How to get exhausted A-level students to read again: A Reading List

We’ve all been there: while cramming for a Biology test the next day, or brainstorming for an essay question, the gaze wanders towards the languishing TBR pile of books or the bookshelves filled with old favorites. Undoubtedly, the question arises, whatever happened to the golden child (Spoiler alert: High school and Netflix) who used to devour books in 6th grade at the rate of ten a month? There is still light at the end of the tunnel though, as I’ve put together a reading list that will be sure to rekindle your love of reading.

1. The creepy page-turner you can’t put down

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn needs no introduction; if you didn’t read this multinational sensation back in 2012 when it was published, you must have caught the movie starring a haunting performance by Rosamund Pike. This psychological crime thriller revolves around Amy and Nick’s marriage – or lack thereof. Gone Girl brings to light the unsettling facets of relationships; parental, romantic and fraternal (TW – may make your existential crisis worse). If you feel that you can stomach an unsettling family murder mystery with the accused being a high school student, you can read Dark Places by the same author. An excellent psychological thriller short story you can finish in a single session is The Veldt by Ray Bradbury, where two siblings become overly attached to their nursery (suffice to say, you will never want to experience virtual reality after this story).

2. A light-hearted read to distract you from the anarchy around you

The next best thing to sunshine and rainbows that you can get in book form is My Family and Other Animals.  Aggressive geckos, a dying, sagacious grandmother who talks to flowers and a never-ending list of hilarious animals that will make you laugh out loud; is there anything that isn’t in this book? The book recounts the author’s real-life trip to the island of Corfu in Greece and the many comical households they end up occupying. A fascinating mix of history, zoology, fantasy, fiction, comedy and memoir, this book will surely revive your rapidly wavering attention span. Another great option is Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson, a satirical memoir that sheds light on the trials and tribulations of a mom of three (the scathing review of motherhood your mother never wrote).

3. Your childhood favorite (aka that book in tatters that you’ve read a hundred times before)

Sometimes, the best thing one can do to start reading books again is to revisit an old favorite. Whether that’s lessons with Miss Honey in Matilda, adventures with Anne in Green Gables, training with Professor Lupin in the stately hallways of Hogwarts, or trips with Charlie in the Chocolate Factory; one of these will be sure to reignite (or just ignite) your passion for leisure reading.

4. The classics you’ve always wanted to read (yet never found the patience to)

Here we have the big guns: Wuthering Heights, Notes from Underground and Jane Eyre. Apart from having some of the most iconic lines in literature “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same”. The aforementioned classics are free from jargon and are absolutely riveting, complete with characters that become more and more insightful with every re-read. Most importantly, these books will probably appear in your SAT to haunt you (I am absolutely not salty about Moby Dick).

5. Written to be binge-read 

This is one novella you will probably finish the day you begin: Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King (Yes, the book is better!).  This masterpiece by Stephen King follows the story of the salvation of an innocent man condemned to prison and his unlikely friendship with another inmate, Red.  The story reads like a fable told by a beloved grandparent with gripping narration and plot twists that hook  you right from the start. If novellas or short stories seem a bit too long for you, you can turn to flash fiction, such as Babycakes by Neil Gaiman in which all animals on earth disappear with babies replacing them, resulting in apocalyptic creepiness. Possession(s) by John Smolens is another unforgettable flash fiction which shows a touching portrait of a man trying to forget his dead wife.

On this note, I’d like to wish you the best of luck and the most tenacious of attention spans in your future reading endeavors. I sincerely hope our winters are spent snuggled in our cozy beds with a book instead of our laptops (or our never-ending binders of past papers). Pro tip: spend all your savings on ornate, embroidered, clothbound editions that cost a kidney to ensure that  your guilt keeps you reading. by

by: Fajr Rauf

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