The Ultimate Holiday Reading List for Students
Posted on December 5, 2016 by June Heo
The Matrix English Team loves literature. If you’re looking to further improve in English, reading is the way to go! The school holidays are a prime opportunity to catch up on reading, to further develop your imagination, and continue to stimulate the brain. Our English Team share their recommendations for your summer reading and engaging with interesting ideas!
The Text: Axis Trilogy, Sara Douglass – prose fiction.
Who is it for? Years 7-8
What is it about? This is a sprawling, complex fantasy series.
Why should you read it? You should totally read this trilogy by the fantasy writer Sara Douglass – it’s about the challenges of growing up without really knowing your parents, what happens when you find out who your parents really are, and all set in an amazing world of intriguing creatures and characters.
The Text: Black Beauty, Anna Sewell (1877) – novel.
Who is it for? Years 7-8 (some parental guidance is recommended)
What is it about? Horses, animal rights.
Why should you play it? Black Beauty is the story of a horse in Victorian England, who faces kindness and cruelty as he lives the life of a work horse in London. Black Beauty is a best-selling novel, and a gripping story of survival. A timeless tale about animal welfare, and a lesson in how to treat people and animals with kindness, sympathy and understanding.
Chris – Matrix English Teacher
The Text: The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Ernest Hemingway (1938) – short story.
Who is it for? Years 9-10.
What is it about? Africa, men.
Why should you play it? Ernest Hemingway was a master of the short story form, which happens to the be the major kind of creative writing you need to produce in English. Pay attention to how he structures his story, his minimal style, and how he represents dialogue.
The Text: Elegy for a Dead World, Dejobaan Games (2014) – computer game.
Who is it for? Years 7-12 (some parental guidance is recommended)
What is it about? New worlds, exploration, alien life, abandoned civilisations.
Why should you play it? Engage your imagination by experiencing alien and immersive environments. As you travel to distant planets, you create stories about the people who used to live there. There are a range of worlds to explore and the stories you can tell are endless. As you explore further in each world, events and challenges inspire you to consider the world from different perspectives and expand the complexity of the stories that you tell. The game helps you create stories so you don’t have to worry about not being a great writer!
The Text: Soulless, Gail Carriger (2009) – prose fiction.
Who is it for? Years 10-12
What is it about? Romance and mayhem in a steampunk world inhabited by paranormal creatures such as vampires and werewolves. The adventures are set in a quasi-alternative Victorian England.
Why should you read it? The protagonist is a soulless detective and she often has an answer to tricky situations. Lacking a soul means she can easily deal with paranormal threats, but her life is also complicated by her family relations and her unfortunate engagement with the Bureau of Unnatural Registry. This novel has fantasy, adventure, and wit and a quick and entertaining read.
The Text: Annihilation, Jeff Vandermeer (2014) – prose fiction.
Who is it for? Year 10-12 students with a taste for the bizarre.
What is it about? Alien biology, human relationships, ecological crisis, power and control.
Why should you read it? Vandermeer is a contemporary master of the ‘weird fiction’ genre (a mixture of sci-fi, surrealism, and horror) and this is a great first text for anyone who is interested in exploring this sort of literary terrain. Annihilation is the first novel of the ‘Southern Reach’ trilogy and it explores the status of the unknowable and inexplicable through an ecological parable concerning the mysterious ‘Area X’.
I read it in one day it was so hard to put down! A warning for those who like their narratives to resolve neatly with no loose threads: this probably isn’t for you.
The Text: Dark Matter, Blake Crouch (2016) – prose fiction.
Who is it for? This text is ideal for Year 11 and Year 12 students that like fast paced storytelling and science fiction.
What is it about? Inter-Dimensional travel, the nature of self and identity, love.
Why should you read it? “Are you happy in life?” This innocuous question becomes the basis for an exploration of what makes an individual an individual. Written in the present continuous, this is a narrative that moves at a breakneck pace whilst also posing some big philosophical questions: What makes us us? If we met our other selves from other universes, would we still be us? If I did it differently, would I still be me? This would be a great supplementary text for Area of Study.
Dark Matter’s narrative form and style keep the tensions high, while the first person narration allows for some great character and world building. This is the rare book that marries action with cosmic ideas and philosophy in an accessible manner.
The Text: The People Smuggler: The True Story of Ali Al Jenabi by Robin de Crespigny (2012) – prose non-fiction.
Who is it for? This text is ideal for Year 11 and Year 12 students.
What is it about? Asylum seekers, human trafficking, Iraq, the Australian immigration system.
Why should you read it? This is the biography of an Iraqi asylum seeker who flees the rule of Saddam Hussein, leaving his family behind. This paperless migrant ends up becoming a trafficker who smuggles his family members as well as other Iraqis, Iranians and Afghans to Australia. However, he fails to bring his lover Intissar who waits for him for two decades in Iraq, but to no avail.
This story provides great insight into the way that individual lives can be radical shaped by the policies of governments. A great narrative for discovery both within the text and for the reader.
The Text: And the Weak Suffer What They Must?: Europe’s Crisis and America’s Economic Future, Yanis Varoufakis (2016) – prose non-fiction.
Who is it for? This text is ideal for Year 11 and Year 12 students with an interest in politics, economics, or modern history.
What is it about? Power, global political hegemony, economic manipulation, The Global Financial Crisis of 2008
Why should you read it? Varoufakis is a former head of political science and economics at the University of Sydney. He was also the Minister of Finance in the Greek Government during Greece’s default negotiations. This is his account of the causes of the Global Financial crisis, as well as his experiences of negotiating terms for Greece against the EU. This is an accessible book with a compelling narrative. Varoufakis, an avowed Marxist, documents the history of US intervention in US economic markets and the ramifications for international politics and economics.
Part memoir, part history lesson, part critique of capitalism, And the Weak Suffer What They Must is a clearly written and compelling book. Varoufakis presents difficult economic ideas in a clear and accessible manner, while also challenging popular neo-liberal accounts of the EU’s current economic issues and the collapsing Greek economy. This is an excellent read for any student interested in economics of politics.
Want to take your English skills next level?
- Read an exemplar HSC English Band 6 Discovery Essay and understand what’s required to write a Band 6 Discovery essay.
- Learn how to write a Band 6 essay with step-by-step guidance from an HSC expert at our Holiday Courses
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