Coffee Table Reads: Bang on Trend

This blog post comes from Rachel Benn, a Communities Librarian in the South of the City. A lover of coffee and books.

Forget not judging a book by its cover, with coffee table reads it’s all about that!
Coffee Table books provide perfect décor and in the era of Pinterest, Instagram and multiple magazines and blogs it’s time to jump on the trend. Coffee Tables have recently become built-in bookcases, choosing the right books can transform any surface and add a little extra chic to your home.
Here are my top ten Coffee Table reads that are bang on trend and good to read too! Monday – Saturday a decorating staple, Sunday morning perfect for reading over a cuppa. All are available on the Leeds Libraries catalogue to borrow for free.

Rachel How not toHow not to kill your Plants by Nik Southern

So I recently chose this book as a survival guide, another trend which I’ve joined the hype on is house plants! I can’t get enough of them, but my major concern was how do I look after them?! I chose them based on Instagramable quality not practicability! So this book was a necessity. Not only is it’s cover chic with its gold and navy simplistic tones, it has great tips, solutions and advice for taking care of those sassy plants. There’s even a guide for giving your plants a funeral – but I’m hoping I don’t get to that stage, I’m taking the tips seriously and monitoring the watering, humidity and room positioning carefully! The quirky illustrations are amazing and there’s plenty of photos to give you #PlantEnvy, the book is a work of art. “Don’t let the pricks get you down” – the Cactus chapter is a go to – treat them like a best friend and they will remain a feature in your room for a very long time.

Rachel hyggeThe Little book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

It’s that time of year again…we’re entering the cosy season, so this book not only looks great on your Coffee Table but makes you feel warm and fuzzy just by reading it. I joined the Hygge hype last winter and absolutely loved reading this book, packed with tips for creating Hygge in the home and yummy recipes. Hygge pronounced (Hoo-gah) is the Danish art of living well, enjoying life’s simple pleasures and embracing the warm and gentle things in life. This book is cute in design, small and compact but has perfect chapters for picking up and reading on a cold winter night by the fire with a hot chocolate, it’s such a feel good book! There are lots more Hygge books on the Library catalogue to choose from too.

Rachel TidyingThe Life Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondo

I was recommended this read by a friend who is obsessed with tidying, and instantly questioned whether she was trying to tell me something! This choice is a Coffee Table read that also adds a bit of sass to the room – yes the room is tidy and yes I’ve got a book on it! I’d go as far as saying this book is life changing, it gives ideas and solutions for de-cluttering that you wouldn’t even think of. It’s changed me for the better! You begin to look forward to ironing your jumpers to get them back in their assigned place in the draw. One tip that has transformed my wardrobes and drawers is positioning your clothes so you can see every item. It’s elegant and simplistic. Also try Marie Kondo’s second book ‘Spark Joy’ which gives you even more life hacks.

Rachel Creative HomeThe Creative Home: Inspiring Ideas for Beautiful Living by Geraldine James

As a decorative staple, it seemed right to have a home interior book on the list. I chose this one as it went with my room colour scheme (which is absolutely fine to do!) but it’s also a fantastic book to read and use for inspiration and ideas for the home. Every page will give you #HomeEnvy as you read about creative dining, upcycling furniture, and my favourite section – creating your own home library! Packed with styling tips, decorative displays, creating artistic flair and making the right choices. With meticulous attention to detail it inspires you to come out of your comfort zone and dare to try a new style to reinvent your home to make it uniquely yours.

Rachel HappyHappy: Finding joy in every day and letting go of perfect by Fearne Cotton

As a style icon Fearne Cotton didn’t disappoint in the look of this great read, its bright quirky cover lights up the room. Fearne draws on her own experiences and shares ways to bring happiness back into your life, embracing the times when you’re happy and it gives practical ways to release your inner joy. The hand drawn illustrations give it a real personal feel, it’s an easy read and is brilliant to pick up at times when you need to relax, I found it a perfect weekend read to reboost your inner happiness ready to start the following week. You may find you don’t want it to ever leave your Coffee Table! I’ve just borrowed Fearne’s new cookbook ‘Cook, Eat, Love’ which has great recipes in it to try too.

Rachel LagomLagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living by Linnea Dunne

So instantly when I saw this on the Library catalogue I thought ‘I need this now!’ After thoroughly enjoying The Little Book of Hygge I wanted to try this, I’d seen the word ‘Lagom’ appear on several blogs and in magazine articles over the last few months so naturally I wanted to be in on the hype! It looks great on the Coffee Table, it’s pretty detailed cover with images of coffee, house plants and biscuits naturally drew me in. So I firstly thought what is Lagom? Well Linnea Dunne describes the concept as “Not too little, not too much, but just enough”. The lovely photographs and short chapters provide a great introduction to Lagom and it’s perfect to read when you have the holiday blues, it gives you a health and wellbeing boost. As a fellow foodie I also tried some of the great recipes inside!

Rachel FaceFace: makeup, skin care, beauty by Pixiwoo (Sam and Nic Chapman)

After vaguely hearing of Pixiwoo (I’m showing my age now) I thought I’ll give this book a try, it’s a beautiful book and oozes style. I jumped to chapters of interest around skincare and top tips for creating the perfect brows. It’s perfect for beginners, aspiring make-up artists and anyone that wants to try something new. After reading some reviews I was keen to have a read, the book is full of needed information for any make up lover! You can also download the app and use it as you go along which brings interactive aspects out of the book and links to Pixiwoo’s online tutorials on You Tube.

Rachel HemsleyHemsley Hemsley – good + simple by Jasmine Hemsley & Melissa Hemsley

At least one cookbook has to make its way to the Coffee Table, and there are so many to choose that look both stylish and chic but also have fantastic recipes in too. I felt the need to go out and buy a spiralizer immediately after reading the first few recipes and I have never looked back! Great clean eating meals and some unusual ingredients to take you out of your comfort zones using the kitchen staples. I am guilty of cooking the same meals on a regular basis so trying a new cookery book is a must, this book will ensure your Instagram feed has enough content for a month of foodie posts, give your friends and families #FoodEnvy and try some!

Rachel MacAnna Mae’s mac n cheese: recipes from London’s legendary street food truck by Anna Clark

Anyone I know will tell you my favourite food is Mac n Cheese, if it’s on the menu I’m choosing it! I’ve tried it with different toppings, different cheeses and every time it doesn’t disappoint. So I came across this book and I was buzzing to read it, show it off on my Coffee Table and try some new ways of experimenting with the classic recipe. The writing is very witty, the photos make you very hungry and you’re going to want to recommend it to everyone you know. Not for the calorie counters but a favourite has to be the Mac n Cheese fries recipe. It’s cheesy good.

Rachel bloomBloom: Navigating Life and Style by Estee Lalonde

I came across Estee Lalonde’s Instagram account and realised I’d been following her lifestyle/travel blog for a few months, this is her first book and is full of life hacks, travel tips and lifestyle inspiration. Its cover is a gorgeous pale blue which is perfect for the Coffee Table, it’s stylish in look and content. Imagine having dinner with a really cool friend, that’s how you feel when reading the home interior tips, recipes and life hacks. An empowering woman read and a real feel good book.

So that’s my top 10 Coffee Table reads: You can use these for styling a room, adding chic to a Coffee Table but most importantly you can have fun reading them too! #CoffeeTableReads #BookEnvy

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: 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!