Class XI – List of Books for Reading Project

Best English Novels for Reading Project
1. The Lord of the Ringsby JRR Tolkein
WH Auden thought this tale of fantastic creatures looking for lost jewellery was a “masterpiece”.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A child’s-eye view of racial prejudice and freaky neighbours in Thirties Alabama.
3. The Home and the Worldby Rabindranath Tagore
A rich Bengali noble lives happily until a radical revolutionary appears.
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Earth is demolished to make way for a Hyperspatial Express Route. Don’t panic.
5. One Thousand and One Nights Anon
A Persian king’s new bride tells tales to stall post-coital execution.
6. The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Werther loves Charlotte, but she’s already engaged. Woe is he!
7. Midnight’s Childrenby Salman Rushdie
The children of poor Hindus and wealthy Muslims are switched at birth.
8. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spyby John le Carré
Nursery rhyme provides the code names for British spies suspected of treason.
9. Cold Comfort Farmby Stella Gibbons
Hilarious satire on doom-laden rural romances. “Something nasty” has been observed in the woodshed.
10. The Tale of Genjiby Lady Murasaki
The life and loves of an emperor’s son. And the world’s first novel?
11. Under the Netby Iris Murdoch
A feckless writer has dealings with a canine movie star. Comedy and philosophy combined.
12. The Golden Notebookby Doris Lessing
Lessing considers communism and women’s liberation in what Margaret Drabble calls “inner space fiction”.
13. Eugene Oneginby Alexander Pushkin
Passion, poetry and pistols in this verse novel of thwarted love.
14. On the Roadby Jack Kerouac
Beat generation boys aim to “burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles”.
15. Old Goriotby Honoré de Balzac
A disillusioning dose of Bourbon Restoration realism. The anti-hero “Rastingnac” became a byword for ruthless social climbing.
16. The Red and the Blackby Stendhal
Plebian hero struggles against the materialism and hypocrisy of French society with his “force d’ame”.
17. The Three Musketeersby Alexandre Dumas
“One for all and all for one”: the eponymous swashbucklers battle the mysterious Milady.
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18. Germinal by Emile Zola
Written to “germinate” social change, Germinal unflinchingly documents the starvation of French miners.
19. The Stranger by Albert Camus
Frenchman kills an Arab friend in Algiers and accepts “the gentle indifference of the world”.
20. The Name of the Roseby Umberto Eco
Illuminating historical whodunnit set in a 14th-century Italian monastry.
21. Oscar and Lucindaby Peter Carey
An Australian heiress bets an Anglican priest he can’t move a glass church 400km.
22. Wide Sargasso Seaby Jean Rhys
Prequel to Jane Eyre giving moving, human voice to the mad woman in the attic.
23. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Carroll’s ludic logic makes it possible to believe six impossible things before breakfast.
24. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Yossarian feels a homicidal impulse to machine gun total strangers. Isn’t that crazy?
25. The Trialby Franz Kafka
K proclaims he’s innocent when unexpectedly arrested. But “innocent of what”?
26. Cider with Rosieby Laurie Lee
Protagonist’s “first long secret drink of golden fire” is under a hay wagon.
27. Waiting for the Mahatmaby RK Narayan
Gentle comedy in which a Gandhi-inspired Indian youth becomes an anti-British extremist.
28. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque
The horror of the Great War as seen by a teenage soldier.
29. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler
Three siblings are differently affected by their parents’ unexplained separation.
30. The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin
Profound and panoramic insight into 18th-century Chinese society.
31. The Leopardby Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
Garibaldi’s Redshirts sweep through Sicily, the “jackals” ousting the nobility, or “leopards”.
32. If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino
International book fraud is exposed in this playful postmodernist puzzle.
33. Crash by JG Ballard
Former TV scientist preaches “a new sexuality, born from a perverse technology”.
34. A Bend in the Riverby VS Naipaul
East African Indian Salim travels to the heart of Africa and finds “The world is what it is.”
35. Crime and Punishmentby Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Boy meets pawnbroker. Boy kills pawnbroker with an axe. Guilt, breakdown, Siberia, redemption.
36. Dr Zhivagoby Boris Pasternak
Romantic young doctor’s idealism is trampled by the atrocities of the Russian Revolution.
37. The Cairo Trilogyby Naguib Mahfouz
Follows three generations of Cairenes from the First World War to the coup of 1952.
38. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Stevenson’s “bogey tale” came to him in a dream.
39. Gulliver’s Travelsby Jonathan Swift
Swift’s scribulous satire on travellers’ tall tales (the Lilliputian Court is really George I’s).
40. My Name Is Redby Orhan Pamuk
A painter is murdered in Istanbul in 1591. Unusually, we hear from the corpse.
41. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Myth and reality melt magically together in this Colombian family saga.
42. London Fieldsby Martin Amis
A failed novelist steals a woman’s trashed diaries which reveal she’s plotting her own murder.
43. The Savage Detectivesby Roberto Bolaño
Gang of South American poets travel the world, sleep around, challenge critics to duels.
44. The Glass Bead Gameby Herman Hesse
Intellectuals withdraw from life to play a game of musical and mathematical rules.
45. The Tin Drumby Günter Grass
Madhouse memories of the Second World War. Key text of European magic realism.
46. Austerlitz by WG Sebald
Paragraph-less novel in which a Czech-born historian traces his own history back to the Holocaust.
47. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Scholar’s sexual obsession with a prepubescent “nymphet” is complicated by her mother’s passion for him.
48. The Handmaid’s Taleby Margaret Atwood
After nuclear war has rendered most sterile, fertile women are enslaved for breeding.
49. The Catcher in the Ryeby JD Salinger
Expelled from a “phony” prep school, adolescent anti-hero goes through a difficult phase.
50. Underworld by Don DeLillo
From baseball to nuclear waste, all late-20th-century American life is here.
51. Beloved by Toni Morrison
Brutal, haunting, jazz-inflected journey down the darkest narrative rivers of American slavery.
52. The Grapes of Wrathby John Steinbeck
“Okies” set out from the Depression dustbowl seeking decent wages and dignity.
53. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
Explores the role of the Christian Church in Harlem’s African-American community.
54. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
A doctor’s infidelities distress his wife. But if life means nothing, it can’t matter.
55. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
A meddling teacher is betrayed by a favourite pupil who becomes a nun.
56. The Voyeurby Alain Robbe-Grillet
Did the watch salesman kill the girl on the beach. If so, who heard?
57. Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre
A historian becomes increasingly sickened by his existence, but decides to muddle on.
58. The Rabbit booksby John Updike
A former high school basketball star is unsatisfied by marriage, fatherhood and sales jobs.
59. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
A boy and a runaway slave set sail on the Mississippi, away from Antebellum “sivilisation”.
60. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
A drug addict chases a ghostly dog across the midnight moors.
61. The House of Mirthby Edith Wharton
Lily Bart craves luxury too much to marry for love. Scandal and sleeping pills ensue.
62. Things Fall Apartby Chinua Achebe
A Nigerian yam farmer’s local leadership is shaken by accidental death and a missionary’s arrival.
63. The Great Gatsbyby F Scott Fitzgerald
A mysterious millionaire’s love for a woman with “a voice full of money” gets him in trouble.
64. The Wardenby Anthony Trollope
“Of all novelists in any country, Trollope best understands the role of money,” said W. H Auden.
65. Les Misérablesby Victor Hugo
An ex-convict struggles to become a force for good, but it ends badly.
66. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
An uncommitted history lecturer clashes with his pompous boss, gets drunk and gets the girl.
67. The Big Sleepby Raymond Chandler
“Dead men are heavier than broken hearts” in this hardboiled crime noir.
68. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson
Epistolary adventure whose heroine’s bodice is savagely unlaced by the brothel-keeping Robert Lovelace.
69. A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell
Twelve-book saga whose most celebrated character wears “the wrong kind of overcoat”.
70. Suite Francaiseby Irène Némirovsky
Published 60 years after their author was gassed, these two novellas portray city and village life in Nazi-occupied France.
71. Atonement by Ian McEwan
Puts the “c” word in the classic English country house novel.
72. Life: a User’s Manualby Georges Perec
The jigsaw puzzle of lives in a Parisian apartment block. Plus empty rooms.
73. Tom Jonesby Henry Fielding
Thigh-thwacking yarn of a foundling boy sewing his wild oats before marrying the girl next door.
74. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Human endeavours “to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world” have tragic consequences.
75. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
Northern villagers turn their bonnets against the social changes accompanying the industrial revolution.
76. The Moonstoneby Wilkie Collins
Hailed by TS Eliot as “the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels”.
77. Ulysses by James Joyce
Modernist masterpiece reworking of Homer with humour. Contains one of the longest “sentences” in English literature: 4,391 words.
78. Madame Bovaryby Gustave Flaubert
Buying the lies of romance novels leads a provincial doctor’s wife to an agonising end.
79. A Passage to Indiaby EM Forster
A false accusation exposes the racist oppression of British rule in India.
80. 1984 by George Orwell
In which Big Brother is even more sinister than the TV series it inspired.
81. Tristram Shandyby Laurence Sterne
Samuel Johnson thought Sterne’s bawdy, experimental novel was too odd to last. Pah!
82. The War of the Worldsby HG Wells
Bloodsucking Martian invaders are wiped out by a dose of the sniffles.
83. Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
Waugh based the hapless junior reporter in this journalistic farce on former Telegraph editor Bill Deedes.
84. Tess of the D’Urbervillesby Thomas Hardy
Sexual double standards are held up to the cold, Wessex light in this rural tragedy.
85. Brighton Rockby Graham Greene
A seaside sociopath mucks up murder and marriage in Greene’s literary Punch and Judy show.
86. The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse
A scrape-prone toff and pals are suavely manipulated by his gentleman’s personal gentleman.
87. Wuthering Heightsby Emily Brontë
Out on the winding, windy moors Cathy and Heathcliff become each other’s “souls”. Then he storms off.
88. David Copperfieldby Charles Dickens
Debt and deception in Dickens’s semi-autobiographical Bildungsroman crammed with cads, creeps and capital fellows.
89. Robinson Crusoeby Daniel Defoe
A slave trader is shipwrecked but finds God, and a native to convert, on a desert island.
90. Pride and Prejudiceby Jane Austen
Every proud posh boy deserves a prejudiced girl. And a stately pile.
91. Don Quixoteby Miguel de Cervantes
Picaresque tale about quinquagenarian gent on a skinny horse tilting at windmills.
92. Mrs Dallowayby Virginia Woolf
Septimus’s suicide doesn’t spoil our heroine’s stream-of-consciousness par


