A Spot of Summer Reading


Summer’s here at last, or almost, so surely it’s time for feet up, time out and a good book ( or Kindle or Kobo ). So what’ll it be? A rollicking work of fiction for a bit of escapism? Or some mind-improving books on politics, or science? Perhaps a biography or history work? Do you want to be amazed, informed or simply entertained? Some say you might read five thousand books in a lifetime. But the great thing is, on the whole you get to choose.

I’ve been a member of a book group for the last couple of years and have read books for our discussions. Some I’ve loved and some I haven’t. What makes things interesting is the fact I have read books I might not have chosen myself ( I’m not sure about ‘Room’, for instance! ). My all time favourite is probably ‘The Lord of the Rings’. It’s long but it’s satisfying. It doesn’t suit everyone, though, but then again, books very rarely do.

I have admired other books, of course. ‘Still Alice’ has lingered with me because it is an honest and intelligent account of a woman developing Alzheimers. it is scary yet ultimately reassuring. I loved Michael Frayn’s ‘Skios’ because I love farce and this shows you can do it in a book as well as in the theatre. The ‘Sisters Brothers’ has a great title; It’s a comedy Western – Laurel and Hardy in the Wild West?

I also dabble in factual books. Being a member of a library I can get thirty books out at a time and sometimes I actually do get near that. I’ve read about Siberia, Russia, the Danube – I’m a great armchair traveller – and for a good sense of history there’s no one better than Simon Sebag Montefiore. He’s been on the TV, so you can see for yourself. I’ve also tried Simon Schama, but I’m waiting for someone to tell me he’s any good. I can’t see it myself.

I’m not that good at the ‘classics’, although I love the sense of the countryside that Thomas Hardy provides. The heath in ‘The Return of the Native’ is a character in itself and you can see how people’s lives must inevitably be affected by such a brooding landscape.

Ultimately, however, I like a good police thriller. Anything by Graham Hurley about police work in Portsmouth ( where I used to live) will do. Caro Ramsay writes well about awful crimes and devoted detectives in Scotland. She’s almost as good as Ian Rankin – Rebus is as good on TV as he is in print. M.R. Hall will tell you surprising things about the work and the excitement that surrounds the English coroner. Then again, for sheer excitement, thrills and spills, I’ve got to go for the Jack Reacher series. Try it.

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I'm semi-retired after a successful and much enjoyed career in education. Funnily enough, my last job was as a tutor for OOL. I taught on courses providing professional training for school support staff, as well as A level English Literature and English Literature GCSE. I've had an interesting career, in schools, colleges, adult education, the Arts and a few other bits and bobs. At one stage I was also a local authority inspector. Now I'm a school governor, and am enjoying watching my young grandchildren go through their own first experiences of school. Through these articles I hope to keep you up to date with different aspects of education news – and also to keep you interested!

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