A Fantastically Great Children’s Book

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

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

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

Blog by Rachel Ingle-Teare, Children’s Librarian

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

http://www.katepankhurst.com/2016/09/the-fantastically-great-women-are-go/

 

 

 

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Librarian’s Choice -Past Favourites

This weeks blog is from Lynn, one of our Senior Communities Librarians. There are some real classic blasts from the past here, as well as a more recent recommendation.

Although I’m an avid reader of crime I thought I would give you a taste of some of my favourites from the past, starting with

Lynn Lady of HayLady of Hay – Barbara Erskine

I can’t believe this book is 30 years old!

This story is about Jo Clifford a successful 20th Century journalist, who is set to debunk the idea of past life regression but when she is regressed under hypnosis she finds herself reliving the experiences of Matilda, the Lady of Hay, the wife of a baron at the time of King John.

Jo learns of Matilda’s unhappy marriage and of her love for another man and of the brutal threats of death at the hands of King John.

The plot is full of twists and turns as Matilda’s life and pain threaten to take Jo’s life as she spontaneously regresses…………………

Lynn Lorna DooneLorna Doone – RD Blackmore

A teenage favourite!

Lorna Doone is a romance set in 17th Century in Somerset and Devon and is the story of John Ridd a farmer who finds love amid religious and social turmoil. John is just a boy when his father a respectable farmer is murdered by the outlawed Doones, a lawless clan who live in Exmoor. Battling his desire for revenge John also grows into a respectable farmer looking after his mother and siblings. He falls in love with Lorna a girl he meets by accident who turns out to be the granddaughter of the Lord of Doones and is destined to marry (against her will) Carver Doone. A tale of secrets, lies and deceit. A fantastic story of star crossed lovers.

Lynn RebeccaRebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”

The novel begins in Monte Carlo where our orphaned lady’s maid is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter- carried along on her giddy adventure it’s not until they arrive at his impressive country estate that she realises the threat his late wife is to their new relationship. Young, shy and socially awkward the new Mrs De Winter finds herself lonely and alone as she battles to establish herself as the lady of the house in a tense, sinister household headed by the mean and spiteful Mrs Danvers who is loyal to the ghostly presence of Rebecca. Surprisingly scary with a psychological edge.

Lynn Black BeautyBlack Beauty – Anna Sewell

One of my favourite childhood stories.

Black Beauty is a horse with a fine black coat, a white foot and a silver star on his forehead, a real beauty indeed.

Seen through his eyes, the story tells of his idyllic upbringing living on Farmer Grey’s farm with his Mum frolicking in the fields. When he turns four he’s trained to carry riders and pull carriages and then sold and goes to live at Birtwick Hall where he meets Merrylegs, Ginger and Sir Oliver.

Hardship and cruelty follow as he is sold to a number of different homes and worked hard until he collapses from overwork before he finds security and happiness in a new home.

Lynn Little WomenLittle Women – Louisa May Alcott

The novel follows the lives of four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood. The four girls live with their Marmee in genteel poverty, whilst their father is away fighting in the American Civil War. Their mother encourages them to be the best version of themselves at all times and to celebrate their uniqueness, which for some of the sisters is hard, they pull together as a family in times of need, the loss of loved ones, feelings of failure, talent unappreciated, fear of the future and ever changing family dynamics just a few of the situations the family have to deal with.

Any finally something a little more up to date;

Lynn Elizabeth is missingElizabeth is missing – Emma Healey

Maud an ageing gran is slowly losing her memory – yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth who she believes is missing and in terrible danger, no one will listen.

Vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more than fifty years ago come flooding back, could Sukey’s disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth – a hauntingly beautiful book.

Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016

The winner of this years Baileys Women’s prize for fiction will be announced tonight at 7.30pm. The lucky winner will win a limited edition bronze known as a ‘Bessie’, created and donated by the artist Grizel Niven  as well as receiving a cheque for £30,000. Lucky them, that’s more than enough to buy a few bottles of Baileys to celebrate.

