Listening to read

This blog post is from Louise, a library assistant at Morley library.

As Leeds Libraries moved across to Borrowbox for Ebooks and Audiobooks, I downloaded the app onto my iPhone to get a feel for it, to have a good look about it so that I could better understand how it works. The app took moments to appear on my home screen and after a short search for my library card, I was in. Have you used it yet? I’ve been really impressed with the service so far, it’s clear to look at, easy to use and it’s sparked a new direction for my reading.

Perhaps like me you’ve never listened to Audiobooks before? Been told they were just for old people or children? You might be surprised at how varied the genres are, from romance, to comedy, thriller, drama, plenty of non-fiction too, biography and languages. I planned to listen to at least one to see how it worked and was very pleased to find it was even better than I had expected.

Some audiobooks I’ve listened to recently:

Breakfast at TiffanysBreakfast At Tiffany’s- Truman Capote, read by Michael C Hall

I’ve see the film, and had the paperback on my shelf for as long as I can remember but for some reason I’ve never got around to reading it. At 2hrs 49 in duration it won’t take over your life but will certainly make an impact on your heart. Michael C Hall, you may know, is the actor who plays Dexter in the TV thriller of the same name. It turns out (and something that borrowers often tell us) that the reader is pretty crucial to whether you will click with an audiobook or not. For this reason the preview option listed next to every audiobook is fantastic, giving you a small sample so that should the reader do something annoying with his intonation, rolling his rrrrrrrrrr’s or similar, you can try another. No fear of not enjoying Michael’s rendering of this classic, I found out later that this edition was especially recorded by Audible for release on Valentine’s Day in 2014.
I had thought that listening would be less of an experience than reading, more of a passive than an active pursuit. But a good writer engages so fully with your senses that the language itself finds its way to you. You might see it as an extra layering or texture in the story. I am so glad to have read this, I hope you’ll try it too.

Alias GraceAlias Grace- Margaret Atwood , read by Sarah Gadon

Not long after reeling from the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale I am on a bit of a Margaret Atwood kick, and really enjoying discovering more of her writing. Alias Grace is a a slow burning work of historical fiction, based on, true events of the 1843 murders of Canadians Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery. Grace Marks a young, well-mannered serving maid was convicted of their murders along with James McDermott the Stable hand. In the fashionable society of the time Grace Marks became a thing of fascination, infamous for her title of Murderess.
“Murderess is a strong word to have attached to you. It has a smell to it, that word – musky and oppressive, like dead flowers in a vase. Sometimes at night I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt across the floor.”
Although incarcerated, Grace is hired out as a domestic servant for the governor of the penitentiary and becomes a regular feature of the Governor’s wife’s circle, an object to be lamented and discussed. A committee of Methodist ladies and gentlemen, believing her innocent are working steadily to have her released. They hire a young Psychiatrist, Doctor Simon Jordan to interview Grace, to study her story and to try to find out what happened that fateful day. You know with Atwood that you are getting a feisty heroine who is more than she seems. Can’t recommend this enough to fans of Handmaids tale.

Harry Potter PhilosophersHarry Potter and the Philosophers Stone- JK Rowling, read by Stephen Fry

So I’m in that age group that neither grew up with these books, nor was caught up in the Potter hysteria when they were released. But I do have children who have read and loved these books time and time again. I thought it was high time I gave it a go. I had to wait a little while to listen to this as its perennially popular, but it was as easy as clicking reserve and waiting for an email to arrive. I can hand on heart say I would never have picked up a copy of this book, it’s enormous, and there are too many other great things always to be read but I SO enjoyed listening to it that I intend to listen to the whole series in time. Stephen Fry is just perfect as reader and it’s such a treat to curl up in a chair and listen to him. This would be fantastic to listen together with friends or family, a great story to share.

