Books of the Week 8th February 2019

Here are a few top picks proving popular this week.

Our 6th form students are going mad for Sally Rooney’s novels. We have a waiting list of boys wanting to read ‘Normal People’ and students who’ve read this are choosing her debut novel ‘Conversations with Friends’ to read next. They love her clear, crisp writing and her believable, likeable characters. No wonder Waterstones chose ‘Normal People’ as their book of the year 2018.

If you like non-fiction and you missed Mrs McColl’s talk on Monday about introverts and extroverts you can borrow the book she mentioned. ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain is sub-titled ‘The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking’. This book champions the importance of listening and the value of introverts and challenges us all to see things differently.

Head of Percussion, and avid library user and reader, Mr Smith, can’t recommend ‘Munich’ by Robert Harris highly enough. He is a big fan of Robert Harris’ well-written historical thrillers and this one is a massive page-turner. Set during Chamberlain’s negotiations with Hitler before the outbreak of World War ll this is a tense political thriller and spy novel with great attention to historical detail but with interesting fictional characters added.


September 1938. Hitler is determined to start a war. Chamberlain is desperate to preserve the peace.

The issue is to be decided in a city that will forever afterwards be notorious for what takes place there: Munich.

As Chamberlain’s plane judders over the Channel and the Fuhrer’s train steams relentlessly south from Berlin, two young men travel with secrets of their own. Hugh Legat is one of Chamberlain’s private secretaries; Paul Hartmann a German diplomat and member of the anti-Hitler resistance. Great friends at Oxford before Hitler came to power, they haven’t seen one another since they were last in Munich six years earlier.

Now, as the future of Europe hangs in the balance, their paths are destined to cross again. When the stakes are this high, who are you willing to betray? Your friends, your family, your country or your conscience?

Sounds like a perfect half-term holiday read!





More ‘Reading around the World’ What new reading will you try in 2019?

Encouraged by our English teacher who is continuing to ‘Read around the World’, we are enjoying diversifying our library stock and discovering new authors. We’ve just focused on broadening our range of books from various African writers, with special emphasis on African women writers. Gary Younge’s article in The Guardian from December 2018 was particularly helpful with numerous recommendations. We already had a reasonable number of books from writers around the world but have added less obvious choices and the brilliant graphic novel trilogy ‘The Arab of the Future’ by Riad Sattouf.

Have you ever stopped to think how broadly you read? Do you tend to stick to one favourite author or genre? If you have a Good Reads account (or keep a paper record) you can do a yearly audit to see how many women, men or BAME authors you have read.

Every term we put a small collection of library books in boarding houses. These mini-libraries are a way of providing a varied selection of books – including fiction non-fiction and graphic novels to the students where they live and enjoy their free time. At the very least it reminds our students about the library and encourages them to pick up a book and dip in or have a quick browse of the collection and often starts a conversation about reading with their peers and staff. Whilst chatting to a Y11 student about project research I was delighted to hear that she had borrowed ‘Brown Girl Dreaming’ by Jacqueline Woodson  from her House library and was loving it.

Reading authors from a wide range of countries or books set in different places can be a great way to learn about cultures, history, societies, politics and more in an accessible and often exciting way. We have a wide ranging collection of graphic novels on historical themes – often memoirs – for example: ‘Such a lovely little war’ by  Marcelino Truong, Guy DeLisle’s comic books on Burma, North Korea, Jerusalem and more, and Marguerite Abouet’s ‘Aya’ books set in the Ivory Coast.

Try something new in 2019!

Top Ten most popular books 2018 – issued from Wellington College Library

Despite being into the second week of the new year I am unable to curb my interest in lists from 2018! Here are a few interesting statistics:

Inspired by New York Public Library here are our Top Ten Most Popular books of 2018.

