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.

 

 

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Librarian’s Choice: Funny Memoirs

This blog comes from Angie, an Assistant Community Librarian based in the east of Leeds.

My reading interests lean towards psychological thrillers but on occasion I like to lighten the load with something humorous. Laughing is a wonderful tonic and respite from the cares of the world and books are as mood busting as a trip to a comedy festival or an old episode of ‘Everyone Loves Raymond’
Some books are just wry and witty, some are light entertainment and others are laugh out loud “whoops there go my cornflakes all over the breakfast table” hysterical. I have often found myself involuntarily laughing out loud much to the bemusement of my fellow commuters. Below is a selection of some of my favourites, most of which are co-incidentally memoirs.

Ang Teenage RevolutionTeenage Revolution by Alan Davies

A very funny trip down memory lane, this time as an adolescent in the weird and wonderful late 1970’s early 80’s. This memoir will resonate with anyone of a similar age set against the backdrop of Thatcher’s Britain. It is a reminder that far from being the ‘time of our lives’’ it can also be a period of high anxiety, of struggling to fit in and find a purpose to life. The book is such a great and painfully honest account of being a teenager, with lots of musical references thrown in, I had to dig out my vinyl collection afterwards to recreate the mood.

ANG Wishful DrinkingWishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

I have always been a big fan, I have enjoyed her previous memoirs films and regular TV appearances. We mourn the passing not only of a space princess but a genuine comic talent. In truth there is an element of ‘celebrity net twitching ‘ going on here which I am not immune to, but the reader is allowed this guilty pleasure since Carrie fisher’s life was full of dichotomies having enjoyed all the superficial benefits of a Hollywood lifestyle coupled with all its dysfunctions. Ms Fisher’s biographies are full of clever observations and acerbic humour.
‘Wishful Drinking’ is one of her later memoirs and as the title suggests offers an insight into her life post rehab. I read it in a hospital waiting room in 3 hours and frequently drew concerned looks from other patients as my whole body writhed with laughter. Sadly, as we now know she never did rid herself of her demons.

Ang The tentThe Tent the Bucket and Me by Emma Kennedy

As a child of the 1970’s I could so relate, my childhood and teens were similarly spent coiled in embarrassment whether by my mother’s cat suits and penchant for fancy dress parties or my dad’s moustache and permed hair, Kevin Keegan has a lot to answer for! Emma Kennedy is able to evoke such awkward but hysterical memories it almost makes me melancholic for the 3 day week and squishy cheese in a tube. The book introduces you to her eccentric family and their disastrous attempts at holidaying in a tent first in the UK then abroad. Be warned all holiday makers check that your tent is weather proof and that you take spare clothes for all eventualities including motorway service stations. This book was made into a BBC T.V series ‘The Kennedy’s, look out for any repeats, it is a must watch.

Ang How to beHow To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran not only lets you glimpse into her past but brings you bang up to date with the trials and tribulations of being a woman in the noughties. It is one long, very funny feminist rant. Caitlin is the funniest feminist commentator of our modern times, not for the fainthearted as it is very ‘earthy’ in tone and language.

Ang Serge BastardeSerge Bastarde Ate My Baguette by John Dummer

This book was borrowed to accompany me on my travels to France a few years back. I really enjoyed this true account of ex brit musician who relocates across the channel to try his hand as an antique dealer. Along the way he meets a fellow Brocante enthusiast Serge Bastarde (Bastarde by name and by nature) and hence the drama begins. Serge reminded me of Dell Boy in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ a hopeless yet likeable rogue. As with any story set in rural France there is lots of wine drinking thrown in, what’s not to like? A very funny foray into the foibles of the French and all the more enjoyed due to a shared passion for antique hunting and flea markets.

