The Books That Changed Our Lives – Part 1

I sat down with my fellow Intrepid English Teachers to find out about their taste in literature. I could never have imagined the diverse and deeply personal responses that they would have. When my Intrepid English students heard about these interviews, they wanted to join in too. Now, these interviews were so compelling, that they flourished into a four-part series, which I will publish every week of November.

You will discover the books that changed our lives, we love and hate, what we’re ashamed not to have read… yet, the books we believe are over-rated, and the stories that made us cry! You are in for a treat!

Throughout November, we will be running our 30-day Novel Writing Challenge. That’s right, everyday, I will teach you snippets of the art of writing a novel and give you small, easily actionable tasks each day.

I like to think of it as taking you by the hand through a secret garden, at the end of which lies your very first novel, written in English.

Yes, you can be a writer.

In the words of Stephen King, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

I hope this interview, and the 30-Day Novel Writer’s Challenge will inspire you to do both.

What books are on your to-read pile?

Tom

Intrepid English Teacher

There are quite a few. I’m a big history nerd, so anything by Timothy Snyder is always quite high up my list. I’d also like to read Wilding by Isabella Tree again.

Maddox

Intrepid English Teacher

So, so many, but highest on the list are probably Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Olga

Intrepid English Learner

One day, when my English is good enough: Steven Pinker The Stuff of Thought. Lessons in Loyalty. How southwest airlines does it. An Insider’s Point of View by Lorraine Grubbs-West.

Lida

Intrepid English Teacher

Too many to list. The two I can see right now are Through the Language Glass by Guy Deutscher and Shadow of Kyoshi by F. C. Yee. Through the Language Glass is, as you may have guessed, a book about language and how our perception of the world changes depending on the language or languages we speak. Shadow of Kyoshi is an adventure fantasy novel set in the universe of Avatar the Last Airbender, following avatar Kyoshi. It’s the second and final book in the series, and the first one was great for some light reading.

What book do you think is overrated?

Tom

Intrepid English Teacher

This is controversial, but the His Dark Materials trilogy is, in my opinion, quite overhyped. Likewise, although the universe from the Lord of the Rings is incredible, the actual books aren’t that interesting.

Lorraine

Intrepid English Teacher and Founder

The Hero with A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.

I kept hearing the name of this book in TED talks, podcasts and documentaries, so I was really intrigued to read it. It is a seminal work of great importance, but I found it unnecessarily dense and inaccessible. Although I love obscure vocabulary, reading the book was like walking through thick, wordy mud. I have bought the audiobook, and I plan to have another go when I can give it my full and undivided attention.

What book are you ashamed not to have read?

Tom

Intrepid English Teacher

Nearly every book on my university compulsory reading list.

Olga

Intrepid English Learner

1984 by George Orwell.

Kate

Intrepid English Teacher

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood. I need to add it to my ‘to-read’ pile.

Lorraine

Intrepid English Teacher and Founder

War and Peace. Who has the time?

As a fan of Tolstoy, especially his heart-breaking novel Anna Karenina, I am a little ashamed to admit I have never read War and Peace. It is regarded as one of Tolstoy’s finest literary achievements and is widely regarded as a classic of world literature. It’ll have to stay on my shelf a little longer, though… maybe I’ll get to read it when I retire.

What is your favourite book?

Maddox

Intrepid English Teacher

Hands-down The Picture of Dorian Gray. I’ve read it three times, it’s my go-to when I want to experience something beautiful. Oscar Wilde’s humour and wit are unmatched, and the story is one of the few examples of queer representation in ‘the classics’.

Lorraine

Intrepid English Teacher and Founder

Asking people to choose their favourite book is like asking a parent to choose their favourite child! It’s impossible to choose, because there are so many situations in which different books are the best companions. When I think about two books which were the perfect companion in a given situation, I would have to say Shantaram by Gregory D Roberts and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I know that @Maddox has also chosen The Picture of Dorian Gray so I will write about Shantaram. The reason this will always have a place in my heart is that this book accompanied me on an eight-day bus journey across Australia. As a poor backpacker, I had no other method to traverse this vast space other than by Greyhound bus. It could have been a very uncomfortable journey, but I just happened to pick up a copy of Shantaram in a hostel book exchange before I left and it was the perfect companion for that trip.

It opens “It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.” – If that hasn’t piqued your interest, I don’t know what will. It’s a thrilling story of an escaped prisoner searching for connection and meaning while running a clinic in one of the Bombay’s poorest slums under the watchful eye of the Bombay mafia.

I don’t recommend that you take the Greyhound bus across Australia, but I certainly do recommend that you read Shantaram when you want to escape to an exotic land full of adventure and intrigue.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our interview – Coming soon!

Taking part in the 30-day Novel Writing Challenge is simple! If you’re not yet a member of Intrepid English, then click here to sign up. If you are a member, then all you have to do is join the 30-day novel writing challenge group which you can find in the group page below.

If you have any questions, or you would like to request a topic for a future blog, you can contact us here or email us at Intrepid English.

Book a free trial lesson today and talk about your learning goals with an experienced native English teacher. Say goodbye to boring English lessons! Book a FREE Trial Lesson

This blog was written by Intrepid English teacher, Tom

Find out more about Tom on his Intrepid English Teacher profile page.

The Intrepid English Academy

Your personal path to success in English

Subscribe

Enter your name and email address below to receive news, English tips and offers.

Thanks for subscribing to our newsletter!

Related Articles

Responses

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *