At the very top of our list, what could we choose but His Dark Materials?
These three classics tell the story of Lyra, a girl living in a place very like Oxford, but with one big difference – it’s in another world. Lyra gets caught up in the dark and philosophical world of the adults around her, along with her dæmon and permanent companion, Pan, who is a physical representation of part of Lyra’s inner self. Together, Pan and Lyra go on a series of adventures, through magnificent scenery and with diverse companions. The books feature elements of adventure and fantasy. The coming-of-age aspect is also central to the overarching theme of the work.
Whilst ostensibly written for children or young teens, the density of the subject matter and the universality of the themes make these essential reading for book lovers of any age.
The first book was made into the film The Golden Compass, released in 2007 to mixed reviews. The film removed and diluted much of the material making up the anti-religious theme in the book.
Northern Lights (1995)
The Subtle Knife (1997)
The Amber Spyglass (2000)