Ang How to be a husbandHow to Be A Husband by Tim Dowling

A comical biographical journey through the life and times of 21st century man and confessed non-alpha male Tim Dowling. This books offers a very funny insight into the Guardian columnist life. Having been married over 20 years and with three sons he is more than qualified to comment on the matter. The book is essentially a collection of no-particular-order chapters of which include: “Twelve Labours of Marriage”, “Seven Ways in Which You Might Be Wrong”, “Five Things You Can Actually Fix by Hitting Them with a Hammer”. Basically Tim Dowling portrays himself as baffled and bewildered where even the family dog is a rung higher on the family pecking order.

Ang The HusbandNot to be confused with the equally funny ‘The Husband’, part of a spoof collection of ’How It Works’ Ladybird classics also available in Leeds Libraries

Ang Lady in the vanThe Lady In The Van by Alan Bennett

Camden is my old stomping ground and indeed my children were born there. I am familiar with the uniqueness of London, where the uber rich live cheek by jowl with the homeless. This is such a poignant and funny account of trying to put your principles into practice, the desire to be a good neighbour and humanitarian whilst also begrudging the consequences. For anyone who hasn’t seen the film or play this memoir revolves around a homeless eccentric old lady who lives in a van and after the threat of eviction becomes a sitting tenant in Alan Bennet’s front drive. This is classic Bennett, full of awkwardness and honest self- effacing northern humour

Happy Reading!

Health Information Week

This week is Health Information week. It is a multi-sector campaign to promote good quality health resources that are available to the public. The campaign also aims to encourage partnership working across sectors and help improve health literacy. Further details can be found at www.leedslibraries.nhs.uk/resources/health-information-week

Here at Leeds libraries we are happy to be part of the Reading well scheme. This collection of books helps you to understand and manage your health and wellbeing using helpful reading.

The books are all endorsed by health experts, as well as people with living with the conditions covered and their relatives and carers. You can be recommended a title by a health professional, or you can visit your local library and take a book out yourself. Further details of the scheme can be found  at https://readingagency.org.uk/adults/quick-guides/reading-well/

Health information covers everything from healthy living, diet, fitness, stopping smoking, mental health, mindfulness to living with long term conditions and much more, we have a wide range of titles that cover these topics and much more. Here are just a few that we have on our catalogue. Please remember that if we have a book on our catalogue you can reserve it free of charge to pick up at your nearest branch.

HIW AnxietyOvercoming Anxiety: A self help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques by Helen Kennerley

This book offers expert advice on managing the worries, fears and anxieties that can impair the quality of one’s life. Each problem is discussed and explained, and there is a self-help guide for those who wish to tackle their difficulties alone.

HIW Anxiety 2Overcoming Anxiety, Stress and Panic: A five areas approach by Chris Williams

This title presents a series of self-help workbooks for use in self-assessing and managing the symptoms of stress, worry, panic and phobias. It is empowering and supportive, helping readers make changes to their lives in a planned and achievable way.

HIW Chronic FatigueChronic fatigue syndrome by Frankie Campling and Michael Sharpe

A compassionate guide to chronic fatigue syndrome, this book provides sufferers and their families with practical advice based solely on scientific evidence. Included in the book is a detailed guide to self-help, written from a patient’s perspective.

HIW Mind over MoodMind over mood: change how you feel by changing the way you think by Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky

Written by two clinical psychologists, this manual shows you how to improve your life using cognitive therapy. Step-by-step worksheets teach you specific skills that have helped thousands of people conquer depression, panic attacks, anxiety, anger, guilt, and relationship problems.

HIW OCDBreak free from OCD by Fiona Challacombe, Paul M Salkovskis and Victoria Bream

Are you plagued by obsessive thoughts, rituals or routines? Would you like to regain control over your behaviour and cast your fears aside? This practical guide, written by three leading cognitive behavioural therapy experts, enables you to make sense of your symptoms, and gives a simple plan to help you conquer OCD.

HIW PanicPanic attacks: what they are, why they happen and what you can do about them by
Christine Ingham

Drawing on her own personal experience of panic attacks, and those of others, Christine Ingham offers encouragement and help for a positive way forward.

