Secondary School Books

A selection of great books which can be used as part of the curriculum and which should not be missing from any school or college library.

Strange Boy - Paul Magrs

Come back to the north east of England and meet David. Some would say he’s a strange boy. David’s an outsider. He’s smart, sensitive – and convinced he has secret super-powers. Life for him and his brother is a constant whirl of would-be stepfamilies and overbearing friends and relations. And even aged ten, he’s finding he’s not sure what he thinks about fancying girls when 14-year old John down the road seems so much more interesting…

Published by Simon and Schuster ISBN: 0-689-83657-0

Inventing Elliot - Graham Gardner

Elliot has been a victim – the target of brutal violence in school. Now, at this new school, he’s determined to reinvent himself. He will stand out just enough to fit in.

But soon Elliot is singled out by the Guardians, a manipulative group of boys who run the school with their own set of rules. Step out of line and their retribution will be swift and severe. The Guardians don’t wan to hurt Elliot – they want him to become one of them.

Elliot is being offered power. Power he has never known. But at what cost?

Published by Dolphin Paperback  ISBN: 1-84255-208-2

Sugar Rush - Julie Burchill

Fifteen-year old Kim is horrified when her dad tells her she’s got to leave her posh school and go to infamous Ravendence Comprehensive. How will she survive in this wild and scary teenage jungle? But then Kim meets gorgeous Maria Sweet – better known as Sugar – queen of the ‘Ravers’. Leaving her good girl past far behind, Kim finds herself falling under Sugar’s spell  - and asking herself a disturbing question: has she fallen in love with her best friend?

Published by Young Picador  ISBN: 0-33041483-2

Totally Joe - James Howe

So I said, “Will you teach me to do a headstand?” Because he’s a gymnast, remember? And I’m a total klutz. And He said, “Really? Sure!”
It took, like, for-ev-er, but I finally managed to do one. I kind of missed having his hands around my ankles after he took them away but the feeling of being upside down and staying there, all by myself, was AMAZING!!!

Published by Atheneum   ISBN – 10: 0-689-83957-X

I know why the caged bird sings - Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s six volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope and joy, achievement and celebration. In this first volume of her autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. She learns the power of the white folks at the other end of town and suffers the terrible trauma of rape by her mother’s lover.

Published by Virago    ISBN: 0-86068-511-X

Girl2girl – the lives of young lesbian and bisexual women
Norrina Rashid and Jane Hoy (editors)

Girls from across the UK write from the heart about being gay or bi coming out or falling in love.

Published by DIVA    ISBN: 187374145-6

Oranges are not the only fruit - Jeanette Winterson

Winner of the prestigious Whitbread Prize for best first novel and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for best writer under 35, this modern classic chronicles the life of a bright and rebellious orphan who is adopted into an Evangelical household in the dour, industrial Midlands. Her insistence on listening to the truths of her own heart and mind makes for an unforgettable chronicle of an eccentric, moving rite of passage into adulthood.

Published by Grove Press   ISBN: 9780802135162

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernières

Set on the peaceful island of Cephallonia, just as the horrors of World War II reach its remote shores, Corelli's Mandolin is the story of a timeless place that one day wakes up to find itself in the jaws of history. The place is the Greek island of Cephallonia, where gods once dabbled in the affairs of men and the local saint periodically rises from his sarcophagus to cure the mad. Then the tide of World War II rolls onto the island's shores in the form of the conquering Italian army. Caught in the midst of the occupation are Pelagia, a willful, beautiful young woman, and the two suitors vying for her love and affection: Mandras, a gentle fisherman turned ruthless, murderous guerilla, and the charming, mandolin-playing Captain Corelli, a reluctant officer of the Italian garrison on the island.

Published by Vintage Books  ISBN: 067976397X, 9780679763970

Skins: The Novel - Ali Cronin

Effy, Freddie, JJ, Cook, Naomi, Pandora, Thomas and Katie are all dealing with the aftermath of the events at the end of series 3. Effy has fled to Italy with her mum, where she tries to put her feelings for Freddie, and the guilt she feels for stealing him from Katie out of her mind. The perfect distraction come in the form of sophisticated older man, Aldo...Naomi and Emily are struggling with spending time apart when Em goes to France with her parents and battles with her stubborn twin sister, Katie, Back in Bristol, Naomi pines for Emily while wondering about her future education, Thomas and Pandora are sweetly in love, and finding it difficult to consummate their feelings for each other. Freddy and Cook are engaged in a vigorous game of sexual one-upmanship with a frustrated JJ as referee...By the end of the summer, the gang will have resolved some issues and brought up some more, but always in the raw, uncompromising, contradictory and authentic narrative style that makes the series so popular and compelling. Language and sexual references are graphic.

