World Book Day 2021
The book which impacted how I see the world
This year, the staff at Loreto have been thinking hard about the way in which a book can change the way we see the world. Some books present powerful, convincing arguments to make a case for why something is the way it is, or why we should take a particular course of action. Other books - often biographies and autobiographies - present the stories of fascinating and inspirational lives. Others observe and ponder, quietly and thoughtfully, with just as profound an impact. And yet others tell fictional stories, and make us stop and ponder questions about what it is to be human.
The books chosen by the Loreto staff range from a novel set in Algeria about the absurdity of life to a book about the weird and wonderful world of number; from the memoir of a celebrated poet to an exploration of the urgency with which we must act in order to tackle climate change. With such a range of inspirational books to learn about here, we are sure you will find a book which will change the way you view the world, too!
Also don't forget to use your book token for World Book day, which is available in digital format this year. You can access this by logging in to the LGS Oliver Library System here.
- On the home page there is an information box for World Book Day which contains links to the digital book token and to the books available this year for £1.
- The £1 book token can be exchanged for exclusive, new £1 books OR for getting £1 off any book or audiobook costing £2.99 or more in participating bookshops and supermarkets.
- The book token is valid from Thursday 18 February – Sunday 28 March 2021. Participating booksellers will honour the tokens beyond the 28 March while stocks last. Please contact your local bookseller to check if they are able to offer £1 off other titles.
- The book token can be printed out and taken to your local bookseller. Booksellers such as Sainsbury’s and Asda are unable to accept the voucher on a phone or tablet screen. For all other booksellers, please check before you visit.
- The book token can ONLY be used in participating bookshops (find your nearest at booksellers.org.uk/wbd)
- The digital £1 book token cannot be redeemed online.
Think of a Number by Johnny Ball
The book which really made me think about reading Maths was Johnny Ball’s “Think of a number”. I had always loved Maths as a child and Johnny Ball was probably the first person to make a TV programme about Maths. It was called “Think of number” and I loved it. Obviously, it was in the days when you only had 3 TV channels and no means of recording or streaming programmes, so I had to wait a whole seven days between each episode. I remember counting the days between each episode. Johnny Ball also used to take his “Think of a number “show on tour and I managed to get a ticket for it when he came to Bristol. I was so excited, and the show did not let me down. He was so enthusiastic about Maths, I felt I had found a kindred spirit. Then he brought out the book. I was a teenager at the time and I think it was the first time I actually realised that you could read a Maths book for fun. Doing Maths exercises was always fun but actually reading about it opened my eyes. Johnny Ball is still going strong at the age of 82 and still writing children’s Maths books. When I was teaching at my previous school, he went on tour again and I quickly volunteered to organise a school trip to hear him speak. Again, he was great, but I do remember thinking “Wow, he looks old!”. Unfortunately, I do not have a copy of the original book, but his new books are still fun able to conjure an enthusiasm for Maths.
A Life on Our Planet – My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future by David Attenborough
I think the title of this book says it all. As a Geographer it is part of my daily life to study our world and how we humans interact with it. The legendary David Attenborough uses his lifetime of knowledge and experience to present the saddening truth of our actions. He inspires his readers to take stock and emphasises how this really is our final chance to restore the wonderful world we inherited. For me, however, his most important message is simple: “It is possible for us to achieve so much more working with others than any one of us can achieve alone”. This not only applies to our plight to tackle climate change but to all our interactions big or small.
Molecular Biology of the Cell by Bruce Alberts
One non-fiction book that I found very helpful related to my subject was Albert’s “Molecular biology of the cell”. I remember buying it in my first year of university and it was HUGE and I wondered how on earth I was going to learn all this and if there could really be so much to learn about cells. It was both daunting and exciting at the same time. As anyone who keeps studying biology will know that at each stage (GCSE to A level for example), you find out that what you learnt previously was just a very simplified version of the truth! This continues at degree level. I cannot say that I know or even understand it all but even now but I still think that Cells (and biology) are amazing and we are always learning more…I am sure that the most current edition of this book is even longer than the version I had at university.
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
There are quite a few books that I really love that have had an impact upon me. One is “The name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco because not only is it a great read but it also makes you think too. It is a historical detective novel (based a little bit on Sherlock Holmes) but set in a monastery in Italy in the 1300s. It combines mystery with medieval history and every time I read it I learn something new. During the first lockdown last year I decided it was the perfect time to read more and one of the books that I read was “The Way of Kings” by Brandon Sanderson and it is already a book that I know I will reread at some point. It is a fantasy book (it has magic in it) but it has complex characters who are dealing with lots of different problems relating to family, mental health and responsibility. It is quite fun to read but again, it makes you think so I would highly recommend it. I know I was probably only supposed to choose one book but I have to mention Terry Pratchett who has written so many books and if I ever need cheering up I know that one of his books will do the job. Although they are absurdist fantasy they can make you see the world in a very different way touching on some difficult subjects but often from a different perspective. My favourite (slightly scientific) quote is “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first”.
People like us by Hashi Mohamed
This book is a forensic analysis of inequality in the UK today. Hashi Mohemed arrived in Britain as a child refugee and is now a Barrister at no 5 Chambers in London. Throughout his early childhood he moved numerous times from one unsuitable home to the next, often with different family members. He attended a very challenging school and had very few life chances. He became homeless in his late teens and found himself very demotivated to achieve academically until a trip to Kenya changed his perspective.
