English experts recommend their favourite reads for World Book Day
Published on 2 March 2022
Thursday 3 March marks World Book Day, an annual celebration of literature aimed at promoting the joy of reading to younger generations.
But there’s nothing to say that adults can’t use the occasion to discover a new favourite book. That’s why staff from the University of Dundee’s English department have come together to recommend some of their favourite reads.
Dr Lynda Clark, Research Fellow in Narrative & Play, recommends The Piano Room, by Clio Velentza.
“A gothic re-telling of Faust, The Piano Room follows not only Sandor and his pact with the devil, but also Ferdi, the unfortunate creature created in the pact. Despite his origins, Ferdi’s humanity shines through, throwing Sandor’s lack into sharp relief.
“This is a moving LGBTQ+ story of finding love and a place in the world that lifted my heart during lockdown.”
Dr Aliki Varvogli, Senior Lecturer in English and American Literature, recommends Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel.
“This is a brilliant book that takes place during and after a flu pandemic. It is a story of a group who have survived a flu pandemic and most of civilisation has collapsed. It follows them as they travel in caravans around North America, performing Shakespeare plays and music.
“Even though it describes a terrifying world, it shows that hope never dies and that when people have lost everything else, we have something to keep us going. It’s a real page turner.”
Professor Chris Murray, Chair of Comic Studies recommends Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley.
“Frankenstein is part of the DNA of our culture. Long before I read the book I knew the character, from films, comics, and cartoons. Everyone knows that iconic story, or they think they do. The novel is quite different from its various retellings in other media. First time readers of the book are often surprised about how different it is, and especially how different the creature is in the novel as opposed to its representation in other media.”
Dr Gail Low, Senior Lecturer in English recommends Beloved, by Toni Morrison.
“A stunner of a book. Beautifully written with all of the pain of life in slavery, and occasional moments of heart-wrenching joy that, as a slave, you’re still alive and can love in whatever small measure that is given to you.
“A hopeful book despite its pain and anger, and because of those languid sentences that alight on your ear and stay.”
Dr Daniel Cook, Reader in English, recommends The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, by James Hogg.
Published anonymously in 1824, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner has been called a Gothic novel, a psychological mystery, a religious satire, and an early example of modern crime fiction. The plot follows a staunch Calvinist, Robert Wringhim, who believes he is justified in killing those he believes have already been damned by God. An increasingly macabre diary of an irrecoverably disturbed man, Hogg's masterpiece will haunt you forever.
Dr Keith Williams, Reader in English, recommends The Invisible Man, by H.G. Wells.
Though published 125 years ago, there are few science fictions which reflect the modern world so uncannily.
“Wells’ anti-hero, Griffin, act as an invisible eye and ear. Like a hidden camera or surveillance device, his disruptive actions foreshadow our times in which displacement of human presence by electronic media has become part of everyday experience and forces acting invisibly at a distance through the internet or other global systems rule our lives, for good or ill.”
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