Librarian’s choice – Top 10 Favourites

This blog is from Stu, a community librarian based in the East of the city:-

Here’s a list of ten of my favourite fiction books, in no particular order.

stu-catch-22Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.

Joseph Heller was once confronted by an interviewer with the statement, ‘Since Catch-22, you haven’t written anywhere near as good.’ To which Heller replied, ‘No. But neither has anyone else.’ I think this is the greatest book written by anyone anywhere ever and is worthy of every bit of praise that’s been lavished on it over the years. It’s the sorry tale of Yossarian, a bomber in the US Airforce during World War II and his quest to “live forever or die trying”. It’s gloriously, riotously funny, contradictions piling up on top of one another so fast you need wings to stay above them, and the dialogue is absolutely hilarious too. At its heart it’s a razor-sharp satire on the utter ridiculousness of war and what it does to those who are made to fight it, and there are so many classic scenes it would be impossible to even begin to describe them. If you’ve never had a look at this one, you really should do so immediately. Read read read.

stu-salughterhouse-5Slaughterhouse-5 by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Kurt Vonnegut was described for the vast majority of his career as a sci-fi novelist, but it was a tag which he absolutely hated. So it goes. There are sci-fi aspects to this book to be sure – time travel, aliens from the planet Tralfalmadore – but really it’s a wickedly clever, achingly sad autobiographical novel about the fire-bombing of Dreseden at the end of World War II, which Vonnegut himself actually survived. It’s a startlingly original work with a mellifluous blend of fact, fiction and meta-fiction (years before it became de rigeur), and parts of it – such as the American soldier shot for stealing a teapot – are completely unforgettable. I must have read this book ten times and I’ll read it ten more before I’m finished. Amazing stuff.

stu-cannery-rowCannery Row by John Steinbeck.

“Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses. Its inhabitant are, as the man once said, “whores, pimps, gambler and sons of bitches,” by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, “Saints and angels and martyrs and holymen” and he would have meant the same thing…..” If that opening paragraph doesn’t grab your attention, nothing will. This novella about Doc, Mack, Hazel and the boys panhandling down on Cannery Row is a thing of absolute beauty, and is the perfect introduction for anyone new to Steinbeck’s world. If you’re already familiar with this, the sequel Sweet Thursday is a great read too, as is Tortilla Flat, which is almost like a prototype for this little gem.

stu-wuthering-heightsWuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

Emily is my favourite Bronte by a considerable distance, and this is my favourite Bronte novel by a country mile. Most people will have a vague idea of the story – Cathy, Heathcliff, love, passion, death etc. – but the real star of this novel is the wild Yorkshire landscape, described perfectly in Bronte’s turbulent, almost Gothic prose.

stu-notes-from-undergroundNotes From Underground by Dostoyevsky.

This book provides us with the first great anti-hero in literature, the progenitor of a whole motley crew of misanthropic weirdoes from the starving, unnamed wretch in Knut Hamsun’s Hunger to Arturo Bandini and Henry Chinaski and everyone in between. You could also look at it as the first proper Existential novel, if you really wanted to. The great Russian writers come with a lot of baggage and formidable reputations to boot, and the sheer size of their works can often put people off, but for the dedicated reader there are great delights to be found therein. This is reasonably short by the standards of many of his other works, so if you’ve ever fancied checking him out but feel over-faced by The Idiot, maybe this is the place to start.

stu-frankensteinFrankenstein by Mary Shelley.

Yeah, I know, people will tell you that there were Gothic novels before this one – The Castle Of Otranto, The Monk, Ann Radcliffe and all that – but for me this is really where it all started. It’s a canny mix of early Gothic atmospherics shot through with Romantic sensibilities, and it’s treatment of the dichotomy between science and religion captured the Zeitgeist perfectly when it was first published in the early 19th century. It’s a surprisingly easy read for something that’s as old as it is, and it’s a compulsive, page-turning story to boot; it’s also a hugely influential work that has spawned thousands of imitators both in printed and cinematic forms. If you’ve ever read a book or watched a movie with a mad scientist protagonist who ends up being destroyed by his single-minded pursuit of his vision, whether the writer even knows it or not, you can trace a direct line back to poor, misguided Victor. Incidentally, Shelley’s treatment of the creature he creates is deeply sympathetic, extremely humane and quite forward-thinking in many ways, so it’s kind of odd that over the years it has come to be known as Frankenstein’s Monster. It may be monstrous, but that’s not quite the same thing. With all the recent debates about GM foods, cloning and stem cells, it’s still as relevant as ever and seems destined to remain so for quite some time yet.

stu-johnny-got-his-gunJohnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo.

