Five perfect books for men who never read for #WorldBookNight

The roadNearly 30% of men have not read a book since school, according to a survey commissioned for World Book Night which is tonight and happens every year on 23 April. Volunteers passionate about reading give hundreds of thousands of books away to share their love of reading with people who, for whatever reason, don’t read for pleasure or own books.

 Leo Benedictus suggests in the Guardian Books :

“‘The reasons men don’t read are varied, but “not really wanting to” seems to be the main one. However, if you are a man – or know one – who might agree to try just one book for the hell of it, these are my guaranteed-no-regrets recommendations” (or read one of the 100 greatest novels of all time  if you need more inspiration)

 Everything Bad Is Good For You By Steven Johnson (on order)

If you feel guilty about preferring video games, movies and TV to reading, this is the book for you. Swiftly and straightforwardly, and sometimes with charts, Johnson argues that popular entertainment has grown far more complex in recent decades, and may even make us cleverer.

 Stalingrad By Antony Beevor

Look how unbelievably terrible the Battle of Stalingrad was, this book says. “Look how unbelievably terrible the Battle of Stalingrad was!” yell its excited readers to each other/their wives/passersby. Because if you like war, this is war all right, explained with impeccable authority and detail by a former soldier. It is long – 500 pages – but you’ll want it longer. Besides, the length means that in a combat situation the book itself might be useful as a weapon.

 The Old Man and the Sea By Ernest Hemingway

I’m not aware of any novel that is easier or more exciting to read. It’s also so short – 99 small pages – that we are being kind even calling it a novel. It is a perfect adventure story about an old man having a hard time in the Atlantic. (And if you want it to be, it is also about much more.) You’ll read the whole thing in about 40 minutes, then need a scotch.

 The Road By Cormac McCarthy

a) It’s an incredibly exciting short novel about a father and son trying to survive a global catastrophe. b) It’s a practical guide to surviving a global catastrophe, which might one day be useful. c) It does away with the need to survive global catastrophes because you’ll be so depressed you won’t care. If you have ever been curious about what makes people cry in books, this is pretty much the deep end.

 Finnegans Wake By James Joyce

Don Quixote is maybe K2. Tristram Shandy is barely Kilimanjaro. But Finnegans Wake is definitely Everest. Essentially plotless, and barely even written in English, it might be a novel about an Irish family, but no one really knows. Nor is there a consensus on whether it contains characters. Even serious readers of daunting masterpieces get someone to take a picture of them on the final page. Get there yourself, and even if you never read another book you can lord it over your more literary friends indefinitely. (Call it “high modernism”, if anyone asks.)


Crime book of the week -The Dying Hours

The dying hoursMark Billingham’s The Dying Hours is in most Leeds Libraries this week in paperback.

It’s been 25 years since Tom Thorne last went to work wearing the ‘Queen’s cloth’ but now, having stepped out of line once too often, he’s back in uniform. He’s no longer a detective, and he hates it. Still struggling to adjust, Thorne becomes convinced that a spate of suicides among the elderly in London are something more sinister. His concerns are dismissed by the Murder Squad he was once part of and he is forced to look into it alone. Now, unable to trust anybody, Thorne risks losing those closest to him as well as endangering those being targeted by a killer unlike any he has hunted before

 Mark Billingham was born and brought up in Birmingham. He worked for some years as an actor and more recently as a TV writer and stand-up comedian. His first crime novel was published in 2001. Sleepyhead was an instant bestseller in the UK. It has been sold widely throughout the world and was published in the USA in the summer of 2002.

 The series of crime novels featuring London-based detective Tom Thorne continued with Scaredy Cat and was followed by Lazybones, The Burning Girl, Lifeless, Buried, Death Message, Bloodline, From The Dead, Good As Dead and the most recent, The Dying Hours. Mark is also the author of the standalone novels In The Dark and Rush Of Blood, as well as a series of children’s thrillers – Triskellion – written under the pseudonym Will Peterson.

 An acclaimed television series based on the Thorne novels was screened on Sky One in Autumn 2010, starring David Morrissey as Tom Thorne. Adaptations of both In The Dark and Rush Of Blood are currently in development at the BBC.

A Tudor fix

The Tudor princess

Darcey Bonnette has written several books about the Tudors, her latest about Margaret Tudor, Henry v111′s sister arrived at Leeds Libraries this week.

The Tudor princess by Darcey Bonnette

As daughter of Henry VII, Margaret Tudor’s duty is to gain alliances for England. Barely out of girlhood, Margaret is married by proxy to James IV and while Jamie is an affectionate husband, he is not a faithful one and providing an heir cannot guarantee Margaret’s safety when Jamie leads an invading army against her own brother, Henry VIII.

