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Book Week 2016

04 March 2016

Thank you to everyone who contributed to Book Week – whether you did so by entering the Art Competition, by writing a Book Review in English, by being prepared to read in Assembly (thank you Pati, Gunjan, Marci, Leah, Owen and Marin!), by choosing your favourite book or by helping to organise the whole thing. Thank you, particularly, if you decided to read that particular book because of something that happened during the Book Week activities.

I’d also like to repeat what I had to say in Assembly this week: I love the internet.

I’ve been a ‘Doctor Who’ fan since the 70’s and - thanks to the internet - I can watch any episode from the series. Even ones that don’t exist anymore. And sometimes, thanks to leaks and piracy, even ones that haven’t been on telly yet.

When I was a kid, Target book adaptations of televised ‘Doctor Who’ stories were my internet. They basically repeated the television stories across 128 pages and were usually written by an ex-script-editor of the programme, Terrence Dicks. Who was brilliant. Target attempted to publish all the stories from the series; and they included stories that didn’t exist anymore; and once for the anniversary special, ‘The Five Doctors’ – the adaptation even appeared in the shops three days before the story was televised.

I read dozens of these books, many more than twice. And if I had to choose right now between having the books or the television stories I’d obviously choose the television but I would have to add that, in the books, the acting was always pitch perfect and the special effects were always fantastic. The most convincing special effects are still created in the mind.

Reading these books also opened up my mind to a wide range of other brilliant writers – like Asimov and Clarke and Heinlein and Dick and Wyndham and Baxter and Wells and Reynolds and Hamilton and Douglas Adams – whose work I continue to enjoy.

The 1980’s was a great decade for horror films. Special effects were suddenly good enough to make grisly ideas credible and VHS meant that all sorts of cheaply made films depicting acts of terrifying and atrocious terror were widely available. As long as you were over 18. Which I wasn’t. Fortunately, as books don’t come with age-restricting certificates I was lucky enough to enjoy the dark world of writers like Stephen King, James Herbert, and Guy N. Smith.

In the 1990’s I was reading more ‘Literature’. I didn’t start reading Literature then, because one of the first books I remember reading – ‘Treasure Island’ – gets to sit under that definition. As a term, ‘Literature’ is a bit hard to define. Does it mean the book is old or worthy or difficult or boring? Personally, I just think it means that it may well be a good book. And that’s good enough for me. My advice is, don’t be intimidated– don’t avoid a book because you think it’s too difficult for you or it might be boring. I could be but it could also be the best book you ever read.

For Book Week, all the Senior School teachers were asked to name a favourite book. You may find some great recommendations among them. In English classes recently, students have also had the chance to see what their peers would suggest. Why not find one of these before the end of the week and give it a try?


Gruff Jones
Deputy Head of IB
Head of English