explores pre-colonial Nigeria and what colonialism did to this area. The narrative explores the story of Okonkwo and his journey to try and save his community from the changes caused by colonialism. It is a great story to learn about pre-colonial Nigeria and how colonial expansion affected some aspects of village life.