Monday, 8 January 2018

Reading Challenge Week 1 - A book you read in school

How have you been going with the 52 Week Book Challenge?

Last week's theme was "A Book You Read in School", and here are some books we've been reading:

Brenda Carter read Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen:

It is a truth universally acknowledged...that everyone should read Pride and Prejudice at least once in their life.

Pride and prejudice (820 AUSTE) by Jane Austen was one of my Year 12 texts and has since become my favourite novel. In fact, Pride and Prejudice is cited by academics and booklovers as the bestselling novel of all time and has never been out of print (Powell, 2017). Austen's wry social commentary, expert characterisation and timeless wit make this book my go-to read.  From a 90's rom-com (Clueless) and Colin Firth's 'wet shirt' (Andrew Davies' 1995 screenplay) to a Bollywood musical (Bride and prejudice), the novel's many adaptations demonstrates its continuing relevance in the 21st century. Already hooked? You might consider joining the Jane Austen Society or attending the Jane Austen Festival.

If you missed celebrating the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death in 2017, reading Pride and prejudice would be a great place to start. You can find all of Austen's works and much more in the library catalogue.

Samantha Baxter read The Gathering by Isobelle Carmody:

I remember The Gathering (820.94 CARM, Curriculum Collection) by Isobelle Carmody being one of the books assigned to me in high school that I actually enjoyed, at the time I wasn’t a big fan of young adult fiction. So when I rediscovered it recently and this challenge came up I decided to re-read it. It had been awhile since my original reading but I remembered certain parts of the story, funnily enough it was things like Nathaniel’s description of ‘the pain barrier’ that had stuck in my mind as opposed to actual plot points.

The story centres on Nathaniel Delaney, who has been shuffled around by his mother since his parents’ divorce. Now finding himself in the town of Cheshunt, a place that automatically sets him on edge. He feels a negativity around him, especially at his new High School, Three North High. What follows is a horror/fantasy story, including wild dogs, and magical talismans. As well as more mundane ‘evils’ suffered by Nathaniel’s schoolmates.

The story is fast paced, but with a depth that keeps the characters interesting and with regular revelations that are sometimes expected and sometimes out of the blue. I am glad to have re-read this story from my adolescence.

Rachael McGarvey read The Silver Sword, by Ian Serraillier:

I was first introduced to The Silver Sword (820 SER, Curriculum Collection) when I was in primary school, it was read to the class by our teacher, and I have loved it since.

Serraillier's book is based in Poland during the second world war and it is about a family who are separated due to their opposition towards the Nazi regime.  The story follows each of the members of the family in their struggles and difficulties to escape and survive the conflicts of war and reunite with each other.

The Silver Sword is an amazing story that will stay with you long after you have closed the book.

Sharon Bryan read Pastures of the Blue Crane, by H.F. Brinsmead:

I remembered enjoying  Brinsmead's Pastures of the Blue Crane (820.94 BRI, Curriculum Collection) in high school and, reading it again 20 years later, I can see why I liked it.

It’s basically a “Girl’s Own Adventure”, in which 16-year-old Ryl Merewether (who has never known life outside of boarding school) suddenly acquires A Life - involving a run-down dump of a farm, a grumpy grandfather she never knew existed, and a group of friends she might never have spoken to in her "old" life. From a prim, stuck-up school girl who doesn’t know how food gets onto the table, she grows into a resourceful young lady who would be the match of any action heroine, even though her “adventures” consist of planting a banana patch and learning to surf.

But this coming-of-age story is also an exploration of attitudes towards race – particularly concerning the South Sea Islanders who came to Australia via “blackbirding”. The "twist" in the story has less impact now that it would have in 1964, but it's still well worth reading, to see this slice of life from Australia's recent past.

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