Saturday, December 22, 2012

Books of 2012

And here are my own newly-published books of the year for the series Books of 2012:-

Book of the Year: Robert Caro's The Passage of Power:-
The fourth volume of his extraordinary biography of LBJ, and one of the great story-telling achievements of our age. This is the most dramatic to date, covering Kennedy's assassination and Johnson's assumption of the Presidency, but the immense first volume, covering LBJ's early political years in Texas, is just as thrilling. 

And some others:

  • Selina Guinness: The Crocodile by the Door - the story of a house, a farm and a family. Here's our review.
  • Michael Gorra: Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece. An elegant and beautifully-achieved account of one of English literature's greatest novels.
  • Jeanette Winterson: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? Storytelling that is painful and funny. Also, a passionate defence of the power of literature.
  • Thomas Newkirk: The Art of Slow Reading. Thoughtful meditation on the nature of reading, and on teaching English.
  • Alan Jacobs: The Pleasures of Readingin an Age of Distraction. Our review here.

  • Belinda McKeon: Solace. Our review here.
  • Keith Ridgway: Hawthorn and Child. Innovative and haunting. Read John Self's review on his blog here.
  • Roddy Doyle: Two Pints. Two middle-aged men sit in a pub once a week and spout about life. It could be terrible. But it's not. It's seriously funny.
  • Kevin Barry: Dark Lies the Island. The second book of short stories from the new shooting star of Irish literature. Here's our review of the award-winning 'Beer Trip to Llandudno'. The rest are very different. Barry has quite a range.
  • Donna Leon: Beastly Things. Simply, always pleasurable. Leon's Brunetti detective series maintains its high standard, and in recent years she's expanded her concerns well beyond those of genre fiction.
  • Gerbrand Bakker: The Detour. All the virtues of Bakker's award-winning The Twin are evident here too: the calm clarity of the prose (again beautifully translated from the Dutch by David Colmer), the underlying sense of unease, the narrative grip of a story in which, on the surface, not much seems to happen.
  • Teju Cole: Open City. Our review here.

[Books first published in hardback or paperback in 2012].

Friday, December 21, 2012

TES Christmas Star!

SCC English is one of the Times Educational Supplement 'Christmas Stars' ... check out our TES resources here.

"SCC English has shared more than 70 post-16 English resources that include some truly creative revision podcasts, word clouds and video analyses of exam texts including Macbeth and The Great Gatsby. Their username has become synonymous with top quality resources that are engaging and academically rigorous. Check out his King Macbeth podcast and his Hamlet soliloquies Wordle."

'The Art of Fielding'

What was your Book of 2012? Fill in our survey here - we'll be blogging responses leading up to Christmas.

@LucyAughney chose Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding:

Amusing, literary, earnest novel about young people finding their way in college and life, and the baseball scenes are thrilling even to a non baseball fan. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

'Indian Horse' and more

What was your Book of 2012? Fill in our survey here - we'll be blogging responses leading up to Christmas.
@chrysalis57 chose Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese:
1. Literature should provoke an emotional reaction - this novel did that more than any other I've read in years - anger, empathy, sadness, joy - Indian Horse has it all.
2. The language - Richard's prose is beautiful and lyrical.

Teachcmb56 went for Katherine Boo's Beyond the Beautiful Forevers:
Following in the new form of fiction/non-fiction. I was the "fly on the wall" watching this Mumbai neighborhood ... could not escape, and I did not want to until the end.

Barney - The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt:
It was a fantastic book which kept hold of me from the very start. It had everything you would want from a book. It had action, drama, comedy, fleshed out characters and twists and turns you would never of expected. It was made me actually care a great deal about what happened to the characters and the ending was fantastic. It ended the book so well. I would highly recommend it to everyone as it would appeal to everyone.
And three anonymous recommendations:
 The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller - Beautifully written love story.

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper - A beautiful tale of how every student has potential and what happens when we fail to recognize it.

Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan - Clever clever clever!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Folger Shakespeare Resources

The Folger Shakespeare Library has announced that its editions of 12 of Shakespeare's best-known plays are being made available free of charge digitally (together with their full source-code), and that the rest of the plays will follow next year:

Users can read the plays online, download PDFs for offline reading, search for keywords within a single play or the whole corpus, and navigate by act, scene, line, or the new Folger throughline numbers. Every word, space, and piece of punctuation has its own place online

Plays are also displayed with the same page numbers as in the Folger Shakespeare Library print editions to allow the two to be easily used together in classrooms.

The Folger Library has lots of other helpful resources for teachers and pupils too.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Macmillan Dictionary Love English Awards

We'd be delighted to get your votes for the 2012 Macmillan Dictionary Love English Awards (blog section). You can vote here once a day until midnight on Monday 21st January (go to 'See Entries and Vote'). Thanks!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

'Home' & 'The Girl...'

What was your Book of 2012? Fill in our survey here - we'll be blogging responses leading up to Christmas.

@simonmlewis chose Bill Bryson's Home: a short history of private life:

I love Bill Bryson's narrative style. I love the way he can't help going off in tangents and this book about the rooms in his house gave him lots of freedom to deviate from describing the history of particular rooms to bizarre factoids and stories from American and English history. The book could have been twice as long and I still would have enjoyed it.
@acuparia went for the spectacularly named The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente:
This beautiful creation will be the source of a new generation's fairytales...

Friday, December 14, 2012

'Dark Lies the Island' & 'The Orphan Master's Son'

What was your Book of 2012? Fill in our survey here - we'll be blogging responses leading up to Christmas.
@rozzlewis chose Dark Lies the Island by Kevin Barry (see our review of one of the stories here):
Kevin is the new master of the Irish short story. His work demands performance. He writes in such a unique and comic way about everyday lives in awful places in Ireland. The people are mostly horrid, his stories are incredibly dark and end with an ultra non-epiphany. I don't usually reread books but have read and read his stories over and over.

@endaconneely went for The Orphan Master's Son, by Adam Johnson:
A fantastic insight into the reality of life behind the DMZ written by a man who has spent a lot of time behind it. Also, the best caricature of The Dear Leader since Team America!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

'Behind the Beautiful Forevers'

What was your Book of 2012? Fill in our survey here - we'll be blogging responses leading up to Christmas. 

@literacyadviser chose a book often mentioned in the press surveys, Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers: life, death and hope in a Mumbai undercity :

This was possibly the best book I read in 2012 because it provides a powerful evocation of the differences between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' in one of the world's emerging economic powerhouses - India. Although listed as 'reportage' the book reads like a novel and the characters are beautifully drawn.

'The Return'

In her recent English Transition Year exam, Ally Boyd Crotty wrote a story under the title 'The Return'.

It starts:

You sit across the aisle from me. One leg crossed, over the other. Your hands are clasped between your thighs. You seem cold. You shiver and look out the window, as if at nothing.

I only noticed you as we were queuing to board. Your khaki uniform stood out and the colour almost shone into my eyes. I couldn’t help but notice the two tickets in your bag - inward and outward journey. Two six-hour flights both on the same day? Only four hours apart? You must be going to see someone.

Read what happened next here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

'The Submarine', December 2012

The December 2012 edition of the Library magazine The Submarine has just been published, and you can read it online above (click for a closer look, and again for closer still, and navigate through the arrows).

Mr McConville, the editor and Librarian, discusses in his editorial two new books from members of staff, A Neutron Walks into a Bar (Mr Jones) and the new translation of The Islander (Dr Bannister), and indeed later on the latter reviews the former (and then the Librarian reviews the latter...)