It’s worth noting that this book is unique on this list as it’s the only one that I haven’t read more than once – yet. I read it two or three years ago, having had it on my list since my university days a long time ago in a universe far, far away. It’s an absolutely breathtaking piece of creative writing and trying to describe it effectively is virtually impossible. In a nutshell though, the whole novel is an internal monologue from inside the head of a soldier who has been blown up by a shell in World War I. The thing is, he doesn’t realise initially that he has been blown up, and over the course of the opening few chapters he makes – via some astonishingly inventive psychological insights from the writer -several chilling discoveries about the extent of his injuries; he has no arms, no legs, and most of his face has been blown off so he’s deaf and blind as well. What follows is his attempts to deal with the situation he’s in, and his amazing efforts to communicate with the outside world. Absolutely extraordinary, this one.

stu-ulyssesUlysses by James Joyce.

Ulysses is really more of an artistic statement and an intellectual puzzle than a novel, but it’s no less enjoyable for it. On the face of it’s the tale of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom and their meeting one day in Dublin on 16th June, 1904. What lies beneath is a virtuoso display of technical skill, linguistic pastiche (check out the Oxen Of the Sun section for a stellar example of this) and stream-of-consciousness monologues, all addressing serious contemporary issues such as the power of the Catholic church, Home Rule and Irish Nationalism. It fulfils Joyce’s promise from A Portrait Of the Artist As A Young Man to ‘forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race’ and it does so brilliantly.

stu-the-fightThe Fight by Norman Mailer.

A bit of a cheat putting this on a fiction list, but it’s an cracking example of what came to be known as the non-fiction novel so I think I’ll just about get away with it. This is Mailer’s account of the famous Ali-Frasier Rumble In the Jungle in 1974. Mailer was one of the great men of American letters, and many of his novels are undisputed classics. What people don’t often realise is that he was a very good journalist too, and that one of his main passions was writing about boxing, something he did for most of his life. This works as a great insider scoop of the fight, but it’s also an intimate portrait of the two fighters (there’s a lovely bit where Ali takes Mailer for a run on the eve of the fight, for example) and he captures the madness of 70s Zaire beautifully as well.

stu-fupFup by Jim Dodge.

I can never resist an opportunity to plug this one. So small you can read it in half an hour, this novella is a lovely little zen-like fable about a ninety nine year old man who keeps himself alive with home-made Death Whisper whiskey, his grandson and their pet duck Fup, who they rescue from the clutches of the crazy wild boar that’s terrorizing their ranch. Jim Dodge is an absolute magician with words and it’s a shame that his whole printed output only amounts to three novels – Stone Junction and Not Fade Away are both pretty mind-blowing too – and a single book of poetry/shorter prose. There’s a bit of magic realism going on here which adds to the mystique, but really it’s just a great story, beautifully told, and with a real heartbreaker as an ending. It’s one of those books that you’ll read once, go back to the beginning, read again, then start buying copies for all your friends. Wonderful.

Margaret Atwood – Live Screening at Central Library

We are very excited to be able to join up with the British library when Margaret Atwood receives the 2016 PEN Pinter Prize.

On Thursday 13th October we are screening a live broadcast from the British library to see Margaret receive her prize and deliver an address. There will also be a reading of Margaret’s classic book, The Handmaid’s Tale by actress Elizabeth McGovern.

