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

 

 

 

 

Librarian Top 10 – Great fiction read this year

This weeks top 10 comes from Stu, a community librarian based in the East of the city.

WreakingWreaking by James Scudamore

A magnificent slice of modern Gothic storytelling, in which a reclusive academic seeks refuge in an abandoned mental hospital and slowly loses his mind while seeking to unravel the chain of events that led up to a horrific family accident in the dim and distant past. The over-riding theme is the relationship between time and memory, and the distortive effect that each has on the other. Everything about this book screams quality – vivid characterisation, pitch-perfect dialogue, wonderfully descriptive, nuanced prose and a fantastic plot hiding behind the multiple layers of smoke and mirrors. Highly, highly recommended.

1980Nineteen Eighty by David Peace

A typically sanguine Yorkshire-noir with a labyrinthine plot that will be all-too familiar to anyone who’s read the other books in the quadrilogy. This one is set against the backdrop of the Yorkshire Ripper murders, but in-keeping with the rest of the series, the main focus is on the dodgy dealings of the bent coppers who are supposed to be investigating the case. It’s not for the faint-hearted – the Ripper’s monologues in particular are stomach-churningly graphic and deeply disturbing – but the plot moves along at a cracking pace, and Peace’s sparse, staccato style paints a suitably lurid vision of hell.

Life and Fate by Vassily Grossman

A trite line that crops up in quite a few reviews of this novel is that this is like an updated version of War and Peace, and it’s not too far from the truth. This book is an epic in every sense, featuring a huge cast of characters (including a cameo from Stalin himself) at all levels of society and deals chiefly with the Nazi invasion of Russia and the Battle of Stalingrad. Like Isaac Babel before him, Grossman was a journalist who wrote fiction based on fact, and this authenticity really comes through in his descriptions of the battle. It’s not an easy novel to read by any means – especially the scene in the gas chamber at Auschwitz -, but like all the best Russian literature, it’s very, very rewarding if you’re willing to give it the time and attention it deserves.

RegenerationRegeneration by Pat Barker

This is the first in a trilogy of books the deal with WW1, with war poet Siegfried Sassoon appearing as one of the main characters, convalescing at Craiglockhart War Hospital near Edinburgh. It’s only a slim volume but incredibly dense, and aims to deal with the awful psychological effects that war has on the minds of young men. There are some really harrowing scenes in here – particularly the descriptions of some of the treatments administered by the psychiatrists – but surely that’s to be expected in a book of this nature – and it’s an interesting read for anyone with an interest in the Great War.

The Last WordThe Last Word by Hanif Kureishi

Here Kureishi, arguably the greatest English writer of his generation turns his razor eye upon the struggles of an ageing man of letters. Told with his usual insight and acerbic wit, and a tongue firmly planted in its cheek, this book is very funny indeed.

The misfortunatesThe Misfortunates by Dimitri Verhulst

It would be all-too easy to describe this book as a Belgian take on Bukowski, but it’s not that far off the mark. It’s a squalid, sleazy tale of a family of small-town alcoholics and the misadventures they get up to in the course of their miserable, drunken lives. Okay, it’s not the most original subject matter, but the translation (by David Colmer) is fantastic and really brings the book to life in all its feculent glory. As with all books of this kind, it’s genuinely, laugh out loud, tears-on-your-cheeks funny, but ultimately downbeat and shot through with the kind of bottom of the barrel, red-eyed sadness that only boozy literature of this ilk can muster.

Wolf HallWolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

This first instalment of a trilogy of novels deals with Thomas Cromwell’s formative years, his rise to power in the court of Henry VIII and the fall of his mentor Cardinal Wolsey. It’s all written in the present tense, which gives the story a real sense of urgency and keeps the pages turning. It’s a big book, make no mistake, but a far easier read than you’d probably imagine. There is a caveat though. If you’re unfamiliar with Tudor politics, you may struggle a little with some of the characters; lots and lots of the men are called Thomas (named after Becket, England’s favourite medieval Saint), and every other lady seems to be called Mary, which could be confusing to those who aren’t fully conversant with the court of the time. That said, there’s a table of characters at the front of the book for those who aren’t already in the know so don’t be put off, even if you know nothing of the period. This is a masterful bit of writing and a cracking historical novel that’s worthy of every bit of praise that’s been lavished upon it.

