A cultural short cut and starter kit …
…if you did not know where to start before, then try here. Some very good books to read sooner or later
From the 19th Century:
Ten poems for an upturned world:
Jane Austen ‘Pride and Prejudice’
I Wilfred Owen ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ Emily Brontë ‘Wuthering Heights’
II GM Hopkins ‘Pied Beauty’ Charlotte Brontë ‘Jane Eyre’
III Sylvia Plath ‘Morning Song’ George Eliot ‘The Mill on the Floss’
IV Ted Hughes ‘The Jaguar’ Charles Dickens ‘Great Expectations’
V Dylan Thomas ‘Fern Hill’ Thomas Hardy ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’
VI Elizabeth B Browning ‘How do I love thee?’
VII TS Eliot ‘Little Gidding’
from ‘The Four Quartets’ 20th Century:
VIII Emily Brontë ‘Last Lines’
IX W H Auden ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’ George Orwell ‘Animal farm’
X Emily Dickinson ‘The Lonely House’ ‘1984’
XI Seamus Heaney ‘The Tollund Man’ Aldous Huxley ‘Brave New World’
Stella Gibbons ‘Cold Comfort Farm’
OK – yes there are eleven and there could be a lot more and there Graham Swift ‘Waterland’
could easily be a completely different list of ten (or eleven) which Paul Scott ‘Staying On’
would be equally as fine as these …so do choose your own as well as Dylan Thomas ‘Under Milk Wood’
or instead of these.
Recent history books:
There are many good anthologies of poetry which will give you the
highlights: The New Oxford Book of English Verse, or the more Simon Young ‘AD 500’
popular ‘The Rattle Bag’. Then there is a very reasonable Everyman Juliet Barker ‘Agincourt’
series, with a selection from individual poets.
If you prefer to be modern, then the most important poets since 1945 Again, this is a personal selection and many, if not all, could be
have been Dylan Thomas, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, and Seamus replaced by others equally as good.
All the libraries in Carlisle have an open access policy – so as well as
If you can, read the poem out loud. Also, you should find that it is the city centre library, the university libraries on Fusehill Street and
easier the second time you read it, and so on. near Shaddongate will allow you in to study and read.
Building up a library Other reading things
Raiding parents’ bookshelves sooner or later has to be replaced by Read a good newspaper, which probably means either The Guardian
gathering the beginnings of what will become your own adult library. or The Independent. There are voucher offers for students, which
The rise of the Internet has made books less expensive, and owning should arrive soon I hope.
books is one of the wonderful privileges of a free and liberal and well-
off society. Read some good magazines too. There are a lot of really bad
magazines, but student discounts are as much as 50% on some good
You will need a dictionary: the Little Oxford Dictionary is fine for ones. If you see yourself becoming a scientist, then try New
now and they are in the school shop for £5-50, rather than the £7-99 Scientist which has a 50% offer on its website now, but it’s still £75
from the shops. Towards the end of the Sixth Form and for university, for the year – so share it with one or two others. There is also
then the Concise Oxford Dictionary’ will become useful. Only Nature and Scientific American.
English students might need to head for the Shorter Oxford
In the midst of the Potters and the Pirates, there are some superb
A Dictionary of Quotations is always useful and interesting, and adaptations of the classics (recently ‘As you like it’ by Kenneth
again the Oxford one is probably still the best. Brannagh, and ‘Sense and Sensibility’ on the BBC). I hope that you
have already seen The Shawshank Redemption and Schindler’s
As a one volume reference book, however, it is the Cambridge List and further back Ghandi and JFK
Factfinder that seems the best rather than a single volume
The galleries and museums are still free. The National Gallery in
Browsing in bookshops is a good education. Bookcase has very good London is the best place in the world, but the Scottish Academy in
sales, just in the vestibule when you go in - lots of books for £1 or Edinburgh is also a delight.
£2. Bookends too has a lot of good books on special offers,
especially in Art and fiction. Shakespeare
A one volume complete works is a bit hard to read, but usually there
If you are travelling, then the second hand bookshops in Carnforth, in are special offers on these. The Arden edition play by play is the
Sedbergh and in Alnwick are super places, especially Barter Books in best. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon is
Alnwick. being rebuilt but the tours to Newcastle in October are excellent, as is
The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.
Remember to ask for Student discount and get into that habit for the
next six years! Talk about everything, ideas, and make mistakes, but grow.