This is a real treat, and not to be missed if, like us, you are a huge Atwood fan. The screening will take place in Room 700 in Central Library from 6.30 – 8.00pm. Tickets are free, but booking is essential. There are a few places left, but you are going to have to be quick! To book a place go to

To celebrate here are a few of our favourite Atwood classics:-

atwood-hag-seedHag-seed: the Tempest retold

Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds. Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge. After 12 years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It’s magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?

atwood-heart-goes-lastThe heart goes last

Living in their car, surviving on tips, Charmaine and Stan are in a desperate state. So, when they see an advertisement for Consilience, a ‘social experiment’ offering stable jobs and a home of their own, they sign up immediately. All they have to do in return for suburban paradise is give up their freedom every second month – swapping their home for a prison cell. At first, all is well. But then, unknown to each other, Stan and Charmaine develop passionate obsessions with their ‘Alternates,’ the couple that occupy their house when they are in prison. Soon the pressures of conformity, mistrust, guilt and sexual desire begin to take over.

atwood-stone-mattressStone mattress: nine tales

A recently widowed fantasy writer is guided through a stormy winter evening by the voice of her late husband. An elderly lady with Charles Bonnet’s syndrome comes to terms with the little people she keeps seeing, while a newly-formed populist group gathers to burn down her retirement residence. A woman born with a genetic abnormality is mistaken for a vampire. And a crime committed long-ago is revenged in the Arctic via a 1.9 billion year old stromatalite. In these nine tales, Margaret Atwood ventures into the shadowland earlier explored by fabulists and concoctors of dark yarns such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Daphne du Maurier and Arthur Conan Doyle.

atwood-handmaids-taleThe handmaid’s tale

The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function – to breed. If she deviates, she will be killed. But even an oppressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.

atwood-the-doorThe door

With a wickedly sharp sense of the funny, underpinned by a wordly sagacity, this is a collection of poetry about love, about growing older, about family, and about writing.


Toby, a survivor of the man-made plague that has swept the Earth, is telling stories. Stories left over from the old world, and stories that will determine a new one. Listening hard is young Blackbeard, one of the innocent Crakers, the species designed to replace humanity. Their reluctant prophet, Jimmy-the-Snowman, is in a coma, so they’ve chosen a new hero – Zeb, the street-smart man Toby loves. As clever Pigoons attack their fragile garden and malevolent Painballers scheme, the small band of survivors will need more than stories.

atwood-oryx-and-crakeOryx and Crake

Pigs might not fly, but they are strangely altered. So, for that matter, are wolves and raccoons. A man, once named Jimmy, now calls himself Snowman and lives in a tree, wrapped in an old bed sheet. The voice of Oryx, the woman he loved, teasingly haunts him. The green-eyed children of Crake are his responsibility.

A Fantastically Great Children’s Book

kate-fantastic-womenIt was a warm Friday evening as I ventured down to the Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley, for the book launch of ‘Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World’ by Kate Pankhurst. As I entered the trendy industrial space of the Gallery there was an immediate buzz in the room of people exploring, drawing, reading, meeting, eating and drinking. There were as many children as there were adults. Kate came over to say hello and introduced me to her adorable new baby Otto. A book launch and a baby, Kate is a super women! Everyone was given a badge which had the illustrations out of the book on. Mine featured Emmeline Pankhurst the suffragette descendant of Kates; of course I immediately pinned it to my top. I had a wander round the mill to see all the fun bits and bobs Kate had set up; from a drawing table where you could draw a woman who is fantastically great to you, to a dressing up trunk filled with props that related to the great women that featured in the book. There was a table filled with tasty treats, the most incredible cakes and of course fizzy, after all this really was a celebration.

kates-book-launchI eventually made it to the table which had piles of the book in both paper back and hard back. I picked up the hard back and had a flick through, that’s when I knew how special this book was. It’s an education, it’s inspirational, every page has a splash of humour, it’s filled with Kate’s gorgeous bright illustrations, and it’s a celebration of women. It’s brimming with fascinating facts and it’s very accessible for different ages and abilities to enjoy, even the grown-ups. The diverse range of women covered in this book is incredible, from Rosa Parks to Frida Kahlo to Jane Austen, and each one of their stories is fascinating. I absolutely love the layout of the pages; each woman get a double page spread as it takes you on a journey through their extraordinary life. We have to thank Kate for her talents in creating such an important children’s book and then do our bit to introduce it to as many children (boys and girls), parents, carers and teachers as possible.

kates-book-launch-2After buying my copy I joined the queue to have it signed and addressed to my little girl. She’s a bit young at the minute to understand the context but that’s why I got the hardback because I want this book to be a staple on her bookshelf at home. Copies will be arriving into Leeds Libraries very soon, reserve it in to your local branch to borrow for free, I know you’ll enjoy reading and exploring it as much as I am.

