World Book Day 2011 Survey In March 2011 the St Columba’s College English Department blog, www.sccenglish.ie, invited visitors to fill in an online form about their reading preferences. Included was ‘If I had to recommend one book, it would be…’ Hundreds of people from around the world suggested books, and here are some of the recommendations as they appeared on SCC English.
Lisa: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Zafon The Shadow of the Wind was able to depict beautiful and extraordinary characters. Zafon was able to intertwine historical fiction, romance, mystery, a thriller and a coming of age novel splendidly. I would say this would be my all-time number one book. Anonymous: Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fourner Gently inspiring book - never leaves you once it's read. mscoxenglish: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee This is a story that amuses and thrills, mystifies and enlightens, warms your heart and stokes your anger. It's a must for any avid reader. Liam C : The Glass Room by Simon Mawer Beautifully written with excellently drawn characters. It opens up a place and a perspective in WW2 Europe that is an unusual one. Reading this is a strongly visual experience but all the other senses are also challenged to grasp the sense of space and light integral to this place. What is even more interesting is that is a building that exists as a national architectural treasure to this day on the edge of the city of Brno.
debzanne: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger It's part romance, part science fiction, part drama, and part adventure, with a little humor thrown in. When my book club read it, I stayed up the night before the meeting to finish it, and began crying around 2am because the characters were just so beautiful. This is anovel when, truly, the little moments are the most touching; the author does a nice job of writing them without calling attention to them. In recent years, I've convinced two men and one woman to read it, and they've all loved it. Gorgeous book. Anonymous: The Curative by Charlotte Randall This book takes place in a cell in Bedlam, and reveals, eventually, why the narrator/protagonist is there. It is a snapshot too, of the 'medical' practices of the time and is beautifully written. My only niggle is at the end- the main character is incarcerated in chains in damp conditions for a long time, yet he walks... I don't buy that bit, but was absorbed by the rest. Anonymous: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak Haunting, imaginative, and full of truth about one of the darkest periods in human history. I could not stop reading it. @dkdykstra: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver I love how the novel unfolds from the different female characters' points of view. A man takes his family to Africa to serve as missionaries, then stays even though the political climate is dangerous. Each segment starts with narration from the mom, then continues with each sister. The images they paint are still vivid in my mind (I read the book 10 years ago). The anger I felt toward the father when I read it is still palpable, too. Libwithattitude: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak I enjoy reading books set in the 2nd World War and this one kept me enthralled, although it is quite a long read. It had excitement and sadness and made me cry. I liked that it is based on fact and would read it again.....but there are so many other books I want to read! @SpandrewQ: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas They say revenge is a dish best served cold. Edmond Dantes serves it sub zero. The way in which he takes his revenge on those who betray him beggars belief. A must read! clouter1 : To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Read this when in school and it never really got my attention. Read it 10 years later when a bit more mature and couldn't put it down, an amazing book! A must-read for everyone. @matthljones: Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift Satire at its best. Ever wondered where â€˜Yahooâ€™ came from...? 2
Dazzld: Skippy Dies by Paul Murray This is the darkest, funniest book I have read this year. It is laugh-outloud funny and achingly sad and captures the teen years in all their glory! tgaletti: Bill Bryson's Down Under (or if kidlit any book by Michael Morpurgo) Bill Bryson's book about Australia is simply the most hilarious - while very informative - book I have ever read. I re-read my favorite parts over and over again. When recommending the book I always warn people not to read the book in public - it can get embarrassing if you laugh out loud and uncontrollably. The book is a real treat and will definitely make the reader want to see Australia. For children I always recommend master storyteller Michael Morpurgo - nothing beats his amazing stories and I yet have to meet the kid who does not get hooked by his books. Jenny: War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy It's a complete novel covering many facets of Russian life before and during the Napoleonic wars. It has something for everyone - romance, comedy, drama, action and history. Anon: The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton A great book to appeal to teenagers. Penny: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams Unusual: it makes me laugh out loud (horse is brilliant). I love stories which challenge time - it is very thoughtful. Anne: The Road by Cormac McCarthy Brilliantly written. Gripping story that turns your head (and heart) inside out. Thoughts of McCarthy's world as a possible reality will stay with you for days/weeks/months after you've put it down. Unforgettable, really. DonnaDB : To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee I first read Mockingbird as a high school sophomore in the early 60's. It was the first novel that really engaged me at both a story and a moral level. Later, as a teacher of English, I taught the novel several times. By then, it was through the lens of the civil rights movement. Later still, the background of the story started to become a little foreign. In the Northeast, Jim Crow laws were historic footnotes; civil rights marches almost relegated to WW II status. However, the novel itself and the character of Atticus Finch have continued to inspire readers. It is, above all, a story of choosing to do the right thing, regardless of the consequences. Peter Lydon: The Day the Universe Changed, by James Burke Just such a good read about the modernisation of the world. 3
