29 November, 2013

An Angst Canon

Two articles about book lists have caught my eye in the last couple of weeks. Firstly, this article from the BBC about whether there is an "angst canon" of books that teenagers love to read, featuring main characters who are alienated by society.

You can buy me on Amazon. (Or your local bookshop!)
Books included in this list are The Ousider (Albert Camus), 1984 (George Orwell), Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) and The Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger), among many others. The idea is, of course, that teenagers are drawn to these books as they struggle to find their own place in society, making that shift into adulthood. Perhaps these books are accessories - designed to say something to the world about who we are by the fact we read them. I'm not sure. I read these books (except for The Outsider) as a teenager because they were on a book list, and the only one I liked was 1984. But if teenagers are using good literature to express themselves then three cheers for them, I say!

Which books spoke to you as a teenager?

Secondly, the 2014 list of books to be given out on World Book Night was released last week. I won't talk about World Book Night here because I've done that before, but I always love to see which books are going to be distributed for free among communities that might not have much access to books. I've only read four of this year's list, and only heard of one other. I'm getting behind in my literary knowledge!

I've read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Whatever it Takes, After the Funeral and Short Stories. I only read Whatever it Takes in order to review it for Good Housekeeping and I have to say I didn't think a whole lot of it. The plot was engaging enough, but maybe I was put off by the fact that by page 16 the characters (almost none of whom were that likeable) hadn't just spoken to each other but they'd grunted, whispered, commented and goodness knows what else. The other three though, I really enjoyed.

How many have you read? Any recommendations?

Me too!
  • Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch
  • Four Warned - Jeffrey Archer
  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne
  • After the Funeral - Agatha Christie
  • Short Stories - Roald Dahl
  • Confessions of a GP - Dr. Benjamin Daniels
  • Hello Mum - Bernardine Evaristo
  • Getting Rid of Matthew - Jane Fallon
  • Theodore Boon - John Grisham
  • The Humans - Matt Haig
  • The Perfect Murder - Peter James
  • Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
  • Today Everything Changes - Andy McNab
  • Geezer Girls - Dreda Say Mitchell
  • CHERUB: The Recruit - Robery Muchamore
  • Whatever it Takes - Adele Parks
  • Black Hills - Nora Roberts
  • The Boy with the Topknot - Sathnam Sanghera
  • Gorky Park - Martin Cruz Smith
  • 59 Seconds - Richard Wiseman


  1. I remember being wowed by 'Dibs'.

  2. I read Lord of the Flies as a teenager only because they made us read it at school - but it was such a powerful story that it left a lasting impression on me - not only in a literary sense, but also in terms of the dynamics of relationships.

    1. Oh, me too! I thought it was the most wonderful book I'd read at the time. I have a terrible memory for books, but that one has stuck with me pretty well.


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