Staff picks for world book day

Staff picks for World Book Day

We aim to foster a deep love of learning at the School, in a culture supported by staff made up of interesting, inquisitive people. This World Book Day, we chatted to the people who make the School tick about books that they like or that have meant something to them.

The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford – Corrine Grimes, Friends’ Secretary (Volunteer)

Oh, the bliss of this book.

I am fascinated by The Bright Young Things: the aesthetes and glamorous minor aristocracy of England in the 1920s and 30s, so how could I not love this wonderful book? Nancy Mitford writes with wicked perception and glittering humour about the shenanigans of a family of eccentrics; the five Radlett daughters, their terrifying father and their vague, anxious mother, are based on the real-life exploits of her own family, the daughters of Lord Redesdale.

The funniest, cleverest book I have ever read.

Bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward – Lucy Roberts, Communications Executive

When I was living in New York, I had a wonderful contemporary teacher who brought this book to a class, had each dancer turn to a random page and create a piece out of every nth word. When I plucked out my poem, it cut to exactly how I was feeling living in a new city – a little bit alien and vulnerable. I bought the book and, though I don’t know much about poetry, I loved how she could write such robust and powerful stories in so few words.

Sonic Youth Slept on my Floor by Dave Aslam – Christian Gallagher, Head of Human Resources

Dave Haslam has a passion for the arts, mostly in music, but forged success through his passion and drive and that punk attitude of giving it a go. 

It’s a really good read from start to finish, especially if you are a fan of music, Manchester or the Hacienda/Factory Records. 

Undoctored by Adam Kay – Donna Balsdon, Assistant Housemistress

My recommendation would be Undoctored, by former doctor turned author and comedian, Adam Kay.  Having already read and enjoyed its prequel, This Is Going To Hurt, I found Undoctored to be a real revelation.  Whilst being incredibly funny in places, it was also an emotional rollercoaster, which served as a reminder to me that as human beings we all have our own complex backstories, and layers to ourselves that we’re not always ready to share.  It brought a whole new dimension to an author I already knew and loved, as well as highlighting the important topic of men’s mental health.  I can’t recommend it highly enough. 

The Waves by Virginia Woolf – Hannah Murray, Marketing Apprentice

The Waves would have to be my personal favourite. It has such an obscure and interesting narrative. It takes you on a real journey from childhood to adulthood and I love the way that it is written from different characters’ perspectives. Virginia Woolf has an incredibly elegant way with words; I could read her all day!

(See some of our students in Woolf Works, Wayne McGregor’s contemporary ballet inspired by Virginia Woolf’s novels currently showing at the Royal Opera House)

Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny, Foster by Claire Keegan, Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver – Dorothy Greenfield, Brand, Communications and Marketing Manager

Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny is both very funny and very touching. Heiny has a gift for observational humour and writes so warmly and astutely about ordinary people with all their idiosyncracies navigating their daily lives, and how heart-breaking and hilarious all at once the small moments of life can be.

Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These was shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize but I found her novella Foster even more affecting – the story of a young girl sent to live with foster parents on a farm over a hot summer in rural Ireland. The affection and understanding she finds with her foster parents and the relationship they develop are incredibly moving and so perfectly expressed in Keegan’s carefully-chosen prose. Her stories are like perfect little jewels.

I’ve also recently read the new novel from Barbara Kingsolver, Demon Copperhead, a re-telling of David Copperfield set in the mountains of southern Appalachia against a backdrop of poverty, abuse and opiates. I love everything Kingsolver writes but found her ability to inhabit Demon’s voice and create his world so vividly astonishing.