Student Welfare and Support

English Literature

English Literature

Reading List

Reading List For A-level Literature

**Adichie Chimamanda Ngozi, Half of A Yellow Sun
Set against the secession of Biafra (Nigeria); a horrifying picture of how ordinary people were swept up in the senseless violence of civil war. Compelling and disturbing.
**Adichie Chimamanda Ngozi,Americanah
A powerful story of love, race and identity. Fearless, gripping, spanning and numerous lives across Nigeria and America.
**Adiga Aravind, The White Tiger
An angry and subversive book about the new India - a funny, satirical and a blistering exposé of globalisation.
**Ali Monica, Brick Lane
Set in London’s East End, this contemporary novel explores the life of a young Bengali woman in an arranged marriage with a much older man.
Amis Martin, London Fields
Captures perfectly the bizarre juxtaposition of sleaze against wealth. The shifting narrative voice generates questions as to who is controlling the actions and the reporting of them.
Atkinson Kate, A God in Ruins
Gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations.
**Atwood Margaret, Oryx and Crake
A companion to The Handmaid’s Tale, - offers a take on the environment – in a future world.
Atwood Margaret, The Heart Goes Last
Sinister, wickedly funny - about a near-future in which the lawful are locked up and the lawless roam free.
**Austen Jane, Mansfield Park
Adultery is not a typical Austen theme, but when it disturbs the relatively peaceful household at Mansfield Park, it has quite unexpected results.
**Austen Jane, Persuasion
Austen's quietest heroine, but also one of the strongest. Even though she is nearly thirty, past the bloom of youth, she wins out for herself and for others like herself.
**Baldwin James, Go Tell It on the Mountain
A short but intense, semi-autobiographical novel exploring the troubled life of the Grimes family in Harlem during the Depression.
Baldwin James, Giovanni’s Room
A young American expatriate finds himself caught between his repressed desires and conventional morality; delves into the mystery of love and tells an impassioned, deeply moving story that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart.
**Banks Ian, The Wasp Factory
Enter the extraordinary private world of Frank, sixteen, and unconventional, to say the least.
**Barnes Julian, A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters
Can this novel really live up to its title’s claim? A series of separate but interlinking narratives by one of the most influential English novelists of the 1980s allows you to find out.
Barrett Colin, Young Skins
A magnificent collection of set in Glanbeigh, a small town in rural Ireland – in which the youth have the run of the place. Here the young live hard and wear the scars. Each story is defined by a youth lived in a crucible of menace and desire.
**Barry Sebastian, The Secret Scripture
The story of and of a life blighted by terrible mistreatment and ignorance, and yet marked still by love and passion and hope.
Boyle T.C., Tortilla Curtain
A wonderful read. Rich, insular American Dream coexists with desperate Mexican poverty.
**Bronte Anne, Tennant of Wildfell Hall
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a powerful and sometimes violent novel of expectation, love, oppression, sin, religion and betrayal. It portrays the disintegration of the marriage of Helen Huntingdon and her dissolute, alcoholic husband.
**Bronte Charlotte, Jane Eyre
Although the poor but plucky heroine is outwardly of plain appearance, she possesses an indomitable spirit, a sharp wit and great courage.
** Bronte Emily, Wuthering Heights
The story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine and Heathcliff; the action is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the poetic grandeur makes this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.
Burn Gordon, Alma Cogan
How does it feel to be never allowed to die? Burn’s debut novel takes Britain's biggest selling vocalist of the 50s and turns her story into an equation of celebrity and murder. A stingingly relevant exploration of the sad, dark underside of fame.
**Camus Albert, The Outsider
Explores the alienation of an individual who refuses to conform - when his mother dies, he refuses to show his emotions to satisfy others; his lack of remorse compounds his guilt in the eyes of society. Yet he is as much a victim as a criminal.
.**Carr JL, A Month in the Country
A damaged survivor of the First World War, Tom Birkin finds refuge in the quiet village church of Oxgodby; traces the slow revival of the primeval rhythms of life so cruelly disorientated by the Great War.
Carter Angela, Burning your Boats
Quirky, off the wall, beautifully descriptive and wonderfully imaginative short stories.
Carver Raymond, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
A powerful collection of stories, set in the mid-West among the lonely men and women who drink, fish and play cards to ease the passing of time.
**Coe Jonathan, What a Carve up!
A brilliant noir farce, a dystopian vision and the story of an obsession.
**Coetzee J. M., Disgrace
Set in South Africa, an intense and gripping story that addresses a number of important issues - not just political but also social and psychological.
Collins Wilkie, No Name

Deals with the true meaning of social stigma in Victorian England after two sisters’ traumatic discovery that their dearly loved parents, whose sudden deaths have left them orphans, were not married at the time of their birth.
Conrad Joseph, The Secret Agent
Espionage and counter-espionage, anarchists and embassies; a detective story that becomes the story of Winnie’s tenacity in maintaining devotion to her simple-minded brother. Provides one of the most disturbing visions of aspiration and futility.
Conrad Joseph, The Nigger of the 'Narcissus' and Other Stories
A collection that presents a range of settings - we move from the sea to the colonial world, the Far East and Africa to England and then the Continent.
**Dickens Charles, A Tale of Two Cities
Dickens’ greatest historical novel, traces the private lives of a group of people caught up in the cataclysm of the French Revolution and the Terror.
**Dickens Charles, David Copperfield
Following the life of David through many sufferings and great adversity, the reader will also find many light-hearted moments in the company of a host of English fiction's greatest stars including Traddles, Uriah Heep and Creakle.
Doyle Roddy, The Snapper
An early offering from the Dublin writer whose work – often comic – portrays Irish working class life.
Fitzgerald Penelope, Offshore
Set among the houseboat community of the Thames, a mixed bag of the temporarily lost and the patently eccentric live on houseboats, rising and falling with the tide of the Thames.
Flanagan Richard, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
This is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost. Deeply moving and educational.
**Forster E.M, A Room with a View
Lucy has her rigid, middle-class life mapped out for her until she visits Florence with her uptight cousin Charlotte, and finds her neatly ordered existence thrown off balance. Will make you want to go to Florence and fall in love!
**Forster E.M, A Passage to India
Exploring issues of colonialism, faith and the limits of comprehension. Compellingly depicts the fate of individuals caught between the great political and cultural conflicts of the modern world.
Frantzen Jonathan, The Corrections
Frantzen’s more comic response to Delillo’s Underworld – family sage re-establishing (correcting) where connections lie.
Gaskell Elizabeth, Cranford
Stories that move from the gentle comedy of life in a small English town, to atmospheric horror in far north-west Wales, on to whimsically modified fairy tales set in a French chateau, as well as an engaging love story poetically evoking peasant life in wine-growing Germany.
**Ghosh Amitav, The Glass Palace
Rajkumar on a stall in the dusty square outside the royal palace, when the British force the Burmese royal family into exile. Rescued by a far-seeing Chinese merchant but haunted by his vision of the royal family, he journeys to the town in India where they’ve been exiled.
Grass Gunter, The Tin Drum
On his third birthday Oskar decides to stop growing. Haunted by the deaths of his parents and wielding his tin drum Oskar recounts the events of his extraordinary life; from the long nightmare of the Nazi era to his anarchic adventures.
**Greene Graham, Our Man in Havana
Set in Cuba, a vacuum cleaner salesman is offered extra income by a mysterious Englishman to do is carry out a little espionage and file a few reports. But when his fake reports start coming true, things suddenly get more complicated.
**Greene Graham, The Power and the Glory
During a vicious persecution of the clergy in Mexico, a worldly 'whisky priest', is on the run. With the police closing in, his routes of escape are shut off.. But compassion and humanity force him to his destiny, reluctant to abandon those who need him, and those he cares for.
Hall Radclyffe, The Well of Loneliness
Stephen is an ideal child of aristocratic parents – a fencer, a horse rider and a keen scholar. He grows to be a war hero, a bestselling writer and a loyal, protective lover. But Stephen is a woman, and her lovers are women. Banned for obscenity when published in 1928!
Hamilton Patrick, Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky
A world where people emerge from cheap lodgings in Pimlico to pour out their passions, hopes and despair in pubs and bars - a world of twenty thousand streets full of cruelty and kindness, comedy and pathos, wasted dreams and desires.