I was hugely inspired by the book. Hahsi Mohamed achieved in spite of the many challenges put before him. The discussion about social mobility throughout the book is an interest of mine and I feel passionately about the need for much more social mobility opportunities in the. Hashi Mohammed also discusses Gender, Race, Education and Politics. He addresses controversial issues with candour and the book is one of courage and hope by a truly remarkable individual.
I found myself nodding in agreement with every word of People like Us, he shows that anybody can reach success, but they do not need to leave a part of themselves behind to achieve it.
A Del of a Life by David Jason
I’m a fan of autobiographies and am currently reading David Jason’s called ‘A Del of a life’. Now I know he’s a bit old for you, but surely you’ve heard of some of his most well-known work – ‘Open all hours’, ‘A Touch of Frost’, ‘The darling buds of May’ and his most famous creation, Del Trotter in ‘Only fools and horses’ (hence the title of the book)?
This isn’t your typical autobiography where the celebrity tells you all about their life and how amazing they are and how much they’ve achieved. There’s some of that, though he is remarkably self-effacing and modest for somebody who has created arguably one of the most famous comedy characters of all time. What has appealed to me whilst reading this book is the insight he gives into the life of an actor and the behind-the-scenes goings-on in the acting world.
For example, if you watch a scene where people are at the dinner table eating a meal, few characters actually eat much. They will play with their food, put it on their fork, push it around their plate but not generally eat it. That’s partly so they can deliver their lines without a mouthful of food, but also so that if the scene is cut and they start filing again part way through, there are no problems of continuity because some people have only got half the amount of food left than they seemingly had 2 seconds ago! I’d never really thought about that before. He says that you’ll never watch a scene involving people eating in the same way again……and I think he’s probably right.
So I’m really enjoying these little insights into showbusiness…..and maybe dreaming it could be me?!!
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The book that has most impacted my life has got to be ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte. Why? Well, it’s not that I think that it is the best novel ever written or that it represents love in very realistic terms. It’s more about the way that it has helped me to appreciate and to re-connect with my Yorkshire roots.
I didn’t appreciate growing up in Yorkshire. Parts of it, I thought, were dismal and living out in the sticks meant that as a teenager, I had to get my dad to give me lifts everywhere. (Never good when what you most want is to be independent!) As an adult, I now feel very differently about it and yearn to go back as often as I possibly can. Where does Wuthering Heights come in? It has everything to do with me feeling this way.
Emily Bronte’s evocation of the wild beauty of the Yorkshire moors, of their dark romanticism, has resulted in my visiting Haworth, home of the Brontes, again and again and not just on the many wonderful school trips that we have taken there. It has resulted in my reading as much as I can about this remarkable family and their life, about the village and what it was like to live there in the 19th Century, of the graveyard and the fascinating tales of some of those who are buried there. Indeed, for me there is now a magic that surrounds this family, this place and the novel that first inspired my interest in them. This has, in turn, enriched my sense of identity, of who I am and of where I come from, and for that I will always be grateful.
Mrs Hilton Jones
L'etranger by Albert Camus
The book that changed the way I see the world is L’étranger by Albert Camus. It’s originally written in French but has been translated into many different languages and is a book I have taught as part of the A-level course.
It’s not a book I would have ordinarily picked up to read, as it is quite philosophical and not a subject I am overly familiar with, but I learnt lots in doing so and now have a better knowledge of other French philosophers too. Philosophy aside, the first line really grabbed my attention. I’ll let you find out what the author writes exactly, but it becomes clear from the outset that Mersault, the main character, is complex to say the least.
The story is set in 1940s Algeria and follows the story of a man who doesn’t seem to care about the opinions of most people, and yet in some instances, makes controversial decisions in a bid to please. It made me think about the way in which we relate to people and why we choose to act in certain ways around people; what our motivations are. In the first half of the book, Mersault commits a horrible criminal act and is put on trial for it, refusing to explain himself and demonstrating through his thoughts and actions, Camus’ philosophy of absurdism.
In the second part of the novel, we follow the trial to see whether Mersault will receive the death penalty for his actions. It prompted me to research the death penalty in different countries and I was astonished to see how recently the guillotine was used in France! I have reflected on different aspects of the book many times since reading it. It has made me consider what the point is to our existence and how we look to a religion for meaning in life. The book has also been the subject of interesting discussions with friends who have sometimes differed in their understanding of the story. I’d recommend it the book as it is not only a great story with the reader hanging on to see how Mersault will be judged and sentenced by society, but also because of the bigger questions it asks.
The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse by Charles Mackesy
I first came across this beautiful book in November 2019 in York during the Staff Induction weekend. Sr Ann Stafford CJ, whom I know well, is a member of the religious community at the Bar Convent, showed me her copy she had just bought. I bought my own copy as soon as I could. I love the simplicity of the illustrations and words. The book can be opened randomly and be relevant to how I’m feeling at any given moment. The theme running through it all is the power of kindness, friends and dignity for everyone. It never fails to bring a smile to my face and a reminder of what is important and we can all get through struggles and challenges. During lockdown it has helped me refocus when life seemed dark and a struggle.
I have bought numerous copies for family and friends some of whom are struggling with anxiety, sadness and feeling low. They have all said how much the book has helped them and often return to it.
‘Look how far we’ve come’ are the last words in the book rather than The End. The pandemic and lockdown have been challenging on so many levels but ‘look how far we’ve come.’