Bring up the bodiesBring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel: or, Wolf Hall Part Deux.

Picks up at the precise point where the first book left off, and moves us through the fall of Anne Boleyn. The real skill of Mantel here is to take a story that’s fairly familiar to most people but still construct a narrative in a way that keeps you turning the pages, even though you know ultimately what’s going to happen (hint: things don’t end well for Ms Boleyn) There’s a wealth of great characterisation, lovely descriptive prose and she has a great ear for dialogue too, all the marks of a first-class writer working right at the top of her game.

The first circleThe First Circle by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

From the foremost chronicler of Stalinist Russia, this is a huge novel, dealing with all his usual themes – Gulag, show trials, Five Year Plans, Collectivisation, industrialisation etc. and how they affected the general populace of Russia during the Stalinist years. It’s another huge book, packed with a fantastic array of characters, all with their own hard luck stories to tell. One of his greatest qualities as a writer was to be able to relate the lives of people right at the bottom of the social scale to those right at the top, and to show how the machinations of the Party apparatus were inescapable for anyone unfortunate enough to be living in Russia at that time.

Les miserablesLes Miserables by Victor Hugo

Gigantic, door-stopping tome dealing with the seedy underbelly of Paris in the early part of the 19th century. This is a very modern work in some ways. In the text Hugo often refers to himself as the writer, and it’s filled with references to real people and real events. It’s epic not just in size, but in scope too, combining what’s basically a detective story – Javert’s relentless pursuit of petty-crook turned outlaw Jean Valjean, which in itself is reminiscent of Ahab’s chase of the white whale in Moby Dick, another early modern(ist) novel) with a host of digressions, philosophical musings and essays on topics as diverse as the French Revolution, underworld slang, social inequality and the Battle of Waterloo. It’s definitely not for the casual reader – the Vintage edition has nearly 1300 pages, not including the generous introduction and a couple of hundred pages of footnotes at the end – but for those who want to sample a genuine classic of world literature, it’s an absolute marvel.

Featured Library – Oakwood

Another in my random series about the libraries that we have all around the city. This time I am concentrating on Oakwood library as the Roundhay & Oakwood Festival starts soon and we are delighted that Oakwood Library is hosting a number of events for the festival, which runs from the 23rd October until the 1st November 2015.

Oakwood%20Library%20Exterior%201_jpgFirst off though, a bit about the library. Oakwood is one of our more unusual buildings as it is housed in a  converted end terrace house on Oakwood Lane. This makes it a little bit challenging with the book shelves, but on the bright side we have a fantastic big bay window to display books in as well as a lovely garden to hold summer events. Some of you may have been to our reading challenge event held outside in the summer holidays.  The library has a regular monthly readers group and a weekly storytime on Monday afternoons from 2.00 – 2.30pm.

For the festival the first ever Oakwood Library Street Food Festival will be on Saturday 24th October, along with a book signing with Lynn Hill, founder of Clandestine Cake Club; following the success of their first recipe collection the Clandestine Cake Club is back with a second delicious helping of 100 gorgeous recipes to whet your appetite in ‘A Year of Cake’.

skin like silverOn Monday 26th October local author Chris Nickson offers a special, exclusive preview of ‘Skin Like Silver’, the third in his Detective Inspector Tom Harper series set in the Leeds of the 1890s.

death in the dalesThen on Wednesday 28th October we will be joined by another local author Frances Brody, who will speak about ‘A Death in the Dales’ the seventh book in her Kate Shackleton Mysteries series, which is set in 1920s Yorkshire.

On the morning of Friday 30th October we will be joined by Stir Krazy Kids who will be showing us how to make delicious Wonka treats from ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’!

 

 

And, if all that wasn’t enough already we will also be celebrating the 65th anniversary of ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ on the afternoon of the 30th October with an afternoon of crafty fun – we will be making Narnia snow globes and more!

For further details about these events, and many more please go to the festival website.