HIW InsomniaOvercoming insomnia and sleep problems: a self-help guide using cognitive behavioral techniques by Colin A Espie

Being unable to sleep is one of the most common health problems. This manual explains; how to ensure your bedroom encourages a good night’s sleep, developing good pre-bedtime routines, establishing a new sleeping and waking pattern, how to deal with a racing mind, and dealing with special problems. 

HIW WorryHow to stop worrying by Frank Tallis

Frank Tallis explains how you can avoid stress and anxiety, if you know how to control it. You can learn to understand your fears, and face the possibilities of life calmly.

 

 

 

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!

Bank holiday dreaming…

It might be fleeting but if like me, the weather this week has brightened your mood we should take advantage of it before it slips away again. I am dreaming of a bank holiday that consists of lazing in the sun, consuming barbecued foods, sipping cocktails and reading fabulous books. You too? Here are some books to help you achieve all that.

summer picnicA perfect day for a picnic: over 80 recipes for outdoor feasts to share with family and friends by Tori Finch

Chic country girl and gourmet Tori Finch understands the joy of a carefree picnic. There’s nothing like eating outdoors to capture your sense of adventure, and add a flair to the food. Hop on your vintage bike to work up an appetite, hit the beach for a cook-out, or host a teddy bears picnic for little ones; these all feature within Tori’s 10 themed menus, each complete with recipes for savoury and sweet dishes, as well as drinks.

Summer how to eat outsideHow to eat outside: fabulous al fresco food for BBQs, bonfires, camping and more by Genevieve Taylor

summer great outdoors cookbookThe great outdoors cookbook: over 140 recipes for barbecues, campfires, picnics and more by Phil Vickery

From campfire bangers to the most simple of picnics, it’s amazing how good food tastes out in the open. This book has been arranged by cooking method, with chapters on home BBQs, BBQs on the beach, gas burners, Dutch ovens, open fires and picnics.

Summer tequila mockingbirdTequila mockingbird: cocktails with a literary twist by Tim Federle

The ultimate cocktail book for theliterary obsessed. Featuring delicious recipes paired with wry commentary on history’s most beloved novels. The drinks include Last of the Mojitos, Are you there God? Its me, Margarita, Love in the time of Kahlua.

summer pretty fly for a mai taiPretty fly for a mai tai: cocktails with rock ‘n’ roll spirit

It’s an undisputed truth that music and booze go hand-in-hand. So what better way to improve your favorite songs than by pairing them with a tailor-made cocktail? ‘Pretty Fly For A Mai Tai’ offers 75 delicious drinks recipes accompanied by humorous illustrations which are sure to please the audiophile in your life.

summer water colouristThe Watercolourist by Beatrice Masini

19th century Italy. A young woman arrives at a beautiful villa in the countryside outside Milan. Bianca, a gifted young watercolourist, has been commissioned to illustrate the plants in the magnificent grounds. She settles into her grand new home, invited into the heart of the family by the eccentric poet Don Titta, his five children, his elegant and delicate wife and powerful, controlling mother. As the seasons pass, the young watercolourist develops her art – inspired by the landscape around her – and attracts many admirers. And while most of the household’s servants view her with envy, she soon develops a special affection for one housemaid, who, she is intrigued to learn, has mysterious origins. But as Bianca’s determination to unlock the secrets of the villa grows, she little notices the dangers that lie all around her.

summer before the rainsBefore the rains by Dinah Jeffries

1930, Rajputana, India. Since her husband’s death, 28-year-old photojournalist Eliza’s only companion has been her camera. When the British Government send her to an Indian princely state to photograph the royal family, she’s determined to make a name for herself. But when Eliza arrives at the palace she meets Jay, the Prince’s handsome, brooding younger brother. Brought together by their desire to improve conditions for local people, Jay and Eliza find they have more in common than they think. But their families – and society – think otherwise. Eventually they will have to make a choice between doing what’s expected, and following their heart.

summer the oneThe one by John Marrs

How far would you go to find ‘the one’? One simple mouth swab is all it takes. One tiny DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for. A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people take the test. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others.

summer the girlsThe girls by Emma Cline

California. The summer of 1969. In the dying days of a floundering counter-culture a young girl is unwittingly caught up in unthinkable violence, and a decision made at this moment, on the cusp of adulthood, will shape her life. Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiate heat. Until she sees them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls. And at the centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways. Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever?

