Blue Monday

This blog post comes from Charlotte, our Digital Engagement Librarian.

The third Monday in January is now commonly known as Blue Monday – supposedly the most depressing day of the year. The concept was actually created by a travel company in 2005, using a calculation that took into account things like debt, weather and the amount of time since Christmas. However, this calculation has no basis in science and has been debunked many times!

charlotte-the-rest-of-usDespite this, Blue Monday seems to have caught the imagination of the media and looks to be a regular feature for Januarys to come. Even though today isn’t really the most depressing day of the year, it seems as good a day as any to highlight some books that will perk you up this winter!

charlotte-fragile-thingsThe Reading Agency’s Reading Well site is a great place to start. There are two categories of books, Books on Prescription and Mood-Boosting Books.

charlotte-the-worry-cureBooks on Prescription is a collection of books to help you manage and understand health and wellbeing using self-help reading. If you visit a GP or health professional, they may recommend one or more titles from the Books on Prescription list.

If you’re looking for an uplifting read, then head to the Mood-Boosting Books collection. There’s a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry all recommended by readers and reading groups for their uplifting abilities.

charlotte-the-readers-of-broken-wheelAs well as making you feel a bit more cheerful, there’s also evidence that books can make you live longer! The report concludes that, “the benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them … The robustness of our findings suggests that reading books may not only introduce some interesting ideas and characters, it may also give more years of reading.”

 

Where there are books there is hope

dying matters logoWe are happy to support the Dying Matters campaign as we realise that death is an important subject even if it is not easy to talk about. Their mission is to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life. This book list is designed to help stimulate discussion and is only a sample of what is available in Leeds Libraries. The aim is to help people not only celebrate living but be empowered and informed as they face the end of life .

These books offer an opportunity to engage in this taboo subject, to learn and find solace in other people’s experiences as well as helping to find the answers to questions you never dared ask lastly ,to share ones last wishes with friends and family.

A Death Café will be running bi-monthly at The Reginald Centre Community Hub, Chapeltown in partnership with Xina Broderick, a local funeral Director, starting on Saturday 21st of January. Further details can be found here.

angie-death-mattersDeath Matters By Sally Petch

An unusual new book that encourages us to change how we think about dying. Throughout the book, author Sally Petch asks us to start talking about and planning our own death – so that we can reach a place of acceptance and lessen our fear of an event which is ultimately inevitable. “Death Matters is an easy to read book. Sally Petch has performed us a great service in helping us come to terms with the idea of death.” Satish Kumar, Editor-in-chief, Resurgence Magazine

angie-the-welcome-visitorThe Welcome Visitor by John Humphrys

Death is a subject modern society shies away from. But if we regard death as a failure in our desire to prolong life, can we ever arrive at a humane approach to those whose lives have lost meaning? Here, John Humphrys and his co-author Dr Sarah Jarvis take a wider look at how our attitudes to death have changed as doctors have learned how to prolong life beyond anything that could have been imagined only a few generations ago, and confront one of the great challenges facing the western world today. There are no easy answers but the first step must surely be to accept that death can be as welcome as it is inevitable.

angie-being-mortalBeing mortal: illness, medicine and what matters in the end by Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande examines his experiences as a surgeon, as he confronts the realities of ageing and dying in his patients and in his family, as well as the limits of what he can do. He emerges with a story that explores a range of questions.

angie-deaths-summer-coatDeath’s summer coat: what the history of death and dying can tell us about life and living by Brandy Shillace

Consideration of death and dying is back in the public forum. People are sipping tea at Death Cafes. Poses the question how can we approach death in a culture dead set against talking about mortality? Written with humour and humanity

angie-mums-listMum’s List by St John Greene

On her deathbed, Kate Greene’s only concern was for her two little boys, Reef and Finn, and her loving husband, Singe. She knew she’d be leaving them behind very soon. The couple talked and cried together as she wrote her thoughts and wishes down, trying to help the man she loved create the best life for their boys after she was gone

