Suggested Reading


Arthur Miller:

Death of a Salesman                       1949           2p
Willy Loman, an ageing salesman, cannot understand his lifetime of failure. His business is failing and his favourite son hates him. The play’s performances were an immediate success and it even received the Pulitzer Prize for Theatre.

The Crucible                                     1953           2p
Much acclaimed play, set in 17th century Salem (Massachusetts), where witchcraft was in full swing. It’s a heartbreaking story about life, love, trust, courage and belief. Strongly recommended – especially if you are interested in politics.

William Shakespeare:

Romeo and Juliet                             1597           4p
The most famous tragic love story that has ever been written.

Hamlet                                               1601           4p
One of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies.

As You Like It                                    1599              4p
A romantic comedy. The court is temporarily exiled and has to live in the forest. The shepherds contrast the noble people and tell them about their hard lives. The exiled duke’s daughter dresses as a boy (to be safer in the woods…) and falls in love with the son of her father’s enemy.

Bernard Shaw:

Pygmalion (My Fair Lady)               1912           2p
According to Professor Higgins the flower-girl Eliza Doolittle speaks a kerbstone English. He wants to turn her into a lady. Will he be successful?

Oscar Wilde:

The Importance of Being Earnest        1895     2p
A comedy with brilliant dialogues. Jack lives with his ward Cecily in the country. Whenever he wants to go to town to amuse himself, he pretends that he has to take care of fictitious brother Ernest. However, as soon as he arrives in town, he himself turns into Ernest. Things get complicated when his beloved Gwendolen insists that she could only marry a man called Ernest, and Jack’s best friend Algernon turns up in the country introducing himself to Cecily as Ernest.

Tennessee Williams:

A Cat On a Hot Tin Roof                 1955              2p
One of Williams’ masterpieces conveys his vision of the dark, primitive elements that lurk beneath the superficial civilisation of the American South. One hot summer night in the house of the Mississippi Delta’s richest cotton-planter,  a family imprisoned by the past is torn apart by the revelations of feelings of lust, greed and envy.

Glass Menagerie                             1944              1p
A fragile girl, a possessive mother and an artistic brother want to hang on to their dreams. A short, but beautiful and lyrical play.



Jane Austen:

Pride and Prejudice                         1813           3p
It is a delicious social comedy with an unerring dialogue, and satisfying love stories. Nonetheless, the novel is also about deeper issues in which Austen demonstrates her belief that the truly civilized being maintains a proper balance between reason and energy.

Charlotte Brontë:

Jane Eyre                                          1847           3p
When the novel was first published it became an immediate bestseller and the reviews were favourable, calling it not merely a work of great promise but one of absolute performance, full of youthful vigour, freshness and originality. But speculating on the writer's identity, they eventually became more negative when it became known that a woman had written the novel.

Emily Brontë:

Wuthering Heights                           1847           3p
Wuthering Heights is the wild, passionate story of intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley... Heathcliff disappears, but not for long.

Truman Capote:

Breakfast at Tiffany’s                       1958           2p
Sophisticated Holly Golightly, an enchanting neurotic living off the gifts of gentlemen, is a bewitching figure in designer dresses and costume jewelry. The narrator is her upstairs neighbour, a struggling writer. His growing friendship with the lonely Holly isn’t without complications. Holly has a secret past and a hidden vulnerability.

Summer Crossing                            2005           2p
Flame-haired Grady McNeil is beautiful, rich and defiant. Her privileged society life leaves her wanting more than her conventional parents have in mind for her. When Grady’s parents leave her alone one summer in their NYC penthouse, her secret affair with the Brooklyn-born Jewish parking attendant intensifies and forces her to make decisions. (This novel was posthumously published in 2005, but was written in the 1940s).

Kate Chopin:

The Awakening                                1899           2p
Thoughts of a fin-de-siècle woman. French-American Louisiana.

J.M. Coetzee:

Disgrace                                           1999           2p
A university professor in South Africa has an affair with a student and is forced to resign. He then joins his daughter living on a farm. The peaceful life ends when they get attacked by blacks who want to claim “their” land. This novel is concerned with politics, but just as much with interpersonal relationships.

Joseph Conrad:

Heart of Darkness                            1899           2p
A young man’s journey into the Congo is described. Some remote areas of the Congo were only about to be discovered (by the whites). The story is considered one of the best accounts of white colonialization and the effects it has on both the whites and the indigenous people. The novel also provided the script for the film “Apocalypse Now”.

Charles Dickens:

Great Expectations                          1861           3p
Great Expectations charts the progress of Pip from childhood through often painful experiences to adulthood, as he moves to London, encountering an escaped convict, a beautiful girl and strange Miss Havisham. It’s about the clash between moral values and the law – and about love.

Jeffrey Eugenides:

Middlesex                                         2002           4p
We look into three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of 1967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Point, Michigan.
In addition to this very detailed historical background, the novel also offers an insight into gender transformation and the scientific facts thereof. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction 2003.

The Virgin Suicides                         1993           2p
The haunting, humorous and tender story of the brief lives of the five entrancing Lisbon sisters is Jeffrey Eugenides’ debut novel. The shocking thing about the girls was how nearly normal they seemed when their mother let them out for the one and only date of their lives. Twenty years on, the boys who worshipped them then try to make sense of their lives and deaths.

William Faulkner:

The Sound and the Fury                  1929           4p
Key novel of the 20th century: family relationships, life in the South of the US

Nathaniel Hawthorne:

The Scarlet Letter                            1850           3p
An ardent young woman, her cowardly lover and her ageing, vengeful husband – these are the central characters in this stark drama of the conflict between passion and convention in the harsh, Puritan world of seventeenth-century Boston.

