Thursday 11 July 2013

The Weekly List

When my sister was about to start A Levels (16, for the non-Brits reading this!), she asked me to write her a list of books she should read over the summer. To give an idea of time scale, she's now 19, so this was a list I made preblogging. I just found it last week and it got me thinking about book lists and what makes them good. Some of the titles on this list I haven't even read myself and looking at it now, I've really no idea why some of them were on here, but it made me wonder why I haven't turned my obsession with bookish lists into a feature on the blog before now. So here it is. This week, part 1, is the list I made for my sister, and next week I will publish a list of internet recommended reading for similar aged kids. This is how it will go; one week my list of certain subjects/genres, the second week an outside source (e.g 1001 books to read before you die, Guardian top 100 etc). I'm aware that this may not appeal to anyone but me, but if you're a similarly list loving person then I definitely welcome your input on things I've missed, things that you thought were awful and so on. It's all about the debate :-)

So here it is, Esther's A Level reading list, with the comments I wrote for her at the time:

  1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
  2. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
  3. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
  4. Tender is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  5. Paradise Lost - John Milton (and tell me if it's good, cos I've not read it )
  6. The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton
  7. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood (this book is genius - if you don't love it, I will have to disown you)
  8. Don Quixote - Cervantes (Dad has it - nick it)
  9. The Awakening – Kate Chopin
  10. Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
  11. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (stick with it - its worth it!)
  12. A Passage to India - E.M Forster
  13. Howards End - E.M Forster
  14. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
  15. Brighton Rock - Graham Greene
  16. On the Road - Jack Kerouac
  17. Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys (Do NOT watch the film)
  18. Beloved - Toni Morrison
  19. Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut
  20. 1984 - George Orwell
  21. Animal Farm - George Orwell
  22. Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier 
  23. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
  24. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
  25. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
  26. The Bloody Chamber - Angela Carter (I have it. Just bloody brilliant. Read it. Now)
  27. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
  28. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall- Anne Bronte
  29. T.S Eliot poetry - especially... The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock, Preludes, and The Wasteland but also Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats and others... he's a genius poet
  30. A Streetcar Named Desire - Tennessee Williams (WATCH WATCH WATCH the film starring Marlon Brando (very often shirtless :D) and Vivien Leigh... pure brilliance)
  31. Hamlet - William Shakespeare (Film Recommendation - Kenneth Branagh.. don't bother with Mel Gibson...)
  32. Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare (Baz Luhrman, obv)
  33. The Tempest - William Shakespeare (Return to the Forbidden Planet :p)
  34. Othello - William Shakespeare (don't watch the film.. go see it at the Globe)
  35. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
  36. A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway
  37. All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Remarque
  38. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
  39. East of Eden - John Steinbeck
  40. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou
  41. The End of Mr Y - Scarlett Thomas (absolutely GENIUS writer)
  42. Our Tragic Universe - Scarlett Thomas
  43. The Hunchback of Notre- Dame - Victor Hugo
  44. The Awakening - Kate Chopin
  45. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
  46. The Odyssey - Homer (Dad has, but I'm reading atm so you can have it after :p)
  47. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
  48. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - R.L Stephenson
  49. Wild Swans - Jung Chang
  50. Quo Vadis? - Henryk Sienkiewicz
  51. Translations - Brian Friel
  52. Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
  53. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
  54. An Artist of the Floating World - Kazuo Ishiguro
  55. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things - Jon McGregor
  56. We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver
  57. Disgrace - J.M. Coetzee
  58. True Notebooks - Mark Salzman
  59. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest - Ken Kesey
  60. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
  61. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
  62. The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov
  63. Doctor Zhivago - Boris Pasternak (due to Stalin, he wasn't allowed to leave Russia to get his NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE for Dr. Zhivago. This is one of the many reasons why we hate Stalin..)
  64. Poetry of W.H Auden
  65. The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner - Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Unhand me, grey beard loon!)
Looking at it now, this list could otherwise be entitled 'All the books I'd loved at this point plus the ones I wanted to read but was too scared/lazy to have got around to yet'. 

It's not necessarily the books I'd recommend now, but I know that she's read a fair few of them now on my recommendation, and loved a lot of them :-) 

What would you put on a list like this? What have I missed, and what shouldn't be on here? 


  1. YAY BOOK LISTS! This is an intense summer reading list Bex, you slave driver you!


    Now that I'm widening my horizons through blogging and YA's taken off so far, I'd probably include some well respected YA novels too. Maybe something by Malorie Blackman, John Green, Sherman Alexie or Laurie Halse Anderson?

  2. This list is brilliant, and deep, but mostly brilliant. I love your comment about The Bloody Chamber, that is pretty much what I tell anyone I talk to who hasn't read it.

  3. I love this idea. My sister never reads my recommendations, so I stopped bothering a few years ago, although she does occasionally nick a book of my shelves now (or ask if I have something in particular). What would I add? Middlesex maybe, just because everyone should read it, and Living Dolls because every woman should read it (that was the last one I recommended to my little sister- she didn't read it (because "I'm not a feminist")