On 5th March 2015, the New Directions group of companies joined schools, colleges and thousands of other organisations to celebrate World Book Day. Teams from across the UK got involved in dressing up, writing reviews of their favourite books and visiting schools in their areas to help them celebrate the occasion.
The annual event celebrates all things literary and encourages children across the globe to pick up a book and get reading!
Speaking about their participation in the events of the day, Howard Burge, National Director for New Directions Education said ‘this is a wonderful initiative for school children across the globe. With the introduction of so much technology, we often forget how wonderful it can be to let our imagination get lost in a book. Taking time out to read, on your own, or with your children is such a special thing to do. The participation of teams from across our business highlights just how many book worms we have on board. Of course, if there is an opportunity to come to work in fancy dress – there aren’t many in our business who would turn it down’.
Staff from across the business were invited to submit a review about their favourite book. Take a look at the responses here:
My favourite book is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I first read it when I was on holiday in Cornwall aged 13, I was instantly hooked! I have re-read it several times since that holiday, and continue to find new angles to the story. What I love about the book is its setting in a big country house called Manderley on the Cornish coast, and the strong dominant characters of Maxim de Winter, the late Rebecca and the sinister Mrs Danvers. Most of all, I empathise with the naïve and nameless main character, who narrates the story, and how she deals with all the dark secrets that Manderley has been hiding!
Angharad Evans, Project Co-ordinator, New Directions Holdings
Where the Wild Things Are – Scares the hell out of the boys in my house, but I love it!
Sophie Cecil, Group HR Director, New Directions Holdings
One of my favourite books is a ‘A thousand splendid suns’ by Khaled Hosseini. I found it for the first time in 2009 having taken it from a ‘book swap’ in a hostel, and I read it over a couple days during a ridiculously long and boring drive across the Nullarbor (while I wasn’t driving). The relationship between the two main characters in the book; Mariam and Leila is beautiful, and the book depicts vividly what it’s like as a woman in a violent marriage under a regime which is hugely oppressive. The book has one of the best, but also the saddest endings of any book I’ve read.
Catherine Duddridge, HR Officer, New Directions Holdings
My favourite book is Jodi Picoult My Sisters Keeper, Jodi is actually my favourite author and I have read every book published.
My Sisters Keeper however holds a special place in my heart as firstly it was my introduction to the author and secondly every time I read it I come up with a different answer for the moral dilemma that is the outline of the story. I particularly enjoy that the story as is written from a number of different viewpoints and provokes you to put yourself in a different mindset and really look at different angles of the story and the impact that the same issue can have on different people. It also raises questions from a medical ethic perspective and encourages you to look at the grey and understand one size doesn’t always fit all. My favourite character is obviously Anna she is a true hero and the way that Jodi projects her as a character is amazing.
Kirsty Knowles, Senior Sales Consultant, New Directions Social Care
My favourite book is A Million Little Pieces by James Frey which chronicles a man’s desperate attempt to claw himself out of the negative cycle of substance abuse whilst being treated at a rehabilitation facility. It is based loosely on the writers own experiences in this field and it is a visceral, dark, brutal and honest account of the very real and tragic struggle people face when attempting to make that return from the brink. The character development is incredible and the writer draws you in to the point that you feel as if you are on this journey with him, sitting on his bleak hospital bed, sweating out the withdrawal with him. Although it may not sound like the most uplifting read, it really is. It proves that no matter what we put our minds and bodies through, if we really want to, we can make it through anything and come out clean the other side!
Katy London-James, Recruitment Co-ordinator, New Directions Education
Dangerous lady – Martina Cole – The story of a family of West End gangsters of Irish descent in 1960s post-war London. I love Martina Cole as an author but this particular book literally takes hold of you from the moment you pick it up. It’s very realistic and the you almost feel that you are part of it. Highly recommended!
Vicky Paul, Sales Consultant, New Directions Social Care
My favourite book is Timeline by Michael Crichton
Timeline is a science fiction novel by Michael Crichton that was published in November 1999. It tells the story of a group of history students who travel to 14th Century France to rescue their professor. The book follows in Crichton’s long history of combining technical details and action in his books, addressing quantum and multiverse theory.
My love of this book sits around my fascination with quantum physics and the theory of the universe. The book was one that I, for the first time, could not put down. Even though I read this some ten years back the book still gets my bookworm juices flowing and I have read it more than a dozen time during these ten years. The way Michael writes based on facts researched then expertly turning the research into near fiction, but with a strong slant to real possibilities is second to none. An outstanding book, that meets with my technological interests, and fascination with the unknown.
Alan Verallo, Commercial Training Manager, New Directions Training
My favourite book is a called ‘The Fib’ written by George Layton. I was first introduced to the book by my Year 6 Primary teacher, Mr Saunders. He would read it in assembly and literally the whole school would be captivated. The book has a range of short stories about a young boy growing up and dealing with various childhood issues. It is narrated by the boy himself and the language used make it easy for children to relate to him.
My favourite story is the balaclava story, “Tony and Barry both had one. I reckon half the kids in our class had one. But I didn’t. My mum wouldn’t even listen to me. ‘You’re not having a balaclava! What do you want a balaclava for in the middle of summer?’ I must’ve told her about ten times why I wanted a balaclava. ‘I want one so’s I can join the Balaclava Boys . ..’”
My Mum, knowing how much I loved the book, bought me my own copy and I have treasured it ever since. It is a little worn now, but that to me is a sign of a great book and shows how much it has been enjoyed over the years. I may be old fashioned but I much prefer the smell and feel of an old book than using a kindle. I now have children of my own and plan to pass it on to them, I am hoping they will love it as much as me!
