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Click here for The Growth of a Teacher by Irene Ellen Power Clifford, written in 1954-55 about her teaching experience in London Infant and Junior schools from 1919 to 1953.

Books & Magazines (advanced readers)


  1. Christmas reading (including stocking fillers)

  2. Parodies and Spoofs

  3. Adult fiction

  4. Children's and teenagers' fiction

  5. Crime thrillers

  6. True life stories / biographies

  7. Poldark (18th century Cornwall)

  8. Queen Victoria (19th century)

  9. Downton Abbey (early 20th century)

  10. Food and Fitness

  11. International interest

  12. Magazines

Christmas reading

Dickins at Christmas [vintage classics edition: a nicely produced hardback, gathering together Dickens' Christmas books as well as the special seasonal editions of his periodicals]

The Christmas Card by Dilly Court [a heart-warming romance]

Round the Christmas Fire: Festive Stories [reasonably priced hardback which includes stories from Laurie Lee, Truman Capote, Kenneth Graham, John Cheever, Sue Towsend, Nancy Mitford, Dylan Thomas, Charles Dickens, John Julius Norwich, P.G. Wodehouse and Stella Gibbons, among many others]

The World According To Anna by Jostein Gaarder and Donald Bartlett [at the heart of this contemporary story is a fifteen-year-old girl's vision of the desolate world of 2082. The cheerful part is the "act now" theme i.e. all which needs to be done in order to prevent Anna's vision from coming true]

A Snow Garden and Other Stories by Rachel Joyce [Seven linked stories set in the Christmas holidays. These stories, which capture the activity and some of the chaos of a UK family Christmas where many age groups are present, have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4]

Guinness World Records 2017 [well illustrated, exploring details on topics such as animals, the human body, sports and exploration; records involve measurements - a very useful area of English vocabulary, which need not involve heavy reading]

Up to 25% off hundreds of gifts at Waterstones bookshop including some of the best books of 2016, books from popular categories, little books for stocking fillers, humour, indoor games

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Parodies and Spoofs

Many people in the UK who are nearing or over retirement age have vivid memories of children's books such as Enid Blyton's 'Famous Five' and 'The Ladybird: How It Works series'. Last Christmas, parodies and spoofs of classic children's series became a new trend both in publishing and present-giving (luckily for the new authors!). This Christmas, the trend is expected to continue.

Parodies of 'Famous Five' books

Five on Brexit Island [Hardback: published 03/11/2016 - ridicules the choice made in the recent UK referendum to leave the European Community]

Five Go on a Strategy Away Day [Hardback: published 03/11/2016 - makes fun of in-service company training courses]

Five Give Up The Booze [Hardback: published 17/11/2016]

Five Go Gluten-Free [Hardback: published 03/11/2016 - pokes fun at self-diagnosis and changes of diet arising from health concerns]

Five Go Parenting [Hardback: published 03/11/2016]

Parodies of the 'Ladybird: How It Works' series

How It Works: The Grandparent [Hardback: published 20/10/2016]

How It Works: The Mum [Hardback: published 11/02/2016]

How It Works: The Dad [Hardback: published 19/05/2016]

How It Works: The Husband [Hardback: published 29/10/2015]

How It Works: The Wife [Hardback: published 29/10/2015]

How It Works: The Student [Hardback: published 25/08/2016]

Adult fiction

The Girl on the Train [A fantasy thriller based on a commute between a city suburb and London Euston]

The Girl with All the Gifts [A captivating thriller described in VOGUE as 'Haunting, heartbreaking']

Grief is the Thing with Feathers [A first novel, partly based on Ted Hughes' Crow collection]

Golden Hill by Francis Spufford [Set in New York in 1746 when merchants were accumulating wealth on Manhattan island]

Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh [His first & funniest novel - social satire of 1920s high society]

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Children's and teenagers' fiction

Girl Online: Going Solo: 3 [Fiction & romance: hardback published 17/11/2016, suitable for children and teenagers].

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children [Fiction & fantasy suitable for children and teenagers]

The Midnight Gang by David Williams and Tony Ross [Fiction & humour: hardback published 13/11/2016, amusing story of five children on a hospital ward, suitable for children and teenagers].

