We all remember with horror the great-aunts who would exclaim: 'My how you have grown'. In my case, it was especially excruciating as it usually meant I'd grown out rather than up, unlike my tall siblings. Fast forward several years and suddenly we've all become that aunt. Before we know it, we find ourselves parroting the same words when children we haven't seen for a while, have suddenly shot up.
Children, like adults, have the right to see books that reflect the world around them, and the broader world, too. That means, yes, featuring different races, cultures, genders, sexual orientations, religions, abilities, classes, ages, and so on, and also exploring political, moral, physical, and emotional issues
The main secret I learned was there's no escaping the fact that the key to getting a book written is hard slog. But if you're going to do it, you may as well do it with copious amounts of cake and good company. I'm already planning my next escape, even if it does mean working on another novel to justify it.
Immensely quotable, universally appealing, read all over the world - that's Paulo Coelho, the indisputable king of popular Brazilian literature. The man behind The Alchemist, one of the best-selling novels ever written, may be a spiritual guru to many, but his past is marked by episodes of black magic, drugs and orgies.
"Every day we get messages from fans telling us our videos have given them a heightened understanding of the books we cover. It's really encouraging to hear." As well as giving a new perspective on the books being discussed, the unique format of the show seems to have struck a chord with viewers as well.
Britain has indeed produced some of the world's best literature, but to presume that we have done so alone and prescribe a romp through literature that assumes as much ignores the world outside of our shores. If you want to inspire a love of literature, by all means select politically diverse works, gorgeously written, intellectually challenging pieces. But do not pick and choose a whole curriculum in accordance with a narrow, personal political vision.
In a stunningly ironic way it is the political equivalent of survival of the fittest that seeks shelter under a religious cannon. The religious Americans have there ultimate dream cake and eat it: the pre-eminence of self-regard on this earth is the right thing to do for yourself, others and God and as a consequence you are spiritually rewarded for it in the afterlife.
Many people disregard the allure of the classic writers, seeing them as old, established, and jaded. Yet, in their day, these writers were the revolutionaries, cutting edge writing with cutting edge messages, and I challenge anyone looking at them anew to place themselves in the mindset of the reader of the time - even swap mental genders if you like - and see them as they were intended.
The eruption of 'mommy porn' typified in E.L James' 50 Shades series has been argued by some as a marker for female sexual empowerment. I will agree that it has enlightened a change in coffee table conversation, in a similar way to the emergence of Ann Summers' parties; but here's the rub - the series isn't actually representative of BDSM or female empowerment - it's simply about male possession.