93. Disgrace by JM Coetzee
An English professor in post-apartheid South Africa loses everything after seducing a student.
94. Jane Eyreby Charlotte Brontë
Poor and obscure and plain as she is, Mr Rochester wants to marry her. Illegally.
95. In Search of Lost Timeby Marcel Proust
Seven-volume meditation on memory, featuring literature’s most celebrated lemony cake.
96. Heart of Darknessby Joseph Conrad
“The conquest of the earth,” said Conrad, “is not a pretty thing.”
97. The Portrait of a Ladyby Henry James
An American heiress in Europe “affronts her destiny” by marrying an adulterous egoist.
98. Anna Kareninaby Leo Tolstoy
Tolstoy’s doomed adulteress grew from a daydream of “a bare exquisite aristocratic elbow”.
99. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Monomaniacal Captain Ahab seeks vengeance on the white whale which ate his leg.
100. Middlemarch by George Eliot

“One of the few English novels written for grown-up people,” said Virginia Woolf.

101. Don Quixote Miguel De Cervantes
The story of the gentle knight and his servant Sancho Panza has entranced readers for centuries. 

102. Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan
The one with the Slough of Despond and Vanity Fair. 

103. Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe
The first English novel. 

104. Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift
A wonderful satire that still works for all ages, despite the savagery of Swift’s vision. 

105. Tom Jones Henry Fielding
The adventures of a high-spirited orphan boy: an unbeatable plot and a lot of sex ending in a blissful marriage.

106. Clarissa Samuel Richardson
One of the longest novels in the English language, but unputdownable. 

107. Tristram Shandy Laurence Sterne
One of the first bestsellers, dismissed by Dr Johnson as too fashionable for its own good. 

108. Dangerous Liaisons Pierre Choderlos De Laclos
An epistolary novel and a handbook for seducers: foppish, French, and ferocious.

109. Emma Jane Austen
Near impossible choice between this and Pride and Prejudice. But Emma never fails to fascinate and annoy.

