The school librarian, Mr Jones, has compiled some extensive lists of book recommendations for different year groups to stay home, stay safe, and stay entertained during the Covid-19 crisis. Here are his recommended reads for Sixth Form students.
Jenn Ashworth: A Kind of Intimacy – An obese young woman develops a very unhealthy fixation with her next-door neighbour. Powerfully written and witty thriller with a terrific unreliable narrator to keep you company.
Iain Banks: The Wasp Factory – Stunning debut novel from Banks about a strange, dysfunctional, family in the north of Scotland with murder on their mind. Be warned, this is an exceptionally dark book and when first released in the early 1980s was highly controversial, but these days it rightfully seen as a modern classic. The main character Frank is also one of my favourite unreliable narrators.
Dave Eggers: The Circle – Where will social media lead us in fifty years? A young woman begins working for a powerful software company which virtually controls America and slowly begins to climb the greasy pole. This is more speculative rather than science fiction and is genuinely scary, a shame it was turned into a boring film.
Hans Fallada: Alone in Berlin – An elderly couple drop random post-cards criticising Hitler in this terrific Second World War novel German novel which was unavailable in English for over seventy years. An amazing look at a very small rebellion by normal Germans.
Sebastian Faulkes: Birdsong – Remarkably moving novel set during World War One which is deservedly regarded as a modern classic and amongst the finest war novels of the last thirty years.
Michel Faber: Book of Strange New Things – Wow! A Christian evangelist preaches the Gospel on a distant planet to an alien race who are happy to listen to his message. Whilst on Earth everything begins to fall apart, and his wife is left behind. Slow, meditative and rather beautiful.
Frank Herbert: Dune Series – Cult classic science fiction novel from the 1960s set in a rich desert world stalked by huge worms where the inhabitants farm a very expensive ‘spice’. Spawned many sequels, but the original is a trippy mind-bending experience.
Joshua Gaylord: When We Were Animals – All teenagers ‘breach’ in a quiet American town. All except Lumen. But what is ‘breaching’ and why does it only occur in this town? One of the strangest coming of age novels I’ve read in recent years and is almost unclassifiable, straddling several genres.
Paula Hawkins: Girl on the Train – A lonely commuter imagines what might be happening in the windows of the houses her train passes. Trust nothing this woman says in this twisty page-turner which was turned into a dull film.
Lloyd Jones: Mr Pip – Moving and beautiful novel set in the South Pacific Islands after a military coup, focusing on the island’s only white man, a teacher. He only has one book to use as a teaching resource, ‘Great Expectations’ with the novel narrated by a girl from the class influenced by the charismatic teacher she never forgot.
Helen Marshall: The Migration – A weird virus leads to the death of teens who later seem to reanimate after problems with the environment. An odd dystopian novel with a very strong environmental twist.
Caitlin Moran: How to be Famous – Funny and engaging comedy memoir about living, working, listening and writing about music during the Britpop era of the 1990s.
Mark Newman: Nights of Villjamur Trilogy – Complex, intelligent, multi-layered fantasy set in an Island world expecting a new ice age. Mature, clever and brilliant fantasy series.
Iain Reid: Foe – Genre-bending masterpiece and amongst my favourite novels of 2019. A man wins a prize he is unable to refuse, a job in space, in a short novel where nothing is what it seems. Prepare yourself for a simply outstanding double-twist ending.
Alex Scarrow: Last Light – Genuinely scary action novel, as the oil supply in the UK dries up the country descends into anarchy in a matter of days.
CJ Sansom: Shardlake Series – The absolute peak of crime fiction and one of my favourite ever series. It involves a hunchback lawyer/detective in the English Tudor Period who is snared into service by Oliver Cromwell.
Alice Sebold: Lovely Bones – Huge selling novel of a murdered girl’s spirit watching her family, their lives, and her serial killer murderer from beyond the grave.
The Library Firefly page has a massive resource of reading lists, crib sheets from previous book talks and ideas for what to read next. Email Mr Jones if you need any help.