A Year of Oxford Reading Lists | Holly Goes Abroad

What do we have here? A Holly Goes Abroad post on a Wednesday?! Indeed. A few weeks ago someone commented asking if I could share all of my required reading lists from my year studying at Oxford, so that’s what I’m going to do today. I’m posting this in the middle of the week because it’s more about books than the traveling aspect itself… besides, I have so many of these abroad posts that I want to write and not enough Sundays to post them on!

Here’s how my required reading works: about a month before each term begins I get reading lists for the primary and secondary tutorials I’ll be taking next (primary meets every week, secondary meets every other). I usually try to read all of those books during my five-week breaks between term because once term begins I’m inundated with mountains of secondary sources (mostly literary criticism articles from JSTOR) which I use to write my weekly essays. Doing so much prep reading is arduous to say the least, but it definitely pays off in the long run because it eases some of the pressure of term-time. To be honest, I don’t know how people survive without doing any prep work at all– especially English lit students!

The following lists are all of the primary texts (mostly novels, but also some essays and poems) I’ve had to read for my tutorials–and yes, I’ve read every. single. one. of. them. (If you’ve wondering how I’ve managed to double my Goodreads reading goal already, this is why.)

Primary: Victorian Literature

  1. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  2. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  3. Alfred Tennyson, Ulysses’
  4. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ‘The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point’
  5. Robert Browning ‘Porphyria’s Lover’; ‘Fra Lippo Lippi’
  6. Matthew Arnold, ‘Dover Beach’
  7. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  8. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  9. Christina Rossetti, ‘Goblin Market’
  10. DG Rossetti, ‘Jenny’
  11. Augusta Webster ‘A Castaway’
  12. Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights
  13. Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
  14. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  15. Bram Stoker, Dracula
  16. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
  17. E.M. Forster, Where Angels Fear to Tread

Secondary: William Faulkner

  1. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  2. Light in August by William Faulkner
  3. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
  4. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  5. Intruder in the Dust by William Faulkner

Primary: English Literature 1910-Present

  1. Ann Veronica by H.G. Wells
  2. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  3. Not So Quiet: Stepdaughters of War by Helen Zenna Smith
  4. “Peace” by Rupert Brooke
  5. “Glory to Women” by Siegfried Sassoon
  6. “Anthem for Doomed Youth” by Wilfred Owen
  7. “Dulce et decorum est” by Wilfred Owen
  8. Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
  9. Night by Eli Wiesel
  10. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
  11. On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  12. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Secondary: Writing Feminisms

  1. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
  2. Woman and Labour by Olive Schreiner
  3. “This Sex Which Is Not One” by Luce Irigaray
  4. “Fin de Siecle, Fin de Sexe: transsexuality and the death of history” in Doing Time by Rita Felski
  5. Many, many, many poems by Emily Dickinson
  6. Memorial: An Excavation of the Iliad by Alice Oswald
  7. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  8. Playing in the Dark by Toni Morrison

Primary: Postcolonial Literature

  1. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  2. The Bacchae of Euripides by Wole Soyinka
  3. Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka
  4. Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera
  5. Changes by Ama Ata Aidoo
  6. The Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid
  7. Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid
  8. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
  9. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  10. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundati Roy

Secondary: Virginia Woolf in Modernist Contexts

  1. The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
  2. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  3. Ulysses by James Joyce (only the first few sections)
  4. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  5. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
  6. How to be Both by Ali Smith
  7. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  8. Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into what I’ve been reading for the past year… it’s a lot! I don’t know how I managed to read all of these AND sneak in some books for fun along the way… SO. MUCH. READING.

Click here to check out other posts in my Holly Goes Abroad series!

Have you read any of these books before. What did you think of them? Have you taken courses like this before? Let me know in the comments section below!




23 responses to “A Year of Oxford Reading Lists | Holly Goes Abroad”

  1. yoursincerely_d💕 Avatar

    This is quite a list ,my favorites are Things fall apart by Wole Soyinka and Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie , definitely going to give the others a read

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those were two of my favorites from postcolonial lit! 🙂


  2. Wow, that is a really impressive list! Well done for reading them all.
    Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie is something I want to do read this year. I loved her essay We Should All be Feminists and can not wait reading more of her work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Americanah is fantastic! I was thrilled when I saw it on my required reading list because it’s been on my personal TBR list for ages. I haven’t read any of her other work but I’ll have to check it out 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s so great to hear. 👌I’m definitely going to read Americanah sometime soon. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly my relationship when I got these lists 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh so many. I’ve actually read like two this year haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 2 is better than none! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been waiting for this post with so much interest! Thank you so so much! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No problem! ❤ It was actually really fun to make–it's cool seeing all of the books I've read this year in one place!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Molly's Book Nook Avatar
    Molly’s Book Nook

    I struggle trying to fit in one classic book a month and here you are reading 8 in 5 weeks. I’m slacking. haha I might use this as a challenge for myself >.<

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My life this year has literally been reading, writing essays, and reading some more 🙂 It’s safe to say that my brain is in desperate need of a break! 🙂


  6. this is so full on! I never read classics except for class at the moment, and we’re mostly reading poems, so. but thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s A LOT! So many classics, so little time 🙂


  7. Oh my goodness… so many books!! It seems both like a dream come true… and also very daunting?? 😂 And did you mention you have to write weekly essays? That sounds so cool and fun… but also kinda stressful too. I’m still trying to grasp what a college English class looks like, so your “Holly Goes Abroad” series is really helping me with that. 😋 Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the PERFECT way to describe it! It’s simultaneously a blessing and a curse–there’s just SO MUCH to read! I’m glad you find this series helpful 🙂 Studying English at Oxford is definitely different than studying it back at my home university, but both systems have their pros and cons.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. […] A Year of Oxford Reading Lists | Holly Goes Abroad  […]


  9. […] The Illustrated Page shared 10 queer fantasy short stories. ⌘ Holly from Nut Free Nerd shares her Oxford Reading List of a year. ⌘ Cait from Paper Fury announces her second book, The Boy Who Steals Houses. ⌘ Aimal […]


  10. suckerforcoffe Avatar

    You have some really great books on here. I have read about 5, others I have on my tbr and others on my to buy list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely lucked out with these great reading lists! 🙂


  11. […] already read far more than I expected to this year–mostly due to my sprawling required reading lists at Oxford–so I have plenty of books to choose from. Picking only ten won’t be […]


  12. […] A Year of Oxford Reading Lists | Holly Goes Abroad […]


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