We hope you are enjoying some reading time in isolation and if not, we greatly encourage you to do so! In the World Book Day, The English Matters team would like to recommend some of their favourite books and we have made this selection for your reading pleasure.
Oh, the places you’ll go – by Dr. Seuss
This book is an inspirational, yet realistic, book for older children. If you are not familiar with Dr. Seuss and his style of rhyme, rhythm and repetition, you will find it here. It is a fun way to look at life and takes the reader through all the ups and downs that might come your way as you go on the journey that is called life. It is also a nice book for adults who are starting a new chapter in their lives. I highly recommend it!!
“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
Brooklyn – by Colm Toibín
This is one of my favourite books, although it does make me quite sad. It tells the simple story of Eilis, an Irish girl who lives with her mother and older sister. Her father is dead, her brothers are in England and she doesn’t have many prospects of marriage or a good job. She finds herself moving to America to make a life for herself, a common move made by many Irish people throughout the 20th century. We are told of her homesickness, her sadness and her joy as she navigates her new life but often feels the strong pull back to her home in Ireland and to her roots. Eilis, the main character, is extremely likeable and you will fall in love with her as you accompany her on her journey.
“What she would need to do in the days before she left and on the morning of her departure was smile, so that they would remember her smiling.”
Recommended by: Stephanie Kelly
A Monster Calls – by Patrick Ness
A fiction novel in which Conor, a 12 year old teenager suffers the reality of his mother’s illness, cancer. The book is full of symbology. A monster, who plays the role of cancer, arrives one day to Conor´s house with no intention of leaving soon. The book is written from the perspective of Conor, and many teenagers could feel represented by him. It deals with different topics such as how we face problems, reaching maturity, our fears or our deepest desires. Although it seems to be a frivolous and easy to ready book, it faces human psychology from a very deep perspective.
The Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona made a film from the book in 2016.
“You do not write your life with words…You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.”
Recommended by: Aran Mozo
My Brilliant Friend – by Elena Ferrante
My Brilliant Friend is the first of four novels published by the enigmatic Italian author, Elena Ferrante. Under this nickname, she has managed to be globally acclaimed, while preserving her identity and privacy untouchable. It seems that the only way to get to know the author is, in a way, by discovering her true self underneath her words. Don’t you feel thrilled already?
This first novel tells the childhood story of two friends, Elena Greco (Lenú) and Raffaella Cerullo (Lila), who struggle to create their own path in a world full of violence and ruled by men, in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. The imagination and eagerness for challenge of the two young friends know no limits. A tender and rich story about friendship, in the context of the transformation of a nation. If you need a teaser to read this book, I would highly recommend you to try the HBO adaptation of this saga, titled under the first book, «My Brilliant Friend».
“Children don’t know the meaning of yesterday, of the day before yesterday, or even of tomorrow, everything is this, now: the street is this, the doorway is this, the stairs are these, this is Mamma, this is Papa, this is the day, this the night.”
Recommended by: Amaia Lag
Silence of the Grave (Icelandic: Grafarþögn) – by Arnaldur Indriðason
Set in Reykjavík (Iceland), «a capital in Europe in the middle of nature surrounded by mountains and ocean» (Bjork). Human bones discovered at a construction site on the outskirts of Reykjavík start uncovering dark secrets from the modern past of Reykjavík. Who was that battered woman somehow connected to the place? Are there still people alive who can tell the story?
Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson, a lonely character in Reykjavík, obsessed with the past and the shadow of his brother, a boy who disappeared, tries to solve the case. But he must save his drug addict daughter from self-destruction as well, because Erlendur is simply someone made of flesh and blood who carries his own problems behind him as any human being. In the end, we learn that any criminal investigation is always a pretext to solve a riddle of the past and that the secrets carried to the grave cannot remain hidden forever. Failed relationships and heartaches, domestic violence and fear, family loyalty and shame.
Originally published in Icelandic in 2001, the English translation won the British Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger award for best crime novel of the year 2005.
Bildung. Alles, was man wissen muß (Spanish: La Cultura. Todo lo que hay que saber) – by Dietrich Schwanitz
Perhaps the title is something pretentious but this book presents a general overview of the Western cultural canon which many young people might be interested in reading and many not so young people would read to remember things that were once studied. It is very useful when you need to quickly and concisely overview various fields related to culture.
Although originally written in German, the title in English would be «Education (or Culture): Everything you need to know.» It has been translated into Spanish but not in English yet.
The book is structured into three sections. First section «Knowledge» deals with the history of Europe as a great narrative, the language of form and the great works of literature, the history of art and music, the great philosophers and the scientific theories, ideologies and opinion makers. The second section «Skills» guides the reader through the «
House of Language«, the world of books and writing, political geography for women and men of the world, intelligence, talent and creativity. Finally, a chronology of the main historical events, a selection of books that have changed the world, tips on how to read a book, and a name index, complete the offer of this handbook on culture.
Someone has said that this book includes everything that one never dares to ask in a gathering, and Fernando Savater, the Spanish philosopher, has considered this book as «A compass to guide us in the modern world to overcome the current maze of data«.
Recommended by: Eduardo Marín
We invite you to share some of your own recommendations with us in the comments section. Happy reading and Happy World Book Day!