Cristina: What Makes Us Human, by Charles Pasternak Because it is a wonderful combination of scientific data from neurology, evolutionary psychology and humor! George: Swimsuit by James Patterson It is a fast action packed page-turner, which gives the reader little or no choice in making the decision to put the book down. However it is graphic and not for the squeamish. Dr Stone: An Ice-Cream War by William Boyd It is a novel set in a fascinating time and place (East Africa during World War I), brilliantly written with wonderful use of words and an interestingly structured approach to time and narrative. The characters are brilliantly drawn and the evocation of the human condition in all its vagaries is sympathetic and well conceived. Mrs Heffernan: Room by Emma Donoghue If you enjoy books in which the content allows your mind to grapple and question long after you have finished then this is for you. It, on initial read, begins playing with your emotions from the first page. It's sad! However it slowly develops into a happy and occasionally funny, in part, ending. It's about a mother and son living in captivity after she was abducted many years before. It's set in America, so the subject matter is quite relevant in view of recent real cases of the same thing there. I can't think of any one word that will explain to a prospective reader what this book encapsulates maybe just 'must read'. Tristan: 1,000 Years Annoying the French by Stephen Clarke It's a grown up version of the Horrible Histories I used to read as a child. A very humorous, and only slightly biased, look at Anglo-French relations for the past thousand years. Viva-Bavaria: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank Anne and her family moved to Amsterdam in 1933 after the Nazis gained power in Germany, and were trapped by the occupation of the Netherlands, which began in 1940. It tells the story of a Jewish girl, hiding in a office building, in her early teens and describes both the joys and torments of daily life. Anne Frank's diary is often said to be "classic" and a book of contemporary world literature and yet no lesser designation serves. The book speaks for itself. It gives another perspective to World War II. This is the true story of a group of people who are living in hope and fear. It is a truly remarkable book. Emma Dawson: The Graveyard by Neil Gaiman It's a very clever, witty story which is just a bit different to most.
LizzySiddal: Effi Briest, by Theodor Fontane It's the best German novel of the nineteenth century .... and knocks the spots off Madame Bovary. @antheald: Waterland, by Graham Swift I wouldn't want to say this is the best book ever, but it caught me at an important time (I read it in the sixth form) and it tapped into aspects of my life at the time, my having left a school with the scientific bias of like that of Tom's, the schoolteacher narrator. The novel opened up for me some of the themes and ideas that would become important in my further studies, my teaching and indeed my life. It is at one level a crackingly well-told story that can be seen in the tradition of Dickens (I would later see the connection with Great Expectations) or, perhaps more closely, Hardy, but it is also very much a novel of ideas, about the very nature of storytelling and of the nature of man, who "tells, if only to himself, if only to an audience he is forced to imagine, a story." Thus I see it as leading me on to other works that have become favourites and that I considered for my 'desert island' book, by the likes of Umberto Eco, and Milan Kundera, as well as showing me the way back via the Victorians to Sterne, Chaucer and beyond. Simon: The Cherub series I enjoyed these books and they are very popular now but I only found out about them last year and I have read twelve books already and I didn't get bored once. The author is Robert Muchamore for those interested and the names of the books are; 1) The Recruit- 2) Class A- 3) Maximum Security- 4) The killing- 5) Divine Madness 6)Man Vs Beast- 7) The Fall- 8) Mad Dogs- 9) The Sleepwalker- 10) The General- 11) Brigand MC12) Shadow Wave... These books are for ages 12+ Allison: Half the Sky, Nicholas Kristoff This book is a moving account of the tragedy of human trafficking and the terrible living conditions of countless women in the developing world. Reading it has made me more aware of how blessed I am, and has left me looking for ways to make a difference. Brendy: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney Margie: To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee It considers everything- growing up, parents and children, moral and ethical choices, racism, the "other," suspense, law and order, strength of character, unselfish love- through rich characters you love and hate and a plot filled with suspense and emotion. I can't think of much more that could be created so skilfully within the covers of one book.