How to have a good death: Foreword By Esther Ranzen who shares her personal experience of losing her late husband Desmond Wilcox

Find out how to deal with death, from understanding the process of dying to communicating with hospital staff and working through difficult stages of bereavement. A book that helps you prepare and plan for a good death, with informed choices and practical advice.

angie-wills-and-probateWills and Probate by David Bunn

This two-in-one guide to making a will and obtaining probate for the estate of someone who has died could help readers save thousands of pounds on legal fees. The guide covers the whole of the U.K.

angie-good-funeral-guideThe Good Funeral Guide by Charles Cowling

A good death contributes to a good life, so we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to deal with a reality most of us don’t want to face. Find out how to deal with death, from understanding the process of dying to communicating with hospital staff and working through the difficult stages of bereavement

angie-poems-for-funeralsPoems and readings for funerals and memorials Edited by Julia Watson

This book gathers together many of the treasured and poignant poems, readings, quotations and religious extracts that both celebrate life and express grief and sorrow about death,

angie-smoke-gets-inSmoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

Doughty – a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre – took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humour and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased. This book tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes

angie-standing-on-myStanding on my brother’s shoulders: Making peace with grief and suicide by Tara J. Lal

Following the death of their mother during childhood Tara and her older brother Adam developed a deep, caring bond, but Adam struggled silently with growing anxiety and depression. Four years after their mother’s death, he committed suicide, throwing himself from his study window at Oxford University. Grief and insecurity threatened to engulf Tara, but eventually she found, within her brother’s Grief and insecurity threatened to engulf Tara, but eventually she found, within her brother’s diaries, her reason to live.

angie-what-does-dead-meanWhat does dead mean? a book for young children to help explain death and dying by Caroline Jay

This is an illustrated book that guides children gently through the ‘big’ questions they often ask about death and dying. Suitable for children aged 4+. This is an ideal book for parents and carers to read with their children, as well as teachers, therapists and counsellors working with young children.

Always and Forever by Debi Gliori

When Fox dies the rest of his family are absolutely distraught. How will Mole, Otter and Hare go on without their beloved friend? But, months later, Squirrel reminds them all of how funny Fox used to be, and they realise that Fox is still there in their hearts and memories.

angie-are-you-sadAre You Sad, Little Bear? by Rachel Rivett and Tina MacNaughton

A book about learning to say goodbye. This charmingly illustrated picture book will help young children in times of bereavement, loss or change, gently exploring the reasons for saying goodbye and giving reassurance that goodbye doesn’t mean the end of things.

angie-grandads-islandGrandad’s Island by Benji Davies

After the phenomenal success of The Storm Whale and On Sudden Hill, this new book by Benji Davies deals with the emotional topic of losing a grandparent. Subtly told, this beautifully illustrated book tackles a difficult subject with great sensitivity and depth.

angie-fault-in-our-starsThe fault in our stars by John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

angie-tuesdays-with-morrieTuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Alborn

Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and gave you sound advice to help you make your way through life. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago. Mitch Albom rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life. Knowing he was dying of motor neurone disease – MItch visited Morrie in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final ‘class’: lessons in how to live.

Precious Lives by Margaret Forster

Margaret Forster’s most personal biography yet. It takes up the intertwining story of her gritty, 96 year old northern father, Arthur with that of her sister-in-law, Marion, who dies of Cancer. Margaret Forster’s father was not a man to answer questions about life and death, so she attempts to answer them for herself. As Forster looks back at Arthur’s life an indomitable man, she evokes incidents from her childhood, his working life and stubborn old age, trying to make sense of their largely unspoken relationship and of his tenacious hold on life, and on his family. Arthur and Marion’s lives were ordinary, but, when faced with death become precious.

Favourite reads of 2016

Well 2016 was a year wasn’t it! A year of big changes, and goings on. We can’t comment on the good or bad on this blog, but while it was all happening our library staff were reading the totally awesome selection of books that we have at our fingertips. Below are some of their favourites from last year.

