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


Reading Challenges and making more time for reading in 2018

I have a new strategy for making more time for reading. I have banned my phone and hence Twitter and other distractions from the bedroom.  I now leave my smartphone with all the wonderful time-wasting apps and distractions downstairs and take my ‘dummy’ phone upstairs. This is the phone for listening to audio books and accessing all the delights of BBC iPlayer radio or podcasts (it still functions as an alarm too). I’ve disabled or deleted superfluous apps or hidden them. The phone has no SIM but has wifi enabled. This set up just makes me work a lot harder to get at those distractions so I immediately reach for my book!

Despite good intentions to write down all the books I read with a brief review I am notoriously bad about this. I recently joined ‘Good Reads’ so that I can record my year’s reading and create To Be Read lists and find this much easier to keep up to date. It is also a good place to find book challenges and connect with other readers.

What’s app groups make a fun way to share book recommendations too.  My cousin posted a couple of favourite recent reads to my family group and a flurry of good book suggestions ensued. Now my TBR pile is even bigger!

January is also the time I start thinking about my reading plans for the year ahead and the time when a plethora of Reading Challenges pop up on Twitter and book blogs.

If you are interested in trying a reading challenge have a look at this blog for some suggestions. Generally the aim of the challenge is to encourage you to read outside your usual book habits and try new themes, styles, authors and genres. Penguin have a Classic Book Reading Challenge for 2018. They are spurring people to get around to those classics they always meant to read and recommend a particular classic each month.

I’d love to see some tutor groups taking on a reading challenge this year! We’d be happy to join you and help with buying the books.

Please drop into the library to chat about reading plans or suggest books for stock.


Best books and most borrowed books from Wellington College Library 2017

Popular books from 2017 – Library borrowing lists

Canny library users know that one of the best places to find inspiration for their next read is the ‘Returned Books’ shelf in any library; in fact we often have a display of ‘Recently returned books’ as this effectively serves as recommendations from fellow students and staff.

I enjoyed browsing the titles of most popular books borrowed from the New York Public Library over the Christmas holidays – interesting to see how they differ from the most popular and talked about books in the UK.

Top 10 Books Systemwide (NYPL)

  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Underground Railroad: A Novel by Colson Whitehead
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  • The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
  • The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Commonwealth: A Novel by Ann Patchett​

Some of my favourite books from 2017 were:


  • La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume 1 by Philip Pullman – The first book in the planned fantasy trilogy this time set when protagonist Lyra is a baby. Beautiful writing with wonderful characters and plot. A treat for all ages after many years waiting!
  • My Name is Leon by Kit De Waal. Funny and touching story of a little boy with themes of adoption, fostering and sibling love.
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Instructions for a heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell
  • The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman
  • Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
  • Mom and Me and Mom by Maya Angelou
  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
  • Heresy by S.J. Parris

Graphic novels:

We have an ever expanding collection of graphic novels in the library – many of them on history and a great way to absorb lots of information quickly and in an enjoyable format.

  • Hostage by Guy DeLisle
  • Illegal by Eoin Colfer
  • How to understand Israel in 60 days or less by Sarah Glidden

Young Adult Fiction:

  • Moonrise by Sarah Crossan
  • We come apart by Sarah Crossan
  • Beck by Mal Peet

Most borrowed fiction from Wellington College Library during the Michaelmas Term  (September to December 2017)

  • The woman in black by Susan Hill
  • The outsiders S.E Hinton
  • One by Sarah Crossan
  • Moonrise by Sarah Crossan
  • The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
  • She is not invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
  • Gone by Michael Grant
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • The husband’s Secret Moriarty by Liane Moriarty
  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
  • Big little lies by Liane Moriarty

Top non-fiction last term:

  • Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden  by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
  • Periodic tales : the curious lives of the elements by Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Other minds : the octopus, the sea and the deep origins of consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith


Read the book of the film this Christmas!

Every year, school librarians eagerly await Helen Smith’s (Librarian at Eckington School) ‘Christmas Reading Times’. It is a labour of love – Helen scours the Freeview channel Christmas film and TV listings and makes the book to film connections for us all. It’s a fascinating booklet – I discover new film and TV dramas based on books each year. The back page alerts us to a dozen book adaptations to look out for in 2018 including the hugely anticipated ‘Mortal Engines’ film based on Philip Reeve’s fantasy novels with screen play by the author and directed by Peter Jackson. Also coming up in 2018 is the film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s ‘On Chesil Beach’ with screen play by the author.

