Saturday, 21 April 2012

Further along the Bookshelf: Reading at School

Reading aloud in English lessons, sharing a text with thirty other boys. Books read in class have stayed with me all my life. Cider with Rosie, Lord of the Flies even The Invisible Man.  

We also read The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. We were told to skip the chapter that dealt with Sherlock Holmes' cocaine problem. Of course, we all read the chapter outside the lesson, and it remains the most memorable part of the story to me.

Then there were the books outside the curriculum. Lots of TV tie-ins, Edgar Rice Bourough's Martian Chronicles featuring John Carter, and the other Carter, the horribly sexist and violent Nick Carter books. It's probably just as well my parents knew nothing of the contents of these nasty, James Bond inspired, tales.

I first discovered Men at Arms by Evelyn Waugh while studying for O level English Literature. Officers and Gentlemen was one of my set books and I decided to read the complete Sword of Honour trilogy. The subsequent television adaptation of Waugh's Brideshead Revisited led me to read most of his novels over the years.

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