Orwell? Brontë? Dickens? Steinbeck? Lee? Top 10 favourite school books revealed

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Animal Farm, Great Expectations and Lord of the Flies are among the most popular books read at school.

A survey asked 2,000 UK adults which novels or plays they most enjoyed reading during their time in formal education.

Animal Farm by George Orwell topped the list with 25 per cent of the vote, followed by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (21 per cent) and John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men (19 per cent).

Orwell and Dickens both appear twice in the list (also with 1984 and Great Expectations respectively). William Shakespeare is also named twice (for Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet), while other titles featuring include To Kill A Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies.

The top 10 favourite books as revealed by the survey, which was conducted by Oxford Home Schooling, were:

  • Animal Farm (George Orwell)
  • A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)
  • Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck)
  • 1984 (George Orwell)
  • Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
  • Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)
  • Macbeth (William Shakespeare)
  • Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë)
  • Lord of the Flies (William Golding)

The majority of the most popular books are from the 1900s, but three 21st century works made the top 40. John Boyne’s Holocaust novel, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, published in 2006, was the highest rated work from this millennium (30th), with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Mark Haddon, 2003) and Noughts and Crosses (Malorie Blackman, 2001) also featuring.

When the results are broken down by sex, Animal Farm remains the number one pick for men, but women voted A Christmas Carol as number one followed by Charlotte Brontë’s gothic romance novel Jane Eyre.

Among younger adults (aged 18 to 24), the top rated novel is Of Mice and Men. The younger generation also placed JB Priestley’s crime thriller An Inspector Calls in their top 10.


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