CAN : Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout I loved the writing, the characters, etc. All linger with you long after the book is over. Several of the stories - "Starving,' "Little Burst," "Incoming Tide" - have imprinted themselves on my heart. My students have loved them as well.
Maggie: Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin Elsewhere could easily fit in the category of coming-of-age novel, but for the problem that the main character is dead and she is growing younger every day. Still, Liz learns all kinds of important lessons in Elsewhere! I've never met anyone who didn't enjoy this book, and I have shared it with nearly 1000 students since it was published. JY: The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins It is a cross between 1984, Mad Max Thunderdome and reality T.V. It grabs you from the start and then is full of twists and turns. I usually don't like reading series books because the second and third are usually knock-offs of the first book, but with this series, I could not stop until I had read all three! And also recommended by Karen: I choose this series because it seems to be universally appealing - to readers and nonreaders alike. Some of my students who have never finished a book before on their own often read this entire series. The story and characters are captivating to people of all ages. Tweeter of Wit: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald As a tale of love and dreams set against a backdrop of recession and corruption, this is a timeless novel which resonates today as it did in 1920s America. Gatsby is a tragic hero for the twentieth century, and in Nick Carraway we have the template of the involved narrator. Some of the imagery is sufficiently beautiful to be moving, and the lyrical ending is a stunning resolution, following a denouement which has revealed the moral bankruptcy of many of the characters. Caragh Little, Head of English, Loreto College Coleraine Christopher North Jr: Njal's Saga I love the literature of Iceland. They have the oldest standing sort of democratically elected parliament, the Althing, which dates back to the ninth century. Their sagas contain bits of history; they are exciting stories and very novelistic, and Tolkien stole much of Lord of the Rings from these stories. I could go on to recommend Egil's Saga, The Volsunga Saga, The Prose Edda (or The Deluding of Gylfi, that does for Germanic myth what Ovid does for Greek and Roman myth in The Metamorphoses). We learn stuff about the Vikings from these stories we might never have known.
English Companion Ning Member: Steppenwolf, by Herman Hesse It is first among equals, since you are only allowed one [recommendation]. Teresa: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card There's something for everyone in this book-- action, adventure, psychology, friendship, manipulation, surprise... I've read it and reread it tens of times and every time I like it more! Jennifer: Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury This book never fails to send shivers down my spine. It's beautifully written and poetic, full of both hope and despair. I never get tired of rereading it and I take something different away from it every time. Patricia: The Hours, by Michael Cunningham A paean to life, love and loss, it made me glad to be alive. woodrowbound: The Help by Kathryn Stockett I loved the characters in this story, the historical context, the bigotry from both black and white women and the sense of justice prevailing... It was a cracking read and is now being turned into a film. Set in the 1960s, around the time of racial discontent, Dr Martin Luther King and the KKK, it tells the story of African -American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi. The novel is told from the perspective of three characters: Aibileen Clark, a middle-aged African-American maid who has spent her life raising white children and has recently lost her only son; Minny Jackson, an African-American maid who has often offended her employers despite her family's struggles with money and her desperate need for jobs; and Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, a young white woman who has recently moved back home after graduating college to find out her childhood maid has mysteriously disappeared. These three stories intertwine to explain how life in Jackson, Mississippi revolves around "the help"; yet they are always kept at a certain distance because of racial lines. Adam: Anathem by Neal Stephenson Martial Art Maths Monks who save the future! This book changed how I thought about fiction. It is an amazing story, a fantastic adventure, a sprawling, epic science fiction story. The discovery of the plot, along with the characters, makes the actual book a fascinating look at maths. Along with many world theory, quantum mechanics â€Ś Also - Martial Art Maths Monks who save the future! What else do you need to know?