In the wake of tragic loss she falls prey to the attentions of the ambitious Earl of Angus – a move that brings Scotland to the brink of anarchy. Beset by betrayal, secret alliances, and the vagaries of her own heart, Margaret has one overriding ambition – to preserve the crown of Scotland for her son, no matter what the cost

If you like it, Darcey Bonnette’s other titles are -

Secrets of the Tudor Court

Rivals of the Tudor Court

Betryal in the Tudor Court

Books for Prisoners – authors’ recommendations

“Books represent a lifeline behind bars, a way of nourishing the mind and filling the many hours that prisoners spend locked in their cells.” Some leading authors recommended books for prisoners as part of the recent campaign ‘Books for PrisonersTouching the void‘.

Martin Amis: I would recommend Primo Levi’s If This is a Man. It is a masterly evocation of something much worse than prison: murderous enslavement for the crime of being born.

 Jim Crace: I’d send the Prison Trilogy by Pramoedya Ananta Toer – written in the head and remembered while on Buru prison island, but denied pen, paper and books.

 Carol Ann Duffy: I would send Jimmy Boyle’s visceral autobiography, A Sense of Freedom. It describes his journey from a violent, criminal youth to the degradation, shame and remorse he experienced in Scotland’s most draconian prisons – and the redemption eventually delivered by literature and art in the special unit at Barlinnie. It is a book everyone concerned with this current debate should read when the most wretched of our fellow citizens, who have nothing, are now being told they have less than nothing.

 Tracy Chevalier: I would recommend giving prisoners Touching the Void by Joe Simpson. It’s a true account of a disastrous climb in the South American Andes in which the two climbers face terrible choices, hit rock bottom, facing death, yet manage to survive. I can imagine prisoners would find a lot to relate to in the story of finding a way up and out from the worst moment of your life.

 Hermione Lee: The Secret Agent, Joseph Conrad. Because it shows the danger and treachery and fear in English public life.

 Ian McEwan: The Grass Arena by John Healy. It’s a long and brilliant postcard from hell. A brutal childhood, alcoholism, a London underworld – this is what it’s like to touch bottom, then find your way up through the game of chess.

  Elif Shafak: My Books for Prisoners recommendation would be Rumi’s Masnavi, composed of six books of poetry. The style is extraordinary, interwoven with stories within stories. The themes Rumi deals with (death, body, love, birth, beauty) are both universal and timeless. His peaceful voice speaks to our hearts and minds across all national and religious borders, and challenges head-on the teachings that promote bigotry, xenophobia and discrimination

The Manly Art of Knitting

“Only a man would knit a hammock with shovel handles for needles and manila rope for yarn.” it says on the back cover.

Published 1972, ‘The Manly Art of Knitting’ by Dave Fougner will fetch the princely sum of £397.04 on Amazon. Unfortunatley we don’t have a copy in the library!

What can you make? The projects chapter includes how to make: a dog blanket, a beanie, a wall hanging (for your horse’s best-in-show award), a saddle blanket for your horse (knitted circularly with sharpened garden hose and “jumbo” yarn), a slipover (jumper) and a rope hammock (knitted with either shovel handles or pool cues with manila rope).

 Plus there’s a section on problems which tells you how to pick up dropped stitches with the end of a knitting needle and a toothpick instead of a crochet hook!

135 new non fiction titles this week

So many titles to choose from, here’s our picks and full listing. Enjoy!

Favourite read  this week:  The Puppy Express: on the road with 25 dogs what could go wrong? All aboard! When David Rosenfelt and his family embarked on a roadtrip across the USA to their new home in Maine, he thought he had prepared for every eventuality. They had mapped out the route, brought three just-in-case SatNavs and had enough snacks to feed an army. There was just one tiny complication – they were travelling with twenty-five rescue dogs: a sure-fire recipe for chaos. But having devoted their lives to rehoming thousands of unwanted and unloved dogs, there was no way they could leave them behind. With nine volunteers, three motorhomes and several contingency plans, David and his very large, very hairy family set off on a journey that will test his patience and his sense of humour to the limits. This is a hilarious and uplifting tale of a canine cross-country adventure like no other; if David and his dogs make it to Maine in one piece, it will be a miracle!

