100 book you must read, otherwise you’re just a bit dumb

selective focus photo of pile of assorted title books
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Read these books or else,

Visit these museums or life

Has been wasted, just squandered

And don’t forget musical theatre,

The ballets and classical music,

See it and hear it before you die

Or suffer the wrath of the masses

And know you’ll be seen after your death

As one of the plebs, the meaningless scum.

I often see those lists of 100 books you must read before you die and I start to panic that I have only read maybe 30 of them. I completely disregard the fact that I normally read about sixty books a year, and just focus on the fact that I’m obviously not reading ‘quality’ literature.

But really, who cares? I want my students to love reading and I think that putting pressure on people to read a set list of books that has probably been compiled by a Cambridge educated man, is wrong.

Books open the doors to new worlds and it doesn’t matter if you are reading War and Peace or one of the Shopaholic series; you are still entering somenody else’s life and learning from that experience. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read something that is considered to be chick-lit, and ended up educating myself.

And there are lists for all sorts of things that I think should be absolutely ignored. Most people don’t have the money to go to London and see 100 West End shows, so are these people less valuable to society than those who have been lucky enough to have access to these experiences?

Life is beautiful because it is so varied, and I really wish that people would be encouraged to appreciate their journeys. Make sure you do educate yourself, but don’t worry if you’d rather not read 1000 pages written by a long dead Russian guy.

Much Love

Rachel xx

words for young minds

The words we write for the purest ones,

The ones who still are yet to see the world

That you and I have seen, have felt stab wounds

That scared us, hurt us, broke our hearts,

We need to write those words so delicate

To ease them into real pain,

To soften the inevitable blow

When life comes lurching in their way.

I’ve started writing bits and pieces for young adult readers because I have spent so much time around this age group. And I see that most of them are on the cusp of understanding the world a little more. Some of them have already started to see it through adult eyes.

I think that literature is a way to soften the blow. If they can read about these things through the eyes of characters that they fall in love with, then they can have a little taste of it without getting the full whack.

I’ve had three kids in my tutors groups this year who have lost parents in the last 12 months and that must be horrific for a twelve year old to go through. I have seen the deep pain that causes and it actually scares me as an adult. I’m not suggesting that a book could take away that pain, but perhaps they can help kids through those difficult moments.

Much Love

Rachel xx

getting something back

I love a bit of tug of war

I give you some, you pay me back

In bubbles of our inner thoughts

That roll like marbles over desks,

Popping as they reach my feet

Ready to be held in hot and heavy hands

Eager for some payment in

The pockets of my humming mind.

I have always said that teaching the younger kids is my favourite. I like the way that their brains work and I love the innocence. And then, in truth, I have been a little bit scared of the older kids; like they’ll be able to see through me.

However, I’ve started teaching the older ones a bit more regularly and they are really growing on me. I’m starting to love the fact that I get a little something back from them, on an intellectual level.

It’s nice to see a class pulling apart a text and really enjoying that process and it’s really helped me to reignite my love of actually studying literature and not just reading it.

It has made me think a bit about what I get from teaching. Earlier this year, I liked the stories and the funny things they say but as my confidence has grown, I think I like to be challenged myself. It’s nice to open up debates and really delve into the themes. How times are a changin’ for me.

Much Love

Rachel xx

if life was a cosy mystery

The elderly lady pointed her finger

Accusingly, but not with any malice.

Her eyes sharp, but drained of any colour,

Skin translucent, paper thin.

But she’s cracked the mystery yet again,

It was the vicar, naturally, who killed the woman

With a candlestick while in the library.

Wouldn’t it be nice if life could be

Wrapped up like a cosy mystery?

But something gave him away,

There was something behind his godliness

That didn’t quite add up.

Nothing’s ever really what it seems.

Miss Marple makes it look so easy,

But even she must wobble underneath

That floral dress and knitted cardigan.

Did he really do it? Can I really trust

That feeling in my gut?

I guess you never can be sure,

But Marple never seems to get it wrong

And that’s a confidence for which I long.

I love a good Agatha Christie novel because I like the way that it’s all tied up neatly by the end. Nothing is left in any doubt and we can then move onto the next mystery knowing that nothing is going to come back to haunt us in a later book. If only life was so simple, so open and closed.

But there must be something that Miss Marple sees in the murderer that makes her suspect him or her in the first place. It appears that everyone is hiding something, even in this fictional world that seems so certain.

I just wish that I had the confidence to know for certain what the answer to my problems are. Then I could put them to bed and move onto the next thing. I do wonder if she ever sometimes questions her own judgement before she points the finger? And I wonder if she ever gets it wrong? Perhaps every so often, she later finds out that she got the wrong person and she has to make a full apology and look a bit silly?

If you are wrestling with a problem at the moment, don’t worry if you’re not as certain as Miss Marple. Life is messy and complicated and anyway, I’m sure that even Miss Marple questions herself every so often. You’ll sort it out eventually and ten years from now you may not even remember the stresses that you are feeling today.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

do you ever read a book…?

do you ever read a book

and wonder how the writer

got you so incredibly

and accurately right?

did she crawl inside your head

and have a rummage round?

or is there someone out there

who might just get the way you tick?