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.

The Jhalak Prize For Book Of The Year By A Writer Of Colour

This new literary prize has recently announced its shortlisted books. The prize will be awarded annually and will seek out the best books by British/British resident BAME writers. The winner will receive £1,000 prize money.

The prize is unique in that it has accepted entries published in the UK in 2016 across a wide range of genres by a writer of colour. This will include fiction, non-fiction, short story, graphic novel, poetry, children’s books, YA and teen.   The prize was also open to self-published writers. It was started by authors Sunny Singh and Nikesh Shukla and Media Diversified, with support from The Authors’ Club and the prize donated by an anonymous benefactor.

The shortlisted books announced yesterday cross a variety of genres and  Judge Musa Okwonga added that they were, “six books that could not be more different in voice, and which could not be more alike in their excellence”.

The winner will be announced at a special event at The Authors’ Club on 17th March 2017.

jhalak-girl-of-ink-and-starsThe Girl Of Ink And Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

When Isabella’s friend disappears, she volunteers to guide the search party. As a mapmaker’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars, eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart. But beneath the mountains a legendary fire demon awakens, and her journey is fraught with danger.

 

jhalak-a-rising-manA Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee

Captain Sam Wyndham, former Scotland Yard detective, is a new arrival to Calcutta. Desperately seeking a fresh start after his experiences during the Great War, Wyndham has been recruited to head up a new post in the police force. But with barely a moment to acclimatise to his new life or to deal with the ghosts which still haunt him, Wyndham is caught up in a murder investigation that will take him into the dark underbelly of the British Raj. A senior official has been murdered, and a note left in his mouth warns the British to quit India: or else.

jhalak-speak-gigantularSpeak Gigantular by Irenosen Okojie

A startling debut short story collection from one of Britain’s rising literary stars. These stories are captivating, erotic, enigmatic and disturbing. Sexy, serious and at times downright disturbing, this brilliant collection sizzles with originality.

jhalak-black-and-british

 

Black And British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga

David Olusoga’s ‘Black and British’ is a rich and revealing exploration of the extraordinarily long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa. Drawing on new genetic and genealogical research, original records, expert testimony and contemporary interviews, Black and British reaches back to Roman Britain, the medieval imagination and Shakespeare’s Othello. Unflinching, confronting taboos and revealing hitherto unknown scandals, Olusoga describes how black and white Britons have been intimately entwined for centuries.

jhalak-the-bone-readersThe Bone Readers by Jacob Ross

When Michael (Digger) Digson is recruited into DS Chilman’s new plain clothes squad in the small Caribbean island of Camaho he brings his own mission to discover who amongst a renegade police squad killed his mother in a political demonstration.

 

 

jhalak-another-dayAnother Day In The Death Of America by Gary Younge

On Saturday 23 November 2013 ten children were shot dead. The youngest was nine; the oldest was nineteen. They fell in suburbs, hamlets and ghettos. None made the national news. It was just another day in the death of America, where on average seven children and teens are killed by guns daily. Younge picked this day at random, searched for their families and tells their stories. What emerges is a sobering, searing, portrait of youth and guns in contemporary America.

Not that we are biased in Leeds Libraries but of course we would love either The Bone Readers, published by Peepal Tree Press, based in Leeds, or The Girl of Ink and Stars written by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, which we have also chosen for our shortlist for the Leeds Book Awards.

 

 

Blue Monday

This blog post comes from Charlotte, our Digital Engagement Librarian.

The third Monday in January is now commonly known as Blue Monday – supposedly the most depressing day of the year. The concept was actually created by a travel company in 2005, using a calculation that took into account things like debt, weather and the amount of time since Christmas. However, this calculation has no basis in science and has been debunked many times!

charlotte-the-rest-of-usDespite this, Blue Monday seems to have caught the imagination of the media and looks to be a regular feature for Januarys to come. Even though today isn’t really the most depressing day of the year, it seems as good a day as any to highlight some books that will perk you up this winter!

charlotte-fragile-thingsThe Reading Agency’s Reading Well site is a great place to start. There are two categories of books, Books on Prescription and Mood-Boosting Books.

charlotte-the-worry-cureBooks on Prescription is a collection of books to help you manage and understand health and wellbeing using self-help reading. If you visit a GP or health professional, they may recommend one or more titles from the Books on Prescription list.

