World Book Day 2021: Books that Everyone Should Read

March 4, 2021
Students

 

In honour of World Book Day we’ve put together a list of our top reads for all ages:

Young Adult + 

Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

This gothic classic tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, the gifted scientist who tries and succeeds in playing god by instilling life into one of his monstrous creations. Read how Victor’s ambition and success quickly crumble as things don’t quite turn out how he imagined when his monster rejects its master and turns against mankind. 

Key themes: dangerous knowledge, sublime nature, monstrosity, secrecy

 

1Q84 - Haruki Murakami 

In the year 1Q84, there are two moons. Discover how the fates of two people are closely intertwined across parallel universes in this magical and mysterious 3-part series. 

Key Themes: fantasy, religion, loneliness, mystery

 

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead - Olga Tokarczuk 

The Polish author, and Man Booker International Prize-winner Olga Tokarczuk, returns with a subversive and entertaining noir novel. Join the inner thoughts of Janina Duszejo as she recounts the events surrounding and following the disappearance of her two dogs. 

Key themes: mystery, thriller, astrology, religious hypocrisy 

 

Stoner - John Williams

Stoner’s psychological fiction follows William Stoner’s undistinguished career and workplace politics and his unhappy marriage with his wife Edith, his affair and his pursuit and passion for literature. 

Key Themes: passion, failure, loneliness 

 

Educated - Tara Westover 

The amazing autobiographical tale of Tara Westover’s fundamentalist Mormon upbringing and having to choose between her patriarchal family and a University education. 

Key themes: religion, bildungsroman, education

 

Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie 

Rushdie’s Booker-winning novel tells the story of India’s transition from British colonial rule to independence. It’s a book full of magical realism and is narrated by Saleem Sinai, a boy born at the exact moment of Indian independence with powers of telepathy and an unusually sensitive sense of smell. 

Key themes: magical realism, post-colonialism 

 

White Teeth - Zadie Smith

This was Zadie Smith’s debut novel, an epic story spanning three generations of families in London. It spans a period from the 1970s to the 1990s, focusing on the lives of Englishman Archie Jones and Bangladeshi Samad Iqbal and their families. 

Key themes: family, London, race, gender

 

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

Atwood’s novel pictures a dystopian future in which fertility is a precious commodity and fertile women are rounded up by fundamentally religious leaders to bear them children. It’s a disturbing version of 21st century America, mostly because there’s a great deal of truth reflected in Atwood’s writing. 

Key themes: dystopia, religion, feminism

 

8+ // Young Teen

Animal Farm - George Orwell 

‘All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others’. This famous quote from Animal Farm summarises the story, what happens when one absolute leader (the human farmer) is overthrown by a new leadership (the pigs) who say they intend to liberate the other animals. Do leaders stick to their vision of an equal society, or are they totally corrupted by their newfound power? 

Key themes: allegory, equality, dictatorship, liberty

 

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald 

An opulent depiction of 1920s America and the destructive, greedy power of the American Dream which lurked beneath its beautiful surface. 

Key themes: American Dream, capitalism, love, greed, power

 

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series (5 books) - Rick Riordan

This mythological series of adventures starts with the protagonist Percy Jackson in the Lighting Thief. Riordan cleverly intertwines greek mythology with teen drama following the adventures of Percy after discovering he is the demi-god son of Poseidon. If you like these be sure to check out Riordan’s Egyptian mythology series The Kane Chronicles.

Key themes: identity, transformation, friendship, deceit

 

Inkheart Trilogy - Cornelia Funke

This internationally celebrated fantasy novel follows Meggie the bookish twelve-year-old who learns that her bookbinding father, ‘Mo’ has the gift of bringing fictional characters to real life, just by reading aloud. This book about books is a favourite amongst readers of all ages.

Key themes: family, memory, the supernatural, literature

 

Alex Rider Series (14 books) - Anthony Horowitz

Starting with Stormbreaker, Horowitz sets up his series to follow the life of teen spy Alex Rider. Join Alex as his life is changed forever after the death of his spy uncle Ian Rider. Alex is recruited into the ranks of MI6 to begin a reluctant career in espionage and carries out a series of life-threatening missions that take him all across the globe. 

Key themes: mortality, coming of age, deceit, technology

 

 

Varjak Paw - S.F. Said

Aimed at young readers, British author S. F. Said creates a world full of adventure, action and mystery told from an animal's point of view. The first book in the series follows Varjak Paw the Mespotatmian Blue cat who is considered an outcast by his family due to his amber coloured eyes. A series of events causes Varjak to leave his cushy family home and set out into the world. Join Varjak as he tries to follow ‘the way’ (an ancient martial art for cats) and become a street cat.

Key themes: family, friendship, loss, danger

 

Wolf Brother - Chronicles of Ancient Darkness - Michelle Paver 

Wolf Brother is the first book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. Plunge into life as it was 6 thousand years ago during the Middle Stone Age. The story starts with Torak and his wolf-brother companion on their quest to fulfil the dying wish of Torak’s father, who is killed by a demon-possessed bear.

Key themes: spirituality, friendship, brotherhood

 

 

Children

 Hairy Maclary and Friends - Lynley Dodd 

A sweet collection of picture books about Hairy Maclary, a silly hairy dog, and his adventures with his fellow canine friends. These include Hercules Morse, as big as a horse, and Schnitzel von Krumm, with his very low tum. 

Key themes: animals, friendship, adventure

Princess Smartypants - Babette Cole 

Babette Cole’s picture books are legendary. The illustrations are brilliant and the stories hilarious and Princess Smartypants is no exception. The princess doesn’t want to get married and you’ll find out all the funny ways she tries to maintain her independence in this chaotic and silly story.

Key themes: princesses and princes, modern fairy-tale, independence

 

The Butterfly Lion - Michael Morpurgo 

An inspirational story based on true events The Butterfly Lion is a heart-wrenching tale of a young Bertie and his incredible bond with a white lion cub who he rescues from the African bush. This heartwarming tale is ideal for children from the ages of 7 and above. 

Key themes: friendship, loneliness, hope 

The Twits - Roald Dahl

One of Roald Dahl’s best works, the hilarious story of what happens to the wicked and disgusting Twits when they are tricked by the Muggle-Wumps. 

Key themes: humour, moral tale, trickery 

The Worst Witch - Jill Murphy 

A really enjoyable series about Mildred Hubble and her adventures at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. Mildred is a funny, clumsy and relatable protagonist who all children will love. 

Key themes: witches, fantasy, boarding school 


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Elise Pearce

As our Head of Content, Elise’s role involves everything from email campaigns to web content; if you spot a typo, you know who to blame. A lover of all things creative, she studied History of Art at St. Andrews enjoys running and painting in her spare time. At home, when she's not busy chasing after her two Labradoodles, Flossy and Rupert, you'll catch her doing handstands on her yoga mat.

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