Have you read all the shortlisted books?

Baileys RubyRuby by Cynthia Bond

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby Bell has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe centre of the city, all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, 30-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realisation that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

Baileys The Green RoadThe Green Road by Anne Enright

The children of Rosaleen Madigan leave the west of Ireland for lives they never could have imagined in Dublin, New York and various third-world towns. In her early old age their difficult, wonderful mother announces that she’s decided to sell the house and divide the proceeds. Her adult children come back for one last Christmas, with the feeling that their childhoods are being erased, their personal history bought and sold.

Baileys Glorious Heresies

 

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa Mcinerney

One messy murder affects the lives of five misfits who exist on the fringes of Ireland’s post-crash society. Ryan is a 15-year-old drug dealer desperate not to turn out like his alcoholic father, Tony, whose obsession with his unhinged next-door neighbour threatens to ruin him and his family. Georgie is a prostitute, whose willingness to feign a religious conversion has dangerous repercussions, while Maureen, the accidental murderer, has returned to Cork after 40 years in exile to discover that Jimmy, the son she was forced to give up years before, has grown into the most fearsome gangster in the city. In seeking atonement for the murder and a multitude of other perceived sins, she threatens to destroy everything her son has worked so hard for, but her actions risk bringing the intertwined lives of the Irish underworld into the spotlight.

Baileys The Portable VeblenThe Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

Meet Veblen. She’s an experienced cheerleader (mainly of her narcissistic, hypochondriac, controlling mother), an amateur translator, and a passionate defender of the anti-consumerist views of her namesake, the economist Thorstein Veblen. She’s also a firm believer in the distinct possibility that the plucky grey squirrel following her around can understand everything she says.

Baileys The Improbability of Love

 

 

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

Annie McDee, alone after the disintegration of her long-term relationship and trapped in a dead-end job, is searching for a present for her unsuitable lover in a neglected second-hand shop. Within the jumble of junk and tack, a grimy painting catches her eye. Leaving the store with the picture after spending her meagre savings, she prepares an elaborate dinner for two, only to be stood up, the gift gathering dust on her mantelpiece. But every painting has a story – and if it could speak, what would it tell us? For Annie has stumbled across ‘The Improbability of Love’, a lost masterpiece by Antoine Watteau, one of the most influential French painters of the 18th century.

Baileys A Little LifeA Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

When four graduates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realise, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome – but that will define his life forever.

 

Bronte Events at Leeds Libraries

We are coming up to the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Bronte’s birth and we couldn’t let that go by without doing something to celebrate. Charlottes birthday on the 21st April kick starts five years of celebrations by the Bronte Society that also celebrates the 200th anniversary of the births of Patrick, Anne and Emily. Charlotte’s best known novel is Jane Eyre, of course adapted many times for both TV and film. Her other novels are The Professor, Villette and Shirley. I love Jane Eyre but have to admit that I haven’t read any of the others – I shall try and rectify that in this anniversary year. All of the books can be borrowed from the library.

Please come along to one or both of our events:-

A curator at the Musee des Lettres et Manuscrits displays the miniature manuscript dated 1830 written by Charlotte Bronte, in Paris

A curator at the Musee des Lettres et Manuscrits (Letters and Manuscripts Museum) displays the miniature manuscript dated 1830 written by Charlotte Bronte at the museum in Paris January 30, 2012. The museum bought the second issue of Young Men’s Magazine, which contains over 4,000 words on 19 pages, written when Bronte was 14 years old, for £690,850 (826,287 euros) at auction in December. REUTERS/Charles Platiau (FRANCE – Tags: SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Write like the Brontes in an afternoon -Create your own miniature Books

Friday 15 April, 1.30 – 3.30pm, Central Library, Art Library, First Floor.