halfajack: Orlando by Virginia Woolf It's probably the most accessible of Woolf's novels. It is a wonderful piece of fantasy exploring gender roles and expectations. @ebd35 : To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee One of the books which should be on everyone's must-read list! George: The Rabbit Quartet, by John Updike Outstanding writing, believable characters and memorable scenes. This is an accessible and absorbing quartet which is highly recommended. Anonymous: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry A brilliant insight into the caste system in India - taking the reader from rural India into the city through the eyes of two leather workers who try to buck the system. Their fate is hanging in a very fine balance. TREE - Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood It is an amalgam of so many different genres and from beginning to end is as enigmatic as the eponymous 'heroine'. A superb read. Anonymous - Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese Just finished this book. Very good. Have started to read it all over again! Story of twins from the time their mother arrived in Africa till their 50th birthday. Very interesting with some history thrown in (though not very accurate dates). Laura Nicosia: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins This is one of the best series I've EVER read- it is written with a craftsman's hand and pushes the boundaries of young adult and dystopian fiction in ways that engage all readers and touch lives. Kel: Rampant by Diana Peterfreund The protagonist is a kick-butt teenager named Astrid who fights killer unicorns and finds herself in the process. I'm always looking for a good literary role model for my female high school students. Michael: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Schaffer& Anne Barrow It has history, biography and it is a very human book! emmao: A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf Simple, easy read, inspiring, contemporary.
Ms Smith: Death and Nightingales by Eugene McCabe This isn't strictly my favourite book - but a book I think anyone who is familiar with the Irish landscape should read. Its story startles and moves, and the characters are simply unforgettable: I have the feeling that they're lurking low in the ditches of Fermanagh right now.
Neil : Old School, by Tobias Wolff This novel is a book about the joys of reading and writing, the story it tells is simple yet profound, and its spare style means that it seems there is not a word in it that is wasted. @NL_84 : The Silver Linings Playbook, by Matthew Quick The most "different" book I've read in quite a while! It's not too often that a book grabs me and refuses to let go, but that's what happened with this delightful novel. Get it, read it, you won't be disappointed. healigan: Beowulf Perfect, intoxicating, authentic, powerful. Just one of my all-time favorite stories. I want to BE Beowulf. I love that he does not waste time talking, and he is confident without being arrogant. He is not afraid, NOT AFRAID, ever. He never hesitates. He know what needs to be done and does it. Life is never that simple now. He is sure, loyal, and invincible: and he uses his gifts to protect and serve others. If ever the world needed an example of what it means to be a hero, this is the time. And Beowulf is the hero. dippy dwynwen : The Crucible by Arthur Miller It's perfect! Exquisite language, fabulous characters, weighty themes. Plot and drama all cooked up in a hot, hot crucible. Jonesey: A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson It's an excellent read that looks at the history of scientific discovery as well as the history of the universe. It's eminently readable and enjoyable. There is also a children's version of the book; both versions are available in our library! CarolKW: A Family Affair, by Tony Parsons Good modern day fiction about the trials and tribulations of three sisters in Britain today.