There are also articles by Mr Swift (difficulties with reading via Kindle), Madeleine Armstrong (responding in exasperation to a spam email), Nyla Jamieson (reviewing The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein), and by Mr McCarthy (detective fiction), as well as our own review of Selina Guinness's fine book The Crocodile by the Door. There are poems by Quirin v Blomberg and Iyobasa Bello-Asemota, and also the What's Reading Me and What's Writing Me features, as well as a list of some of the new books in the Library this term.

'Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight' & 'Sing You Home'

What was your Book of 2012? Fill in our survey here - we'll be blogging responses leading up to Christmas. 

Cathie Cahill chose Alexandra Fuller's memoir, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight:
Beautifully written, poignant, funny, fascinating account of a Rhodesian childhood with eccentric parents. 

@gillmac went for Jodi Picoult's Sing You Home :

Stunning story, well written. Its characters stuck with me afterwards.

Monday, December 10, 2012

'City of Bohane' and more

 What was your Book of 2012? Fill in our survey here - we'll be blogging responses leading up to Christmas.

@allprops crammed in four books ... 

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward; City of Bohane by Kevin Barry;  Pure by Julianna Baggott ; A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash:-

A wonderfully dark, resolute warning for a dark resolute age. Each narrator adds to the
layers  of evil that permeate this book. The Pastor is as nasty and brutish as any Claudius or Iago.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

'The Passage of Power'

What was your Book of 2012? Fill in our survey here - we'll be blogging responses leading up to Christmas.

John Fanagan chooses The Passage of Power by Robert A. Caro:-

It is the fourth and penultimate volume of what is the best biography I have ever read. Its subject, President Lyndon Johnson, was a deeply flawed political figure, president by accident when Kennedy was assassinated. Yet he achieved more than any president in history in his great civil rights reforms. Indeed the election of Barack Obama might be said to be his political legacy. The Passage of Power deals with Johnson's miserable three years as Kennedy's vice-president up to the day of his first State of the Union address two months after becoming president. His assured assumption of power, and how he immediately set to work using it, was astonishing. You will not read a better book this year. 


Thursday, December 06, 2012

'The Yellow Birds'

What was your Book of 2012? Fill in our survey here - we'll be blogging responses leading up to Christmas.
@gutterbookshop chose The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, winner of the Guardian First Book Award recently (hear him discuss the novel on a podcast here):

I read this over the Summer and was blown away by the raw honesty of Powers' writing. An unflinching portrayal of what young soldiers go through in modern warfare and the psychological effects it has on them when they return to 'normality', this is a stunning piece of writing that stays with you long after you've finished reading it.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

'The Selfish Giant'

This morning, Mr Girdham read Oscar Wilde's fairy-tale 'The Selfish Giant' in Chapel. Here's the full story.

'Jammy Dodger', 'The New Kings of Non-Fiction'

What was your Book of 2012? Fill in our survey here - we'll be blogging responses leading up to Christmas.

@Elaine_Dobbyn went for Ira Glass's collection The New Kings of Non-Fiction:  
A brilliant collection of fascinating non-fiction articles.

Rachel Jones chose Jammy Dodger by Kevin Smith:
By a mile the best book I read this year, a hilariously funny satire about two guys trying to run a poetry magazine in Belfast. Lots of wisecracks about poetry but also about life in general, with some fabulous descriptive passages and a very convincing love story thrown in. This was recommended to me by a friend and to be honest I didn't like the sound of it but once I started reading I couldn't put it down. Comic fiction that will really cheer you up.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Edublog Awards 2012

We're delighted to feature in the finalists list in the international Edublog Awards for 2012 - as Best Group Blog (which we won in 2008), Best Class Blog and Best Use of Videos and Media in Education (for our series on key moments in Macbeth - 'Macbeth w ShowMe App).

We're also delighted that the College's science Frog Blog is a finalist as Best Teacher Blog for Mr Humphrey Jones and Best Ed Tech Blog.
Voting continues until Sunday 9th December, via the links above, or the badges on the right, or through this single link.