If you’re looking for an uplifting read, then head to the Mood-Boosting Books collection. There’s a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry all recommended by readers and reading groups for their uplifting abilities.

charlotte-the-readers-of-broken-wheelAs well as making you feel a bit more cheerful, there’s also evidence that books can make you live longer! The report concludes that, “the benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them … The robustness of our findings suggests that reading books may not only introduce some interesting ideas and characters, it may also give more years of reading.”

 

Where there are books there is hope

dying matters logoWe are happy to support the Dying Matters campaign as we realise that death is an important subject even if it is not easy to talk about. Their mission is to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life. This book list is designed to help stimulate discussion and is only a sample of what is available in Leeds Libraries. The aim is to help people not only celebrate living but be empowered and informed as they face the end of life .

These books offer an opportunity to engage in this taboo subject, to learn and find solace in other people’s experiences as well as helping to find the answers to questions you never dared ask lastly ,to share ones last wishes with friends and family.

A Death Café will be running bi-monthly at The Reginald Centre Community Hub, Chapeltown in partnership with Xina Broderick, a local funeral Director, starting on Saturday 21st of January. Further details can be found here.

angie-death-mattersDeath Matters By Sally Petch

An unusual new book that encourages us to change how we think about dying. Throughout the book, author Sally Petch asks us to start talking about and planning our own death – so that we can reach a place of acceptance and lessen our fear of an event which is ultimately inevitable. “Death Matters is an easy to read book. Sally Petch has performed us a great service in helping us come to terms with the idea of death.” Satish Kumar, Editor-in-chief, Resurgence Magazine

angie-the-welcome-visitorThe Welcome Visitor by John Humphrys

Death is a subject modern society shies away from. But if we regard death as a failure in our desire to prolong life, can we ever arrive at a humane approach to those whose lives have lost meaning? Here, John Humphrys and his co-author Dr Sarah Jarvis take a wider look at how our attitudes to death have changed as doctors have learned how to prolong life beyond anything that could have been imagined only a few generations ago, and confront one of the great challenges facing the western world today. There are no easy answers but the first step must surely be to accept that death can be as welcome as it is inevitable.

angie-being-mortalBeing mortal: illness, medicine and what matters in the end by Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande examines his experiences as a surgeon, as he confronts the realities of ageing and dying in his patients and in his family, as well as the limits of what he can do. He emerges with a story that explores a range of questions.

angie-deaths-summer-coatDeath’s summer coat: what the history of death and dying can tell us about life and living by Brandy Shillace

Consideration of death and dying is back in the public forum. People are sipping tea at Death Cafes. Poses the question how can we approach death in a culture dead set against talking about mortality? Written with humour and humanity

angie-mums-listMum’s List by St John Greene

On her deathbed, Kate Greene’s only concern was for her two little boys, Reef and Finn, and her loving husband, Singe. She knew she’d be leaving them behind very soon. The couple talked and cried together as she wrote her thoughts and wishes down, trying to help the man she loved create the best life for their boys after she was gone

How to have a good death: Foreword By Esther Ranzen who shares her personal experience of losing her late husband Desmond Wilcox

Find out how to deal with death, from understanding the process of dying to communicating with hospital staff and working through difficult stages of bereavement. A book that helps you prepare and plan for a good death, with informed choices and practical advice.

angie-wills-and-probateWills and Probate by David Bunn

This two-in-one guide to making a will and obtaining probate for the estate of someone who has died could help readers save thousands of pounds on legal fees. The guide covers the whole of the U.K.