There are plenty of classics on TV from ‘The Great Gatsby’ to Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’ and Susan Hill’s ‘Woman in Black. I’m looking forward to the adaptation of the ghostly story ‘The Signalman’ also by Charles Dickens. For fantasy fans there is’Eragon’ and ‘The Hobbit’ and plenty of Harry Potter! For history buffs if you missed the amazing ‘Dunkirk’ (based on ‘The Big Pick-Up’ by Elleston Trevor  and ‘Dunkirk’ by Ewan Hunter and J. S. Bradford) it is on ITV4 on Christmas Eve. It’s definitely worth reading Laura Hillenbrand’s inspirational story of Louis Samperini in ‘Unbroken’ before watching the film. Olympic runner Zamperini enlisted in the United States Air Corps in 1941. His plane was searching for lost airmen in the Pacific when his plane crashed. He survived 47 days on a raft at sea and two and a half years in  desperately harsh Japanese prisoner of war camps. His resilience and determination to survive are inspirational.

Why not enjoy reading the great books behind the films this Christmas holiday?

View it here.

Many thanks to Helen Smith for this yearly treat!

More celebrations of non-fiction with staff picks!

We are continuing to celebrate National Non-Fiction November and have been gathering a wonderfully eclectic mix of favourite books from staff and students. They range from the discovery of longitude to advice on how to prepare for your perfect triathlon race and from an important and witty look at the history of sanitation to what makes a psychopath. There really is something for everyone in this developing reading list and plenty of fascinating knowledge to be absorbed. Do you have a factual book recommendation?

The books in bold are currently available in the Library and the rest are coming soon!

  • The War on Women by Sue Lloyd-Roberts
  • The Looting Machine by Tom Burgis
  • Worse Than War – The Assault on Humanity by DJ Goldhagen
  • Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy by Gabrielle Coleman
  • The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power (volume 1) by Robert Caro
  • The Team of Rivals:  the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks 
  • Into thin air by Jon Krakauer
  • Time Bends by Arthur Miller
  • The Hall of Uselessness by Simon Leys
  • A Brief History of the Philosophy of Time by Adrian Bardon
  • Molecules at an Exhibition by John Emsley
  • To the Finish Line: A World Champion Triathlete’s Guide To Your Perfect Race by Chrissie Wellington
  • Longitude by Dava Sobel
  • Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall
  • Nature via Nurture: Genes, Experience and what makes us Human by Matt Ridley
  • Rosalind Franklin. The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox
  • A People’s Tragedy by Orlando Figes
  • The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  • New ideas from dead economists by Todd G. Buchholz
  • Guns, Germs and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years by Jared Diamond
  • The map that changed the world by Simon Winchester
  • Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
  • Mao’s last dancer by Li Cunxin
  • Alive by Piers Paul Read
  • Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • A short book about drawing by Andrew Marr
  • The sound of a wild snail eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
  • The Wonder Garden by Jenny Broom
  • The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane, illustrated by Jackie Morris
  • The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
  • The Big Necessity by Rose George
  • The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

Inspirational reading initiatives!

This academic year our Headmaster has highlighted three main areas he would like us to focus on – inspiration, independence and inclusivity. He is particularly keen for our students (and staff) to be inspired in everything they do and for us all to share books that have inspired us.

It’s exciting to see that reading has taken off in a big way already this term and is branching out beyond the confines of the library and the English Department. We have always encouraged students to read books to extend their academic subject knowledge and bought prize shortlisted books particularly in the field of popular science for Library stock. For the past few years we have promoted the Royal Society Book Prize  and bought multiple copies so students can read and discuss them together.

Royal Society Book Prize Shortlist 2017 – Student shadowing.

This year Biology teacher Nik Light has taken this idea from a library Tweet and run with it. Our 6th Form Science Society are ‘shadowing’ the Royal Society Prize – each reading a shortlisted book (or as much as possible of it in the short time available!) before they meet to deliver their verdicts and debates the merits of each book just before the winner is announced by Brian Cox on 19th Sept. We’ll have the live Twitter feed up in the library as I don’t think the ceremony is broadcast live. One of the students has already declared that their book (described only as ISBN 978-1784700171 as we don’t want to pre-empt the judging!) is the best Science book they have ever read.

Y9 Chemistry reading – ‘The Disappearing Spoon’ by Sam Kean

Dr Caroline Evans, Head of the Chemistry Department is reinforcing the drive to encourage our students to read more and read widely, particularly to extend their subject knowledge in an interesting and entertaining way. She explains:

The Chemistry Department has decided to incorporate more literacy into our lessons for the third form. We have a class set of ‘The Disappearing Spoon’ by Sam Kean which students will be reading and discussing once a fortnight. It is a fantastic book with lots of interesting tales about the Periodic Table.  The plan is for students to be able to use their newly acquired knowledge in the lessons about the Periodic Table. 

