Contact usCareers
Set of books

10 Best Arts and Humanities Books to Read in 2023


The world of Arts and Humanities is a rich tapestry of ideas, cultures, and timeless narratives that illuminate the human experience. For those who yearn to explore this diverse landscape, look no further than Oxford Summer Courses. As you embark on your intellectual journey through our Arts and Humanities summer school, you'll encounter a carefully curated selection of books that have left an indelible mark on the cultural and philosophical landscape. Prepare to delve into these literary treasures, engage in profound discussions, and perhaps discover a new perspective that will shape your appreciation for the arts and humanities.


Please note that the following list of books is recommended reading to broaden your knowledge and deepen your appreciation of Arts and Humanities. While some of these books may be included in the Oxford Summer Courses curriculum, the specific content of the summer school can vary. If you wish to study these subjects with us, you can apply to our Arts and Humanities summer school.


Stay connected with us by subscribing to our newsletter, where you'll receive insightful articles and updates to enrich your academic journey. Sign up here.

1. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

  • "Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains."
  • While often associated with political discourse, "The Communist Manifesto" is a fundamental text that challenges societal norms and economic structures. Delve into the minds of Marx and Engels as they explore the concept of class struggle and the pursuit of equality.
  • Discussion: How do the ideas presented in "The Communist Manifesto" continue to influence contemporary discussions on social justice and economic inequality?

2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  • "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view ... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."
  • Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a poignant exploration of racial prejudice and moral growth in the American South. Join Scout and Atticus Finch on their journey through the complexities of justice and empathy.
  • Discussion: How does the novel's exploration of empathy and understanding relate to contemporary issues of prejudice and social justice?

3. World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored and Explained by John Bowker

  • "Religion is the opium of the people."
  • In a world of diverse beliefs, "World Religions" by John Bowker provides a comprehensive overview of major faiths. Explore the histories, teachings, and philosophies that have shaped cultures and societies throughout the ages.
  • Discussion: How does understanding various world religions contribute to intercultural dialogue and global awareness?

4. The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  • "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains."
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "The Social Contract" delves into the nature of political authority and the concept of the general will. Uncover the foundations of modern political philosophy and the idea of a just society.
  • Discussion: How do Rousseau's ideas on government and citizenship resonate with contemporary discussions on democracy and individual rights?

5. Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America by Karen Blumenthal

  • "Let me play, coach. Let me play."
  • "Let Me Play" chronicles the transformative impact of Title IX on gender equity in American sports and education. Explore the intersection of law, gender, and societal change.
  • Discussion: How has Title IX shaped opportunities and perceptions of gender equity in education and sports, and what challenges persist today?

6. False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World by Alan Beattie

  • "Economics is too important to be left to the economists."
  • Alan Beattie's "False Economy" offers a thought-provoking exploration of economic history and the surprising forces that have shaped global economies. Dive into the world of economic theory and its real-world implications.
  • Discussion: How can understanding economic history and theory inform our approach to contemporary economic challenges and global financial systems?

7. Literary Theory: An Introduction by Terry Eagleton

  • "All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril."
  • Terry Eagleton's "Literary Theory" provides a gateway to the world of critical analysis in literature. Explore the various lenses through which literature can be interpreted and understood.
  • Discussion: How do different literary theories enhance our appreciation and interpretation of literary works?

8. The Articulate Mammal: An Introduction to Psycholinguistics by Jean Aitchison

  • "Language is the dress of thought."
  • Jean Aitchison's "The Articulate Mammal" delves into the fascinating realm of psycholinguistics, exploring the connection between language and cognition. Uncover the mysteries of how language shapes our thoughts and communication.
  • Discussion: How does psycholinguistics shed light on the intricate relationship between language, culture, and cognition?

9. Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy by Simon Blackburn

  • "The unexamined life is not worth living."
  • Simon Blackburn's "Think" offers an engaging introduction to philosophical thinking. Venture into the realm of fundamental questions about existence, ethics, and the nature of reality.
  • Discussion: How does philosophical inquiry contribute to critical thinking and ethical decision-making in our everyday lives?

10. Art Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Cynthia Freeland

  • "Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."
  • Cynthia Freeland's "Art Theory" provides a concise exploration of key concepts in art and aesthetics. Journey through the world of visual arts and discover the diverse ways art shapes human expression.
  • Discussion: How does art theory enrich our understanding and appreciation of visual culture, creativity, and artistic expression?


Oxford Summer Courses invites you to immerse yourself in the captivating world of Arts and Humanities. Within this blog post, we present a meticulously curated list of 10 influential books that will expand your horizons, challenge your perspectives, and deepen your appreciation for the diverse realms of human thought and creativity. From Karl Marx's revolutionary "The Communist Manifesto" to Cynthia Freeland's exploration of "Art Theory," these literary works span the spectrum of human inquiry and expression. Through our Arts and Humanities programme, you'll engage in stimulating discussions and intellectual exploration, gaining profound insights into the multifaceted tapestry of human culture. Join us on this educational voyage and embark on a transformative journey that will enrich your understanding of the world.


Apply now to study Arts and Humanities at Oxford Summer Courses and elevate your education to new heights. Join a global community of eager learners and embark on a transformative experience. Apply here.

Share this article


Ignite your passion for the Arts and Humanities at Oxford Summer Courses. Immerse yourself in a curated selection of books that span the realm of artistic expression, from literature to philosophy, and enhance your appreciation for the humanities.

Get Our Newsletter

We deliver helpful tips, tutorials and thought-provoking articles to inform and inspire your professional development.

Our privacy policy states Oxford Summer Courses will use this information to contact you.

Oxford Summer Courses LTD

18 Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2NA, United Kingdom

+44 01865 818403

B Corp Logo

Juniors 9-12

Apply Now
Sign up to our newsletter

Oxford Summer Courses is an organisation which contracts with the colleges of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London for the use of facilities, but which has no formal connection with the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London.
Oxford Summer Courses © 2024
Oxford Summer Courses is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 08011543