TTT: Best Books I Read During my English BA

Hello folks and welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday. This was created by The Broke and the Bookish and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This week the theme is ‘Back to School’.

I had two lines of inspiration for this: books set in schools and the best books I read on my English course at university. I think my uni reads were definitely more interesting so that’s what I’m talking about today! I’ve also included the module title in brackets to give an idea of what kind of modules these books were related to at Warwick.

The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka (Modern World Literatures)
The Metamorphosis
The iconic short story by Kafka opens with Gregor Samsa waking up one day and discovering he is an insect. Although it’s never directly described what kind of insect, it’s assumed that he is a kind of cockroach. Absurd and tragic, I’d definitely recommend this.

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley (Modern World Literatures)
Frankenstein 2
Oh Frankenstein, how you’ve captured my heart. This gothic tale is so interesting, with layers of storytelling. It explores the nature of humanity and of the responsibility of science. The book shows both Frankenstein and the creature’s perspective.

The Complete Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi (Modern World Literatures)
A autobiographical graphic novel about Marjane Satrapi’s childhood growing up in Iran both before, during and after the 1979 Iranian revolution. The title borrows the ancient name for Iran – Persepolis – and shows how multi-faceted the people of Iran were despite the extreme conservatism of the government at the time.

The City & The City – China Miéville (Modern World Literatures)

The City & The City

A cross between SF and detective novel. The setting is the anonymous Eastern European-esque twin cities of Beszel and Ul Qoma. The cities sit side by side with some parts overlapping but the twist is citizens of one city must ‘unsee’ or ignore the other. So when a murder occurs in Ul Qoma but the body is found in Beszel, things get a little complicated.

Angels in America – Tony Kushner (20th Century American Literature)

Angels in America

This play looks at the AIDs epidemic in the 1980s and interconnected individuals who are affected by it. It is surreal – it has literal angels and prophecies and it’s very good. Oh and there is a HBO version of it featuring a star-studded cast that sticks very close to the original play and is well worth a watch.

Solaris – Stanislaw Lem (Introduction to Alternative Lifeworlds Fiction)
Originally in Polish, this was part of a science fiction module. Set on a satellite ship that’s observing the eponymous planet Solaris, this book is part psychological thriller as the main character begins seeing visions of his dead wife. It also explores the idea of what it is to be alive and humanity’s limited concept of life.

The House on Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros (North American Women Writers)
I love love love this book! This is a semi-autobiographical story, told in vignettes across short chapters. It explores growing up poor and Latina in America and the meaning of what a house is versus a home is. Beautiful and poignant, it’s a quick and wonderful read!

The Complete Maus – Art Spiegalman (20th Century American Literature)
Another serious graphic novel here. Maus comes in two parts and explores Spiegalman’s father’s story of being Jewish during the Holocaust. Nazis are depicted as cats with Jewish people depicted as mice and it is such a heart-wrenching and beautiful tale.

Woman at Point Zero – Nawaal El Saadawi (Transnational Feminisms)

Woman at Point Zero

Based on the author’s encounter with a female prisoner, Firdaus, in Egypt, El Saadawi describes this novel as ‘creative non-fiction’. The story explores issues of female circumcision, prostitution and sexual abuse, although this book is short, it is not a light read.

The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman (US Writing and Culture)
The Yellow Wallpaper.jpg
The Yellow Wallpaper via hyperphagia on Deviantart

A short story, written in the 19th century. This story is seen through the eyes of the protagonist who is confined to a room as a ‘treatment’ for her depression. Slowly, patterns begin to emerge in the hideous yellow wallpaper. This story is a brilliant and tragic depiction of depression.

And that’s all folks! I really enjoyed studying English at uni, it gave me a chance to read a lot of the greats and classics as well as introduce me to some wonderful books I never would have picked up otherwise. Have you read anything on this list? What’s your favourite book/play/short story you’ve picked up through school/uni? Let’s chat 🙂

4 thoughts on “TTT: Best Books I Read During my English BA

  1. I haven’t read anything on this list yet, but I do think I should get around to reading Frankenstein one of these days. It’s sitting on my dresser right now.


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