Aside from formal education, we at Huntley Tutors are book lovers. Browse our reading list for our tutors' favourite reads and you may just stumble upon your next favourite book!
Henry Aughterson - Pisani is a journalist-turn-epidemiologist, who became a world expert in the rapidly-growing field of HIV in the 80s, working especially in Indonesia, where she made friends with people from all walks of life including heroin addicts, politicians, and prostitutes. The book explains how Pisani and her colleagues managed to shift the public perspective of HIV/AIDS from a disease that only kills "drug addicts and whores" to one that kills "innocent wives and their babies", and how this helped to increase their funding! It is a truly gripping read.
Sophia Hashim - Although I study a science-based degree, my favourite book will always be one of the classics from Dickens. My main reason for this favourite is due to an inspirational GCSE English teacher. By teaching this book from the perspective of the author, I encountered ideas which I had never thought about previously Dickens uses his books to project his views on the Victorian society in which he lived. Personally, I had never thought of the author’s motives in a book before, and after reading Great Expectations, I started to analyse books more closely, to see how other authors were able to use their words to project their views onto the readers.
Aisling O'Sullivan - My favourite book is To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. I read it every summer and every time I read it, I feel I get something new from it. It is told from the view-point of Scout, and her individual opinion and the strength of her voice is what draws me to the book again every year. This book has a strong message, it teaches about important issues of race in society and the justice system. The young protagonist made me think about this time period in a different light, and Atticus provides the voice of reason, making this book an interesting and eye-opening read.
Lydia Nagib - This novel is my favourite because it transformed the way I think. Despite having read it over four years ago, I still remember the impact the novel had on me after I had finished it. Briefly the novel is set in a town that is hit by an infectious disease, and slowly many of its inhabitants start to die. The main character, who is a doctor, internally struggles and suffers as he feels helpless and unable to save lives. The novel beautifully merges suffering with human endeavour; it majorly highlights how hope is the most important human virtues.
Gabrielle Bargas - What is the purpose of life? This question sometimes pops into or lingers in our thoughts at some point or another, perhaps as the outcome of a personal reflection or as the result of a defining moment. In his novel Le jour où j’ai appris à vivre, Laurent Gounelle explores how a defining moment can make us question the purpose of life: Jonathan, a divorced father, is trapped in his daily routine until he encounters a bohemian who predicts his imminent death. He then embarks on an adventure to appreciate life. Observing the growing individualism in our modern society, the author shows that the secret to happiness is the connection with others. His novel is interwoven with genuine scientific experiences, which help to prove that all human beings are naturally connected to each other. I highly recommend this novel to readers who enjoy philosophical reflections in a light-hearted tone.
Mihai Barbu - My favourite book series is ‘’A song of ice and fire’’, after which ‘’Game of Thrones’’ was adapted. Although it resembles the TV series, the book is richer in details and offers a better perspective on the political intrigues. The writing is very good and the author does a great job in building tension and leaving the reader wondering what might happen next. Another thing that I particularly like is the fact that it is written from the points of view of different characters. This gives depth to the book and makes it more realistic, by showing human emotions and internal conflicts in their complexity. It also captures the ambiguity of real-life situations: the same event can be interpreted in a dozen different ways by different individuals. Being fascinated by the Middle Ages, I also found the historical setting of the book particularly appealing.
Alex Davidson - Inspired by a true story, this is an autobiographical account of an Australian convict who escapes prison and flees to India. What follows is a truly astonishing array of experiences as he becomes immersed in the Bombay underworld. These range from living in a slum and treating cholera sufferers, working for a Bombay gang, being tortured in an Indian prison and fighting the Russians with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan. Yet is more than just an account of events. This is a moving account of a man attempting to make sense of his new surroundings, learning dialects, making deep friendships, falling in love, and exploring the meaning of life in a frequently intriguing manner. It captures the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of the total sensory overload of travelling and living in India whilst leading you on constantly unexpected journey of supreme heights but also sudden lows. For anyone with an interest in life, intercultural exchange, the universe and personal drive, this book is a must read.
Qudsiyah Shah - This book explores the role of music in everyday life, from our responses to music in the womb to using music to stimulate memory in Alzheimer's patients. The reason I love this book so much is because of the manner in which Williamson reviews scientific studies and meta-analyses in an informative yet engaging way. By interspersing the narrative with heartwarming anecdotes and personal touches, Williamson brings music psychology to life in a way that makes it truly accessible for musicians and budding neuroscientists alike.
Phoebe Verbeeten - ‘So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past’ is the elegant closing line of my favourite book, The Great Gatsby. The parting words allude to the idea that the story continues beyond the written text and that the characters will continue to sail through their own recollections. It is this that I love about the book; there is no attention seeking plot or arrogant dramatics, just a beautifully written story. Fitzgerald writes with colourful flair and the reader transforms the words into vibrant memories of the roaring 20s, as if they themselves had attended Jay Gatsby’s parties. These grand evenings form the backdrop for the gradual unveiling of Gatsby’s true agenda; to reunite with his love Daisy Buchanan. It is impossible not to be charmed by Daisy’s character and yet also perceive her with mysterious caution. As love stories go it is subtle and I enjoy that the focus is the male perspective. The reader both observes the unravelling of Jay and Daisy’s love and feels for themselves the pain and longing which underpins the book.
Jacob Montgomery - Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier, is a gothic classic published in 1938. It elegantly tells the story of a servant girl who receives a surprising marriage proposal from a dashing and wealthy man from Monte Carlo. I love this book because the narrator is easy to relate to, as she is meek and vulnerable when moving into a mansion and beginning her new life, which contrasts dramatically with her old existence. Perhaps because of her timidity and lack of identity, the writer never formally introduces her to us, the reader. The thrill in the book is her gradual dawning of awareness and self-growth, and the ease with which she is manipulated by the evil forces of the house. Despite the theatrical twists and turns, the sinister characters seem believable in their context, even while they slowly make the hairs on your neck stand on end.
Pardis Zalmay - Cat's Cradle is a novel set in the post-atomic bomb era, and I have chosen it as my contribution to the reading list. The plot has several layers to it, most superficially narrating the creation of a weapon by humanity that can ultimately lead to our own destruction. Aside from the plot however, Vonnegut's writing style has a freshness about it that effortlessly merges dark humour with very serious themes. Throughout the short book you get the distinct feeling that the protagonist is Vonnegut himself. By the end of the story you are left feeling the same deep-seated frustration/fear that seemed to have been felt by many during the end of the cold war when this story was written.
Seun Obe - Two things instantly spring to mind when asked why some people truly excel and become great. The first is hard work and the other, natural born talent. Yet, there are many hard workers who never become great, likewise, many "naturally talented" people. However, people such as the prolific and influential composer, Mozart and 4 time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi have both been described to be "naturally gifted". However, scientific evidence does not support this. Both Mozart and Messi share something in common along with many other people who excel in their field, the art of "Deliberate Practice".
It's easy to believe you have to be born great, to become great. But according to the acclaimed journalist, Geoff Colvin those who believe either hard work or natural talent is what makes you excel are wrong. Instead, the book challenges the status quo and feeds you with a wealth of examples and information to help you practice "deliberate practice" in order to help you become great at whatever you do. Based on scientific research, "Talent is Overrated" releases the key to becoming world class. The book features stories from people such as Benjamin Franklin, comedian Chris Rock, football star Jerry Rice, and top CEOs Jeffrey Immelt and Steven Ballmer who have truly become great in their field. A book which has thoroughly inspired me, hence why I feel it deserves a place on our reading list.