My life in books

11th February 2011 at 00:00

Hazel Shaw is a retired primary head, now living in Hampshire

What I'm reading


By Orhan Pamuk

In 2006, I had the most wonderful opportunity to visit Turkish schools on an EU-funded programme. I was the only Briton among a group of 17 educationalists from 11 European countries. I returned in love with Turkey and its people (and with the whole idea of Europe) and acquired four books by Orhan Pamuk in order to progress this new love affair. The first one I read, My Name is Red, put me off entirely but I am now embracing, seasonally, Snow. It is about the hugely charged issues of fundamental Islam in the East and West and will challenge my thinking and extend my understanding.

The book I loved as a child

Little Women

By Louisa May Alcott

I was given this by a neighbour, my "aunty Mary", when I was about six. I was enthralled by this gift and loved being absorbed into the lives of the March family, especially the four girls, and being able to share their sorrows, joys and values. The book has both a happy and sad ending and allowed me to experience death through story, something which is sometimes, regrettably, a no-go area in schools and homes today.

Read this before you die

War and Peace

By Leo Tolstoy

I read this between school and college, inspired by my study of A-level Russian history. I acquired my romantic view of a great Russian epic: a vast, dramatic land, a terrible, absorbing history and visionary rulers. I was mostly interested in the romantic stories and skim-read several of the battles, but I loved the book and felt a great sense of achievement when I got to the end.

If you would like to share your life in books with other teachers, email

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