So make your New Years Resolution to discover a new author, or try a new genre of book. Hopefully something in this pile will inspire you.

children-of-timeChildren of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

“The best sci-fi novel I have read in years. Set on a grand scale, the novel deals with big concepts like time and evolution without becoming dry. Gripping right until the last page, it instills a sense of wonder in the reader.” Ben, Senior Librarian Manager, Business and Research.

 

 

elizabeth-is-missingElizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

“Told from the perspective of Maud, Elizabeth’s friend, who believes Elizabeth is missing. Maud grows increasingly concerned and anxious as no one seems to take her worries seriously. The story reads as a mystery but as Maud is suffering from dementia it is not clear what is real and what isn’t. Maud lives her life and tries to keep control of her life by writing notes and leaving them around for herself to remind her what she needs to do. It is also very moving to see Maud’s family through her eyes as she struggles to cope but doesn’t see how they are trying to help her. As she tries to find Elizabeth the story of her sister who disappeared at the end of the second world war comes increasingly into her thoughts and this loss, over 50 years ago, mingles with the story of Elizabeth to make it difficult to see the truth. An enthralling, though provoking and very moving read.” Rose, Central Library Manager.

spandau-phoenixSpandau Phoenix by Greg Iles

“This is quite a long and complex novel based around Rudolf Hess, and the speculation around the reasons he flew into Scotland during World War II in 1941.
Since 1966 Hess was the only prisoner in Spandau, and was watched by four countries under a joint agreement. So, the question is why? Why was this one person of such importance that four countries should jointly ensure he not be released? Iles takes these known facts and brings them together to create a brilliant novel involving the interests of the U.S., Britain, East Germany, Soviet Union, Israel, South Africa and Libya.” Julie, Senior Communities Librarian, North East.

why-be-happyWhy Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

“I was in floods of tears reading this, and it may well be the saddest book I’ve ever read. It works almost as a companion piece to Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, but with the fantasy elements stripped out to leave a gritty slice of grim Northern realism. Anyone who has ever doubted the redemptive, life-affirming and life-changing power of books, literature and reading in general would be advised to check this out ASAP. It’s not an easy read and there’s no happy ending, but it’s extremely inspiring indeed.” Stu, Community Librarian, East.

gone-girlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

“On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick’s wife Amy disappears. There are signs of struggle in the house and Nick quickly becomes the prime suspect. It doesn’t help that Nick hasn’t been completely honest with the police and, as Amy’s case drags out for weeks, more and more vilifying evidence appears against him. Nick, however, maintains his innocence. Told from alternating points of view between Nick and Amy, Gillian Flynn creates an untrustworthy world that changes chapter-to-chapter. Calling Gone Girl a psychological thriller is an understatement. As revelation after revelation unfolds, it becomes clear that the truth does not exist in the middle of Nick and Amy’s points of view; in fact, the truth is far darker, more twisted, and creepier than you can imagine. Gone Girl is masterfully plotted from start to finish and the suspense doesn’t waver for one page. It’s one of those books you will feel the need to discuss immediately after finishing because the ending doesn’t just come; it punches you in the gut.

I loved that this book got me hooked from the beginning and the good narrative from both characters’ point of view lets you see the same thing with different eyes. I was amazed by the sheer level of premeditation, preparation and patience that Amy has in the story, and how she serves cold revenge. I found the book a total page-turner with a cliffhanger of an end that pushes you off into a fast fall. I highly recommended to both male and female readers.” Montse, Assistant Community Librarian, East.

meringue-girlsMeringue Girls cookbook : incredible meringues everybody can make by Alex Hoffler

“I absolutely love the process of making meringues and seeing the egg whites turn into this wonderful fluffy white soft cloud is pretty magical! I got this book out from the library for inspiration and its fascinating; all the flavours, colours and recipes that you do with the basic meringue mix. If you want to turn your traditional Pavlova in to a ‘Bang On Trend’ taste sensation and riot of colour then this book will definitely set you in the right direction. Even better there is further reading and inspo in their follow on book ‘Everything sweet’.” Rachel, Children’s Librarian, Central Library.