angie-good-funeral-guideThe Good Funeral Guide by Charles Cowling

A good death contributes to a good life, so we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to deal with a reality most of us don’t want to face. Find out how to deal with death, from understanding the process of dying to communicating with hospital staff and working through the difficult stages of bereavement

angie-poems-for-funeralsPoems and readings for funerals and memorials Edited by Julia Watson

This book gathers together many of the treasured and poignant poems, readings, quotations and religious extracts that both celebrate life and express grief and sorrow about death,

angie-smoke-gets-inSmoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

Doughty – a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre – took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humour and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased. This book tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes

angie-standing-on-myStanding on my brother’s shoulders: Making peace with grief and suicide by Tara J. Lal

Following the death of their mother during childhood Tara and her older brother Adam developed a deep, caring bond, but Adam struggled silently with growing anxiety and depression. Four years after their mother’s death, he committed suicide, throwing himself from his study window at Oxford University. Grief and insecurity threatened to engulf Tara, but eventually she found, within her brother’s Grief and insecurity threatened to engulf Tara, but eventually she found, within her brother’s diaries, her reason to live.

angie-what-does-dead-meanWhat does dead mean? a book for young children to help explain death and dying by Caroline Jay

This is an illustrated book that guides children gently through the ‘big’ questions they often ask about death and dying. Suitable for children aged 4+. This is an ideal book for parents and carers to read with their children, as well as teachers, therapists and counsellors working with young children.

Always and Forever by Debi Gliori

When Fox dies the rest of his family are absolutely distraught. How will Mole, Otter and Hare go on without their beloved friend? But, months later, Squirrel reminds them all of how funny Fox used to be, and they realise that Fox is still there in their hearts and memories.

angie-are-you-sadAre You Sad, Little Bear? by Rachel Rivett and Tina MacNaughton

A book about learning to say goodbye. This charmingly illustrated picture book will help young children in times of bereavement, loss or change, gently exploring the reasons for saying goodbye and giving reassurance that goodbye doesn’t mean the end of things.

angie-grandads-islandGrandad’s Island by Benji Davies

After the phenomenal success of The Storm Whale and On Sudden Hill, this new book by Benji Davies deals with the emotional topic of losing a grandparent. Subtly told, this beautifully illustrated book tackles a difficult subject with great sensitivity and depth.

angie-fault-in-our-starsThe fault in our stars by John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

angie-tuesdays-with-morrieTuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Alborn

Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and gave you sound advice to help you make your way through life. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago. Mitch Albom rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life. Knowing he was dying of motor neurone disease – MItch visited Morrie in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final ‘class’: lessons in how to live.

Precious Lives by Margaret Forster

Margaret Forster’s most personal biography yet. It takes up the intertwining story of her gritty, 96 year old northern father, Arthur with that of her sister-in-law, Marion, who dies of Cancer. Margaret Forster’s father was not a man to answer questions about life and death, so she attempts to answer them for herself. As Forster looks back at Arthur’s life an indomitable man, she evokes incidents from her childhood, his working life and stubborn old age, trying to make sense of their largely unspoken relationship and of his tenacious hold on life, and on his family. Arthur and Marion’s lives were ordinary, but, when faced with death become precious.

UNESCO’s World Falconry Day

This year sees the 4th anniversary of World Falconry Day, in recognition of Falconry by the UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage, celebrating with the theme Recovery of the Peregrine Falcon.

By Falconry we understand the hunting tradition defined as taking quarry in its natural state and habitat by means of trained birds of prey. Preserving falconry involves maintaining not only the traditional culture that builds practical skills of empathy with animals, but also the conservation of raptors and their prey through preservation of natural habitats. Therefore falconry is encouraged within the context of sustainable use of wildlife.

