Book recs for 17 year old dd

(63 Posts)

Would like to get dd1 some books for Christmas, as she loves reading and hasn't had much chance recently as she's been working so hard for school. She hopes to read English at uni. She's read a lot of the classics already and particularly loves Austen, Plath and Madame Bovary.

I'd like to get her some lovely copies of classics, or modern classics, but want it to be something that she hasn't already read or that we haven't already got.

Help please!

lljkk Sat 24-Nov-12 20:19:01

American or Russian classics? Graham Swift? Bruce Chatwin.

exexpat Sat 24-Nov-12 20:23:51

How about a selection of Virago modern classics? They have some excellent things which are undeservedly obscure.

Never heard of Swift or Chatwin - would I like them?

Could buy Anna Kerenina maybe?

Virago an excellent suggestion - used to love those as a book mad adolescent!

Yeah, get her some Viragos, brilliant idea!

Otherwise, I'm so near your DD's age, and without knowing her interests.....I'd say she could get really into A.S. Byatt, who's so literate and clever and funny- my favourite of hers is The Children's Book. Also Colette, my favourite writer grin you can count her as a classic....
How about Simone de Beauvoir's first memoir, which is very dreamy in places and focused in others, and very accessible for a teenager?
Vita Sackville West, maybe, or- oh! Nancy Mitford- try to find an omnibus, she's great all gobbled up in one go, you get into her style and rhythm and she's good fun.
The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donaghue....something like that, anyway. Read it in September and it's a nice quirky little collection that's supposed to appeal to everyone.
The Ringmaster's Daughter by Jostein Gaarder has a clever plot with clear writing and well defined characters.
Also, Roald Dahl is clever too.....Switch Bitch, My Uncle Oswald etc....I hardly know anyone my age who knows his adult stories, such a shame.
Rubyfruit Jungle- bit like marmite. Perso I can't stand the girl, but your DD might- she's "spunky" and VERY confident and smart.
There's always Jennings! grin

bigTillyMint Sat 24-Nov-12 21:03:44

quirrelquarrel, I read and loved Roald Dahl's adult stories aged about 16. And watched Tales of the Unexpectedsmile

Pmsl at Rubyfruit Jungle - always makes me think of Educating Rita.

Emma Donaghue - nope: she's read Room but she's too current and not really v good. I imagine she'll be forgotten about in a year or two. I want to get lovely keepsake books.

We've got the Dahls.

Sackville-West a good suggestion and she might like Nancy Mitford (who bores the hell out of me, I must admit. I think it's trite nonsense.)

To my shame, I have never read any Colette, so that might be worth a shot too.

BestIsWest Sat 24-Nov-12 21:15:29

Testament of Youth - Vera Britten is brilliant, and as a companion, Goodbye to all that. The Mitfords, if she hasn't already read them. At that age I loved slightly lighter very British writers - Barbara Pym, AJ Cronin, PG Wodehouse, John Mortimer - Rumpole of the Bailey, JB Priestly, Mapp and Lucia etc.

exexpat Sat 24-Nov-12 21:22:15

I remember my bookshelves as a 17-year-old doing English A-level were predominantly green: dark green Viragos and pale green Penguin modern classics. I think you'd find plenty of ideas if you browsed the lists of Virago, Vintage or Penguin modern classics.

It's hard to know what to recommend in particular without browsing your bookshelves first, but for a 17yo, if she hasn't read them already, I would say must-reads include: I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith), The Dud Avocado (Elaine Dundy), Cold Comfort Farm (Stella Gibbons), Dusty Answer (Rosamund Lehman), My Brilliant Career (Miles Franklin), Bilgewater (Jane Gardam). Those are all by women, but I would also add some Evelyn Waugh to the mix (Scoop?), Graham Greene... I could go on for hours.

And how about a good anthology of modern poetry? The Rattlebag is aimed at school-age children, but I have had my copy since my teens and still dip into it. Or for more recent (and more adult-oriented) poetry, the Staying Alive anthology from Bloodaxe is very good (and the two later ones in the series).

Lovely ideas. We've got all of the Waughs but she's currently feeling cross with him post-Brideshead! She's read and liked 'I Capture' and 'Cold Comfort' and we've got The Rattlebag. Will browse the others now, thank you.

I watched Tales of the Unexpected, as many as I could find on youtube, in free periods last year. Kept turning round in my seat, scared someone was right behind me.

Emma Donoghue's Stir Fry, her first book, is really very good IMO! it's light and funny and totally fresh even now, and not current....think it was published in the 80s. But fair enough, I doubt you'd be able to get that in Folio Society! haha. I didn't think that much of Room either, but love Hood and Stir Fry.

