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Recommended Reading by Subject



This recommended reading list is mainly aimed at A Level students, but can be enjoyed by anyone who is a good reader!

  Private Life of the Brain – Susan Greenfield

Written by a neuropharmacologist, this book is very accessible and assumes little former knowledge about the subject. The book takes a very multi-disciplinary approach, making it a very riveting read for any Medic!

Bad Science – Ben Goldacre

This is a wise and witty bestseller, shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, lifts the lid on quack doctors, flaky statistics, scaremongering journalists and evil pharmaceutical corporations. A great book to help you with you evaluation skills of data and deciding whether experiments are trustworthy.

Complications – Atul Gawande

Whilst focusing on complications in surgery, this book is an honest discussion about the social and ethical dilemmas faced in the medical world – everything from who novice surgeons should be practicing on to medical negligence issues. Very interesting.


Emperor of all Maladies – Siddhartha Mukherjee

A look at modern day views on cancer as a disease and its various treatments

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat – Oliver Sacks

An interesting look at neurological conditions. Oliver Sacks looks at the psychological and philosophical reasons behind each of his patients different maladies. 

Bad Pharma – Ben Goldacre

In the wake of his comic expose Bad Science, this is more systematic medical journalism about the drugs industry.

The Viral Storm – Nathan Wolfe

Counters the suggestion that fear about pandemics is merely caused by scaremongering, exploring how proximity to various animal species has increased the threat of this rapid disease spread.

The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine – James Le Fanu

A gripping read about the history of medicine from the Second World War until the present day. Le Fanu’s argument is that an intense period of medical progress and innovation followed the 1939 – 1945 war, which resulted in medicine conquering all the major chronic diseases which affected the young and old. Following 1970, there only remained a few rarer diseases and the progress slowed. This is an incredible story about research and treatment as well as an insight into the way that modern medicine views disease.

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution – Richard Dawkins

Everyone has read The Selfish Gene, but this is the most recent offering for adults from Dawkins. With every book, he continues in his relentless crusade against creationist theories. Like his others, this is well written, but be careful not to adopt too many of his opinions without proper thought and deliberation. Think about what you don’t agree with as well.

The Single Helix – Steve Jones

‘I read this when I was applying’ says one of our tutors – brilliantly written overview of where research currently stands on genetics. Obviously a few years old now, so not fully up-to-date but still fascinating




  • Chemistry Review (subscription available through school)
  • Catalyst

Wider Reading for Pleasure/Interest/UCAS

Bad Science – Ben Goldacre

This is a wise and witty bestseller, shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, lifts the lid on quack doctors, flaky statistics, scaremongering journalists and evil pharmaceutical corporations. A great book to help you with you evaluation skills of data and deciding whether experiments are trustworthy.

Chemistry In the Marketplace – Ben Selinger

Chemistry in the Marketplace provides fresh explanations, fascinating facts, and funny anecdotes about the serious science in the products we buy and the resources we use. With chapters on the chemistry found in different parts of our home, in the backyard, and in the world around us, Ben Selinger and Russell Barrow explain how things work, where marketing can be deceptive, and what risks you should really be concerned about. This book might even save you some money!

Elegant Solutions: Ten Beautiful Experiments In Chemistry – Phillip Ball

This book offers ten suggestions for where beauty might reside in experimental chemistry. In some cases the beauty lies in the clarity of conception; sometimes it is a feature of the instrumental design. But for chemistry, there can also be a unique beauty in the way atoms are put together to make new molecules, substances not known in nature.

Magic Molecules: How Drugs Work – Susan Aldridge

All of us are drug users, in the broadest sense of the word. Drugs can be medicines, they can be used for pleasure, and they can also be used to protect our long-term health. It is important that we are well informed about the drugs we use - how they work, their benefits and their risks. This book is a unique guide for the general science reader to the drugs of everyday life - from the main types of medicine through to recreational drugs and food supplements.

Molecules of Murder: Criminal Molecules and Classic Cases – John Emsley

"Molecules of Murder" describes ten highly toxic molecules which are of particular interest due to their use in notorious murder cases. Each chapter explores the discovery of the molecules, their chemistry and effects in humans, followed by a re-examination of their deliberate misuse in high profile murder cases! Including a glossary of technical terms.

Nature’s Building Blocks – John Emsley

In this readable, informative, and fascinating guide to the elements are entries on each of the 100-odd chemical elements, arranged alphabetically from actinium to zirconium. Each entry comprises an explanation of where the element's name comes from, followed by Body element (the role it plays in living things), Element of history (how and when it was discovered), Economic element (what it is used for), Environmental element (where it occurs, how much), Chemical element (facts, figures, and narrative), and Element of surprise (an amazing, little-known fact).

Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Everything in the universe is made of them, including you.  Like you, the elements have personalities, attitudes, talents, shortcomings, stories rich with meaning.  Here you'll meet iron that rains from the heavens and noble gases that light the way to vice. You'll learn how lead can tell your future while zinc may one day line your coffin. You'll discover what connects the bones in your body with the Whitehouse in Washington, the glow of a streetlamp with the salt on your dinner table.

Prometheans In The Lab: Chemistry And The Making of The Modern World – Sharon Bertsch McGrayne

Biographies of nine chemists who solved critical social problems and built both the chemical industry and our modern way of life. Their discoveries -- white clothes, cheap soap and sugar, coloured washable fabric, clean water, fertilizer, powerful aviation and automotive fuel, safe refrigerants, synthetic textiles, pesticides, and lead-free fuel and food -- were wildly popular with consumers.

The Disappearing Spoon – Sam Kean

The periodic table is one of our crowning scientific achievements, but it's also a treasure trove of passion, adventure, betrayal and obsession. The fascinating tales in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, gold and every single element on the table as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, conflict, the arts, medicine and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out – Richard Feynman

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out collects the best short works of rule-breaking genius Richard Feynman, showing his passion for knowledge and sense of fun at their most infectious.

The Shocking History of Phosphorus: A Biography of the Devil’s Element – John Emsely

The Shocking History of Phosphorus is the biography of a terrifying chemical element that was discovered long before humans were capable of controlling its awesome power. Born of the age of alchemy it brought wealth to a few and misery to many, in the form of medicines, matches, poisons, and warfare agents.

The Truth About Hormones – Vivienne Parry

Hormones rule our internal world: they control our growth, our metabolism, weight, water-balance, body clocks, fertility, muscle bulk, mood, speed of ageing, whether we want sex or not (and whether we enjoy it) and even whom we fall in love with. Their effects may occur in seconds and be over in a flash, or emerge over months and last for years. In The Truth About Hormones Vivienne Parry explains how exactly these mysteriously powerful chemicals affect our bodies and our behaviour.

Uncle Tungsten – Oliver Sacks

In Uncle Tungsten Oliver Sacks evokes, with warmth and wit, his upbringing in wartime England. He tells of the large science-steeped family who fostered his early fascination with chemistry. There follow his years at boarding school where, though unhappy, he developed the intellectual curiosity that would shape his later life. And we hear of his return to London, an emotionally bereft ten-year-old who found solace in his passion for learning. Uncle Tungsten radiates all the delight and wonder of a boy's adventures, and is an unforgettable portrait of an extraordinary young mind.

