Reading for A Level Literature

Recommended Reading for A Level Literature

You have chosen to study English Literature at A Level. Congratulations! Not only is Literature a ‘Facilitating Subject’ and very highly regarded by universities, but it is also more importantly a subject that will enrich your mind and soul.

Specific reading for the Lower Sixth September 2021

The texts will be slightly different according to which set you're in. However, you will all be studying ATONEMENT by IAN MCEWAN. This is a superb novel and it would be a very good idea to read it over the summer as you will be studying it from September.

You will also all be studying TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES  by THOMAS HARDY. You may find this challenging, but experience tells us that students really get into this novel the more they read, so do persevere. You will be studying this later in the year.

CRIME NOVELS: students sometimes find that the crime unit is a difficult transition from IGCSE. Those who come into the course having read some crime novels find this transition easier. It would be VERY useful for you to have read one or two novels by AGATHA CHRISTIE,  as she is easily the most successful crime writer in history. The odd SHERLOCK HOLMES short story would also be useful. 

If you want to read something more modern, have a look at this list: www.independent.co.uk/extras/indybest/books/fiction-books/best-crime-books-novels-thrillers-fiction-reading-mystery-sellers-new-releases-a9610681.html

Studying English at University (including Oxbridge)

If you’re considering Literature at university then it is essential that you expand your literary horizons. Literature is a competitive subject and a personal statement that boasts of reading ‘The Life of Pi’ and the Harry Potter series isn’t as impressive as it might sound.

You can’t read everything- but you can have a go!

Some tips:

· Be eclectic in your tastes: classical and modern, comic and tragic etc.

· Don’t be too mainstream.

· Avoid texts that are on syllabuses.

· Try out writers that have become unfashionable: Greene, Conrad, Kipling, Lawrence, Woolf, Murdoch.

· Don’t be formulaic about it but try to be able to say something about at least one writer from different historical periods.

· If one writer really grabs you, make yourself an expert on him/her (as long as s/he isn’t too mainstream).

· Take part in the Booker Prize Challenge