Rhian Vernall, Interim Trainee Branch Manager, Cardiff Secondary
My favourite book of all time is Alex Hayley – Roots. The book tells the story of an African American searching his family tree. The story takes you from Africa to the present. The book describes what life was like for a young boy taken from his home in Africa to slavery in America.
The book displays what cruelty a man can do to another man all because of his colour. This book is a must read to understand what cruelty man can do and what slavery is like.
Mary McQuire, Senior Receptionist, Cardiff
One of my favourite books is The Bridge by Iain Banks.
I picked it up, on a whim, from a small bookshop in Cornwall and wasn’t able to put it down for days. The book deals with three characters. Namely, John Orr -an amnesiac living in a totalitarian bridge-like city, Alex – an embittered geologist living in Edinburgh and a Barbarian – an id-sh warrior who works his way through parodied versions of Greek myth and fairy tale, resulting in reflection on his deathbed.
What I find fascinating about the book is Banks’ off-beat style of writing; how he uses it as a device to the explore complexity of the human subconscious whilst fabricating a world of both light and dark that immerses the reader completely. It’s a gripping read!
Lucia Jones, Training Administrator, Cardiff
I love reading, particularly to learn. Whilst I like fiction, the vast majority of my bookshelf is based on true crime and psychology! My favourite book is “The man who mistook his wife for a hat” by Oliver Sacks. It is a fascinating account of a clinical neurologist’s experience with some of his patients who have neurological brain deficits leading to extraordinary phenomena. For example, the case of the patient in the book title suffering from visual agnosia; the inability to recognise objects when there is no impairment to vision. Sacks is able to engage the reader with humour which I love – learning should be fun not a chore. I have to thank the author of this book as it sparked my interest in Psychology and influenced by decision to do a Psychology degree. The human brain is simply fascinating!
Leah Seltzer, Group Head of Compliance, Cardiff
Having recently had a little boy who is now 14 months old, I have to say my favourite book is currently his favourite book as the fun we have reading it deserves a paragraph for world book day. It’s a book by Fiona Watt and is called ‘That’s not my Santa’ – recently bought as a Christmas present in case you hadn’t guessed. It is a brilliant interactive book which involves opening cardboard cut outs to reveal presents that Santa has bought, only to reveal the best present at the book finale of a cat! As a huge cat lover this ticked all my boxes with an added bonus of fur textures for extra interactive play! My little boy always digs this book out of his toy box so it’s an all-round winner in our household!
Jen Morrison, Account Manager, Wirral
An all time favourite of mine is a book by Graham Masterton called Mirrors. The concept of this story is simple, but the reality of it is a lot more sinister. The story begins with a haunted mirror being brought out of storage and placed on the floor in an apartment. A curious cat decides to watch its reflection and is subsequently pulled into the mirror and becomes trapped on the other side. Following this, a young boy suffers the same fate and becomes trapped in the reflective world, but his reflective self comes through bringing with him a few other entities to wreak havoc on the world. The story is intense and gripping and I would recommend it to any horror fan as an introduction to Graham Masterton and his wonderful world of terror and surrealism.
Dave Aslaksen, Recruitment Consultant, Wirral
I think it’s difficult to mention just one book as my favourite, but I think a sign of a good book is one which lingers in your thoughts long after you have read it. For me, the first book which really stuck with me was “Of Mice and Men”. I loved the storyline and the ending lingered with me for ages. Another favourite book would be “Misery” by Stephen King, you feel so involved in the story that you’ll find it difficult to put it down. It’s one book you won’t forget in a hurry or the name “Annie Wilkes”
Mudasser Ahmed, Recruitment Consultant, Manchester
Louise Welsh is a relatively new author in terms of post-modern literature, but she absolutely excels in what she delivers. The Cutting Room is a wonderfully dark book which seems to almost accidentally explore seemingly still taboo subjects in modern day Glasgow. I believe the book won awards as her debut novel, deservedly so. It was absolutely compelling reading. Dealing with a potential crime from the 1950’s, the main protagonist in the book goes on a wonderful journey of discovery to find the solution. It combines everything I love in crime, fiction, underworld and often difficult to read literature.
Ruth Dalton, Group Head of Communications, New Directions Holdings
Carolyn Pearse, Group Communications Officer talks about one of her favourite books, One Day by David Nicholls…
I instantly loved this book. Each chapter follows the lives of Dexter and Emma on 15th July for 20 years. Predominantly a love story, this book will certainly stir up a number of emotions. I didn’t want the book to end and even missed the characters once it had ended!
They made a film based on this book in 2011, however as always the book is so much better – definitely worth a read!
Carolyn Pearse, Group Communications Officer, Cardiff
I love books and it’s a pleasure to write a little review; it was really hard to pick my favourite book as I have so many! One of my first jobs was in a bookshop where I was the Children’s buyer! The book I have chosen to review is the one I have read most recently; Christmas at Tiffany’s by Karen Swan; it’s a wonderful girlie read about Cassie who marries her first serious boyfriend and who ten years’ later finds her marriage in tatters and with no career of her own, she starts to ask life questions such as ‘where does she belong in the world?’ And who is she – really?! So she leaves her home in Scotland (sheltered, rural part) and begins a yearlong adventure in three glamorous cities; New York, Paris and London to try them for size (and ultimately find the man of her dreams!) I couldn’t put the book down and can only dream of the Christmas at Tiffany’s that she experienced! Isn’t that what books do – let you dream…… dream away with this one – I did!
Victoria Deane, Group HR Manager