Ever since I could read, I have - unsurprisingly - received books as presents on my birthday and Christmas. It has become a little family tradition for my family to surprise me with books they think I would like - always a range of non-fiction, poetry, novels - and the depth of their thought in this choosing seems to be a wonderful celebration of the spirit of Christmas and the joys of reading!
To aid you in spreading literary love and Christmas cheer, I have compiled a list of some of (in my humble opinion) the best books I have ever read. Hopefully you will be gifting at these one of these to someone you love (including yourself!)
For gothic/horror: The White Devil by Justin Evans. A modern boarding-school inspired horror with intriguing links to 'real life' Victorian hauntings and the mysterious childhood of infamous poet Lord Byron.
Historical/mythological fiction: Circe by Madeleine Miller. Mrs Price recommended this to me, I then nudged it Mr Holland's way... all three of us have really enjoyed this bittersweet first-person narrative of a seemingly minor figure in Greek myth.
Fantasy: I know Mrs Barnes will be delighted with this, as will many of the Year 8s who studied it with her last years, but Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' remains high on this list for the spirit of adventure and as a literary classic. If you are buying for slightly younger children, you can't go wrong with the gloriously fantastical and comical 'Enchanted Wood' by Enid Blyton.
Dystopian: The Power by Naomi Alderman remains one of the most thought-provoking, disturbing and exciting novels I have ever read. It considers a world turned upside down by the emergence of seeming 'super powers' in most of the female population. If you are looking for something more 'teen-friendly' then look no further than 'Noughts and Crosses' by Malorie Blackman, a novel that also explores a subverted world - where white people have been historically oppressed and maligned.
Diversity reading: Arguably the most important of this life as many of us are learning that diversity, inclusion and compassion comes from action and the will to engage outside of your own norm. Literature, art, are excellent ways in to this - stories that are not your own, or from your own culture - and here are some that have changed the way I think, and have been thoroughly enjoyed by some pupils and staff here. Reni Eddo-Lodge's non-fiction text 'Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race' is excellent and very compassionately informative. 'How To Be An Anti-Racist' is another compelling and helpful read by Ibram Kendi. On a fictional note, 'The Children of Blood and Bone' series by Tomi Adeyemi is thrilling and I know that Mrs Price's year 8 class have really enjoyed immersing themselves in book one.
Poetry: After having live-streamed the Roundhouse Poetry Slam last week into the Orangery, I can't now not mention this gorgeous artform. It's such a simple and emotive way in to reading more. I can't recommend Nikita Gill enough for teens - her poetry is concise, provocative and honest. For anyone looking for a more 'classical' introduction to poetry, look no further than the Faber and Faber poetry selections (they even do poetry diaries - a poem for every day of the year).