Blog by Rachel Ingle-Teare, Children’s Librarian

Read Kate Pankhurst’s blog about the event here:-




Librarian’s Choice: Reduce, Recycle, Re-love

I have been an ardent collector of curios and the second hand for many years. My main thrill is to rummage and forage through other people’s trash to find an item I can refashion and treasure. I am not ashamed to call myself a skip surfer, car boot obsessive and charity shop aficionado.

What started as a means of buying cheap second hand clothes and furnishings as a student became a lifelong obsession with all things old and vintage.  Old and abandoned objects have a story to tell, they connect us to the past, and I am naturally drawn to the nostalgia and style of bygone times.

In this disposable and consumeristic world where ‘old’ is considered antiquated and unfashionable I see an opportunity to breathe new life into things which deserve a second chance. Once restored or up-cycled I have the privilege of owning something that is often unique and  well – crafted  whilst having all the pleasure and satisfaction of having added my own creative flourishes.

Over the years Leeds Libraries have been an amazing resource for books on art and design , interiors and crafts, all of which excite and inspire me. More recently there has seen a blossoming of publications on upcycling. Below I have listed some of my recommendations. Some of the projects I have undertaken at home to good effect, others are on my ‘to do list’ when I can find the time. Some of the books just beckon to be borrowed as the pictures alone are enchanting. You need not be an expert crafter or sewer; all of the projects have easy to follow instructions. and require very few tools. it’s amazing what you can do with a staple gun alone.

I hope you feel inspired to give it a go. Enjoy!

angie-thrifty-chicThrifty chic: interior style on a shoestring by Liz Bauwens

‘Thrifty Chic’ shows you how to revive and revamp to create an eclectic and unique interior style on a shoestring. I particularly like the idea of a striped hand painted staircase. Best to use a quick dry paint for this one and wait till the kids and the dogs are out of the house.

angie-junk-geniusJunk genius: stylish ways to repurpose everyday objects, with over 80 projects and ideas by Juliette Goggin

In this book you’ll find rewarding and money-saving recycling projects. My favourites include lighting made out of old kitchenaliia. It also contains a great chapter on creating jewellery out of old jigsaw pieces, thimbles, typewriter keys and watch faces. A must have ‘book to borrow’ for any Steam Punk fans out there.

angie-repurposed-libraryThe repurposed library by Lisa Occhipinti

A celebration of the possibilities that books have to offer as an art material. This book takes my passion for books one step further, It includes 33 projects to make out of books, my favourites are: a lettered wreath, a literary lampshade; and a book ledge made from beautiful old hardbacks.

angie-reviveRevive!: inspired interiors from recycled materials by Jacqueline Mulvaney

This is the only book where more advanced sewing skills than my own are required. This would suit an intermediate or confident sewer. Whilst I have tackled some basic upholstery in the past I haven’t quite mastered some of the more advanced features of my sewing machine. However, I do have a growing collection of fabrics which are in need of refashioning and embellishing. This book shows you how to make and decorate throws, cushions, curtains and blinds. The Inspiration Board featured is an art piece in itself.

angie-vintageCreating the vintage look: 35 ways to upcycle for a stylish home by Ellie Laycock

This book offers you simple step by step guidance to create unique homewares. It makes you to look at unloved items in a totally new way, and encourages you to think before you throw.
It is a good starting point for anyone new to up-cycling . It is the answer to all your birthday and Christmas conundrums, as from now on you can just DIY it. My favourites are the stamp collection placemats ( I have done this myself with great success ), the cheese grater pen pot, the tea set bird feeders and the dish towel curtain to name just a few…..

angie-recycled-homeRecycled home: transform your home using salvaged materials by Rebecca Proctor

