Summer reading

16th July 2010 at 01:00
School's out and some of our readers are reaching for their book shelves. TES Scotland asked eight educationalists what they plan to savour over the summer .

CAROLINE MCLEOD, Early years programme manager, Scottish Book Trust

The first book on my list of summer reads is The Plug-In Drug by Marie Winn - a classic text about the effects of television on children, which has recently been updated and revised. Featuring interviews with parents and practitioners a plenty, it promises to be an informative and interesting read.

Having recently read A Room with a View, I am so looking forward to getting lost in Italy again with EM Forster's Where Angels Fear to Tread - what a treat!

Jonathan Safran Foer has been a struggling vegetarian for many years and his continual self-retribution, coupled with the birth of his first son, have spurred him on to find out what actually happens to the animals that end up on our plates. I am keen to read Foer's new book, Eating Animals, although not looking forward to the grim reality that it contains.

And then there's Great Expectations - too many classics, too little time. Need I say more?

JAN CROSTHWAITE, Librarian, Braes High, Falkirk

Having spent the past six months reading and judging long lists of young fiction for the Falkirk Red Book Award and the Royal Mail Book Award, I am looking forward to some personal summer reading. Now that I have finished the Twilight saga, first on my list is The Second Short Life of Bree Tanner by Stephanie Meyer, which Michael Simpkins of The Daily Telegraph describes as "a rattling good read".

The second book on my list is one I've been wanting to read for ages: the haunting The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Alan Garner in The Guardian describes this story of post-apocalyptic America as "terrifying, but also beautiful and tender".

My third choice is Skippy Dies by Paul Murray, about life at an Irish boy's school in Ireland. Murray is a real Irish literary talent and I thoroughly enjoyed his debut novel, An Evening of Long Goodbyes, which was shortlisted in 2003 for the Whitbread First Novel award.

LINDA KINNEY, Stirling Council assistant chief executive (learning, empowerment and citizenship)

The Earth Hums in B Flat, by Mari Strachan, is a beautiful story about family life with a Welsh village as the backdrop. It's told through the eyes of young Gwenni, who's very curious and sees things from a different perspective. It's a reminder of how perceptive children are.

I'm re-reading Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, which was described as the first great American novel of the 21st century when it was published in 2001. It explores key modern themes, such as global capitalism, through the breakdown of a typical American family, the Lamberts. It's interesting to read it in the context of the Obama administration. At times it's an uncomfortable read, because it reveals the truths of how we live our lives.

I tend to like female authors: Jane Austen, AL Kennedy, Andrea Levy. Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex, which I read in my 20s, made quite a big change to my life. It described experiences I'd had as a woman; I remember one time in a Glasgow nightclub when I was shouted at to get out of a room because women weren't allowed in. I don't go back and re-read it, but it's given me a perspective and understanding that I didn't have before - it's become part of who I am.

JIM CONROY, Dean of education, Glasgow University

As I prepare for what I think is a well-earned two-week holiday, I have to decide which of the books I have accumulated in the course of the past eight or nine months I am actually going to take with me.

The only certainty in what is usually a magical mystery tour (never quite sure what's actually on the shelf) is that I won't be taking Alastair Campbell's self-justificatory tome. I have, I think, sorted out three books. First is a wonderful historical biography of Robespierre by Ruth Scurr, Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution. Over recent years I have had an increasing interest in the revolution and its aftermath, and a thoroughly absorbing BBC programme a few months ago, entitled The Terror, refuelled it.

The second book in the bag is The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings by anthropologist David Lancy. Over 40 years there has been a growing claim that childhood is an early modern invention, a social construct and consequently infinitely malleable. Considering how childhood is constructed elsewhere might cast a little more light on the strengths, pitfalls and weaknesses of our own view on these matters.

At the airport, I intend picking up Tony Parsons' Men from Boys. I have always been a secret Parsons admirer, because I find something refreshing in his honesty and emotional integrity. Of course I might just fall asleep for two weeks .