Here I’ve selected a dozen of books available from Leeds Libraries on the topic:

montse-falcon-kesA Kestrel For A Knave – Barry Hines

Everybody has heard of this book or seen the film by Ken Loach “Kes”, which is based on it. A working class boy troubled at home and school snatches a kestrel chick from its nest (totally illegal nowadays) and trains it to fly with him with the help from a book he steals from his local library (tut tut). It is pretty much a classic that highlights the life hardships of a boy in the 60’s in South Yorkshire. Even though kestrels are falcons they are not used much in falconry as a way to bring meat to the table because you’d be feeding yourself on mice, voles and the such, which are the typical quarry.

montse-falcon-trainingTraining Birds of Prey – Jemima Parry-Jones

Jemima Parry-Jones is one of the best known names in the falconry circles. She is the director of the International Centre for Birds of Prey, Newent, which I recommend you visit if you get a chance. Following in her father’s (Phillip Glasier) steps, she has written several books about falconry and become a world-renowned falconer and conservationist. This is the book to read for those with an interest in taking up falconry; it covers all aspects in training your hawk from even before you buy it, and it’s an eye-opener for those who think of them as pets, dispelling any similarities with Harry Potter.

Fledgling days – Emma Ford

As well as Jemima, Emma Ford is another world acclaimed female falconer, who has also written several books on falconry. Together with husband Steve, they opened the British School of Falconry at Gleneagles hotel in Scotland. In this book Emma tells us of her first encounters and fascination with birds of prey when she was just a young girl aged 8 and how she went on to train and look after birds and other animals, teach falconry, work for TV and films and even the Emir of Abu Dhabi, Seikh Zayed. An inspirational biographical read for anyone with a love of animals.

monste-falcon-historicHistorical Falconry – Helen Rowlands

This is a superb illustrated guide to the history of falconry from its beginnings to present times with regards to attire, training methods, evolution of chosen species, etc., how falconry became popular and fashionable and how it declined with the advance of firearms. The book explores falconry both as an art and as a hunting method, including techniques and skills and how it’s always been part of the cultural heritage of the country where practised. Not so much about modern falconry but more focused on its historical aspect.

monste-falcon-no-wayNo Way But Gentlenesse – Richard Hines

I haven’t read this book yet but it’s in my “to read” list. Richard Hines is brother to Barry, who wrote the first book in this list. The main character Billy Casper is based on Richard, he found the kestrel and trained it, and A Kestrel for a Knave is pretty much his biography written by his brother. Aaaah, I hear you say. Yes, I was surprised as well when I found out this.

montse-falcon-h-is-forH is for Hawk – Helen MacDonald

This is an autobiographical account of how the author, an experienced falconer, went to train a goshawk, Mabel, to cope with the sadness and bereavement after her father died. For those who don’t know, goshawks are notorious for their nervousness and killing instinct and can be quite a handful to train compared with other bird of prey species. Helen grudgingly decides to re-read The Goshawk, by T.H. White, as she trains Mabel and exposes the differences in technique between themselves. The story tells us of the bonding between human and bird, both predators with a wild side.

montse-falcon-goshawkThe Goshawk – T. H. White

You can borrow this book from the library but personally is one of those books I don’t want to read because it’s going to make me cross and angry. Mr White wasn’t a falconer as such but an eccentric character with an obsession for “belonging” in a society he didn’t really fit in. Thus, he goes to train birds of prey without knowing what he’s doing and sadly killing them in the process. His lack of skills and experience added to the ancient and superseded books he uses as reference translate as cruelty to the bird. Perhaps I should do as Helen and one day, grudgingly read it.

Of Falconry (Book III of The Ornithology) – Francis Willughby of Middleton in the county of Warwick Esq.          REFERENCE ONLY

This jewel is only available from the Information and Research department of Central Library, so you won’t be able to take it home. However, it’s worth spending some time in the library marvelling at this book from 1678!! The book is divided into books, sections and chapters and the last book is about falconry, wherein the 2 main parts are “reclaiming and managing hawks” and “diseases of hawks, prevention, signs and cures”. It also includes over 100 pages of illustrations of the birds he talks about throughout. A truly interesting read all in all.

montse-falcon-eaglesEagle & Birds of Prey – Jemima Parry-Jones

Even though this book is classed as Junior, the information within is apt for adults as well. It deals with hawks, falcons, eagles, vultures and owls covering all aspects from anatomy, reproduction, hunting techniques, types of quarry, and extinction of species, especially vultures, of which Jemima is a stalwart conservationist. Raptor weekend at her centre on 2nd and 3rd Sept 2017 – not to be missed.

