Five Books and Tweeting Manatees

Five Books

I’ve just discovered this fantastic book recommendation site. Five Books asks authors and experts to recommend the best books in their subject. In an interview they then discuss why the books are important and what they are about. You can browse by topic or interview or search for a particular book or author/expert. It covers a huge range of subjects range from Espionage to The Mind and Comedy to How to Be Good.

Try Tom Holland on Ancient Rome, Jo Nesbo on Norwegian Crime Writing or Marcus du Sautoy on The Beauty of Maths. There’s a whole section on Being a Parent and plenty of Fiction suggestions too. Definitely something for everyone on this very attractive website.

Follow @tweetingmanatee on Twitter for updates on interviews and authors.

If you would like the Library to order any of the books you discover or want to check stock email  or drop into the library.

Extreme Reading Photo Competition – The Winners

Pupil winner - Extreme Reading in Lanzarote

Congratulations to our Pupil Winner – Extreme Reading in Lanzarote.  Pictured reading ’17 Equations that Changed the World’ by Ian Stewart”








2nd Prize - Underwater Extreme Reading!

2nd Prize – Underwater Extreme Reading!

3rd Prize for our trampolinist reading 'The Fall' by Robert Muchamore

3rd Prize for our trampolinist reading ‘The Fall’ by Robert Muchamore



4th Prize to our Scottish mountain Extreme Reader. Pictured reading '101 Ideas that Changed the World'

4th Prize to our Scottish mountain Extreme Reader. Pictured reading ‘101 Ideas that Changed the World’


Man Booker Shadowing Group takes off

booker books

Mrs Macgregor has set the 6th form a challenge – to read all six shortlisted Man Booker Prize titles in time to cast their vote when the winner is announced on 15th October. This is no mean feat as the first book ‘The Luminaries’ by Eleanor Catton is 832 pages long. However, 12 tenacious 6th form students have taken up the challenge and will be meeting each week to discuss one of the books.

Mrs Macgregor writes:

There was a wonderful interview with the author of The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour which should provide a good introduction to the novel.  As we meet on Thursday 26th September you have a good 11 days to read this tome.

Additional Man Booker links:

NoViolet Bulawayo, Zimbabwean author interview on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

Guardian article claiming this is the best shortlist for a decade.

Does Man-Booker-shortlisted novelist Jhumpa Lahiri’s real skill lie in short stories?   Review of ‘The Lowland’ (Guardian 12th September 2013)

Guardian Books Blog – Video in which Richard Lea argues that Ruth Ozeki’s ‘A Tale for the Time Being’ should win this year’s Man Booker Prize. “The shortlisted novel begins with the discovery of a Hello Kitty lunchbox containing the diary of a young Japanese girl washed up on the shore in British Columbia.”

The librarians are attempting to keep pace with the reading and join in the discussions but we also have potential Carnegie longlist contenders to read for a discussion day on 9th October!

The library has copies of the shortlisted books if anyone else wants to join in the reading.

3rd Form reading kicks off in the library with the Picton boys

This morning we welcomed the Picton 3rd form tutor group to the library for an informal discussion about the book “In the Sea there are Crocodiles”. Each year the librarians agonise over the choice of book to send to all new 3rd form pupils. We search for a book to suit both boys and girls, something readable and interesting as well as thought-provoking and memorable. We have  a lot of reading  to get through to find something we are happy with. Last year’s book ‘Trash’ proved very popular with its incredible plot and fast pace. This year’s book may have been a slow starter but it rapidly became an involving and inspiring story.3rd form reading Pn

‘In the Sea there are Crocodiles’ is the account of Enaiatollah’s life from the age of 10 to 15. It is based on his recollections of the perilous journey he made from his home in Afghanistan all the way to Italy as a child and teenager without any family support. He is amazingly resilient and recounts his life story to Fabio Geda, the Italian author who wrote the

Here are some of the 3rd form comments on the book:

“Exhilarating, tense, funny and moving”

“I loved the calmness of the book and the good moments I enjoyed”

“…extremely inspirational and it really made me think about the world”

“….very interesting and enjoyable. My Mum read it too!”

“I loved the book. It has opened my mind. It has made me more aware of how tough and how unfair people’s lives can be and makes me feel very privileged.”

….very moving and a good demonstration of what the world is like in some places”

We are looking forward to more book chat sessions with other tutor groups in the coming weeks.

Extreme Reading Photo Competition Update

Reading in the safety tower on the Lindisfarne causeway.

Reading in the safety tower on the Lindisfarne causeway.

Don’t forget to send your Extreme Reading Photos to the library for your chance to win a Nook e-reader!

One of our very cool competition entries!

One of our very cool competition entries!