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Children [Fiction & fantasy suitable for teenagers - the eagerly awaited sequel to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children]

The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange [Children's & teenage fiction - a family based mystery story set in the summer of 1919]

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child [Children's and teenage fiction]

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling [Hardback]

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts I and II: The Official Script Book of the Original West End Production by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany [Hardback]

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Crime thrillers

His Bloody Project [a crime thriller, set in 1869 and the crofting community of Culduie - Scotland's answer to the Scandi crime wave, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016]

Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith [Crime and mystery - set in Moscow's famous Gorky Park amusement centre]

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True life stories / biographies

No Picnic on Mount Kenya by Felice Benuzzi [Paperback - Second World War history about a daring escape up Mount Kenya by Prisoners of War]

Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen [Hardback - autobiography 7 years in the making from this thoughtful and very talented singer / songwriter]

Jeremy Paxman - A Life in Questions [Hardback - memoirs from the long-running presenter of BBC TV's Newsnight and University Challenge]

The Shepherd's Life - a tale of the Lake District [James Rebanks describes a shepherd's year and his connection with the rural life of this beautiful part of England]

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Poldark (18th c Cornwall)

Ross Poldark - Poldark 1 [Paperback - the first novel in Winston Graham's popular series set in Cornwall in the 18th century]

Demelza - Poldark 2 [Paperback - the second novel in Winston Graham's popular series focusing on Demelza's transition from poor miner's daughter to wife of Ross Poldark and mother of their first child]

Jeremy Poldark - A novel of Cornwall 1790 to 1791 [Paperback - featuring Poldark in his darkest hour as he faces trial at Bodmin Assizes accused of wrecking two ships]

The Poldark Colouring Book [Paperback - contains memorable images from BBC1's TV series 1 and 2]

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Queen Victoria (19th c)

The Victoria Letters [Hardback - the official companion to the ITV Victoria Series]

Queen Victoria - a life of contradictions [189-page hardback biography. Separate from TV series. Provides a good overview of her life and the changes in society during her reign]

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Downton Abbey (early 20th c)

Downton Abbey: Series 1 Scripts [The scripts allow further study of the characters and themes - a good way to learn English if you enjoy the context of a story. Series 1 covers the late Edwardian era as the occupants of the grand country house approach the outbreak 1914-18 War]

Downton Abbey: Series 2 Scripts [The scripts allow further study of the characters and themes - a good way to learn English if you enjoy the context of a story. Series 2 opens in 1916 as the strain of the 1914-18 War hits the household]

Downton Abbey: Series 3 Scripts [The scripts allow further study of the characters and themes - a good way to learn English if you enjoy the context of a story. Series 3 follows the lives of the Crawley family and their servants as they cope with the aftermath of the 1914-1918 War.

The Chronicles of Downton [Series 3 TV Tie-in which takes up the story from after the 1914-18 War]

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Food and Fitness

Jamie Oliver's Christmas Cookbook [Hardback: published 20/10/2016]

Lean in 15: The Sustain Plan: 15 Minute Meals and Workouts to Get You Lean for Life by Joe Wicks [Paperback: published 17/11/2016]

Get The Glow: Delicious and Easy Recipes That Will Nourish You from the Inside Out by Madeleine Shaw [Hardback: published 23/04/2015]

Good Food Eat Well: Low-Fat Feasts [Paperback: published 01/01/2015]

The Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook by Sarah Flower [Paperback: published 21/12/2012]

Great British Bake Off: Learn to Bake: 80 Easy Recipes for All the Family

Great British Bake Off: Children's Party Cakes & Bakes

Great British Bake off: Christmas

Great British Bake Off: Winter Kitchen

Great British Bake Off - Perfect Cakes & Bakes to Make at Home: Official Tie-in to the 2016 Series

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International interest

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics [great backcloths for multilingual-group discussion of topics drawing on politics, economics, history, geography, environment and international relations]

EU Referendum: A Guide for Voters 2016 [Non-partisan guide. Includes chapters on the history of Britain in Europe]

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