Suggested Reading List

What’s in the BSU canon? We made a comprehensive list below.


The Bible (Genesis-Exodus 20, Joshua-II Kings, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Jonah, Daniel, Gospels and Revelation constitute the sections that appear the most).

Classical Literature: Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Hesiod’s Works and Days, Theognis, Plautus and Terence, Seneca’s Tragedies, Martial Epigrams, Horace (selections), the Oresteia, the Oedepus Cycle, Lysistrata

English Lit

  • Medieval Beowulf
  • Judith
  • Wanderer
  • Seafarer
  • Caedmon’s Hymn
  • Bede’s Death Song
  • Life of St. Cuthbert
  • Dream of the Rood
  • Marie de France-Fables
  • Havelock the Dane
  • King Horn
  • Owl and the Nightingale
  • Pearl
  • Sir Orfeo
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Some selection of Langland, Piers Ploughman
  • Chaucer: Canterbury Tales
  • Julian of Norwich
  • Margery Kempe
  • Wakefield Master
  • Middle English Lyrics (Selection)
  • Malory (Selection—bks 7-8)

16th Century

  • Thomas Wyatt
  • Henry Howard
  • Spenser (sonnets, Selections) Fairy Queen (selections)
  • Sydney
  • Marlowe (Faustus, Hero and Leander)
  • Shakespeare

17th Century

  • Ben Jonson (selections)
  • John Donne (Holy Sonnets, The Flea, Elegies, selections)
  • KJV Psalms
  • Lady Mary Wroth (selections)
  • Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan)
  • Thomas Browne (Religio Medici)
  • The Cavalier Poets (esp. Herrick, Noble Numbers and Hesperides)
  • George Herbert (selections)
  • Henry Vaughn (selections)
  • Andrew Marvell (selections)
  • Kathryn Philips (selections)
  • Milton (Paradise Lost, other selections)

18th Century

  • John Dryden (selections)
  • Samuel Pepys (The Diary)
  • John Bunyan (Pilgrim’s Progress)
  • John Locke (selections)
  • Daniel Defoe (Moll Flanders, Robinson Crusoe)
  • Anne Finche (selections)
  • Henry Fielding (selections; Joseph Andrews)
  • Jonathan Swift (selections)
  • Alexander Pope (selections)
  • Samuel Johnson (selections)
  • James Boswell (Life of Samuel Johnson)
  • Thomas Gray (Ode…Eton College, Ode…Cat, Elegy…Churchyard)
  • William Cowper (selections)
  • Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels, essay selections)
  • Lawrence Sterne (Tristram Shandy, A Sentimental Journey)
  • Frances Burney (Evelina)
  • Elizabeth Inchbald (A Simple Story)
  • Samuel Richardson (Pamela)
  • Edmund Burke (essays on French Revolution, A Philosophical Inquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful)

19 Century-Romantic

  • Jane Austen (all!)
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Lyrical Ballads)
  • William Wordsworth (Lyrical Ballads)
  • Dorothy Wordsworth (The Grasmere Journals)
  • Mary Shelley (Frankenstein)
  • Percy Shelley (selections)
  • Lord Byron (selections)
  • Sir Walter Scott (Waverly, Ivanhoe)
  • 19th Century-Victorian
  • Bronte sisters (Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall)
  • Charles Darwin (selections)
  • Thomas Carlyle (Sartor Resartus)
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Aurora Leigh, Sonnets from the Portuguese)
  • Robert Browning (selections)
  • Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South; Mary Barton)
  • Charles Dickens (Great Expectations; David Copperfield)
  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson (In Memoriam)
  • Thomas Hardy (Tess of the d’Urbervilles; Jude the Obscure)
  • George Eliot (Middlemarch)
  • Robert Louis Stevenson (Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Treasure Island)
  • Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest)
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Lost World)
  • H. G. Wells (War of the Worlds, The Time Machine)

20th Century

  • Rudyard Kipling (Kim; story selections)
  • E. M. Forster (A Passage To India)
  • Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisited)
  • Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness)
  • Virginia Woolf (To the Lighthouse; Mrs. Dalloway)
  • James Joyce (The Dead, Portrait of the Artist)
  • W. B. Yeats (selections)
  • T. S. Eliot (selections)
  • Muriel Sparks (The Girls of Slender Means)
  • Sir Kingsley Amis (Lucky Jim)
  • J. R. R. Tolkein (The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings)
  • C. S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia)
  • Salman Rushdie (Midnight’s Children; The Satanic Verses)
  • Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day)
  • Julian Barnes (A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters)
  • Anything nominated for a Man Booker Prize, 1969-present

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