Published by Hodder Children's Division   ISBN: 1444900048, 9781444900040

Sweet - Julie Burchill

Maria Sweet, aka Sugar, is back. Her husband's done a runner, taking their daughter with him, but at least she has a plan: get a job, get some cash and get the hell out of Brighton. And somewhere out there in the big bad world is Kim Lewis, who might just be the Love of Sugar's Life. Sugar's landed herself a stint as a model for local fashion designers Agnew & Bagshawe. But when she discovers they've exploited her, she's hell-bent on vengeance and that can only lead to chaos.

Published by Young Picador   ISBN: 0330453718, 9780330453714

Tipping the Velvet  - Sarah Waters

This stunning and steamy debut chronicles the adventures of Nan King, a small-town girl at the turn of the century whose life takes a wild turn when she follows a local music hall star to London. "Readers of all sexes and orientations should identify with this gutsy hero as she learns who she is and how to love."—Newsday

Published by Riverhead Books   ISBN: 1573227889, 9781573227889

Regeneration - Pat Barker

Set in a British military hospital during WWI, this novel blends fact and fiction, drawing its two protagonists from the pages of history. The author of Union Street (made into the film Stanley and Iris) portrays overwhelmed men who try to come to terms with their outrage of a futile war. Stressed by the war, poet, pacifist, and protestor Siegfried Sassoon is sent to Craiglockhart Hospital, where his views challenge the patriotic vision of Dr. William Rivers, a neurologist assigned to restore the sanity of shell-shocked soldiers.

Published by Plume   ISBN: 0452270073, 9780452270077

The Eye in the Door - Pat Barker

This prize winning sequel to the author's acclaimed masterpiece of antiwar literature, Regeneration, "calls to mind . . . Hemingway and Fitzgerald" (Boston Globe) and stands on its own as an eloquently and morally complex novel of the brutal effects of World War I on the human psyche and British society as a whole.

Published by Plume    ISBN: 0452272726, 9780452272729

The Ghost Road - Pat Barker

1918, the closing months of the war. Army psychiatrist William Rivers is increasingly concerned for the men who have been in his care – particularly Billy Prior, who is about to return to combat in France with young poet Wilfred Owen. As Rivers tries to make sense of what, if anything, he has done to help these insured men, Prior and Owen awair the final war that has decimated a generation… .

Published by Plume   ISBN: 0452276721, 9780452276727

Rapture - Carol Ann Duffy

The effortless virtuosity, drama, and humanity of Carol Ann Duffy's verse have made her much-admired among contemporary poets. Her seventh collection, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize, is a book-length love-poem, and a moving act of personal testimony—but what sets these poems apart from other treatments of the subject is Duffy's refusal to simplify the contradictions of love, and read its transformations—infatuation, longing, passion, commitment, rancor, separation, and grief—as either redemptive or destructive. This is a map of real love, in all its churning complexity, simultaneously direct and subtle, showing us that a song can be made of even the most painful episodes in our lives. With poems that will find deep resonance in the experience of most readers, it is a collection that can and does speak for us all.

Published by Picador   ISBN: 0330433911, 9780330433914

The Color Purple - Alice Walker

Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to "Mister," a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister's letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.

Published by Pocket Books   ISBN: 0671727796, 9780671727796

Orlando: A Biography - Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf's Orlando 'The longest and most charming love letter in literature', playfully constructs the figure of Orlando as the fictional embodiment of Woolf's close friend and lover, Vita Sackville-West. Spanning three centuries, the novel opens as Orlando, a young nobleman in Elizabeth's England, awaits a visit from the Queen and traces his experience with first love as England under James I lies locked in the embrace of the Great Frost. At the midpoint of the novel, Orlando, now an ambassador in Costantinople, awakes to find that he is a woman, and the novel indulges in farce and irony to consider the roles of women in the 18th and 19th centuries. As the novel ends in 1928, a year consonant with full suffrage for women. Orlando, now a wife and mother, stands poised at the brink of a future that holds new hope and promise for women.