  • The Territory: Escape (Book 2 in the trilogy) by Sarah Govett
  • After the Fire by Will Hill
  • The Territory by Sarah Govett (book 1)
  • The hate u give by Angie Thomas
  • Where the world ends by Geraldine McCaughrean
  • Factfulness:ten reasons we’re wrong about the world – and why things are better than you think by Hans Rosling
  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • Moonrise by Sarah Crossan
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Most Popular Authors 2018

  • Sarah Govett
  • Robert Muchamore
  • Pittacus Lore
  • Will Hill
  • Celeste Ng
  • Madeline Miller
  • Philip Reeve
  • Geraldine McCaughrean
  • Yuval N. Harari
  • Khaled Hosseini

A big thank you to Sarah Govett, last year’s visiting author for inspiring our Y9s to read for pleasure and eagerly devour your dystopian trilogy.

It is interesting to see that Y12  were our most enthusiastic borrowers in 2018, followed by Y9, then Y13. The House which borrowed the most books is the Wellesley followed by the Hardinge. This is not taking into consideration size of houses or number of students in the year groups.


Best Books 2018 – Fiction

Looking for novel inspiration this Christmas holiday?

Here are the favourite fiction choices of our students and staff. All the books were read during 2018.

Circe by Madeline Miller
After the Fire by Will Hill
The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris
Good Omens – Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma
Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
Mortal Chaos by Matt Dickinson
Brave New World by H. G. Wells
Othello by William Shakespeare
Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
Milkman by Anna Burns
Their Lost Daughters by Joy Ellis
Small Great Things – Jodie Picoult
Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, #2) by Cassandra Clare
Small great things / Handle with care by Jodi Picoult
Slapstick or Lonesome No More – Kurt Vonnegut
I am Legend by Richard Matheson
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Invasion: A Military Action Thriller by D C Alden
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Martian by Andy Weir
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Circe by Madeline Miller
The Food of Love by Anthony Capella
Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Cherub series by Robert Muchamore
W S Graham Selected Poems
The Territory by Sarah Govett
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness
My sister’s keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan
Carrie by Stephen King
No hero for the Kaiser – Rudolf Frank
A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee
Stoner by John Williams
Dead Man’s Blues by Ray Celestin
All the light you cannot see by Anthony Doerr
Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
 Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut



‘Reading Times’ Christmas 2018

Reading Times 2018

It’s arrived the annual treat from Helen Smith, Librarian at Eckington School.  Every year she works hard to create her guide to all the festive TV viewing based on books. I’m particularly looking forward to the BBC adaptation of ‘The Long Song’ by Andrea Levy. You can view a trailer here

Helen explains more about her guide:

Behind many good films, there’s often a great book.
This guide to films that are based on books on TV this
Christmas gives a glimpse of the breadth of the human
imagination in the stories that we tell: stories that
comfort and inform us, that entertain and thrill us, that
keep us on the edge of our seats or up late into the night
as we read just one more page… stories that make us
think about ourselves and others, and most often, about
our place in our friendships, our families and society itself.

Your librarians are the real superheroes –
making sure that you are surrounded by stories that can
transport you to new worlds and different times, make
you laugh out loud, scare you silly or even make you cry
(if that’s what you want). Why not go along to your
library and borrow a book for the holidays?
If you’re not sure what to pick, just ask
your librarian for help.

Happy viewing – and reading!

Mrs Smith
Librarian, Eckington School



‘Best Books of 2018’ Survey

Librarians love a good list – especially when it relates to books! The plethora of ‘Best Book’ lists published in the newspapers at the end of the year give us inspiration for Christmas presents and library stock.(see the bottom of this post for some of them). We surveyed our school community to see what staff and students considered their favourite reads of 2018. To keep this as broad as possible we didn’t restrict it to books published in 2018, just books read this year. More responses are coming in so more interesting reading suggestions will be added to this list.

Having read all but one (I’m currently reading ‘Song of Achilles’ by Madeline Miller so haven’t got on to ‘Circe’ yet) I think it’s a great list already: fiction covering – a YA dystopian trilogy, a gripping realistic thriller with teen protagonists and a re-imagining of a classical story. There is so much to be fascinated by and learn from the 3 factual titles – Trevor Noah entertains whilst telling us so much about apartheid South Africa, Tara Westover bravely shows us her resilience and strength with a remarkable memoir about her extraordinary childhood and Hans Rosling will make you question everything about the way you see the world.

