The GCSE reading list: which titles have you read?

Pupils studying for their GCSE English literature delve into amazing works by Shakespeare, 19th Century novelists, and British writers of modern prose and drama.

How many titles on the GCSE reading list have you read? We share our pick of some of the best books on the list worth reading at any age.


Teenagers may be naturally drawn to the grand romance and tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, but it’s the wit of Much Ado About Nothing that has enduring appeal. The ‘merry war’ of verbal sparring between Benedick and Beatrice and the highs and lows of the plot ensure this is one of Shakespeare’s best comedies.

The 19th Century Novel

While works by the greats, including Dickens and Austen, are to be found in this section, there are surprises on the list.  The greatest sleuth of all, Sherlock Holmes, makes an appearance in the reading list in the complex Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel The Sign of Four.

A novel in this section often featured high on ‘greatest books ever’ lists is Jane Eyre. The remarkable book by Charlotte Brontë was ahead of its time in the way it examined class, gender and morality, and possesses a strong protagonist and moody setting.

Modern Texts

There is a brilliant selection of modern plays and novels available for pupils in the new GCSE reading list, some of which have been studied at schools for decades.

Familiar works like Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm feature on the list, but there are some recent additions worthy of reading. Meera Syal’s debut novel Anita and Me is a funny, moving story of a young Indian girl coming of age in Northern England. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is another must read book on the list. As a work straddling science fiction, horror and coming of age it defies definition, and is a poignant story of children who grow up to confront a terrible truth.

Alan Bennett’s award winning play The History Boys is one of the most affecting and entertaining dramatic works on the list, and tells the story of an unruly group of friends preparing for university entrance examinations. Simon Stephens’s dramatic adaptation of Mark Haddon’s book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is one of the newest pieces on the GCSE reading list, and features a mathematical genius teen with behavioural problems as he tries to solve a mystery.

As well as prose and drama, the reading list features poetry from the likes of Seamus Heaney, Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Tennyson, and Wilfred Owen.

The GCSE Reading List – Prose and Drama

  • William Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet
  • William Shakespeare – Macbeth
  • William Shakespeare – Much Ado About Nothing
  • William Shakespeare – Julius Caesar
  • William Shakespeare – The Merchant of Venice
  • William Shakespeare – The Tempest
  • Charles Dickens – Great Expectations
  • Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol
  • Robert Louis Stevenson – The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  • Mary Shelley – Frankenstein
  • Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice
  • Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – The Sign of Four
  • JB Priestley – An Inspector Calls (play)
  • Alan Bennett – The History Boys  (play)
  • Willy Russell – Blood Brothers (play)
  • Dennis Kelly – DNA (play)
  • Shelagh Delaney – A Taste of Honey (play)
  • Simon Stephens – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (play)
  • William Golding – The Lord of the Flies
  • George Orwell – Animal Farm
  • Kazuo Ishiguro – Never Let Me Go
  • Meera Syal – Anita and Me
  • Stephen Kelman – Pigeon English

How many of the books and plays on the GCSE Reading List have you read?

The following two tabs change content below.

Rachel - Silversurfers Assistant Editor

Hello there! I’m Rachel and I’m the Assistant Editor for Silversurfers. I work behind the scenes to bring interesting, informative and entertaining subject matter to the Silversurfers community. I hope you enjoy the features we have shared with you. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with us, we love to hear from you!

Latest posts by Rachel - Silversurfers Assistant Editor (see all)

Leave a Comment!

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password
13th Mar 2015
Thanks for voting!
i've read 20 but don't remember details of the plots of some so i am rereading. My favourites are missing: Sebastian Faulks', John Irvin...I am now rereading 'One hundred years of Solitude.' Garcia Marquez.
6th Mar 2015
Thanks for voting!
13th Feb 2015
Thanks for voting!
I have read quite a lot of these works and find it surprising that the list is so similar to the one that I had to choose from over thirty years ago!
13th Feb 2015
Thanks for voting!
ive read 6 on this list I found shakespear absolute rubbish could not understand him at all I like stories that flow lol

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!