English Department staff and our favourite or recommended reads:
Mrs Malcolm – PT Curriculum English and Literacy
My favourite book is “Sunset Song” by Lewis Grassic Gibbon. It is the first and most celebrated of Grassic Gibbon’s great trilogy, “A Scot’s Quair”. It provides a powerful description of the first two decades of the century through the evocation of change and the lyrical intensity of its prose. It is hard to find any other Scottish novel of the last century, which has received wider acclaim and better epitomises the feelings of a nation.
Mr McKendry – PT S1 and S2 (Acting)
One of my favourite books is “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. It is set in a post apocalyptic world where a man and his son are coping to survive in a barren and desolate land. Poetic prose elevates the bleak and sparse narrative that is haunting but ultimately uplifting in its message that love will endure and protect. “You have to keep carrying the fire.”
I recommend “A Crime in the Neighborhood” by Suzanne Berne. This is a coming of age novel. Set against the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s it is a family drama unfolding in a suburban setting. Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction it is reminiscent of “To Kill a Mockingbird” with the voice of Marsha revealing the pains of growing up in a confusing adult world. It is a gem of a novel
I’d like to recommend ‘The Bees’ , by Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. It is Duffy’s first collection of poems as Poet Laureate and I think it is fantastic! I love the variety of poetry and the way in which ‘the bees’ are woven through the collection. They become the subject matter and also a presence at the edge of her writing. She includes drinking songs, love poems and poems of political anger. Elegies for her loved ones and a very moving poem for her own mother also feature. There are clever illustrations separating the various chapters of poetry and this grabs the reader’s attention, giving clues as to what is ahead. It’s clear that Duffy has used the bee as a symbol for the grace and beauty that is in the world and as something that we must protect. Overall, it’s a really enjoyable assortment of poetry!
One of my favourite books is “As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning” by Laurie Lee. It was 1934 and a young man walked to London from the security of the Cotswolds to make his fortune. He was to live by playing the violin and by labouring on a London building site. Then, knowing one Spanish phrase, he decided to see Spain. For a year he tramped through a country in which the signs of impending civil war were clearly visible. Thirty years later Laurie Lee captured the atmosphere of the Spain he saw with all the freshness and beauty of a young man’s vision, creating a lyrical and lucid picture of the beautiful and violent country that was to involve him inextricably.
One of my favourite books is “Atonement” by Ian McEwan. We meet 13-year-old Briony Tallis in the summer of 1935, as she attempts to stage a production of her new drama The Trials of Arabella to welcome home her elder, idolised brother Leon. But she soon discovers that her cousins, the glamorous Lola and the twin boys Jackson and Pierrot, aren’t up to the task, and directorial ambitions are abandoned as more interesting preoccupations come onto the scene.Leon has brought home a dim chocolate magnate keen for a war to promote his new “Army Amo” bar; and upstairs Briony’s migraine-stricken mother Emily keeps tabs on the house from her bed. Soon, secrets emerge that change the lives of everyone present…
I recommend “Birdsong” by Sebastian Faulks. It was a real eye -opener to me about the horrors of the First World War but it is not just a story about one man’s war or solely about war. There is a powerful romance running through the novel and as well as this, the book shows the close bond between an officer and his men. It’s a great read but not an easy one in terms of its content.
“Staying Alive – Real Poems for Unreal Times” – Collected Poetry edited by Neil Astley. I don’t really have one favourite book but “Staying Alive” would be a contender if I did. There are now two follow up collections, both equally good. I like the way that you can start anywhere – and never finish – reading an anthology of poetry.
Mrs Young (Principal Teacher Guidance – currently on maternity leave)