So far the top 3 fiction titles are:

Top 3 non-fiction titles are:

Here’s what one of our staff wrote about ‘Circe’

Circe is the long awaited follow up novel from Madeline “Song of Achilles” Miller.  It was a bit more of a slow burn than its predecessor, but ultimately well worth sticking with; it’s a story about growing up, growing old and learning what it takes to become truly human.

Y9 student Poppy voted for ‘After the Fire’ and wrote:

After the Fire was from a perspective that I have never heard before so I found it completely intriguing. It also revealed lot about human nature and obeying orders. 

You can read a longer review of this gripping novel here

Books of the Year 2018 – lists from a range of newspapers and websites:

Reading round-up

Books and reading news from the Library

 A person who won’t read has no advantage over the person who can’t read

Mark Twain

After the joys of holiday reading, one of the delights of returning to school is hearing staff and students talk about what they’ve read and recommending books to each other.

I encouraged all our staff to try a Young Adult book over the summer as a way of connecting with what their tutees and our students of all ages are reading for pleasure. I created a Padlet with some book suggestions and was delighted to hear that one of our Geography teachers, a 6th form tutor, re-read Holes by Louis Sachar, read ‘After the Fire’ by Will Hill and ‘Rivers of London’ (not strictly of the YA genre but popular with teens and adults alike)

On Monday 3rd September, we saw all the new 3rd form and new students in the 4th form and L6th for Library induction. In tutor groups we had an interesting discussion of their attitudes to reading.

Our survey gives a snapshot of some of our students’ attitudes to reading.

  • The 3rd form boys enjoy fiction more than non-fiction (although they also expressed a liking for autobiographies). Two of the boys in The Hill animatedly told us about their love of Manga comics. However, the L6th boys strongly prefer non-fiction.
  • The majority of 3rd form girls prefer fiction – especially dystopian novels such as the ‘Divergent’ series.
  • E-books: Although many have a Kindle e-reader almost all prefer the real thing, with some listening to audio-books. If you have a long drive with the family I thoroughly recommend the audio-book of Trevor Noah’s biography ‘Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood’ It is narrated by the comedian himself and is hilarious, informative and entertaining. We also have the book in the library.
  • The majority of the 3rd form enjoyed reading ‘The Territory’ our summer read and a number of them went on to read book 2 & 3 of the trilogy during the holidays or asked for the other books at the start of term.

A key aim this year is to encourage reading and it has been heartening to see many students in the library borrowing books to support subjects new to them in the 6th form such as Psychology and Politics.

Here are a few teacher recommendations for the start of the new school year. Mr Tapley recommends ‘A day in the Life of the brain: The Neuroscience of Consciousness from Dawn Till Dusk’, by Susan Greenfield. Economics teachers are suggesting their students read ‘Talking to my daughter about the economy: a brief history of capitalism’ by Yanis Varoufakis. Mr Atherton proposes ‘Thinking fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman and Mr Hendrick ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’ by Yuval Noah Harari. I urge people of all ages to read ‘Factfulness: ten reasons we’re wrong about the world and why things are better than you think’ by Hans Rosling. It challenges all our assumptions about the world, will make you question everything you ever believed and includes fascinating and honest anecdotes about his life as a doctor in rural Africa.


Broaden your literary horizons and embark on ‘Reading around the World’ this summer

Read around the World

I’ve been interested in this idea ever since I heard about Ann Morgan’s  ‘A year of reading the world’

She writes in the opening of her book:  “I glanced up at my bookshelves, the proud record of more than twenty years of reading, and found a host of English and North American greats starting down at me…I had barely touched a work by a foreign language author in years…The awful truth dawned. I was a literary xenophobe.”

