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My life in books

Elli Housden is a former English teacher at Tollbar Academy, New Waltham, Lincolnshire, and author of a series of secondary English textbooks

What I'm reading

The Help

By Kathryn Stockett

I received a Kindle for Christmas so it has been a treat to have the world's literature at my fingertips. The Help is one of my favourite novels that I have been revisiting. It is set in 1962 in Mississippi and traces the friendship of two African-American maids and the heroine, Skeeter, who has just graduated from university. Since To Kill a Mockingbird, I have loved books set in the Deep South, even if they do reveal disturbing undercurrents of racism. The Help is a wonderfully warm and humorous debut novel. The film is being released in August.

The book I loved as a child

Cold Comfort Farm

By Stella Gibbons

I was a voracious reader of English literature from an early age. This novel really tickled my sense of humour. Twenty-year-old Flora Poste, a prepossessing young lady, is left orphaned and penniless. So she goes to find her family connections in Sussex. What she discovers is a bizarre and backward mix of individuals.

Read this before you die

How to be a Brilliant English Teacher

By Trevor Wright

I read Wright's book in Australia in 2005 and found it insightful and practical. "Good teachers understand knowledge, but brilliant teachers understand ignorance," he says. Wright gives lots of examples of ways to focus on planning lessons with "small" objectives, rather than grand visions too complex to be achieved. Even if the book is just used as a revision lesson, it is still worthwhile.

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