With the summer holidays a mere couple of weeks away, the En Bref team asked members of the many Là Chât parent Book Clubs, for their holiday reading recommendations.
Some interpreted the brief as ‘light, easy-reading’, while others suggested books that ‘you can get your teeth into’. Whatever your preferred style, there is something here for everyone.
Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
A clever and well written story of what happens when the “perfect” family starts to unravel and the lengths the mother will go to save it. I found this a real page turner and hope Reese Weetherspoon makes it into a TV series!
Burnt Shadows – Kamilla Shamsie
We were inspired to read this by the author’s recent visit to the school. It is a sweeping tale, tracing the shared histories of two families, from the final days of the second world war in Japan, and India on the brink of partition in 1947, to Pakistan in the early 1980s, New York in the aftermath of 11 September and Afghanistan in the wake of the ensuing US bombing campaign. The novel is ambitious in its attempt to include so many momentous occasions in world history, however, its success lies in helping us to relate to those events through personal stories. There is also an underlying message about belonging and ‘home’ which spoke to us, as ‘nomadic’ members of an international community.
Educated – Tara Westover
A memoir by a young woman who grew up in a large family in Idaho, whose parents were deeply distrustful of any authority and spent a lot of time preparing for the “end of days” and lived off the grid. The author triumphed over the chaos and violence of her unconventional childhood and she spends a lot of the book seeking to understand her upbringing. At times this is a very difficult read, however the author is very thoughtful and non-judgmental and it is very compelling.
Born a Crime – Trevor Noah
This is an autobiographical account of Noah’s rise from the townships of South Africa to become a comedian and then, world-famous host of the US ‘Daily Show’. The book gains its title from the fact that Noah is mixed race (his mother is Xhosa and his father is a white Swiss-German), and relations between races were illegal under Apartheid rule. We found the book to be a lively, entertaining read, which did much to expose the pettiness and damage of Apartheid.
The Seal Woman’s Gift – Sally Magnusson
This is a beautifully written lyrical read which is very absorbing and enchanting. Set in a tiny island off Iceland in the early 17th century it tells the story of a brutal raid by Turkish pirates resulting in the capture of over 400 slaves who are brought to North Africa (which incidentally actually did happen). The main character is a mother who ends up in a rich man’s harem and her story is interwoven with the sagas she heard as a child at home and the exotic 1001 Nights tales she hears in the harem. After many years the King of Denmark pays a ransom for the return of the slaves however many of them choose not to return, in particular the women who prefer their life in the Islamic world. I don’t want to spoil the ending but this book raises many questions that are very relevant today.
The Conductor – Sarah Quigley
We liked this a lot. It is about the invasion of Leningrad, but how music altered it.
A Gentleman in Moscow – Amir Towles.
A fun read. Quite quirky in style.
Killers of the Flower Moon – David Grann
This is a most unusual, true story, which investigates the murder spree of Osage Native American people, which took place when big oil deposits were found beneath their land during the 1920s. The story also encompasses the birth of J Edgar Hoover’s FBI, for whom this was a landmark case.
Other Recommendations –
The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton
The Nightingale- Kristin Hannah
Then She Was Gone – Lisa Jewel
The Wife Between Us – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkenen
A Marriage of Opposites – Alice Hoffman
Before we were Yours – Lisa Wingate
The History of Love – Nicole Krauss
Pachinko – Min Lin Lee
Don’t Let’s go to the Dogs Tonight – Alexandra Fulker
Remember to visit the Kermesse Book Stall on Saturday, to stock up on books for your summer reading!
In the new academic year, look out for invitations to Book Swap Coffee Mornings, where you can bring along books and magazines that you have read, and swap them.
Finally, remember that all parents can borrow books and magazines from the School Libraries.
Reading List Collated by Karen Lally and Olive Fenton – with many thanks to our contributors!