Mail to

Thank you for all the original and inventive entries we are receiving. We are really enjoying your creativity.

We had fun experimenting with Extreme Reading photos on holiday in Northumberland. Popular books in our family this summer have been:

“The Humans” by Matt Haig (very funny and moving story of an alien inhabiting a mathematican’s body. Everyone should read the alien’s advice for humans. Watch the book trailer here)

“The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton (young adult classic written by a 17 year old girl in 1967)

“The Tomorrow Series” by John Marsden

“Itch Rocks” by Simon Mayo (sequel to “Itch”  – more adventures of an element hunter)

“Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin

“Flip” by Martyn Bedford (the author who wrote “A capsule in Time” for Wellington)

“The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater

“Rubicon” by Tom Holland (gripping story of the rise of Julius Caesar)

“Where’d you go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple (extremely funny novel, set in Seattle with plenty of Microsoft and Antarctica references!)

“Gone” by Michael Grant

“The Death of Grass” by John Cristopher (mixture of science-fiction and psychological thriller written in 1956 but still a chilling post-apocalyptic novel)

Be-barnacled Antony Gormley statue reading on Crosby beach.

Be-barnacled Antony Gormley statue reading on Crosby beach.

Extreme Reading on Hadrian's Wall at Housesteads Fort.

Extreme Reading on Hadrian’s Wall at Housesteads Fort.

Extreme Reading Photo Competition

Floating in the Dead Sea in the 1980's!

Floating in the Dead Sea in the 1980’s!

Extreme Reading Photo Competition

 Win a Nook e-reader!

You’ve heard of Extreme Ironing* but why not try our Extreme Reading Challenge?

Challenge yourself to read a book in an unusual place – the highest, or the lowest or somewhere really out of the ordinary.

The places can be obscure or entertaining. Just ensure you are safe and your photo is appropriate!

Reading on film set in Tunisia.

Reading on film set in Tunisia.

We are looking forward to receiving your photos which will be displayed in the Library at the start of the Michaelmas term 2013.

Email your photos to the Library telling us the title of the book you are reading and the location.

By: Friday 6th September 2013

There will be an overall winner with additional prizes for each year group, a parent and a member of staff.



 * Great definition of extreme ironing on wikipedia  “the latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.” (Accessed 10/7/13)


Summer Reading 2013

I’m collating a number of  summer reading suggestions as I come across them.

I’ve just discovered an excellent book review site Books Teens and Magazines. It has interesting and varied reading lists for Y9, Y10 and combines classics with the latest young adult titles.summer reading

Here’s an interesting  6th reading list from an English teacher. Based on her favourites, there are some really good suggestions here. I would particularly recommend “Pigeon English” by Stephen Kelman. Guardian review here

Here’s the intriguing infographic with summer reading ideas I put up last year. It takes you on a number of pathways according to your answers to reading preference questions.

Don’t forget the Top Ten Reads suggested by each academic department and also Mr Wayman’s Wellington 100.

Masses of inspiration from the “Lovereading4kids” website including suggestions by age and theme and helpful additional information about authors. Very useful for finding out about recently published books.

If you like gripping, thought-provoking YA fiction and  you haven’t had the opportunity to read the Carnegie Book Award Shortlist, we have copies of these excellent Young Adult books in the Library. I’m keeping quiet about the winner as we have our joint discussion and voting party on Monday lunchtime in the Library. The 3rd form scholars are welcoming Eagle House Y8S for this get-together.

Award winning books for Scientists

This year’s longlist for the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books was announced on 1st June.

Shortlist will be announced in September 2013. Winner will be announced on 25 November 2013

We are hoping to set up student and staff book clubs to read a selection of the shortlisted books and provoke some lively discussion about them next academic year.

We will be buying copies of the books for the Library.

In the meantime why not kickstart your Science reading with last year’s shortlist? All of the titles are available in the Library.

From this link to the shortlist you can read the first chapter of each book before deciding which to read.

Last year’s winner was The Information by James Gleick

Or if Science isn’t your thing….don’t forget we have plenty of excellent fiction including the Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist 2013 

Royal Society of Chemistry – New free Chemistry online resource

Here’s a great new resource for Chemistry teachers and learners.

“Hundreds of open-access resources including experiments, worksheets, videos, simulation and games for all levels of learners. The content relates  to everyday life and real-world  challenges such as pharmaceuticals, lifestyle, energy, and more.

The RSC’s Visual Elements Periodic Table features  history and alchemy pages, and podcasts, videos and data trends across the periodic table.”

Teachers can share ideas through “Talk Chemistry” section. (JCS Online Resources)

Access Learn Chemistry via the e-library and let us know what you think!