The Alternative Reading List

Literary Review Editor | Rachel Farguson

As August draws to a close and September looms in the not-so-distant future, many of us will be feeling like we’re running out of time to read for pleasure. When you’ve been asked to read four novels a week and prepare three questions to ask your seminar group on each one, this feeling is ultimately unsurprising. However, this needn’t be the case. Although summer is drawing to a close, here’s a list of some fantastic reads, recommended by Literary Review section writers, to keep you captivated as term begins! So, in no particular order…


1. ‘The Magic Flutes’ by Eva Ibbotsen

Recommended by Charlie Mills

The book that restores my faith in love every time I doubt it.


2. ‘Throne of Glass’ Series by Sarah J. Maas

Recommended by Emmä Currie

A kick ass fierce assassin fighting for her freedom in a hunger-games-esque competition. What more could you want in a book?


3. ‘A Man in Love’ by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Recommended by Jack Wright

The second in the Norwegian author’s semi-autobiographical series, ‘My Struggle’, in which Knausgaard examines true love and fatherhood in his refreshing and characteristically honest style.


4. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen

Recommended by Jade

I love to read Jane Austen during the summer as I have the time to immerse myself in the wonderful writing and worlds, but they are also happy and feel good.


5. ‘Autumn’ by Ali Smith

Recommended by Tayhan Mustafa

Autumn is set during a U.K. in tatters following a vital summer, but skilfully bouncing through histories; a story about aging and time and love and stories themselves.


6. ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ by Gabriel García Márquez

Recommended by Poppy Weng

Magic realism is something between the lines that astonishes you but you don’t realise it.


7. ‘The Secret History’ by Donna Tart

Recommended by Reena Bakir and Tabitha Williams

Reena: One of the most intriguing and fascinating reads, The Secret History is filled with intricate and dreamy prose which carries you through the book with such ease, while remaining captivating throughout. The book opens with a murder, and then circles back in time to the beginning of all things, leaving an undeniable sense of mystery and suspense as events begin to unfold.

Tabitha:  A group of five Classics students descend into moral decline and become just like the tragedies in which they study.


8. ‘Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life’ by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles

Recommended by Sally Gibbs

It was such an easy read (I read it in a day!) and it will be something I refer to in the future. There are so many self-motivation / success books out there but ‘Ikigai’ was very different – it didn’t simply tell me to ‘do this and do that’. People discover their ‘reason for being’ at various points in their lives and it often involves throwing yourself out of your comfort zone to realise what it is!


9. ‘My Man Jeeves’ by P.G. Wodehouse

Recommended by Collette Firestone

A completely light-hearted collection of short stories set in the 1920s, which gently mock the upper classes while keeping the characters relatable and likeable!


10. ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn

Recommended by Erin Offord

I would pick ‘Gone Girl’ as my top pick for a summer read. Flynn creates not only an intense, but incredibly chilling story that captivates its audience entirely. You will find yourself completely immersed within this book.


11. ‘Let Me Tell You’ by Paul Griffiths

Recommended by Rachel Farguson

I first encountered this book during an English Literature Society event earlier this year. The novella is written in “Ophelian”, using only the words spoken by Ophelia throughout ‘Hamlet’. It is truly fantastic in both concept and content.

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