She set out to read a book translated into English from each of the world’s 195 UN-recognised countries (plus Taiwan and one extra) in one year. She has recently produced a New TEDx talk: what I learned reading a book from every country

My enthusiasm was revived when English teacher, Jo Wayman mentioned that she is currently reading around the world. It seems to offer so many benefits – from starting a conversation about books with people from different nations or backgrounds to opening our minds to different writing styles, settings and viewpoints. If we read books by authors from our holiday destinations we are likely to gain insights into the culture, history, politics and art of that country. Not to mention that is works well with the international outlook of the IB (International Baccalaureate) and our efforts to encourage diversity.

 As you holiday in a wide range of different countries (books set in destinations within the British Isles are fine too) why not join in with our summer reading challenge?

  •  Read a book set in your destination country
  • Read a book written by an author from your holiday country
  • Read or recommend a book by an author from your home country
  • Homegrown books are still fascinating – Scotland, Northern Ireland,  Eire, Wales, England down to counties, cities, towns, villages…

 Wherever you are we want to hear from you!

Take a picture of yourself reading in front of a landmark in your chosen country.

Share your recommendations via:

Email to 

or Tweet to: @welly_library

Here are a few recommendations – we will be adding to this over the summer holidays.

Afghanistan: ‘The Kite Runner’ or ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini

Germany: ‘Why We Took the Car’ by Wolfgang Herrndorf. Recommended by my German friend as a great and enjoyable novel for teenagers. Or read it in the original German as ‘Tschick’?

India: ‘A Suitable Boy’ by Vikram Seth or Booker Prize winning ‘White Tiger’ by Aravind Adiga

Israel: ‘A pigeon and a boy’ by Meir Shalev recommended by Mrs Wayman’s Israeli friend.

Italy: ‘I’m not scared’ (Io non ho paura)  by Niccolo Ammaniti. A suspenseful novel, moving and with an evocative sense of place – set in Sicily.

Japan: Any of Murakami’s novels. A number of IB classes have read ‘The wind-up bird chronicle’ as one of their works in translation.

Nigeria: ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe
or for a more contemporary novelist, books by Chimamanda Ngozi  – ‘Purple Hibiscus’ or ‘Half of a yellow sun’ set in the times of the Nigerian civil war.
Pakistan: ‘I am Malala’
South Africa: ‘Fiela’s Child’ by Dalene Matthee (recommended by an U6th student) See a review here

Suggestions and ideas.

We are keen to build up a list of recommended reads from as many countries as possible and create a huge map and display in September.

  • For inspiration you could try an interesting book we have in the library called ‘Reading on Location: Great books set in top travel destinations by Luisa Moncada
  • Here are some suggestions from a Guardian article from 2006 (not recent but it is recommending classic reads) ‘Reading on Location’ ‘Often, the best kind of holiday read is one that’s inspired by the place you’re visiting. James Anthony and Sarah Crown suggest some classic literary accompaniments to your summer escapes’
  • World reading challenge – books around the globe
  • TripFiction is a website to help you find books set in locations – you can search for your destination country and add your own suggestions.

Ann Morgan on her blog gives some excellent advice about starting out on this venture:

  • Be curious and open to changing your ideas Reading the world requires you to let go of your assumptions about many things – from morality and history to what counts as a book in the first place. This can be challenging but also hugely rewarding. As far as possible, try to keep an open mind.
  • Make the quest your own Many of the people I hear from tell me that they’re using my list as a guide. It’s great to know that it’s useful and I hope that the Book of the month reviews help keep it fresh. However, there are so many amazing books out there and a huge amount has changed since I read the world in 2012. Thousands of brilliant new translations have been published, in some cases opening up the literature of countries that had nothing available in English during my quest.
  • Go at your own pace You don’t have to read the world in a year. You don’t have to read it in ten years. It’s much better to go at a pace that you can sustain rather than to drive yourself frantic by trying to cram reading into every spare moment and turning it into a chore. Instead, find a window of time (even if it’s just 15 minutes a day) that you can dedicate to reading and stick to that. And if you find yourself wanting to spend more time reading as you go along – great!
  • Use libraries and other reading resources to read for free Reading can be expensive. Even with the generous book gifts I received from strangers, my original quest cost me several thousand pounds. This can be prohibitive, especially if you live in a part of the world where books are relatively expensive. There aren’t always easy solutions. However, where they exist, libraries can be a fabulous resource for bookworms. Not only do they make books freely available, but they will also often order in titles you request. For people in particularly difficult circumstances, there are charities such as Book Aid working to supply books.
  • Be patient and use your initiative It’s very difficult when you come to a country that has no commercially available literature in English. What you do about this will depend on how much time and energy you have. During my quest (as you’ll see if you read the posts for the ComorosPanama and São Tomé and Príncipe, to name a few), I resorted to all sorts  of outlandish things to try to source texts, including contacting charities, academics and students working in the region, and tracking translators down through social media. There is no magic solution to ticking off these countries. However, the good news is, it’s getting easier. Since my project, literature from several previously off-limits nations, including Madagascar and Guinea-Bissau, has been released in English. I’m hopeful it won’t be long before every UN-recognised nation has something available in the world’s most-published language. I’ll do my best to keep you informed. Watch this space!


