Suggested GCSE Prep Reading List: English Literary Classics
All these are available to borrow from the school library or Mr Morgan’s room. You can also go this online resource: Further Reading
1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
This tale of life in a bleak farmhouse on the Yorkshire moors. Populated largely by characters whose inability to control their own emotions leads to violence and revenge, it’s a tale that spans two generations and two families. At the heart of the story is the mysterious ‘gypsy’, Heathcliff, adopted as a ragamuffin child into the Earnshaw family to live at Wuthering Heights.
2. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Here is another coming-of-age story, and arguably one of the greatest ever told. It tells the tale of Pip, an orphan from a poor background who learns a valuable lesson in life after his acquisition of personal wealth proves an unsatisfying experience that changes him for the worse, driving him away from the only people who’ve ever loved him. Along the way he meets the enigmatic Miss Havisham, an old lady jilted at the altar decades ago, who has frozen everything in her house at the moment at which her life was so tragically altered.
3. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (not quite pre-twentieth century, but still contains complex language, themes and ideas – one of Ms Williams’ favourite books)
Follows a cast of characters living in the fictional town of West Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer of 1922. The story primarily concerns the young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his quixotic passion and obsession for the beautiful former debutante Daisy Buchanan.
4. Dracula by Bram Stoker
Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author 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 so that he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and of the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.
5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Tells the story of a young science student Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque but sentient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment.
6. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
The book is presented as an autobiography of the title character, a castaway who spends thirty years on a remote tropical island near Trinidad, encountering cannibals, captives, and mutineers, before ultimately being rescued.
7. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The story centres around a man who is wrongfully imprisoned, escapes from jail, acquires a fortune, and sets about getting revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment. However, his plans have devastating consequences for the innocent as well as the guilty.
8. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
The story of respectable Dr Jekyll's strange association with the 'damnable young man' Edward Hyde; the hunt through fog-bound London for a killer; and the final revelation of Hyde's true identity is a chilling exploration of humanity's basest capacity for evil. This will be studied in year 11 but would be a good idea to read it ahead of time!
9. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Monomaniacal Captain Ahab seeks vengeance on the white whale which ate his leg.