20 Novels Featuring Teachers to Celebrate Thank a Teacher Day

Fictional teachers crop up all over the place, from starring in children’s books through to science fiction novels and everything in-between. The twenty books chosen here all feature a teacher (or someone who was a teacher), sometimes as a main character, at other times they sit in the background, and in one notable book even as a murder victim! While a school may be the setting, not all of these teachers actually appear in a traditional school, they may be solving a crime, or popping off on a vacation and finding romance. To celebrate Thank A Teacher Day, we offer you a fine selection of fictional teachers, and whatever your reading tastes, I’m quite sure you will find something here to enjoy.

Hold Up the Sky

Hold Up the Sky

Author: Cixin Liu Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/04/2021

Meet eleven fabulous short stories by China’s number one science fiction writer. This is the first time they have been published in English, originally written between 1999 and 2017, a number of different translators have ensured that an exquisite reading feast awaits. Cixin Liu’s foreword ensured a few raised eyebrows and smiles on my part. It is absolutely fascinating to read these stories, that: “inevitably have a strong Chinese flavour, imbued with the culture, history, and present reality of China” as well as explore the universe beyond our understanding. These are stories that are set on an epic scale, yet focus on the intimate and essential meaning of being human. I particularly enjoyed The Village Teacher, a story that pivots on an apparently small, individually brave act. This would be the perfect introduction to science fiction for anyone who has not yet dipped a toe. For lovers of sci-fi, there is plenty here to fall into and enjoy. Hold Up The Sky is a cracking collection of stories that allows your mind to look within as well as well as travel into the unknown.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Just Like You

Just Like You

Author: Nick Hornby Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/04/2021

A beautifully gentle yet pointed, and amusing yet thoughtful, feel-good relationship tale. When head teacher and separated mum of two Lucy, meets butcher, babysitter, and aspiring DJ Joseph, their age gap is just one of the obstacles in their path to finding love. This isn’t an overly sensational or dramatic tale, it’s more subtle than that, though it does cover three years during and after the EU referendum. Don’t groan, as Nick Hornby looks back in the most mindful way possible. Thoughts are provoked and rich pickings are to be found, as lots of little lightbulb moments clicked on as I read. The plot settled in the lightest of dances through some pretty weighty subjects. It’s not shouty, or finger-pointy, a relationship is created within a set of circumstances that allows you to form your own thoughts. I feel Nick Hornby has written the perfect story for anyone suffering from Covid 19 blues. Just Like You is an incredibly uplifting, engaging and stimulating read, and I absolutely loved it.

Books of the Month
The Temple House Vanishing

The Temple House Vanishing

Author: Rachel Donohue Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/09/2020

Burning with an intense, provocative fire, this is a debut that doesn’t flinch from the troubled world it creates. 25 years ago, a 16 year old school girl and her teacher disappeared, now a journalist investigates the mystery at the heart of the boarding school. The prologue intrigues, answering a question while bursting open many more. I felt a seductive unsettling call and settled in. Three women sit centre stage in this story, the missing Louisa, her friend Victoria, and the journalist. I gained access to the school and sank into the heady highs and lows of teenage years. A veil of mystery covers Temple House, the school sits in both time periods, a chilling constant between the two. It is as much about the unsaid, the unseen, as it is what is revealed, and Rachel Donohue handles the balance with surety. The ending really spoke to me, it opened my thoughts and encouraged them to travel. I have no doubt that The Temple House Vanishing will stay with me for some time to come, it is an assured and compelling debut.

