Friday, 8 July 2016

What Are PGS Teachers Reading This Summer

Portsmouth Point asked PGS teachers to reveal what they are looking forward to reading over the summer holidays (or what they have enjoyed reading in summers past). Here we feature selections by Ms BurdenMr Lemieux, Mr Page, Mr Doyle, Senora Nogueira-Pache and Ms Hart

Ms Burden

The Outrun by Amy Liptrot. The reviews sound promising and I came across Mr Gallop reading it at his desk a while ago -  he recommended it. In the autobiography, the author relates how she returned to her isolated childhood home of Orkney to battle with the alcohol addiction she developed when living in London. More information here.

 Hole in the Heart: Bringing up Beth by Henny Beaumont. This is a graphic autobiography as opposed to a graphic novel, and it details the author’s experience of bringing up a child who has Down’s syndrome and neonatal heart condition. I picked the book up in the bookshop at the Hay Festival of Literature and became sucked in, and I’ve also heard the author speak very eloquently on Radio 4. My brother has Down’s syndrome and I can be a little wary of memoirs in this vein, but Hole in the Heart seems funny and very true to life, so far. More information here.

Charlotte Bronte: A Life by Claire Harman. This is another book that I bought at Hay after hearing a talk by the author. I’m a few pages in and expect it to offer some fresh material on one of my favourite Victorian authors. More information here.

Mr Lemieux

I am looking forward to reading Lyndal Roper’s new biography of Martin Luther, Renegade and Prophet. It is one of the few of the (very many) biographies of Luther not written by a church historian, but rather by a historian who specialises in cultural and social history. Reviews suggest she offers some of her reflections into his character based on psychoanalysis. Sounds slightly dubious but she is Regius Professor of History at Oxford so I’m looking forward to a scholarly read with some unexpected (possibly) insights.

Mr Page

Here is a list of books I have read in previous summers - I am not a prolific reader and each one represents the sum total of my reading for each year!!!

1) One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) - epic tale, masterpiece of magical realism, fantasy and reality.

2) The Old Patagonian Express (Paul Theroux) - travel by train from Boston USA to Patagonia, Argentina and experience the thrills, dangers and intrigue that each country along the way has to throw at the lone traveller. The journey is far more important than the arrival.

3) Homage to Barcelona (Colm Tóibín) - a celebration of one of Europe’s greatest cities – a cosmopolitan hub of vibrant architecture, art, culture and nightlife. It moves from the story of the city’s founding and its huge expansion in the nineteenth century to the lives of Gaudí, Miró, Picasso, Casals and Dalí. It also explores the history of Catalan nationalism, the tragedy of the Civil War, the Franco years and the transition from dictatorship to democracy.

4) As I Walked Out One Summer Morning and A Rose For Winter (Laurie Lee) - Abandoning the Cotswolds village that raised him, the young Laurie Lee walks to London. There he makes a living labouring and playing the violin. But, deciding to travel further a field and knowing only the Spanish phrase for 'Will you please give me a glass of water?', he heads for Spain. With just a blanket to sleep under and his trusty violin, he spends a year crossing Spain, from Vigo in the north to the southern coast. Only the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War puts an end to his extraordinary peregrinations.

Andalusia is a passion - and fifteen years after his last visit Laurie Lee returned. He found a country broken by the Civil War, but the totems of indestructible Spain survive: the Christ in agony, the thrilling flamenco cry-the pride in poverty, the gypsy intensity in vivid whitewashed slums, the cult of the bullfight, the exultation in death, the humour of hopelessness-the paradoxes deep in the fiery bones of Spain. Rich with kaleidoscopic images, A Rose for Winter is as sensual and evocative as the sun-scorched landscape of Andalusia itself.

Mr Doyle

Charles Moore’s excellent authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher (Vol II) has been sitting on my shelf since publication but not yet opened – so that is my main treat. By complete contrast, I have just received Tim Pat Coogan’s biography of Michael Collins, prompted by the recent centenary of the Easter Uprising. Also, I am looking forward to reading Chris Bryant’s book on the History of the UK Parliament. Takes us from the earliest records in the 13th century up to the 1800s.

Senora Nogueira-Pache

Close Range by Annie Proulx

Fates and Furies by Laureen Groff

And I hope to finish Middlemarch, which I started  in September 2014... I'm in chapter 47, nearly there!

Ms Hart

Ms Hart's summer reading list/pile
Jane Smiley's Early Warning is the second in this trilogy and is based in America. The story follows a farming family through the 20th century, from early 1900 to present day. The first book was fascinating - I was compelled by the characters and the way in which the reader followed them from birth into adulthood and in once instance, death. It is moving into the Second World War and the world of espionage. 

The Lie Tree is one of the books that was nominated for the Carnegie this year.  It is an interesting read: gothic, Victorian setting, female central protagonist who is fighting against the gender stereotypes of the time ... it is dense, which is why I think some readers have given up with it.  I am going to keep on to the end ....

Owen Sheer's novel was recommended to me by Mrs Kirby. Sheers' poetry is fantastic; it is lively, current and of my generation.  However, I have read the first chapter or so of this and I am not entirely convinced.  We'll see. 

I was given a few books from some of my delightful Year 13s - The Trouble with Women and the Ritz London: A Book of Afternoon Tea, (thank you, Gina Buckle and Lara Wassenberg!).  The former is a hilarious book of sketches about the plight of women through the centuries.  The latter is about the history of high tea at the Ritz and includes lots of amazing recipes.  I have already started both and they are fab.  The kettle is boiling and the cucumber sandwiches are poised!

I am very excited about When the Guns Fall Silent by James Riordan.  It is about the football match that allegedly took place between British and German troops on Christmas Eve during the First World War.  I am looking for an new book to teach to Year 7 and I think that this might be it. 

Love Nina has just finished being aired on BBC 1.  I thought it was brilliant so I felt that I had to read the original. 

The Reason to Stay Alive is part of the PGS Summer Reading for staff.  It is a memoir, really, about the author's fight with depression and how he overcame it.  I have had a flick through and I can already see that this is going to be a moving and enlightening read. 

Spies by Michael Frayn is on the IGCSE syllabus and I plan to teach this to my Year 11 class next year.  It is about a man recalling his memories as a child and it specifically focuses on a moment in his childhood that ended up shaping the rest of his life.  It has had some mixed reviews, especially about the ending, so I look forward to making my own judgement about this one.

I won't mention them all.  I hope that this list might inspire others to get reading this summer!

1 comment:

  1. Loved reading these suggestions, my own To Read pile is going to grow still higher! I'm currently reading Geoff Dyer's 'Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi' - he's a terrific writer, sharp and darkly funny; plus re-reading Australian writer Tim Winton's 'The Turning', inter-linked short stories about growing up, love, obsession, family, memory - exploring 'the ties that bind' and the way the past is never past. I can't wait to see more suggestions!


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