 

Music and Performing Arts

Leeds Central Library is home to one of the biggest collections of music and performing arts collections in the country. We have huge collections of orchestral scores, a specialist drama collection full of play sets to borrow, not to mention lots and lots of books about everything you can imagine relating to a huge variety of different types of music. As a taster, here are a few of our favourites:-

Music Cant StopCan’t Stop, Won’t Stop: a history of the hip-hop generation by Jeff Chang

This is the definitive history of hip-hop- not just as a musical genre but as a cultural phenomenon – and is widely considered to be the best book written on the subject so far. He traces the roots of the movement way back to the sound systems of 60s Jamaica, through the urban jungle of 70s New York with its block parties and gang fights, to the “golden age” of the 80s, and its eventual transformation in the 90s to the globe-spanning, cultural colossus that it is today. There’s more to this than music; it’s not just a detailed history of the luminary artists and records that shaped the movement, but an in-depth analysis of everything that came with it, from graffiti and break-dancing – who’d have thought it originated in kung-fu movies? – to beatboxing and hip-hop fashion through the years, and a whole load of other interesting stuff as well. Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop has it all.

Music Last trainLast Train To Memphis – the rise of Elvis Presley/Careless Love – the unmaking of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick

Essential reading for anyone interested in Elvis or early rock n roll music in general. Peter Guralnick is a brilliant chronicler of American roots music and he’s never written better than here, especially in the first volume, describing how a shy country boy shot to fame as a country/rockabilly star before becoming the King of rock n roll. It’s a real rollercoaster ride and ultimately a very sad story, with the shadowy figure of Colonel Tom Parker seemingly responsible for much of what led to the wheels falling off in later years. It’s a monumental bit of work, stretching to just shy of a couple of thousand pages across two books, but if you’re after a biography of Elvis, you won’t find a better one than this.

music EnglandsEngland’s Dreaming: Sex Pistols and Punk Rock by Jon Savage

What Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop is for hip-hop, England’s Dreaming is for punk. It’s ostensibly a biography of the Sex Pistols, but there’s so much more to it than that. It’s really a social history of England post-1945, showing how the political and economic turmoil that followed the end of the Second World War led to the liberalism of the 60s and the backlash that followed with the rise of punk in the mid to late 70s. It’s interesting to read that rather than appearing in a spontaneous burst of working-class rage, in a lot of ways it was a manufactured, middle-class movement – created largely by Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood, with a little help from Bernie Rhodes – that took on a life of its own. Savage examines the whole story with the incisive scalpel of a true academic but he obviously has a visceral feeling for why punk came to matter so much to so many people, and his descriptions of the chaos, noise and violence of the early bands and shows are absolutely brilliant. First class.

music NirvanaNirvana: the true story by Everett True

Even since before Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994 there have been hundreds of biographies both of the man himself and of the band he fronted, but this one, written by a man who played a big part in popularising them in this country, is one of the best. Everett True was a journalist for the now sadly-defunct Melody Maker in the late 1980s when he came across a burgeoning musical scene around Seattle/Washington. A host of bands were combining the riffing of 70s heavy rock with the power and attitude of 80s hardcore punk, and thus what came to be known as grunge was born. True played a pivotal role in bringing those bands to England for the first time, and as such he had a level of access to them that no other English journalist could match. True and Cobain remained friends throughout Nirvana’s stratospheric rise to fame in the early 90s, and he was one of only two people –the other being Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan – that was asked to speak at his funeral, so it’s fair to say that you can give this account a good degree of credibility, even if some of the more fanciful stories have to be taken with a pinch of salt. This is recommended reading for anyone interested in the band or in 90s alternative rock in general.

