World Book Day: Some Suggested Good Reads

Today (5 March) is World Book Day. The event was the idea of Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in education, the sciences and culture.

World Book Day celebrates book and their authors, and illustrators, recognising the worlds and opportunities that open up through the simple act of reading.

I asked some good old Pembs folks that we have featured at one time or another to recommend some good reads.

Alas Winton, author of a series of books on dyslexia, was the first to respond. We knew Alais as a great Doctor Who fan, so we were expecting something quirky and we weren’t disappointed.

I love many of author Jasper Fforde’s books,” Alais told us.  “The Eyre Affair was the first one of his I read. It is funny, clever and very weird and wonderful. I think being a literary detective like his main character, Thursday Next, would be amazing. Jasper Fforde’s blog says he lives in Wales too”.

The Eyre Affair takes place in an alternative 1985, where literary detective Thursday Next pursues a master criminal through the world of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E Frankl was the choice of hypnotherapist and psychotherapist Jonathan Hughes who works at Wintern House in Fishguard. He describes this book as a compelling story that turns a personal tragedy into a triumph.

Jonathan says, “As a Jewish doctor and survivor of the Holocaust, Viktor tells his own remarkable story of finding meaning in suffering.” 

Written in 1946, the book describes Viktor’s psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positive about as an aid to survival.

Lesley Matthews, who coordinates the Community Fridge in Fishguard, said: “So many books, so little time!” But she chose The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.

Published in 1997, it is a first-person narrative that tells the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and Leah, sister of Joseph.

“She is a minor character in the Bible, but the author has broadened her story,” Lesley told us. “It made a great impression on me, showing a different interpretation of the Jacob story, showing women and how powerful they were.”

Helen Carey, local author of a number of popular novels, including the Lavender Road series, set in London during the Second World War told us, “I have just finished reading The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (who wrote The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and the brilliant rewrite of Mutiny on the Bounty which I also thoroughly enjoyed).

The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a marvellous book, totally engrossing as it follows the traumatic, tragic and sometimes very funny life of one young gay man through the second half of the last century in Ireland. It shines a light on prejudice, sexuality, the corrupt power of the Catholic church, and the extraordinary variety of the day-to-day life of 20th-century Dublin. I loved it.”

Caroline Denman, who recently won our ghost story competition, suggested a novel by another local author, Clive Ousley. Caroline is a keen fan of science fiction and fantasy and particularly liked The 13 Reincarnations of Luke Arthur.

“The novel is available on Kindle,” she said, “along with its sequel, Ring of Souls.  It is really interesting, set in the future, about past lives and memory wipes. I found it a little slow initially but I was quite quickly hooked. It’s a very clever book.”

The 13 Reincarnations of Luke Arthur is set against a backdrop of late-21st-century Europe dissolving into chaos and civil war, Luke and Emma have to find the owner of a disembodied voice and enlist its help to find a way for mankind to survive the ultimate apocalypse.

Deb Winter, Pembrokeshire writer and storyteller, recommended  Esther Bligh by Diana Powell. “I  enjoyed the cleverly created atmosphere of menace and superb ‘sense of place’,” she told us.

The book is further described on Amazon as a wonderful debut novel from an exciting new Welsh author, with beautiful writing bringing light and life to a dark and mysterious subject. The story concerns Grace Marlowe and her move to West Wales where, instead of the fresh start she hopes for, she finds herself trapped in a dark, forgotten house.

A Room Of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf was the choice of editor and journalist Nigel Summerley, who is a director of Pembrokeshire.Online.

He said, “I have to confess that I only recently discovered this wonderful little book from 1928. Woolf’s writing is truly beautiful, but her message – in this feminist tract – is unremittingly tough. Her soft and gentle way with words is employed to deliver a close-to-vicious indictment of male dominance in the world in general, and in the arts in particular.

Her musing on what might have befallen a talented sister of William Shakespeare is just one of the devices she uses to make her point: ‘Any woman born with a great gift in the sixteenth century would certainly have gone crazed, shot herself, or ended her days in some lonely cottage outside the village, half-witch, half wizard, feared and mocked at… a highly gifted girl who had tried to use her gift for poetry would have been so thwarted and hindered by other people, so tortured and pulled asunder by her own contrary instincts, that she must have lost her health and sanity…

Woolf’s book is an erudite howl of protest against patriarchy, misogyny and sexism. It must have been truly shocking a century ago – and it still packs a forceful and sadly relevant punch today.

So, there you have it, an interesting selection to inspire and delight. Let us know what you think. Happy World Book Day!

Kitty Parsons

Kitty Parsons

Kitty is an incomer, with five summers under her belt and the knowledge that even the wettest and greyest of winters have not diminished her love of Pembrokeshire. She knows she will never live long enough to be considered a local but hopes to leave some small mark through writing about this beautiful county and its people.

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