**Hardy Thomas, Jude the Obscure
Hardy’s portrait of Jude, the idealist and dreamer who is a prisoner of his own physical nature, is one of the most haunting and desperate of his creations.
**Hardy Thomas, Far From the Madding Crowd
The story of the young farmer Gabriel Oak and his love for and pursuit of the elusive Bathsheba Everdene, whose wayward nature leads her to both tragedy and true love.
**Hardy Thomas, Under the Greenwood Tree
A delightful portrayal of a picturesque rural society, tinged with gentle humour and quiet irony. Not merely a charming rural idyll, hints at the poignant disappearance of a long-lived and highly-valued traditional way of life.
**Hornby Nick, Fever Pitch
The book that launched the lad-lit genre single handedly. Constantly imitated but never matched, you don’t need to be a Gunner to enjoy this autobiography told through the medium of supporting a football team.
Irving John, A Prayer For Owen Meany
Meany will become your best friend, not just for the duration of the book but for a long time after. A compelling read.
James Henry, The Europeans
Concerned with the differences between the customs and manners of Europe and those of America. The book is essentially a comedy of love and marriage.
James Henry, Washington Square
James's masterly novel deftly interweaves the public and private faces of nineteenth-century New York society; it is also a deeply moving study of innocence destroyed.
Jones Lloyd, Mister Pip
A coming of age story set in a New Guinea island which is caught up in conflict – read it to find out how Dickens’ Great Expectations takes a central role for the local youngsters.
**Kafka Franz, Metamorphosis
Has been cited as one of the seminal works of fiction of the 20th century; the story begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, waking to find himself transformed (metamorphosed) into a large, monstrous insect-like creature.
King Han, The Vegetarian
Fraught, disturbing and beautiful, a novel about modern day South Korea, but also a novel about shame, desire and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.
Kingsolver Barbara, The Poisonwood Bible
Epic account of one family set against the backdrop of the struggle for independence in 1959 Congo.
Leonard Elmore, Rum Punch
Sharp, no-nonsense dialogue coupled with a tight story line and great characterisation produces a ripping yarn true to a crime thriller.
**Levy Andrea, Small Island
Prize winning novel linking together four London lives, based around a boarding house prepared to take on immigrants from the Caribbean in the racially charged early post-World War II years. Great love story too.
Mantel Hilary, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher stories
Ten bracingly subversive tales, beautiful characterisation and observation, summoning forth the horrors so often concealed behind everyday façades.
**Mantell Yann, Life of Pi
A fantastic yarn about a boy ship-wrecked with only a tiger and a zebra for company. A book that leaves you asking as many questions as it answers.
**McCarthy Cormac, The Road
A post apocalyptic planet Earth in perpetual nuclear winter where the landscape is dead and covered in a ubiquitous black ash that is choking and silencing every living thing. Bleak but un-put-downable!
**McEwan Ian, The Cement
A must in the coming-of-age genre. Weird, moving and twisted! A young woman rebels against her repressive religious upbringing in exploration of youth and her sexuality.
Mistry Rohinton, A Fine Balance
A truly great book - overwhelmingly sad and also shocking depiction of desperate lives in India. Remains with you long after the last page is read.
**Morrison Toni, Beloved
Dissects the issue of slavery in the 'deep South' and battles with the massive themes of time and identity. A beautifully poetic narrative style paradoxically describes the horrors of slavery.
**Morrison Toni, The Bluest Eye
Unlovely and unloved, Pecola prays each night for blue eyes like those of her privileged white schoolfellows. Intimate and expansive, unsparing in its truth-telling, The Bluest Eye shows how the past savagely defines the present.
**Orwell George, 1984
Winston Smith skilfully rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother. A dystopian masterpiece.
**Orwell George, Down and out in Paris and London
A vivid memoir of his time living among the desperately poor and destitute. Exposing a shocking, previously-hidden , the statistics of poverty are given a human face.
Paul Kingsnorth, The Wake