Ernest Hemingway:

A Farewell to Arms                          1929           3p
Frederic Henry, an American volunteer serving in an Italian ambulance unit in the First World War, and Catherine Barkley, an English nurse fall in love and escape to Switzerland under dramatic circumstances. An unforgettable novel of war as well as an intense love story.

Aldous Huxley:

Brave New World                             1932           3p
A science-fiction vision of a future in which human beings are produced in bottles and psychologically and chemically conditioned to lead lives of superficial happiness with no freedom at all. A contrast is given by the figure of a Savage from an Indian reservation.

Henry James:

Daisy Miller                                       1878           2p
Set on the shores of Lake Geneva, this is a poignant novella about a young American girl meeting a European man. The different rules of conduct soon lead to problems… A story about love and conventions.

James Joyce:

Ulysses                                              1922           2 - 4 p
One day in the life of Leopold Bloom in Dublin (ca. 800 pages). This is a very intelligently written text that was ground-breaking at its time and still puzzles and amuses a lot of scholars today. It’s mandatory to be in the know of the full storyline, but you can focus on a group of chapters.

Benjamin Kunkel:

Indecision                                          2005           3p
In the grip of a midlife crisis at twenty-eight, Dwight B. Wilmerding is also afflicted with a chronic inability to make up his mind. Encouraged to try an experimental drug meant to banish indecision, Dwight jumps at the chance and swallows the first fateful pill. This book brims with insight into the modern urban condition.

Harper Lee:

To Kill a Mockingbird                       1960           3p
Through the eyes of a child, this novel tells the story of a small motherless family in the South of the USA - the adventures of the children and the efforts of their lawyer father to secure the rights of a black man accused of rape.

Andrea Levy:

Small Island                                      2004           3p
Race tensions in post-war Britain. How a Jamaican soldier fighting for the Allies is received in his mother country, where he finds lodgings and what his neighbours think of him.

Khaled Hosseini:

The Kite Runner                               2003           3p
The story of two boys from different social classes growing up together in the 1970s Afghanistan. One family flees to the US in the course of time, but the fates of the two boys are forever intertwined. A human tragedy with a political background.

Kazuo Ishiguro:

Never Let Me Go                              2005           3p
It’s a story of love, loss and hidden truths. The pupils at Hailsham were tenderly sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe they were special, and that their personal welfare was crucial. But for what reason were they really there? This novel was a hit in 2005 and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2005.

Nick McDonell:

Twelve                                               2002              2p
Twelve is the chilling novel of urban adolescence that captured the soul of a generation and caused an international sensation. Some hail it as the modern “Catcher”.

Ian McEwan:

Atonement                                        2001              3p
Little Briony witnesses something in her childhood and will pay for it her whole life. A story of growing up, love, jealousy - and atonement.

Toni Morrison:

The Bluest Eye                                 1970           2p
A black girl desperately wants to have blue eyes. It’s about racism, but also about family-intern relationships and love. Toni Morrison is one of the most acclaimed female American writers.

George Orwell:

1984                                                  1948           3p
Utopia: The world is divided into three super-powers, which are always at war. In battered London -  a part of Oceania - middle-aged Winston Smith works as a minor member of the ruling Party, under the leadership of all-seeing, all-powerful Big Brother. The worst crime of all is Thoughtcrime. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, warn the posters.

Mary Shelley:

Frankenstein                                     1817           2p
The Frankensteins live a happy life in Geneva. Their son Victor studies medicine in Germany and gets obsessed with the wish of creating life. The result of his attempts is a hideous creature who some call a “monster”. This creature then wants to be with Victor, who runs away in shock. A tragic pursuit through Europe begins…

Bram Stoker:

Dracula                                              1897           3p
The most celebrated tale of terror ever written.

Jonathan Swift:

Gulliver’s Travels                              1726           3p

Henry David Thoreau:

Walden                                              1854              3p
The author was fed up with society and decided to find a new home in the woods. “Walden” is the product of his thoughts and experiences. Simply a “must” in American literature.

Mark Twain:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 1884       3p
Few writers have been able to capture these boyhood thoughts and feelings, recording the very pulse of river life, with its paddle-boats and hopeful fishermen and rumours of buried treasure.

Oscar Wilde:

The Picture of Dorian Gray             1891           3p
The portrait Basil Hallward paints of Dorian Gray reveals the face of an Adonis, and when he sees the finished product, the beautiful young man exclaims: 'Why should it keep what I must lose? Every moment that passes that something from me and gives something to it. Oh, if it were only the other way!'

Virginia Woolf:

Mrs Dalloway                                    1925           3p
The events in this outstanding novel occupy a single June day in Central London as wealthy and fashionable society hostess Clarissa Dalloway is preparing for a party she is to give that evening. Through her thoughts and memories, and the voices of others who have touched on her life and will attend her party, the author breaks away from the traditional form of the English novel and shows her genius as a writer who is both accessible and popular.


Short Stories

Ernest Hemingway:

The 49 stories                                  1950           2p

E.A. Poe:

Tales of Mystery and Imagination   1842           2p
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Black Cat

J.D. Salinger:

Nine Stories                                      1950           2p
tips: Teddy, Perfect Day for Bananafish, the Laughing Man

Salman Rushdie:

East, West                                        1994           2p
Good Advice Is Rarer Than Rubies
the Free Radio
the Prophet’s Hair

Alice Walker:

You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down1971   2p
about 3 stories, in total ca. 60 pages



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