Ben: missing since 1991: his mother's heartbreaking story of endurance and hopeRecommended:

Planet Banksy: unauthorized: the man, his work and movement he inspired Banksy is the world’s foremost graffiti artist, his work adorning streets, walls and bridges across nations and continents. His stencil designs are instantly recognizable and disturbingly precise in their social and political commentary, flavoured with subtle humour and self-awareness. More popular than ever, Banksy has spawned countless imitators, students and fans alike, his fame – although unlooked-for – inevitably transmitting his ideas and work to the international arena. Highlighting both the relevance of Banksy’s work and how his impact has continued to spread, ‘Planet Banksy’ brings together some of the very best pieces of art from all corners of the world that have been inspired by Banksy, as well as featuring some of his own innovative, profound and controversial work

Ben: missing since 1991: his mother’s heartbreaking story of endurance and hope In 1991 Kerry and her son Ben followed Kerry’s parents to live on the Greek island of Kos. On 24 July, she was at work when her mum Christine arrived crying uncontrollably. Ben had been playing outside, and then disappeared. Someone had taken Ben. In her heartbreaking memoir, Kerry describes the agony of being initially suspected by the police, which meant the closure of airport and ferry terminals were delayed, the early sightings that raised their hopes and the hoaxes which dashed them completely. And the unbearable pain of knowing her baby boy was alone somewhere without his mum

The people's songs: the story of modern Britain in 50 songsStuart Maconie The people’s songs: the story of modern Britain in 50 songs In ‘The People’s Songs’, Stuart Maconie argues that what we call pop music has a defiant, unsanctioned concept at its heart: the ability to speak to people, to affect people, to transform their lives. This book tells the story of modern Britain via the records that soundtracked this dramatic and kaleidoscopic period. The story is told chronologically over 50 chapters. At the heart of each is one emblematic song that is discussed fully

For Writers 

  • May – Get started in creative writing Revised edition
  • Dynes – Masterclasses in creative writing

For Cooks

  • The big baking book
  • Kendrick - Free-from food for family & friends: over a hundred delicious recipes, all gluten-free, dairy free & egg free
  • Leith – Leith’s cookery bible rd ed
  • Life – The life plan diet
  • Moine – Mediterranean cookbook
  • Whaite – John Whaite bakes at home

Going somewhere or planning a trip

  • Blasi – Discover Italy rd edition
  • Boyle – The rough guide to Australia Eleventh edition
  • Colbourne – France [Revised edition]
  • Egert-Romanowska – Germany Revised edition
  • Griffin – The rough guide to Scotland Tenth edition
  • Edwards – The rough guide to the USA Eleventh edition
  • Spain [Revised edition]
  • Symington – Portugal [Revised edition]
  • Western USA


  •  Ackroyd – Charlie Chaplin
  • Aitken – Margaret Thatcher
  • Campbell – Roy Jenkin
  • Collins – Michelle Collins
  • Crane – Lana
  • Dudgeon – Maeve Binchy
  • Eyman – John Wayne
  • Kensit – Absolute beginner
  • Kray – Me and my brothers [New] ed
  • Moore – Margaret Thatcher Volume one -Not for turning
  • Mortimer – Dear Lumpy
  • Needham – Ben
  • Nolan – No regrets
  • Ormiston – JMW Turner
  • Saunders – Bonkers
  • Summerscale – The Queen of Whale Cay (Joe Carstairs women champion motor boat racer)
  • Warnock – The gaffer  (football)
  • Webster – The spy with 29 names
  • Wegelius – Domestique (cycling)
  • Wood – It’s only rock ‘n’ roll