RUSSELL BROWN, Children amp; young people's library services manager, North Lanarkshire Council

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is set in a dystopian future where America has been transformed into 12 colonies that are forced, once a year, to send a boy and a girl to the Hunger Games, a fight to the death, with the winner receiving fame and fortune beyond their wildest dreams. The book has been gaining real momentum across the water, and a film version is planned.

Then there's The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, which tells of Mary's world and the fence that surrounds her village, a fence that protects her from the forest of hands and teeth. This is a cross-over novel, one that appeals to young and old alike.

In Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, the main character is a wise- cracking detective, powerful magician, sworn enemy of all things evil - oh yes, and dead. This novel has been around for ages and the series has a real cult following.

I have to admit that I'm a big Twilight fan - or "Twifan" as I think we're called. I loved the first four books and I'm really looking forward to seeing how Stephanie Myers has managed to make a story out of a relatively small character from the third Twilight novel, Eclipse, in The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.

SHELAGH TOONEN, Librarian, Buckie High, Moray

I loved my first taste of Sarah Dunant's literary suspense in In the Company of the Courtesan and so am very excited about The Birth of Venus, her first historical novel. It brings alive the history of Florence at its most dramatic period, telling what promises to be an absorbing story of love, art, religion and power.

It's from Florence to Mexico in one of my anticipated hot reads of the summer, The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. It straddles the Mexican revolution and the crazed communist witch-hunts of 1950s America, following Harrison William Shepherd - a nobody who inadvertently becomes a somebody when all he wants is a safe place in which to be invisible.

I am a huge fan of Scottish writers and have selected several who have written books this year. Among them is Alan Warner's novel The Stars in The Bright Sky. Over a decade after he wrote the comic Scots novel The Sopranos, he's decided to revisit those wild girls. The gang of sambuca- slamming, chain-smoking singers, who first appeared as schoolgirls and now return as adults, will make for a read that hooks the reader once again, I am sure.

MARGARET MCCLUSKEY, Teacher, St Brigid's Primary, Glasgow

What I've heard of Stieg Larsson is fascinating - his life, his work, his politics, his crime novels, his untimely death, so I've decided it's time to read his work. I'll start with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and if it's a goer, I'll read the trilogy over the summer. Barry Forshaw's biography of Stieg Larsson will be a good reference to find out more about this intriguing journalist and political activator who wrote the bestselling Millennium Trilogy in the evenings after work as a way of relaxing.

Interestingly for me, it is claimed Lisbeth Salander, the main character, was conceived of as a grown-up Pippi Longstocking-type character. As a young child who wasn't at all interested in reading, I became fascinated by the dysfunctional Pippi with her super-power strengths.

However, I have to admit the long-haul flight to Sydney will be blissfully spent with a Maeve Binchy or two - Heart and Soul and The Return Journey. How else would I know school's out and it's the start of the summer hols?

CARA AITCHISON, Head of Moray House School of Education and chair in social and environmental justice, Edinburgh University

My "summer reading" is likely to be "early autumn reading", given that I only moved to Edinburgh at the beginning of June and have so much to do. I have a growing pile of books I've been collecting over recent years and plan to take a few on holiday to west Cornwall in September.

Top of the pile is The Scottish Enlightenment: The Scots' Invention of the Modern World by Arthur Herman. Although I was a geography student at Edinburgh in the mid-1980s, I didn't fully appreciate the contribution that Edinburgh-based philosophers, writers and scientists had made nationally and globally.

Philosophy also relates to my second choice, Philosophical Issues in Tourism, edited by John Tribe. I'm currently writing a book entitled Gender and Tourism: Social and Spatial Justice, to be published next year, and this is essential reading.

A number of novels await my attention, too. I'll be taking The Night Watch, Sarah Waters' fourth novel, and - continuing the Second World War theme - Atonement by Ian McEwan, and Lark Rise to Candleford, Flora Thompson's semi-autobiographical trilogy set in Oxfordshire and originally published in 1945. Lark Rise reminds me of the wonderful years I spent living on the Oxfordshire-Gloucestershire border and we'll no doubt stop off in Gloucestershire en route to Cornwall.

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