Schoolmarm Reading List

This list is a work in progress: a combination of books I have already read and enjoyed, and others that are on my literary "bucket list".  There are many titles yet to be added.

These works may be here for of the following reasons:
  1. They are key parts of the literary canon
  2. They are new works with literary value
  3. They are simply fun to read.


Medieval British Literature
  • Beowulf
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • The Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer)
  • The Parliament of Fowls (Geoffrey Chaucer
  • The Battle of Maldon
  • The Dream of the Rood
  • Morte Darthur (Sir Thomas Malory)
  • Piers Plowman (William Langland)
  • The Book of Margery Kempe

Early Modern Britain
  • Anything by William Shakespeare
  • The poetry of John Donne
  • Utopia (St. Thomas More)
  • The Faerie Queene (Edmund Spenser)
  • Astrophil and Stella (Sir Phillip Sidney)
  • Speech to the English Troops at Tilbury (Queen Elizabeth I)
  • Paradise Lost (John Milton)
  • Areopagitica (John Milton)

Restoration & Enlightenment
  • Marriage a la Mode (John Dryden)
  • Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe)
  • Gulliver's Travels (Jonathan Swift)
  • A Modest Proposal (Jonathan Swift)
  • An Essay on Criticism (Alexander Pope)
  • The Rape of the Lock (Alexander Pope)
  • The Dunciad (Alexander Pope)
  • The Beggar's Opera (John Gay)

Miscellaneous British Classics
  • Anything by Jane Austen. Especially:
    • Pride and Prejudice
    • Northanger Abbey
    • Sense and Sensibility
    • Mansfield Park
    • Persuasion
    • Emma
  • Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë)
  • Agnes Grey (Anne Brontë)
  • Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë)
  • Anything by Charles Dickens, especially:
    • Oliver Twist
    • Great Expectations
    • A Christmas Carol
  • Frankenstein (Mary Shelley) 

20th Century British Literature
  • Scoop (Evelyn Waugh)
  • Brideshead Revisited (Evelyn Waugh)
  • The Man Who Was Thursday (G.K. Chesterton)
  • Poems of G.K. Chesterton
  • Father Brown of the Church of Rome (G.K. Chesterton)
  • Arcadia (Tom Stoppard)*
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Tom Stoppard)

    Spanish Literature
    • The Celestina
    • Don Quixote

    French Literature
    • The Phantom of the Opera (Gaston Leroux)
    • The Wild Ass's Skin (Honoré de Balzac)
    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Victor Hugo) 
    • The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)

    Irish Literature
    • Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett)
    • Poems of Seamus Heaney
    • Poems of William Butler Yeats
    • Irish Folk and Fairy Tales (William Butler Yeats)
    • Ulyssses (James Joyce)

    German Literature
    • The Sorrows of Young Werther (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
    • Faust (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

    American Classics

    • The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
    • The Blithedale Romance (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
    • Leaves of Grass (Walt Whitman)
    • The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
    • Save Me the Waltz (Zelda Fitzgerald)
    • A Farewell to Arms (Ernest Hemingway)
    • The Age of Innocence (Edith Wharton)
    • Ethan Frome (Edith Wharton)
    • House of Mirth (Edith Wharton)
    • The Color Purple (Alice Walker)*
    • The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)*
    • The Crying of Lot 49 (Thomas Pynchon)
    • The Wasteland (T.S. Eliot)
    • The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (ed. Thomas H. Johnson)
    • Anything by Mark Twain, especially:
      • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
      • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
      • Pudd'nhead Wilson

    Science Fiction

    • Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)
    • The Space Trilogy (C.S. Lewis)

    Mystery and Crime
    • Sleeping Murder (Agatha Christie)
    • The Murder at the Vicarage (Agatha Christie)
    • The Long Goodbye (Raymond Chandler)
    • Birdman (Mo Hayder)*
    • Sleeping Beauty (Ross MacDonald)

    • The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)
    • The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)
    • The Children of Húrin (J.R.R. Tolkien)
    • Wicked (Gregory Maguire)
    • The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis)
    • The Harry Potter Series (J.K. Rowling)
    • A Wrinkle in Time (Madeline L'Engle)
    • The Earthsea Trilogy (Ursula K. LeGuin)
    • Neverwhere (Niel Gaiman)*
    • Stardust (Niel Gaiman)*
    • Smoke and Mirrors (Niel Gaiman)*
    • Castaways of the Flying Dutchman (Brian Jaques)

    Mythology/Ancient Works
    • The Odyssey (Homer)
    • The Iliad (Homer)
    • The Aeneid (Virgil)
    • The Oedipus Cycle (Sophocles)
    • Mythology (Edith Hamilton)
    • Old Cantankerous (Menander)
    • Daphnis and Chloe (Longus)*

    Popular Novels
    • Interview with the Vampire (Anne Rice)
    • The Vampire Lestat (Anne Rice)
    • The Queen of the Damned (Anne Rice)
    • Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden) *

    Dystopian Novels
    • Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
    • 1984 (George Orwell)
    • Animal Farm (George Orwell)
    • Farenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
    • The Giver (Lois Lowry)

    Critical Works and Literary Reference
    • Ordinary Pleasures: Couples, Conversation, and Comedy (Kay Young)
    • How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Thomas C. Foster)
    • How to Read Novels Like a Professor (Thomas C. Foster)
    • The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature (Elizabeth Kantor)
    • Through Shakespeare's Eyes (Joseph Pearce)
    • The Shakespearean Imagination (Norman N. Holland)
    • All the Fun's in How You Say a Thing (Timothy Steele)

    Philosophy, Politics, Social Commentary, and Education

      *Though there are works on this list that are appropriate for children, this list was written with older teens and adults in mind. As a result a few have more mature content, and should only be read by mature people with well-formed consciences. Teachers and parents should consider this if they use this list, especially when assigning more recent works to younger readers.