All British Eagle – Captain Charles Knight

This is a 1943 memoir of the war-time adventures of Charles William Robert Knight with his famous golden eagle Mr Ramshaw. Captain Knight was a great British falconer, writer, lecturer, photographer, explorer and film director. His travels with the eagle are well recorded in his own books and films (I Know Where I’m Going). He is uncle of Phillip Glasier, who is Jemima’s father. Falconry runs in the family.

montse-falcon-falconFalcon – Helen MacDonald

Another book by Helen MacDonald and previous to H is for Hawk. Here we learn all about falcons from all aspects other than just the obvious naturalist ones. She covers history, culture and folkloric meanings, conservation and use in falconry; but also how falcons have been used in war and by NASA and even publicity campaigns. This is a truly enjoyable read for everyone with an interest in nature and birds of prey. Lots of illustrations accompany this cultural analysis of falcon-human relationship.

montse-falcon-peregrinePeregrine Falcon – Patrick Stirling-Aird

Last but not least, this book comes with dozens of amazing photos of falcons in colour and close-up detail, but also it’s full of information about different aspects of the bird including biology, behaviour, reproduction and hunting. It tells the gripping story of how peregrines were rescued from the brink of extinction and inhabit our cities. Well written and easy to read.

 

Blog Post by Montse, an Assistant Community Librarian based in the east of the city.

Librarian’s Choice: Reduce, Recycle, Re-love

I have been an ardent collector of curios and the second hand for many years. My main thrill is to rummage and forage through other people’s trash to find an item I can refashion and treasure. I am not ashamed to call myself a skip surfer, car boot obsessive and charity shop aficionado.

What started as a means of buying cheap second hand clothes and furnishings as a student became a lifelong obsession with all things old and vintage.  Old and abandoned objects have a story to tell, they connect us to the past, and I am naturally drawn to the nostalgia and style of bygone times.

In this disposable and consumeristic world where ‘old’ is considered antiquated and unfashionable I see an opportunity to breathe new life into things which deserve a second chance. Once restored or up-cycled I have the privilege of owning something that is often unique and  well – crafted  whilst having all the pleasure and satisfaction of having added my own creative flourishes.

Over the years Leeds Libraries have been an amazing resource for books on art and design , interiors and crafts, all of which excite and inspire me. More recently there has seen a blossoming of publications on upcycling. Below I have listed some of my recommendations. Some of the projects I have undertaken at home to good effect, others are on my ‘to do list’ when I can find the time. Some of the books just beckon to be borrowed as the pictures alone are enchanting. You need not be an expert crafter or sewer; all of the projects have easy to follow instructions. and require very few tools. it’s amazing what you can do with a staple gun alone.

I hope you feel inspired to give it a go. Enjoy!

angie-thrifty-chicThrifty chic: interior style on a shoestring by Liz Bauwens

‘Thrifty Chic’ shows you how to revive and revamp to create an eclectic and unique interior style on a shoestring. I particularly like the idea of a striped hand painted staircase. Best to use a quick dry paint for this one and wait till the kids and the dogs are out of the house.

angie-junk-geniusJunk genius: stylish ways to repurpose everyday objects, with over 80 projects and ideas by Juliette Goggin

In this book you’ll find rewarding and money-saving recycling projects. My favourites include lighting made out of old kitchenaliia. It also contains a great chapter on creating jewellery out of old jigsaw pieces, thimbles, typewriter keys and watch faces. A must have ‘book to borrow’ for any Steam Punk fans out there.

angie-repurposed-libraryThe repurposed library by Lisa Occhipinti

A celebration of the possibilities that books have to offer as an art material. This book takes my passion for books one step further, It includes 33 projects to make out of books, my favourites are: a lettered wreath, a literary lampshade; and a book ledge made from beautiful old hardbacks.

