Summer Reading List

10 books to relax and fall in love with over the summer…

  1. Me Before You: the trilogy by JoJo Moyes

The Trilogy follows the story of Louisa Clark through love, heartbreak, and life-changing decisions as she discovers who she really is. Louisa is an ordinary girl living a small village with her close family and steady boyfriend. She takes a badly needed job working for the Traynor’s – looking after Will who is wheelchair bound after an accident. A tale of heart-breaking romance yet one of my personal favourites. Moyes writes with such warmth and love that Louisa really comes to life; even better still you can watch the major motion picture film featuring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin – who do the book justice. 

2. On a beautiful day by Lucy Diamond

It’s a beautiful day in Manchester and four friends are meeting for a birthday lunch. But they witness a shocking accident just metres away which acts as a catalyst for each of them. For Laura, it’s a wakeup call to heed the ticking of her biological clock. Sensible Jo finds herself immersed in a new relationship. Eve, worried about a lump in her breast feels helpless and lost. And happy-go-lucky India is drawn to one of the victims, causing secrets to rise to the surface. The novel is beautifully split across these four women and their stories, it’s about luck and bravery & the hope of friendship and togetherness. 

3. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor is Honeyman’s unfortunate and hugely sympathetic protagonist, living a lonely and isolated life of monotonous routine. Working in the accounts department of a production company for the past nine years, Eleanor is the office oddball, maligned by her colleagues for her quirks and inflexibility. Yet she finds friendship in a new colleague & her past unravels. A heart-warming and thought provoking tale about loneliness, hope and the importance of friendship.

4. How to stop time by Matt Haig

Tom Hazard the protagonist is very, very old. Born in France in 1581, he is fast approaching his 440th birthday.  However, you wouldn’t know this just by his appearance. Tom has a rare but not unique condition called anageria. Meaning tom ages at a rate of roughly one year for every 15 ordinary human years. The novel flits between his past life and modern-day life in London where Tom is ironically a history teacher. With the book split into 5 parts, the novel is a journey through time from past-present-future from 3 different generations. how to Stop Time is a bighearted, wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness and love.

5. Is it just me? by Miranda Hart

Comedy queen Miranda Hart recalls the awkward experiences she has encountered over the years and gives her unique thoughts and advice on dealing with them. The Daily Mail express sum it up nicely: “Is Miranda Hart a National Treasure yet? If not, it can only be a year or two before she joins Stephen Fry and Alan Bennett in the trophy cabinet of the country’s affections… That personality and voice belong to a uniquely cherished comedian, and the answer to that question in her title is actually, yes – it is just her. Because there’s nobody like Miranda.”

6. Holes by Louis Sachar

Stanley Yeats is under a curse, he has been unjustly sent to a boy’s detention centre, Camp Green Lake, where the warden makes the boys ‘build character’ by spending all day digging holes. But it doesn’t take Stanley long to realise there’s more than character improvement going on, they are looking for something. Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humourous tale of crime and punishment – and redemption.

7. Around the world in 80 days by Jules Verne 

Around the World in Eighty Days is an adventure novel by the French writer Jules Verne, published in 1873. In the story, Phileas Fogg of London and his newly employed French valet Passepartout attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a £20,000 wager set by his friends at the Reform Club. Around the World in Eighty Days is a story combining exploration, adventure and a thrilling race against time. “To go around the world…in such a short time and with the means of transport currently available, was not only impossible, it was madness”- GoodReads

8. Harry potter and the philosophers stone by J.K.Rowling

If you haven’t heard of Harry Potter, where have you been?! But you may well have seen the films but never read the books. So, to start at the beginning is the best, with added details and developed relationships between characters, the books do trump the films! Harry Potter has never heard of Hogwarts (school of witchcraft and wizardy) until the letters arrive at number four, privet drive where he has been staying with his grisly muggle family (his aunt and uncle). On Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Hagrid bursts in & tells Harry he is a wizard and an incredible adventure is about to begin. Full of magic, fantasy, fun and adventure Harry and his fellow partners in crime, Hermione and Ron move through school yet it’s never as simple as it seems. 

9. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…”With these words a reader is swept up into a world of secrets and lies; one of the most passionate, psychologically twisting and complex stories of all-time. Working as a lady’s companion, the orphaned heroine learns her place, until she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal takes her by surprise. Whisked to Manderely, on the Cornish coast, the new Mrs de Winter finds a life full of surprises and the recurring memory of his dead wife Rebecca forever haunting…

10. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring gothic novel, Little Women. Alcott’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel centres on four sisters as they embark on the journey from childhood to adulthood during the American civil war. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles of what it means to be a young woman, experiencing everything from sibling rivalry to first love and loss. 

