World Book Day: What’s on Fourth Day’s bookshelf?
By Laura Thomas
A s schools all over the country encourage their students to come in dressed as their favourite fictional character as part of World Book Day, we’ve been getting into the spirit of things at Fourth Day by sharing some our favourite reads.
If you’re keen to immerse yourself into a great story, here’s a some of our favourites to inspire you.
‘The Secret History’ by Donna Tartt
Recommended by both Guy and Lizzie, this is one for anyone interested in classical literature, or indeed, murder mysteries – well, in this case without the mystery. You’ll see what I mean if you give it a read.
The story revolves around a group of classics students at Hampden College, which is a small, elite college in New England. The Secret History follows the narration of a lonely and brooding character, Richard Papen, who looks back on the series of events that led to the group’s murder of their fellow classmate, as well as how this catalyst seals the harrowing fates of each of the group members from thereon out.
Guy explains: “I’ve never read anything so entrancing – dark, atmospheric and full of complex characters – I still think about it, constantly!”
“It’s the definition of a page turner and, as a classic enthusiast, I love its connection to Ancient Greece and the tragedies”, adds Lizzie.
‘A Clockwork Orange’ by Anthony Burgess
As recommended by Danny, this well-known story was also turned into a controversial film, banned in 1971, but then nominated for a multitude of awards in the Oscars, the Golden Globes and the BAFTA’s.
Not a read for the faint-hearted, this novella examines the concept of behaviourism at a time when England was gripped by fear of juvenile delinquency. While many, including the likes of The Sunday Times, have reviewed the book as being “a very ordinary, brutal and psychologically shallow story”, its language being written entirely in a form of Russian-influenced English has stood it apart from the rest for decades.
Danny explains: “Although I found it a difficult one to start with, due to it being written entirely in its own language, it is meticulous in showing the influence that language can have. I have heard that Anthony Burgess was inspired by a mixture of Russian, Cockney rhyming slang and Shakespeare’s English.”
‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama
Recommended by Xanthe, this biography is a must-read for any aspiring politicians out there.
On the week of International Women’s Day, we don’t think there’s any better time to speak about our love for Michelle Obama. Not only is she a lawyer, former First Lady of the United States, feminist and equal rights activist – but she has also taken the time to tell us her story, all the way from her upbringing in the south side of Chicago, to her marriage with Barack Obama.
Here, in the Fourth Day office, we’re mad for biographies that offer us a real insight into the world of other people. Xanthe told us it’s “well worth reading” although, to her disappointment, it doesn’t come with a step-by-step guide to become Michelle Obama!
‘The Storyteller’ by Jodi Picoult
This fable-like story, which comes highly-recommended by Chloe, has been praised for its tackling of real-life, contemporary issues.
This story centres around the extremely self-aware, Sage, who struggles with her own grandmother’s experience as a Jewish woman who lived through the Holocaust. As she battles with the notion of justice, and all of the different forms it can come with, the story preaches important lessons around forgiveness.
Chloe says: “Jodi Picoult has a style of writing that makes the story easy to read, despite its subject matter. This meant I was hooked right until the end.”
‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ by George Orwell
As recommended by myself, this dystopian novel was first published in 1949 – but is just as relevant to the state of society today.
Set at a time when the majority of the world’s population had become subjected to an omnipresent governmental surveillance and overwhelming propaganda, this novel meticulously examines the themes of nationalism, censorship and privacy through the following of the novel’s protagonist, Winston Smith.
These themes are still issues within today’s society with regular news articles around the unknown surveillance of individuals via phone hacking or other modes of data collection – as well as the prominence of social media which, in itself, puts every individual under the microscope.
‘Diary of an Ordinary Woman’ by Margaret Forster
This story, which has been written in diary-form from the point of view of the protagonist, Millicent King, comes highly recommended by Nikki.
After being contacted by a 98-year-old woman who offered up all of her insights to the writer in the form of 80 handwritten notebooks, Margaret Forster set about editing the diaries to reveal exactly how the trauma of war affected the ‘ordinary’ woman. Praised by critics who said that it “gave the 20th century woman a voice”, this book explores Millicent’s personal journey of love and loss, alongside the “catestrophic first world war; the darkness gathering over Europe from the 20’s onwards; the blinkered disbelief that it all might happen again; the death and destruction of the second world war.”
Nikki says: “It’s simple, very human and gives a voice to an everyday woman living her life in the 20th century. It’s also not quite what it seems (so best not to read anything about it beforehand!)”
We’d love to hear from you this World Book Day, please do get in touch if you have any books that you would like to add to this list.