Summer Reading Challenge Winners

Congratulations to Naomi from Year 8 (pictured to the right of her friend Ayanfe), one of the winners of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.  Naomi will be taking over the library budget this term and selecting the books we buy for you to read.

Well done to Alekhya in Year 10, our other Summer Reading Challenge winner.  Alekhya read an astonishing 20 books over the summer holidays and won a box of Krispy Kreme donuts for her efforts.

Congratulations to everyone who participated.  Certificates will be presented to you during assembly.

The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer

Reviewed by Safiyyah S (Year 11)

I am not one to read non-fiction books and I most definitely would not expect me to say a non-fiction book is my favourite book- yet here I am. Unfortunately, I can’t say this book takes you to some magical world where shadow hunters and warlocks exist. Instead, it takes you to the harshest place I can think of- reality. Although this book is an easy read, it challenges us individually. The main gist of the whole book is that since our money can save lives in poor societies, we have a responsibility to hand it over. And I know that sounds extremely brutal but I can promise you that when you read this book, your eyes will be opened. I never considered myself a huge charitable person that donated constantly out of the goodness of my heart, but I thought I gave a reasonable amount. However, my opinions on a variety of topics changed whilst reading this book-including how I see myself. He doesn’t just say why we should be helping; he shows how we can do it and why our pitiful excuses to not help eradicate poverty when we clearly have the ability to, are wrong. Nearly ten million innocent children die each year from poverty-related causes. 1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day–the Starbucks tea I drank the other day is approximately someone’s salary for 4 days of work. If your excuse for not reading this amazing book is that it’ll make you feel guilty, fun fact-it’s supposed to. We all should feel some sort of guilt. I really recommend this book for everyone and I hope that we don’t ignore such a predominant topic that this book educates us on.

 

“If we are not to turn our backs on a fifth of the world’s population, we must become part of the solution.”  

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Reviewed by Annabelle F (Year 11)

I am aware that this is not the first book in the series, however much like the films, I read this book first and the rest of the series in a very mixed up order too, though I am still to finish. This book is among the top ten most read books, along with the Bible and Twilight, and is perfect for those who love conspiracy theories, history, mysteries and controversy. It is so effective a mix of fact and fiction that, at times, it is very easy to forget where fact ends and fiction begins.  

Robert Langdon is a world-renowned symbologist and Harvard professor, in Paris to talk about his new book. Only whilst in Paris he becomes entangled in the murder of the curator of the Louvre, a beloved figure in France, and finds himself and detective Sophie Neveu (the curator’s granddaughter) in a chase to solve one of the greatest mysteries of all time- that of the Holy Grail. Of course, they have some competition and are wanted fugitives with the French police at their heels, to make things even more complicated.

 Whilst there were some points I found a little contradictory, overall it was a very well composed thriller- an intricate web of puzzles to be solved against the clock. It’s one of those Scooby Doo novels where you really don’t know who is really who and what people’s true motives are; the plot just gets thicker and thicker. It keeps you on your toes and keeps you guessing.  It’s one of those books that when you shut it, it kind of feels like waking up, kind of like remembering that the world exists, it’s so vivid and intense that it doesn’t feel like a story. And it will keep you’re mind busy for a good while.

It’s in the library, Senior Fiction.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Reviewed Annabelle F (Year 10)

I know there are some mixed opinions about this book, but personally I think it deserves Book of the Month. I love the way it is written, I love the characters, how crazy it is, the poems, how it explores grief. You can really tell that it means a lot to the author, it really comes through in her writing, because whilst there are some moments that might seem very tumblr, I think it is genuine.  Something as honest and genuine as this book could only come from real emotion, real experience, and I think she has done a brilliant job of communicating that with the world.

Grief stricken, lovesick, Wuthering Heights obsessed Lennie Walker aka John Lennon is a bit of a mess, even by the standards of the (out of its tree and running around the park) crazy, hippy place she lives in Northern California. Juliet, that is, her sister Bailey has just died. Lennie now knows that the worst can happen at any time, and she struggles with the fact that her sister, her best friend, is never coming back. Lennie, in her agony, starts to shut the people she loves out, as she herself shuts down. That is until Toby (Bailey’s boyfriend) and Joe (a crazy French musician with the amazing signature Fontaine smile) come along….

Lennie thought her life couldn’t get more complicated, she thinks she’s only just started to wake up, that her sister was made for this, she was the actress, made for all the drama, not her, not Lennie, and so we follow Lennie as she realises that she was awake all along and she stops fighting against her grief and realises that as long as she lives, she will grieve because that is the way that love works.

Along the way, a few (many, beautiful) poems are strewn around town, and we get to read some of them. Personally, I adore them. They capture Lennie so well and I think foreshadow who Lennie grows to become, show us who she has been all along. Not a companion pony but a whirlwind of love and light and craziness and imagination. They capture her, her grief and her love in such a thoughtful way, but are also kind of like a wrecking ball of emotion, you can’t avoid it, you can’t not feel what she’s feeling, not know what she knows. I really love them, and I think they are the empirical evidence that poetry is not dead, but very, very alive to those who doubt.