Cracking reads for World Book Day 2018

For World Book Day 2018 we’ve been asking the library team, students and staff for their cracking reading recommendations. We’ve been putting together a list of those books that grip the reader and you can’t tear yourself away from the page. We’re hoping that students who don’t consider themselves keen readers might try a book and get hooked!

This is a work in progress. What books would you add to this list? Here’s a our start:


Snow Falling on Cedars – David Guterson

I’m not Scared – Niccolo Ammaniti

Papillon – Henri Charrière

The Giordano Bruno murder mysteries – historical thrillers starting with Heresy (then Prophecy, Sacrilege, Treachery, Conspiracy) each novel is set in a different city the first in Oxford the second in London. The research is impressive, Bruno a great maverick and the plots tense.

Pompeii – Robert Harris (and any of his books including  The Cicero Trilogy – Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator)

The Road – Cormac McCarthy

Before I go to sleep – S.J. Watson

The Godfather – Mario Puzo

Revolver – Marcus Sedgwick

The Beach – Alex Garland

The Bunker Diary – Kevin Brooks – Very bleak YA thriller – only read if you are feeling strong and like a harrowing read!

If you liked Bunker Diary you might like – The Chocolate Wars – Robert Cormier

Just great plot-twisting-page-turner-lose-a-weekend novels:

The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

Letter for the King and sequel The Secrets of the Wild Wood by Tonke Dragt

Young Adult Fiction (many are fantasy or dystopian fiction)

Holes – Louis Sachar – Plenty of humour combined with two great stories. (enjoy the film once you’ve read the fantastic book!)

Moonrise – Sarah Crossan

One – Sarah Crossan (The moving story of conjoined teenage girls written in free verse. A super quick and affecting read. Definitely a one-sitting book for a snowy weekend!)

Between Shades of Gray – Ruta Sepetys

Gone series – Michael Grant

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian – Alexie Sherman

Mortal Engines – Philip Reeve

The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton

Blood Red Road – Moira Young

Uglies – Scot Westerfeld

Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

Delirium – Lauren Oliver

Stolen – Lucy Christopher

The Territory – Sarah Govett

I am Number Four and the Lorien Legacy series by Pittacus Lore

We were liars – E.H. Lockhart

Humour combined with police procedure and fantasy! Sounds weird but widely enjoyed and was London City Read in 2015

Rivers of London –  Ben Aaronovitch (four books in the series)


Letter for the King and sequel The Secrets of the Wild Wood by Tonke Dragt Lose yourself in these gripping, spellbinding adventures.

The Bees – Laline Paull

Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

His Dark Materials Trilogy – Philip Pullman

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

The Old Kingdom  by Garth Nix (Sabriel , Lirael Abhorsen,   ClarielGoldenhand )


The Call

Life stories/adventure

Touching the Void by Joe Simpson

Various good reads!

Ready Player One – This has proved very popular with staff and our teenage boys. One for computer game fans.

The help – Kathryn Stockett

The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd

Student recommendation to the Head of English – who loved this – Fiela’s Child – Dalene Matthee

Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

Call me by your name – Andre Aciman

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams