-by Emma Bilsborough


The wonderful days of Summer are coming to an end, and if you are anything like us, you'll have spent most of them reading. Reading by the pool, reading at the seaside, reading on your sunny lunch break if you haven't managed to get away to somewhere exotic (again, like us).

As we move into September, we say goodbye to the freedom of the Summer holidays, and hello to chillier weather and darker days, and for many of us, it's back to studying. Some of us love to study, find comfort in learning new things and enjoy broadening our minds, some of us do not. It can sometimes be a little monotonous and restrictive sitting in a classroom day after day, but have no fear, we've got the solution. Shocker: it's reading lots of books.

At the beginning of Summer, we put together a (not so) little recommended reading list, and we thought it only right to put together another as we move into the next season.

These reads should keep your imagination busy when you're sitting in your maths lesson desperate for something to think about.

Check our online database to purchase any of the books on this list, and if you can't find them there, get in touch at 01761451777 or bookbarn@bookbarninternational.com and we can order them in for you.

So here they are, my recommended back to school reads:


Cressida Cowell, Wizards of Once Series

“You do have to listen to the stories, for stories always mean something. The question that worries me is: What exactly do they mean?” 

It's getting to the point now where I find an excuse to recommend a Cressida Cowell book every season. If you loved Harry Potter, you'll love Wizards of Once. Magical, adventurous, witty, with lovable characters; it's got all the makings of a classic kids' series. Also, I could not recommend this more for young readers who get easily bored when reading, this (just like her previous series, How to Train Your Dragon) will have them desperate for more and reading their books at the dinner table.

Greta Thunberg, No One is Too Small to Make a Difference

“I have always been that girl in the back who doesn’t say anything. I thought I couldn’t make a difference because I was too small.”

Of course, it's important to start the school year by recharging your activism. Some of us get a bit lazy in the Summer, it's all too easy to just spend your days in beer gardens and by the sea. Not Greta though! She's just completed a momentous trip, by boat, to NYC, in order to bring attention to our climate emergency. She's absolutely brilliant and a great inspo for kids, who will no doubt want to fight to better the world that they'll be growing up in. Or even, fight so that they have a world to grow up in.

Kids Fight Plastic, Martin Dorey

Along the same lines as Greta, Martin Dorey's Kids Fight Plastic is a brilliant reminder to youngsters that it really is easy to make conscious decisions in their everyday lives to save the planet. The book goes through the ways that kids can do little things in their homes and classrooms to make a difference to the quite frankly ridiculous amount of plastic going to landfill or not being recycled. Thanks to our Reuse, Read, Recycle campaign, we have been completing an environmental audit of all areas of our business, right down to the coffee cups we use in our café, and we've been astounded by the facts about plastic consumption and plastic waste that we've come across in our research. This book teaches the people who really matter in this emergency, Children, how to notice these things and avoid further damage as they go about their daily lives.

Mortal Engines, Philip Reeve

“Sometimes, on our way through the world, we meet someone who touches our heart in a way others don't.” 


Mortal Engines is the perfect imagination booster, and the world that Reeve creates is interesting, brilliant and wild, a great story for passing quiet lunchtimes or to daydream about in particularly boring classes.

Harry Potter, J K Rowling

"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Another one that we manage to add to every single recommendation list we put together is Harry Potter. But hear us out, what better story could there be than Harry's, to keep you company as you get back into the swing of school life. Granted, Harry's school years are a little more fantastical than most of ours (unless you ever had a giant snake in your school pipes, in which case, I stand corrected), but that's kind of the point. School can be super dull some days, and sometimes it's pretty cool to dive into someone else's school stories; also, Hermione is a brilliant inspiration to get you working harder, she certainly helped me complete my school years on a high.

La Belle Sauvage, Philip Pullman

“He was liked when noticed, but not noticed much, and that did him no harm either.” 

I've ended up putting a darn sight more fantasy books on this list than many of my others, but that's because I feel it's what you need to keep you going and keep your imagination running wild, even when you've got to do a Science experiment or write a boring essay. La Belle Sauvage is a brilliant title by the ever wonderful Philip Pullman, the first in his Book of Dust trilogy. It furthers the story and the world of Lyra, who we met and adventured with in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Pullman is one of those authors who never cease to leave us in awe, and are able to create magic between the pages of their books.

Truckers, Terry Pratchett

“There's some things we can't think because we don't know the words.”

Truckers is the first in Terry Pratchett's Nome Trilogy, which tells the story of a race of teeny tiny creatures, who are trying to find their way home, and survive living amongst the humans. Think borrowers, but more adventurous, magical and fun. Once you've read Truckers, dive into book two, Diggers, and finish with the final book, Wings.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky 

"But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there."

My favourite coming of age story of all time, mostly because of Charlie, our narrator and lead character. He is such an empathetic, kind, wholesome character, who is struggling with so much and just trying to be a normal kid. He makes wonderful friends who understand him for who he is, and help him to not only heal but to face the things that he's been fighting for so long. It's a heartwarming and heart-wrenching take on mental health issues in young people, and I think Charlie is a character who many people can connect with on a very real level.

And a few for those of you who are not going back to school, but just want an excellent book to dig in to:


Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker

“We’re going to survive–our songs, our stories. They’ll never be able to forget us. Decades after the last man who fought at Troy is dead, their sons will remember the songs their Trojan mothers sang to them. We’ll be in their dreams–and in their worst nightmares too.” 

I bought Silence of the Girls from here after reading Song of Achilles (also bought at Bookbarn!). I fell so deeply in to the story of Patroclus and Achilles and the depth of their connection, and I wanted to read it, and the story of the Trojan War, from every angle I could. I was aware, however, that these stories often ignore the war that the women had to fight, and that's when I came across Silence of the Girls. Insightful, real and brutal, it told Briseis' story in a way I had never read it before. Pat Barker has an incredible talent, telling historical events with so much depth and emotion, and Silence of the Girls is probably one of the best books I've read this year.

Circe, Madeline Miller

“It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment's carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.” 

If I loved Song of Achilles, then Circe was bound to be a winner. Madeline Miller has all of the knowledge of these ancient classics, with the imagination to bring them to life. Circe is an incredible story of the witch of Aiaia, and her journey through the decades. Peppered with Greek myths, we watch Circe learn, love and grow, until her strength is unbelievable. I also particularly like her penchant for turning terrible men into swines. A must read.

Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams

“My eyes must spend at least fifty per cent of any given day rolled to the back of my head.” 

Everything about this is brilliant. The story has been likened to Bridget Jones, but a Bridget Jones more suited to the world that we live in now. Queenie is insightful, witty, smart, painful and heartfelt. Queenie is a read made for those of us who know what it is to have a mid-midlife crisis, and hit a wall at 25.

So that's it for now, keep an eye out for our next reading list, which will be filled with spooky October reads. 


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