Baker’s Beacon Blog – Week 20

3 March 2023

Dear Parents,

World Book Day yesterday and a plethora of activities for the boys, and staff, to get involved in. One such was signs on all doors of what book that member of staff was currently reading.  Mine, for the record, is ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ by David Walsh, detailing his pursuit of Lance Armstrong.  I have such admiration for David Walsh as an author and as a journalist; a brave, articulate, passionate and thoroughly professional individual and the very first article I will read in a weekend’s Sunday Times.

When I was Beacon Boy age, my go-to books were the Willard Price, ‘Adventure’ series.  I loved these books and would devour them in a few days.  There also seemed to be an endless supply of them – always on the same theme and basic story but just a different setting.  Having just checked on Wikipedia, there appears to have been 14 of these books, which is probably just the right number for that type of book at that stage of one’s life.  I was also (still am) an ardent Tintin fan.  I would read these books over and over and collect all manner of memorabilia.  The stories were one thing but I just found the artwork so beautifully drawn.  So simple yet so detailed, Hergé (or more correctly Georges Remi – Hergé comes from his inverted initials) was an absolute master of the graphic novel craft and played to a child’s love of geography, history and adventure.  Into my teens, I remember finding Sue Townsend’s ‘Adrian Mole’ books hilarious reading and for me, ‘unputdownable’ – I vividly remember my mum telling me sternly, “Nicky, put the book away!”, as I was reading it whilst walking down to the beach in Cornwall one year, with book in one hand and polystyrene surfboard in the other.  Later in life, I tried to introduce these books to my own children but my, have they dated, and become completely unrelatable to a 21st century audience.

Into university and we all passed round Nick Hornby’s ‘Fever Pitch’ up and down the corridor at my Hall of Residence.  Such an authentic and emotive book that all football fans can associate with.  On a similar theme and time, I remember not wanting ‘A Lot of Hard Yakka’ by Simon Hughes to end – such a funny, well written book with lots of insight, gossip and intrigue of the county cricket scene of that era.  It would have been around that time that I discovered Peter Carey.  I’ve read lots of his books, most notably ‘True History of the Kelly Gang’ and find his writing style so different and unique that the next book (by a different author) you read feels like it’s missing a literary depth.

More recently, Brigid and I would wait patiently for the each Khaled Hosseini book; there are only four and published many years apart.  Having read ‘The Kite Runner’, I passed it to her and would constantly annoy her by asking her to read the sentence she was currently on, just so I knew where she was in the story and then watch her reactions as she came across a particularly moving scene. On a similarly populist theme, we would never have a Robert Harris book pass us by; such a brilliant storyteller and historian and a thoroughly interesting man to boot if you ever hear him on radio or television.

So there you go, a very brief history of my life of reading.  I’ll post this now and think of dozens of great titles that I haven’t mentioned above.  And that’s the beauty of books boys…there is an endless supply, and every week you can uncover another gem that enriches your life and allows you to potentially enrich others with your recommendations – get reading!

Have a great weekend,

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