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10 books your teen should be reading.

Byline: giles foden Author of The Last King of Scotland and Professor of Creative Writing at University of East Anglia

THERE will be a lot of anger that Michael Gove has proposed the omission from the GCSE syllabus of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.

These American classics don't fit into the Education Secretary's vision of an English Literature curriculum, which to him should be about literature in English, not a national English tradition. So bring on the books in English by Welsh and Scottish authors, books by immigrants such as Joseph Conrad and Irishmen Seamus Heaney. Language and literature is a two-way street and we British writers owe as much to the Yanks as they do to us.

I don't know why politicians don't just leave what books children read to parents, teachers, and the children themselves.

It's the enthusiasm of the teacher that counts. That's what made me become a writer. But nonetheless, here are my 10 books teenagers should read at school.

ROBINSON CRUSOE by Daniel Defoe Arguably the first British novel, Defoe's castaway tale is stuffed with adventure. But it is also a book about loneliness, about material possessions (all that stuff he salvages from the wreck) and, above all, about coming to terms with another person, Man Friday. From the start English - and British - literature has been about engaging with other cultures. It's all about the mixture, not any kind of fundamentalist single WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte A passionate exploration of love that will strike a chord in every teenager's heart.

Emily Bronte's novel is in a class of its own in all sorts of ways, not least in its depiction of the Yorkshire moors - where Cathy and Heathcliff's love was fixed in the mind of a generation by Kate Bush's 1978 anthemic homage, written when she herself was just 18.

THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE by Robert Louis Stevenson Published in 1886, this is murderous fare by Scotland's greatest novelist in which Mr Hyde, the violent doppelganger of respectable Dr Jekyll (and actually the same person), wreaks havoc in London.

But the story is really about self-consciousness, something teenagers know all about as the daunting feelings of adulthood creep up on them.

VICTORY by Joseph Conrad Polish immigrant sailor Conrad became more British than the British on settling here after a career in the Merchant Navy.

His psychological novel, published in 1915, is about a man who tries to shut himself off from life (a bit like Mr Gove), only to discover that you just can't seal yourself away like that.

HAMLET by William Shakespeare OK, Shakespeare's most famous play is about the most obvious thing one could choose, but there are good reasons for that.

It's said every age finds its own Hamlet, because the troubled prince is such a shape-shifter.

This is really what tradition means, too. It is somehow staying the same but also being adept, fluid, in between.

TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf Describing a family trip to the Isle of Skye and its aftermath years later, this book is all about emotions and relationships and I can't think of anything better to introduce teenagers to the complexity of experience - and the way everything depends on how you look at it.

THE GREAT GATSBY by F Scott Fitzgerald There has to at least be one American book on the list. It could just as easily be this as either of the three excellent books Mr Gove has chosen to discard. A story of betrayed ideals and a decadent social set that we just don't have anything like in Britain, unless you count that whole Chipping Norton thing that David Cameron has going on in Witney.

Gove must feel a bit like Nick Carraway whenever he goes down to visit, though of course Tobey Maguire who played Carraway to Leonardo DiCaprio's Gatsby in the recent film is more handsome.

SELECTED POEMS OF DYLAN THOMAS The Welsh poet, whose centenary we have all recently celebrated, was a serious boozer. His wife had to lock him in to make sure he worked.

But he wrote some amazing poems such as 'Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night', the best poem about old age. Teenagers need to know most of all not to waste their short time span on Earth.

1984 by George Orwell This tale of control of the individual by sinister forces is still relevant.

It is made all the more so due to mass surveillance, not just by governments but by corporations monetising every click.

We need a new Orwell to write the novel of all that.

STATION ISLAND by Seamus Heaney The only book on my list by a writer from Northern Ireland, though Heaney's Irishness was never in question ('be advised my passport's green / No glass of ours was ever raised to toast the Queen').

Heaney, who died last year, remains one of giants of literature written in English and was a master of the mixed nature of literary tradition.
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Title Annotation:Editorial; Opinion Columns
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:May 27, 2014
Words:849
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