Carnegies MaidCarnegie’s Maid- Marie Benedict, read by Alana Kerr Collins

Another Historical fiction, that plots the life of a serving maid Clara Kelley to the Pittsburgh family home of industry tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. I was drawn to this as the library I work in was one of those opened as a beneficiary of funds from Carnegie. Clara Kelley is sent to America from her poverty stricken home in Ireland as her farming families’ last hope. After a dreadful voyage in the belly of a ship, during which many of her fellow passengers are wiped out with illness or weakness from starvation, in a moment of luck she is offered a position shortly after stepping onto the dock. I found the description of this time period fascinating, in the 1860’s industry was booming, Clara having left green land finds the new world is dark and soot laden. Besides proving a detailed account of the life of a servant at that time, the customs and rituals there is a great insight into the friction between the new money of the industrialists and America’s oldest families. Andrew Carnegie is a fascinating character, an immigrant himself, determined, self-taught, and hard working, a man who drew a line and began to give and make better where he could. This is a fictionalised account of what may have softened his character later in life and extremely enjoyable.

Little WomenLittle Women- Louisa May Alcott, BBC Radio 4, full cast dramatisation

I chose this a pick me up during some very rainy afternoons travelling between branches. As a dramatisation you get a cast rather than the one reader, and a variety of sound effects and music in places. This is a wonderful, warm listen, and will have you crying on the bus. Just over two hours long it’s easy to finish in one sitting if you choose, and the story is so full of energy and feeling from start to finish. Re reading an old favourite is so comforting, I quite fancy looking up the film again.

Some things I’ve learned from listening along:
1. Don’t let anyone tell you that listening is ‘not as good as’ reading or doesn’t count.
2. The reader is everything, listen to a sample and check you can listen with ease.
3. Try something that you would find challenging or wouldn’t usually read, you’ll be surprised how listening can make the concepts clearer.
4. Listening is perfect for all those times when you’d like to be reading but can’t, in the car, on a noisy bus, washing up, walking to and from work or school, doing the housework, late at night when your eyes are too tired to read. See it as fitting in more reading time in addition to your books.
5. With BorrowBox and a Leeds library card all this is free. I researched a well known providers audio service and found that for a fee I could have one audio book, (ONE!) a month. Enjoy the variety and try something new.

TattooistSome Audiobooks I’m waiting to read next are : The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Anna Karenina.

If you’re having any difficulty using this service from your device or need your pin number please contact your local library, we’d love to help you get started on all this great content.

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Zine Library Highlights

This blog is written by Claire and Sapphia, the founders of our Zine library here at Central Library in Leeds.

Our small but mighty Zine Library can be found on the first floor corridor of Leeds Central Library. We have recently acquired some new zines and wanted to share some of our favourites.

All art should have a purpose

All art should have a purpose

All art should have a purpose

A beautiful zine full of photo collage, retro images and inspirational quotes. The images transport you back in time to the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s with romantic images, nostalgic depictions and clever composition of all the various layers. Printed and pasted onto gorgeous paper with beautiful flowers, it’s one to get your hands on for a perusal.

Cats in Action by Emily Gilbert

It’s in the title. This is one is for cat lovers. A collation of cats including Lulu, Walter and Sebastian painted in a glorious array of locations, showing themselves off. Including pouncing, prowling and generally showing off and getting in the way. Just like your general cat.

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Error 404

Error 404 by Scott W Mason

Illustration portraiture, photography and illustration exploring identity and mark making. With interactive elements to play with and super graphic design this is a great zine to explore.

Bees for beginners – Sophie Ellis

A Bee-ginners guide to the wonderful world of the most amazing insects. Bees of course. A great zine to discover all the different bee species, why they might sting and how they protect themselves with cute little illustrations. Also ‘thirst aid’ for bees and an itinerary of all the flowers that you should plant to keep those bumbles happy and healthy.