Post-apocalyptic novel set a thousand years ago, tells the story of Buccmaster of Holland, a free farmer of Lincolnshire, owner of three oxgangs, a man clinging to the Old Gods as the world changes drastically around him.
**Plath Sylvia, The Bell Jar
Penetrating insight into the psyche of a talented young woman undergoing a breakdown.
Pratchett Ann, Bel Canto
Unexpected bonds forged between hostages and terrorists at a party held the vice President of a South American country.
**Rhys Jean, Wide Sargasso Sea
The story of Jane Eyre's 'madwoman in the attic', Bertha, a Jamaican, white Creole heiress Antoinette meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent beauty and sensuality. A study of betrayal, this seminal work of postcolonial literature, is a beautiful masterpiece.
**Roy Arundhati, The God of Small Things
Beautiful and evocative story bring to life Kerala in Southern India.
**Shriver Lionel, We Need to Talk About Kevin
A mother writes letters to her estranged husband examining feelings for her son who is responsible for a school massacre. Prize winning portrayal of a last taboo: a mother who doesn’t love her son.
Shriver Lionel, Big Brother
A ferocious energy ,Big Brother not only examines why we overeat, but asks more pressingly still: just how much should you sacrifice for someone who refuses to be saved?
Sittenfeld Curtis, American Wife
Gorgeously written, weaves race, class, fate and wealth into a brilliant tapestry. A novel in which the unexpected is inevitable, and pleasures and pain of intimacy and love are laid bare.
**Smith Zadie, White Teeth
Comic novel about the mixing of racial, social and religious identities in the North London.
Swift Graham, Waterland
A cracking yarn of murder and sexual discovery against a Fenland backdrop. But what's special about this macabre literary thriller is the way the story is told – an interesting narrative style!
**Tartt Donna, A Secret History
Literary and classy crime thriller set around a US university campus.
**Tolbin Colm, Brooklyn
Ireland in the early 50s, Eilis, goes to New York in search for opportunities. There she is confronted by a terrible dilemma - a devastating choice between love and duty.
Tremain Rose, Music and Silence
Lyrically reproduces the rich fabric of 17th Century Denmark. Narrated by four different narrators, all of whom are inextricably linked together.
Trollope Anthony, Can you Forgive Her?
Traces the fortunes of three very different women, exploring if social obligations and personal happiness can coincide. A telling account of the social world of Victorian moral codes.
**Trumbo Dalton, Johnny Get his Gun
The story of a WWI soldier, horrifically wounded in battle to the point where he is totally cut off from the outside world. With only his memories for company, he attempts to make sense of his situation, and make the most of his world, as it is. Profound and political.
**Walker Alice, The Color Purple
Classic feminist study of racial and sexual identity in the American South.
**Waters Sarah, Fingersmith
Melodramatic lesbian Victoriana and gripping suspense in this critique of Victorian moral and sexual hypocrisy.
Wharton Edith, Ethan Frome
Draws life as it really was in the lonely villages and desolate farms of the harsh New England mountains. Wharton explores psychological dead-lock:frustration, longing, resentment, passion.
**Wharton Edith, Age of Innocence
Subtly satirical, but also a sometimes dark and disturbing comedy of manners in its exploration of the 'eternal triangle' of love. Set against the backdrop of upper-class 1870s New York.
**Wilde Oscar, The Picture of Dorian Gray
A brilliantly designed puzzle, intended to tease conventional minds with its exploration of the myriad interrelationships between art, life, and consequence. The story self-consciously experiments with the notion of sin as an element of design.
Winterson Jeanette, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
A young woman rebels against her repressive religious upbringing in exploration of youth and her sexuality.
**Wright Richard, Native Son
Powerful meditation of poverty and hopelessness, following the life of Bigger Thomas, a young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a white woman.
Yates Richard, Revolutionary Road
A bright young couple, who are bored by the banalities of suburban life, long to be extraordinary. With heart-breaking compassion and clarity, Yates shows how the characters’ decision to change their leads to betrayal and tragedy.

