Year 11/12/13 Wider reading October


Just finished this through tears. So sad. Exploration of PTSD and war memory with a romance in there too. I found it quite bleak but powerful.


I’m starting this now. Am a big fan of McEwan.  Spy fiction. I once interviewed for a job with MI5 before becoming a teacher. Imagine that.


Am also going to read this ( probably dip in and out) to help my teaching of Year 13 Texts in Context and the play Top Girls. A seminal text for the study of feminism.

What have you read and what are you currently reading?

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25 Responses to Year 11/12/13 Wider reading October

  1. Mary says:

    Over the summer I read The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul Deborah Rodriguez which is a true story based on five women living in Afghanistan under the constant threat of the Taliban. It follows two Americans, one Brit and two Afghan women trying to make a difference for women being oppressed by their religion and lifestyle. It reflects life in Kabul beautifully and realistically, as well as teaching you their customs and changing ways which is why I enjoyed it so much and recommend it to everyone.

  2. Ellena Ball says:

    I’ve read Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall. Its about a teenage girl called Norah who has Agoraphobia which confines her to her house. Then a boy, Luke, moves in next door and she struggles with not being able to be a ‘normal’ girl so she can simply work up the courage to talk to him. I liked this book because it didn’t romanticise the mental illness and Gornall convincingly wrote about it ending the novel differently to how you would imagine it to end.

  3. Dulcie says:

    Over the summer, I read The House at Riverton by Kate Morton (available in the library)
    I initially loved the book and it was interesting to read the accounts of another family’s life through the eyes of their servant. It’s very easy to get drawn in as the book is composed of flashbacks and the present diminishing state of the servant. The novel is full of secrets — some revealed, others hidden forever. It’s also a meditation on memory and the devastation of war and a beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history. I highly recommend for fans or period dramas but have courage to wait the 550 pages until anything is truly revealed!

  4. Nicola Goodwin says:

    The Postcard Killers by James Patterson –
    Set in Sweden, the story follows NYPD detective Jacob Kanon in his search for his daughter’s murderer as a serial killer travels through Europe, leaving dead couples in their wake. As an admittedly slightly gruesome crime thriller, this book had me hooked from the very first page with its twists and turns as the Swedish police attempted to unmask the killer before any more innocent lives were lost. I definitely recommend this book.

  5. Katie Tucker says:

    Over the summer I read Cinder by Marissa Meyer. It is a modern sci-fi take on the classic novel Cinderella, set in the future, about the acceptance of those who are different and the power of influence and control.

    I thought it was gripping and I read it within 2 days – I honestly couldn’t put it down. I was initially skeptical about the huge sci-fi element, because even though I love that sort of stuff, I also really love the original tale, but I thought it only enhanced the story, adding edgy twists and an exciting cliff hanger ending, leaving the reader poised and ready for the next novel in the series.

    It was, by all means, a perfect fit.

  6. A. Sz. says:

    F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “This Side of Paradise” retells the coming of age and self discovery of Amory Blaine, a rather vain and pretentious young man. Set in the 20s it follows him through his many adventures in high school, university, and standing out from the main crowd. The story, while poetically written, does reach a depressing, but not underwhelming ending. I really enjoyed it.

  7. Paige says:

    Over the summer I finished ‘A Clockwork Orange’. It’s incredibly brutal and some parts are hard to read without cringing but it’s an interesting and gripping book. I recommend it if you’re interested in reading something completely new and incredibly strange.

  8. Jodie says:

    Tess of the d’Urbervilles

    There’s a saying that a good joke requires an unexpected outcome. Under such conditions, Tess of the d’Urbervilles most definitely qualifies.

    Once you have overcome the introduction, which is frankly neither engaging nor interesting – though essential to the plot, the novel is trapped in a turmoil as events become increasingly disturbing. Our protagonist Tess shows resilience through each of these plights, which I must warn, will outrage modern readers. As some actions on behalf of the character Alec, an alleged cousin of Tess, seem to be censured, I’d highly recommend reading through the Wiki overview after each chapter as it highlights the less explicit underlying issues.