What is Chemistry? – Peter Atkins

Most people remember chemistry from their schooldays as a subject that was largely incomprehensible. For many the topic was seen as being fact-rich but understanding-poor, smelly, and so far removed from the real world of events and pleasures that there seemed little point, except for the most introverted, in coming to terms with its grubby concepts, spells, recipes and rules.

Why Chemical Reactions Happen – James Keeler and Peter Wothers

By tackling the most central ideas in chemistry, Why Chemical Reactions Happen provides the reader with all the tools and concepts needed to think like a chemist. The text takes a unified approach to the subject, aiming to help the reader develop a real overview of chemical processes, by avoiding the traditional divisions of physical, inorganic and organic chemistry.

13 Things That Don’t Make Sense – Michael Brooks

In an age when science is supposed to be king, scientists are beset by experimental results they simply can’t explain. But, if the past is anything to go by, these anomalies contain the seeds of future revolutions. While taking readers on an entertaining tour d’horizon of the strangest of scientific findings – involving everything from our lack of free will to Martian methane that offers new evidence of life on the planet – Michael Brooks argues that the things we don’t understand are the key to what we are about to discover.


  • ‘AQA A-level Chemistry 2’, Alyn G. McFarland, Nora Henry, Hodder Education
  • ‘AQA A-level Chemistry Year 1 and AS Student Book’, Lyn Nicholls, Ken Gadd, Collins
  • ‘AQA A-level Chemistry Year 2 Student Book’, Lynne Bayley, Andrew Clarke and Paolo Coppo, Collins
  • ‘A-Level Chemistry for AQA: Year 2 Student Book’, CGP
  • ‘A-Level Chemistry for AQA: Year 1 & AS Student Book’, CGP



This recommended reading list is mainly aimed at A Level students, but can be enjoyed by anyone who is a good reader!



12 Caesars (Later Roman history) (tabloid-esque writings on the first 12 emperors of Rome -great fun) OR Plutarch- anything you can find from a good library...he writes about all the great figures from history including Julius Caesar, Pericles (5th Century Athens)...more serious than Suetonius.


Histories (Early Greek history)- Myth mixed with fact -the grand-daddy of western history...relates the attack of the Persians on Greece...inspiration for the film 300.


Histories (Early Greek history)- Talks about the epic Peloponnese War between Sparta and Athens…contains some beautiful speeches by the great men of the age (Pericles, Cleon,  Alcibaides etc.) who discuss the concepts of democracy and empire, and the pros and cons…great stuff for anyone interested in politics.


later writer who writes about the lives of the great men from ancient history such as Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Pericles etc.





Crito or Apology (Greek philosophy) OR Republic (Socrates tells us about his ideal state, complete with ideas on class division -inspired Nietzsche to write his Superman philosophy)


On Anger (or any of his theses) (Roman philosophy) (A champion of Stoic philosophy...teacher of the emperor Nero). 





Metamorphosis (Epic Augustan poetry) (Just brilliant -try book 3 for a taster...then books 1, 7 and 8)...Ovid tells myth like no-one else...might be worth buying Ted Hughes' 'Tales of Ovid' -a selection of the best stories from Met translated in a very fresh and modern style. 


Poems (Republican Roman lyric poetry) -Naughty writer of love poetry...will get back to you on this with a selection to really think carefully about...sometimes with Cat, people think he is frivolous, but there is often real substance beyond the jokey tone of his poems which he writes on behalf of his lover Lesbia (not a joke!), Julius Caesar, and his Neoteric poet mates.


Odes (Augustan lyric poetry) -my personal favourite...try and find a selection of his poems from a library rather than reading all of the odes...some are very dry -he talks about epicurean and stoic philosophy, growing old, the emperor Augustus, love, friendship, death, life in Rome -he is a mighty writer.


(4th Century BC oratory from Athenian lawyer) - pick a speech




(Republican orator who claimed he saved Rome -Ask Latin lot about him)- Against Cataline  [I reckon this stuff might be quite dense without quite substantial background reading...]




Letters (talks about 1st century Roman empire) (Again, go to library and find a selection of letters rather than plough through them all)




Satire 10 (brilliant discourse on why we shouldn't want to live forever)...short and very sweet (if a little slow at the beginning)...if you want more, head to satire 3 in which Juvenal tells us why his mate is fed up living in Rome.



(5th Century BC Athenian Comedy)- Wasps (about a law-court obsessed old man -a bit like my fair lady) OR Birds (Birds form a new state called Cloud-cuckoo-land!) OR Lysistrata...again, a personal favourite of mine.


(5th Century BC Athenian Tragedy)- Agamemnon (heavy but very good).





These are just ten great books about Economics to get you started – there are plenty more!

23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism – Ha-Joon Chang

Challenges conventional thinking.

Almighty Dollar – Dharshini David

Follow the journey of a single $ to show how the global economy works.


Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy – Haskel & Westlake


Choice Factory – Richard Shotton

A story of 25 behavioural biases that influence what we buy.


Doughnut Economics – Kate Raworth

Challenges much of orthodox thinking in the subject.

Economics for the Common Good – Jean Tirole

Applied micro from a recent Nobel prize winner.

Ruchir Sharma

Rise and Fall of Nations: Ten Rules of Change in the Post-Crisis World  - 

The Great Divide - Professor Joseph Stiglitz

One of the classic critiques of globalisation.

What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets - Michael Sandel

Pure PPE bliss.

A World of Three Zeroes - Muhammad Yunus

New book from founder of the Grameen Bank.





These are just some of the books in our Woodford Reading Challenge, by genre – there are plenty more!


Wider reading by genre and for pleasure

Year 10 Women in Literature

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre is a love story. It tells about a young woman called Jane who was an orphan and goes to teach a girl named Adele in a far-away house. The master of the house is Mr Rochester. Jane and Mr Rochester fall in love but Jane is horrified when she finds out Mr Rochester is already married.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

This story will take you through a journey full of surprises and sorrow faced by the attractive and innocent Tess.  After her impoverished family learns of its noble lineage, she is sent by her parents to make an appeal to a nearby wealthy family who bear the ancestral name d’Urberville.  Hardy presents a world in which the human spirit is battered down by the forces, not of fate, but of social hierarchy.

King Lear – William Shakespeare

King Lear divides his kingdom among the two daughters who flatter him and banishes the third who loves him. His eldest daughters both reject him at their homes, so Lear goes mad and wanders through a storm. His banished daughter returns with an army, but they lose the battle and Lear, all his daughters and more, die.

Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood

It's 1843, and Grace has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer, his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.

The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne

Set in 17th century Puritan Boston, Massachusetts, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an affair and will not reveal her lover’s identity. The scarlet letter A (for adultery) she has to wear on her clothes, along with her public shaming, is her punishment for her sin and her secrecy.,204,203,200_.jpg&s

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark

Romantic, heroic, comic and tragic, unconventional schoolmistress Jean Brodie has become an iconic figure in post-war fiction. Her glamour, unconventional ideas and manipulative charm hold dangerous sway over her girls at the Marcia Blaine Academy - "the crème de la creme" - who become the Brodie "set", introduced to a privileged world of adult games that they will never forget. 

