This week, we hand over the mic to the teachers to share their favourite books.
To Kill A Mockingbird
Goodreads rating: 4.26
“To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel written by Harper Lee, is set in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930’s, a society on the brink of change. The themes of truth and justice are explored through the eyes of Scout, a young girl, who functions as both questioner and observer. Though the novel is well known for its themes and diverse characters, it is Lee’s writing style that has kept me returning to this book over and over again. The diction Lee used allowed me to hear not only the accents of the south, but the unique phrases found in the language of people from Alabama. The writing found throughout the story helped me connect to what life was like in the deep south of America in the 1930’s, and that is what makes this one of my favorite all time books.” -Ms. Janice
Goodreads rating: 3.98
“One of my favourite books is Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. It is a dark and funny story about the insanity of a bomber squadron based in Italy in WWII. I first read it while travelling around South East Asia a few years ago and I aim to re-read it again soon. I would highly recommend it for students with a strong grasp of English.” – Mr. Jason
“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.”
Goodreads rating: 4.69
“One of my favorite books is actually a collection of 20+ books by Patrick O’Brian called the Aubrey Maturin series. It is a sequence of naval historical novels set during the Napoleonic Wars and centered on the friendship between Captain Jack Aubrey of the Royal Navy and his ship’s doctor Stephen Maturin, a physician, natural philosopher, and spy. O’Brian writes completely authentically using period nautical jargon and scenarios. A tremendous depth of character is achieved over the course of the series of novels, making them deeply engaging and life-like.” – Mr. Philip
Note: The image above is the first book cover and the Goodreads rating is for the complete collection.
Goodreads rating: 3.84
“I love traveling literature and try to read books about the country I will visit next. My last one was “Burmese Days” by George Orwell. It is a tale from the times of the British Empire in Myanmar. The center of the story is the relationship of the members of the English Club with the locals from the district of Kyauktada. It is a good book to understand how the British Empire ruled this part of Asia by creating an identity crisis and a separation of Europeans and local Burmese. I found this book in Spanish on my first day in Mandalay. An excellent read while traveling the country from north to south.” – Ms. Gaby
Heart of Darkness
Goodreads rating: 3.42
“One of my favourite books, which I first read at college in my English Literature class and that I also taught at DP level in my previous school, is Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’. A framed story of a journey up the Congo River during the period known as the ‘Scramble for Africa’, Conrad manages to pack so much into this short, dense novella, which draws inspiration from his journey in the Congo Free State a few years prior. Conrad was a modernist writer and below is an example of what has been referred to as the ‘scenic method’ of narration, a showing rather than telling of a scene, which was later adopted by other modernist writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald. Conrad wrote in his third language, English, with Polish and French being his first two, but had a mastery that I really admire. Notice the succinct, direct and emotionless opening sentence, describing the African prisoners as ‘bundles of acute angles’ followed by the long, descriptive second sentence containing a colon, semi-colon and several commas to create a total of eight clauses. Conrad could do it all.” – Mr. Craig
Near the same tree two more bundles of acute angles sat with their legs drawn up. One, with his chin propped on his knees, stared at nothing, in an intolerable and appalling manner: his brother phantom rested its forehead, as if overcome with a great weariness; and all about others were scattered in every pose of contorted collapse, as in some picture of a massacre or a pestilence. While I stood horror-struck, one of these creatures rose to his hands and knees, and went off on all-fours towards the river to drink. He lapped out of his hand, then sat up in the sunlight, crossing his shins in front of him, and after a time let his woolly head fall on his breastbone.
Goodreads rating: 3.85
“My reading habits vary widely, from factual historical books, through Private Eye annuals to out and out fiction, I like to keep my mind active and normally annoy my wife by having at least a book in each bathroom in our house! One of my favourite historical fiction books is Wolf Hall, written by Hilary Mantel, it is the first part of a trilogy which documents the life, rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, one of the most powerful men, for a short while, under the 16th Century British king, Henry viii. For me it brings to life Tudor England whilst introducing a story as to why Henry acted the way he did which I had not thought of before. I would recommend this book for readers who have a love of history and a very varied vocabulary.” – Mr. Carl
Goodreads rating: 4.25
“It’s so impossible for me to choose a favorite book, but one of my favorites for when I need to laugh at the ridiculousness of the world is Good Omens by Terry Prachett and Neil Gaiman. It’s a story about the Apocalypse, and an angel and demon who don’t actually want that to happen. If you’re a fan of British humor and slang, don’t mind being a bit irreligious, and have a strong understanding of the English language – you’ll love it.” – Ms. Marisa
IT WASN’T A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT. It should have been, but that’s the weather for you. For every mad scientist who’s had a convenient thunderstorm just on the night his Great Work is finished and lying on the slab, there have been dozens who’ve sat around aimlessly under the peaceful stars while Igor clocks up the overtime.