Music redemption songRedemption Song by Chris Salewicz

More punk, this time a biography of the Clash frontman Joe Strummer. Strummer was always the poster-boy for political punk rock, but far from being a working class rebel, he was actually the son of a minor diplomat and something of a middle-class art school hippy. No matter. He fronted one of the 70s most seminal bands, and continued to be a significant presence in the British cultural and musical landscape until his untimely death in 2002. Salewicz (or Sandwich, as Strummer called him) was “the only journalist he ever trusted” and was obviously present at many of the major events described herein, but with a masterful sleight-of-hand he writes himself out of this history altogether and remains invisible throughout the narrative, which is a pretty neat trick when you think about it. There are some great anecdotes from the punk days in here, but overall it’s a great biography of a complex and fascinating individual, whose private persona seems very different to the one he projected to the public.

Librarian’s Choice: Recommended reads for LGBT History Month

PrintThis blog comes from Alex, a library assistant on our peripatetic team.

Love is in the air… — yes, but so is hail and frost you might say. Fair point, it is after all February and, let’s face it, the weather is what it is. But suppose for a moment, we could travel anywhere we’d like to without queuing at the airport or drying our accounts out. Imagine we could do that whiles being wrapped up in a woolly blanket, enjoying a deliciously warm hot chocolate. Now suppose that I’m not just daydreaming; after all there is one wonderful thing we can all do for each other this February. Let’s take advice from our wise Scandinavian cousins: let’s all get hygge and let the romance of these stories warm our hearts because, is there any more magical way to travel than through the pages of a gripping book?

Inspired by LGBT* History Month 2017, I have chosen some of the most heart breaking love stories to get us all through February.

Picture books:

alex-tango-makes-threeAnd Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole.

For all the animal lovers out there, there is probably no better love story than the one between Roy and Silo. Two penguins at New York Central Park Zoo, Roy and Silo might appear as an odd couple. Whiles their fellow penguins are preparing themselves for the joy and challenges of parenthood, Roy and Silo are worried they might never be able to become dads… or will they? There is only one way to find out.

Teenage Fiction:

alex-you-know-me-wellYou know me well by Nina LaCour & David Levithan

Friends at first sight, Mark and Kate have never spoken to each other until one fateful night their lives collide: Kate is running away from a chance of meeting the girl she has loved from afar, while Mark is in love with his best friend who may or may not loves him back. They are both lost and finding each other is the last thing on their minds., though they don’t realize just how important they will become to each other.

alex-fans-of-teh-impossible-lifeFans of the impossible life by Kate Scelsa

“May we live impossibly.” Sebby said when he opened his eyes. “Against all odds. May people look at us and wonder how such jewels can sparkle in the sad desert of the world. May we live the impossible life”.
Echoing Stephen Chbosky’s much celebrated novel “The perks of being a wallflower”, “Fans of the impossible life” is the story of love, loss, growing up and finding friends who can see through you and the person you’re trying to become. The story follows Sebby and his best friend Mira on their impromptu road trips and magical rituals designed to fix parts of their broken lives. But what will happen when Jeremy, the painfully shy and isolated art nerd, enters the picture?

alex-outOut by Joanna Kenrick, illustrated by Julia Page

This dyslexia friendly book is a short but gripping story of love, friendship and solidarity. “Out” poignantly portrays the difficult experience of ‘‘coming out’ and the struggle with unrequited love.

Teenage non-fiction:

alex-beyond-magentaBeyond Magenta: transgender teens speak out

Author and photographer Susan Kuklin meets and interviews six transgender and gender-neutral teens to portray them before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender identity, empathetically exploring their emotional and physical transitioning.

