Five books which inspire me: Guest blog by our Tutor, Janet Hontoir

Posted on: 2020-12-15

With Christmas fast approaching, you may be seeking inspiration for last-minute gift ideas. If it’s books you’re after, our ‘Five books which inspire me’ blog series may do the trick. First up choosing her five inspiring books is our Tutor, Janet Hontoir. Take a look below.


Janet Hontoir

(In no particular order)

  1. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (1862)

This is the most moving book I have ever read. It’s the story of the life of an escaped convict who was imprisoned for stealing bread to feed his family. He overcomes his hatred of society and also the man who has sworn to recapture him, and he becomes a beloved adoptive father and a force for good in the world. Forget the film or the musical – just read the book.

  1. If Not Now, When? by Primo Levy (1982)

This totally absorbing book is the story of a group of Jewish resistance fighters operating behind Nazi lines during the Second World War, and their journey to eventual freedom in Milan in 1945. It is a story not often told and it shows how people see the world differently, even when they are on the same side.

  1. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)

This is a harrowing book which is set in the USA in 1873 and tells the story of Sethe, a former slave. Her past experiences are so awful that she commits the ultimate crime, with all its consequences. It resonates hugely with the modern Black Lives Matter movement.

  1. The Pearl by John Steinbeck (1947)

This novella, based on a Mexican folk tale, is about a man who discovers a pearl of great price and about what happens to him afterwards. It is a parable which teaches people to be careful what they wish for.

  1. Galini (Tranquillity) by Elias Venezis (1937)

This fatalistic novel is about the mixed fortunes of a group of refugees who arrive in Greece from Asia Minor in 1924. They begin a new life but have to struggle against their fate, in the grand tradition of Greek tragedy. It is almost cinematic in its ability to conjure up strong images and it is of immense modern relevance.

Thanks for sharing your choices, Janet! Keep an eye out this week on our social media channels for more inspirational book choices by UCEM staff.