A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy
Goodreads rating: 4.07
“The best thing would be to write about a book I recently read and enjoyed. These would be A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy (V.E. Schweb). Throughout four known parrallel universes, there are certain anchor points that are consistent in each universe. That point is London and its river. Most everything else is different. Noticable is the level of magic available in each universe. Common to all of them is the growing limitation of magic. There are only two people left with the ability to travel between Londons. These stories are theirs. I enjoyed the creation of new myths and legends with the twist of familiar ancient stories.” – Mr. Pat
Note: Mr. Pat also recommends the following books:
A Suitable Boy (Vikram Seth)
The Wicked Years (Oz books by Gregory Maguire)
Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis)
Spin (Robert Charles Wilson)
Goodreads rating: 3.92
“One of the most interesting and informative books I’ve read is Collapse by Jared Diamond. The book talks about why different civilizations throughout history have collapsed or failed and how the world today is facing many of the same problems. Issues like overpopulation, overfishing, environmental damage, and newly introduced species are discussed in a way that is easy to understand and doesn’t require the reader to have a strong background or knowledge of science. I think anyone who is interested in studying the past to make a better present and future would find this book an interesting read.” – Mr. Aaron
Into Thin Air
Goodreads rating: 4.11
“One of my favourite books is called Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. The book highlights a personal account of the fatal Everest disaster in May of 1996 which claimed the lives of 8 people, including 2 Sherpa, and left many severely injured. The story follows Krakauer who was hired by Adventure Consultants to write an article about his experience of climbing Everest. On the summit day, he and his group were hit by a rogue storm, which resulted in a harrowing descent down the mountain. I like this book because Krakauer discusses the challenges that high-altitude climbers face on the mountain, the history of Everest, and his speculations on why the disaster occurred despite the exhaustive preparations of the guides before-hand. I like to read this book when I am climbing myself, and always take it with me on all my hikes. The movie Everest is based on Krakauer’s book, and if you enjoyed the movie you should read it as the movie is mostly from the New Zealand guides POV, as opposed to Krakauer’s.” – Ms. Kyla
Goodreads rating: 3.99
“It is very hard to select just one favourite book but if I really had to it would be Emma by Jane Austin. This timeless story about relationships and misunderstandings is just as applicable today as it was in Jane Austin’s time; “same, same, but different”. There have been so many versions of this classic story (including a more modern film version “Clueless”), but nothing beats the original. I have had several copies of this book over the years, and they were all well read, shared (not always returned!) and slightly tatty.” – Ms. Sally
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
“Spoiler alert: like many people, I can’t chose a favourite book because I’ve read a lot that I really enjoy for different reasons. That said, the current book I’m reading is another great one. It’s called A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, and yes it’s a prequel for Game of Thrones. It tells the story of Egg, a young boy who starts traveling around with (or following around, really) a newly knighted Knight, Ser Dunk. They have to deal with many different situations in the kingdoms that set up a lot of backstories for the families we read about in the current Game of Thrones. Egg is actually Aegon Targaryen the Fifth, the great grandfather of Daenerys, and the great great grandfather of the newly named Aegon Targaryen, aka Jon Snow.” – Ms. Lynley
Ham on Rye
Goodreads rating: 4.16
“One of my favourite books is Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski, which follows the childhood and adolescence of Henry Chinaski, a character loosely based on the author himself. It’s an irreverent, ugly, honest and often hilarious coming of age story set in depression era Los Angeles. This is a book I’ll often recommend to people who don’t read a lot, want a book that’s fairly light and funny, and aren’t easily offended! There is something about Bukowski’s writing that is both simple and crude, yet somehow very insightful, wise and true.” – Mr Ben C.
The Witcher Saga
Goodreads rating: 4.20
“One of my favorite books of all time is The Witcher Saga by a Polish fantasy author, Andrzej Sapkowski. It’s a series of 8 books that focus on the Witcher, Geralt of Rivia set in an intricately built fantasy world. The first two books are a collection of short stories, that explore Geralt’s adventures as he battles various monsters. They serve as an introduction to the full saga, which develops into a story of elf prophecies, war, love and magic. I love the whole saga as it’s everything a good fantasy book should be and more! It’s written in a way that you can;t put it down, laced with black humor and many literary and cultural references woven into the plot. The characters are vivid and three dimensional, and the world Sapkowski created, has many layers, that all fit together, making reading a fully immersive experience.” – Ms. Magda
“Anything by John Steinbeck”
“I love anything by John Steinbeck, but my favorites are Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row, East of Eden, Grapes of Wrath, Travels with Charley, The Winter of Our Discontent, and The Log from the Sea of Cortez. Steinbeck books are funny, thought provoking, celebrate the human condition. Steinbeck finds heros in grocery store clerks, farmers, and all sorts of “normal” people. Steinbeck books make you think about what is really important.” – Mr. Mike
Thank you, teachers, for sharing your favourite books with us.