Ten Books I Can Recommend
1. The Apple: Crimson Petal Stories, Michael Faber
Like little side and back stories to go with The Crimson Petal and the White. Satisfied my urge to find out what happened next, and like its predecessor, meticulously researched. Like peeping through a window into Victorian Britain.
2. Fine Just The Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3, Annie Proulx
More short stories. I read the third volume first because it was the only one available on Kindle. Now reading the second volume. Immensely enjoyable, I think more so because I've spent time in Wyoming and know the history a bit, so it's easy to visualise. She writes beautifully, too.
3. The Big Short, Michael Lewis
All about the sub-prime mortgage crash in the US. This took some concentration and it wasn't a very comforting book, but I feel much better educated about these things now.
4. Girls Like Us, Rachel Lloyd
Interesting look at the trafficking of girls for prostitution in the States. Part memoir, part stats. This woman is really inspiring and founded a charity aimed at helping other women trapped in the life. I feel a bit star struck that I sort of know her. Very tenuously.
5. Dancing to the Precipice, Caroline Moorehead
I haven't finished this yet but I'm really enjoying it. It's about one of Marie Antoinette's Ladies in Waiting and it's a cracking tale.
6. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
I cried and cried and cried. It was NOT a good idea to finish it on the train. Really beautifully written, a great story about Nazi Germany from the German side, and likely to be compulsory reading for my sixth formers this year (I can almost hear the whinging already....)
7. Freakonomics, Levitt & Dubner
I love the whole "joined up thinking" of this book: how the smallest things can have an impact you can't even imagine. The theory about Roe vs Wade reducing the crime rate in the US was actually cited on a recent documentary I watched. I made the mistake of lending this book to somebody, years ago. I may have to buy it again. Though I should probably read that copy of Superfreakonomics I bought, first.
8. Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
I'm embarrassed to be all fangirl about this book, but it literally changed my life, because it had a big impact on how I teach. It seemed to be full of obvious truths I'd never even considered. "Hard work without a goal is prison": I made this into a poster for a sixth form assembly I did, and I still have it on my noticeboard. I think it's the best advice you can give a teacher. If that kid doesn't know why they're working, it might as well be prison.
9. Birds Without Wings, Louis de Bernieres
I love how there are dozens of different voices in this book. Some bits are written like a historical account and others are like having a gossip with your mate. It flows really nicely, regardless. It also taught me a lot about the demise of the Ottoman Empire and bits of WW1 that aren't really talked about. The descriptions of trench warfare in that part of the world will be a permanent fixture in my WW1 lessons from now on.
10. The Dark Is Rising sequence, Susan Cooper
Amazing books for teenagers which I can read over and over again without getting bored. DO NOT watch the film, it is utter garbage and bears not the slightest resemblance to the original.
Oh um, I like historical fiction. Did you guess?
The Vana Shrug
10 hours ago