My Top Five Set Works

Hello Bibliophiles! I seem to start all my posts with an apology for my absence, but I’m sure by now anyone that reads my blog knows how I struggle with consistency. I won’t bother trying to explain myself anymore, and rather just get straight to the point.

Since it’s that time of the year where everyone is getting down and dirty with their academics, I thought I might contribute to the Back-to-School festivities with a list of my top five favourite set literary works.


5. The Crucible by Arthur Miller

I had to study this drama in my final year of high school, and it was one of those works that made homework feel not-like-homework. The play is a slightly dramatised telling of the goings-on in Salem in 1692 – witch trials, obviously. Aside from the witchcraft itself, the play is full of love triangles, adultery and juicy, juicy drama. Reading this was one of the first and only times I ever felt an itch to get to class to read and discuss a set work, purely for the entertainment of it.

Apart from being a fun and entertaining read though, the Crucible does touch on some meaningful themes like tolerance and morality and was a read that actually left me feeling somewhat changed which is honestly uncommon for me.


4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger

First year university – strange I know, as most people I’ve spoken to about this book had to read it in high school. Regardless, this story was boring, which seems to be a widely accepted opinion. Whilst reading it I couldn’t help constantly asking myself what the point of it all was.

However, the ending of this novel hit me like a tonne of bricks and reading into the themes and symbolism for studying purposes actually left me in tears whilst writing my essay assignment. Unpopular opinion but I do recommend this book, and if you have to read it for school – go into it with an open mind and try to embrace the deeper meanings and all that nonsense.

3. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Could this even be a post about set works without a little Shakespeare thrown in? Of course not.

I have a deeply passionate love-hate relationship with this play. I’ve never been a fan of any of Shakespeare’s works, including this one, but the amount of work I put into studying it meant that it left somewhat of a dent in my soul. To this day, I still get heart palpitations when I hear the dagger quote and “out damned spot” is still part of my everyday vocabulary (you know, when someone forgets to rinse their breakfast plate and you’re scrubbing away at dried egg yolk for 15 minutes).

Perhaps in this case it’s not so much the play itself as the memories it resurfaces for me but either way, I’d like to read this again sometime as well as some more Shakespeare. Who knows, maybe my tastes have changed since I was 17.


2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

A classic, of course it’s second on my list. I don’t even care if it’s a cliché, I adore this novel. I had to read it twice for school and a third time during matric final exam prep, why so many times, I don’t remember, but I fell more and more in love each time I began.

First of all, Fitzgerald’s descriptive writing is to die for, I want to inhale it or snort it like a line of cocaine. Pale gold pages is, of course, a reference to this novel and it’s constant use of gold as a symbol (and just how much I adore it).

Secondly, the way the characters and their stories are brought to life amazed me (noting the fact that Nick Carraway is my least favourite character out of every book I have ever read in my life). The Great Gatsby is a MUST read and as good as the movie is, it doesn’t count. If you’re one of the few souls that is yet to get to this one; read it and study it, you will have no regrets.


1. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

We have, of course, reached the point in the post where I can no longer rationally or coherently discuss anything. This is one of the best novels I have ever read in my entire life. It’s been many years since I read this, in Grade 10 if I remember correctly, but it has stuck with me ever since.

Unless you’re the type of reader who can just analyse what you’re reading as you go along (you’re an enigma to me, first of all), you’ll probably want to do some research on this one too. The themes and symbolism in this book! All I have left in me at this stage is exclamation points! That is the only way I can convey! How freaking! Amazing it is!

But seriously though, this novel is very cleverly written. Whilst it is a bit dark and potentially traumatic, it’s as famous as it is for a reason and definitely worth a read. A book that will make you think, to say the least.


If you made it this far though my babbling, thanks for reading about my top five set works! If you’ve been set any of these books to read for this academic year, good luck and I hope you enjoy them.

If not, what are you reading for academic purposes this year? And what have been your favourites in school? Let me know down in the comments!

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  1. Ahh it’s so cool that you got your blog name from The Great Gatsby! I love that!

    I adore that book, too. It’s definitely one of my fave classics. The movie’s good too, but obviously the book is better!

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