The Brontë sisters wrote amazingly tiny books all about a secret imaginary world. To celebrate the Brontë bicentenary, award-winning writer Char March will run this fun and fast-paced writing workshop. She’ll show you why the Brontë sisters wrote their tiny books in miniature writing, and will give you masses of inspiration for writing your very own little book of secrets which you can take away.

Adults, and children (age 9 and up), are welcome – come on, you’re all dying to write in really, really tiny writing!

Free event

The_Brontë_Sisters_by_Patrick_Branwell_Brontë_restoredThe Brontes with Juliet Barker

Monday 18th April, 5.45 – 6.45pm, Leeds Central Library, Third Floor Meeting Room

Juliet will be talking to us about her book about the sisters, originally published in 2010, that provided startling new information about the Bronte family, as well as her new title, ‘The Brontes, a life in Letters’.

Tickets £3.00

To book a place at either event visit www.ticketsource.co.uk/leedslibraryevents

 

 

 

 

New Fiction this week

The Easter break is upon us. What better time than to snuggle up with a hot drink, the odd easter egg or two and a good book?

song for a skylarkSong of the Skylark by Erica James

Lizzie has an unfortunate knack for attracting bad luck, but this time she’s hit the jackpot. Losing her heart to her boss at the radio station where she works leads directly to losing her job, and with no money in the bank she’s forced to swallow her pride and return home to her parents. As if that wasn’t bad enough, her mother finds her work at the local care home for the elderly, and it’s there that Lizzie meets Mrs Dallimore. In her nineties, Mrs Dallimore also finds herself in a situation which she’s reluctantly coming to terms with. Old age has finally caught up with her, and with her life drawing to a close she gives in to the temptation to relive the past by sharing it with Lizzie.

Time of deathTime of Death by Mark Billingham

Two schoolgirls are abducted in the small, dying Warwickshire town of Polesford, driving a knife into the heart of the community where police officer Helen Weeks grew up and from which she long ago escaped. But this is a place full of secrets, where dangerous truths lie buried. When it’s splashed all over the press that family man Stephen Bates has been arrested, Helen and her partner Tom Thorne head to the flooded town to support Bates’ wife – an old school friend of Helen’s – who is living under siege with two teenage children and convinced of her husband’s innocence. As residents and media bay for Bates’ blood, a decomposing body is found. The police believe they have their murderer in custody, but one man believes otherwise. With a girl still missing, Thorne sets himself on a collision course with local police, townsfolk – and a merciless killer.

The mistake i madeThe mistake I made by Paula Daly

We all think we know who we are. What we’re capable of. Roz is a single mother, a physiotherapist, a sister, a friend. She’s also desperate. Her business has gone under, she’s crippled by debt and she’s just had to explain to her son why someone’s taken all their furniture away. But now a stranger has made her an offer. For one night with her, he’ll pay enough to bring her back from the edge. Roz has a choice to make.

EleanorEleanor by Jason Gurley

‘Eleanor’ is the story of choices that ripple through time far beyond the moment they’re made. And what happens when, just sometimes, bonds are so powerful they reach beyond this world and into another.

The passengerThe Passenger by Lisa Lutz

Tanya DuBois doesn’t exist. At least not after an accident leaves her husband dead and thrusts her into the uncomfortably familiar position of Suspect No 1. She has only one choice: run. But as ‘Tanya’ watches her life recede in the rearview mirror, we realise she was never real to begin with. And neither is Amelia Keen, Debra Maze, Emma Lark, Sonia Lubovich, or a girl called only Jo. Or almost any of the things she tells us about herself, her past or where she is going next. She is ‘Amelia’ when she meets Blue, another woman with a life she’d rather not discuss, and thinks she’s found a kindred spirit. But as the body count rises around them their pasts and futures begin to clash.

