This is a re-read for me, for a lovely group who ‘recapture the classics’.
This is a novel that really is a classic. And one that should not hold the fear that often comes with the classics, as it is a short, sharp, simple read. Do not get me wrong – this does not take away from what a wonderful story this is.
‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ is an excellent tale with a great gothic feel. I also think it is a fantastic commentary on the attitudes of society at the time. There is a clear reference to the ideas of morality and character, but also (I think) the fears of some of the changes of the era. Could man’s interest in science be moving us away from the good, moral path of tradition?
As I hate to spoil books for those who may wish to read them, I will not reveal much of the narrative. However, I will say that this story is beautifully written by Stevenson. It also contains all the ingredients of a thrilling read, with murder, mystery, dark settings and intriguing characters.
If you are not sure about the classics but love a good story ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ would an excellent place to start. It really is a great and classic tale.
To continu with non-fiction November, I picked up ‘Dictators’ by Frank Dikotter. This was my choice because, as a history teacher, you always seem to be sharing knowledge of some of the famous dictators of history – how they get there always seems to make sense, but how they successfully stay there always seems to be harder to explain. I am always without a doubt asked why nobody stops them, and the obvious answer is always the fear many of them used to control. But also, as this makes clear, ‘ordinary’ people really did support them – however hard that is for some of us to believe.
This book is absolutely fascinating as it guides you through the history of eight 20th century dictators. And, it really explains how they managed to build up such a cult following which led to them having genuine support from their people. A ‘misguided’ idealism from each of the men led to them establishing their regimes. However, there was also a carefully crafted celebrity status created for each of these men, either by themselves or by those that surrounded them.
I found it interesting how similar at points the tales of these characters of history were. And that, in fact the biggest threat to any dictator and their regime is themselves.
This is a great book for any fans of moder history. A concise overview of some figures of history and a well-written and clear to follow guide to some of the 20th century’s most infamous figures.
It is non-fiction November, and I have been a little slow off the mark with it this year, because there are just so many books to read. However, I have now started with a truly fantastic read.
I am a huge fan of the work of the historian David Olusoga and often watch his documentaries. I found out that he had a book that makes his work ‘Black and British’ accessiable to a younger audience, I decided I really wanted to read it, especially, as a History teacher I am always looking for books that I can recommend to the pupils.
Yet, this is a book that I would recommend everyone should read. Olusoga takes us through the ages to educate us about the meaning of ‘Black and British’ throughout history. It also makes key links between the slave trade and British history, and how sometimes these links are forgotten as we discuss key moments such as the Industrial Revolution.
I learned so much as I read this book, especially about more recent history, which is definitely something that seems to remain in the past. However, it is brought bang up to date with the events of 2020, which has become a spark to reignite the passion to ensure Black and British history is given the true and accurate representation it deserves.
This is beautifully written in Olusoga’s distinctive voice; you almost feel that he is reading the book to you.
A sign of a great non-fiction book is that it makes you want to find out more about the things you have read, and that it is exactly what I am ready to do now.
I have recently jumped on the bandwagon of becoming a little bit obsessed with the retelling of Greek myths.
Thanks to a buddy read during lockdown 1.0, I picked up ‘The Song of Achilles‘ by Madeline Miller and I absolutely loved it. I found the whole world a fascinating place, even if some of the attitudes were a little questionable. However, at the same time there were some really liberal ideas too. A great story and a great book discuss.
Next, I moved on to ‘Circe‘ also by Madeline Miller. What a strong powerful female lead we were presented with in this book. We also met some famous Greek mythological characters characters. This is a tale I found a little slower but I still became absorbed in the world and found myself wanting to find out more about the story, characters, ideas and beliefs.
And now we reach my latest read, ‘The Silence of the Girls’ by Pat Barker. This had been on my bookshelf for ages (just like the others – oops) but a good bookstagram decided it was time to read it, and that was exactly what we did.
This focuses on the story of Achilles and, although that is a similar focus as Madeline Miller’s ‘The Song of Achilles’, it is still an excellent read. This is told from a completely different viewpoint, as this is about the girls who became the ‘prizes’ of the war. They watch Achilles’ story unfold and the world around them change. And I was obsessed, finding it a real page-turner. These women are so strong – however, what really added to my enjoyment was the fact that I could continue to develop my interest in these old tales, but also by the end of this book I had a different opinion of Achilles.
It’s a well-crafted telling of a famous story, which gives a voice to the women and allows them to tell her-story.
On my bookshelves are some more of these retellings, and I will definitely be making sure that they are picked up soon, because it is another world of brilliant stories.
It is my stop for this thrilling read on its blog tour, and I can’t wait to share my thoughts (so I hope you keep reading).
I was gifted a copy of ‘Crooked’ and I know you should not judge a book by its cover, but I was immediately intrigued by this YA thriller. And this continued as soon as I started reading.
You are immediately thrown into the action; in central London, you meet Ash and her friends as they are involved in a bit of a con. It seems to be quite a money maker for the gang, until they select the wrong mark. And, a turn for the worse, as Ash is dragged into conflict with a dangerous London gangster – or two.
Now, this is another brilliant read that I do not want to spoil for you all. However, I can say that something that I thought was excellent about this book is that there are strong, independent female leads. And they are not scared to take on the men.
There are so many twists and turns in this book that you are not sure who you trust – and who the characters trust. I just had to keep reading, keen to know what revelation would come next and who was really conning who.
So, if you love a thrilling read (and an adventure), whatever your age, then this is the book for you. So, why not pick up a copy and give it go?