Essential Reading

to kill a mockingbird

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Actually, it’s quite a sad day in the literary world, with the news breaking  yesterday that Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird, had died at the age of 89. I really must get round to reading that. Perhaps next up once I’ve finished one of the books I’m currently reading. I have to admit I have never read it, although I do know that it has been on the curriculum for years, so many others have read it at school. I think it was on the syllabus when I was doing my GCSEs at high school years ago, but four out of our eight English sets studied English Literature as well as English Language, so the set texts were divided between the four sets. I would have to find out which books, poems and plays others studied, but I’m pretty sure Harper Lee’s novel would have been one of them.

For the record, our main novel in my set was Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and our play was Macbeth, about which I am sure our Shakespeare-mad teacher, Mrs Walsh, was delighted! We also studied Animal Farm by George Orwell, and quite a bit of First World War poetry, particularly by Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. The poems were not from a specific anthology, but I can recommend the Penguin Book of First World War Poetry should you wish to read any poems from that conflict.

I have put a question out on Facebook, both on my timeline, and on the book group I run, so we shall see if I get any responses about what other people studied when they were at school, and whether anyone read To Kill a Mockingbird as one of their set texts. I am sure quite a few people will have done so.

Reading, however, has to start years before you’re in an examination hall at high school. A love of books needs to start at home before you’ve even started school! Doesn’t matter what your background is, you don’t have to be well-off. We weren’t particularly flush when I was younger, but I had books of my own and also used to go to Eccles Library. My sister and I were regular patrons of the children’s library there when we were little! In this day and age, despite cutbacks, there are still libraries around, and there are also charity shops, so you can still borrow books for free or buy them pretty cheaply. My link is for a blog by the author James Patterson, and his blog entry about how a love of reading needs to start in infancy.

http://www.jamespatterson.com/about_we-can-get-kids-reading.php#.VscvnfmLTIV

There are a couple of provisos to that, I’d say. Firstly, that it depends on the age of the child. Even if they are an advanced reader for their age, there are some books which wouldn’t be suitable for them until they are older due to the subject matter. For example, I wouldn’t advise that they read erotica until they are of the age of consent.

Obviously, they will need factual books about the facts of life long before they are old enough to put some of them into practice. I think my mum gave me the book she had had on this matter when I was about 9 or 10. Everything from how you came into this world and how you changed from boys and girls into men and women, to relationships, courting, and some sexually transmitted diseases to watch out for. However, this book had come out years ago, so there was no mention of HIV or AIDS, which was unknown until the 1980s when I was a kid! I was a teenager when the whole “don’t die of ignorance” campaign hit our TV screens in around 1987.

The book I’d been given, The Facts of Life by Cirrel Greet, was very helpful to an extent, but a couple of books which came out during my teen years were really good at giving a more updated message and information on the birds and the bees… The Diary of a Teenage Health Freak, and I’m A Health Freak Too, both by Aidan McFarlane gave us the essential facts, as far as they were known, presented to a teenage readership in the late 1980s. Sex, drugs, alcohol addiction… the same stuff you get at school in Personal, Social and Health Education lessons, but without the cringing that such classes induce! I’m sure they’ve probably been updated further for today’s teens, or that teens today have similar books to help them through life. Chlamydia would need to be mentioned in today’s facts of life books.

The other matter is that I would be against stereotyping when it comes to subject matters kids might want to read about. Not all boys want to read about typical “boy” subjects, and not all girls want to read about typical “girl” subjects, and one girl recently caused publishing houses to have a rethink about their books and put an end to the gender-based titles they were putting out. Whether they are a girl or a boy, find out what interests them and encourage them to read books on those themes. Girls might be just as likely as boys to want to read books about football these days! This is 2016, not the 1950s! Plenty of us women and girls go to matches these days, and do so of our own choice. We are NOT dragged there unwillingly by fellas! This September, it will be 25 years since I first became a matchgoing Red! Yep, I will have reached my quarter century of going to Old Trafford on 7th September 2016!

