I am going to look at three different books for today’s blog. This is because there are different reasons for having read these books a number of times.
My first choice is Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. While I think this is a fantastic book, I would not have read it the number of times that I have if I did not have to teach it every year. I first read it for my own GCSE, back in the mists of time. I have taught it in every school that I have worked in. I think that it is such
a popular choice because it is simple enough for readers of every ability to get something from it but also complex enough for A graders to look at deeply. I still find the ending devastating even though I know what is coming. Partly this is due to the fact that it is so effecting and even the most disaffected pupils become drawn into it. I certainly do not mind reading this book again and again.
My second choice is one of the novels I read for my MPhil. In order to study
something closely you need to read it a number of times. My MPhil was on masculinity and violence and while I could have chosen a number of books for this (London Fields, A Child in Time, Frisk, Dirty Weekend, Trainspotting) I have decided to go with American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. This
is undeniably a difficult book to read. The violence is gruesome and senseless. I wasn’t looking forward to reading it once, never mind studying it. However, I soon realised that the novel is actually about a desperate search for identity.
Reading this book over and over confirmed that this was not simply a misogynistic glorification of violence towards women as some critics seemed to think. Bateman was possibly a fantasist, certainly his status as a wall street broker suggests a link between psychopathology and success in certain fields that these days seems to be taken as a given.
My final choice is a book that I have read a number of times for pleasure. This is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. This is a book
I first read when I was 19 and have read 2 or 3 times since then. Every tiem I re-read this book, I find new delights and new things spring to the front. It is novel with a lot to take in as it dots around in space and time between Moscow at the start of the twentieth century and biblical times. It was one of the first books I read that played around with the ideas of time and space something that has fascinated me ever since. Writing about it now makes me feel that I want to read it again but my to-read list is so long I really can’t justify it at the minute.