Jennifer Ashe is head of English at Bishop Challoner Catholic Collegiate School in Tower Hamlets, east London.
What I'm reading
By Barbara Kingsolver
Set in Mexico and the US in the first half of the 20th century, the context of this book is just as influential and engaging as any character. The book centres on conflicts: between art and politics; Mexico and the US; past and present; and, of course, the mixture of fictional and historical characters such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Leon Trotsky. The narrative is well-paced and encompasses a range of voices and forms. Weighty but worth it.
The book I loved as a child
A Child's Garden of Verses
By Robert Louis Stevenson
I loved the rhyming and rhythm of poetry as a child; the saying aloud of word patterns and sounds. Here I found a selection of poems that spoke for me. Stevenson understood the restricted sphere of childhood and showed his own escape into the world of the imagination. In sharing his childhood, he taught me to savour my own experiences and delight in the fun and texture of language.
Read this before you die
One Hundred Years of Solitude
By Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This novel marks the labyrinthine chronicle of the Buendia family who found and inhabit Macondo, a village in South America. It draws the reader into a fantastical world where wisdom and innocence combine and the ideas of family and love are explored over the century of the title. Marquez's writing is luxurious; his characters are sensitively drawn and flawed in the most human ways. Whimsical and bawdy and filled with magic realism, it is impossible to read just once.
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