I’m a terrible person to recommend a book to; I’m really snooty about anything I see as being “too mainstream” and always have such a ludicrous TBR list that the chances of me actually reading something that’s been recommended are very slim. And yet, people still persist. So, for this week’s Recommendations TTT (hosted, as per, by The Broke and The Bookish), here are some of the titles that have been thrust upon me, some more successfully than others.
Wise Children by Angela Carter
Picture the scene; I was a young, naive and newly-qualified teacher, getting ready for my first job. Given the privilege of teaching an A-level class, I sought advice on what to read with them. My head of department suggested I use a novel she loved, called Wise Children. It had an attractive swirly cover and I wanted to impress, so I went along with it. And thus began one of the most awkward terms of my professional life, as I cheerfully read scenes of incest and repeated use of the “F bomb” with shellshocked 16 year olds. In our first lesson (and, in fact, my first ever lesson as a proper teacher), I had to explain to them what a “virile member” was. I am still scarred. It is a brilliant book though.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Another teacher recommendation and another horrible teaching experience. Apart from being really, really bleak, Things Fall Apart is (whispers nervously) pretty terrible and the kids all hated it. The only thing they enjoyed was the repeated reference to something called “foufou suop,” which apparently is a rude word if you’re 15 and not very mature. Yes, I know it won some big awards but, as someone who has read 4/6 of this year’s Booker shortlist, I can say that this does not always mean anything.
Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
I’ve talked about this book quite a lot on my blog (like here), so suffice to say my dad recommended it to me and I will be forever grateful.
The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way
This was one of my first forays into reading graphic novels and was recommended to me by a pupil and fellow My Chemical Romance fan. It was a great recommendation; I’ve now read quite a few graphic novels but this remains a favourite, with its cool artwork and completely random plot.
Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski
This was recommended by pupils too; it’s an entertaining story of a group of privileged teens who develop powers of ESP after being injected with a flawed flu jab. This is pretty good: the sequel, however, was awful.
Dark Eden by Chris Beckett
Recommended by a colleague, I enjoyed this weird scifi about a society of people living on a remote planet, generations after their ancestors crash-landed. It’s strange and made me never want to read the word “slip” again, but I did enjoy it.
Dietland by Sarai Walker
This was recommended to me by a Laila (you can find her blog here) after a previous TTT, for which I wrote about feminist books, and I am very grateful for the suggestion. It’s billed as a female Fight Club, which, apart from being quite an annoying way to describe anything, is only slightly accurate. I reviewed it here.
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
This was recommended to me by a school librarian and I snootily ignored her because a) I am rude and b) I somehow mixed up this book with all those true-life misery memoirs with names like A Child Locked in a Cupboard. Once I realised this was actually both incorrect and quite stupid, I read, loved and was deeply traumatised by Kevin.
Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
Lent to me by a colleague, this was my first introduction to O’Neill and she is now one of my idols. This book is so searing and so smart. I think it should be required reading.
Lock-In by John Scalzi
This was recommended by a friend who has read several of my recommendations. I have started it and am impressed so far, but I do need to actually finish it.