in English Literature

It’s so important to read consistently, from a young age – and so many of my students admit to me, ashamed, that they never really find the time to read – or they don’t enjoy it – or they find it boring or too hard. Well, I’m telling you now – if you don’t read regularly, there’s no way you’ll get good at English. Especially if you’re aiming for top grades in an exam. Especially if you’re aiming for a high position in a future job or career – because English builds communication skills, and no matter what you want to do later in life if you can’t communicate clearly and effectively then it will always stop you from progressing.

Reading List for Students
Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

So, now I’ve convinced you to read here’s some tips to make it easier and more enjoyable:

Develop a habit of reading.

  • Either set a time of day where you always read – when you wake up, go to bed or travel somewhere is always good. Or, develop some kind of space in your life where you devote time just for yourself and your reading. It’s hard to do this even for those of us who do love books, you have to be disciplined with yourself – ask your parents to set it as a homework task if you’ll struggle to fit it in by yourself. I would honestly aim for a minimum of 2 hours of reading per week. Once you’re really into a book, it’ll be hard to read that little!

Find a book that interests you.

  • If a book is boring or hard, it’s either because it isn’t the right genre for you or because the reading level is too high. Work your way slowly up reading levels, and until you’re confident with reading never try anything too challenging or complex because it could just put you off completely. Over time as you read your level will improve, and more difficult books will become accessible to you. If you start with James Joyce or Shakespeare, it’s going to be like trying to run a marathon without any training!

Keep a reading diary.

  • I actually only just started this one recently but it’s been a life-changing habit! Keeping track of things you like and don’t like about books is a really fun thing to do, it’s also good generally to keep a journal and document your life – it’s so interesting to look back on your thoughts and experiences a few years down the line. For your diary, just write what you read and whether you liked it or not, and why. Then if you like you can make more extensive notes on characters, setting or write out quotations if you’re really passionate about it.

Start with short stories if you’re afraid of full books.

  • These are such a fun way to start reading, and it’s satisfying to feel like you finished a story without having to commit to an entire novel. I’ve put a list of short stories below for you.

Don’t be afraid to give up!

  • I’m serious. There’s a sense of failure that really deflates you when you choose not to get to the end of a book – you feel like an idiot, or a lazy person because you couldn’t finish the whole story. This is a complete lie! Don’t listen to your brain if it tells you this (mine totally does). Actually, it’s a sign of maturity and strength of character to admit when you don’t like a book, so long as you can figure out why you don’t like it and you have a valid reason, then it’s totally fine to give up and move on to the next one – that way, you’re always reading things that keep you passionate about reading, and not forcing yourself into reading things that put you off.

Thanks for reading! If you’re looking for more help with English, you can check out our full list of courses.

READING LIST

Fantasy: 

Charmed Life – Diana Wynne Jones 

The Lives of Christopher Chant – Diana Wynne Jones 

Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones 

Northern Lights – Philip Pullman 

The Subtle Knife – Philip Pullman 

The Amber Spyglass – Philip Pullman 

The Hobbit – JRR Tolkein 

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke 

Adventure: 

A series of Unfortunate Events (all 13 books!) – Lemony Snickett 

The Call of the Wild – Jack London 

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins 

City of Beasts – Isabel Allende 

Percy Jackson series – Rick Riordan 

Swallows and Amazons – Arthor Ransome

Holes – Louis Sachar 

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

Realism: 

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee 

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott 

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen 

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte 

Winter’s Bone – Daniel Woodrell 

Witch Child – Celia Rees 

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens 

Crime/ Thriller/ Horror : 

House of Silk – Anthony Horowitz 

I’m the King of the Castle – Susanna Hill

The House of Salt and Sorrows – Erin A Craig 

Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier 

The Fall of the House of Usher – Edgar Allen Poe 

The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman 

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie

Short Stories:

Katherine Mansfield – all her stories! She’s amazing

Kashtanka – Chekhov

The Gift of the Magi – O Henry

The Custody of the Pumpkin – PG Wodehouse

The Garden of Forking Paths – Jorge Borges

The Veldt – Ray Bradbury

The Tell Tale Heart – Edgar Allen Poe 

Why don’t you dance? – Raymond Carver

The Oxford Book of Short Stories – AS Byatt (A whole collection)

Thanks for reading! If you’re looking for more help with English, you can check out our full list of courses.

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