Poetry by Sylvia Plath: Ariel, Ennui, Daddy, Lady Lazarus, Two Lovers and a Beachcomber by the Real Sea, the Munich Mannequins

Poetry by Sylvia Plath

Plath's poetry is often associated with the Confessional movement and compared to the work of poets such as Lowell and fellow student Anne Sexton. Often, her work is singled out for the intense coupling of its violent or disturbed imagery and its playful use of alliteration and rhyme.


Emma - Jane Austen

Emma is one of Austen's most captivating and vivid characters. Beautiful, spoilt, vain and irrepressibly witty, Emma organises the lives of the inhabitants of her sleepy little village and plays matchmaker with devastating effect. 

Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys

This mesmerising work introduces us to Antoinette, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Mr Rochester (see Jane Eyre). Rhys portrays Cosway amidst a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.


Atonement - Ian McEwan

McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and provocation before WWII.

Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

Independent and spirited Bathsheba has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life.  Tragedy ensues, threatening the stability of the whole community.

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

A story of two families of the landed gentry living on the West Yorkshire moors, the Earnshaws and the Lintons, and their turbulent relationships with Earnshaw's foster son, Heathcliff. The novel was influenced by Romanticism and Gothic fiction.

Reader I Married Him - Tracy Chevalier

This collection of original stories by today’s finest women writers—including Tracy Chevalier, Francine Prose, Elizabeth McCracken, Tessa Hadley, Audrey Niffenegger and more—takes inspiration from a line in Charlotte Brontë’s most beloved novel, Jane Eyre.

Girl with a Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier

Girl with a Pearl Earring centers on Vermeer's prosperous Delft household during the 1660s. When Griet, the novel's quietly perceptive heroine, is hired as a servant, turmoil follows. First, the 16-year-old narrator becomes increasingly intimate with her master. Then Vermeer employs her as his assistant—and ultimately has Griet sit for him as a model.

The Miniaturist - Jesse Burton

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, 18-year-old Nella arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin. But Nella's world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. 


Year 11 Literature from Around the World

The Red Tent – Anita Diamant

The Red Tent is a re-imagining of the story of Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob, the man who, according to the Bible wrestled an angel and won the name 'Israel' and whose 12 sons became the 12 tribes of Israel. According to the biblical account, Dinah was raped by Shechem, son of Hamor the Hivite. Dinah, the narrator, opens The Red Tent by introducing herself and explaining that she is reciting the memories of her life and her mothers’ lives—because without a daughter to tell the story, a woman’s history does not live on.


Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Half of a Yellow Sun re-creates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra’s impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria in the 1960s, and the chilling violence that followed. It offers a heart-wrenching account of war, beautifully wrapped in a story of love, loyalty, betrayal, resilience and hope.

The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy

Roy's novel, it is a story about the childhood experiences of fraternal twins whose lives are destroyed by the "Love Laws" prevalent in 1960s Kerala, India. The novel explores how small, seemingly insignificant things shape people's behaviour and their lives.

The White Tiger  - Aravind Adiga

Balram is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Over the course of seven nights, by the scattered light of a preposterous chandelier, Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life—having nothing but his own wits to help him along.

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events in Afghanistan's recent history that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms.  This is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives—the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness—are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

Feasting, Fasting – Anita Desai

A wonderful novel in two parts, moving from the heart of a close-knit Indian household, with its restrictions and prejudices, its noisy warmth and sensual appreciation of food, to the cool centre of an American family, with its freedom and strangely self-denying attitudes to eating. In both it is ultimately the women who suffer, whether, paradoxically, from a surfeit of feasting and family life in India, or from self-denial and starvation in the US, or both.


Year 12 Ground-breaking Texts

Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

Gulliver's Travels describes the four voyages of Lemuel Gulliver, a ship's surgeon. In Lilliput he discovers a world in miniature; towering over the people and their city. However, in Brobdingnag a land of giants, tiny Gulliver himself comes under observation, exhibited as a curiosity at markets and fairs. In Laputa, a flying island, he encounters a society of speculators and projectors who have lost all grip on everyday reality.  While they plan and calculate, their country lies in ruin.

The Lord Of The Rings – J R R Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings is the saga of a group of sometimes reluctant heroes who set forth to save their world from consummate evil. Its many worlds and creatures were drawn from Tolkien's extensive knowledge of philology and folklore.

The Mysteries of Udolpho – Anne Radcliffe

The Mysteries of Udolpho follows the fortunes of Emily St Aubert, who suffers, amongst other misadventures: the death of her father; supernatural terrors in a gloomy castle and the machinations of an Italian brigand. It’s a quintessential Gothic romance, replete with incidents of physical and psychological terror; remote, crumbling castles; seemingly supernatural events; a brooding, scheming villain and a persecuted heroine.

The Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

Dickens’ great historical novel, set against the violent upheaval of the French Revolution. The most famous and perhaps the most popular of his works, it compresses an event of immense complexity to the scale of a family history, with a cast of characters that includes a bloodthirsty ogress and an antihero, as believably flawed as any in modern fiction.

A Tale Of Chaucer’s – The Canterbury Tales

In The Canterbury Tales, a group of pilgrims travelling to Canterbury Cathedral compete in a storytelling contest. This overarching plot, or frame, provides a reason for the pilgrims to tell their stories, which reflect the concerns sparked by the social upheavals of late medieval England.

The Taming of the Shrew – William Shakespeare

The ballad tells the story of a marriage in which the husband must tame his headstrong wife. Like Shrew, the story features a family with two sisters, opposite is all ways.

The Old Man in the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

This is the story of an epic struggle between an old, seasoned fisherman and the greatest catch of his life. For 84 days, Santiago, an aged Cuban fisherman, has set out to sea and returned empty-handed. So conspicuously unlucky is he that the parents of his young, devoted apprentice and friend, Manolin, have forced the boy to leave the old man in order to fish in a more prosperous boat. Nevertheless, the boy continues to care for the old man upon his return each night.

Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell

Nineteen Eighty-Four is a dystopian social science fiction novel and cautionary tale. It is a fictionalised version of a then future-world where a totalitarian state scrutinises all human actions through the ever-watching Big Brother. The book's focus is Winston, a state worker who struggles to live in such an oppressive world.

On the Road – Jack Kerouac

In the winter of 1947, the reckless and joyous Dean Moriarty, fresh out of another stint in jail and newly married, comes to New York City and meets Sal Paradise, a young writer with an intellectual group of friends, amongst them the poet Carlo Marx. Dean fascinates Sal, and their friendship begins three years of restless journeys back and forth across the country.

The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison

Set in the author's girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola who prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blonde, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Pecola's garden do not bloom. Her life does change in painful, devastating ways.

Beloved – Toni Morrison

Beloved begins in 1873 in Cincinnati, Ohio, where Sethe, a former slave, has been living with her 18 year-old daughter Denver.  Sethe’s mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, lived with them until her death 8 years earlier.  Just before Baby’s death, Sethe’s two sons, Howard and Buglar, ran away.  Sethe believes they fled because of the malevolent presence of an abusive ghost that has haunted their house for years. Denver, however, likes the ghost, which everyone believes to be the spirit of her dead sister.

The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood

The book focuses on a religious sect called the God's Gardeners, a small community of survivors of the same biological catastrophe depicted in Atwood's earlier novel Oryx and Crake. Atwood continues to explore the effect of science and technology that has caused this plagued world, focusing on the theme of religion through the environmentally focused religious movement of the God's Gardeners.