 

Adult fiction:

alex-oranges-are-notOranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson

If you grew up gay among religious fundamentalists, Jeanette Winterson feels your pain. Oranges, the novelist and critic’s 1985 autobiographical debut novel, follows an English lesbian girl coming of age in a Pentecostal community.

alex-carolCarol by Patricia Highsmith

“And she did not have to ask if this was right, no one had to tell her, because this could not have been more right or perfect.” Previously published as “The Price of Salt”, most of us are probably familiar with Todd Haynes 2015 rendering of Patricia Highsmith’s lesbian novel. In Carol, two women from different backgrounds—one a department store clerk who dreams of a better life, the other a wealthy wife — strike up a passionate love affair with each other in 1950s New York.

alex-rubyfruit-jungleRubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

Widely considered to be the lesbian coming of age novel par excellence, “Rubyfruit Jungle” follows the life of Molly Bolt, adopted daughter of a poor US family, who possesses remarkable beauty and who is aware of her lesbianism from early childhood. Sex, love and betrayal are at the heart of this turbulent coming to age, which often mirrors Brown’s own experience of being an emerging lesbian author in 1970s New York.

alex-orlandoOrlando: a Biography by Virginia Woolf.

“I’m sick to death of this particular self. I want another.” For the classics lovers amongst us, there is perhaps no book which better portrays the elusive essence of gender like Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando”. Spanning a lifetime of almost three centuries, Orland accompanies us on a poetic journey of rediscovery which challenges conventional assumptions of gender as a binary concept.

 

Adult non-fiction:

alex-queerQueer: a graphic history by Meg John Barker, illustrated by Julia Scheele (eBook)

Activist-academic Meg John Barker and cartoonist Julia Scheele illuminate the histories of queer thought and LGBTQ* action in this ground breaking non-fiction graphic novel. You can download the eBook from our library catalogues.

Gay life and culture: a world history by Robert Aldrich

In the years since Stonewall, the world has witnessed an outpouring of research, critical inquiry, and re-interpretation of gay life and culture. This book draws on ground breaking new material to present a comprehensive survey of all things gay, stretching back to ancient history and ranging to the present days. Critically acclaimed historian Robert Aldrich with the support of ten leading scholars juxtaposes thought-provoking essays with an extensive selection of images, many never before seen. This masterful combination reveals the story behind gay culture from the industrialized world to the remotest corners of tribal New Guinea.

alex-art-and-queer-cultureArt and queer culture by Catherine Lord and Richard Meyer

A comprehensive survey covering 125 years of art that has constructed, contested or otherwise responded to alternative forms of sexuality. The book traces the rich visual legacy of art’s relationship to queer culture, from the emergence of homosexuality as an identity in the late nineteenth century to the pioneering ‘genderqueers’ of the early twenty-first century.

 

For comic book lovers:

alex-prideThe Pride by Joe Glass and Mike Stock

Have you ever been sick of being misrepresented? Of having no one like you to look up to? Have you ever wanted to change everything?
Then you need to join FabMan, Wolf, Muscle Mary, Frost, Twink, Bear, Angel and White Trash on their mission to help people and improve LGBT representation. Wanting to fight for change, FabMan has formed PRIDE, the world’s premier LGBTQ supergroup. Not exactly receiving the desired response, the group faces opposition from the confrontational Justice Division and the nefarious Reverend. After a serious trial by fire, the team find themselves the only super team in the world capable of stopping The Reverend’s diabolical plot for world domination.

alex-juicy-motherJuicy mother: celebration by Jennifer Camper

Featuring work by and about queers, women and black artists, “Juicy Mother” is probably the queerest cartoon anthology you can get your hands on; these stories are not just exuberant and carefree, they are also a marvellous celebration of artistry and diversity.

 

alex-100-crushes100 crushes by Lim Elisha

100 Crushes compiles five years of queer comics by Elisha Lim, including excerpts from Sissy, The Illustrated Gentleman, Queer Child in the Eighties, and their cult series 100 Butches, as well as new work. It’s an absorbing documentary that travels through Toronto, Berlin, Singapore, and beyond in the form of interviews, memoirs, and gossip from an international queer vanguard.