Oh, Colette is just the best thing for any young girl. She's sensitive but writes with such insight and openness and wit. I was blown away by the first one I read, I thought so THIS is what they mean by "women writers" blush what would be great would be if you could get her some of her novels, and then a biography, because her life is a lot of fun to read about- I think the best one I've read is "Secrets of the Flesh" by I don't know who.

Ugh, Rubyfruit Jungle. I was expecting to love it. To be honest, I can't warm to someone who doesn't take any knocks. I know that must show up all my insecurities and faults but the girl's perfect, and she knows it and it's all a bit much.

Best my dad ADORES Vera Britten- delivers great lectures on her life and why she's so great.

Also....since she's that age, how about Anton Reiser by Karl Phillip Moritz? Gifted, tortured, sensitive and naive teenager-soul.....I can imagine a lot of bright teenagers getting really into that.

Oh Bilgewater.....I thought that was so pale in comparison to A Long Way from Verona. Jane Gardam's good though isn't she.

exexpat Sat 24-Nov-12 21:46:59

One more thought - if she's thinking of doing English, it would probably be a good idea to read some of the major 20th century European writers, if she hasn't already. Camus, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Kafka, Mann, Hesse etc.

Cheers all. Lots more great ideas here.

Would love more 'male writer' recs too. smile

notnowImreading Sat 24-Nov-12 22:44:36

What about Nevil Shute? On the Beach might be a good start as a sob-fest, although it's quite odd in parts (I know Cote d doesn't like it though).

notnowImreading Sat 24-Nov-12 22:46:03

And Wilkie Collins - The Moonstone completely hooked me at 17 in a way that Dickens never did.

She's read 'On The Beach' and loved 'Alice' - I think some of his others are a bit wearing though.

Bought her 'The Moonstone' last year and she didn't like it - barbarian! She also didn't like 'The Woman In White' but you've just reminded me that she loved 'The Woman In Black' and I think you can get pretty copies of that (although I think it's pants tbh!).

notnowImreading Sat 24-Nov-12 22:50:12

Oh God, yes, that's rubbish. Susan Hill is such a cynical, self-conscious writer. She always seems to be saying 'now I'm going to write xxxx genre piece for my big list of Things I Can Do'.

smile Yes - you are so right.

notnowImreading Sat 24-Nov-12 22:51:32

What about Camus' The Plague? So bleak yet so lovely.

Ooh how about some gothic stuff?

notnowImreading Sat 24-Nov-12 22:52:35

Has she read Dracula already?

And yes to Camus: I might buy her L'Etranger in French too.

Yes, she's read 'Dracula' and 'Frankenstein.'

notnowImreading Sat 24-Nov-12 22:55:18

I managed Les Liaisons Dangereuses in French at 17, I seem to remember (with help from a translation and the film). I don't think it was too hard and because it's epistolary it's in short sections, which helped.

notnowImreading Sat 24-Nov-12 22:56:01

It must be such a pleasure to have a reading daughter. I hope I have one!

Thank you. I've mean meaning to read that for ages, so I might have to buy it in English!

Themumsnot Sat 24-Nov-12 22:56:22

I made a couple of lists for A-level students on my website - you might want to have a look here There is a list of coming of age novels and if you scroll down top ten lists by genre.

DD2 insists that she isn't my real daughter, because she hates reading! So I am very grateful for dd1. smile

mean meaning? BEEN meaning!

Thanks Mumsnot.

notnowImreading Sat 24-Nov-12 23:04:27

Love the list mumsnot. Yy to Name of the Rose. Also, if you're after male writers, how about some EM Forster, John Fowles and Mario Puzo? (Making the link because I remember a family holiday where I read NotR, Room with a View, The French Lieutenant's Woman and The Godfather - very happy memory; barely spoke to my family, though.)

SkiBumMum Sat 24-Nov-12 23:08:08

whatever happened to Flowers in the Attic et al

Does she like Jane Eyre? If so, Wild Sargasso Sea is wonderful.

John Irving - I would start with Garp and Cider House Rules

Sebastian Faulks - Charlotte Grey, Birdsong

ohfunnyface Sat 24-Nov-12 23:09:52

John Updike- Run, Rabbit or his short stories.

Donna Tart- The Secret History

Raymond Carver- short stories

James Joyce- The Dubliners

Graham Greene- England Made Me, The End of the Affaire

Margret Atwood- A Handmaid's Tale, The Blind Assassins

My mother has bought me folio society books in the past- beautiful editions that I treasure.

Raymond Carver - ooh yes then I can re-read!