The Grapes of Wrath

Tom, newly released from prison after serving a sentence for manslaughter, makes his way home and along the way he is joined by Jim, a former preacher.  Tom learns that his family has been evicted from the farm and has moved in with Uncle John.  When the two men reach Uncle John’s home, they find the family enticed by handbills advertising farm-labouring jobs, preparing to drive to California.  The book evokes the harshness of the Great Depression and arouses sympathy for the struggles of migrant farmworkers.


World War 1


Stories of WWI – Tony Bradman

In this collection of short stories, 12 award-winning authors take you to the heart of the trenches and beyond - with powerful accounts of Zeppelin raids and front-line fighting, along with stories of everyday life lived under extraordinary circumstances. With tales of inspiring bravery, heart-breaking loss and overwhelming hope, this remarkable anthology brings to life the major events of WWI at home and around the globe.

Under Fire – Henri Barbusse

It follows a squad of French Poilu on the Western front in France after the German invasion. For the group of ordinary men in the French Sixth Battalion, thrown together from all over France and longing for home, war is simply a matter of survival, lightened only by the arrival of their rations or a glimpse of a pretty girl or a brief reprieve in the hospital.


Regeneration – Pat Barker

Regeneration begins with Siegfried Sassoon's open letter, dated July 1917, protesting the conduct and insincerities of the First World War. The letter has been published in the London Times and has received much attention in England, as many people are upset over the length and toll of the war thus far. The army is not sure what to do with Sassoon, as his letter clearly threatens to undermine the strength of the war effort at home.


Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

The plot follows two main characters living at different times: the first is Stephen Wraysford, a British soldier on the front line in Amiens during the First World War, and the second is his granddaughter, Elizabeth Benson, whose 1970s plotline follows her attempts to recover an understanding of Stephen's experience.


A Very Long Engagement – Sebastien Japrisot

Set in France during World War I, it follows Mathilde, who doubts the veracity of a report that her fiancee, Manech, has been killed in combat. She uses her investigative skills to gather information about his location.  The story is shaped by a series of clues that Mathilde discovers about what befell her fiancee between two days and two nights in January 1917.

A Foreign Field – Ben Macintyre

A wartime romance, survival saga and murder mystery set in rural France during the First World War. Height of the fighting on the Western front in August 1914; unable to get back to their units, they shelter in the tiny French village of Villeret. Living in daily fear of capture and execution, they are fed, clothed and protected by the villagers.,204,203,200_.jpg&s

Her Privates We – Frederic Manning

First published in 1930, 'Her Privates We' is the great book of World War I written from the ordinary soldier's point of view. Called the "book of books" by Lawrence of Arabia, 'Her Privates We' is an expressionist classic that magnificently captures the horror of war. The narrative follows Private Bourne, Manning's lightly fictionalised alter ego. Stranded in a figurative no-man's-land, he knows that his education keeps him apart from his comrades and that his pride keeps him apart from his officers.


All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front tells the story of a group of young Germans who enlist in World War I after being captivated by slogans of patriotism and honour. It is narrated by the protagonist, Paul. The young men soon learn that the romanticised version of war that was described to them is nothing like the battlefields they encounter.


Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man – Siegfried Sassoon

Decorated for bravery on the Western Front he became one of the leading poets of the First World War. The stories are basically a fictionalised autobiographical account of Sassoon's own life and follows a young Englishman of an upper middle-class, named George.


Memoirs of an Infantry Officer – Siegfried Sassoon

Memoirs of an Infantry Officer is a novel by Siegfried Sassoon, first published in 1930. It is a fictionalised account of Sassoon's own life during and immediately after World War I. Soon after its release, it was heralded as a classic and was even more successful than its predecessor, Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man.



Only a Dog – Bertha Whitridge Smith

This is a touching true story of the faithfulness of an Irish Terrier. When Germans invade his home, the dog runs off to look for his young master. He soon finds himself trapped in No Man's Land, injured by a bullet. British Private Pete Rice comes to his rescue, and thereafter Army (as the soldiers name him) follows Pete to the end, staying faithfully at his side until death.


War Horse – Michael Morpurgo

In 1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges towards the enemy, witnessing the horror of the battles in France. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey's courage touches the soldiers around him and he is able to find warmth and hope. This is a powerful tale of war, redemption and a hero's journey.


Listen to the Moon – Michael Morpurgo

May, 1915. Alfie and his fisherman father find a girl on an uninhabited island injured, thirsty, lost and with absolutely no memory of who she is, or how she came to be there. She can say only one word: Lucy. Only one thing is for sure: she loves music and moonlight and it is when she listens to the gramophone that the glimmers of the girl she once was begin to appear.


Private Peaceful – Michael Morpurgo

For young Private Peaceful, looking back over his childhood while he is on night watch in the battlefields of the First World War, his memories are full of family life deep in the countryside: his mother, Charlie, Big Joe, and Molly, the love of his life.


Five Children on the Western Front – Kate Saunders

The five children have grown up and World War I has begun in earnest. Cyril is off to fight; Anthea is at art college; Robert is a Cambridge scholar and Jane is at high school. The author illustrates the power of war but the even greater power of family and the love that carries us out of the darkness of despair into the light of hope.


An Eagle in the Snow – Michael Morpurgo

Barney is on a train with his mother when a siren sounds and the journey grinds to a halt. Sitting in the darkness, a stranger in their cabin offers to tell the true story of a highly decorated World War I soldier, who had a chance to kill a young Adolf Hitler - but let him go. They're escaping to the country having lost everything in the city's bombing. Sadly trouble seems to follow them and their train is attacked by German fighter planes.


WW1 Poems (Poems by Stephan J Myers Book 3)

Written to celebrate the centennial year of Armistice Day, Myers and Woodstock met with serving members of HM Armed Forces, their spouses, widows and children to create one of the most intimidate poetic explorations of war you will ever read. Capturing their innermost thoughts from past and present. From the powerfully haunting and poignant to cutting criticism in prose that is heartfelt and evocative. They explore loss, honour, heroism and the stark reality of losing a loved one to war.


World War II

Carrie’s War – Nina Bawden

Albert, Carrie and young Nick are wartime evacuees whose lives get so tangled up with the people they've come to live amongst that the war and their real families seem to belong to another world.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne

This tells the story of Bruno, a young German boy growing up during World War II. As a 9-year-old, Bruno lived in his own world of imagination. He enjoyed reading adventure stories and going on expeditions to explore the lesser-known corners of his family’s massive house in Berlin. Although his father served as an officer in Germany’s Nazi Party, Bruno understood little about his work. Nor did he understand anything about the war. Then he encounters a fence and meets a little boy in striped pyjamas.

Charlotte Gray – Sebastian Faulks

Occupied from France from the Nazis while pursuing a perilous mission of her own. In blacked-out, wartime London, Charlotte Gray develops a dangerous passion for a battle-weary RAF pilot, and when he fails to return from a daring flight into France she is determined to find him. In the service of the Resistance, she travels to the village of Lavaurette, dyeing her hair and changing her name to conceal her identity.

Enigma – Robert Harris

A member of a top-secret team of British cryptographers, Tom Jericho succeeds in cracking "Shark," the impenetrable operational cipher used by Nazi U-boats, but when the Germans change the code, Jericho must break the new code before the traitor amongst his group can stop him. Tom is a young mathematician trying to break the Germans' "Enigma" ciphers during World War II.