She adds:

As a student I didn’t warm to fiction and I didn’t realise that popular science existed. I’m hopeful that for some of our keen scientists that we can combine their love of science with a love for reading. If you’d like to read the book alongside your tutee then there are copies available in the library. Unleash your inner-geek!

We’ve also been holding book discussions with our new Y9s about ‘Z for Zachariah’ the book they were given to read over the summer holiday. In conjunction with Rob Murphy, head of Y9, the students have been thinking about their 8 ‘Desert Island Books’. This has been easier for some than others – Robert Muchamore’s ‘Cherub’ series seems to be a universal favourite and the book ‘Lion’ has been popular this summer with the film tie-in. Based on the Desert Island Discs format with a twist, the students were allowed to take one luxury and one track of music to the island. We’re hoping that this work will lead to some interesting book discussions with tutors. Emphasis was placed on the students saying why they liked a book and the impact it had on them.

Here’s a charming and impressive example by a Y9 boy.

Desert Island books

Robert Harris The Cicero Trilogy: Imperium, Lustrum and The Dictator

These three books are probably the greatest examples of Harris’s writing. I loved the attention to history and the sheer drama which he made out of Cicero’s Lawyer/Politician life. And they were my first meaty and proper books, all of the books in the trilogy are about 400 pages long.

Robert Muchamore: Brigands M.C. (Cherub series)

Cherub was what got me into reading. They’re everything, spy novels, teenage romances, gritty missions, epic training sequences. Literally everything I wanted from a children’s book. Since the series is huge I can’t choose them all. If I have to choose, the penultimate book in the first series (the James series) is the best.

PG Wodehouse: Carry on Jeeves

PG Wodehouse is the second funniest author I have ever read, and of his many eccentric characters Jeeves is by far my favourite. Jeeves and Bertie Wooster make a ludicrously funny pair. And this is the kind of book which I could spend hours just finding something new in its pages.

Jung Chang: Wild Swans

Ever since reading this I wanted to know more about Mao’s regime and how its still affecting  China today, I know so little about such an interesting country and period, and I would love to explore the area further.

The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy (the first one) by Douglas Adams

This is the funniest, most plot hole ridden “book” of all time. I absolutely adored it when I first read it and keep loving it today. It’s just so quirky and different in every way.

Captain Bluebear

Read this. It’s the most charming and creative book ever. Its like a hyperactive imagination went wild but was then tamed by clear concise writing and beautiful turns of phrase.

Music: Macklemore, Drug Dealer

It’s such a soulful song and makes me really focused

Luxury: Spaghetti Bolognese

On the island there would probably be food, it’s just Spaghetti Bolognese would be better than anything I could find.

Jane Austen 200

And finally – our enthusiastic English Department and Literary Society is holding a celebration of the bicentenary of Jane Austen next week with Regency High Tea, music and readings from her novels.


The ‘Extreme Reading Photo Competition’ is back this summer!

Get reading – Get extreme!

Here’s my first Extreme reading photo of the summer holidays. Cycling along the Thames Path we ended up in Hyde Park and sought out the amazing ‘Still Water’ statue of a horse’s head by Nic Fiddian-Green.

I was reading ‘My Name is Leon’ by Kit de Waal. This debut novel was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2016 and it’s not difficult to see why. Funny, moving and engrossing I immediately warmed to 9 year old protagonist Leon. The brilliantly evocative opening of the book shows Leon’s love and care for his newborn brother Jake. The boys’ mother is incapable of looking after for her children and Leon takes on the role of caring for his brother. Although the book deals with tough themes – depression, sibling separation and identity it was ultimately uplifting. The feeling I had of foreboding and disaster was time and again proved wrong and I was left feeling positive and optimistic at the end of the book and ready to read it all over again!

Here’s more from the Penguin website:

Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers. Since Jake is white and Leon is not.

As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile – like Curly Wurlys, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum.

Evoking a Britain of the early eighties, My Name is Leon is a heart-breaking story of love, identity and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Of the fierce bond between siblings. And how – just when we least expect it – we manage to find our way home.

Take a photo of yourself reading in an ‘extreme’ place (without endangering yourself!) Be as creative or imaginative as you like – extreme can mean unusual!

We are looking forward to receiving your photos which will be displayed in the Library at the start of the Michaelmas Term 2017.

Entries welcome from staff, pupils and parents. Prizes for all categories.

Email your photos to the Library:

Or Tweet them to @welly_library

By: Tuesday 12th September 2017

Stating your name, book title and location. You can add more information or a book comment in the email if you wish but it isn’t essential.


We love to hear your about your favourite summer reads!