This book features 50 stylish craft projects using salvaged materials, with step-by-step illustrations to guide you through to completion . No special skills are needed.
My favourites include the cosy hot water bottle cover and patchwork book wallpaper. The rag rug bath mat is an on-going project I have yet to complete at home. My main advice to aspiring be rag ruggers is firstly just Do It! Basic rag rugging is really so simple and can even be done in front of the T.V. It is an ideal hobby for all finger twitchers, nail biters and smokers will miraculously cease as they become totally immersed. Alternatively, use it as part of a regular meditative practice whilst listening to music or an absorbing audio book. A tip for free is to start small don’t be overly ambitious in size or scale as in my case it will take forever to finish.

angie-flea-market-chicFlea market chic: the thrifty way to create a stylish home by Liz Bauwens

This book is on my Christmas Wish List, it is crammed full of eclectic interiors which mix the old and new to create a totally unique look. I am particular drawn to the shed and cabins section as my long term ambition is to make the ultimate downsize and move into one!

‘Flea Market Chic’ will show you how to spot the clever find in a pile of junk, where to look and how to negotiate. Sourcing materials need not be expensive or difficult, if you ask around. start with family and friends, use recycling sites such as Freecycle or use the Freeads on Gumtree; Visit your local scrap store whether that be Scrap Shed in Leeds or the Cone Exchange in Harrogate. Start using your local charity shops, for a few pence you are supporting the developing world or helping good causes nearer to home. Even better why not volunteer? Try out online auction sites such as Ebay, bargains are to be had with a little research and patience. Look in roadside skips I’ve always found people are happy to give you things would otherwise have gone to landfill.

angie-fine-little-dayFine little day: ideas, collections and interiors by Elisabeth Dunker

Take a peek into the fascinating life of Elisabeth Dunker: blogger, writer, stylist, designer, photographer and artist. This is a woman of many talents, and the book showcases her unique skill and style. Her handmade pot holder blanket is an inspiration to behold. This book makes me want to move to Scandinavia and live in her cabin!

angie-cheap-chicCheap chic: affordable ideas for a relaxed home by Emily Chalmers

Just a lovely coffee table book, enjoy flicking through the pages for the sheer pleasure of it
If you are in need for inspiration then Pinterest is the answer to all your dreams.  If you have a smart phone or IPad/tablet download the Pinterest App and create your own pin board of ideas.
If you want to have a go selling your handmade wares or turn a crafting hobby into a living then check out crafting websites such as Etsy and Folksy to see what you can sell. They each employ a basic level of quality control so a bowl made out of play dough whilst fun to make probably wouldn’t cut the muster.

angie-rediscovered-treasuresRediscovered treasures by Ellen Dyrop

This book is a ‘must read’ for anyone hoping to style their own wedding as there are centrepieces and accessories that you can make that would add an air of romance to any humble village hall. On my wish list to make is the family heirloom cushion using old transferable photos and would make a thoughtful and memorable present for your nearest and dearest.

angie-thrifty-lampshades50 thrifty DIY lampshades by Adeline Lobut

I’ve never understood why lampshades so expensive to buy when the principle is so easy. What’s more you can use a fabric of your choice and add as many embellishments as your heart desires. The market has begun to recognise the upcycling trend and there are now DIY lampshade kits available to buy. Alternatively, borrow this book from Leeds libraries and have the pleasure of making one from scratch. I love the idea of using old books and men’s ties to create a stand or shade. If you want to show off your eco-friendly credentials there are even instructions for making a living lamp made out of green foliage.

angie-homespun-styleHomespun style by Selina Lake

This is book once borrowed I had to buy..
Indeed why all these books beckon to me is they inspire me to be creative. I hope you are inspired to have a go too!

Angie, Assistant Community Librarian


Librarian’s Choice – Absolutely judge these books by their cover

We all judge books by their covers but within this selection what appealed on the exterior is just a glimpse of the visual feast inside. It’s really refreshing to see children’s information books being presented in this illustrative way. This selection is beautiful yet filled with fun and fascinating information. They are all available in Leeds Libraries and you can reserve them into your nearest branch for free.

Rachel Wild animalsWild Animals of the North – Dieter Braun

The imagery in this book is just gorgeous; it has a simple geometric feel but is so rich in colour. This book takes you on a journey to the farthest corners of the northern hemisphere and explores the fantastic creatures that live there. Braun’s illustrations make the animals pop out of every page, its perfect for the young naturalist out there.