Fatherland – Robert Harris

In a world where Nazi Germany won the Second World War, a German policeman investigates a conspiracy involving the deaths of high-ranking Nazis and must decide how much he is prepared to sacrifice in order to discover the darkest secrets of the victorious Third Reich.

A Pale View of the Hills – Kazuo Ishiguro

This tells the story of Etsuko, a Japanese woman now living alone in England, dwelling on the recent suicide of her daughter. Retreating into the past, she finds herself reliving one particular hot summer in Nagasaki, when she and her friends struggled to rebuild their lives after the war. But then as she recalls her strange friendship with Sachiko - a wealthy woman reduced to vagrancy - the memories take on a disturbing cast.

Bombs on Aunt Dainty – Judith Kerr

The city is full of refugees who have escaped from the Nazis and you can imagine their depression as they all gathered around radios listening to the news of the German army swarming through country after country and seemingly only kept at bay from England by that very narrow channel. But it is even harder for Anna, who is still officially classified as an “enemy alien”. Those bombs are coming from Germany – the country that was once her own. If Hitler invades, can she and her beloved refugee family possibly survive?

Agent  Zigzag – Ben Macintyre

Eddie Chapman was a charming criminal, a con man, and a philanderer. He was also one of the most remarkable double agents Britain has ever produced. Inside the traitor was a man of loyalty; inside the villain was a hero. In 1941, after training as a German spy in occupied France, Chapman was parachuted into Britain with a revolver, a wireless, and a cyanide pill, with orders to blow up an airplane factory.

Goodnight Mister Tom – Michelle Magorian

London is poised on the brink of World War II. Timid, scrawny Willie Beech -- the abused child of a single mother -- is evacuated to the English countryside. At first, he is terrified of everything, of the country sounds and sights, even of Mr Tom. But gradually Willie forgets the hate and despair of his past. He learns to love a world he never knew existed, a world of friendship and affection in which harsh words and daily beatings have no place. Then a telegram comes.

I Was There – Hans Peter Richter

Hans and his friend Gunther, are just trying to get through life with Adolf Hitler being elected in Germany. Gunther's father was against Hitler, but eight-year-olds Hans and Gunther join the SS youth program, and later enter the military, where they are swept away by Hitler's regime.

Yellow Star – Jennifer Roy

For more than 50 years after the war, Syvia, like many Holocaust survivors, did not talk about her experiences in the Lodz ghetto in Poland. She buried her past in order to move forward. But finally she decided it was time to share her story, and so she told it to her niece, who has re-told it here using free verse inspired by her aunt.

Maus – Art Spiegelman

An undisputed masterpiece of the graphic novel form, representing Jews as mice and Nazis as cats, Spiegelman’s profoundly moving work traces his father’s harrowing experiences of Auschwitz and the challenges of adjusting to peacetime life after an all-consuming ordeal.

Waiting for Anya – Michael Morpurgo

The gripping story of a boy who risks his life to take Jewish refugees to safety during World War II. A reclusive widow’s farm has become a haven for a growing band of Jewish children hiding from the Nazis. Jo knows he must keep the secret and help out any way he can. But when German soldiers move into town, the danger suddenly becomes much more real.

King of the Cloud Forests – Michael Morpurgo

When Japan invaded China, Ashley and Uncle Sung are forced to flee. It is a perilous journey across the Himalayas and they struggle to survive. Then Ashley is captured. This is the story of Ashley Anderson, the son of a missionary working in China. When the Japanese invade his adopted country he must flee with his Uncle Sung across the Himalayas into India.

Friend or Foe – Michael Morpurgo

It's the Second World War, and the Germans are bombing London. Everyone hates them, especially David: they killed his father. Now, because of the Blitz, David and his friend Tucky have been evacuated to the countryside, where they must live with strangers. Then one night they see a German plane crash on the moors. They feel they should hate the airmen insides, but can they just leave them to die? 

The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips – Michael Morpurgo

It's 1943, and Lily Tregenze lives on a farm, in the idyllic seaside village of Slapton. Apart from her father being away, and the 'townie' evacuees at school, her life is scarcely touched by the war. Until one day, Lily and her family, along with 3000 other villagers, are told to move out of their homes. A heart-warming tale of courage and warmth, set against the backdrop of the second world war, about an abandoned village, a lifelong friendship and one very adventurous cat.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit – Judith Kerr

This is first of the internationally acclaimed trilogy by Judith Kerr telling the unforgettable story of a Jewish family fleeing from Germany at the start of the Second World War.  Suppose your country began to change. Suppose that without you noticing, it became dangerous for some people to live in Germany any longer. Suppose you found, to your complete surprise, that your own father was one of those people. That is what happened to Anna in 1933.,204,203,200_.jpg&s

Hitler’s Canary – Sandi Toksvig

10 year old Bamse, the youngest son of an actress and an artist, has grown up sur­round­ed by theatre peo­ple; his mother’s response to the German’s arrival in Copen­hagen is ‚Äč“we must change at once.” Bamse and his best friend, Anton amuse them­selves play­ing tricks on the Ger­man sol­diers. In this story, Bamse himself stands as a metaphor for the extraordinary efforts of the Danes to save their Jewish countrymen: in the face of courage and goodness, power and size will remain fallible.

Once – Morris Gleitzmann

This WWII saga is the story of Felix: a kid who never loses faith in goodness. He's a walking ray of sunshine and war won't extinguish that. This is a particularly moving and unusual look at war, seen through Felix's trusting eyes. This is a war story which spans the Holocaust to the present day and captures a young boy's hope and resilience in the face of horror.,204,203,200_.jpg&s

Back Home – Michelle Magorian

Rusty was sent to the United States from England at the age of 7 to survive the war. When she returns in 1945, she finds a country and a family she neither understands nor likes.  This is a story about a girl named Rusty dealing with the difficulties of boarding school; her changed father and a new brother, after coming back from America where everything was different.

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain – John Boyne

When Pierrot becomes an orphan, he must leave his home in Paris for a new life with his Aunt Beatrix, a servant in a wealthy household at the top of the German mountains. But this is no ordinary time, for it is 1935 and the Second World War is fast approaching; and this is no ordinary house, for this is the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler.

The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank

In 1942, with the Nazis occupying Holland, a 13 year old girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed, the Franks and another family lived cloistered in a 'Secret Annexe' in an office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters and the ever-present threat of discovery.

The Silver Sword – Ian Serraillier

Having lost their parents in the chaos of war Ruth, Edek and Bronia are left alone to fend for themselves and hide from the Nazis amid the rubble and ruins of their city. They meet a ragged orphan boy, Jan, who treasures a paperknife - a silver sword - which was entrusted to him by an escaped prisoner of war. This is based on the true story which became the symbol of hope and courage to keep four deserted and starving children alive through the years of occupation and afterwards on the search to find their parents.

The Machine Gunners – Robert Westall

With Nazi planes raining bombs on England night after night, every boy has a collection of shrapnel and other war souvenirs. But nothing comes close to the working machine gun Chas pulls out of a downed bomber. While the police search frantically for the missing gun, Chas and his friends build a secret fortress to fight the Germans themselves.

