Since the children of the UK will have just finished their first week back at school, I thought it would be fun to share with you what I read whilst I was at school for my English lessons. Most of these books I read in secondary school, but I have included a few that I read in primary school, and even though I can’t remember everything on this list in detail, I have fond memories of my English lessons; I always looked forward to them, and a few of theses books are my favourites to this day.
The Twits by Roald Dahl – I’m pretty sure this was my first Roald Dahl book; I think my class read it when I was about 6 or 7. I can’t remember that much about it, but I always remembered the scene where Mrs Twit feeds her husband worms in her spaghetti; our class loved it!
Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden – This was definitely my favourite book that we read in primary school. The story revolves around a young evacuee and her brother during the second world war. After we read the book, we did a big project on the war, and I loved learning about it. This was definitely the book that I can thank for my love of historical fiction, and my later love for my history lessons.
Secondary School – KS3
Cirque du Freak – The Vampires Assistant by Darren Shan – This is the second book in the Cirque du Freak series, and even though I quite enjoyed the previous book, I really didn’t enjoy this one. I think it was because the first one introduced all of these crazy characters, and most of them weren’t in the second book.
Good Night, Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian – If I remember rightly, a lot of my class hated this book, but I loved it. Like Carrie’s War, the story focuses on an evacuee during the second world war, but it had some much darker themes, including abuse, neglect and death.
Secondary School – GSCE
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – I’m pretty sure every teenager in Britain had to read this for their GCSE exam. I may have been a tad sick of it by the time the exam came around, but I re-read it recently, and it’s a firm favourite of mine.
Macbeth by William Shakespeare – This was my first Shakespeare play, and I did find it quite tough. I’d love to read it again in the future, as I’m sure I could get much more out of it than I did when I was fourteen.
Hobson’s Choice by Harold Brighouse – This is probably the only book/play on this list that I absolutely hated; the plot wasn’t engaging at all, and I can’t even remember what the themes were. Luckily, we didn’t study it for too long, as my English department decided that we would study An Inspector Calls instead.
An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley – I’m so glad I studied this instead of Hobson’s Choice. I recently watched the BBC adaptation (which you can buy here), and it reminded me of how much I loved studying the play; I’d love to watch a performance of it one day.
Sixth Form – AS English Literature
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey – This technically wasn’t recquired reading, but for my coursework, I had to write a piece of creative writing based off a novel of my own choice, and I chose One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which I had read that summer.
Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel – I wasn’t a huge fan of this play; it tells the story of five sisters living in Ireland in the 1930’s. A few of the themes I enjoyed writing about, but I much preferred studying An Inspector Calls a few years earlier.
Selected Poems: Carol Ann Duffy by Carol Ann Duffy – I’d never really enjoyed poetry up until reading this collection; I really enjoyed Duffy’s writing. A few of my favourite poems from the collection were Standing Female Nude and Lizzie Six.
Selected Poems: Sheenagh Pugh by Sheenagh Pugh – We used Pugh’s poetry to illuminate our understanding of Duffy’s. I did prefer Duffy’s writing style and the themes that she explored, but I still enjoyed the few that we read by Pugh.
Sixth Form – A2 English Literature
The Wife of Bath by Geoffrey Chaucer – When we first read this, it was so difficult for me and the rest of my class. But we had a brilliant teacher, and by the time the exam came around, I’d say that we all felt confident going in, and I was so pleased that I’d managed to understand Chaucer’s writing.
Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare – This was my second Shakespeare play, and I really enjoyed it. I think my teacher’s love of it made studying it so much more interesing, and I’d love to re-read it again soon.
The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories by Angela Carter – I had to read this more my coursework, and I adored it. The stories in this collection are so dark, but so interesting. In my coursework, I wrote about how women are presented in gothic literature, and Carter’s depiction of women in her stories was so refreshing. I’d highly recommend this collection to anyone who’s interested in fairy tales, feminism or the gothic genre.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë – This was my illumination text for Bloody Chamber and Edgar Allan Poe coursework. I know so many people love this book, but I really struggled to get through it. There were a few quotes that I loved though, but it’s not one of my favourite classics I’ve read.
So that’s all of the books I read in school; I think there was one or two more that I haven’t included, but I can’t remember their titles. I’d love to hear in the comments what your favourite book was that you read in school, or, if you’re still in school, what you’re reading in school at the moment 🙂