Debut Books of the Month
The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project

Author: Graeme Simsion Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/01/2014

One of the Top 10 Lovereading Reader Review Panel Summer Read selections. A thoroughly charming book from this witty and intelligent Australian writer.  Don leads a very ordered life.  He does not consider himself odd, does not notice how much he shares with a group of children with Asperger’s syndrome, approaches everything in a completely logical way.  This logic extends into his search for a wife.  It is easy to mock Don and see this purely as a kooky rom-com, but it is more.  It is an exploration of society with all its preconceptions and unwritten rules.  To fit in or not?  How much to fit in?  Should one try to change just to fit in?  And change how much?  Rosie guides Don and the reader through these challenges in what must be one of the most endearing books I have ever read.  It will probably be one of my most memorable books of the year. ~ Sarah Broadhurst   One of our Books of the Year 2014.   Click here to view The Rosie Effect, the sequel to The Rosie Project which is out in paperback in February 2015.   January 2014 MEGA Debut of the Month.   We defy you not to absolutely love this quirky romantic gem of a book, that weirdly sits somewhere between One Day by David Nicholls, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time from Mark Haddon and Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding.   Professor Don Tillman leads a v. v. structured life; single, intelligent, tall, fit, heathy - unable to see why he can’t find a wife and unable to see he is really rather autistic... His hyper-rational solution is a 16 page questionnaire. But love does work in mysterious and irrational ways. Touching, insightful and v v funny, please read the Opening Extract - you will be hooked! In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for The Rosie Project a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'What a brilliant book... Please read it, he [the protagonist] will change your life' – Jayne Burton. Scroll down to read more reviews. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

Author: Charlotte Brontë Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/09/2019

One of Jeanette Winterson's favourite books. April 2010 Good Housekeeping selection. On My Bookshelf by Hilary Mantel... ‘I read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre when I was very young and cared less about the love story than about the secret of the woman in the attic. It’s what a story should be – gripping, but have psychological truth and depth.

eBooks of the Month
Throw Me to the Wolves

Throw Me to the Wolves

Author: Patrick McGuinness Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/08/2020

Beautifully eloquent, well written, and somehow teetering right on the edge of being a crime novel even with a murder and two investigating detectives. When a young woman is murdered, a neighbour and retired teacher is arrested and quickly forged into a monster by the press and social media. One of the detectives recognises his former teacher and takes a step back into his childhood. This is a book that covers a number of subjects, it is both sharp and focused, and lyrically descriptive. While a murder sits at its heart, it looks into the shadows of hate, bullying and abuse. Patrick McGuinness has the ability in a few words to paint a vivid scene. New thoughts cracked open inside my head and I felt that not a word was wasted, even when “a third cup of tea” is poured. As I read I explored a variety of emotions and found myself entirely consumed by Throw Me to the Wolves. A Liz  Pick of the Month, and a fabulously provocative and challenging read, I loved it. 

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
On Beauty

On Beauty

Author: Zadie Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/07/2006

  Shortlisted for the Best of the Orange Best 2010 by the Orange Prize Youth Panel.   Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2006. This review is provided by bookgroup.info.Fans of WHITE TEETH  may be a bit disappointed with Zadie Smith’s latest novel. ON BEAUTY  is not such a rollicking good read as her first book but what it lacks in pace it makes up for in characterisation and depth.  The novel lays out its credentials from the first sentence: ‘One may as well begin with Jerome’s emails to his father.’ and goes on to draw much of its narrative from the plot of E M Forster’s HOWARD’S END. Smith’s story revolves, as does Forster’s, around two families who, although from a similar strata of society, have opposing political and moral viewpoints. Set mainly at Wellington, a fictitious Ivy League university, ON BEAUTY explores the rivalry between two art-historians: Howard Belsey – English, inclusive, liberal– and the ultra conservative, Christian, Monty Kipps. Despite being African American, Kipps refers to ‘the coloured man’ and wages a campaign on the campus against affirmative action. Inevitably, the two families get involved and the ensuing tensions provide great potential for high drama as well as comic situations. Some episodes are very funny indeed. Zadie Smith is very good at human relationships, family dynamics specifically, and some of her scenes are painfully convincing. By referring to Howard’s End, the author creates parallels and counterpoints between Edwardian England and the US east coast of the early twenty first century. Although, whereas Forster’s novel ends with the symbolic death of Leonard Blast under a pile of books, Howard’s ‘end’ in ON BEAUTY  is not only a hugely optimistic redemption of his character but an affirmation of the value of love and beauty.This homage to Forster does beg comparison with someone who was a master of economy in his writing. In just a few spare subtle sentences he could illustrate the British class system in all its iniquity and complexity and it makes Smith seem a bit clunky and heavy-handed by contrast. That said, ON BEAUTY  is a very accomplished novel, a good read and provides plenty to consider about love, fidelity, identity and the nature of beauty.The Lovereading view...Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2006. Set on both sides of the Atlantic, award-winning Zadie Smith's third novel, On Beauty, is a brilliant analysis of family life, the institution of marriage, intersections of the personal and political, and an honest look at people's deceptions. It is also, as you might expect, very funny indeed. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

