A Good Read
Hi there fellow bloggers! How are you this evening? It has been a cool windy day here in Colombo and I actually had to wear a jumper today – remarkable!
Well a few replies first… Alessandro, I also wish the British Council would set up a teaching centre in Brazil. I hope the top bosses in London are reading this blog! I would love to visit and live in a South American country and Brazil definitely appeals. :)
Marjan – the birthday party was good thanks. Mainly colleagues and quite sedate but chilled. There was a fabulous chocolate cake for the host’s birthday and it was good to socialise with colleagues in a more informal setting. I always like going to people’s houses I haven’t been to before as well. I’m really nosy that way. Sorry, no pics from the party, Leslie. :(
Thanks for the typo correction Huang. I have edited it now. I was a little uninspired gift-wise on this occasion I’m afraid so I just took a bottle of wine.
Yes, Dusan it is a great shame that the civil war dominates the news about this beautiful country. I do hope that in my lifetime this conflict is resolved.
Paulraj, Kandy Girls’ High School is a government school and yes, the first language is Singhalese for the majority but Tamil for many others.
Habooba and Paco, write more next time. Hyoshil, do send me some snow please! Mind you, I can ask my dad to bring some over as he's coming in January and I can’t wait to see him and get a little piece of home.
In my last blog I said I would discuss books and give you a ‘recommended list’. Well, I am going to give you 2 lists – the first one is my top ten of all time greats and the second is for those of you who want to read in English but feel daunted; the books in the second list have been chosen for their ease and I hope they will serve to build your confidence and once you have done that you could go back to the first list and challenge yourself more. That’s not to say that the books in the second list are less intellectual, just written in a simpler fashion and are more accessible to those reading English as a foreign/second language I think.
When I was a little girl I used to play at being librarian and I have grown up with books all around me. I can still remember being excited by browsing through the spines of the colourful collection on my parents’ shelves and the exhilaration of finding something truly inspirational from the school and college libraries. I have always loved the smell of books – new books hot off the press, old books - musty from years of usage or storage. I have dreamed of owning a second hand book store for longer than I care to remember and I think that is part of the reason why I am loathed to throw books out or give them away. I still harbour this desire and think that one day my piles and cases of paper and hard backs will come in useful. I also feel pretty sentimental about books and believe they help to tell the story of my life. Throwing them away would be like erasing a part of my life and when you move around as much as I have it’s kind of important to hold onto the bits that make up the whole, if you know what I mean.
Philip Larkin – one of my favourite poets - wrote a neat poem about books and how you identify with different characters at different stages of your life called A Study of Reading Habits. It’s pessimistic of course - it’s Larkin - but I am pleased to say I haven’t quite reached the stage of the persona in the last stanza of the poem. Do look it up and have a read. On a more positive note, Elizabeth Barrett Browning once said: “No man can be called friendless who has God and the companionship of good books”. I tend to agree – books are for me like old friends and the more creased the spine, the closer I feel to it.
OK, here’s list 1
1. Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky – the sheer feverishness of it and the guilt, the guilt. If you like Macbeth, you will like this as well.
2. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley – made me laugh out loud, it is so clever and prophetic I find it hard to believe he wrote it in 1936, a work of genius!
3. The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter – an absolute gem of a book, this collection of short stories blew my mind when I first read them and it’s a great introduction to this writer’s impressive imagination.
4. The White Hotel, DM Thomas – I read this first when I was 14. It had a profound affect on me and I had to read it again in my early 20s to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.
5. The Fifth Child, Doris Lessing – dark and a great contraceptive! One is quite enough for me!
6. Tess of the Durbervilles, Thomas Hardy – also dark, and deeply saddening. Innocence lost… A Hardy treat. I read this first for A level and I felt I was so close to the character I could step inside her world. Helped inspire me to go on and study literature at degree level.
7. Beloved, Toni Morrison – beautiful, beautiful prose and incredibly evocative. She is a poet and a master storyteller. I have never been so moved since Dostoevsky.
8. London Fields, Martin Amis – I like this one for the characters and the plot. It kept me guessing and was a real page turner at a time when I needed one.
9. The Cement Garden, Ian McEwan – darker than all the others. I eagerly await the next McEwan novel. He is one of my all time favourites. He can really write about women well too – a bit like Hardy in that way.
10. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie – a magical epic and a must read for anyone interested in that period of India’s history. Rushdie paints a vivid picture.
1. Veronica Decides to Die, Paulo Coelho
2. Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
3. The Impressionist, Hari Kunzru
4. Fasting Feasting, Anita Desai
5. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
6. Disgrace, JM Coetze
7. The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga
8. Misery, Stephen King
9. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Alan Silitoe
10. Animal Farm, George Orwell
Happy reading all and do tell me what your favourite books are or who your favourite writers are. Introduce me to a writer from your country. Sorry I didn’t provide comments for list 2. I had run out of steam by the time I got to that one. Remember, the number one rule when trying to develop a habit of reading – go for a genre you are interested in and would normally read in your own language, that way, you'll enjoy it!
Well done all of you who attempted the corrections from Olfa’s blog. I think all of you got them right, with the exception of the last one. Here are the answers:
All the phrases were wrong because they didn’t ‘agree’. What I mean by this is that the pronoun or article in the phrases didn’t agree with the subject.
• One of the many days off*
• 4 days off*
• these 4 days
• a well-prepared worker who knows/well prepared workers who know
• until I was fifteen years’ old
• *note: to make day off plural we need to remove the hyphen and add the ‘s’ to ‘day’ rather than ‘off’.
Challenge1: Find 5 examples of narrative devices in today’s post – phrases which move the story on/introduce a new point.
For example, "In my last blog I said …"
Challenge 2: Find 4 phrasal verbs in today's post and use them in a sentence. Say whether they are literal/non-literal/both.
Night night, oh and by the way – wish me happy birthday! I am 32 again tomorrow!
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