Anita Devi’s top 5 eclectic summer reads for educators wanting something a little different:
5. “Hitler’s Children — Inside the Families of the Third Reich” by Gerald Posner
Through these exclusive set of interviews, Gerald reveals how the children of prominent Nazis now judge the sins of their fathers. Many of them grew up in the privileged atmosphere of Hitler’s inner circle. Their stories have mainly been ignored in the extensive effort to understand Nazi Germany and its leaders. This is the first book, where many of them have been given the opportunity to discuss their inner most feelings; which range from shame and condemnation to strident defence and revisionism.
4. “Dear Coca-Cola, A Customer Relations Nightmare” by Terry Ravenscroft
I was first introduced to letter-writing books through a Secret Santa gift. I was amused and fascinated. In this book, Terry homes in on the Food & Drink industry. Household names such as Heinz, McDonald’s, Tesco, Kentucky Fried Chicken and those wonderful people at Coca-Cola are the targets for his entertaining epistles, resulting in a laugh-out-loud letters book with a difference. Great light reading for the beach or garden.
3. “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth” By Chris Hadfield
This is a book about Life Lessons from space. Colonel Chris Hadfield spent decades training as an astronaut and has logged approximately 4,000 hours in space. The secret to Chris Hadfield’s success — and survival — is an unconventional philosophy he learned at NASA: prepare for the worst — and enjoy every moment of it.
In this book, Chris takes readers deep into his years of training and space exploration to show how to make the impossible possible. Through eye-opening, entertaining stories filled with the adrenaline of launch, the mesmerizing wonder of spacewalks and the measured, calm responses mandated by crises, he explains how conventional wisdom can get in the way of achievement — and happiness. His own extraordinary education in space has taught him some counterintuitive lessons: don’t visualize success, do care what others think, and always sweat the small stuff.
2. “Broadmoor Revealed: Victorian Crime and the Lunatic Asylum” By Mark A. Stevens
On 27 May 1863, three coaches pulled up at the gates of a new asylum, built amongst the tall, dense pines of Windsor Forest. Broadmoor’s first patients had arrived. In Broadmoor Revealed, Mark writes about what life was like for the criminally insane, over one hundred years ago. From fresh research into the Broadmoor archives, Mark has uncovered the lost lives of patients whose mental illnesses led them to become involved in crime. These include five women who went on to become mothers in Broadmoor, giving birth to new life when three of them had previously taken it. The stories reveal how several Victorian immigrants ended their hopeful journeys to England in madness and disaster, as well as the numerous escapes, actual and attempted; as the first doctors tried to assert control over the residents.
1. “Ruth Belville: The Greenwich Time Lady” by David Rooney
This is one of my all-time favourites, challenging me on so many levels about what we take for granted in our everyday life:
• Time, more precisely watches or devices that tell us the time with precision
• Freedom and the encouragement for women to work as entrepreneurs
What time is it? We are surrounded by accurate time. We can hear time signals on the radio or look at automatically-corrected mobile phone clocks. Our home computers are synchronized by the internet or previously we could pick up the telephone and call the speaking clock. But how did people check the time before all this existed? Ruth Belville: the Greenwich Time Lady tells the tale of how Greenwich Mean Time was distributed around London. From 1836 until 1940, the Belville family sold time by carrying an eighteenth-century pocket watch round their subscribers in central London. Drawing on original sources, including personal correspondence, official papers, newspaper reports and eye-witness accounts, David uncovers the fascinating truth behind what previous historians dismissed as a service ‘maintained more as a tradition than out of necessity’. John, Maria and Ruth Belville operated a service that was much in demand and, for many users, the best option available. Ruth’s story is interwoven with a colourful cast of characters, from millionaires and murderers to the Girl with the Golden Voice. There are scientists, telephonists, terrorists and horologists, poets and paupers, bombers and bell-ringers. In this thoughtful, richly detailed and spirited book, David reveals the human faces behind the remorseless tick of the clock.
If you are searching for a central theme in my five recommendations above — there isn’t one. My father was a publisher, so I grew up around a wide range of books and I have such a love for diverse reading. The same cannot be said for my brother… so this love emanates from much more than just exposure and access. Prior to reembarking on post graduate part-time study; whilst full-time working; I use to read a book a week. Books take us on some amazing journeys; into the lives of others, places and times we have not visited and ideas we have not thought of. Through books, we become connected with the authors…so hopefully you will have noticed how I refer to all of them by their first names. I hope you pick at least one from the list, they are good…and do let me know what you think.
Have a good summer — you will have to wait to September to hear what I read.
Anita Devi is a distinguished Education Consultant and an advocate of Pobble from its early beginnings. AnitaDevi.com