Top Tips for World Book Day


In celebration of World Book Day we thought we’d post some of our favourite books. Some are on vocation-related topics, most are thought-provoking if not plain entertaining and all probably for grown-ups!   So, from the Vocations & Training team here are our recommendations.

Theodora: actress, empress, whore  a novel by Stella Duffy.

This novel is about Theodora, born in  500AD in Constantinople, the daughter of a bear-keeper. Before she was 16 she had been a prostitute, a dancer and had a daughter.  She may have been a spy, or a saint. She embraced Monophysite Christianity and lived an ascetic life in the desert. But when she was 21 she met Justinian …  This novel evokes the world of Byzantine Constantinople, exotic, erotic, and passionately religious,  and tells an amazing story of a woman who was destined to be Empress of the Byzantine Empire.    DS


Ottolenghi: the cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

A book of wonderful recipes, as are all of their recipe books. Yotam and Sami tell their own stories in the introduction to this book. Both discovered a passion for cooking as boys, both had to leave their homes in order to pursue their vocations. Yotam was at university studying literature and philosophy but decided to do a cookery course in London.  ‘I just need to check this out,’ he said to his mother, ‘make sure it’s not the right thing for me.’ Both want to share their passion for food and the joy of bringing people together.  DS


Do Purpose: Why brands with a purpose do better and matter more  by David Hieatt,  (
A short read on why brands that have a purpose beyond profit matter more in today’s world. It has stuff to say about culture, managing time, getting started now rather than waiting, and how to look after yourself so you’re able to run the marathon, not just a sprint. There’s also some pretty good artwork to look at whilst you read.    JW


To Kill A Mockingbird   a novel by Harper Lee

I know it’s really unoriginal to say that TKAM is one of your favourite books, but there are good reasons why so many people love it. Amongst the many things that could be picked out, I will just say that I love the character of Atticus. His exploration of what it means to be a single parent, a lawyer, a man of integrity, a pillar of community, to do what is costly because it is right, to teach without being heavy handed, are questions that go well beyond Atticus’ own person and circumstances. That all of this exploration is both stark and hugely understated is why it is one of the best books of the 20th century!    LH


Angels and Men  a novel by Catherine Fox

 One of only a few novels I have re-read. Fox tells the story of Mara, a postgrad at Durham studying sects and cults and dealing with the loss of her sister. As Mara becomes part of a college community and begins to learn to trust and form friendships, lots of questions are explored about the meaning of life, love and faith. The book is quite atmospheric and whilst it has all the predictable ingredients of romance, obstacles etc. the characters are endearing and many of the themes really resonate for anyone who has wondered what God is like, and what that means for how we live.  LH


Another Day in the death of America by Gary Younge

Journalist GY goes in search of the 10 young people all shot dead – some by accident –  in a single day.  The shocking statistic is that, on average, seven children are killed by guns every day in America.   I hugely admire Younge’s decision to take on such a gruelling and sadly contemporary problem – the lack of gun control in the US.  The book shows Younge’s determination not to just get the facts, the ‘story’, like any good journalist but to analyse the ramifications for each family and in considerable depth.   JC

The Vanishing Man:  In Pursuit of Velazquez by Laura Cumming

NB second edition (paperback) is a must as it includes an important afterword

One of my books of the year 2016 –  a completely absorbing (true) tale about one man’s obsession with a portrait and his determination to keep it, exhibit it and prove it was by Velazquez. There’s no doubt that John Snare was a driven man but this riveting story is also beautifully told by Laura Cumming who persevered over a long period to assemble all the facts. (And for anyone the least bit interested in Velazquez himself then a fabulous insight into this artist as well.)   JC


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