One salt seaOne Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire

October ‘Toby’ Daye is finally doing all right. She’s settling into her new role as the Countess of Goldengreen; she’s actually dating again; she’s even agreed to take on Quentin as her official squire. Life is looking up all around – and that inevitably means it’s time for things to take a turn for the worse. Someone has kidnapped the sons of Duchess Dianda Lorden, regent of the Undersea Duchy of Saltmist. To prevent a war between land and sea, Toby must not only find the missing boys, but also prove that the Queen of the Mists was not behind their abduction. She’ll need all her tricks and the help of all her allies if she wants to make it through this in one piece.

The little runawaysThe Little Runaways by Cathy Sharp

Nancy and Terry have suffered terrible abuse at the hands of their father. Finding their way to St Saviour’s Children’s Home should mean safety. But little Terry is terribly damaged by his experiences, and the carers face challenges they could never have foreseen.

The house of hidden mothersThe house of hidden mothers by Meera Syal

Little India, East London: Shyama, aged 48, has fallen for a younger man. They want a child together. Meanwhile, in a rural village in India, young Mala, trapped in an oppressive marriage, dreams of escape. When Shyama and Mala meet, they help each other realise their dreams. But will fate guarantee them both happiness?

House of thievesHouse of Thieves by Charles Belfoure

In 1886 New York, a respectable architect shouldn’t have any connection to the notorious gang of thieves and killers that rules the underbelly of the city. But when John Cross’s son racks up an unfathomable gambling debt to Kent’s Gent’s, Cross must pay it back himself. All he has to do is use his inside knowledge of high society mansions and museums to craft a robbery even the smartest detectives can’t solve. The take better include some cash too – the bigger the payout, the faster this will be over. With a newfound talent for sniffing out vulnerable and lucrative targets, Cross becomes invaluable to the gang. But Cross’s entire life has become a balancing act, and it will only take one mistake for it all to come crashing down – and for his family to go down, too.

The food of loveThe food of love by Prue Leith

WWII is not yet over. Snubbed by aristocratic neighbour Lord Frampton at a coming-of-age ball, Donald Oliver dreams of the day he’ll have his vengeance. His wild daughter, Laura, beautiful and tempestuous, falls in love with Giovanni, an Italian ex-prisoner-of-war, now a humble cook. Disdaining her father’s snobbishness – and his wrath – the couple flees to London. But they arrive to a city that has not yet re-awoken after the traumas of war. Facing destitution, only their love for one another and their dream of opening a restaurant business keeps them going.

The dolocherThe Dolocher by Caroline Barry

The Dolocher is stalking the alleyways of Dublin. Half man, half pig, this terrifying creature has unleashed panic on the streets. Can it really be the evil spirit of a murderer who has cheated the hangman’s noose by taking his own life in his prison cell, depriving the mob of their rightful revenge? Or is there some other strange supernatural explanation? This terror has come at the perfect time for down-at-heel writer Solomon Fish. With his new broadsheet reporting ever more gruesome stories of the mysterious Dolocher, sales are growing daily and fuelling the city’s fear. But when the Dolocher starts killing and Solomon himself is set upon, he realises that there’s more to the story than he could ever have imagined.

 

 

 

 

 

Librarian Top 10 – Matt’s Best Reads 2015

This Librarian Top 10 is from Matt, an assistant community librarian based at Armley library.

The Red PonyThe Red Pony by John Steinbeck

I’m a huge Steinbeck fan, ever since I read Of Mice and Men for my GCSE exams, and this is another example of how masterful he is when writing short fiction. The story is simply about a boy’s desire to possess and train his very own horse, but in typical Steinbeck-style, fate has its part to play. The novel is written with great affection for the land and nature, and, of course, the author’s beloved California. You’d be hard-pressed to find such vivid descriptive language and precise prose that captures the human condition in works by other authors.

Boxer HandsomeBoxer Handsome by Anna Whitwham

Most boxing novels, and movies too, tend to follow the same storyline (underdog wins and gets the girl etc..), however Anna Whitwham’s debut novel is incredibly original. The book focusses on two young pugilists from culturally disparate backgrounds and how their East End neighbourhood, and love of ‘sweet science’ brings them together in and outside of the ring – sometimes with devastating outcomes. The fight scenes are truly exhilarating and the author captures life’s intimate interactions most beautifully.