eBooks of the Month
Reputation

Reputation

Author: Sarah Vaughan Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2022

This powerful, provocative, intoxicating rush of a read hit me head on and ploughed through my thoughts. Mother, former teacher and now MP Emma Webster is used to the press and public judging her, when a man is found dead in her home it opens the floodgates. Trolling, bullying, the difficulties of being a woman and a powerful one at that, are examined while encased in a plot that accelerates into a thrilling story. Newspaper reports and social media comments lie in wait. The focus on different characters and their points of view ensures each nuanced layer splices to the next. Only Emma is written in the first person, I felt her emotional reaction and found myself positively aching for her. The characters are beautifully flawed, each giving you access yet creating a space to explore their personality and choices made. Sarah Vaughan allows you to see what’s coming, the what but not the how, letting you in while creating tension with the slicing edge of the story. Thoroughly provoking thoughts while being highly entertaining, Reputation is timely, convincing, and exhilarating read.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Happiness for Beginners

Happiness for Beginners

Author: Carole Matthews Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/05/2019

What a lovely, charming, friendly read this is, an enticing ‘will they, won’t they’ romance is equally matched by the story of animals in need and children requiring an alternative learning environment. Molly Baker runs her beloved farm as a school, when a new student arrives, Molly’s life is turned thoroughly upside down and in to a roundabout spin. I adored the explanation at the beginning of the novel by Carole Matthews that Hope Farm is based on the real Animal Antiks Farm. The first sentence had me chortling and I settled further down into the comfort of my sofa to enjoy the read. Molly tells her own story, I could really hear her voice and her personality shines through. Can I say that the animals very nearly steal the show for me, having had a downright grumpy (read that as flesh tearing vampire) rescue cat myself, their individual quirks made me smile. ‘Happiness for Beginners’ is entertaining, heart-warming and ever so readable, I raced through in one sitting and enjoyed every second. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Audiobooks of the Month
A Little Princess

A Little Princess

Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/09/2012

May 2014 Guest Editor Daisy Goodwin on A Little Princess... This book about a little girl ,who after the death of her father is forced to work as a maid in the school where she was once a parlour boarder, had a profound effect on my imagination.  I was transfixed by the scene where Sara Crewe wakes up to find that her drafty garret has been transformed into a bedroom fit for a princess. I read those chapters every night for about three years.  It was a great training for my career in makeover tv.

eBooks of the Month
The Teacher

The Teacher

Author: Katerina Diamond Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/03/2016