'Wild Sargasso Sea' a good idea too.

She's read a fair few Atwoods.

I think she'd hate Joyce tbh.

Lots of food for thought here and a great list, Mumsnot.

elkiedee Sun 25-Nov-12 01:56:18

If she liked Cold Comfort Farm, Virago have republished Nightingale Wood.

They are publishing a lot of books by Rumer Godden and some by Barbara Comyns next year (I know, you want something now!)

Trying to remember what I liked at her age.

I liked Cat's Eye by Atwood when I was young, but you say she's already read a few.

Mary McCarthy, The Group (VMC)

Jessica Mitford's memoir Hons and Rebels

I liked Dubliners when I was 18, not Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Edna O'Brien's Country Girls trilogy or just the first one

Colette, Claudine novels and short stories

Winifred Holtby, South Riding (VMC and other editions, recent TV drama)

Elizabeth Taylor, Palladian (VMC)

Short stories - Katherine Mansfield, Mavis Gallant, Anne Tyler

Emile Zola - Nana and maybe L'Assommoir, The Ladies' Paradise (recent TV drama)

Antonia White, Frost in May (VMC)

Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth (VMC)

Sybille Bedford

Willa Cather, My Antonia, The Song of the Lark (VMC)

Janet Frame, An Angel at My Table

Florence King, Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady (I might well have been 17 when I first read it)

Muriel Spark

elkiedee Sun 25-Nov-12 02:06:22

Male writers, I don't seem to have got past Zola

Improbably, I loved Francois Mauriac's Le Noeud de Viperes when I was 16 (A level French) but I didn't like his English translator at all, so that's probably no good.

At university we studied lots of male writers and not nearly enough women - for some reason I loved Catch 22 by Joseph Heller and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. Oh, and I loved Robert Graves' memoir of WW1 Goodbye to All That and Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front - and I probably read both at 16/17. I also had Henri Barbusse, Under Fire pressed on me by my History teacher but I think I need to go back to that one.

I was blown away by James Baldwin, Another Country at 14/15 - I borrowed a library copy with no dust jacket and no indication of what it was about - I think I thought it was the novel that a Rupert Everett film was based on, wrongly - this is one I have to reread to see if I like it nearly 30 years later, and actually, I think I'd like to read the book I thought I was reading then.

I also loved Jane Gardam, and A Long Way from Verona has an interesting take on literary taste!

EuroShopperEnergyDrink Sun 25-Nov-12 02:11:47

Norwegian Wood

JessePinkman Sun 25-Nov-12 02:37:35

Zola and de balzac
Why didnt she like the Woman in White?
Dickens are brilliant, so funny and nicely written. I mean they are considered classics for a very good reason.

I am a sad act that makes reading lists for my children, I love literature and I want to share that with my children.

God, actually get your dd to read Foucalt's Pendulum by Umberto Eco, and then let her talk to me, please. Please.

boxoftricks Sun 25-Nov-12 02:44:00

Jodie picoult?

FairPhyllis Sun 25-Nov-12 02:44:01

Has she read Gaskell? Cranford, North and South, Life of Charlotte Bronte.
Braddon? Lady Audley's Secret

OK male writers:

Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
Mapp and Lucia are great
Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory
PG Wodehouse
de Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater
Fielding, Tom Jones
Jerome, Three Men in a Boat. I remember reading it at about that age and finding it hysterically funny.
Childers, The Riddle of the Sands
Naipaul, A Bend in the River
Primo Levi, The Periodic Table
Martin Amis, The Rachel Papers - actually that would be a great thing to read at that age.

Maybe some US writers?

Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms
Twain, Huck Finn
Edith Wharton
Henry James
Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night
Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Wallison Sun 25-Nov-12 02:55:57

Definitely Zola. As a melodrama-mad teenager, I loved them. And I was another who had lots of green-spined books from Virago and Penguin Modern Classics. DH Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, EM Forster etc. I think I read A Room With A View about 27 million times one year. Agree with the American suggestions and would add To Kill A Mockingbird. Maybe Edna St Vincent Millay for poetry - arch, witty, accesible. Ooh, and Vanity Fair. Everyone should read Vanity Fair.

Selks Sun 25-Nov-12 03:26:20

Steinbeck - the grapes of wrath
To kill a mockingbird
Thomas hardy - tess of the d'urbervilles
Charles dickens
John le carre - the constant gardener

I second Primo Levi!

Dickens is funny once you get into his style. The Old Curiosity Shop has another saint of a young heroine, but she's not as insufferable as most.

What about W. Somerset Maugham's portrait of Gauguin, The Moon and Sixpence?

