Here, Dr Richmond, Ms Hart and Mr Oliver reveal what books they are looking forward to this July and August.
This summer I will be re-reading Germaine Greer’s book The Female Eunuch. This was an international bestseller in 1970 and 1971 and it nearly sold out on its second printing run in 1971. The book is an important text in the feminist movement which argues that the traditional consumerist and nuclear family represses women sexually rendering them eunuchs. She goes on to say society has been shaped by masculine domination and women need to rise up and fight against the male species by starting a sexual revolution. For Greer, women should not burn their bras because “if you make bralessness a rule, you’re subjecting yourself to yet another repression”. I used to despise feminism and could not see a real problem and only read the book to join the criticism of it: but I have revised my view in light of the #metoo campaign (I am aware that Greer hates this movement as it brandishes women as victims yet again). Therefore, on my second reading of her book this summer I will read it with fresh insight and as a woman desiring equality and fairness.
I am excited about summer reading this year. My daughter, Lily (7), has discovered the joys of curling up with a book and has been taken under Dr Webb’s wing with her reading list. My son, Ivan (4), also delights in visits to our local library and loves to grab a book and perch himself in the library’s large model train. So, for me, summer looks to be one full of reading out loud, sharing delightful picture books and sitting in the sun to read my own selection whilst the kids play in their new summer house.
I have already raided the Sixth Form collection but also have chosen to read a number of young adult novels, most notably this year’s Carnegie Medal winner Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean. Dr Webb has already got me hooked on it after sharing a dramatic extract!
After Sophie Whitehead recommended Room by Emma Donoghue to me about three years ago, I have finally got round to taking it out and I am really excited about reading it. I remember Sophie being completely animated when talking about it so I am hoping it will be a real page-turner.
My delightful book group (you know who you are) have challenged each other to read Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace after I managed to get them hooked on The Handmaid’s Tale. I read it years ago when it first came out so it is a joy to return to it. I have to admit to having already ploughing through a large portion of it. It is fantastic.
I have become a little addicted to parenting books. Parenting is one of the hardest things that I have ever done so any advice and guidance that I can get my hands on I’ll take it!
I watched Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy on TV about four years ago. It was superb so I figured that I really do need to read the book.
Mrs Bell waxed lyrical about The Essex Serpent last summer so I have decided to have a go at this one with the view to recommending it to Year 12s English Literature pupils who are deciding on coursework texts next year.
Lastly, I love Ali Smith’s work and I have heard her speak a lot on Radio 4. I have to admit being enticed by the front cover ...
The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester: I am looking forward to finding time this summer to re-read this very creepy but gorgeously written thriller. The narrator is a foodie and the novel takes the apparent form of an unconventional cookbook, but is something quite different. Not an easy read, the prose is closely written and demanding, but repays careful reading. Recommended for any Sixth Formers studying English or considering reading English at university.
A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro: Continuing the theme of unreliable narrators, this novel is recounted by an opaque and elliptical voice that we eventually discover cannot be trusted. Ishiguro is one of my favourite writers and this was his debut novel. While he specialises in self-deluded narrators who lack self-knowledge, Etsuko, the narrator of A Pale View of Hills, is in a league of her own. Another demanding novel, requiring close and careful reading, thus it is on my summer re-read list, but again, a great choice for those studying English at A Level/IB and considering reading English at degree level.