Perks of a new body

Perks of a New body

Perks of a New Body; A Zine about turning 30 by Frannerd

I have just turned 30, this was clearly a zine I had to read. A super cute zine full of illustrations and quirky anecdotes. ‘When you’re 30, you stop caring about stupid stuff….and start caring about the important stuff. It’s lovely to think about the changes you have in your mind set becoming a full-fledged adult. (I won’t lie to you. I’m not sure I’ve even made it yet.) But I definitely feel myself sitting on the ‘adult’ fence for most scenarios including comparing yourself to others and spending time with the people that are important to you.
You can also find a Body Positive bullet journal our librarians have created as part of the Engaging Libraries; Body Image and Mind project. Find it in the zine library and add your thoughts, drawings and share.

Existing autistic

Existing Autistic

Existing Autistic by Aven Wildsmith

A zine about living in the world as an autistic person, beautifully illustrated with bits of information and affirmations that will make you feel empowered and inspired. Great to read if you want to know more about autism or if you are autistic and want to feel fierce.

Women in stem

Women in Stem

A mini celebration of Women in Stem by Vicky Likes Drawing

This zine looks at women working in STEM( Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) It acts as a perfect pocket guide to women who have conquered male dominated industries and serves to empower the next generation of women inventors, thinkers and scientists. It includes information on Ada Lovelace who was regarded as the first computer programmer, creating the first algorithm carried out by a machine and Mae Jemison who became the first Black American women to travel to space in 1992. I keep a copy on my desk as inspiration.

105 Women Press

105 Women is a collective based in Leeds run by artists from all countries and across generations. This is their first publication and includes work from Cherry Styles. The zine includes poems about slavery, anger, home, loss and war but also depicts the strength the women gain from one another in telling their stories, creating, laughing together, and listening.

Gone; A Zine about Grief by Flo Toch

This zine is a heartfelt exploration into grief by the author. The author uses the zine as a way to talk about her grief after the loss of her dad. It also includes empathic poems and writings from others effected. The sharing and pure honesty of the writing looks to help others who are going through the same process. We find this zine is particularly useful at our Death Cafes in helping people to open up about death and their fears. It also has a list of resources on the back page.

Our collection of zines is growing but we are always looking for submissions. Get in touch zine.library@leeds.gov.uk or send them into Zine Library, Leeds Central Library, LS1 3AB. All zines need to adhere to our stock and collections policy.

National Libraries Week

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NLW prog_Page_1We are extremely pleased to be taking part in National Libraries Week. The week will be an annual showcase of all the creative, innovative and diverse activities that UK libraries have to offer.

During the week from the 9th to the 14th October there will be a chance to discover the range of things you can do at your library, from play and learning for children, to managing your health, to accessing wifi and games, to finding a job, a hobby or starting a business.

It’s not just public libraries – libraries of all kinds in schools, workplaces and universities have amazing services that will be on show during Libraries Week.

Have a look at all these events you can discover in our libraries over the week. And of course it isn’t just Libraries Week when you can find lots going on in your library, there are things going on all the time. Check out the What’s On page to find events year round.

Monday 9

Business Start-up Workshop
Pudsey Library
10.30-1.30
Find out about the support available in Leeds – from marketing your business to taxation & book-keeping, protecting your name and website and much more.
Free. Booking Required https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/business-amp-ip-centre-leeds-2985198129

Garforth Social
Garforth Library
1.30 – 2.10
If you like to take part in games and shared activities, enjoy a chat and a cuppa, meet new people or have hobbies or interests you’d like to share, why not join us at the Garforth Social in a relaxed environment for all. Free drop in

Club Drama
Dewsbury Road Community Hub
3.30-5.00
Through drama games and exercises, learn and share acting skills and techniques. Meet new people and have fun!
For 11-14 year olds. Free drop in

Chris Nickson: From 1944 to 1736 – A Leeds Journey
7.00 – 8.00
Oakwood Library
Chris Nickson will talk about his new book, The Year of the Gun, which sees Lottie Armstrong (Modern Crimes) return as a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Police Corps in World War II. Chris will also be offering a special sneak preview of Free From All Danger, due out October 29. It marks the return of Richard Nottingham, Constable of Leeds, more than four years after his last outing.
Free event. No booking required

Tuesday 10

Knit Together
Rothwell Library
10.30-12.00
Are you a keen knitter? Come along to our monthly group. You can pick up tips from others, or sit and chat while you get on with your own current project. Free. Drop in.