One.jpgOne by Sarah Crossen

Shortlisted for this year’s Leeds Book Awards – and rightly so! – One is the story of conjoined twin sisters who have no choice but to attend American high school when their family fall on hard times. They’re exposed to a world which they have tried to avoid all their lives; fortunately they find friendship and love, but their story is tinged with sadness. Sarah Crossan has written an immensely moving teen novel in prose-poetry that abandons rich language (usually found in verse) and uses line breaks and spatial wordplay to astonishing effect.

PhysicalPhysical by Andrew McMillan

Thank heavens for Andrew McMillan’s debut poetry collection! I was fortunate enough to see him read from Physical at Latitude festival and it was evident in his reading that we have a towering poetic voice in the Barnsley-born bard. His technical ability is unparalleled and his dissection of modern manhood is refreshing yet startlingly self-aware and honest. His poem ‘The men are weeping in the gym’ is a stand-out example of his verse; direct, funny and universal.

Black CountryBlack Country by Liz Berry

As I get older, I become more and more aware of how we are letting slip our link with history and the tribe of people that made us. So you can imagine my joy in discovering Liz Berry’s debut, which is largely inspired by her Black Country upbringing and the region’s thick dialect. The opener, ‘Bird’, soars into your mind as though the pages of the book our trying to take flight. And ‘Bostin’ Fittle’ (meaning good food) is a favourite of mine; musical and nostalgic, reminding me of the time I first saw a rabbit being skinned and transformed into a delicious stew.

HappinessHappiness by Jack Underwood

I saw Mr Underwood read at the Bridlington Poetry Festival and he obligingly recited my favourite of his, ‘Your Horse’, a surreal lyric about examining a relationship through a person’s belongings. There are flashes of Frank O’Hara and Philip Larkin throughout this collection, but the poet is an altogether inimitable talent. You only have to read ‘The spooks’, a poem about injecting blood into a banana and observing what happens when someone attempts to eat it, to realise you are in the midst of a rare literary mind.

Bunny vs MonkeyBunny vs Monkey Book One by Jamie Smart

My five-year-old son loves weekly comic The Phoenix, so he was dead chuffed when I brought home a copy of Bunny vs Monkey: Book One from the library. The basic storyline concerns a laboratory simian who was supposed to be fired into space, but instead crash lands in a nearby forest. He instantly thinks he should be ruler of the woodlands, with the help of an innovative skunk, however a defiant rabbit and his friends have something to say about it. This graphic book is wonderfully daft and Jamie Smart’s illustrations are accomplished and alive with colour.

The Gorse trilogyThe Gorse Trilogy by Patrick Hamilton

Patrick Hamilton must be the most overlooked novelist in literary history. Responsible for novels such as Hangover Square and Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky, as well as the play Rope (later adapted for film by Alfred Hitchcock), his legacy should loom larger. The Gorse Trilogy is an epic novel following the decline of a swindler who preys on vulnerable women. However, as his powers of persuasion dwindle with age, he resorts to new, less sophisticated, methods of extracting what he wants from his victims. And I have to add that Hamilton is the finest writer when describing drunkenness and how it can suddenly creep up on you.

LanarkLanark: a life in four books by Alasdair Gray

A masterpiece in cross-genre fiction, Lanark is a portrait of the artist (Gray) as a young man as he transforms into a serious painter, lover and, er, salamander. The novel begins as a surreal dystopian fantasy, focusing on a mythical skin condition known as ‘dragonhide’, a metaphor for the author’s own battle with severe eczema. From that point, the plot takes several twists and turns in various guises of Modernism and realism – one chapter goes to great lengths to point out all the possible plagiarisms within its pages. Nothing comes close to this book, in terms of style and subject matter. Nothing!