So do I love this book? Yes. Do I think that you should read it or reread it? Yes. And do I think it deserves book of the month? Yes! (100%, affirmative, amen, right, aye, beyond a doubt, by all means, certainly, definitely, gladly, most assuredly, naturally, of course, sure thing, undoubtedly, unquestionably, without fail, yep, ja, oui, sí, joo, áno, hej, 是, ae, yebo, you should definitely get the message if you’ve get this far, which I do not expect but well done if you have, in all honestly, would I have written this review if I didn’t think it was worth one, if not, twenty three reads? I hope someone spots all my references…)

Jandy Nelson is also the author of: I’ll Give You The Sun (another brilliant book)

If you like this book you might also like… We Were Liars (E. Lockhart), Eleanor and Park (Rainbow Rowell), All the Bright Places (Jennifer Niven)

To check the availability of these books in the school library, go to the Reading Cloud

Chocolat by Joanne Harris Reviewed by Annabelle F (10-3)

I doubt any review, least of all mine, could do this book justice. I read this book a while ago, I was going through a bit of a phase- I read the Perks of Being a Wallflower and A Catcher in the Rye at the same time. It was a good phase, one I’m glad I had, because they were all brilliant books. And since this is the month of World Book Day, I thought it would be a good idea to review a book which is really, really brilliant, a book which isn’t too new (since I usually review newer books), and should continue to be celebrated. I decided Chocolat was that book.

The thing about Chocolat, is that it really is understandable, and there is a clear memorable plot at the same time as having a few very clear messages. When I was reading A Catcher in the Rye, I understood what was happening and I remember parts, but if you asked me now to explain it, I would probably struggle. I didn’t get very invested in it when I read it, whereas I was completely addicted to Chocolat.

So, about the plot. A woman, who I guess we could describe as rootless, moves to a village in France with her daughter, and she opens a chocolate cafe. However, they do not exactly receive the warmest of welcomes, especially from the church across the square.

I don’t really think I can say more than that. But the messages? I guess I could tell you one. There are secrets behind every door (oooh how ominous). Chocolate is meant to be a metaphor for love and tolerance. It’s also particularly suitable at this time of year, since the book is set around Lent.

So this month, if you’re in the mood for a trip to France, to visit the very pompous people of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, and unwind a story about our expectations and those that we most trust, but also, I guess, our own weaknesses, the strength of temptation, the fragility of sanity,  I recommend a little book called Chocolat.

(Also, just found out, it’s a series!)

How to Read More

I agree. Reading’s hard work; especially when you’re thinking of all the other books that you just have to read. The stress of it all can make you want to skip the book you’re on- if only for the satisfaction of getting through your 49th book this year.

The book you’re reading at the moment, however breath-taking, can still become a bit of a drag when you look at the long, dreaded, ever-growing list of books to buy and read. It’s like some sort of serpent that grows longer and longer until it’s ready to coil itself around you…okay- maybe not that serious.

Sitting down (even finding the time to do that) and reading with all these distractions flying around your head can make you struggle to enjoy the present page flicking moment.

If only you had a little more time…*

 

1.           Trust the person who brings a book. Everywhere. If there’s one advantage of technology, it’s that you can (not only read this time- consuming blog) read on your phone, kindle or kobo. Not only are they light, but super easy to carry around which means…yep! You can take your book anywhere and everywhere. Journeys to school, trips to the shops, in the car and basically wherever you want. All those small 5 minute bursts of reading will add up before you know it.

 

2.          Remember those old-fashioned heavy lumps of papers? They were pretty popular back in the day. It can help sometimes just to change the format that you’re reading on. Don’t get put off by the weight of 459 pages. Real life, hardback paper books can be a real investment. Expensive, yes- but owning a book that’s yours- and only yours- one that you can hold in your hands and feel the weight on your hands covered with paper cuts-that’s a reading experience. Changing to either a digital or paper book could also change your attitude and motivation to reading.

 

3.          Audiobooks. A gift from God. Whether you borrow one from the library to listen to on car journeys or download one on your phone- you can never go wrong. Unless, of course, the reader’s voice is so irritatingly annoying. In which case, I advise you to find another version of the book. When you can put up with the most terrible pronunciation of names, you can put up with anything. Think about the time you can save and how much you can read- or listen too- when walking from one place to another.

 

4.          Shorten your too read listen. Yep- you heard me.

‘So many books, so little time’.

So use those great prioritisation skills to help you fine tune what books you really want to read.  Use libraries to help- try reading a few chapters of a book before buying a copy yourself, especially if it’s a new author. You’re welcome, I’ve just saved you a ton money! Of course, the downside to a reader’s open mind is that you’ll probably end up with a few more books on your mind after a library visit. Perhaps even try a few short stories, poetry or even blogs… it is still reading after all!

 

5.          Do you have a regular reading habit? Find a quiet place. Sitting in the same room as a sibling playing ‘fortnite’ and constantly hearing the roar of guns is not very helpful.  Sit in your own comfort- try to make it a regular pattern, that way you’re more likely to stick to it. Through doing this you’re automatically reminded of the peaceful reading times you spend nearly every day at the same place. 

 

Now- do you really have any excuses for not having the time to read? Stop reading this blog: go and find yourself a good old book.

 

*I am not a magical witch who can summon and create time- but there are so many ways to make time for time… so I guess I am a magical after all

Book Fairies on World Book Day

The Book Fairies also made an appearance, hiding new books across the campus for pupils to find and read. Let us know if you found one! #AGGSBookFairies #ibelieveinbookfairies

World Book Day Thursday 1st March

I Believe in Book Fairies

On World Book Day, Thursday 1st March, to celebrate reading and promote books, the librarians will be organising a Book Fairies Event.

What are Book Fairies?

Book Fairies hide books around the world, every day, for other people to find, read, then leave for the next person.  This World Book Day you can get involved too and share your books.

Want to get involved?

  • Choose one of your own books that you think someone else might love
  • Decorate it with a ribbon (optional)
  • Come to the library to get an I Believe in Book Fairies Sticker (from 26th February)
  • Hide your book somewhere around school on Thursday 1st March
  • We’d love to see what you leave and find so please share your books on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter using #AGGSbookfairies and #ibelieveinbookfairies

Book Fairies

Give a book a new lease of life this World Book Day and pass it on for someone else to enjoy.