Published by Wordsworth Editions   ISBN: 1853262390, 9781853262395

The History Boys - Alan Bennett

An unruly bunch of bright, funny sixth-form (or senior) boys in a British boys’ school are, as such boys will be, in pursuit of sex, sport, and a place at a good university, generally in that order. In all their efforts, they are helped and hindered, enlightened and bemused, by a maverick English teacher who seeks to broaden their horizons in sometimes undefined ways, and a young history teacher who questions the methods, as well as the aim, of their schooling. In The History Boys, Alan Bennett evokes the special period and place that the sixth form represents in an English boy’s life. In doing so, he raises—with gentle wit and pitch-perfect command of character—not only universal questions about the nature of history and how it is taught but also questions about the purpose of education today.

Published by Faber and Faber   ISBN: 0571224644, 9780571224647

Maurice - E.M. Forster

Set in the elegant Edwardian world of Cambridge undergraduate life, this story by a master novelist introduces us to Maurice Hall when he is fourteen. We follow him through public school and Cambridge, and on into his father's firm, Hill and Hall, Stock Brokers. In a highly structured society, Maurice is a conventional young man in almost every way, "stepping into the niche that England had prepared for him": except that his is homosexual. Written during 1913 and 1914, immediately after Howards End, and not published until 1971, Maurice was ahead of its time in its theme and in its affirmation that love between men can be happy. "Happiness," Forster wrote, "is its keynote….In Maurice I tried to create a character who was completely unlike myself or what I supposed myself to be: someone handsome, healthy, bodily attractive, mentally torpid, not a bad businessman and rather a snob. Into this mixture I dropped an ingredient that puzzles him, wakes him up, torments him and finally saves him."

Published by Penguin   ISBN: 0141185201, 9780141185200

Trumpet - Jackie Kay

At its center is Joss Moody, a celebrated jazz trumpeter who created music that convinced everyone who heard it that they knew the man who made it. But Joss's death has proved them all wrong: Joss Moody lived his life inside a stunning secret. His wife, Millie, had known about it. But their adopted son, Colman, now in his thirties, has just learned of it. With everything he understood about himself and his family thrown into question, Colman forms an uncomfortable alliance with a journalist intent on telling Joss's story her own way. Millie, grieving and besieged by the press, secludes herself in their home in a small Scottish village, sinking into the aching solace of memory.  Their two brilliantly realized voices -- one revisiting the past for comfort, the other for answers -- are interwoven with the equally evocative voices of Joss's drummer, of the doctor who discovered Joss's secret, of the funeral director who hid it for the last time, of the registrar of death certificates, and of the journalist. Together they reveal the startling and poignant story of Joss and Millie: how a complex, dazzling lie became the foundation for a family, a life, and a rare, unshakable love.

Published by Pantheon Books   ISBN: 0375405097, 9780375405099

I’m the king of the castle - Susan Hill

Boys will be boys, but in England, with the reminder of Lord of the Flies and If, they seem to be a class apart, a law unto themselves, and the perpetrator-victims of monstrous malevolence. Thus Miss Hill's spare and unsparing account of the enforced relationship of motherless Edmund Hooper and fatherless Charles Kingshaw after Mrs. Kingshaw becomes Mr. Hooper's housekeeper hoping at last to find a home for herself and young Charles. Edmund greets the newcomer with hostility; terrifies him with dead moths and a stuffed crow; locks him up in the rooms of the large, isolated house; and baits and bullies him on every occasion. Charles decides to run away and Edmund follows him through the spectral Hang Wood where Edmund, also susceptible to terror, has an accident. Later he attempts to follow Charles up on the parapet of a castle and again, frozen in fear, falls--unfortunately not to his death. Finally with Mrs. Kingshaw's marriage to Mr. Hooper, Charles can see only one alternative to his entrapment. . . . Miss Hill's misbegotten little blighters are not particularly prepossessing or pitiable but one reads their story fastened on to the inevitable worst in whatever form it will take.

Published by Heineman   ISBN: 0435272225, 9780435272227

Cat on a hot tin roof - Tennesse Williams

Williams's Pulitzer Prize-winning play has captured both stage and film audiences since its debut in 1954. One of his best-loved and most famous plays, it exposes the lies plaguing the family of a wealthy Southern planter of humble origins.

Published by Signet   ISBN: 0451171128, 9780451171122

For more information on, visit the lesbian and gay bookshop Gay's the word.


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