Exploring novels about adventure

This summer, we’re diving into the BBC’s list of 100 novels that shaped our world.

One of the categories is adventure and the BBC panel selected these 10* books:

  • City of Bohane – Kevin Barry
  • Eye of the Needle – Ken Follett
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
  • His Dark Materials Trilogy – Philip Pullman
  • Ivanhoe – Walter Scott
  • Mr Standfast – John Buchan
  • The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
  • The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
  • The Jack Aubrey Novels – Patrick O’Brian
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – J.R.R. Tolkien

*Like many of the other categories, the BBC has sneaked far more than 10 novels in here. There are 20 Jack Aubrey novels alone, plus the two trilogies!

Both Tolkien and Pullman have deep connections with the city of Oxford. We’ve written elsewhere about the Inklings, the informal literary society that both Tolkien and CS Lewis were part of. To learn more about the Inklings and their connection to Oxford’s pubs, check out the Hairy Bikers’ Pubs that Made Britain. And to learn even more about beer, brewing, pubs and history, you can visit the National Brewing Library, housed in our Special Collections.

When the class of 2020 had the end of the university studies abruptly curtailed due to COVID-19, lecturers in English Literature, Creative Writing and Drama at Oxford Brookes recorded a special video. Watch to the end for a surprise appearance from Philip Pullman!

Like His Dark Materials, The Hunger Games has captured the imagination of many young readers. In her 2019 book, The Dark Fantastic : Race and the Imagination From Harry Potter to the Hunger Games, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas asks who fantasy and magical YA novels are written about, who they written by and who they are written for. This book is available as an ebook, for all Oxford Brookes students and staff.

And books themslves can be powerful objects. Well, according to this 1966 Batman episode, at least! In the words of IMDB: “Commissioner Gordon appears to have been assassinated during the opening of a new bridge. A copy of Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls nearly blows up the Batmobile. Both incidents are clues to the Bookworm’s latest scheme.” Holy ravioli! What would Hemingway have made of that?!

Although, Ivanhoe, Walter Scott’s 1819 novel of medieval chivalry might sound less exciting, this dramatic image on Bridgeman Education does make it seem almost ast thrilling as Batman.

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