Blitzcat – Robert Westall

This extraordinary book depicts a courageous black cat who journeys through war-torn England in the early days of WWII searching for her beloved master.  Lord Gort is an ordinary cat: she has no magic powers and rarely does anything more than what other cats can do. When her master leaves home to fight the Germans, Lord Gort sets out to track him down.

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

The Book Thief is a story narrated by a compassionate Death who tells us about Liesel, a girl growing up in Germany during WWII. She steals books, learns to read and finds comfort in words. She and Max are the only main characters that survive the war.

Number the Stars – Lois Lowry

10 year old Annemarie and her best friend Ellen often think of life before the war. It's now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages and soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are 'relocated', Ellen moves in with Annemarie's family and pretends.

A Song for Summer – Eva Ibbotson

Set against the backdrop of gathering war, this is an unforgettable love story. The book is set in the 1930s-40s, and is centred around the life of Ellen, the daughter of an English suffragette. When Ellen abandons grey, dreary London to become housekeeper at an experimental school in Austria, she soon knows she's found her calling.


Literature Going Forward - KS4


Literature Going Forward - KS5


Sixth Form Literature - The Church & Rebellion


Sixth Form Literature - Sex & Sexuality


Sixth Form Literature - Resistance & Protest


Sixth Form Literature - The Mind & Human Endeavour




Supporting your daughter in History

Students who have been dedicated and enthusiastic readers in Primary School often read less at Secondary School because there are many distractions and because it is not always easy to find books of the right level.  We hope this list of suggestions is helpful.  It contains the History Department’s favourites and suggestions made by keen readers in the school.  It has been divided into historical periods for information but students should not feel that they can only read topics that they are studying currently.  Reading a good book is always valuable and will always come in useful at some point when you are studying History.  If in doubt your daughter should talk to our librarian Ms Horne who will be able to advise her.

You can also support your daughter’s learning by taking her to visit historical places of interest and museums.  We are studying Anglo Saxon and Medieval England in Year 7 so visits to Sutton Hoo, the British Museum, the Tower of London, Mountfitchet Castle and Westminster Abbey will all add to her knowledge and understanding of the period. 

Stig of the Dump & Ninny’s Boat – Clive King

Stig is a much-loved classic.  It is the story of Barney and his best friend, cave-man Stig.


How to Train Your Dragon – Cressida Cowell

In the first How to Train Your Dragon book Hiccup must lead ten novices in their initiation into the Hairy Hooligan Tribe. They have to train their dragons or be BANISHED from the tribe FOR EVER!  But what if Hiccup's dragon resembles an ickle brown bunny with wings? And has NO TEETH? The Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus is stirring and wants to devour every Viking on the Isle of Berk.  Can Hiccup save the tribe - and become a Hero?

The Eagle of the Ninth & Queen Elizabeth Story – Rosemary Sutcliffe

Four thousand men disappeared and their eagle standard was lost. It's a mystery that's never been solved, until now.  Marcus has to find out what happened to his father, who led the legion. So he sets out into the unknown, on a quest so dangerous that nobody expects him to return.

Bows Against the Barons & Cue for Treason – Geoffrey Trease

Cue for Treason is an exciting historical novel set in the turbulent days of Elizabeth I.  This classic story of danger and intrigue conjures up a world of mystery, twists and turns and thrilling action.

Any collections of Robin Hood or King Arthur Stories

A Parcel of Patterns – Jill Paton Walsh

When the villagers of Eyam isolate themselves to prevent the Plague spreading, Mall is separated from her beloved Thomas


A Traveller in Time – Alison Uttley

Penelope is a solitary and a sickly child, a reader and a dreamer. Her mother, indeed, is of the opinion that the girl has grown all too attached to the products of her imagination and decides to send her away from London for a restorative dose of fresh country air. But staying at Thackers, in remote Derbyshire, Penelope is soon caught up in a new mystery, as she finds herself transported at unforeseeable intervals back and forth from modern to Elizabethan times. There she becomes part of a remarkable family that is, Penelope realises, in terrible danger as they plot to free Mary, Queen of Scots, from the prison in which Queen Elizabeth has confined her.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase – Joan Aiken

Long ago, at a time in history that never happened, England was overrun with wolves. But as Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia discover, real danger often lies closer to home. Their new governess, Miss Slighcarp, doesn't seem at all nice. She shuts Bonnie in a cupboard, fires the faithful servants and sends the cousins far away from Willoughby Chase to a place they will never be found. Can Bonnie and Sylvia outwit the wicked Miss Slighcarp and her network of criminals, forgers and snitches?

Spy for the Queen of Scots – Theresa Breslin

Beautiful young aristocrat Ginette, known as Jenny, is the closest friend and confidant of Mary, the young Queen of Scots. Growing up in the French court dominated by the ruthless Catherine de Medici, Jenny is all too familiar with ambition, intrigue and secrets. When she hears a whispered plot against Mary, she sets out to become a spy to keep her dear friend safe, little realising how much danger she will soon find herself encountering.

The Lady Grace Mysteries – Grace Cavendish

The Silver Blade (and others) – Sally Gardner

With Sido safely in England and the Terror at its height, Yann returns to France to smuggle out aristocratic refugees who will otherwise face the guillotine. But when Sido is kidnapped, he must use all his strength and courage to outwit the evil Count Kalliovski, and rescue her for a second time.

At the Sign of the Sugared Plum (and others) – Mary Hooper

It is 1665 and Hannah is full of excitement at the prospect of her first trip to London. She is going to help her sister, Sarah, in her candy shop, 'The Sugared Plum'. But Hannah does not get the welcoming reception she expected from her sister because the Plague is taking hold of London. However, Hannah is determined to stay and together the two young women face the worst-with the possibility of their own demise, growing ever closer. But through it all they persevere with the support of their neighbours and each other.

Nineteenth Century

Magician’s Nephew – C S Lewis

On a daring quest to save a life, two friends are hurled into another world, where an evil sorceress seeks to enslave them. But then the lion Aslan’s song weaves itself into the fabric of a new land, a land that will be known as Narnia. And in Narnia, all things are possible

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.

A Little Princess & The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

Generations of children have treasured the story of Sara Crewe, the little girl who imagines she’s a princess in order to survive hard times at Miss Minchins London boarding school. 

Anne of Green Gables – L M Montgomery

Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert are in for a big surprise. They are waiting for an orphan boy to help with the work at Green Gables - but a skinny, red-haired girl turns up instead. Feisty and full of spirit, Anne Shirley charms her way into the Cuthbert’s' affection with her vivid imagination and constant chatter. 

Black Beauty – Anna Sewell

Black Beauty is a handsome, sweet-tempered colt with a strong spirit. As a young colt he is free to gallop in the fresh green meadows with his beloved mother, Duchess, and their kind master. But when his owners are forced to sell him, Black Beauty goes from a life of comfort and kindness to one of hard labour and cruelty. 

Little House on the Prairie – Laura Ingalls Wilder

When Laura Ingalls and her family set out for Kansas, they travel for many days in their covered wagon until they find the perfect place to call home. Pioneer life is sometimes hard, but Laura and her family are busy and happy building their new little house

Hetty Feather – Jacqueline Wilson

London, 1876 and Hetty Feather is just a tiny baby when her mother leaves her at the Foundling Hospital. The Hospital cares for abandoned children - but Hetty must first live with a foster family until she is big enough to go to school.