I like the sound of the “Knowledge Is Power Program” which Patterson mentions in his blog, and would easily have been able to go along with that, reading at least 20 books a year and carrying a book around with me at all times! Indeed, I carry three books round in my handbag at present, although I’m getting towards the end of Fight Club, so I’ll need another Handbag Book soon! He is also right about rewarding kids for reading non-fiction books, such as books of world records and suchlike. Whatever gets people reading, as I have said previously, is a good thing. You have to find out what floats their boat and encourage them to read books on the matter.

Hmmm…. now here’s a challenge for James Patterson… perhaps he could find out what, if anything other than himself, interests Kanye West?! The rapper has stated he is a proud non-reader of books. I personally believe there are books out there for everyone. Yes, even Kanye! Perhaps he had crap books foisted on him at school, ones which didn’t appeal to him. That has been known to put a lot of kids off reading. Whatever the root of Kanye’s book-related issues, surely there must be SOME books he might like?!

Charity shop book bargains Feb 2016

Anyway, been a busy old week on the book-buying front. All cheap ones, I must add. The top row in this photo were all purchased on Tuesday, and the bottom two on Thursday. Ranging in price from £1.50 right down to 25p! Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Sisters Brothers will probably end up as duplicate books. I am pretty sure I might already still have copies of those two somewhere. It’s just that I am not sure where the hell they are. I didn’t see them in my recent sort-outs in my room and the garage, so they are not somewhere where I can put my hands on them easily. Therefore I decided it was reasonable to get copies in at charity shop prices (I paid £1.50 for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and just a quid for The Sisters Brothers) so I have the books to hand. I know where one Truman Capote book is, it’s on the landing, near the bathroom, but that’s In Cold Blood, which I have already read a few years ago.

The Book Lovers’ Companion is one of those book recommendation books. It has a forward by Lionel Shriver, but it’s basically just a list of 200 other books you might want to read if you’re stuck for ideas. That one set me back £1.50 like the Capote, so those two were the dearest of the five books. The least expensive of the five books, setting me back a mere 25 pence, was The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. I picked that up at Start in Salford where I do my crafting twice a week. I have given them some of my books for their shelves.

Then we come on to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, the book I ummed and aahed over a bit in the St Ann’s Hospice shop on Monton Road. It’s a chunky one! A VERY chunky one! Good job I was sitting down last night when I decided to see just how long it was… 1006 pages! But it only cost me £1. That’s a lot of book for a quid, isn’t it?!

I also bought three books when I was at Bents Garden Centre on Wednesday. Not really quite the bargains which charity shop books can be, although The World To Come by Dara Horn was only 99p, but the other two were in a two for £5 deal, and I chose Saving Agnes by Rachel Cusk, and Wolves In Winter by Lisa Hilton.

I should not really overlook books in other formats, though. I have never actually listened to an audiobook, other than a brief sample the other day, when I listened to an excerpt from The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon. Not sure I’d get round to listening to them, though, unless I end up commuting some distance on a regular basis. Might have come in handy when I worked in Chorlton for three years, or, previously, the three years in the early 90s when I was a student in Bolton. My bus journeys in those days took around 45 to 50 minutes.

I do, however, have a Kindle, and I also have a Kindle app on both my mobile phone and my iPad, so I shouldn’t really ignore the stuff I have on there, and I recently purchased and downloaded Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithian. Of the various themes and subject matters I like reading about, music is very high up on my list! Perhaps, in my next blog, I should have a look at some of the stuff I have on my Kindle…

Anyway, for now, that is about all, otherwise we would be on for another epic blog, and I guess you are still recovering from the one I posted the other day! So, until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • Macbeth – William Shakespeare
  • Animal Farm – George Orwell
  • The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry  -Various
  • The Facts of Life – Cirrel Greet
  • The Diary of a Teenage Health Freak – Aidan McFarlane
  • I’m A Health Freak, Too! – Aidan McFarlane
  • Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
  • The Sisters Brothers – Patrick de Witt
  • In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
  • The Book Lovers’ Companion – Lionel Shriver (forward)
  • The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke
  • The World To Come – Dara Horn
  • Saving Agnes – Rachel Cusk
  • Wolves In Winter – Lisa Hilton
  • The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
  • Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn & David Levithian
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Filed under Adult Fiction, Authors, Books, Childrens' Books, Duplicate Books List, E-Books & Audiobooks, Facebook & Other Social Media, Literary Issues, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Poetry, School, College & Uni Reading, YA Books

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