Anseo a Mhuinteoir : Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery It's an old classic that as a child I loved and would recommend to anyone in that coming of age stage. There is not a single character who can come close to Anne Shirley and not a book in the world can compare in regards to character development, story line and enjoyment to any young reader or readers reliving their youth! Eloise-Louise: How To Live: A Life of Montaigne by Sarah Bakewell The title is, I assume humorous. How to Cook, How to Play Cribbage, How to Live to a Hundred... How to Live is based on the life and writings of the 16th century essayist Michel de Montaigne. Montaigne, his life, his times and the philosophy of his Essays are explored by Sarah Bakewell in a witty and readable way. This book is highly entertaining and quite persuasive about the big questions. Montaigne loved to think about how to die - ironic in terms of the title! This was my favourite part of the book. It seems he was the first person to write about everyday life and his own feelings in an intimate way. boscolib : The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do Why? Because it's a reminder to us that we share a common humanity and we should all be a little kinder. It's written by an Australian comedian who was also a "boat person". His brother became Young Australian of the Year. Their journey from Vietnamese refugees to successful Australians wasn't easy, but Anh tells the story with humour and hope. I'm not sure if will hit the bookstores in Ireland. I enjoy your tweets - inspiring stuff! Anonymous: The Alchemist, by Michael Scott Yeah it's a great book and I recommend it to peoples of all ages! Anne: anything by Alexander McCall Smith Life-affirming gentle humour. 10
AnaT : Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult It has everything...tension, believable characters you can relate to, a familiar school setting, and above all it gives a true insight into the minds of teenagers and what motivates them to act the way they do. The narrative is pacy and the situations realistic...you simply cannot help but keep turning the pages on! I missed that one when I finished it! Dana Huff: Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly I haven't read a book lately that grabbed me so quickly and wouldn't let go like Revolution. It's a great story with great pop culture references, a smart heroine, and interesting locales.
@fboss: A Teaspoon and an Open Mind - The Science of Dr. Who by Michael White Great combination of fact-based science and thoughts on what might be - and you can't top the Dr. Mags: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson It lets me know where I stand in the universe. I read it again every year once now, and feel better each time - even though I promptly forget most of the details. The scientific explanations are accessible and told with gentle irony. I love it. Scotty : Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo This book was inspiring to read at a young age. It is a true story about a boy left in the wilderness. I recommend it to anyone, for this book looks at the lives that other people live and the huge differences to ours. tse : Of Marriageable Age by Scott Maas There are 3 story lines in this that you can't quite connect until 他 of the way through. When one character finally catches a glimpse of one of the other characters you know and love, it's just pure magic! @fellfromatree: No Time For Goodbyes by Linwood Barclay The book has a very intricate plot line, and so many twists and turns that I couldn't bring myself to put it down...I just HAD to know what was coming next! CIC: The Housekeeper and the Professor, by Ogawa Yoko A simple story, beautifully told, about love, loss... and maths! Anonymous : The Catcher in the Rye by J.D.Salinger. It's the ultimate coming-of-age novel that every teenager should read. At first it may seem dated but it deals with the anxieties associated with growing up and finding one's identity and there is something in Holden that everyone can relate to, regardless of era and geography. 11
David - http://dublin.cervantes.es : Persona Non Grata, by Jorge Edwards In 1970 Jorge Edwards was sent by socialist Chilean President Salvador Allende as his country's first envoy to break the diplomatic blockade that had sealed Cuba for over a decade. His arrival coincided with the turning point of the Revolution, when Castro began to repress the very intellectuals he once courted. In Kafkaesque detail, Edwards records the four explosive months he spent in Havana trying to open a Chilean embassy and his disenchantment with the revolution.
Naomi : The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norman Jester I loved this when I was growing up. I enjoyed this book so much with my own boys and read it a few times on my own. A combination of “delicious” use of language and ideas that are so true, relate to life so well! One example: a child who grows from top down, and wonders how we do it our way! The older you get you keep seeing things from a different perspective when you grow UP but when you grow DOWN your perspective doesn’t change. What a great discussion-opener with children!
carlaleeB : To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee This book changed my life as a very young person. As a classic it has been loved by many over the decades but for me it is timeless. It made me aware of injustice and the power of love and friendship on a global level. It tweaked my interest in and love for both History and English. The characters wove a spell over me that has not been broken to this day. I have re-read it many times and secretly cherish the moments when a pupil I teach discovers its magic. I have some wonderful artistic representations of the novel and its many themes that were created by students adorning my classroom wall. Students always ask about the book. There are many truly great books in the world but for me it's this one from my childhood that lingers still.
Vicky Loras : Istanbul, by Orhan Pamuk I love this book for the reason that Pamuk does not only describe the city as if you would only go to travel there. He describes his whole life there, the history, the customs and mentality. I fell in love with this city just by reading the book!
Lots of book recommendations from an online survey carried out on www.sccenglish.ie