Code, Craft, Create
Middleton Library
3.30-4.30
Have a go at Coding, or Connect and Create using our Lego and Duplo and your imagination. Everyone is welcome.

Readers Group
Pudsey Library
1.30-2.30
Headingley Library
7.00-8.00
Readers’ groups are great places to meet other people who love to read, talk about books and discover new authors that you may not have thought of trying. Our groups across libraries in Leeds are friendly and informal. New members are always welcome.

The Man Who Would Be King: Harald Hardrada, Jerusalem and 1066
Moor Allerton Library
5.45- 6.45
In an informative and lively talk, Sunday Times and Washington Post Book of the Year Author, Justin Hill, will recount the life of King Harald Hardrada, The Last Viking.
Free event. No booking required

The Enterprise Club
Is Starting a Business right for you
BIPC, Leeds Central Library
6.00-7.30
The Enterprise Club is perfect for anyone considering becoming self-employed, starting a business or have already taken those first steps. The Club provides an opportunity to network and access information, support and advice on starting and running a business from set-up onwards.
Free. Booking Required. To book, click here.

Wednesday 11

Code / Create / Minecraft
Chapel Allerton Library
3.30-5.00
On this session you will use Raspberry Pi computers and Python to make awesome things happen in Minecraft.
Build a castle you can decorate! Magically create a TNT wall to detonate! Take the Teleport Challenge! Limited spaces. Ages 7 – 11
To book your free ticket click here.

Lego Club
Whinmoor
4.00-5.00
Master builders’ Lego club
Come and show off your master builder skills at our monthly after school club, there will be themed challenges and games as well as the chance to get creative.
This is a free event, no booking required. Aimed at ages 5+

Local History Book and Discussion Group
5.00-7.00
2nd floor meeting room, Leeds Central Library
Reading group based on local history texts, followed by a discussion.
Booking required. (0113) 378 6982

Thursday 12

JRR Tolkein and Leeds
Room 700, Leeds Central Library
1.00-2.00
Join Dr Alaric Hall as he discusses what Leeds University Library’s Special Collections tell us about how the scholarship and friendships that Tolkien formed while at Leeds University informed his creative writing. This is a story that involves intercontinental migration, class prejudices, and the struggles of women to be accepted as scholars.
Free Event. Booking required 0113 3787192 arts@leeds.gov.uk

Code Club
Halton Library
Use Scratch to create games and animations.
4.00-5.00 Beginners
5.00-6.00 Advanced
Free event. Booking is required.
0113 378 1865

The Unquiet Dead – Ghost Stories and Ballads
Local and Family History, Leeds Central Library
6.30-8.00
Local storyteller Matthew Bellwood brings to life a selection of macabre tales from the golden age of the ghost story. Laced together with a thread of black humour and framed by a set of traditional English ghost ballads, these are tales to chill the blood and freeze the marrow. The Unquiet Dead is a promenade performance that will visit a number of the library’s spookiest spots – offering a glimpse into the hidden corners of one of the city’s most beautiful Victorian buildings.
Places are limited so please book a ticket here.
‘Pay as you feel’ on the night

Friday 13

Sandstone in My Blood – the Bower Family at Ashwood
Room 700, Leeds Central Library
1.00-2.00
Join us for the next in our Lunchtime Talk series. This month, we welcome Jane Bower, art teacher, writer and actress, who spent her first seven years in Ashwood, the home of the Poet Laureate Alfred Austin, and one of the first villas in Headingley. Jane’s illustrated talk also touches on the history of the Ashwood area and her family’s Leeds background, which features in her most recent play, Daddy’s Diaries.
Free event, no booking required.

