Thursday, December 21, 2017

SCC English Books of the Year 2017

Book of the Year:  
Tim Winton's The Boy Behind the Curtain: notes from an Australian Life. An outstanding collection of (mostly) autobiographical essays from this superb novelist, who read from and spoke about the book at the DLR Lexicon in May.

  • Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale: the choice for our staff book club in December.  32 years old, it has had a fresh lease of life partly thanks to the television series, but it was already striking notes again in the Trump era, and it is as fresh and striking a piece of writing as ever.
  • Thomas Newkirk, Embarrassment and the Emotional Underlife of Learning. Everything by this engaging and humane writer on education is worth reading. "I am absolutely convinced that embarrassment is not only the true enemy of learning, but of so many other actions we could take to better ourselves" he writes. He is a good sensibility to be in touch with for the 200 pages of this book, and indeed he points out that such an experience is precisely what we look for in reading.
  • John Banville, Mrs Osmond. For anyone who knows The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, and we imagine anyone who doesn't, this is pure pleasure (with plenty of sly and playful humour, too).
  • Laura Cumming: The Vanishing Man: in pursuit of Velázquez. The best kind of art history and story-telling, about the great Spanish painter.
  • Ali Smith: Autumn. Fluent, intelligent, responsive to our time: this is the first of a quartet, with Winter now also out.
  • Donal Ryan: All We Shall Know. Consistently readable, this contemporary Irish writer is a joy.
  • Finally, in the year we celebrated the work of our former pupil William Trevor, a fabulous edition of his Collected Stories (and well worth the money).  It is reviewed here by Joseph O'Connor, who read from the book and spoke about Trevor during our Arts Week in March.

Check out this year's edition of our annual summary of the best Books of the Year in the media here. 

Here are our choices for 2016.

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