Wednesday 5 August 2020

Top 5 Books to Read for Prospective English Lit Students

If you’re hoping to start an English Literature degree in September and your reading lists haven’t been released yet, below are some fresh texts that you might not have discovered yet, that will stand you in good stead for degree level study. 

Beckett’s Endgame is completely different to any play I have ever read before. It is perfect to bridge the gap between A-levels and degree level; the ambiguous dialogue forces you to really widen out your interpretations and consequently develop your own unique take on the play. 

Oswald’s Memorial is a different reading experience depending on whether you have read or have knowledge of the Iliador not. However, I still think it is a nice introduction if you are just starting to venture into Greek Mythology. It details how the soldiers in the Iliad lost their lives in battle, with some really poignant and memorable descriptions. 

The Metamorphoses is one of Kafka’s top short stories; it would definitely be the one I would start with if I was new to Kafka. The male protagonist wakes up as a beetle, so consequently the reader sees how his family react with his new form. The short story, along with Kafka’s other works, is unique, engrossing and has a well-formed ending.

Dubliners is a collection of short stories, some longer than others, centring on the idea of Dublin being in a state of paralysis and how the people of the city interact with each other. Even just picking up one of these short stories gives you a glimpse of how Joyce captures 20th century Dublin so well.  

Katherine Mansfield’s Selected Stories, like Dubliners, has short stories of varying lengths, focussing particularly on how women and families navigate their lives in a World War One setting. All of the short stories are vivid, engaging and crisp, so you can’t go wrong with them.  


  1. Great recommendations! I was forced to read Dubliners twice during my “career” as an English lit student. I’d also recommend a book called How To Read Literature Like A Professor. I wish I’d read that when I was a teenager. It would have given me a head start.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!


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