Student Friendly AOs

AO1: Articulate informed, personal and creative responses to literary texts, using associated concepts and terminology, and coherent, accurate written expression.
- This means you need to be making sensible relevant points that are rooted in the text and supported by evidence. You also have to write accurately and clearly and use literary terminology.

AO2: Analyse ways in which meanings are shaped in literary texts.
- This means you need to support your ideas by looking at the writers’ methods and how these help to create meaning and effects. These should include choice of form, (the type of text it is) and language (individual choices of words and figurative language), with particular focus on how the structure (the arrangement /pattern of the text) helps to do this.

AO3: Demonstrate understanding of the significance and influence of the contexts in which literary texts are written and received.
- This means you should consider how the social and historical context of a text might influence the writing; you also need to consider the influence of the genre as well as the context of reception (where/when it was read/watched).

AO4: Explore connections across literary texts.
-This means you should be making links to the genre of the text i.e. tragedy. This is where you make explicit references to features and aspects of tragedy across your set texts.

AO5: Explore literary texts informed by different interpretations.
-This means you should look at more than one interpretation of the text; you need to look at multiple meanings and readings of a text. Wider reading of literary criticism will help develop your ideas.



Mark Band Descrptors
Band 5 Perceptive / assured
Band 4 Coherent / Thorough
Band 3 Straightforward / relevant
Band 2 simple / generalised
Band 1 largely irrelevant / largely misunderstood /largely inaccurate

For more information and reading lists see school website: curriculum/ KS5.

For wider reading refer to English and Media Centre online magazine:
Enter emagazine student area and use log on your teacher will give you to access articles/essays.


A Level Literature Expectations

Expectations on missing a lesson


  • On your first day back in school, ask your classmates what work you missed. You also need to find or contact your teacher to get any worksheets/handouts you missed. The work may also be on the shared area/blog or be forwarded to you. If you know you will be absent, email the teacher; s/he will be able to support you to catch up. You also need to make sure that you know what the homework was, if homework was set. Your teacher will give you their email address and they are also on the school website.


  • Also on your first day back, hand in any homework that was due in the lesson you missed.
  • By the next lesson you should have:

- Caught up with all lesson work missed
- Completed homework that was set in that lesson and have it for handing in.
- NB: The onus is on you to catch up on work missed


Expectations for handing in homework


  • You are expected to record homework and deadlines in your planner.
  • Homework must be handed in on the due date with your name on it.
  • If you know you are going to miss the lesson, it is your responsibility to tell the teacher prior to the lesson so that other arrangements can be made.


Expectations for when the teacher is absent


  • Come to the lesson as usual and read the instructions on the door. All tasks and worksheets will be in a plastic wallet on the door, together with a register sheet OR you will receive an email explaining what to do or where to get the resources.
  • Sign the register and take the relevant sheets.
  • Complete all the tasks set and, if the work has to be handed in by the end of the lesson, place it back in the plastic wallet, or give it to an English teacher to put on the teacher’s table in the office (make sure you know the name of the teacher you gave it to, in case we have to trace it).

Expectations for attendance and punctuality


  • All lessons should be attended on time.
  • Any lessons missed without a valid note in the planner or a note from Ms Billington will be treated as unauthorised and you will be expected to make up the hour with Ms Gilbert.
  • Repeated lateness will be monitored and late time added together to be made up after school.
  • Students may be denied entry into the lesson if they are more than 10 minutes late.

Expectations for equipment and books/notes


  • You will be expected to bring the following to every lesson:

- Pens / Highlighters
- English book/ plastic folder
- Planner
- Worksheets stuck into English book
- Relevant text/reading books


Expectations for classwork and behaviour


  • You will be expected to participate in all class discussions, paired work and group work, to the best of your ability.
  • The school code of conduct (available on the school website) will apply to all A Level students.
  • Mobile phones should be turned off in all lessons; at no point should they be visible or in use.
  • Headphones and other electronic equipment should be out of sight.


YOUR A-levels: YOUR responsibility


  • Failure to do the above will lead to one or more of the following as appropriate:

- Being sent out of the lesson to complete work (and possibly not allowed back in until the issue has been resolved)
- Being asked to come back and do the work during a free lesson
- Being asked to attend a catch-up session after school
- A phone call home and/or an entry on SIMs
- Work not being marked