Henry’s Freedom Box – Ellen Levine

Henry dreams of a world where his life belongs to him. But when his family is sold, he risks everything for what he knows is right. With the strength and conviction of the best kind of hero, Henry makes a harrowing journey in a wooden crate -- and mails himself to freedom!

The House on Hummingbird Island – Sam Angus

Idie Grace is twelve when she inherits a grand old house on a Caribbean island, and is sent away from grey old England to a place where hummingbirds hover and monkeys clamber from tree to tree.

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

The loneliness and cruelty of Jane’s childhood strengthens her natural independence and spirit, which prove invaluable when she takes a position as a governess at Thornfield Hall. But after she falls in love with her sardonic employer, her discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a heart-wrenching choice. 

Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen

The pride of high-ranking Mr Darcy and the prejudice of middle-class Elizabeth Bennet conduct an absorbing dance through the rigid social hierarchies of early-nineteenth-century England, with the passion of the two unlikely lovers growing as their union seems ever more improbable.

Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

Ebenezer Scrooge is a lonely, miserly old man who hates Christmas, which he dismisses as “humbug”. One Christmas Eve, however, he is visited by a series of ghosts who reveal to him the innocence he has lost.

A Question of Courage – Marjoire Darke

A young English seamstress becomes involved in the Suffragette movement before World War I

Things a Bright Girl Can Do – Sally Nicholls

Through rallies and marches, in polite drawing rooms and freezing prison cells and the poverty-stricken slums of the East End, three courageous young women join the fight for the vote.

Opal Plumstead – Jacqueline Wilson

Opal might be plain, but she has always been fiercely intelligent. Yet her scholarship and dreams of university are snatched away when her father is sent to prison, and fourteen-year-old Opal must start work at the Fairy Glen sweet factory to support her family.

Make More Noise – Short Stories from Emma Carroll & Others

Each story, written by a star-studded list of contributors, including well-known, award-winning and new voices in children’s literature, celebrates strong female characters, with subjects ranging from the 43 Group to modern ghost stories.

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow - Katherine Woodfine

You are cordially invited to attend the Grand Opening of Sinclair’s department store!  Enter a world of bonbons, hats, perfumes and MYSTERIES around every corner. WONDER at the daring theft of the priceless CLOCKWORK SPARROW! TREMBLE as the most DASTARDLY criminals in London enact their wicked plans! 

Flambards – K M Peyton

A totally absorbing novel about twelve-year-old Christina who is sent to live with her fierce uncle and his two sons in their decaying mansion, Flambards. Christina discovers a passion for horses and riding but finds herself part of a strange household, divided by emotional undercurrents and cruelty.

A Night to Remember – Walter Lord

Remains a completely riveting account of the Titanic's fatal collision and the behaviour of the passengers and crew, both noble and ignominious. Some sacrificed their lives, while others fought like animals for their own survival. 

War Horse – Michael Morpurgo

In 1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges toward the enemy, witnessing the horror of the battles in France. 

Five Children & It – E Nesbit

The five children find a cantankerous sand fairy, a psammead, in a gravel pit. Every day 'It' will grant each of them a wish that lasts until sunset, often with disastrous consequences.

Five Children on the Western Front – Kate Saunders

Have you ever wondered what happened to the Five Children and It characters when the First World War began?

Animal Farm – George Orwell

Timeless and timely allegorical novella scathing satire on a downtrodden society’s blind march towards totalitarianism.  All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.  A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals.

White Boots, Ballet Shoes & a Vicarage Family – Noel Streatfield

Pauline, Petrova and Posy are orphans determined to help out their new family by joining the Children's Academy of Dancing and Stage Training. But when they vow to make a name for themselves, they have no idea it's going to be such hard work!

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit – Judith Kerr

Suppose your country began to change. Suppose that without your noticing, it became dangerous for some people to live in Germany any longer. Suppose you found, to your complete surprise, that your own father was one of those people.

Carrie’s War – Nina Bawden

Albert, Carrie and young Nick are war-time evacuees whose lives get so tangled up with the people they've come to live among that the war and their real families seem to belong to another world. Carrie and Nick are billeted in Wales with old Mr Evans, who is so mean and cold, and his timid mouse of a sister, Lou, who suddenly starts having secrets.

Goodnight Mr Tom – Michelle Magorian

The gruff and surly Mr Thomas Oakley is less than pleased when he is landed with a scrawny little city boy as a guest, but because it is compulsory that each villager takes in an evacuee he reluctantly agrees. 

I am David – Anne Holm

David's entire twelve-year life has been spent in a grisly prison camp in Eastern Europe. He knows nothing of the outside world. But when he is given the chance to escape, he seizes it. With his vengeful enemies hot on his heels, David struggles to cope in this strange new world, where his only resources are a compass, a few crusts of bread, his two aching feet, and some vague advice to seek refuge in Denmark.

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe – C S Lewis

Narnia...the land beyond the wardrobe door, a secret place frozen in eternal winter, a magical country waiting to be set free.

The Silver Sword – Ian Serraillier

The silver sword became the symbol of hope and courage which kept four deserted and starving children alive through the years of occupation, and afterwards on the search to find their parents, and is based on a true story.

Uprooted – Lynne Reid Banks

In 1940 as war rages across Europe, ten-year-old Lindy waves goodbye to England and makes the long journey to Saskatoon, Canada, along with her mother and her cousin Cameron. They may be far from the war but they are also far from home and everyone they know and love.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it.

Once, Now, Then, After, Soon – Morris Gleitzman

The story of a young Jewish boy who is determined to escape the orphanage he lives in to save his Jewish parents from the Nazis in the occupied Poland of the Second World War.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (and others) – John Boyne

If you start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy named Bruno. (Though this isn't a book for nine-year-olds.) And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence.




Wider Reading for Pleasure/Interest/UCAS

A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking

In the years since its publication in 1988, Stephen Hawking's classic work has become a landmark volume in scientific writing.  That edition was on the cutting edge of what was then known about the origins and nature of the universe. But the intervening years have seen extraordinary advances in the technology of observing both the micro- and the macrocosmic worlds. These observations have confirmed many of Professor Hawking's theoretical predictions 

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics – Carlo Rovelli

This is a book about the joy of discovery. A playful, entertaining, and mind-bending introduction to modern physics.  Rovelli offers surprising—and surprisingly easy to grasp—explanations of general relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, gravity, black holes, the complex architecture of the universe, and the role humans play in this weird and wonderful world.

Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman! – Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman (1918-1988), winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, thrived on outrageous adventures.  Here he recounts in his inimitable voice his experience trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and Bohr and ideas on gambling with Nick the Greek; cracking the uncrackable safes guarding the most deeply held nuclear secrets; painting a naked female toreador—and much else of an eyebrow-raising nature.

The Elegant Universe Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions and the Quest for the Ultimate ‘Theory – Brian Greene

Greene, one of the world's leading string theorists, peels away layers of mystery to reveal a universe that consists of eleven dimensions, where the fabric of space tears and repairs itself, and all matter—from the smallest quarks to the most gargantuan supernovas—is generated by the vibrations of microscopically tiny loops of energy.  This book makes some of the most sophisticated concepts ever contemplated accessible and thoroughly entertaining, bringing us closer than ever to understanding how the universe works.

