(Photo of my desk)
I am an English teacher and a reader. These two facts do not always go hand in hand. Often I am forced to sit and read the very thing I have no desire to delve into, and learn about people and places of which I have little interest. So in my “free reading “time, when I can read whatever I choose I am very picky. Last year I think I only read 5 books outside of my teaching.
At the moment for my work reading I have been lucky as I am reading texts that are either quite wonderful, or books I have always wanted to read but never got round to picking up.
For example: Brave New World by Aldous Huxely. How I managed to do both A level English and a Literature degree and never read this seminal work, I have no idea. I even owned my own copy but had never felt the urge to read it, fearing it might be dull. In fact it is a truly amazing and gripping work and very interesting to teach. I urge you book club people to give it a go and I promise you will be arguing about whether we can actually be happy if we never know misery, and the virtues of a peaceful and bland world that can only exist without truth, knowledge or human connection.
I am also teaching the deeply touching and strong story of Janie Crawford in Their Eyes Were Watching God. Again, this is a book I actually owned but had never read. This is a great read and all of my students embraced both the book and the characters.
And for another class: The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. I read this one years ago and I must confess, as much as I liked it, it happens to be one of the only books I know of, where the movie is even better. Normally it is the reverse when it comes to books and their film adaptations. With a second reading I am enjoying it but the students are finding it a tough read. The plot jumps all over the place and for students more accustomed to video games than books, it is proving a challenge.
Next up is The Colour Purple and I must confess that I had never read it. How is this possible, I ask? Obviously it is a wonderful, though harrowing read and I am wondering how to approach all the sexuality and abusive subject matter with my students.
Earlier this year I taught A Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriella Garcia Marquez, Metamorphosis by Kafka and The Stranger by Camus.
And for fun? I have read and enjoyed the following:
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
The Stranger’s Child by Allen Hollinghurst
So many books… so little time.