Saturday 14

Lego Club
Rothwell Library 10.30-11.30
Morley Library 1.30-2.30
Join us at our Lego clubs. Accept our monthly challenge or use your imagination to see what you can create. Have a go with our “LittleBits” sets to build different circuit combinations. Build and create in a supportive and fun group
Free event, no booking required.

Laughing Yoga with Sponge Tree
Dewsbury Road Community Hub
10.00
Suitable for grown-ups and little people.
Taking place in the Children’s Library
Interactive storytelling that combines playful laughter, yoga exercises and deep breathing. Children can also create a craft from the story to take home.
Free event for under 5’s.

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Top 20 Non Fiction

These are the Top 20 Non fiction books that Leeds Libraries issued in the last month. Some of them may take you by surprise! Even if you think that non-fiction is not for you I challenge you not to be tempted by one of these.

Creation: an oratorio for soprano, tenor & bass soli, SATB & orchestra by Joseph Haydn

Did you know that you can borrow whole orchestra sets from us? We have issued this 180 times in the last month, so some orchestra somewhere is having fun practicing this at the moment. To find out more about our music lending service click here.

Top NF HappyHappy by Derren Brown

Everyone says they want to be happy. But that’s much more easily said than done. What does being happy actually mean? And how do you even know when you feel it? Across the millenia, philosophers have thought long and hard about happiness, and come up with all sorts of different definitions and ideas for how we might live a happier life. Here, Derren Brown explores the history of happiness from classical times until today, when the self-help industry has attempted to claim happiness as its own. His aim is to reclaim happiness for us all, and enable us to appreciate the really good things in life for what they are.

Top NF AdmissionsAdmissions: a life in brain surgery by Henry Marsh

Henry Marsh has spent a lifetime operating on the surgical frontline. There have been exhilarating highs and devastating lows, but his love for the practice of neurosurgery has never wavered. Prompted by his retirement from his full-time job in the NHS, and through his continuing work in Nepal and Ukraine, Henry has been forced to reflect more deeply about what 40 years spent handling the human brain has taught him. Moving between encounters with patients in his London hospital, to those he treats in the more extreme circumstances of his work abroad, Henry faces up to the overwhelming burden of responsibility that can come with trying to reduce human suffering.

Top NF SapiensSapiens: a brief history of humankind by Yuval N. Harari

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come? Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, ‘Sapiens’ challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power … and our future.

Top NF ring of bright waterRing of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell

An oldie but a goldie; Gavin Maxwell’s account of his life at Camusfearna, a remote cottage in the western Highlands, and in particular the two otters, Mijbil and Edal, who became his constant and much-loved companions.

Top NF IELTSEssential Words for the IELTS by Lin Lougheed

Join the library and enjoy free materials to help you learn and study. This book offers IELTS students extensive practice in vocabulary building and correct English usage, with emphasis on 600 English words that relate to specific categories that appear frequently on IELTS exams. These categories include nature and the environment, leisure activities and hobbies, the arts and culture, transportation, health, tourism, business, technology, social issues, and education.

top NF Life UKLife in the UK test

We also have books for loan to help with working towards your UK citizenship. Ask about them in your local library. This handbook presents all the latest official materials you need to study in a simple and easy-to-learn format.

Top NF Little DribblingThe road to Little Dribbling: more notes from a small island by Bill Bryson

In 1995, Bill Bryson went on a trip around Britain to celebrate the green and kindly island that had become his home. The hilarious book he wrote about that journey, Notes from a Small Island, became one of the most loved books of recent decades, and was voted in a BBC poll as the book that best represents Britain. Now, in this hotly anticipated new travel book, his first in fifteen years and sure to be greeted as the funniest book of the decade, Bryson sets out on a brand-new journey, on a route he dubs the Bryson Line, from Bognor Regis on the south coast to Cape Wrath on the northernmost tip of Scotland. Once again, he will guide us through all that’s best and worst about Britain today while doing that incredibly rare thing of making us laugh out loud in public.

