Recommended Reading

ADICHIE, Chimamanda Ngozi – PURPLE HIBISCUS
A sensitive and touching story of a child exposed too early to religious intolerance and the uglier side of the Nigerian state.

ALI, Monica - BRICK LANE
A Bangladeshi woman arrives in London for an arranged marriage. Complications of a lover, family life and her religion make for a subtle, engrossing portrait of contemporary British Asian life.

AMIS, Martin - MONEY
Witty and cynical look at the adventures of an upwardly mobile young man in 80s Britain.

ASHWORTH, Andrea - ONCE IN A HOUSE ON FIRE
Powerful account of young girl’s struggles to achieve academic success and independence from an almost unbearable home environment.

ATKINSON, Kate - BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE MUSEUM
Follows a family from the nineteenth century to the present, funny and involving.

ATWOOD, Margaret – HANDMAID’S TALE
Set in an imagined future world where gender roles have been fundamentally altered by a drastic decline in human fertility.

AUSTEN, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Comic account of the search by four sisters for the right marriage partner.

BERNIERES de, Louis - CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN
A love story between Italian soldier and Greek woman set on a Greek island in the Second World War with lots of interesting historical background.

BRONTE, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
One of literature’s great love stories with a strong, courageous heroine.

BRONTE, Emily - WUTHERING HEIGHTS
Doomed and passionate love story set on the Yorkshire moors.

CHEVALIER, Tracy - GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING
The story of Griet, a 16-year-old Dutch girl who becomes a maid in the house of the painter Johannes Vermeer. Her calm and perceptive manner not only helps her in her household duties, but also attracts the painter's attention.

CAPOTE, Truman - IN COLD BLOOD
A novel based on a true crime story where two young men kill an entire family in the course of a robbery and are consequently sentenced to death. An exploration of the morality of the death penalty.

DOYLE, Roddy - THE VAN
The first of a trilogy of novels (THE COMMITMENTS and THE SNAPPER are the other two) based on the experiences of a large family set in Dublin. The novels are funny and almost entirely dialogue.

FAULKS, Sebastian - BIRDSONG
Powerfully characterised tale of love and war set in First World War trenches flashing forward to a modern couple.

FITZGERALD, F. Scott - THE GREAT GATSBY
Doomed love story set in the Jazz Age, exploring both sides of the American Dream.

ELIOT, George - MILL ON THE FLOSS
Compelling family saga, focussing on one of the great heroines of nineteenth century, Maggie Tulliver.

FOWLES, John - THE COLLECTOR
Psychological novel that explores the obsessive relationship between a kidnapper and his victim.

GIBSON, William - NEUROMANCER
Cult novel exploring cyberspace and the inspiration for The Matrix.

GREENE, Graham - BRIGHTON ROCK
Atmospheric gangland thriller set in Brighton that confronts faith, violence and sexuality.

GUTTERSON, David - SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS
Thriller concerned with race, war and love.

HARDY, Thomas – TESS OF THE D’UBERVILLES
Tragic novel of young working woman made pregnant by the lord of the manor, in the harsh moral and social climate of nineteenth century England.

HELLER, Joseph - CATCH 22
The novel on which M.A.S.H was based! Set in Bomber command – funny, disturbing satire on war and hierarchy.

HOSSEINI, Khaled – THE KITE RUNNER
In this, apparently the first Afghan novel to be written in English, two motherless boys who learn to crawl and walk side by side, are destined to destroy each other across the gulf of their tribal difference in a country of dried mulberries, sour oranges, rich pomegranates and honey.

HUXLEY, Aldous - BRAVE NEW WORLD
Nightmare vision of a future, where people are programmed into a rigid social hierarchy and which examines what it is to be human.

KESEY, Ken - ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST
Compelling account of the repressive regime in a mental asylum which is thrown into turmoil by the arrival of a new patient who questions those in authority.

LAWRENCE, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
A young man coming to maturity pulled between twin influences of relationships and family.

LEVI, Primo - IF THIS IS A MAN
An autobiographical account by an Italian survivor of Auschwitz showing that above all, what the Nazis did, was to rob the camp inmates of their humanity.

MAURIER du, Daphne - REBECCA
Gothic romantic mystery set in Cornwall.

McEWAN, Ian – ENDURING LOVE
Psychologically acute and thought provoking novel, in which a hot air ballooning accident triggers a surprising train of events involving obsessional love.

MITCHELL, David – BLACK SWAN GREEN
Charts thirteen simmering months in the black hole between the childhood and adolescence of Jason Taylor – covert stammerer and reluctant poet.

MORRISON, Toni - THE BLUEST EYE
The experiences of a young black girl who sees herself as ugly because she judges herself by white standards of beauty.

ORWELL, George - 1984
Written in 1948 this is still a chilling vision of Britain ruled as a police state where all individual freedom has been taken away. The novel that gave us the ideas of Big Brother and Room 101.

PLATH, Sylvia - THE BELL JAR
Set in 1950s America, focusing on a young woman starting out in life after university and suffering a nervous breakdown.

PIERRE, D. B. C. - VERNON GOD LITTLE
Riotous adventures of Vernon Gregory Little in small town Texas. Cutting edge satire drawing on the Columbine shootings.

PROULX, Annie – THE SHIPPING NEWS
Central character moves from disaster in the city to find happiness amongst Newfoundland fishing community. Comedy of life and possibility.

ROY, Arundhati - THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS
Lyrical account of the devastating effects of the Indian caste system on a family.

SALINGER, J. D. - CATCHER IN THE RYE
Follows 3 days in the days in the life of a young man who has just left school. He wanders around the bars of New York feeling alienated from his family and society.

SHELLEY, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Enthusiastic scientist creates new monstrous being and lives to regret it.

SHRIVER, Lionel – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
A psychological and philosophical investigation of blame, in the context of the parent and child relationship.

STEINBECK, John - THE GRAPES OF WRATH
Epic journey from Oklahoma to California of farming families escaping poverty in the American Depression.

STYRON, William - SOPHIE’S CHOICE
Novel which follows the life of a concentration camp survivor after the war and looks at the tragic consequences of her appalling experiences.

SUSKIND, Patrick - PERFUME
Psychological profile of a murderer, gripping and macabre.

WALKER, Alice - THE COLOR PURPLE
Moving account of young black woman’s journey from abuse and oppression to fulfilment and independence.

WATERS, Sarah – FINGERSMITH
Gripping historical thriller, set in Victorian England about love, crime and identity.

WELLS, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Science fiction classic where the Martians invade.

WELSH, Irvine - TRAINSPOTTING
Frenzied novel of heroin addiction set in Edinburgh.

WILDE, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY
Follows the immoral life of a beautiful, rich and talented young man, whose portrait ages while he remains forever young. Style is full of wit and the ideas are thought provoking.

WILLIAMS, Niall - FOUR LETTERS OF LOVE
A poignant Irish love story, in which four separate narratives are interwoven to produce a dramatic and unexpected ending.

WINTERSON, Jeanette - ORANGES ARE NOT THE ONLY FRUIT
Funny novel which follows the female central character from childhood to maturity, as she gradually rejects family and religion and discovers the truth of her sexuality.

WOOLF, Virginia – MRS. DALLOWAY
One day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares for an evening party, interwoven with the story of a shell-shocked veteran of the First World War. Moving exploration of lives and relationships in the inter war years.