    Ultimately, as soon as you think Tess has established freedom and independence for herself from the horrors of her past, don’t expect people not to hold her account for it.

    Hardy’s work is typically shocking, and immensely useful for those who want to get in touch with controversial issues on morality.

    Highly recommended read – especially for A level students.

  9. Gemma says:

    Over the summer I read the latest instalment to the Harry Potter franchise ‘The cursed child’ by J.K Rowling. I have to admit after the hype of the release and the legacy of the 7 previous books it was a bit of a let down. It’s based on Harry’s youngest son Albus in his first year at Hogwarts and is set out in play script form; an odd but easy to adapt to change. I would still recommend the book as light reading but lets just say it’s no goblet of fire.

  10. Rebecca Jary says:

    Over the summer I read The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger; it was bought for me but I’m glad I read it. It’s an interesting story about Holden, an expelled student in 1950’s America and his antics in New York before he tells his parents about his expulsion. What I loved about the book was the shocking nature of the events for such a young boy, e.g hiring a prostitute and getting served in a bar. However, it is a heartwarming read and I recommend it for people who like coming-of-age books, but set in a different time to our current generation.

  11. Eve says:

    During my holiday I read Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, which is regarded as being a very forward-thinking book from the time of publication in 1948. It’s a saddening story that depicts a terrifying image of a totalitarian future with a brutal tyrannical regime in place. I would definitely recommend the book as it’s incredibly well-written, but if you’re looking for an easy light hearted read then this isn’t for you; as the outcome is quite depressing and disheartening.

  12. Georgia says:

    Over summer I read The Uncommoners, which is a book similar to Alice I’m Wonderland in which the characters are transported to another dimension and they have to find the reason behind their father’s disappearance. They are given clues by their sick Grandmother as to why they have been chosen. It is a brilliant book that you will not want to put down and there are many parts to the novel that all come together at the end.

  13. Alice says:

    Over the summer I read The Passion of New Eve by Angela Carter who has quickly become one of my favourite authors. This book was gripping once you had got used to the cryptic style and the varying chapter lengths (some upwards of twenty pages, some only one paragraph long). The subject was at times hard to read; some events are very detailed and written in frank language which does not attempt to disguise the happenings. I think I have decided that the language is one of the reasons I respect Carter so much; she makes no apologies for her writing which is quite an inspiring message.
    More recently, I finished Fingersmith by Sarah Waters which I loved! The shock reveal at the end of the first section is incredible and I wish I could read it again unaware so that I could experience it afresh. It has a plot filled with drama and action and the main heroine Sue is gutsy and brave. Would definitely recommend; it is an unforgettable read!

  14. Imogen Love says:

    I’m currently reading ‘All My Friends are Superheroes’ by Andrew Kaufman. It’s a very short book, only just over 100 pages, about a man called Tom who is the only normal person in a circle of superheroes – including his wife, who has been convinced by her superhero ex-boyfriend Hypno that Tom is invisible. I expected it to be a really cheesy, typical superhero book, but it definitely isn’t – I see the superheroes as normal people with extreme character traits, which reminds you of people that you know. It’s a strange, quirky, funny book, and the style of writing is refreshingly original and completely free of any cliches. I would highly recommend it!

  15. Lydia says:

    Over the summer I read “I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend” by Cora Harrison and although fictional, written from a first person narrative the story is more personal for the audience as we gain an understanding of the narrator and the characters that she interacts with. However, it is unreliable in regard to fact of the events of the plot, as it is altered by the opinion of the narrator. Even though written in 2010, this novel is set in the late 18th century and therefore includes societal factors of how women were treated in comparison to men. Though not focusing directly on the treatment of women, the male characters in the novel were clearly dominant in their roles and any important decisions made. This light-hearted novel is very enjoyable to read and I recommend it to everyone!

  16. Amelia says:

    I’ve just finished re-reading The Green Mile by Stephen King. I started reading it in year 7 but I think it more or less fell upon deaf ears – I just thought it was a sad story. It tells of a black man who was wrongly convicted of crimes upon two young girls: utterly gripping and left me feeling VERY emotional, definitely recommend!