Top NF Yorkshire ShepherdessThe Yorkshire Shepherdess: how I left a city life behind to raise a family by Amanda Owen

Amanda Owen has been seen by millions on ITV’s ‘The Dales’, living a life that has almost gone in today’s modern world, a life ruled by the seasons and her animals. She is a farmer’s wife and shepherdess, living alongside her husband Clive and seven children at Ravenseat, a 2000 acre sheep hill farm at the head of Swaledale in North Yorkshire. In ‘The Yorkshire Shepherdess’ she describes how the rebellious girl from Huddersfield, who always wanted to be a shepherdess, achieved her dreams.

Amanda will be appearing this year at the Morley Arts Festival. Book a ticket here.

Top NF ItalyItaly by Christian Bonetto

Why pay out for a guidebook you might only use once? We have travel guides in all our libraries and they can be reserved for free. This guide to Italy is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Take in a gondolier’s sweet song while gliding past Venetian palaces, sample olives and wines as you traverse Tuscany’s storybook hills, or be humbled amid thousands of years of Roman history and art; all with your trusted travel companion.

Top NF ReasonsReasons to stay alive by Matt Haig

Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again. A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

Top NF Les parisiennesLes Parisiennes: how the women of Paris lived, loved and died in the 1940s by Anne Sebba

We were lucky enough to have Anne do an event with us earlier this year when she talked about this book. By looking at a wide range of individuals from collaborators to resisters, actresses and prostitutes to teachers and writers, Anne shows that women made life-and-death decisions every day, and often did whatever they needed to survive. She explores the aftershock of the Second World War and the choices demanded. How did the women who survived to see the Liberation of Paris come to terms with their actions and those of others? Although politics lies at its heart, ‘Les Parisiennes’ is a fascinating account of the lives of people of the city and, specifically, in this most feminine of cities, its women and young girls.

Top NF BerlinBerlin by Andrea Schulte-Peevers

This city guide to Berlin includes various types of accommodation options, from lakeside camping to historic hotels and entertainment, from classical to cabaret.

Top NF JungleJungle: a harrowing true story of adventure, danger and survival by Yossi Ghinsberg

Four travellers meet in Bolivia and set off into the Amazon rainforest on an expedition to explore places tourists only dream of seeing. But what begins as the adventure of a lifetime quickly becomes a struggle for survival when they get lost in the wilds of the jungle.

Top NF Homo DeusHomo Deus: a brief history of tomorrow by Yuval N. Harari

This is the second book in the Top 20 for this author.

During the 20th century, humankind has managed to do the impossible: we have brought famine, plague and war under control. Today, more people die from obesity than from starvation; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed in war. We are the only species in earth’s long history that has single-handedly changed the entire planet, and we no longer expect any higher being to shape our destinies for us. As the self-made gods of planet earth, which projects should we undertake, and how will we protect this fragile planet and humankind itself from our own destructive powers? Yuval Noah Harari examines the implications of our newly acquired divine capabilities, from our desperate pursuit of happiness to our dogged quest for immortality.

Top NF Bletchley GirlsThe Bletchley Girls: war, secrecy, love and loss by Tessa Dunlop

Historian and broadcaster Tessa Dunlop tells the story of the women of Bletchley Park, through exclusive and unprecedented access to the women themselves.

Top NF CatchingCatching a serial killer: my hunt for serial killer Christopher Halliwell by Stephen Fulcher

On the evening of Saturday, of 19th of March 2011, D.S. Stephen Fulcher receives a life-changing call that thrusts him into a race against time to save missing 22-year-old Sian O’Callaghan, who was last seen at a nightclub in Swindon. Steve knows from experience that he has a small window of time to find Sian alive, but his hopes are quickly dashed when his investigation leads him to Christopher Halliwell. Following the investigation as it develops hour-by-hour, Steve’s gripping inside story of the cat-and-mouse situation that ensues shows how he hunted down Halliwell – his number-one suspect – which led him to the discovery of Sian’s body and another victim, Becky Godden-Edwards, who had been missing since 2002.

