English Literature Summer Reading Choices

Alias Grace book image




 

Alias Grace
by Margaret Atwood

It's 1843, and Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer and his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.

An up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories?

Captivating and disturbing, Alias Grace showcases best-selling, Booker Prize-winning author Margaret Atwood at the peak of her powers.

To learn more about the book:

Book Trailer


As You Like It book image


As You Like It
by William Shakespeare

"A pastoral comedy, William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” is the story of a Duke, who is unjustly deposed by his younger brother Frederick, and flees to the Forest of Arden.”


To learn more about the book:

Read about the critical reception of the play





Dracula


Dracula
by Bram Stoker

“Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to move from Transylvania to England to spread the undead curse.”

To learn more about the book:

Read a short biography of the author







 
Emma book image

Emma
by Jane Austen

“Story of Emma Woodhouse, a young girl from a good home that does not need the financial support of a husband and is determined not to marry. Emma however is not opposed to the idea of marriage for others and is determined to play matchmaker between the local citizens.”

To learn more about the book:

See a biography of the author





 

Lord Jim book image

Lord Jim
by Joseph Conrad

Haunted by the memory of a moment of lost nerve during a disastrous voyage, Jim submits to condemnation by a Court of Inquiry. In the wake of his disgrace he travels to the exotic region of Patusan, and as the agent at this remote trading post comes to be revered as 'Tuan Jim.' Here he finds a measure of serenity and respect within himself. However, when a gang of thieves arrives on the island, the memory of his earlier disgrace comes again to the fore, and his relationship with the people of the island is jeopardized.

To learn more about the book:

Read a short biography of the author



 
Midnight's Child Book Image

Midnight's Children
by Salman Rushdie

Saleem Sinai was born at midnight, the midnight of India's independence, and found himself mysteriously "handcuffed to history" by the coincidence. He is one of 1,001 children born at the midnight hour, each of them endowed with an extraordinary talent - and whose privilege and curse it is to be both master and victims of their times. Through Saleem's gifts - inner ear and wildly sensitive sense of smell - we are drawn into a fascinating family saga set against the vast, colourful background of the India of the 20th century.

To learn more about the book:

Listen to Rushdie talk about truth in literature



 
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Mrs. Dalloway
by Virginia Woolf

“Virginia Woolf details Clarissa Dalloway’s preparations for a party of which she is to be hostess, exploring the hidden springs of thought and action in one day of a woman’s life. The novel "contains some of the most beautiful, complex, incisive and idiosyncratic sentences ever.”

To learn more about the book:

See a biography of the author





 
Mrs. Warrens Profession book image

Mrs. Warren's Profession
by George Bernard Shaw

Middle-aged Mrs. Warren is a madam, proprietress of a string of successful brothels. Her daughter, Vivie, is a modern young woman, but not so modern that she's not shocked to discover the source of her mother's wealth. The clash of these two strong-willed, but culturally constrained Victorian women, is the spark that ignites the ironic wit of one of George Bernard Shaw's greatest plays, in a withering critique of male domination, sexual hypocrisy, and societal convention. Initially banned after its 1893 publication due to its startling frankness, Mrs. Warren's Profession remains a powerful work of progressive theater.

To learn more about the book:

Watch theater people discuss the playwright



 
Rebecca Book Image

Rebecca
by Daphne Du Maurier

 

The Mill on the Floss book image
 

The Mill on the Floss
by George Eliot

Brought up at Dorlcote Mill, Maggie Tulliver worships her brother Tom and is desperate to win the approval of her parents, but her passionate, wayward nature and her fierce intelligence bring her into constant conflict with her family. As she reaches adulthood, the clash between their expectations and her desires is painfully played out as she finds herself torn between her relationships with three very different men: her proud and stubborn brother, a close friend who is also the son of her family's worst enemy, and a charismatic but dangerous suitor. With its poignant portrayal of sibling relationships, The Mill on the Floss is considered George Eliot's most autobiographical novel; it is also one of her most powerful and moving.

To learn more about the book:

What it means to read this novel today



 
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Tom Jones
by Henry Fielding

“Misfortune, followed by many spirited adventures as he travels to London to seek his fortune, teach Tom Jones a sort of wisdom to go with his essential good-heartedness.

A foundling of mysterious parentage brought up by Mr. Allworthy on his country estate, Tom Jones is deeply in love with the seemingly unattainable Sophia Western, the beautiful daughter of the neighboring squire—though he sometimes succumbs to the charms of the local girls. When Tom is banished to make his own fortune and Sophia follows him to London to escape an arranged marriage, the adventure begins. A vivid Hogarthian panorama of eighteenth-century life, spiced with danger and intrigue, bawdy exuberance and good-natured authorial interjections, Tom Jones is one of the greatest and most ambitious comic novels in English literature."

To learn more about the book:




 
Vanity Fair book image

Vanity Fair
by William Makepeace Thackeray

Set during the Napoleonic wars, Vanity Fair follows Becky Sharp as she cuts a swathe through Regency society. Thackeray paints a satirical, panoramic portrait of the age, with war, money, and national identity his great subjects.”

To learn more about the book:

Read a biography of the novelist






 
White Teeth book image

White Teeth
by Zadie Smith

On New Year's morning, 1975, Archie Jones sits in his car on a London road and waits for the exhaust fumes to fill his Cavalier Musketeer station wagon. Archie—working-class, ordinary, a failed marriage under his belt—is calling it quits, the deciding factor being the flip of a 20-pence coin. When the owner of a nearby halal butcher shop (annoyed that Archie's car is blocking his delivery area) comes out and bangs on the window, he gives Archie another chance at life and sets in motion this richly imagined, uproariously funny novel.

Epic and intimate, hilarious and poignant, White Teeth is the story of two North London families—one headed by Archie, the other by Archie's best friend, a Muslim Bengali named Samad Iqbal. Pals since they served together in World War II, Archie and Samad are a decidedly unlikely pair. Plodding Archie is typical in every way until he marries Clara, a beautiful, toothless Jamaican woman half his age, and the couple have a daughter named Irie (the Jamaican word for "no problem"). Samad —devoutly Muslim, hopelessly "foreign"— weds the feisty and always suspicious Alsana in a prearranged union. They have twin sons named Millat and Magid, one a pot-smoking punk-cum-militant Muslim and the other an insufferable science nerd. The riotous and tortured histories of the Joneses and the Iqbals are fundamentally intertwined, capturing an empire's worth of cultural identity, history, and hope.

To learn more about the book:

See the Author Interview