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What We're Reading...

As my long-suffering students will tell you, one of the major themes of my tuition - whether it's English or History - is the importance and joy of reading. I know there are many students who consider reading more of a punishment than anything else and I consider it my mission to convince them otherwise. Over the course of this term I have been trying to widen my resource base and introduce new styles, topics, and authors to my students. Short stories that have gone down particularly well include Shirley Jackson's classic "The Lottery" which is deceptively mundane and innocent; Angela Carter's fabulous retelling of Red Riding Hood which she titles "The Werewolf" and Zora Neale Hurston's pleasingly furious, "Sweat".

There's a bit of a feminist flavour to this particular selection (and why not?) but that's certainly not all we'll be doing this term. With my cross-curricular hat on I'm very much enjoying literature that gives life to the past and to cultures and topics that I've never experienced. I am also a sucker for a prize-winner so I couldn't resist picking up this year's winner of the International Booker Prize. "At Night All Blood is Black"

is as brutal as you might imagine and follows a Senegalese soldier in the First World War.

It is poetic and touching while reminding us of the importance of colonial soldiers across the war - a group who are rarely properly acknowledged.

I have a few students who are between exam years but want to keep their brains engaged. We have been having fun with historical mysteries and learning how to think critically about events that are mired in controversy. At present we are investigating the Dylatov Pass Tragedy: a fascinating mystery about the bizarre deaths of a group of young hikers in Soviet Russia. It's a great story which reveals so much about attitudes within the USSR towards their own government as well as the general appeal of conspiracy theories.

I love my job: this is what I do all day, every day. I read books and ask questions. And I encourage all my students to do the same.

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