Top NF Chimp ParadoxThe Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters

A personal development book by Dr Steve Peters, the British cycling team’s psychiatrist, in which he shares his phenomenal mind management programme.

Top NF Deliciously EllaDeliciously Ella every day: simple recipes and fantastic food for a healthy way of life by Ella Woodward

The ‘Deliciously Ella’ way of eating isn’t about following a diet, it’s about enjoying delicious, natural food to help you look and feel your best. Luckily, Ella understands that nourishing your body with wholesome ingredients needs to fit in with your existing lifestyle and not feel like something difficult, which is why she has written this book – to help you make the right choice every time and start to glow from the inside out. With ‘Deliciously Ella Every Day’, her easy-to-make food will become a natural part of your life.

Top NF Walking HomeWalking Home by Simon Armitage

‘Walking Home’ describes Simon Armitage’s extraordinary, yet ordinary, journey. It’s a story about Britain’s remote and overlooked interior – the wildness of its landscape and the generosity of the locals who sustained him on his journey. It’s about facing emotional and physical challenges, and sometimes overcoming them.

 

 

Librarian’s Choice: Printmaking

This blog is from Chloe, an Assistant Community Librarian based in the West of the city.

Here are my top five recently discovered printmaking books! I found them inspirational in making me want to learn new techniques or explore them playfully in different ways. I’m always looking out for accessible art projects that you can try at home, and the majority of these books have templates to get you started learning techniques before progressing to creating your own designs. I have ranked the following titles in order of my favourites…

Chloe Printmaking UnleashedPrintmaking Unleashed: More Than 50 Techniques for Expressive Mark Making by Tracy Bautista

DIY printmaking at its best, this book is a feast for the eyes with gorgeous combinations of pattern, colour and composition explored through a vast variety of playful mark making techniques! The book covers DIY techniques for all abilities in an accessible and affordable way using common materials to get amazing printmaking results. From creating your own stencils using hot glue, carved wooden blocks or materials such as rubber bands and toothpicks, to printing vintage lace textures or creating Sgraffito Doodles (scratching into acrylic paint on top of Perspex) there is a technique everyone will enjoy and want to pursue!
Examples of other expressive mark making techniques include gesso fabric prints (using resits to incorporate texture onto canvas), digital photography stencils (using Photoshop), silkscreen painting (using an embroidery hoop and acrylic), recycled plastic prints (using interesting patterns on plastic to print), masking tape and crochet string resists, and hand cut stencils.

Chloe Making an ImpressionMaking an Impression: Designing & Creating Artful Stamps by Geninne Zlatikis

This book makes you want you to design and make your own collection of stamps for printmaking. It begins with the basic principles of materials required and a selection of templates in the back in order to get you started, then delves into inspiring and exciting techniques.

Aside from creating your own stamps, techniques to try using them to create art work include: stamps with positive and negative space, experimenting with textures of surfaces you’re printing on, and how to create repetition through different angles and colours. There are inspiration ideas for how to use your stamps to create your own personal artwork, as well as a variety of projects to choose from: journals, pillows, t-shirts, and wall art to name a few. My favourite projects I look forward to creating are the bookplate and accordion journal. I’m also particularly excited about the cyanotype (sun printing) technique which I’ve never tried, and exploring positive and negative patterns.

