Discussion

Back to School Reading List | Autumn 2017

As I’m writing this, I have one week until I go back to sixth form, and when this post publishes, it’ll be one day (aaaahhh!) I’m sort of dreading starting year 13, especially after a really great summer. I’ve done so many cool things but now I’m preparing to return to a non-existent social life and even more academic pressure than I’ve ever had before.

Sooo, how am I gonna cope with that? BOOKS!

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This blog post is a list of all of the books I hope to read in the (little) free time I have during my first school term.

Disclaimer: I will probably not read all of these books during my first term back. I’m going to be so busy. But the IDEA of reading them is comforting to me, so this post is still valid, right? Without further ado, here’s the five books I’d like to read:

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Haddon Hall: Where David Invented Bowie by Néjib

My dad picked up a copy of this graphic novel, but I had to steal it from him! It’s a portrait of David Bowie’s life, right at the start of his career, documenting his time in Haddon Hall. I’m local to Beckenham and this place Bowie used to live, so I thought it would be a really interesting read. The cover is so vibrant!

Awkward and Definition: The High School Chronicles by Ariel Schrag

I purchased Likewise, another graphic novel by Schrag, before realising I didn’t own the precious books in the series. This graphic novel collects the first two memoirs she wrote, whilst still in high school. I’ve read so many fantastic reviews of this relatable and quirky memoir series, so I’m really eager to start it. And what better time to read it than my last year at school?

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Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

adored Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the original book and the film. It’s probably one of my all-time favourite YA books. Despite having first read Miss Peregrine’s a while ago, I’ve never gotten around to its sequel. I’m putting this at the top of my TBR pile as I think it’ll be the perfect book for escapism on study breaks.

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Post Truth: The New War on Truth and How to Fight Back by Matthew D’ancona

One of my new resolutions is to read more non-fiction; more specifically about politics and society. It’s hard to stay away from the news in the current political climate, but so-called “fake news” has become so common that it’s difficult to know when and how to respond. I’m hoping to learn a lot from this!

They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery

I’ve read so much about Black Lives Matter, but only in small snippets across social media. I’ve wanted to educate myself more about the situation of police brutality in America, so this book has been on my radar for the past few months. The writer is a journalist, who reported on related events over a number of years. This is going to be a very hard-hitting read, but I know it’ll also give me much more insight into an important movement.


 

So, those are the books I’m planning on reading in Autumn! Have you read any? What’s on your own reading list? Leave a comment 🙂

Discussion

Required Reading: Books I Would Put on the Curriculum

Particularly in the last three years, following Michael Gove’s decision to axe American literature from the GCSE English reading list, I’ve paid close attention to the types of literature I’ve been exposed to in school. Here’s all the books I’ve studied from year six to year twelve:

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These books are great and generate a lot of discussion. This year, I’ve really enjoyed Tess of the d’Urbervilles. I don’t mean to say these texts aren’t worthy of studying – but classrooms would hugely benefit from more diverse and current books, especially from this century. This is already happening, to a certain extent – for example, with Noughts and Crosses.

I think YA is more likely to make an impact on a student’s life. The YA section in a bookstore is where you’ll find some of the most influential and life-changing reads, as well as a plethora of diverse stories. So much of what I read in these categories spark important discussions.

In my opinion, the current syllabuses fail to do so – of course, there’s discussion of race and patriarchy, but often in the context of eras gone by. As important as historical literature is, it’s also integral to make syllabuses inclusive of books that deal with issues in the current state of the world.

It’s also so vital children see themselves represented. I’m yet to find literature by authors of any Asian origin on a syllabus, and LGBT* representation is shockingly sparse. The ratio of black and female authors to white and male authors is also far from equal on reading lists.

So, what would I put on the curriculum?

A while ago, I wrote a post based on a Twitter discussion, about what books others would like to see in school. I wanted to revisit this idea, using some of my recent reads! Without further ado, here’s a shortlist of books I’d give students, if I had the power:

if you could be mine

GCSE and A Level: If You Could Be Mine is a beautifully written book about two girls in Iran, who have feelings for one another but can’t express it publicly. It would be awesome to see an Iranian author on the syllabus, and the story is an emotional one with lots of themes to be talked about in class, from sexuality and religion to society and tradition.

george

Middle Grade Reading: George would be a fantastic book to discuss with younger pupils. Not only is it a really fun, heartwarming read – it’s also the perfect way to start a discussion about gender with children and promote tolerance of trans kids. Trans children are more likely to feel alienated and be victims of bullying in school: wouldn’t it be incredible for them to see themselves in the books they read?

 

the bunker diary

A Level: The Bunker Diary is controversial, to say the least, and it’s incredibly hard hitting. That’s why I hesitated to put this on the list. But I think it would be fascinating to analyse for students who would feel comfortable talking about its themes. In particular, the narrative is a really interesting point; it’s constantly evolving and switching as the protagonist spends longer in the bunker.

the hate u give

GCSE: Especially on the GCSE curriculum, opportunity to talk about current events is very limited. Police brutality and racism in America is a really important topic to engage students in so they’re aware and informed. The Hate U Give is perfect for this. It’s also a fantastic read that’s hard to put down.

wide awake

GCSE and A Level: Wide Awake is definitely underrated and I’m always eager to recommend David Levithan! The current state of the US is pretty depressing, but this book explores the idea of a gay Jewish president being elected, and the diverse celebration surrounding his campaign. It’s brilliant! David Levithan’s writing is absolutely beautiful and it would be so wonderful for it to be reflected on in classrooms.