child-of-booksA Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

“A Child of Books is a book for anyone that loves reading but perhaps more importantly, is a message for those who haven’t discovered the joy of books or who have forgotten it. It’s a collaborative picture book written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston that tells the story of a little girl guiding a little boy on an adventure through literature and imagination. On their journey the children physically explore stories as the landscapes they travel through are constructed from the text of classic children’s books. The story is very simple but extremely powerful. It is a manifesto for the imagination, for childhood and for books. ” Kate, Community Librarian, East.

the-art-of-racing-in-the-rainThe art of racing in the rain by Garth Stein

“This is a tale of family, love, loyalty, loss and hope, as seen through the eyes of Enzo, the family dog. Enzo know he is not like other dogs, he knows much of life from the television and through the words of his master Denny. This book will have you sobbing and laughing by turns as you are led through the trials, wonders and absurdities of family life as only a dog could tell it.” Katrina, Deputy Head of Library Service.

girl-upGirl Up by Laura Bates

“I read this as part of a book group. We are all parents of teenagers so this book was a great insight into the difficulties and challenges that teenagers face in these times of social media and celebrity culture. It is part health book, part celebration of the women’s movement and part kick-ass feminist manifesto, all illustrated by drawings that may make you blush, and will certainly make you giggle. I would recommend this wholeheartedly to any parents of teens, and teenagers alike, of both sexes.” Alison, Reader and culture Development Manager.

Librarian’s (and family) Choice

This week’s blog is from Trudi (and her family), a Community Librarian based in the South of the city.

It’s almost Christmas and after all the festivities there may be time to relax and read. Looking for inspiration? Perhaps these will help…

Books for a Year Six child…

trudi-street-childStreet Child by Berlie Doherty
This is on a Year 6 reading list at a local primary school. The list also includes Goodnight Mr Tom and as most of the children had already read it, Street Child was the next most popular!
My youngest daughter is enjoying this immensely. The story is set in Victorian times and is about a boy called Jim, whose dad has died and his mum is going to die. There is no money and they are about to lose their home. A book about survival.

trudi-wimpy-kidDiary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
There are ten books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.
The series started off online in 2004 and made its print debut in April of 2007. There are now more than 180 million copies of Diary of a Wimpy Kid books available in 61 editions and 52 languages.
A few children I know have asked for a set of these books for Christmas! Ever popular, written in a comic format with drawings and speech bubbles, my daughter cannot get enough of these. Funny and complete escapism.

I asked my husband which book he would recommend as a gift for someone. His answer was…

trudi-fellowship-of-the-ringLord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien
This is an epic adventure and renowned as a favourite for children and adults. My husband read it when he was aged 28 (almost 20 years ago) and loved being transported through lots of different lands and settings on a magical and fantastical grand adventure. He says that the books are much better than the films! If he could own only one book, this would be it.

And…

trudi-grapes-of-wrathGrapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
My husband read this recently and couldn’t stop talking about it.
With themes pertinent to society today, this is a journey with the Joad family who are evicted by greedy bankers recovering their farming properties in the American mid-west to sell to larger, more profitable farming companies. Their only hope is to travel to California to start a new life having been tempted by the misrepresentation of the land of opportunity. Everyone should read this!

My eldest daughter is almost out of her teens and her recommendations include:-

trudi-handmaids-taleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
This book was lent to my daughter by a family friend and came highly recommended.
Written in 1985, this novel, in the genre of speculative fiction, is set in an oppressive imperfect world – where women exist to fulfil the desires of society but are chastised for it. A group of women are moved between wealthy men, to mother their children to keep the population stable. They are harshly judged by other women for this vital job. Although she found some of the themes terrifying, this book is very highly rated by my daughter as a ‘must read’.

trudi-the-girl-who-savedThe Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson
A poor girl from the slums of Soweto comes across a fortune and gets embroiled in a political secret. She is sent to Sweden where she meets a man who, in law, doesn’t exist. A completely bizarre and hilarious book. Another ‘must read’ from my daughter who was laughing so much trying to explain the storyline that it must just speak for itself!

