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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!

quirrelquarrel Sat 24-Nov-12 21:01:47

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.

quirrelquarrel Sat 24-Nov-12 21:26:37

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.

quirrelquarrel Sat 24-Nov-12 21:27:51

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.'

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