Sunday, 9 July 2017

Books for the Summer IV

The summer holidays are the perfect time to catch up on some reading. Here, Dr Purves and Mr Burkinshaw reveal what books they are looking forward to this July and August. 

Dr Purves

I didn’t manage to get much of my own reading done last year, concentrating instead on various Julia Donaldson books with my children. So, there are some similarities between this year’s list and last year’s. While I am sure that there will be plenty more time spent reading The Highway Rat, Zog, and The Snail and the Whale, to name but three, I am going to try to make sure I have time to read:

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez– I started reading it (again) last night and fully intend to finish it this time.

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada,- another book which I have started in the past, and which is currently on one of the displays in the school library, and which I fully intend to finish this summer and certainly before I see the film.

Finally, there is a whole pile of education-related books sitting on my desk at home, which I tend to dip in and out of through the year and which I hope to be able to read more fully this summer, including What if everything you knew about education was wrong? by David Didau and Cleverlands by Lucy Crehan, both of which were on the staff summer reading list this year.

Mr Burkinshaw
Like Dr Purves, I imagine there will be quite a lot of Julia Donaldson on the go in our household over the summer.

In addition, I am looking forward to reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, which has taken the reading world by storm over the last few years with its epic account of the various revolutions (cognitive, linguistic, religious, agricultural, scientific, industrial and bio-technological) that have brought our species to where it is today. I am also looking forward to reading his "sequel" (which came out this year), Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, which suggests that the last days of Homo Sapiens are fast approaching as we evolve into "completely different beings who possess not only different physiques but also very different cognitive and emotional worlds, with algorithms embedded in silicon and metal replacing algorithms embedded in flesh".

Last summer, I read Six Facets of Light by Anne Wroe, which has led me to further reading this August. Firstly, Ravilious and Co: The Pattern of Friendship by Andy Friend and Alan Powers, explores the ways in which the luminous art of Eric Ravilious was shaped by his collaboration with artists such as Paul Nash and inspired by his love of the South Downs and other local landscapes. Wroe's book has also prompted me to buy an edited version of the Notebooks of Samuel Coleridge. Unlike his friend, the disciplined and prolific William Wordsworth, Coleridge famously failed to finish most projects that he started (for a host of reasons). However, I would argue that he was the more original, inventive and interesting of the two poets - and his notebooks offer a fascinating insight into the mind of this complex, gifted and troubled man.

Finally, Mr Olson has recommended The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth. Set in the 11th century, the novel is written in a "shadow language" that mixes old and modern English, telling the story of one man's resistance not only to the Norman invasion but also a Christian religion that he sees as having usurped the old pagan traditions.

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