We got IB graduates to recommend their favourite books that they either read while studying the Diploma or which they’d wished they read as an IB student. You’ll find everything from great bedtime reads books to help you in your IB studies!
Nation by Terry Pratchett
While Terry Pratchett is better known for his comic fantasy, this novel is set in an alternative history. “Nation” is both a coming-of-age and Pratchett’s manifesto for humanism, exploring themes of identity, duty, society, and belief.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
My favourite book in the IB was Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. I absolutely adored the way it was written, the language used and the beautiful way he described everything from scenery, to emotions, to tragedy. It is a tragic tale told by a talented writer who managed to capture so many fascinating characters and leave you feeling as if you were there yourself, experiencing everything that the main characters were going through.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Still my favourite book, after years of studying Literature. I picked this up age 12 and bought it because J.K. Rowling’s recommendation was on the front. This gentlest, most beautiful coming of age story follows Cassandra and her family- depressed author father, eccentric model step-mother, and wealth-obsessed older sister- as their life develops as England changes around them. A firm favourite, and should be read by every student who wants a sense of the magic of early 20th century England!
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
We were lucky enough to study this alongside its mother text, Pride and Prejudice, in our IB course, and I still love it. While it admittedly doesn’t provide the challenge of great classics, the accessible, infuriating, lovable Bridget should see most IB students through their own entry into the adult world- no matter how bad your choices, they’re probably better than Bridget’s!
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Great ideas are contained within 70 pages of beautiful story-telling as Woolf at her best outlines women’s need for economic freedom in order to enable them to enact their creative potential. An easier read than many expect from Woolf, her language is as precise as her frustration, resulting in a wonderful, vital, text.
Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman
We read Dorfman’s ‘Death and the Maiden’ as part of our IB English Literature course, which introduced me to writing through trauma, both in a sense of individual bodily/psychological trauma, and in terms of national trauma, opening my eyes to the power of Literature to reflect not only what the author knows from their own lived experience, but also a national or social mood. I loved ‘Death and the Maiden’, and it sparked a deeper engagement with Literature, leading me ultimately to seek out the politics in the texts I have studied and read in the years since the IB.
Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman by Ariel Dorfman
We read Dorfman’s ‘Death and the Maiden’ as part of our IB English Literature course, which introduced me to writing through trauma, both in a sense of individual bodily/psychological trauma and in terms of national trauma.
Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour Though this book isn’t specific to the IB Psychology syllabus, it covers most aspects very comprehensively, providing a high level of detail, which can be very useful when you want to clarify your understanding of a key study or theory.