Journalism in the 21st Century

 

SIMON NIXON; THE TIMES AND JOURNALISM IN THE 21STCENTURY

On Tuesday afternoon a group of students and I met with Simon Nixon, Chief Leader Writer of The Times; where Simon discussed his career and the role/nature of journalism. Simon is also Chief European Commentator of the Wall Street Journal. He joined the WSJ in 2008 and was previously editor of Heard on the Street. Before that, he was executive editor of the breaking views financial commentary, City Editor of The Week and a founder editor of MoneyWeek. Before becoming a journalist, he worked for five years in investment banking, having studied at Cambridge with a first-class degree in History. 

Simon provided us insights into journalism as we discussed certain hot topics surrounding news, fact/truth and the art of writing for a major media/news company. 

WHAT DOES A CHIEF LEADER WRITER DO?

A leader writer is a senior journalist in a British newspaper who is charged with writing the paper’s editorial either in the absence of the editor or in cases where the editor chooses not to write editorials. Simon explains that the editor, deputy editor and leader writers all gather together as part of a conference to discuss important news and comments for the editorial. They act as “thunderers” aimed at judges, generals and try to inform people on what they should do. Trying to stay honest, Simon explains is important in retaining a good reputation. 

 “Journalism is vulnerable, you have to find that distinction between news and opinion”  

THE ROLE OF FAKE NEWS & HOW IMPORTANT IS TRUTH IN JOURNALISM? 

The Times wrote an article regarding homeopathic treatments to cure measles and branded it “dangerous quackery”, the reduction of vaccinations meant that immunity fell from 95% to 91%, yet these homeopathic remedies were discouraging people from receiving vaccinations. But were in fact entirely placebo and had no medical benefits at all. Simon hopes that “trust will win”and that “relentless reporting factually and accurately builds a good reputation”. Simon also stresses on avoiding emotive language and reporting things straight.

SHOULD THE MEDIA INTERFERE? HOW MUCH SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY DO YOU HAVE?

The core challenge is how to report accurately but not put fake news into the public domain, as Simon remarks that you should “find compelling and interesting stories but represent them in a fair way”. He also comments that conflicting opinions are important as they provide discussion and produces public information which is important – but it boils down to trust that the audience has in your work and good reputation which then follows. A ‘leader’ page of The Times may have a bigger influence on a narrower but more influential audience, the establishment, rather than a wider readership. 

WHAT IS THE VALUE OF GOOD WRITING? ARE ANAYLTICAL SKILLS TAUGHT AT SCHOOL USEFUL?

Put simply Simon stresses the significance of “writing clearly and communicating effectively”, being able to precisely articulate ideas is essential in the world of journalism. When interviewing potential candidates for leader writers, The Times was searching for: an interest in current affairs, politics and the world, being well read, show a passion for journalism and writing and being able to put forward information appropriately and in a thought-provoking manner. Jokingly Simon says, that being able to get across information that you may not agree with or want to hear is to “rap like Kanye”. 

  “You can’t be a writer, without also being a reader”

HOW CHALLENGING IS IT TO REACH YOUNG PEOPLE?

“Hmm..very!” Simon jokes, encouraging people to read more and engage in the news and media is a vital part of growing up; yet news companies such as The Times, are fighting an uphill battle in encouraging teens who consume mundane content on their smartphones daily. The increasingly digital culture isn’t surprising, and stats prove this; news in print has fallen by 20% since 2012 and continues to fall. The necessity and convenience of reading news in print is significantly less and arguably less eco-friendly! In America 600 newspapers have closed, but in return 400 online news feeds have appeared, so not all hope is lost. 

IS JOURNALISM LOSING THE BATTLE?

In short yes. But there is always hope for journalism. As Simon describes, “there is always a need for journalism in democracy”. As the social revolution comes through, society will find a new way to fund journalism again. People are motivated by journalism as they want to “hold powerful people to account”, this basic fact combined with the curiosity of the human mind will always mean that some form of journalism will always be needed and found. 

SO, WHAT CAN WE CONCLUDE?

To summarise, journalism is a key part of democracy, a career which may not be always glamourous but vital in discovering and maintaining truth and stories. It also aims to educate people and learn about global issues in society. It fights fake news, the power of the digital age and the readership of the young population but as Simon Nixon has faith and trust that journalism will survive, I think I do too.