The Winter of Our Discontent

Winter_discontentThis week, Mr Wallwork recommends ‘The Winter of Our Discontent’ by John Steinbeck.

Believe it or not I read this book knowing nothing of the author. We didn’t have many books at home when I was growing up so I was happy to read anything I was given. So it came about that through the simple act of enjoying a story, I discovered that Steinbeck was a classic writer before I knew he was a writer of classics.

It is set in late 50’s early 60’s New England America. Ethan Allen Hawley, whose family trace their roots back to the Pilgrim Fathers,  works as a clerk in the grocery store he used to own and although at first he seems adjusted to this reversal of fortune he ends up planning a wild ‘escape’.  Simple honesty is shown to be at heart anything but simple.  Steinbeck uses this examination of culture and values by a ‘good’ man to force us to look into the same mirror.

The emotional pull of this tale makes it in my heretical eyes better than OMAM and with another fabulous quotation as a title what’s not to like?

Wedlock

bookThis week, Mr Short recommends ‘Wedlock’ by Wendy Moore.

It is a fascinating true story which an insight into Georgian England. The events detailed in the book were massive news at the time and what I find most interesting is its links to the North East and particularly Bowes Museum.

My Cousin Rachel

18869970This week, Miss Camsell recommends ‘My Cousin Rachel’ by Daphne DuMaurier.

A psychological thriller, the novel is set in 19th Century Cornwall and in Florence and is told from the perspective of Philip Ashley who forms an obsession with his cousin’s widow, Rachel. The ambiguous characters and narrative make this a gripping read: Rachel’s behaviour is open to interpretation as is Philip’s reliability as a narrator.

This is an easy to read but difficult to put down sort of novel and leaves readers with something to ponder post-reading. It’s also due to be released as a film later this year (starring Sam Claflin and Rachel Weiss) and it’ll be interesting to see how it translates on the big screen!

The Unmumsy Mum

Unmumsy-Mum-Book-ReviewBook of the week is recommended by Ms Johnson who advises us to read ‘The Unmumsey Mum’ By Sarah Turner:

The book is a window to a particular life stage. At times it is laugh out loud funny, crushingly accurate and emotionally uplifting. Charting the ups and downs of parenting a young family in this crazy, modern world. Reading the book is like going for a coffee with your closest friend – it is therapy in a pink cover!

We Should All Be Feminists

bookMrs Cousins recommends ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

You should read it because… it is a short but really powerful message about gender equality.  A multi award wining author, Adichie has had a huge audience – her TEDx talk that the book was adapted from has been watched by 3.4 million people on YouTube and she was sampled by Beyoncé on ***Flawless.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is also one of my favourite novelists – Half Of A Yellow Sun, Americanah and Purple Hibiscus are all brilliant.

The whole text can be read here for free.

Or you can listen to the TEDx talk here.

The Exam

1This week’s book recommendation is from Ms Anderson:

The Exam by Andy Hamilton (Writer of the TV shows Outnumbered and Drop the Dead Donkey)

The Exam is a comedic insight into the pressures put on young people by parents and teachers. Andrew, Chas and Bea are three students of mixed ability who find themselves held up in the same exam hall waiting for their papers to arrive. As the wait lengthens, each has to survive a powerful barrage of self doubt, parental pressure and adult incompetence. They must come to terms with themselves, their peers and parents. An enjoyable read which I’m sure all teachers can relate to and sympathise with.

The Night Circus

The Night CircusThis week’s book recommendation comes from Mrs Jansen, who recommends ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern: I would recommend The Night Circus, The Prose sparkle and the story itself is a feat of magical acrobatics! 2 ancient magicians set their 2 best pupils against one another in a magical contest, the venue is a mysterious circus that only appears at night. There are no rules and the contestants do not know how victory is determined. They inevitably fall in love and things get very complicated. The book is beautifully written and keeps you gripped throughout.

The Outsider

`Book of the week is recommended by Mr Hutton: ‘The Outsider’ by Albert Camus.

“I found this book in a job lot for a few pence. It turned out I had a classic written by the French author Albert Camus. I read it through in a few sittings on holiday.’The Outsider’ is about a French Algerian, Mersault, a man who seems emotionally detached from the events of the world around him and whose life in the pleasant Mediterranean sun is dramatically changed by a tragic chain of events.The novel is both simple and profound, thought provoking and haunting; well worth the read. “

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

This week’s book recommendation is from English teacher Mrs Wilson-Head.

The book that I would recommend to others is Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. The novel is narrated from the perspective of Oskar Schell, who loses his father in the 9/11 attacks, and is seeking a way to stay close to him. Whilst hiding in his parents’ wardrobe, he discovers a key and, thinking that it is a final puzzle set for him by his father, Oskar sets out to discover the lock that it opens. The book is an incredibly moving one, which explores the nature of trauma and grief, both personal and collective. The events of 9/11 become a backdrop for an analysis of human nature and family, and I loved the way that Foer looked at these things through the voice of the nine-year-old protagonist. The book is also filled with unusual stylistic and graphic elements that really appealed to me. It wasn’t hugely popular with critics – and the film adaptation is horrendous – but I personally love the book, and have revisited it several times.

This week Mr Young shares his top 3 favourite books

My 3 favourite books are The Great Gatsby, Brideshead Revisited and Bright Lights, Big City.

All 3 share the same story of a young, likeable hero drawn into a society that is above them in some way but which intrigues and excites and then ultimately spits them out into the real world with a new perspective born of their experience.