One of our Books of the Year 2016. Longlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award 2016. A couple of Exeter cops attempt to solve the mystery of a hanged teacher which was locally followed by a whole series of gruesome deaths in this clever psychological thriller which somehow brings a new perspective to a familiar plot by illuminating the story through the eyes of several initially disparate characters. A wonderful example of the crime thriller as a jigsaw where the author always remains that one step ahead of the reader. Splendidly engineered and a compulsive page turner which introduces a likeable set of investigators faced with a succession of rather horrible conumdrums, and thus not for the fainthearted, although assiduous readers of Thomas Harris and Patricia Cornwell will not blanch at the explicitness involved in several of the doomed protagonists' demise. ~ Maxim Jakubowski The Lovereading view... Oooh, this is disturbingly good! Two detectives with their own fair share of problems find themselves in the middle of an explosion of murders, as the macabre and gruesomely graphic deaths start to mount, whose side will you find yourself on? Katerina Diamond transports you from murder, to investigation, to inside different minds with ease, each time settling you so completely into that moment, that it comes as a shock when you move on again. If you are a little squeamish, then on occasion you might need to read between your fingers, but once you start, it’s utterly compelling and I found it impossible to put down. This is such a striking novel, it makes you consider, and ponder the meaning of justice. Deliciously thrilling and menacing, ‘The Teacher’ is a crime thriller with biting, provocative attitude and I absolutely adored it. ~ Liz Robinson March 2016 Debut of the Month.

eBooks of the Month
Matilda

Matilda

Author: Roald Dahl Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/02/2016

Matilda - Roald Dahl's best-loved story - though now over 25 years old, is as fresh, funny and poignant as when it was first published in 1988. The story of a child genius, it has been adapted into film and, most recently, a hugely successful, award-winning musical with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin.

eBooks of the Month
Escape to the Riviera the Perfect Summer Read!

Escape to the Riviera the Perfect Summer Read!

Author: Jules Wake Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/06/2016

A delightfully effortless and lovely read, that allows you to drift off into a hot summery romance. 29 year old Carrie, part-time drama teacher and script writer has become stuck in a self inflicted rut. Carrie, her sister Angela, and niece Jade find themselves in the South of France, once there, Carrie bumps into a handsome Hollywood star, a star who Carrie used to know… rather intimately. Carrie is full of sunshine, her occasional questionable decision ensures she feels genuinely real. Jules Wake introduces the glitter of Hollywood, yet this doesn't feel like an unattainable fantasy. ‘Escape to the Riviera’ is sparkly, energising, and the perfect tale, if you'd like to escape into the blue skies of a reading daydream.

eBooks of the Month
Terms

Terms

Author: Ben Lyle Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/09/2015

October 2015 Debut of the Month. Terms is a surprisingly powerful little book, it really does pack a mighty punch. James finishes university in the mid 90’s and takes a trip both physically and in memory back to his unconventional school days. Within a few pages it is clear that there is an intriguing and provocative tale waiting to be discovered. Ben Lyle builds the story slowly, shaping the school boy James who is fascinated by the newly arrived teacher who rules with discipline. The story flits between the past and present, the adult James is still sitting on the edge of intimacy, affection and understanding. As the terms at the school pass, suspicion and premonition start to twist together into apprehension for what is to come. The simple style balances on a razor sharp edge with an uncomfortable, complicated truth, ensuring Terms is a convincing and compelling debut. ~ Liz Robinson   A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'Terms is both funny and dark. James is wonderful child narrator in the style of Adrian Mole, who says things you wish you had the courage to say.  At times you feel the story is going to a place you don’t want it to go, and author, Ben Lyle, handles this side wonderfully. A reader from one of our book groups said: “The overtones black – the revenge deadly.”  - Yvonne Barlow, editor, Hookline Books

eBooks of the Month
Unseen Academicals

Unseen Academicals

Author: Terry Pratchett Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/06/2010

I’ve lost track of how many Discworld novels have flowed from the pen of the incomparable Terry Pratchett, thirty or so I believe.  This is the latest madcap adventure from the world that so resembles ours yet is nothing like it.  Having brought gnomes, newspapers and the post office to his creation, Pratchett now tackles football.  It is a compelling mystery wrapped in exciting adventure wrapped in effortless parody wrapped in genius.  As with all Pratchett’s work it is a joy to read and hard to put down but I would advise new readers to start a bit further back in the series in order to fully appreciate the cameo appearances of established characters here. Comparison: Christopher Fowler, Tom Holt, Jasper Fforde.

