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Every book Maeve Wiley references in Sex Education.

Katie Yee

February 28, 2020, 3:07pm

People, please don’t misunderstand me: this is not an actual sex education reading list. If you have questions about that stuff, you’re better off looking elsewhere. I cannot help you.

This is a brief list born out of my love for the brilliant British comedy drama, Sex Education. In the halls of Moordale Secondary School, we meet Otis, a gangly teenager whose mother is a sex therapist. Although Otis himself is incredibly awkward, he is something of a savant when it comes to offering his peers advice about their relationships and sex lives. Enter Maeve Wiley, the too-cool-for-school loner (yes, she’s got the dip-dyed pink hair, the worn leather jacket, and the cigarettes to prove it) who helps him turn his talents into a bustling business that they run out of the abandoned bathrooms behind the school.

What we learn about Maeve over the course of the show is that she is, secretly, a real Lit Girl. While her classmates are drinking cheap beer at house parties, she’s home reading the classics.

blonde girl, Sex Education high school complex female characters

And just for you, dear reader, I re-watched all of Sex Education to put together this list of every book Maeve Wiley is spotted reading or referencing in the show.


Shakespeare, As You Like It
The first actual required reading of the school year.

Sex Education, Shakespeare, love


George Eliot, Middlemarch
What can we say? Offering a service that helps peers get sex advice for a small fee? Selfless! Maeve’s a real Dorothea!



Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Basically scientifically proven to make your Lit Girl crush notice you.

A Room of One's Own

Virginia Woolf, Maeve Wiley, Beyonce


Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Come for the possibility of impressing your Lit Girl crush, stay for the fig tree.

The Bell Jar


All of Jane Austen
(especially Lady Susan)

Sex Education, Jane Austen, feminist literature, Lady susan


George Eliot, Silas Marner, Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth, Virginia Woolf, A Passionate Apprentice, Jane Austen, Emma, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Essentials for every Lit Girl’s nightstand.

books on nightstand, TBR pile, the classics, Sex Education


Shakespeare, Othello
It seems the only actual required reading on the syllabus this year is Shakespeare.



Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
The perfect bedtime story; may it bring you sweet dreams of gender equality.


George Eliot, Middlemarch
Yes, again! Maybe try reading it with your mom!


After all, you never know when a quiz bowl tournament question might be about Middlemarch.

George Eliot


Bonus reading for when you’re trying to impress the boy you like:
Pablo Neruda


But maybe actually read the poetry.



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