Rachel Shackletons JourneyShackleton’s Journey – William Grill

This book is filled with tiny clever sketches which make the facts and figures so easy to visualise. I love the maps as you voyage along your Journey to the Antarctica. Grill has a really fun and uncomplicated style which is very appealing and brings this fascinating and brave story alive.

Rachel Something about a bearSomething about a Bear – Jackie Morris

The detail Morris gets using water colour is incredible, the bears just come to life on every page. This book is a bit of a hybrid between a story and an information book, which makes it really accessible for younger children especially when they are being read to. The information is delivered through beautiful wording and even has a little twist at the end. I wonder which your favourite bear will be?


Rachel Smart about sharksSmart about sharks – Owen Davey

Davey’s style is so unique; it has a lovely vintage feel and the colours really stand out. This book is filled with fun facts that are backed up by his minimalist yet lavish illustrations. If you love this there is another book call ‘Mad About Monkeys’ which is just as good!

Rachel Frida KhaloFreida Khalo – Eng Gee Fan

This book is part of a new series of children’s biographies ‘Little People, Big Dreams’ telling the stories of remarkable women in history. Each book is illustrated by a different artist and everyone is wonderful. They are the perfect introduction and the pictures on each page are delightful. If you love this one check out ‘Coco Chanel’, it’s fabulous!


Rachel AnimaliumAnimalium – Katie Scott

For any family that loves natural history this book is just fantastic; it’s a trip around a 24/7 museum with immaculate exhibits of the world’s finest and most extraordinary creatures. The illustrations are stunning and it’s packed with absorbing facts. I love the larger than average format of this book and can just imagine a family huddled together on the floor flicking through the pages.


Blog by Rachel, Children’s Librarian based at Central Library.

Librarian’s Choice – Books and Places

This blog is from Joanne, an Assistant Communities Librarian based in the South of the city.

I look forward to my holiday reading every year and I can remember places I have been by the books I read there. Here is a selection of my most memorable books and places and then a look at the books I have put aside for my holiday this year.

Jo Me before youMe Before You by Jojo Moyes

Outside a caravan in France I sobbed uncontrollably at the end of this book. This is a powerful love story which tackles the issues of disability head on. There is a film out this summer, but once I have read a book I rarely feel I want to see it on the screen. But if it is anything like the book it will be compelling.

Jo And the mountains echoedAnd the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

By the side of Windermere Lake, I followed the twists and turns of a novel that begins in an Afganistan Village and deals with family seperation and the bonds which unite families. I had been a massive fan of this authors previous books. The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns and I wasn’t disappointed with this book or the wonderful lake views, even if it was pouring with rain.

Jo We need to talk about kevinWe need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

I don’t think I would ever have picked this book up, but my daughter was starting A level English in the September and it was on her reading list. She was determined to go off and enjoy the sights and sounds of  Puerto Pollensa in Majorca. I was quite happy to stay on the sun bed and tackle her Reading List. This is a powerful book and you can see why it was on the AS reading list. It has many layers.  The tale of Kevin who is a teenager killer is told through the eyes of his mother. It forces you to think about your parenting and how much you can decide the destiny of your children. I certainly didn’t have much control over my daughter’s nocturnal life style on that holiday. However, it turned out to be a book we both loved and still discuss.

This year I am staying close to home for holidays, but have already planned some reading. It’s a mix this year. Having worked in the Public Library for 6 months I have loved having such a wide selection at my finger tips.

Jo go set a watchmanGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

One of my favourite books of all time is To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee and I still haven’t read the much talked about Go set a Watchman.The reviews are mixed but it will be interesting to revisit the characters of Atticus and Scout  and see how the father/daughter relationship developed. One of my favourite quotes of all times comes from To Kill a Mocking Bird;

“ You never really understand a person until you climb into their shoes and walk around in them”. How true……

jo after youAfter You by Jojo Moyes

Having so enjoyed Me before you, I am going to give this a go. I must remember to pack the tissues.

jo collected poems larkinCollected Poems by Philip Larkin

And finally, after being inspired at a recent poetry workshop run by a colleague, I need to revisit some poetry. I always loved Philip Larkin, so I am going to give him another go. Happy holidays and Happy reading………..