110. Frankenstein Mary Shelley
Inspired by spending too much time with Shelley and Byron. 

111. Nightmare Abbey Thomas Love Peacock
A classic miniature: a brilliant satire on the Romantic novel. 

112. The Black Sheep Honoré De Balzac
Two rivals fight for the love of a femme fatale. Wrongly overlooked. 

113. The Charterhouse of Parma Stendhal
Penetrating and compelling chronicle of life in an Italian court in post-Napoleonic France. 

114. The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas
A revenge thriller also set in France after Bonaparte: a masterpiece of adventure writing. 

115. Sybil Benjamin Disraeli
Apart from Churchill, no other British political figure shows literary genius. 

116. David Copperfield Charles DickensThis highly autobiographical novel is the one its author liked best. 

117. Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë
Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff have passed into the language. Impossible to ignore. 

118. Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë
Obsessive emotional grip and haunting narrative.

119. Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray
The improving tale of Becky Sharp. 

120. The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne
A classic investigation of the American mind. 

121. Moby-Dick Herman Melville
‘Call me Ishmael’ is one of the most famous opening sentences of any novel. 

122. Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
You could summarise this as a story of adultery in provincial France, and miss the point entirely.

123. The Woman in White Wilkie Collins
Gripping mystery novel of concealed identity, abduction, fraud and mental cruelty. 

124. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland Lewis Carroll
A story written for the nine-year-old daughter of an Oxford don that still baffles most kids. 

125. Little Women Louisa M. Alcott
Victorian bestseller about a New England family of girls. 

126. The Way We Live Now Anthony Trollope
A majestic assault on the corruption of late Victorian England. 

127. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
The supreme novel of the married woman’s passion for a younger man. 

128. Daniel Deronda George Eliot
A passion and an exotic grandeur that is strange and unsettling.

129. The Brothers 1Karamazov Fyodor Dostoevsky 
Mystical tragedy by the author of Crime and Punishment. 

130. The Portrait of a Lady Henry James
The story of Isabel Archer shows James at his witty and polished best. 

131. Huckleberry 1Finn Mark Twain 
Twain was a humorist, but this picture of Mississippi life is profoundly moral and still incredibly influential. 

132. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson
A brilliantly suggestive, resonant study of human duality by a natural storyteller. 

133. Three Men in a Boat Jerome K. Jerome
One of the funniest English books ever written. 

134. The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde
A coded and epigrammatic melodrama inspired by his own tortured homosexuality.

135. The Diary of a Nobody George Grossmith
This classic of Victorian suburbia will always be renowned for the character of Mr Pooter. 

136. Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy
Its savage bleakness makes it one of the first twentieth-century novels. 

137. The Riddle of the Sands Erskine Childers
A prewar invasion-scare spy thriller by a writer later shot for his part in the Irish republican rising. 

138. The Call of the Wild Jack London
The story of a dog who joins a pack of wolves after his master’s death. 

139. Nostromo Joseph Conrad
Conrad’s masterpiece: a tale of money, love and revolutionary politics. 

140. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
This children’s classic was inspired by bedtime stories for Grahame’s son. 

141. In Search of Lost Time&nbsp

;Marcel Proust
An unforgettable portrait of Paris in the belle époque. Probably the longest novel on this list. 

142. The Rainbow D. H. Lawrence
Novels seized by the police, like this one, have a special afterlife. 

143. The Good Soldier Ford Madox Ford
This account of the adulterous lives of two Edwardian couples is a classic of unreliable narration. 

144. The Thirty-Nine Steps John Buchan
A classic adventure story for boys, jammed with action, violence and suspense. 

145. Ulysses James Joyce
Also pursued by the British police, this is a novel more discussed than read. 

146. Mrs Dalloway Virginia Woolf
Secures Woolf’s position as one of the great twentieth-century English novelists. 

147. A Passage to India EM Forster
Forster’s great love song to India.

148. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
The quintessential Jazz Age novel.

149. The Trial Franz Kafka
The enigmatic story of Joseph K. 

150. Men Without Women Ernest Hemingway
He is remembered for his novels, but it was the short stories that first attracted notice. 

151. Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Celine
The experiences of an unattractive slum doctor during the Great War: a masterpiece of linguistic innovation. 