UlyssesUlysses by James Joyce

Alright, I have to admit, I haven’t finished Ulysses yet – I’m about 350 pages in. Still, it is a fantastic novel and a vital contribution to Modernism and literature in general. I read the first 100-or-so pages in one go, but felt exhausted afterwards because the language is so complex, bulging with slang, Latin, unformed thoughts, etc… and the novel, as a whole, is pretty much devoid of plot. Having said that, if you pick at its bones, now and again, you realise that this is a text celebrating every aspect of living, creating a festival of words as you turn the pages. I plan to delve back into Joyce’s groundbreaking book when I finish my current read – hopefully I will have read Ulysses before the year’s out!

 

 

Missing Mad Men?

Mad MenWith the final series of Mad Men now sadly finished, here are nine books available to loan from Leeds Libraries; nine books that will allow you to re-live – at least part – of the Don Draper chronicles:

Revolutionary Road (Richard Yates) 

While Matthew Weiner – the show’s creator – says that he’d never heard of Richard Yates when writing his pilot episode, this 1961 novel about a frustrated suburban couple shares many of the themes later explored in Mad Men.

 

John Cheever

Weiner, however, openly acknowledges the influence of Cheever – the ‘Bard of Suburbia’ – and especially his highly-regarded short stories. The library has the complete collection, as well as Cheever’s journal, where the torturous – indeed, Draper-esque – contradictions of the author’s life quickly become apparent to the reader.

Mad Men: Dream Come True TV (ed., Gary R. Edgerton)

The relationship between literature and Mad Men is apparent in this fascinating collection of essays by academics exploring the explicit and implicit themes of the show. While the book only covers the first three seasons it does include an interview with series producer Scott Hornbacher, which illuminates some of the story behind the show’s genesis during a golden era for American TV drama.

Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution (Brett Martin); The Revolution was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers who changed TV drama forever (Alan Sepinwell) 

Two books that further explore that creative explosion in American TV over the last 15-years. Difficult Men provides a narrative account of the background events to the shows in question – from The Sopranos through The Wire and onto Breaking Bad – while Revolution is a more thematic, analytical, look at what each one of those shows brought to viewers.

Mad Women: The Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the ‘60s and Beyond (Jane Maas) 

Noticeably, both the two books above focus almost entirely on those shows telling stories of men; ignoring, for instance, programming like Sex and the City and, more recently, Girls. And, while Mad Men, is ostensibly about the journey of Don Draper, it is as much about the story of Peggy Olsen and the changing nature of female consciousness through the 1960s. This book tells the same story – but as fact, not fiction.

The King of Madison Avenue: David Ogilvy and the Making of Modern Advertising (Kenneth Roman) 

Jane Maas worked under legendary advertising creative David Ogilvy. This biography of Ogilvy details the extraordinary life of one of the – many – models for the fictional Don Draper.

From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbour: Front-Line Dispatches From the Advertising War (Jerry Della Femina) 

Ogilvy famously spoke of the “lunatics taking over the asylum” during the 1960s – referring to the new generation of publicity-hungry ad-men like Della Femina, who were almost as famous as their creations. Della Femina’s 1970 memoir was an inspiration for Mad Men and he served as a series consultant during the show’s first season.

The Golden Age of Advertising: The 1960s (ed., Jim Heimann) 

As brash as the personalities were on Madison Avenue, in the final analysis the advertisements are what truly mattered. This Taschen book contains some of the most memorable adverts from the 1960s; artefacts that hold a mirror to the tumultuous America of the 1960s.

America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s (Maurice Isserman and Michael Kazin)

 

Mad Men has “done” the 1960s better than any other comparable cultural work. Eschewing the Forrest Gump approach – in which the central character exists outside history, adapting smoothly to their changing times and being directly affected by the major events of the era – Mad Men is more subtle; showing its characters dealing with that change one day at a time, with the familiar mixture of everyday adaptation, resistance, apathy and passion that defines lives lived in history. America Divided provides the reader with all they need to better understand the life and times of Mad Men’s richly-drawn characters.