 

wonder

Middle Grade Reading: Wonder has to be on this list! I’m pretty sure some primary schools have already used this book as a talking point. Wonder is written from multiple perspectives and follows Auggie as he starts mainstream school with a facial deformity. This book is so heartwarming and has already inspired so many young people to promote kindness.

What books would you put on the curriculum?

 

 

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Trying to be organised: How I Blog

I’ve always wanted to make a post on how, exactly, I go about blogging – though I wasn’t too sure how to write the post. What do I talk about? It struck me that I literally have no coherent method of blogging. The way I do things is completely all over the place. I know many bloggers who have organised schedules and simple ways of doing things, but I am not one of those people…

Then, I realised, maybe my disorganisation would make an interesting blog post! In no way is my blog professional or organised, but read on for a look at all of the tools I use, to attempt to be 😛

Firstly, for notes and drafts, I use Evernote and OneNote (When I don’t have a notebook around). I use Evernote the most, to jot down random paragraphs of reviews or mini to-do / to-read lists.

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When I’m not at my computer or with my phone, I have a notebook available. I used to try to keep my notebooks organised – one journal, one scrapbook, one blogging notebook and one for school work… But everything ends up all over the place. At the moment everything I write down / scrapbook about is in one journal because last year I was using about four notebooks at once. Confuzzling! The GIF on the right is of all of the notebooks I’ve used for writing and blogging over the past year or so.

IMG_3872Probably the biggest and most useful site for me is Goodreads. Hurrah for Goodreads! I do not know how I survived before I signed up: It’s my source (And is for most bloggers!) for synopses, book jackets, publication information… and for tracking my reading. The Goodreads challenge stats come in useful for when I want to clearly see what I’ve been reading so I can choose what to review next.

IMG_3866Another online tool I’ve started using again is Excel. Last year, I attempted to make a spreadsheet of ARCs, so I knew what books to read and review before certain dates. I think I used it for about three months, but it just got abandoned! However,  I’m trying it again this year. I don’t receive an overwhelming amount of proofs to the point where I lose track of things; a main reason I’m doing a spreadsheet for 2015 is to try a new skill. ICT was randomly dropped from my curriculum at school, so I’m resorting to teaching myself spreadsheet skillz.

And, of course, I always use PicMonkey to create images! There are so many photo editing and graphic design programs and sites out there, but PicMonkey is pretty much the only one I use. I always go to it when I need to edit photos for posts, and I’ve used the fonts, overlays & effects to create every graphic on this blog – from my header to the occasional infographic.

If you’re a blogger, what’s your favourite way to create and organise? 🙂

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New Books! #51

NewBooksMemeBanner1I haven’t written up a book haul post in a few weeks – so here are all of the books I’ve bought and received over the couple of weeks of summer!

A little while ago I also re-homed my TBR pile, from the wardrobe it was all stacked in to bigger bookshelves. I did a rough count and it’s now around 200 books long… And I’ve run out of shelf space again… oops.

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Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road was a really beautiful book store, so I was really sad to see it closing down! (Though I think they’re relocating somewhere, but to a smaller place) They had a sale of all of their remaining stock, so I picked up a copy of Julie Berry’s début – I have an ARC, but the finished copy is pretty… And also I was really excited to see some bloggers including myself quoted inside! I also spotted Ajax Penumbra 1969 – loved Robin Sloan’s Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore and had no idea the prequel was even available in stores – I couldn’t not buy it:D

IMG_0235Morden Hall Park has a really pretty second-hand bookshop, where everything is under a pound, so naturally I got a bit carried away!:D I picked up some books I’ve read really great things about – and also the complete works of Shakespeare because, after studying a couple of plays in school over the past year, I’ve gotten really into reading Shakespeare’s plays – but I definitely get less enjoyment out of them when I’m reading in class and having to dissect everything and study it in so much detail. I’m hoping to read some Shakespeare out of class, plainly for enjoyment, not work.

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Two random titles I picked up in Sainsbury’s a while ago! x3 I have a Galley of The Bubble Wrap Boy on my Kindle, but I never really get around to kindle titles as I read physical copies more often, so I decided to buy it – along with Dead Ends by Erin Lange, which keeps catching my eye in stores and on blogs. I don’t completely know what it’s about, but as it’s being compared to John green’s books I’m really intrigued!

IMG_0247Thank you to Chicken House and Bloomsbury for the ARCs that arrived recently! I’ve really wanted to read a title by Sophia Bennett for a long time, so I hope I enjoy The Castle, her latest book. I’m also a really big fan of Neil Gaiman, and The Graveyard Book – so I’m really excited to read the graphic novel adaptation! I’m a little bit apprehensive, as it’s split into two volumes, and I’m nervous to see if there might be any changes to the story, but I might read the novel first, then this, and do a comparison / dual review post, maybe!

*UPDATE / EDIT because Tumblr distracted me and I totally forgot about the most exciting book AHHH*

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I’m so jealous of my parents, because, as my dad was one of the first reviewers of SJ Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep, he was invited to Transworld’s publicist’s press screening of the movie adaptation. I haven’t yet read SJ’s debut, but ever since it first came out, I’ve been aching to read it. I was so ecstatic when my parents came home, having been able to get a film cover edition of the book for me… And even more so, because SJ Watson was kind enough to sign a copy for me! *flails* I can’t wait to read this, and see the film when it’s publicly released. 😀

Have you read any of these, and what would you recommend I read first? Leave a comment or tweet me @GeorgiaReads!(: