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Excellent literature that isn't all doom and gloom

(43 Posts)
Jux Fri 08-Feb-13 17:24:18

DD and a select group from her year have special literacy classes with the Head. So far they have read

The Knife of Never Letting Go
Great Expectations
Things Fall Apart

Next, they are doing The Inheritors.

She is getting a bit depressed! These books seem to be sorely focussed on the dark side of life/society etc.

We are trying to think of books which are of the ilk, but a little more optimistic.

Any ideas?

HelpOneAnother Fri 08-Feb-13 17:30:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HelpOneAnother Fri 08-Feb-13 17:31:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pride And Prejudice!

How old is she and what sort of things does she enjoy? What is the point of this group? Do you want things for her to learn from or just relax with, or both?

MechanicalTheatre Fri 08-Feb-13 17:39:47

Jude the Obscure


Thanks the gods you put the wink - I thought you'd gone mad! smile

MechanicalTheatre Fri 08-Feb-13 18:55:14

Well, everything turns out alright in the end!


Jux Fri 08-Feb-13 19:02:17


This is literacy for the exceptionally gifted <stealth boast grin >. The head invites pupils to do it. It is not linked to an exam, but is meant to enhance and increase their literacy skills.

DD finds most of the books depressing, but mainly it's the Head drawing parallels between, say 1984, and current society which she finds most depressing.

She has tried saying "oh, Mrs X, you really know how to focus on the good things in life" or somethings like that blush; I have asked her in what ways our society is not like 1984, and asked her if she can detach herself and just read as a piece of writing rather than a story she gets involved with.

Maybe she's still a bit young for that (but I wouldn't have thought so). Maybe it's that we are having a slightly stressful time at home which exacerbates it.

I thought if we could come up with some suggestions for alternatives, it might help. Though I'm sure the Head has all the books decided for use this year, but if dd could pipe up with alternative views from literature during their discussions? Oh I don't know.

Literature or literacy?

Aged Yr 9ish dd1 really enjoyed all of the Austens (and they are all v feelgood!)
Jane Eyre (happy-ish ending! Tell her to skip the boring crap about the boring old missionary geezer!)
Madame Bovary
A Handful Of Dust (bloomin' depressing though) and other Waughs but she didn't think much of Brideshead
Lord Of The Flies - VERY depressing though!

She could read some Wodehouse for fun maybe? Or some Georgette Heyer?
I Capture The Castle

Jux Fri 08-Feb-13 22:31:29

She's going through Austen atm, bit by bit, and she's read Jane Eyre (and I was hoping she'd then look at Jasper Fforde onmthe back of it, but she's not interested).

Hadn't thought of Mme Bovary.

Wodehouse she didn't enjoy, and she won't even consider Heyer as she's been put off it by her dad. I know her non-romantic escapist stuff is very different and lauded, but dd's been completely put off for the moment. When she's older she'll probably get over her prejudice against romantic novelists and give Heyer a proper go.

I just thought of I Claudius, Gormenghast, maybe C P Snow?

Jux Fri 08-Feb-13 22:33:40

I Capture the Castle is an excellent idea, too.
Also just remembered A Country Child by Alison Uttley, if I can find it. Too many of my books are still in boxes. Both of those are.

Jux Fri 08-Feb-13 22:42:41

Sorry, the lessons are called literacy, but they are literature really, (as I experienced it at school), though they talk about the books and don't write essays. I think they're meant to enjoy it; it's certainly presented as a privilege to be studying 'more advanced' literature.

In their 'normal' English lessons they read books like Windsinger, which are nothing like as bleak.

Are you a teacher? Do you know if this is what goes on in all schools, and really what it's purpose is? And whether it's usual for the pupils to find it so depressing? DD said today she wanted to drop out of the class, but as it's invite only by the Head, I think that's probably not such a good idea.

MsMarple Fri 08-Feb-13 22:46:32

I'm studying Wuthering Heights at the moment, and wishing it could be Cold Comfort Farm instead. Much more cheerful!

MsMarple Fri 08-Feb-13 22:59:49

Do you think she'd like plays? The Importance of Being Earnest? Or some Shakespeare comedy? Much Ado about Nothing perhaps?

'Windsinger' is excellent - does she known it's the 1st of a trilogy?

'The Knife Of Never Letting Go' is also the first of a series - they're not bunnies and flowers but they are v v good.

The head's list thus far seems a strange collection but I suppose she's just trying to get her brightest pupils to broaden their reading and not settle for 'The Hunger Games' and 'Twilight' maybe?

I am a teacher but I've not heard of this before. I wouldn't have thought that many pupils would necessarily see this as a reward/treat tbh! smile

DD1 is in 6th form now but she is becoming a bit of a Nabokov nut lately. Not feel good by any stretch of the imagination but 'Lolita' is a work of genius imho and she LOVED 'The Eye' (which I think is pretty daft tbh).

Might she try Sci-fi stuff like John Wyndham?

Yes to Cold Comfort Farm! Maybe Miss Jean Brodie? Or some Agatha Christie (but only Poirot!).

And if plays =

Educating Rita?

highlandcoo Sat 09-Feb-13 00:15:35

Nancy Mitford : The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate

Jerome K Jerome : Three Men in a Boat

James Thurber : The Thurber Carnival .. and other writings

and best of all .. Diary of a Nobody : George and Weedon Grossmith

It definitely doesn't all have to be doom and gloom smile

Jux Sat 09-Feb-13 11:55:12

Ooh yes! Cold Comfort Farm!!!! Completely forgotten about that. Another one which is in a box somewhere.....

Have given her 100 days of solitude, but she hasn't started it yet. Not sure about Nabokov as I didn't enjoy his books, but worth a try.

Thurber, Mitford, Jerome, I've got them all. In boxes somewhere. grin This w/e shall be a weekend of excavation...

Remus, there are about 6 of them, and they all seemed to think it was a fantastic opportunity and were chuffed to bollocks when the letters arrived over the summer telling them of it and that they were invited. Not sure how they are all feeling now. It's one lesson a fortnight; no idea what they are missing in order to do it.

Just give her a box and let her grab what takes her fancy! smile

When she reads for pleasure, what sort of things does she generally choose? Perhaps we could think of classics or modern texts which link to those?

TempusFuckit Sat 09-Feb-13 16:33:20

Scoop, Travels with my aunt, Moll Flanders, The Woman in White, Bleak House

anonymosity Sun 10-Feb-13 20:16:38

What about American literature - there are stacks of excellent novels all studied at 1st class UK universities:
Writers including
Maya Angelou
Philip Roth
Norman Mailer


MarianMaudsley Sun 10-Feb-13 20:26:16

Decline and Fall
The Pickwick Papers
some Roddy Doyle - I like The Van best I think

Might she consider Bill Bryson as something lighthearted after all the doom? Or the Ladies' Detective Agency series?

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