Balzac, yeah.....perfect for teenagers.

EM Forster is good too! I loved Maurice at a bit younger than she is.

HE Bates? My Uncle Silas is fun, and there's one about a 17 year old babysitter and her complicated relationship with the child.....

Trying to think of more male writers....I wish I was in my room so I could look at my shelves!

Oo she's not male, but what about Antonia White?

And Rosamond Lehman?

And one of my other favourites, Gertrude Stein, who I've so far held off on mentioning (I think?).....and Anais Nin!

You lot are brilliant!

She's read Steinbeck and Vanity Fair and 'All Quiet' and I think 'Fight Club' and a fair few Hardys and 'Lady Audley' and..erm...Kafka and...and..several of the others.

What I really want is lovely classics in a beautiful edition to save forever, so I'm now going to google all the things you've listed to see which ones are prettiest. Camus is currently top of the list. Oh and she's also heavily into Philosophy, so if you have any recs in that direction too, that would be great. smile

Yes to Forster too - she's reading, 'Howard's Bleedin' End' as we speak.

exexpat Sun 25-Nov-12 17:43:33

Ah, I think I missed the bit about wanting pretty, collectible-style editions. Maybe have a look at Everyman's Library - they have re-released a lot of good things in good, solid editions (I replaced most of my falling-apart Austens with their versions).

exexpat Sun 25-Nov-12 17:46:27

They have The Outsider and some other Camus, plus lots of others mentioned on this thread, I think.

BikeRunSki Sun 25-Nov-12 17:52:24

When I was 17 I read "Now I Know" by Aidan Chambers over and over again. It is fairly straightforward to read, but brings up some challenging ideas to think about. It is approachable because the main protaganist is 17. Here's the website. I see it is now studied for GCSE! I read it when it was first published.

I like the Everyman ones but tbh I suspect she'd like 'pretty' rather than 'classic styling.' smile

exexpat Sun 25-Nov-12 18:15:09

Maybe these cloth bound Penguin classics, then? Or there's always Folio, but they are very £££.

The cloth ones are gorgeous, aren't they? I was drooling over them in Waterstones today.

VivaLeBeaver Sun 25-Nov-12 18:27:26

The Forsythe Saga?

exexpat Sun 25-Nov-12 19:01:28

Yes, I am tempted by the cloth-bound Penguins too - though it's a shame it's a very limited range compared to the Everyman ones. And, as I keep reminding myself while looking at my overloaded bookshelves, I really don't need any more books for a while. I though getting a kindle might help, but it doesn't seem to have put me off buying physical books too.

BestIsWest Sun 25-Nov-12 19:11:24

Can I just say this is a lovely thread. I want to go back and re-read lots of these myself.

notnowImreading Sun 25-Nov-12 19:11:35

I think your main problem will be finding a truck big enough to deliver all these fantastic reads!

Adds truck to Amazon order...

It IS a lovely thread, isn't it?

Which series is it where a girl seems to fancy a couple of brothers and the gardener or something? I read the first one but not any of the others and have completely forgotten what it is.

SirBoobAlot Sun 25-Nov-12 19:25:02

I'm 21, so not much older. I'm currently rereading Lady Chatterley's Lover, which is such a wonderful book. If you're looking for nice copies of classics, either old fashioned bookstores, or WHSmiths have some stunning pocket sized classics, with gold edged pages and everything. They're beautiful. I have several.

Aside from that, some I reread over and over aged 17, and still do now:

- To Kill A Mockingbird
- Les Miserables
- The Age Of Innocence
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
- Anything by Jodi Picoult for easy reading
- Canterbury Tales

If you're on The Book People at all, they have several great book sets.

notnowImreading Sun 25-Nov-12 19:52:59

I think the one with the brothers is the Flambards series - one nice brother, one not so nice but more sexy brother, she marries one, he dies in WW1, she marries the other. Can't actually remember the gardener but it's all set in the sort of house that would have one. There are horses in it. It's by KM Peyton. I think it's one I might re-read on the kindle because I did love the soaring emotion/tragedy etc as a teen. Younger than 17, though, I think.

Will look at WH Smith now, thanks.

No to Jodie Picoult though - she's read a few of hers for light reading but I want to get her good stuff (book snob!).

Flambards - that's it. Might buy that for me.

FairPhyllis Mon 26-Nov-12 20:30:31

Just looking at what the Folio Society have, there's also things like The Arabian Nights, First Love by Turgenev, The Master and Margarita. They also have Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf, and other poetry.

Or if she doesn't have it, maybe the Oxford Book of English Verse?

I have the Folio edition of The Name of the Rose, which is stunningly beautiful.

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