Chloe The Printmaking BookThe Printmaking Book: Projects & Techniques in the Art of Hand-Printing by Vanessa Mooncie

This book also covers the techniques relief, screen, sun and mono printing in addition to image transfers and stencils; however it is aimed at transforming ordinary items with hand printed designs. Again techniques are accessible in that they are fun and easy to try at home, and templates are available to help get you started. From ceramic, lino, woodcut, silk and stencil screen printing, there are plenty of projects to try the techniques in: printed plastic jewellery, photographic transfers onto mirror, wallpaper, and solar plates (metal sheets coated in photosensitive polymer which are used as a printmaking surface).

Marbles, bottle and jar lids, string – you name it and I’ve been collecting it to try in printmaking since reading this book! I look forward to trying the book cover project and would be excited to use the silk printing technique. I’d also like to try the negative photograph cyanotype technique as I’d never heard of it before!

Chloe How to Print FabricHow to Print Fabric by Zeena Shah

This book explains everything you’ve ever wanted to know about creating beautiful hand-printed fabrics easily at home, and again this one has templates to get you started. It begins with the importance of mark making (one of the most exciting and experimental aspects in printmaking) and covers techniques including relief and stencilling. It progresses to screen printing for beginners (using an embroider hoop), and advanced stencil screen printing (using Photo Emulsion). It covers useful information about inks, dyes and fabrics and also has a section on the key concepts in print design, including positive and negative space, motifs and various repeat techniques. The rest of the book is brimming with twenty different techniques for printing on fabric, each followed by a simple sewing project. You can also mix and match printmaking techniques throughout the book for any of the sewing projects. Some examples of the techniques include: bleach mark printing, screen printing with freezer paper stencils, lint roller printing, and watercolour mark printing. A selection of projects include tablet sleeves, bean bags and Furoshiki cloths (ancient Japanese cloths used to wrap objects).

I’ve had some bad experiences sewing (perhaps it’s to do with the fact I can’t sew a straight line), but this doesn’t put me off any of the projects! I’d particularly like to use the lino block technique for the tablet cover project, and lino roller printing to make a Furoshiki wrapping cloth.

Chloe Art LabArt Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Paper and Mixed Media by Susan Schwake

This book is a fantastic reminder of how being playful in your approach to making art can produce fantastic results, (you’re never too old to experiment)! With around twenty pages dedicated to printmaking, instructions are easy to understand and ‘quick guides’ to the basic principles of the following techniques: found object, stencil silk screen, string, polystyrene, mono, stencil and relief printing. Each technique includes an example of an artist working with the medium which is inspiring and makes you pause to consider how you could push the boundaries of the technique further. This is the only book I’ve chosen that doesn’t contain templates or projects but this is fine – the results of experimenting with techniques are works of art in their own right.

I got excited about the gelatin technique as the author described it as their most favourite and addictive process! It’s a way of producing textural-looking, layered monoprints without a press… Ink floats on the surface of the gelatin so you can work on your print over a long period of time. However I want to do more research to check the process is animal friendly before trying it out!

#whatsyourstory – Meet Kim

kim-woodFull-time mum Kim Wood moved to Leeds seven years ago. With her husband working long hours and a new baby to look after, Kim felt isolated in a new area where she hardly knew anyone. She loved using her local library in Newcastle when she was growing up, so when she moved to Leeds she quickly sought out her local library. It’s proved a real lifeline for her and her three daughters; Sophie, Chloe and Phoebe. The girls are total bookworms and they love nothing more than coming to the library to read and explore new books – and taking home armfuls to read! Kim loves the variety of events happening at her local library and the chance to meet other parents and have some grown-up conversations! From storytimes to tea parties to food festivals, there’s always something fun going on that she can bring the family to. Using her local library has really helped Kim feel part of the community.

You don’t just have to take our word for it, here’s Kim telling you her story in her own words: https://youtu.be/C6uja0arxvw

Now you’ve met another of our Leeds Libraries ambassadors, could you be the next? If one of the many services available at Leeds Libraries has helped you, we want to know. Tweet us or write on our Facebook page using the hashtag #whatsyourstory, or email us at whatsyourstory@leeds.gov.uk, and let us know how we’ve helped you.

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.”