1. Atonement – Ian McEwan
A coming-of-age tale that focuses on thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis and her aspirations to be a writer. It is written in three parts, beginning in 1935 and ending in 1999, and covers themes such as love, loss, innocence, guilt, war, and identity. Although a modern novel, the language, and plot capture the pain of war and the passing of time.
2. Book Thief, The – Markus Zusak
This book is set in Germany during the Second World War. It follows the story of Liesel a young girl who steals books to read as a source of comfort. The book is narrated by Death which gives it a unique tone. The novel tells of history and struggle but also of knowledge and growing up.
3. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
Set between the 1920s and early ’40s, this novel explores the life of Charles Ryder and his involvement with Sebastian and Julia Flyte. The book contains a deep sense of nostalgia whilst also exploring themes of romance, Catholicism, homosexuality, and the aristocracy. It is a classic and a novel that speaks of a certain time with assurance and skill.
4. Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
This novel is set in Georgia during the time of the American Civil War. This coming-of-age tale follows the struggles of the fiery Scarlet O’Hara and her attempts to escape a life of poverty. It is a large book and contains a wonderful amount of depth and detail.
5. Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
This novel is written in epistolary form and is constructed through a series of letters sent between characters. The story explores the German occupation of Guernsey during WWII and the effect this had on the islanders. Its protagonist, Juliet Ashton, is an author who compiles the letters to create a novel. It has a unique style and the characters are easy to fall in love with.
6. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Bronte writes of Jane Eyre, a tormented orphan who becomes a governess at a large house named Thornfield. The story shifts from Jane’s life with her aunt to an orphanage and then onto her life at Thornfield under the master, Mr Rochester. The novel contains struggle and heartbreak but also a profound sense of romance and love.
7. Lord of the Ring’s, The – J. R. R. Tolkien
A summary couldn’t do justice to The Lord of the Rings. Filled with excitement, the fantastical, and great adventure, it is one classic series that should never go unread.
8. Northern Lights – Philip Pullman
This fantasy novel follows the story of an unusual and special girl named Lyra. It begins in Oxford before moving to London and eventually to the cold, icy North. The mystery and intrigue of the novel keep every page exciting, filled with horror and adventure but also friendship and love.
9. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Another classic that a description cannot do justice to. A novel filled with family, sisterhood, love, wit, and charm.
10. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca begins with the meeting of the nameless protagonist and Maxim de Winter. She is shy and innocent and he is a widower with an estate. The new Mrs de Winter is continually haunted by reminders of Maxim’s first wife, Rebecca. The story traces the newlywed's romance which is tainted by dark secrets that are slowly revealed. The beautiful writing and mysterious happenings instantly make Rebecca a page-turner.