Our guide to literature
Sydney Embray

Our guide to literature

First published date February 04 2016 Amended date February 04 2016

There’s nothing more enjoyable than a good book – a rainy day is a little less gloomy when you can dive into a story, and those long hours on the tube are more than bearable with a volume or two of poetry.  Sound like you?  For those addicted to the turn of the page—from the would-be poet to the fable fanatic—there are literature courses designed to give you a deeper look at the language you love.


What to expect

Literature is such a broad topic that it can often seem daunting, so we’ve summed up a few of the most popular subjects to make the process painless.  Courses can cover everything from poetry and novels, to Shakespeare, Rowling and Carol.  Some will focus on entire time periods or cultures, or on a major classic – think Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey.  There’s also poetry for pleasure, which digs into the appreciation and enjoyment of poetry, and poetry writing, which will encourage you to conjure up your inner Maya Angelou and turn out some prose.  

For the most part, courses will follow a fairly basic structure.  You can prepare to do some heavy reading – tutors tend to make good use of a common reading list and schedule, but also be ready to provide your insight on the use of style and imagery in the text as well.  Your lessons will also encourage discussion and reflection on pieces studied, usually in essay form, so you’ll get some practice writing as well.  Make sure you read the course descriptions carefully – some will have a heavier focus on reading, some on writing. Either way, you’ll come out of it with a much deeper understanding and a real love for lit.


Children’s literature

Childhood... a time of endless play and classic storybook characters.  Who could forget Charlie Bucket and his adventures in Wonka’s factory, or Alice wandering through Wonderland?  A course in children’s literature can keep the good times alive, studying stories from the late 19th and early 20th century, to modern classics like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.



It’s not all Hamlet and Romeo for those who study Shakespeare.  Britain’s most brilliant playwright, Shakespeare’s works have influenced life and culture far beyond time and stage.  A course in Shakespearian literature brings the writer’s legacy to life—his contribution to culture, society, politics, and history.  You’ll study plays, sonnets and other works, and learn to make connections between the history and culture of his time to the present.  


Humorous literature

 If you’re finding yourself repeating a punch line multiple times and getting only blank stares in return, you can literally learn to be funny!  A course on writing for humour will have you telling killer jokes and turning out viral content on your blog in no time. 


British literature

If you’re a die-hard Londoner and you’ve already burned through your personal library of British authors, a literature course-turned-book club is right up your alley.  Most focus on London authors, but hit more than just Dickens and Dahl – female, gay, and low-income authors are also included on the must-read list. 


Irish literature

Study Joyce, Beckett and more in a course on Irish literature.  You can prepare yourself to study everything from classic Irish literature, to the more modern era of literature and its political and social influence.


Best Literature Quotes

In case you needed any encouragement to crack open (another) book, we’ve scoured the Internet for a few of the best, most inspiring quotes from some of your favourite authors.

‘What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.’

J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye


‘That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.’

F. Scott Fitzgerald


‘That's what literature is. It's the people who went before us, tapping out messages from the past, from beyond the grave, trying to tell us about life and death! Listen to them!’

Connie Willis, Passage


by Sydney Embray 

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