Tired of teaching those overused World Literature books in your English classes? You know, the ones students hear of years in advance and dread the thought of reading?

Well, if you’ve got some flexibility in your curriculum, why not spice up your syllabus and get students excited to read about the world and the different cultures around them?

Try these engaging page-turners:

Tropic of Orange

Set in Los Angeles and Mexico, Tropic of Orange follows diverse characters with compelling backgrounds and intertwined futures. This book explores the concept of boundaries and demonstrates that in an increasingly global world, we are all connected. Your students will learn that even the smallest actions can create a butterfly effect that will impact the world.

This book is great to pair with an environmental text, too, such as Silent Spring by Rachel Carson or Float by JoeAnn Hart.

The Kite Runner

A story of guilt and redemption, The Kite Runner follows the life of Amir, a boy growing up in an unstable Afghanistan, who escapes to the United States and returns as an adult to atone for how badly he treated his childhood friend, Hassan.

The story focuses on the relationship between children and their parents. Students will be able to relate to this universal theme and will gain a new perspective on growing up in difficult circumstances. Keep in mind that this novel discusses mature themes and contains some disturbing imagery.

The God of Small Things

This story follows the tragic events surrounding 7-year-old fraternal twins Rahel and Estha. Set in India, The God of Small Things flashes back and forth between the twins’ childhood and the present when they are reunited at 31 years of age. Students will love the forbidden romance between the twins’ mother and Velutha, an Untouchable.

The novel deals with class differences and social discrimination in India. It also demonstrates that the little things in life have the ability to accumulate and affect who you become as a person. This novel also discusses mature themes.

True History of the Kelly Gang

A historical fiction novel, True History of the Kelly Gang is told from the point of view of Ned Kelly, the Australian bushranger and folk hero. The novel may be challenging for students to read due to the unconventional writing style and punctuation, but the action-packed story of robberies, shootings, and horse thefts will surely hold their attention. The tale demonstrates the corruption of authority and lawlessness that was prevalent in 19th century Australia.

Crime and Punishment

Though students may feel wary about diving into this brick of a book, once they begin, Crime and Punishment reveals itself to be a thrilling mental rollercoaster that will plunge them into the mind of a criminal, Raskolnikov.

Set in Russia, the novel gives students a unique perspective on the mentality behind wrong-doing and dealing with the consequences. The book also explores the concept of nihilism and asks the question, “Is anyone above the moral laws of humanity?”

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Set in the fictional city of Macondo in a remote Columbian jungle, One Hundred Years of Solitude follows seven generations of the city’s founding family, the Buendías. This magical realism novel demonstrates history and time’s cyclical nature and the inescapability of destruction. In Macondo, the fantastical and supernatural elements of myths are commonplace, and normalcy is viewed as unreliable. One of the most significant Latin American texts, One Hundred Years of Solitude is set against the backdrop of generations of historical Colombian events.

Students will love the strange and compelling characters that continue to pop up throughout the novel. This unique text is able to show the domino effect of consequences that spans over long periods of time, demonstrating that we all are controlled and affected by our past.