Crafters  -Wood – Cross stitch


  • Adie – Fighting on the Home Front
  • Armstrong – How to be an even better manager Ninth edition
  • Banbolt-Simons – Complete Norwegian
  • Barber – Jazz Me Blues
  • Barnes – Levels of life
  • Beeny – Sarah Beeny’s  DIY jobs
  • Bellos – Alex through the looking-glass
  • Brown – Plan of attack
  • Bryant – Parliament Volume 1 Ancestral voices
  • Buchan – A green and pleasant land
  • Canter – The Rev diaries
  • Carter – Force Benedict
  • Carter – The brain book
  • Cioran – A short history of decay
  • Cliffe – Stuart Yorkshire Places and People First
  • Cooksley – The air VCs Updated edition
  • Corrett – Honestly Healthy for life
  • Crane – Empires of the dead
  • Crewdson – Dorothea’s war
  • Cruz – One holy fire
  • Cruz – Run baby run
  • D’Acampo – Pronto!
  • Dalling – Speedway
  • Daniels – Hackney child
  • Dartnell – The knowledge
  • Davies – The artful species
  • Davis – Murder by gaslight in Victorian Bradford
  • Docherty – The tai chi bible
  • Dunlop – Meteorology manual
  • Edwards – Self belief – the vision
  • Edwards-Jones – Restaurant Babylon
  • Entrup – 10 minute make-up
  • Evelegh – The patch
  • Fermor – The broken road
  • Foucault – The order of things
  • Gilfillan – Crime and punishment in Victorian London
  • Graham – The intelligent investor Special ed
  • Grandin – The autistic brain
  • Hannan – High road rider
  • Harris – Not for turning
  • Hasson – Master the skill that will unlock your potential
  • Hayter – GEM Skues
  • Henderson – The wizard
  • Henshaw – The bookshop that floated away
  • Hogsbjerg – CLR James in imperial Britain
  • Holden – No holding back
  • Jaffe – Indigo adults
  • James – Churchill and empire
  • Jameson – Making God laugh
  • Jones – The serpent’s promise
  • Koppel – The astronaut wives club
  • Krupa – Shallow graves in Siberia
  • Law – Woodsman
  • Lewis – Voices from D-Day
  • Lewis – Zero six bravo
  • Lomax – The railway man
  • Lyman – Into the jaws of death
  • MacOnie – The people’s songs
  • Martin – Making it happen
  • Moore – How to create the perfect wife
  • Morris – War
  • O’Brien – The ultimate player’s guide to minecraft
  • Owen – The Yorkshire shepherdess
  • Peer – You can be younger Updated and revised
  • Powers – Letter composed during a lull in the fighting
  • Randall – The last gentleman of the SAS
  • Roberts – Sad men
  • Rosenfelt – The Puppy Express
  • Rudd – The English
  • Scruton – The soul of the world
  • Shelden – Young Titan
  • Shore – Bang in the middle
  • Simpson – Richmonds of the World
  • Stoppard – Baby’s first skills Revised edition
  • Stout – The sociopath next door
  • Stratton – Floyd Patterson
  • Swift – Joe’s small garden handbook
  • Taylor – Scarlett’s women New [edition]
  • Tennant – Design bloggers at home
  • The big baking book
  • Tippett – Born gangster
  • Topol – Creative Destruction of Medicine Revised edition
  • Torday – Dearest Jane
  • Tuffrey – Yorkshire Railways from the Yorkshire Post
  • Turner – A classless society
  • Urban – The tank war
  • Usher – Letters of note
  • Von Daniken – History is wrong
  • Waterhouse – Sharon & Tracy & the rest
  • Watson – The age of nothing
  • Wilcock – Hidden Science of Lost Civilisations
  • Williams – Shafted
  • Williams – Steaming to victory
  • Willis – Twice bitten
  • Wood – The Leeds Pals
  • Woolfson – Your preschoooler bible

If you are doing a walk over Easter …

The big walks of the north: including The Pennine Way, The Coast to Coast Walk, Hadrian's Wall Path, The Cleveland Way, The West Highland Way, The Great Glen WayAre you hoping to get a walk in over Easter?

Starting gently-

50 walks in West Yorkshire: 50 walks of 2-10 miles by John Morrison Clear, easy-to-follow route descriptions for every walk and includes information on what to look out for and places to eat and drink

The inn way -to the Yorkshire Dales: the complete and unique guide to a circular walk in the Yorkshire Dales by Mark Reid  Does what it says on the tin – takes you on quite a long walk with pubs included

Britain’s Best Coastal Walks by Andrew McCloy 15 two- to three-day walks along sections of Britain’s most famous coastal paths, which are shown on clear and detailed maps

Walking the county high points of England by David Bathurst  From Dark Peak on the Pennine Way in Derbyshire to the misty Malverns in Worcestershire and Milk Hill on the Mid-Wilts Way, suggestions for ramblers to experience the English countryside

The big walks of the north: including The Pennine Way, The Coast to Coast Walk, Hadrian’s Wall Path, The Cleveland Way, The West Highland Way, The Great Glen Way by David Bathurst Definitive companion to the ten best-loved long-distance footpaths in the north of Britain, with each split into manageable sections.Ramble on: the story of our love for walking Britain

Wildlife walks: great days out at over 500 of the UK’s top nature reserves by Wildlife Trusts (GB) Covers more than 500 of the UK’s top nature reserves, all of them owned/ managed by the 47 Wildlife Trusts

The most amazing places to walk in Britain: the most beautiful and captivating routes in England, Scotland and Wales by Readers Digest   200 walks through the best of Britain’s countryside, each one specially devised to include amazing views, interesting features, varied landscapes

Great mountain days in the Pennines by Terry Marsh 50 classic walks on the rolling Pennine landscape, set across the backbone of England. The graded routes, between 6 and 13 miles in length cover classic Pennine fells and moorland

 The coast to coast walk by Martin Wainwright Originally devised by the legendary Alfred Wainwright, the Coast-to-Coast Walk is one of Britain’s most popular long-distance walks. Planned to seek out the most spectacular high ground across the country, it goes from the sea in the west to the sea in the east via three of England’s loveliest National Parks: the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. 192 miles, from the quiet Cumbrian village of St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay, which takes even a fit walker a fortnight. Sea cliffs,  mountains, lakes,  rolling dales and finally heather moorland.

Ramble on: the story of our love for walking Britain by Sinclair McKay This text presents a history of walking and our relationship with the British countryside. It tells the story of how country walks and rambling were transformed from a small and often illegal pastime to the most popular recreational activity in the country