Books we should have read?    -    Chris Snuggs et al

I gave a young relative a copy of "The Diary of Anne Frank" as a Christmas present last year but have discovered that he hasn't read it. I am assuming he is too busy gaming or whatever. My assumption/impression (unbacked by research) is that teenagers just do not read as much as we did - and that the way they write is changing under the pressure of mobile texting and so on. (This is a contentious and complex subject!

Anyway, with reference to Anne Frank, I do think it is a book any civilized person should try to read. As far as I remember, it was never mentioned at WHS and I did not make the effort to find and read it - perhaps I didn't even know about it. The holocaust itself was all a bit vague. I don't remember it being discussed at school; perhaps it was dealt with more fully in later years. I seem to remember a copy of "Five Chimneys" being passed around in Halls House circa 1961, but I never got hold of that either - or indeed of "Lady Chatterly's Lover" which achieved a certain notoriety at the time.

I have determined to read Anne's Diary myself, but not without trepidation, well-founded when I read the first chapter and found it impossible without tears coming to the eye. Her language is so bright, vivid, full of life, but of course one knows that she died in Belsen-Bergen concentration camp in February 1945 - tragically like all the rest but in her case just a few months before liberation - and not gassed but of typhus. What a life as a writer and activist she would have had.

I think everyone should read her story and why not also "Five Chimneys" ( just to remind ourselves how evil Homo Sapiens can be. And that got me thinking about OTHER books which should be on a must-read curriculum. Here are a few for starters; what others could one recommend?

  • "Animal Farm" - George Orwell
  • "1984" - Ditto
  • "Brave New World" - Aldous Huxley

  • "Lord of the Flies" - William Golding

  • "The Trial" - Franz Kafka
  • "Robinson Crusoe" - Daniel Defoe: the Human Spirit: courage, inventiveness
  • "Far From the Madding Crowd" - Thomas Hardy: rural reality, work, love, fate, duty, loyalty, tenacity, devotion, tragedy
  • "Florence Nightingale: A Life From Beginning to End"

Regarding Florence, of course I KNEW of and a bit about her but reading her biography many years after WHS staggered me; she was just such a remarkable and beautiful person.

We should have read more biographies, too - reading about the lives and achievements of Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday and other great figures of the past is riveting - but I never did it till long after leaving school.

It may be an age thing, but I think about Anne Frank almost every day, as I do about many others, strangely enough even WHS teachers I never knew such as Richard Cobb ( and Patrick Richardson ( who also died too young - as indeed did Bob Rowlands, the latter two in car accidents. Dying is bad enough, but going" before your time" is especially tragic.

I never knew Cedric Carr either, but I often think of him, too as I do of Mark Golebiovsky, Jim Atkinson and others.