Cosmos – Carl Sagan

Cosmos has 13 heavily illustrated chapters, corresponding to the 13 episodes of the Cosmos television series. In the book, Sagan explores 15 billion years of cosmic evolution and the development of science and civilization. Cosmos traces the origins of knowledge and the scientific method, mixing science and philosophy, and speculates to the future of science.

A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson

In Bryson's biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. 

The Trouble with Physics – Lee Smolin

In this ground-breaking book, the renowned theoretical physicist Smolin argues that physics — the basis for all other sciences — has lost its way.  For more than two centuries, our understanding of the laws of nature expanded rapidly. But today, despite our best efforts, we know nothing more about these laws than we knew in the 1970s.  Why is physics suddenly in trouble? And what can we do about it?

How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog Chad Orzel

Emmy is not your ordinary dog. When adopted from the shelter by physics professor Chad Orzel, she becomes immediately fascinated by his work. Could she use quantum tunnelling to get through the neighbour's fence? How about diffracting round a tree to catch squirrels? Or using virtual particles to catch bunnies made of cheese? In this international bestseller, Orzel explains the key theories of Quantum Physics, taking Emmy's anarchic behaviour as a starting point. From quarks and gluons to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, this is a uniquely entertaining way to unlock the secrets of the universe. 

Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You – Marcus Chown

The two towering achievements of modern physics are quantum theory and Einstein's general theory of relativity. Together, they explain virtually everything about the world we live in. But, almost a century after their advent, most people haven't the slightest clue what either is about. 

Why Does E=MC² - Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw

The most accessible, entertaining, and enlightening explanation of the best-known physics equation in the world, as rendered by two of today’s leading scientists.  Professors Cox and Forshaw go on a journey to the frontier of 21st century science to consider the real meaning behind the iconic sequence of symbols that make up Einstein’s most famous equation, E=mc2.  Breaking down the symbols themselves, they pose a series of questions: What is energy? What is mass? What has the speed of light got to do with energy and mass? In answering these questions, they take us to the site of one of the largest scientific experiments ever conducted.

The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does Happen – Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw

In The Quantum Universe, Professors Cox and Forshaw approach the world of quantum mechanics in the same way they did in Why Does E=mc2? and make fundamental scientific principles accessible and fascinating to everyone.  The subatomic realm has a reputation for weirdness, spawning any number of profound misunderstandings, journeys into Eastern mysticism, and woolly pronouncements on the interconnectedness of all things. Cox and Forshaw's contention? There is no need for quantum mechanics to be viewed this way.




The nature of the subject means that many books on Politics become out-of-date very quickly but even so, a great deal can still be learned about the nature of politics from reading them.  Books that deal with political theory of long-term trends in politics are less susceptible to this – indeed, Plato is still relevant after 2,500 years!

Current British Politics

The Candidate – Alex Nunns

This is a book about the rise of Jeremy Corbyn and the current state of the Labour Party.

Theresa May – Power, Chaos & Chance – Christopher Jackson

The name says it all really although it puts her premiership into a wider historical context.

Heroic Failure – Fintan O’Toole

This is about the Brexit referendum and the Brexiteers.  Its tone is humorous.

The Establishment – Owen Jones

This is a left-wing analysis of how the British political system operates.  Owen Jones is a political activist who writes for the Guardian and tweets a lot!

International Politics

The Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

This is an analysis of the motives behind American foreign policy and is pretty critical.  It’s a few years old though.

Out of the Wreckage – George Monbiot

Monbiot also writes for the Guardian occasionally.  He’s an environmental anarchist and this is his analysis of the world today and what he thinks could be done to make it better.

How Democracies Die – Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt

Although focused mainly on the impact of Trump in the USA, the book looks more broadly at the factors that lead to the decline of democracy and assess how real this threat is in today’s world.

Political Theory

A lot of this is pretty heavy but it’s also fascinating.  Here are three quite readable (and fairly short) books.

The Road to Serfdom – Friedrich von Hayek

Hayek was said to be the inspiration for Margaret Thatcher. He has been incredibly influential, particularly with advocates of the free market and critics of socialism.

The Prince – Niccolo Machiavelli

This is a 16th Century guide to the dark arts of ruling. It was so influential Machiavelli’s name has become part of the English language

The Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels

An early work, which lays out Marx’s ideas on the class struggle and why revolution is needed

Political Novels

Head of State – Andrew Marr

A comedy about how the government tries to cover up the death of the Prime Minister.

Middle England – Jonathan Coe

A darkly humorous book about the state of the nation set against the backdrop of Brexit.

A Very British Coup – Chris Mullin

It tells the story of what happens when a left-wing government tries to introduce radical change to Britain.

The Ghost – Robert Harris

A thriller about what happens when an ex-Prime Minister decides to write his controversial memoirs.

Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell

A nightmare vision of a totalitarian state based on Orwell’s observations of what was going on at the time in the Soviet Union under Stalin (it was originally going to be called 1948).



Political diaries can be interesting and sometimes quite fun.  There are lots of them but interesting ones from not too long ago are those of Alistair Campbell, Alan Clark & Tony Benn.

Alan Clark Diaries: Into Politics 1972-1982, Volume II

If I had to choose I’d probably recommend volume II of the Alan  Clark diaries.  He was a great supporter of Thatcher, a learned historian, a rake and a bit of a buffoon.


Political Theory & Philosophy

  • Plato                                                                The Republic
  • Aristotle                                                           Politics
  • John Rawls                                                       A Theory of Justice
  • Antonio Gramsci                                             Prison Diaries
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau                                 The Social Contract
  • Francis Fukuyama                                          The End of History and the Last Man
  • Karl Marx                                                         The German Ideology
  • Ralph Miliband                                                The State in Capitalist Society
  • Thomas Hobbes                                              Leviathan
  • John Locke                                                        Two Treatises on Government
  • John Stuart Mill                                                On Liberty
  • Anthony Giddens                                            The Third Way
  • Karl Popper                                                      The Open Society and Its Enemies
  • Edmund Burke                                                 Reflections on the Revolution in France
  • Robert A. Dahl                                                  Dilemmas of Pluralist Democracy
  • Edwards S. Herman & Noam Chomsky       Manufacturing Consent
  • Stephen Lukes                                                 Power
  • Michael Oakshott                                            On Human Conduct
  • John Waldron                                                   Theories of Rights
  • Isaiah Berlin                                                     Four Essays On Liberty

International Relations/World Politics

  • Gore Vidal                                                         Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace
  • Michael Moore                                                 Stupid White Men
  • George Monbiot                                              Captive State
  • David Satter                                                     Darkness at Dawn
  • Niall Ferguson                                                 Collosus
  • Richard Koch & Chris Smith                          The Suicide of the West
  • Woodford 100 Years
  • Investors in Careers
  • Equally Safe
  • 360 degree Safe Award
  • ASGS
  • Healthy School
  • Research Mark
  • TFL Award-Gold
  • The Leaders Council
  • School Leadership Programme
  • The English PTI
  • History PTI
  • The Two Subjects PTI
  • Internatiional Coalition for Girls School' s
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  • Sunday Times London State School of the Year 2019
  • London School Music Excellence Award 2018
  • The Parliamentary review