  17. Jess Badgery says:

    I read “Between Shades of Grey”, which is about a Lithuanian girl and their family being transported through Russia by the Soviets during World War 2. As it’s based on first hand accounts of survivors it was extremely moving, and gave me an insight on the Easten European’s struggles and stories throughout the war.

  18. Jasmine says:

    Although I have already read it many times, I recently re-read The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It’s one of my favourite books and I think it offers a unique perspective of both society and culture during a very difficult yet eye-opening time for the protagonist. Chbosky highlights many flaws within teenage culture and the struggles many face within that. I’m about to start reading Tender Is The Night by F.Scott Fitzgerald.

  19. Amelia Stone says:

    I have currently been reading ‘Political Worlds of Women’ by Mary Hawkesworth to accompany my EPQ which is about gender politics. It encapsulates politics in conjunction with women in the 21st century. It concentrates on the prominence of gender roles, as well as what women have been doing to counteract current sexism. Very interesting read, gives a different perspective.

  20. Verity says:

    Over the summer I read , the ‘grass is singing’ by Dorris Lessing. It was an interesting read as it tackled certain issues which were very prevalent for the time is was set in 1940s Southern Rhodesia such as racism , sexism and gender roles. Perhaps because of the issues involved in the book it was quite a depressing read ,although enjoyable due to how well it is written and the fact it made you think about certain topics in great depth.

  21. Seb says:

    I read Lies We Tell Ourselves and it was really good, the plot was very unique and I had never read something like it before, I would definitely recommend this book as it’s a fairly easy read and you’ll not be disappointed by it at all

  22. Ellie says:

    I have been reading ‘The Da Vinci Code’ by Dan Brown, a thriller based on a web of conspiracy theories regarding Leonardo Da Vinci and the Roman Catholic Church.
    This book was extremely easy to read and constantly put me on edge due to its fast pace series of thoughts and events. The storyline is so well developed that I was desperate for it to be genuine, as the conspiracy is so intense that you become enthralled with every aspect of it.
    I would definitely recommend the book to those who enjoy detective fiction/thrillers, just don’t read it after watching the film as I can’t stress enough how much of a let down the film is :((

  23. Iona says:

    Over the summer I read several books but two books that stood out were Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh and The Devils by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Trainspotting is one of my favourite books (I’ve read it a few times previously).
    Trainspotting is incredibly interesting, even though it’s my 3rd or 4th read. The plot is incredibly human and real, the characters interest you and although the way it’s written can be difficult to understand once the reader is used to it it gives an extra level to the novel.
    The Devils I found much harder to get into the book seems slow at first and the long explanations and political dialogue hard to follow, especially with the 19th century Russian language, the but the characters and plot drew me in. The political context makes the novel especially interesting to a modern reader but I still found the book difficult to finish.

  24. Luella says:

    I have recently finished Jean Paul Sartre’s existentialist novel ‘Nausea’ as wider reading for both philosophy and literature. Given it’s about a philosophical approach, their is no real climax, and the book can be rather depressing at times. Yet it is also brilliant in engrossing the reader in small everyday events. The epistolary diary entry style of the novel breaks what is an extremely ‘heavy’ book down into readable sections. If you’re one who enjoys philosophy or enjoys exploring different approaches to life, this is definitely one for you.

  25. Paris says:

    I have finished re-reading To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and thanks to the beloved Mrs Doran for introducing it to me, I’ve decided it’s my favourite book. Due to myself being so interested in American history and literature, the fictional town of Maycomb County gripped me as a man is proved innocent by his lawyer but is still sent down for a rape he never committed purely because of the colour of his skin. Published in 1960, America is able to read a story about things that are actually happening in their country through a child’s eyes and I think it shook them even more when the book became more popular after being made into a film in 1962. Despite the main story of the novel being about Tom Robinson’s trial, I always think the main story is about Scout finally discovering who Boo is and how he was not as scary as she thought. Although the first couple of chapters are a bit of a struggle, once you get into it I would highly recommend everyone to read it.

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