What I will be reading over Christmas…

trudi-talking-headsTalking Heads by Alan Bennett
I first read this collection of monologues as soon as they were published in the late 1980s and realised quickly that although I was only in my teens, I had an old soul! Humorous and touching, all human life is here.
I love anything by Alan Bennett and look forward to reading Keeping On Keeping On!

trudi-a-million-yearsA Million Years In A Day by Greg Jenner
A good ‘dip in and out of’ book, this is a witty look at the popular history of everyday life and social rituals, from the Stone Age to the phone age, brought to you by the chief nerd of the Horrible Histories TV series.
If you secretly enjoy watching Horrible Histories then you will love this!

Zines, zines, zines

This blog comes from Claire, a librarian based at Studio 12 in Leeds Central library.

zineblog-leedsreadsI’m here to tell you about a new obsession. Zines!

Zines are the ultimate expression of the do-it-yourself ethic. It can look handmade. A zine is a functional vehicle for self-expression. It is generally a short run periodical produced for passion rather than an intention to make money. Zines are an immediate and disposable popular literary form and are typically less formal. A zine can take on topics that the mainstream usually ignores.

I was first introduced to zines through a workshop with Wur Bradford for International Women’s Day last year. The workshop took place over 3 weeks and by the end of the workshop we had learnt about letterpress, photocopying techniques and distribution. But what struck me the most was the pure range of subject, techniques and people the activity brought together. Here were maybe 8 women from diverse backgrounds who hadn’t met before talking openly about what it was to be a woman, looking at their cultures, experiences and backgrounds. The craft created an inclusive and relaxed atmosphere for learning and listening.

My colleague Sapphia suggested we take zines to libraries. We facilitated our first zine workshop at Moor Allerton Library, again for International Women’s Day. We haven’t looked back since partnering with Leeds Arts and Minds to produce zines with varying groups across Leeds for their This Is Me Exhibition hosted in Room700 Leeds Central Library.

We have since secured funding and will be putting on our on Exhibition in March next year. The exhibition will feature zines on a variety of topics including Local History, Poetry, Art, Culture and Books(obviously)

We recently created a zine with fellow Librarians looking at their favourite books. We were looking for book reviews, quotes and images to depict their passion for books and the librarians delivered!

zineblog-leedsreads2Our first zine page was created by Senior Communities Librarian Greg Stringer and looks at the book Brighton Rock. Greg said “It’s one of my favourite books (and films) – the central piece of pink and white paper jumped out at me right at the beginning, suggesting a stick of rock and I tried to find images to build around that that reflected either the era the book was set in (the cars, fashion) and the building suspense and terror developed in the plot or related to particular characters (Pinkie/violin music). There had to be some degree of inventiveness throughout if ideas for images weren’t readily available.”

zineblog-leedsreads4The Secret Garden was a bit of a favourite amongst our librarians.
Assistant Communities Librarian Chloe Derrick said “To maximise time I spent creating the Zine I gathered materials to work with directly. I avoided technology (photocopying, printing, etc.), started with the background and ended with the text. I only used part of a quote from the book so the meaning of the words could be ambiguous. When making the Zine I thought about how much I love the creativity within my role and considered events such Family Art Sessions at Headingley, as Zines really appeal to both adults and children.”

zineblog-leedsreads10This zine page was inspired by The Great Gatsby and created by Assistant Communities Librarian Mark Kirby. “The first thing that sprung to mind from the book was the valley of ashes, where a huge billboard looms over everything. That’s why I chose the block text from the adverts on a murky wallpaper background. To show NYC and the Roaring Twenties, I attempted a Manhattan skyscraper out of filmstrips, and some music manuscript for the Jazz Age. Plus some added party glamour via the dancing girls, courtesy of the Metro newspaper.”

zineblog-leedsreads7Assistant Communities Librarian Angie Palmer created this beautiful page in honour of The Book Thief.