Keep them occupied!

The summer holidays are here! Time for kicking back and relaxing. Or, if you are a parent of children of a certain age, a six week quest to keep them occupied. Here in Leeds Libraries we have just bought a whole load of new children’s non fiction books that should be arriving in your local library any time now and we have a range that should be of interest, whatever your child is in to. If the right book doesn’t make it to your library, then you can reserve it for free to bring it to you.

Crafters and Artists

My daughter could, from an early age, create anything she wanted provided that we had sellotape and paper. Sometimes you need to harness those creatives and this selection of books should do just that.

CNF lets sewLet’s Sew, pub Dorling Kindersley

Your child will learn how to sew in no time with this book. From threading needles and sewing a running stitch to following patterns, ‘Let’s Sew’ teaches your child how to create their very own collection of eye-catching toys and accessories, including a decorated book bag, felt elephants, and jungle-themed pen toppers.

CNF Paper craftsPaper Crafts by Annalees Lim

This series is aimed at kids who love to be creative. By following the clear and simple step-by-step instructions, they will be able to create fashionable, original, cute, and humerous creations.

CNF How to drawHow to draw by Nick Sharratt

Jacqueline Wilson’s world of characters has been brought to life brilliantly with Nick Sharratt’s illustrations. Now your budding artist can learn how to draw them themselves.

CNF 23 ways23 ways to be a great artist: a step by step guide to creating artwork inspired by famous masterpieces by Jennifer McCully

This text is for aspiring artists. The book is packed full of step-by-step projects for crafty kids eager to discover the secrets to creating a masterpiece.


Is your child the kind that likes to take things to bits as well as putting them together because they want to see how it works? These books are for them.

CNF SpaceSpace pub Franklin

Planets, asteroids, space travel and exploration are just some of the incredible topics you will learn about in this book. Discover what they are, what we know about them and how scientists intend to find out more about them.

CNF ExperimentsSuper Science: experiments!: 80 cool experiments to try at home by Tom Adams

This exciting lift-the-flap novelty book is packed with simple science experiments for kids to try at home. Each page will see keen young scientists try their hands at anything from building bridges to making food explode and mixing up meringues – all in the name of science! Every experiment is accompanied by a simple explanation of the science involved, making it hands-on educational fun.

CNF wacky scienceTotally wacky facts about exploring space by Emma Carlson Berne

Do you know which astronaut played golf on the moon? Ever wondered how much a space suit weighs? Have you thought about what astronauts do with their dirty underwear? Out-of-this-world facts and a bright, bold design will keep struggling and reluctant readers wanting more!

CNF your bonesYour Bones by Sally Hewitt

How many bones are in your body? Which bone protects your brain? What are bones made of? Find the answers to these questions and much, much more in this picture-packed introduction to the human body.

CNF OceanOcean: a children’s encyclopedia by John Woodward

A stunning visual encyclopedia for kids, packed with stunning photography and amazing facts on every aspect of ocean life. From the Arctic to the Caribbean, tiny plankton to giant whales, sandy beaches to the deepest depths, our oceans are brought to life with astonishing images.
The Next Bill Gates
Makes those hours in front of a screen mean something. Let them make the game, not just play it!
CNF Learn to programLearn to program by Heather Lyons
This looks at the basics of programming – what is an algorithm, basic languages and building a simple program. We then look at how simple programs can be developed to include decision making and repeat activities, and then how they can be fixed using debugging techniques. Throughout the book there are practical activities to assist learning, and links to online activities where they can practice newly learned skills.
By breaking this daunting subject down into the 10 ‘super skills’ needed, young readers can to get to grips with computer coding, and build on their skills as they progress through the book.
CNF Maths journey
Go on a real-life maths journey to practice the core topics of numbers, geometry, statistics, ratio and proportion, algebra and measurement. Through data visualisation methods, including colourful diagrams, pictograms, illustrations, photographs and infographics, ‘Go Figure!’ brings maths into the real world in an innovative, exciting and engaging visual way. It makes even the trickiest problem easier to understand and builds valuable confidence in maths!