The Books That Changed Our Lives – Part 2

A woman in a cosy cream cardigan is reading a book

Read about the Intrepid English teacher‘s tastes in books – what they love and hate, what they’re ashamed not to have read, what they think is over-rated, all is here in our interview!

As November is our 30-day novel writing challenge, I thought it would be interesting to ask the Intrepid English teachers and students about their taste in novels. Here’s what they had to say:

Listen to this blog post on the Intrepid English Podcast here.

What book makes you cry?

Lorraine

Intrepid English Teacher and Founder

A Women in Berlin – Anonymous. This book broke my heart. It is the autobiographical story of a period of eight weeks in 1945, as Berlin fell to the Russian army. The young female writer kept a daily record of life in her apartment building as the final weeks of WWII close in around them. The book depicts the complex relationship between desperate civilians and an occupying army and examines the human condition during times of war. It’s an incredible book, but it will break your heart.

Olga

Intrepid English Learner

Victor Hugo, The Miserables, Lev Tolstoy, Resurrection, Erich Maria Remarque, Spark of life.

Tom

Intrepid English Teacher

The last book that made me cry was This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. He has such an honest way of writing that it’s hard not to empathise.

Maddox

Intrepid English Teacher

The Kiss of the Spider-woman by Manuel Puig broke my heart in the best way. The novel (or script, depending on how you read it) is just conversations between two people imprisoned in Buenos Aires during the Argentine dictatorship. One is a Communist who’s been arrested for activism, and the other is a window-dresser and film-fanatic who was arrested with corruption of a minor. An unlikely romance forms through bonding over fiction as an escape from their grim reality. Just thinking about it makes me tear up, I won’t say another word more! 

Kate

Intrepid English Teacher

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne.

Tatiana

Intrepid English Learner

It Ends With Us by Collen Hoover.

What book makes you laugh?

Tatiana

Intrepid English Learner

Any one of Sophie Kinsella’s books.

Momo

Intrepid English Learner

Cat and Sea-Squirt by Yoko Mure. She makes me laugh a lot.

Maddox

Intrepid English Teacher

John Dies At The End by David Wong. It’s a hilariously twisted science fiction novel that keeps you guessing, even though the ending is spoiled right in the title. This book got me into trouble a lot in school, because I would burst out laughing when reading it under the table.

Kate

Intrepid English Teacher

I remember really enjoying The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. Or recently I read Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton and some parts of that made me laugh.

Kim

Intrepid English Teacher

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.

What book makes you frustrated?

Momo

Intrepid English Learner

One of my friends recommended I read one of Agota Kristof’s novels. I expected the book to be dramatic and exciting, but it was too long. I was frustrated.

Lorraine

Intrepid English teacher and Founder

The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off! – Gloria Steinem

One of my all-time heroes, and the owner of the loveliest laugh I have ever heard, is the incredible Gloria Steinem. The reason this book fires me up is that it reminds me of the unnecessary struggles faced by women all over the world. Throughout her life and career as a journalist and activist, Gloria Steinem’s eloquence has empowered countless others, inspired hope, called out inequality and brought people together.

Some highlights for me include:
“Many are looking for the right person. Too few are trying to be the right person.”
“The voting booth is the one place on Earth where the least powerful and the most powerful are equal.”
“The less gender-polarized the culture, the lower the degree of violence and the greater degree of democracy.”
“There can be no true democracy with racism and without feminism.”

Tom

Intrepid English Teacher

This is such an English teacher answer, but the most frustrating thing for me is a boring language textbook (or one with mistakes). It’s not difficult to make languages and cultures interesting!

Maddox

Intrepid English Teacher

Utopia by Thomas Moore frustrated me because it was written in 1516, but may as well be describing 2020. It’s an account from an explorer who lived in a fictional island civilization which he called “utopia” because of its happy and prosperous people. It covers issues like gender roles, education, law and order, and countless other things that you still see in headlines today. I guess some things never change.

What book do you like to read on a rainy day?

Momo

Intrepid English Learner

A rainy day! How inspirational. If I had a long, free, rainy day, I would want to read very dramatic novels.

Lorraine

Intrepid English Teacher and Founder

On The Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks.

I first encountered Oliver Sacks on one of my favourite podcasts, RadioLab. He seemed simultaneously brilliant, kind, articulate and fascinating. With so many facets to his unique personality, it’s impossible to define him. He lived a fascinating life and wrote many books. I’ve chosen his person memoir for this particular list, but I wholeheartedly recommend anything by Oliver Sacks. He was a neurologist, naturalist, historian of science, author, motorcycle enthusiast, traveller, and a devoted doctor who spent his career caring for, studying and bringing awareness to the experiences of patients with neurological disorders. He wrote with incredible grace, giving us humorous and magical first-hand accounts of the human brain. I emphatically recommend any book by Oliver Sacks. He really was one in a billion and I will continue to re-read his work for years to come.

Lida

Intrepid English Teacher

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury is a collection of short stories set in a fictional town. It paints the town and its inhabitants perfectly, it’s whimsical, and each chapter is short, so it’s easy to dip in and out.

Kate

Intrepid English Teacher

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

Tom G

Intrepid English Teacher

I especially like anything as an audiobook on a rainy day, because when the rain is coming down there’s nothing better than cooking something delicious whilst listening to an audiobook.

Stay tuned for part 3 of our interview!

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.

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This blog was written by Intrepid English teacher, Tom

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

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