University of Portsmouth's History Blog

Suggestions for summer reading, listening and thinking

One of the questions we’re most frequently asked by students who will be joining us as first years in the autumn term is ‘”What reading do we need to do to prepare for the course?” All of the modules that you will be taking in the first year have reading lists, of course, but the vast majority of material on them is part of a publishers’ package purchased by the university library that you will only have access to after you start university. So, to get you going, our Admissions Tutor Dr Katy Gibbons has written the following blog offering guidance on things you can read or listen to to over the summer months. Whatever area or period of history you’re interested in, there’s lots here to peak your interests!

If you’re looking for some history-related reading/listening for the summer, you’ve come to the right place! You’ll find here some suggestions from the UoP History team of things that we have enjoyed, and that can spark some thinking and reflecting on history, and on the connections between the past and the present.  If you read/listen carefully, you might also spot some of the historians who will be teaching you in September! 

Happy reading – and enjoy your summer!

General Reading


https://theconversation.com/uk (you might spot articles by some of your History lecturers here!)


More Specialised Blogs:





Not just the Tudors: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/not-just-the-tudors/id1564113869

History Extra: https://www.historyextra.com/period/20th-century/rebuilding-europe-after-ww2-paul-betts-podcast/

Histories of the Unexpected: https://historiesoftheunexpected.com/podcasts/

In Our Time: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qykl

History Unplugged: https://podcasts.apple.com/al/podcast/history-unplugged-podcast/id1237796990

Historical Association: https://www.history.org.uk/podcasts/list



These novels engage with the past in a number of different ways. They also cover topics and themes that you will come across in the course of your degree. 

Please note – you are not obliged or expected to buy any of these, but if you are interested, perhaps you could look out for a second hand copy, or visit your local public library!


This Lovely City by Louise Hare  https://uk.bookshop.org/books/this-lovely-city/9780008332600


The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson (our very own Rob James advised on the research for this!)



Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi



The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett



Rizzio by Denise Mina 



The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry



A Book of Secrets by Kate Morrison





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