152. As I Lay Dying William Faulkner
A strange black comedy by an American master. 

153. Brave New World Aldous Huxley
Dystopian fantasy about the world of the seventh century AF (after Ford). 

154. Scoop Evelyn Waugh
The supreme Fleet Street novel. 

155. USA John Dos Passos
An extraordinary trilogy that uses a variety of narrative devices to express the story of America. 

156. The Big Sleep Raymond Chandler
Introducing Philip Marlowe: cool, sharp, handsome – and bitterly alone. 

157. The Pursuit Of Love Nancy Mitford
An exquisite comedy of manners with countless fans. 

158. The Plague Albert Camus
A mysterious plague sweeps through the Algerian town of Oran. 

159. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
This tale of one man’s struggle against totalitarianism has been appropriated the world over. 

160. Malone Dies Samuel Beckett
Part of a trilogy of astonishing monologues in the black comic voice of the author of Waiting for Godot. 

161. Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
A week in the life of Holden Caulfield. A cult novel that still mesmerises. 

162. Wise Blood Flannery O’Connor
A disturbing novel of religious extremism set in the Deep South. 

163. Charlotte’s Web EB White
How Wilbur the pig was saved by the literary genius of a friendly spider. 

164. The Lord Of The Rings J. R. R. Tolkien

165. Lucky Jim Kingsley Amis
An astonishing debut: the painfully funny English novel of the Fifties. 

166. Lord of the Flies William Golding
Schoolboys become savages: a bleak vision of human nature.

167. The Quiet American Graham Greene
Prophetic novel set in 1950s Vietnam.

168 On the Road Jack Kerouac
The Beat Generation bible.

169. Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
Humbert Humbert’s obsession with Lolita is a tour de force of style and narrative.

170. The Tin Drum Günter Grass
Hugely influential, Rabelaisian novel of Hitler’s Germany.

171. Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
Nigeria at the beginning of colonialism. A classic of African literature.

172. The Prime of Miss Jean BrodieMuriel Spark
A writer who made her debut in The Observer – and her prose is like cut glass.

173. To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee
Scout, a six-year-old girl, narrates an enthralling story of racial prejudice in the Deep South.

174. Catch-22 Joseph Heller
‘He would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.’

175. Herzog Saul Bellow
Adultery and nervous breakdown in Chicago.

176. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez
A postmodern masterpiece.

177. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont Elizabeth Taylor
A haunting, understated study of old age.

178. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy John Le Carré
A thrilling elegy for post-imperial Britain.

179. Song of Solomon Toni MorrisonThe definitive novelist of the African-American experience.

180. The Bottle Factory Outing Beryl Bainbridge
Macabre comedy of provincial life.

181. The Executioner’s Song Norman Mailer
This quasi-documentary account of the life and death of Gary Gilmore is possibly his masterpiece.

182. If on a Winter’s Night a TravellerItalo Calvino
A strange, compelling story about the pleasures of reading.

183. A Bend in the River VS Naipaul
The finest living writer of English prose. This is his masterpiece: edgily reminiscent of Heart of Darkness. 

184. Waiting for the Barbarians JM Coetzee
Bleak but haunting allegory of apartheid by the Nobel prizewinner.

185. Housekeeping Marilynne Robinson
Haunting, poetic story, drowned in water and light, about three generations of women.

186. Lanark Alasdair Gray
Seething vision of Glasgow. A Scottish classic.

187. The New York Trilogy Paul Auster
Dazzling metaphysical thriller set in the Manhattan of the 1970s.

188. The BFG Roald Dahl
A bestseller by the most popular postwar writer for children of all ages.

189. The Periodic Table Primo Levi
A prose poem about the delights of chemistry.

190. Money Martin Amis
The novel that bags Amis’s place on any list.

191. An Artist of the Floating World Kazuo Ishiguro
A collaborator from prewar Japan reluctantly discloses his betrayal of friends and family.

192. Oscar And Lucinda Peter Carey
A great contemporary love story set in nineteenth-century Australia by double Booker prizewinner. 

193. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting Milan Kundera
Inspired by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, this is a magical fusion of history, autobiography and ideas.

194. Haroun and the Sea of StoriesSalman Rushdie

195. LA Confidential James Ellroy

196. Wise Children Angela Carter

197. Atonement Ian McEwan

198. Northern Lights Philip Pullman

199. American Pastoral Philip Roth

200. Austerlitz W. G. Sebald     

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