Books · Competitions · Events

Reading Ahead Challenge 2016

This year students and staff at City College Norwich took on the Reading Ahead Challenge (previously known as the Six Book Challenge), a fantastic initiative by the Reading Agency to encourage people to read, review and share their love for books. We had an incredible response from students, and it was brilliant to see so many reading diaries handed in. The goal was to read six things in the time, but congratulations to anyone who read any number of books in the challenge – any book you read that you would have missed out on otherwise is a win! Two of our staff members put their Reading Ahead lists below, with recommendations of similar books in our library. Check out our reading lists from last year for more inspiration!



The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness is one of the most influential voices in young adult fiction right now, with his fantastic books The Knife of Never Letting Go and More Than This showing that young adult doesn’t need to mean simple. Check out A Monster Calls too, a fantastic illustrated novel from an idea by late writer Siobhan Dowd that explores terminal illness, grief and how we build our own nightmares. Dowd’s own A Swift Pure Cry and Bog Child are also powerful stories of Northern Ireland and how politics and tragedy can influence young people’s identities.

Find all of these in Quick Reads 823.91, except for A Swift Pure Cry which is in the Book Zone at 823.92.

The Hetty Feather series by Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson’s stories have inspired readers for almost 30 years, often tackling difficult issues like divorce, heartbreak and mental illness, always written with kindness that leaves us feeling that little bit less alone. Hetty Feather is a historical novel about a nineteenth-century girl called Hetty who is abandoned as a child. We have loads of Jacqueline Wilson books, but some of my favourites are Starring Tracy Beaker, The Suitcase Kid, Vicky Angel and Bad Girls.

Find Wilson’s books in Quick Reads at 823.91.

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

A dystopian story with a dyslexic hero, Maggot Moon isn’t your typical young adult book, as Standish Treadwell inspires his family and friends to rebel against the oppressive regime they live under. Sally Gardner’s novel of intrigue and adventure in the French Revolution, The Red Necklace, really brings the horror of the Revolution home through the eyes of its young heroes.

Find The Red Necklace in Quick Reads, 823.91.

The Tiffany Aching novels by Terry Pratchett

Last year, when Terry Pratchett died, the world lost a great talent. We expressed our sadness about his death here and included him amongst our line-up of the writers who have changed how we see the fantasy genre. His final book, published posthumously, was The Shepherd’s Crown, the last story about Tiffany Aching, a young trainee witch in his famous Discworld setting. Pratchett wrote a huge number of books across his lifetime, but some of our favourites are Wintersmith, from the Tiffany Aching series, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, The Colour of Magic (his first published novel in the Discworld series), Going Postal and Monstrous Regiment.

Find these and more in the Book Zone at 823.91!

Sparrow by Michael Morpurgo

Sparrow by Michael Morpurgo is the story of Joan of Arc told through the eyes of a modern French girl who admires her. Like so many of Morpurgo’s books, it makes big historical events personal and dramatic. Joan is a sympathetic character, driven forward by her belief that she can make a difference in the world, which makes her struggle all the more human.

Face by Benjamin Zephaniah

Face by Benjamin Zephaniah is about a teenager called Martin who is left with facial scars after a joyriding accident. Zephaniah often writes in dialogue and Martin’s wisecracks hide how much this change is affecting him, but he finds new friends and new interests that open up his own internal world. Check out two of Zephaniah’s other novels, Gangsta Rap, about Ray, who forms a rap group with his friends, and Refugee Boy, about Alem, a refugee from Ethiopia and Eritrea, and his struggle to stay in England. He also has some great poetry books with names like Funky Chicken and Wicked World!

Find Benjamin Zephaniah’s novels in the Book Zone at 823.91 and his poetry in Quick Reads at 821.91.



Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman

Malorie Blackman might be most famous for her dystopian version of Romeo & Juliet in the Noughts and Crosses series, but in Chasing the Stars, she adapts a very different Shakespeare play: Othello. Now set on a spaceship piloted by tough Olivia (Vee), this tale of jealousy and misunderstandings never gets old, and Blackman adds a lot of layers.

Find the Noughts and Crosses series and her heartfelt and powerful novel Tell Me No Lies in Quick Reads 823.91.

Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama

Now an anime and a film, Attack on Titan is a frightening vision of a world in which huge humanoid creatures called titans have eaten most of humanity. The survivors live behind huge walls, but those walls can’t last forever.

If you want to learn more about the manga everyone’s talking about, pick up volumes 1-3 of Attack on Titan in our Graphic Novels-Manga section of Quick Reads, and have a look at some of the other great manga there as well!

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

Tove Jansson is best known for creating the Moomins, adventurous creatures who live in a fantastical world, but her adult fiction is wonderful as well. The Summer Book is an imagined summer in which fictional versions of Jansson’s mother and niece spend time together on a tiny island off the coast of Finland. It’s a beautiful book to read in the summer, not really big on plot but Jansson immerses you in the wonderful world that she really inhabited. Wonderful for a bit of escapism.

For more nostalgic meditations on a summer in a particular place, try The Accidental by Ali Smith and The Sea by John Banville, in the Book Zone at 823.92 and 823.91.

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

A cult classic of comics, Daniel Clowes’ story of Enid and Rebecca, two disaffected teens who spend their time mocking the people in their small town. Clowes captures the uncertainty of two friends attempting to find themselves and figure out what they’re going to do with their lives, while also grappling with the pressures of society and the changes they are going through.

Graphic novels are great ways to ease yourself into reading, since they’re often shorter than novels but have fantastic and rich stories. Check out our graphic novels sections in Quick Reads and the Book Zone, where you can find Ghost World and many more.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

For a magical adventure, look no further! Salman Rushdie weaves a tale about a boy called Haroun who travels to the Kingdom of Gup to help his storyteller father regain his inspiration. Along the way, he becomes involved with a conflict between light and shadow, and has to stop the Sea of Stories, the source of all inspiration, from being poisoned. Rushdie is famous for The Satanic Verses, which was immensely controversial in many Islamic countries. The Moor’s Last Sigh is a historical novel about four generations of a family in India, and Midnight’s Children is a loose allegory of the events in India around its independence.

Find The Satanic Verses, Midnight’s Children and The Moor’s Last Sigh at Norfolk House and in the Book Zone at 823.91.

Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright by Chris Riddell

The Goth Girl series is always delightful, and this latest book is no exception, riffing on classic literature and modern reality TV. Filled with puns, weird characters and of course Riddell’s wonderful illustrations, Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright is great fun. If you want to have a look at Riddell’s gorgeous artwork, check out Wendel’s Workshop, a whimsical picture book about a mouse inventor who can’t control his own robot.

Find Wendel’s Workshop in Quick Reads at 649.58.


A Girl With Tea (2010) A Good Book and Cup of Tea. [photograph] Accessible at: (Accessed on 06/07/16)

Karolina Grabowska (2014) Reading the book [photograph] Accessible at: (Accessed on 06/07/16)


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