 

 

 

You can view a full copy of the zine
https://issuu.com/studio12leeds/docs/librarian_zine
Zines can help us to celebrate our love of reading, research and culture by giving us a method to share our passions in groups, by distribution and by doing!

Storytime Advent

This lovely idea for enjoying reading with your little ones comes from Rachel, our children’s librarian based at Central library.

storytime-advent-calenderCreate your own storytime advent calendar this year, it’s easy and can be as cheap as you want to make it. All you need is 24 picture or board books individually wrapped and labelled with the date. Then each day of advent you and your child/children can open one and share the book throughout the day. It could be for their bedtime story or just a good excuse to have a cuddle on the sofa with it. It’s a great way to encourage reading because the unwrapping of the book will make it feel extra special. The best bit is that you can wrap up books you already have on their book shelf, go to the library and borrow a pile of books and if you want to add in a few that you have bought that’s fine too. Some old, some new and some borrowed, it’s up to you!

During this busy time of year getting that special 5-10 minutes together reading, laughing, relaxing, pointing out things in the pictures and asking questions about what going on is a lovely way to enjoy this festive season with your children. There are so many books to choose from at your local library and you can take 20 out on each library card but remember to renew them as the loan period is 3 weeks initially. They don’t have to be Christmassy, it completely up to you what you choose, here’s a few books we have enjoyed recently in our home to get you started.

rachel-togetherTogether… by Emma Dodd

This little sea otter loves spending time with his mummy – learning new things, playing together, or even just holding each other. In fact, every day this little sea otter spends with his mummy is special, just because they are together.

rachel-we-found-a-hatWe Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles. And there is only one hat!

rachel-grinch-stole-christmasHow the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr Suess

When he spies the citizens of Who-ville enjoying their Christmas preparations, the Grinch comes down from his cave and makes a dastardly attempt to take all the joy out of the occasion by actually stealing Christmas.

rachel-ten-little-piratesTen Little Pirates by Mike Brownlow

Ten little pirates set out to sea in search of adventure. But what will the ten little pirates do when they meet a hurricane – and a giant squid – and a hungry shark? This fun-filled rhyming story, which incorporates counting backwards from ten to one, is great to share with young children who are learning about numbers. The colourful, humourous illustrations feature objects to spot and count on every page.

rachel-detective-dogThe Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson

There once was a dog with a keen sense of smell. She was known far and wide as Detective Dog Nell. Peter’s dog Nell has an amazing sense of smell. Whether it’s finding a lost shoe or discovering who did a poo on the new gravel path, her ever-sniffing nose is always hard at work. But Nell has other talents too. Every Monday she goes to school with Peter and listens to children read. So who better to have on hand when they arrive one morning to discover that the school’s books have all disappeared! Who could have taken them? And why? There’s only one dog for the job and Detective Dog Nell is ready to sniff out the culprit!

rachel-jolly-postmanThe Jolly Postman by Janet Ahlberg

A delightful postbag of real letters for you to open and read.

rachel-alans-teethAlans Big Scary Teeth by Jarvis

Meet Alan, an alligator with a secret. Famed for his big, scary teeth, he sneaks into the jungle every day to scare the jungle animals. But after a long day of scaring, Alan likes nothing better than to run a warm mud bath and take out his false teeth, which nobody knows about! That is, until his teeth go missing. What will Alan do now? Scaring is the only thing he knows how to do! Can he still be scary without them?

rachel-fredFred by Mick and Chloe Inkpen

‘Fetch!’ and ‘Sit!’ and ‘Stay!’ I understand them all. Those are the words I know. But what is ‘Fred’? Fred the dog may not know his name yet or how to stay out of trouble, but one little boy will love him no matter what. A follow-up to ‘I Will Love You Anyway’, this touching rhyming story is full of friendship and tail wagging, and will touch a chord with all children who love pets.