eBooks of the Month
Don't You Cry

Don't You Cry

Author: Cass Green Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/09/2018

A dynamic, powerfully expressive novel that feels so real, you could be conjuring it to life as you read. Angel saves the life of English teacher Nina, later that night Angel turns from saviour to adversary when she and her blood soaked brother turn up at Nina’s door. Each chapter is headed by one of the main characters, they feel vividly real, almost touchable, and their pain and anguish sliced into my thoughts. Cass Green created an unexpected atmosphere as energetic whip-fast chapters gently, almost quietly revealed background information, which allowed my mind to process the action while sifting, analysing, questioning. Good and bad may be seen as opposites, yet there are times when lines and edges blur, creating a stimulating storyline that just crackles with tension. Don’t You Cry surprised me (which I always love) and left me feeling very satisfied indeed. Just make sure the edge of your seat is comfortable, as you’ll be spending a fair bit of time on it!

Books of the Month
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Author: Muriel Spark Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/02/2018

‘By 1960, Spark was a novelist of some renown. But it was her next novel, her sixth, which would make her famous and well off enough to determine where and how she wanted to live, and the books she would write. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is near perfect in its design and execution. It is at once traditional and experimental. Rich in period detail, it is nevertheless as spare and taut as one of Simenon’s thrillers and as light as a soufflé… So reliable was her income from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie that she gratefully called it her ‘milch cow’. Readers may feel the same for it is a novel that never palls; it pleases and perplexes and produces surprises with every reading, and, like all great books, it is ageless, vindication of why its inspired creator became a novelist.’   From the introduction by Alan Taylor This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read.  ~ Lovereading.co.uk

eBooks of the Month
Precocious

Precocious

Author: Joanna Barnard Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/03/2016

Uncomfortable, sorrowful, challenging - yes Precocious is all of these, however it is also a memorable, powerful and fascinating read. Fiona reconnects with Henry, one of her teachers from Secondary School and starts to mentally revisit events from her younger years. Fiona herself tells the story, she is abrasive, different and insightful, it takes a little while to get used to how she darts around in her mind and in time. Don't be in too much of a rush to make your mind up about Fiona, her journey has to be experienced and there is understanding to be discovered. Joanna Barnard has skilfully, subtly and with great compassion written a gripping and provocative tale that deserves to be read. ~ Liz Robinson One of our Books of the Year 2015.

eBooks of the Month
Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

Author: L. M. Montgomery Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

Part of Wordsworth’s Exclusive Collection (a series of 15 classics for all ages), this gorgeous gift edition bind-up of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea boasts embossed gold foiling and an attractive bespoke cover illustration. Anne is truly an adorable, endearing, inspiring character, and her life at Green Gables after being taken in by the Cuthberts is evoked with lively detail, atmosphere and emotion. While prone to creating chaos, impossibly romantic, and headstrong (often self-destructively so), Anne has the hugest of hearts and reading this book - the first two novels in the series - is guaranteed to have readers hooked on her exploits as she moves from girlhood to womanhood. If you’ve yet to read these enchanting, amusing, heart-stealing classics, now’s your chance to enjoy a stunning edition at an attractive price. 

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Author: Susanna Clarke Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/09/2017

A very special book indeed, magical in all its senses, which won the Hugo Award and the World Fantasy Award for best book. Slow to get into and long, it is written in the style of the period in which it is set, Regency, which I felt added to its charm. It’s about magicians, different strands of magic, highly imaginative with many layers and intricate sub-plots and, despite the dusty language, is totally compelling. A highly intelligent alternative history which I urge you to read and become totally hooked. ~ Sarah Broadhurst The Bloomsbury Modern Classic Series Restless by William Boyd Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

eBooks of the Month

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