The ultimate reading list for BOOSTING English marks

Looking for a reading list to get ahead and boost your English marks? You have come to the right place. Our expert tutors have accumulated all the best reads to improve your English skills and secure you top marks!

3 months ago   •   5 min read

By KIS Academics
Photo by Aaron Burden / Unsplash

How does reading help with English assignments?

Everyone's go-to advice on how to improve English is always telling you to read more. But it can be hard to see how reading about power-hungry pigs would actually help with writing essays.

Well, exposing ourselves to a wide variety of different texts helps us gain new perspectives, obtain new information and stimulate our imagination. This in turn will help improve our ability to communicate our ideas which ultimately boosts our marks in both essay and creative writing.

Below we have carefully hand-picked the best pieces of literature to help you with high school English. Reading these will help you;

  1. Boost creativity
  2. Expand your vocabulary
  3. Develop your analytical skills
  4. And most importantly, improve the way you communicate in the written form.

These texts have been chosen because they represent a wide variety of text types, themes and genres, that year 9 and 10 students should be implementing within their own writing. They are all rich in figurative language and explore universal themes relevant to high schoolers.


Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, "To Kill A Mockingbird" takes readers to the roots of human behaviour - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humour and pathos.

Good vs Evil, Social Inequality, Social Justice, Prejudice

Great Expectations charts the progress of Pip from childhood through often painful experiences to adulthood, as he moves from the Kent marshes to busy, commercial London, encountering a variety of extraordinary characters. Explores the complexities of human interactions and uncovers the importance of affection, loyalty and inner worth.

Family and Homelife, Social Mobility, Vengeance and morality, Justice

Graceling is a thrilling, action-packed fantasy adventure that will resonate deeply with anyone trying to find their way in the world. By following a vulnerable yet strong female lead coupled with a cast of unforgettable characters, Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive and leave you wanting more.

Romance, Relationships, Isolation, power, Identity

Borrowed Light is an intensely honest, painful and funny book brimming with ideas and emotion. Anna Fienberg writes with sensitivity and panache about the intricate relationships between family, friends and lovers. The main character Castillo wryly classifies herself as the moon, destined to palely reflect the light of others. She's so used to pleasing other people that she has lost track of how to be herself. And now there's no one close enough to help.

Relationships, Family, Loneliness, Adversity, Identity

A new, young adult novel by award-winning Australian author James Moloney, this is a love story that explores male/female sexuality, and looks at the culture of football, masculinity, mateship and friendship, and the pressures of year 12 on emerging adults.

Sport, Greed, Power, Sexism, Stereotypes, Friendship

This is a brilliant book, full of humour, pathos and fantastic suburban adventure. It tells the story of a friendship between a lonely 11-year-old boy and a drug-addicted, pregnant 20-year-old woman.

Loneliness, friendship, addiction, adversity

Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. The protagonist, Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, a Tamil boy from Pondicherry, explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age. He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

The Importance of Storytelling, Hope, Faith, Adversity

Short stories

In The Landlady, Roald Dahl, one of the world's favourite authors, tells a sinister story about the darker side of human nature. This story is great for suspense, irony, and characterization.

The Nature of Evil, The Folly of Youth, Grief, Psychosis

A science fiction short story about a lone house that stands intact in a California city that has otherwise been obliterated by a nuclear bomb, and then is destroyed in a fire caused by a windstorm. This story has a strong use of setting and foreshadowing to develop an eerie caution on rapid technological advancement.

Futuristic, Control, Nature vs Technology, Human Agency

Two Kinds is a short story by Amy Tan that explores the conflict between Jing-mei, a first-generation American, and her mother, a Chinese immigrant. Jing-mei is pushed to become a child prodigy, an identity she wishes to resist. An intricate exploration of mother-daughter relationships and the individual's struggle for identity.

Identity, The American Dream, Generational Differences, Familial Relationships

To Build a Fire is the tragic tale of a man who decides to travel alone through the hostile environment of the Yukon in sub-freezing temperatures and falls victim to the unrelenting and unforgiving power of nature. It is a marvellously desolate short story containing all the elements of a classic Greek tragedy which pushes its narrative through foreshadowing and setting.

Resilience, Perseverance, Imagination, Foresight, Fight

A soft science fiction story about an unusual nonconformist, Meade, who's arrested simply for taking a walk. Through characterization and imagery, Bradbury shows that if mankind advances to the point where society loses its humanity, then mankind may as well cease to exist.

Dehumanisation, Nature vs Technology, Freedom, Fear, Surveillance and Control

This parable of desire and disappointment retains an extraordinary hold on the literary world. The story is about a young girl, who needs a new pair of shoes but is attracted to a purple jar that she sees displayed in a shop window. It is a simple didactic tale that explores the adolescent moral landscape as they conflict between desire and need.

Desire, Morality, Adolescence, Consumption


The Road Not Taken is an extended metaphor in which the two roads that diverge symbolize life's many choices. It talks about having to make a decision when coming to a fork in the road. It discusses all of the emotions that come with needing to make a decision, and how these choices can often lead us to having regrets or wondering what could have happened differently. The poem is littered with powerful poetic devices including anaphora, personification and assonance.

Decisions, Regret, Uncertainty, Individuality

A Dream within a Dream is purely a melancholic poem examining the subtleties of time and perspective. It’s about the hope, hopelessness, and helplessness of man in general. The poem uses powerful symbols and poetic syntax such as enjambment to make the speaker’s thoughts more appealing and heart-touching.

Death, Dreams, Hope, Fantasies

'Deer Hit' is a two-part poem that focuses on a teenager's early morning drunken drive in his father's Fairlane car. With the clever absence of 'I' and the involvement of second-person narration the speaker confronts readers with the teenager's folly and ignorance provoking many ethical and topical questions.

Fear, Regret, Loss, Adolescence, Morality

Set against the rising ethnic tensions that culminated in Sydney's Cronulla riots, this brilliant novel explores the meanings of family, friendship and community. Effi and Christie live in another world - intense, funny, often overheated and far removed from the coast in so many ways. And when those two worlds meet, in an unforgettable blend of love and loss, violence and poetry, only the strongest will succeed in swimming against the tide.

Swimming, Love, Loss, Relationship, Perseverance

Mother to Son is a dramatic monologue about surviving in the face of American racism. The speaker gives her son advice about how to improve his lot in early 20th century America through an extended metaphor about climbing a set of stairs which depicts the hardships of life. This poem is based on the idea of hope and encouragement to move forward in life, despite all difficulties, and no matter how tough life may become.

Hope, Perseverance, Human Spirits, Resilience

Want more personalized study guidance to help drastically improve your marks? A private tutor can make the biggest difference!

Spread the word

Keep reading