rachel-snowmanThe Snowman by Raymond Briggs

One winter’s night, a snowman comes to life and an unforgettable adventure begins. Raymond Briggs’ favourite classic is a true piece of Christmas magic – narrated entirely through pictures, it captures the wonder and innocence of childhood and is now recognised throughout the world.

rachel-night-before-christmasThe Night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse’. Clement Moore’s popular festive poem about a visit from Santa Claus is a delight to share with children.

rachel-swanSwan: the life and dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder

Librarian’s Choice -Personal Favourites

This blog is from Alli, a Community Librarian based in the south of the city.

alli-ninth-lifeThe Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen

This unforgettable book took my breath away, literally. The funniest first chapter I’ve ever read and the rest just such a compulsive read. Louis, 9, is on a family holiday in France with his family, when his life changes. A psychological thriller about a child’s connections to his parents. Fabulously written with well-drawn characters, it’s hard to say more about the plot of this book without giving it away. It’s a much bigger book in every way than the slim volume it is physically. Read it – I’d love to hear what you think of it.

alli-memory-gameMemory Game by Nicci French

First novel of the writing duo Nicci Gerard and Sean French in 1997, it’s a crime novel about the nature of memory and about recovered memory syndrome. I found it exciting and compulsive.

alli-pride-and-prejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I studied this for O’Level, but loved it. For me, an unexpected, understated, delight.

 

alli-the-lion-witch-wardrobeThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis

I read this during a spell in hospital when I was thirteen, having missed it when I was younger. I loved the adventure, the different levels of meaning, the imagination it created in me. I read all the books in the series as soon as I could get them from the library (the Mobile Library the used to visit the bottom of Pool Bank). It was so exciting, waiting to see if they had brought me another one!

alli-devotion-of-suspect-xThe Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

A mystery in which you know “whodunit” from the beginning. I suppose it’s a sort of Police crime thriller in which everything you read is a clue and everything is included to help you find out why. It’s like a literary game of chess and is logical, simple and really different.

alli-woman-in-whiteThe Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

This was the first book that I read when I started work in libraries and for me, it had everything. The cover had an Atkinson Grimshaw painting on the front, which immediately evoked an atmosphere of mystery. I was gripped form the beginning and remember being absorbed by its mystery, love and a touch of the sinister.

alli-elizabeth-is-missingElizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Maud is suffering from loss of memory, but is convinced her best friend Elizabeth is missing and she believes her to be in danger. No one listens (not her daughter, the police etc.), but Maud is determined to find out what has happened to her.

alli-thirteenth-taleThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Novelist Vida Winter wants to get the tale of her life recorded and so she engages biographer Maureen Lea. Maureen also has a story of her own and as she starts work on Vida’s, she starts to find out about her own….

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

Best friends Caddy and Rosie go to different schools. A new girl, Suzanne joins Rosie’s school and the dynamic of Rosie’s and Caddy’s friendship begins to change. It’s clear to Caddy that something has happened to Suzanne before coming to Brighton and she begins to find out what. Caddy’s friendship with Suzanne takes her on a journey that challenges her outlook, her upbringing and all that she has experienced so far. Caddy goes out on midnight walks with Suzanne, during which she learns more about Suzanne’s background and her fragile mental state. Caddy listens to Suzanne’s situation, but who is getting more out of this – Suzanne, or Caddy, who experiences being important to someone? When things go wrong and Caddy suffers serious injuries from an ill-conceived trip to an old building, Suzanne finally gets the professional help she needs, but with the consequence that she will have to move away from her “best friends”.
The way it covered friendships and their importance to individuals, I thought was excellent, making clear there is more than one way to support someone who is having a difficult time and that it’s the support that counts. The book was gripping in an uncomfortable way. It was a compulsive but disturbing read at times, with the feeling that all will not end well pervading whilst I was reading it. I was there in the situations Caddy found herself in and felt uncomfortable for her.