angie-reviveRevive!: inspired interiors from recycled materials by Jacqueline Mulvaney

This is the only book where more advanced sewing skills than my own are required. This would suit an intermediate or confident sewer. Whilst I have tackled some basic upholstery in the past I haven’t quite mastered some of the more advanced features of my sewing machine. However, I do have a growing collection of fabrics which are in need of refashioning and embellishing. This book shows you how to make and decorate throws, cushions, curtains and blinds. The Inspiration Board featured is an art piece in itself.

angie-vintageCreating the vintage look: 35 ways to upcycle for a stylish home by Ellie Laycock

This book offers you simple step by step guidance to create unique homewares. It makes you to look at unloved items in a totally new way, and encourages you to think before you throw.
It is a good starting point for anyone new to up-cycling . It is the answer to all your birthday and Christmas conundrums, as from now on you can just DIY it. My favourites are the stamp collection placemats ( I have done this myself with great success ), the cheese grater pen pot, the tea set bird feeders and the dish towel curtain to name just a few…..

angie-recycled-homeRecycled home: transform your home using salvaged materials by Rebecca Proctor

This book features 50 stylish craft projects using salvaged materials, with step-by-step illustrations to guide you through to completion . No special skills are needed.
My favourites include the cosy hot water bottle cover and patchwork book wallpaper. The rag rug bath mat is an on-going project I have yet to complete at home. My main advice to aspiring be rag ruggers is firstly just Do It! Basic rag rugging is really so simple and can even be done in front of the T.V. It is an ideal hobby for all finger twitchers, nail biters and smokers will miraculously cease as they become totally immersed. Alternatively, use it as part of a regular meditative practice whilst listening to music or an absorbing audio book. A tip for free is to start small don’t be overly ambitious in size or scale as in my case it will take forever to finish.

angie-flea-market-chicFlea market chic: the thrifty way to create a stylish home by Liz Bauwens

This book is on my Christmas Wish List, it is crammed full of eclectic interiors which mix the old and new to create a totally unique look. I am particular drawn to the shed and cabins section as my long term ambition is to make the ultimate downsize and move into one!

‘Flea Market Chic’ will show you how to spot the clever find in a pile of junk, where to look and how to negotiate. Sourcing materials need not be expensive or difficult, if you ask around. start with family and friends, use recycling sites such as Freecycle or use the Freeads on Gumtree; Visit your local scrap store whether that be Scrap Shed in Leeds or the Cone Exchange in Harrogate. Start using your local charity shops, for a few pence you are supporting the developing world or helping good causes nearer to home. Even better why not volunteer? Try out online auction sites such as Ebay, bargains are to be had with a little research and patience. Look in roadside skips I’ve always found people are happy to give you things would otherwise have gone to landfill.

angie-fine-little-dayFine little day: ideas, collections and interiors by Elisabeth Dunker

Take a peek into the fascinating life of Elisabeth Dunker: blogger, writer, stylist, designer, photographer and artist. This is a woman of many talents, and the book showcases her unique skill and style. Her handmade pot holder blanket is an inspiration to behold. This book makes me want to move to Scandinavia and live in her cabin!

angie-cheap-chicCheap chic: affordable ideas for a relaxed home by Emily Chalmers

Just a lovely coffee table book, enjoy flicking through the pages for the sheer pleasure of it
If you are in need for inspiration then Pinterest is the answer to all your dreams.  If you have a smart phone or IPad/tablet download the Pinterest App and create your own pin board of ideas.
If you want to have a go selling your handmade wares or turn a crafting hobby into a living then check out crafting websites such as Etsy and Folksy to see what you can sell. They each employ a basic level of quality control so a bowl made out of play dough whilst fun to make probably wouldn’t cut the muster.

angie-rediscovered-treasuresRediscovered treasures by Ellen Dyrop

This book is a ‘must read’ for anyone hoping to style their own wedding as there are centrepieces and accessories that you can make that would add an air of romance to any humble village hall. On my wish list to make is the family heirloom cushion using old transferable photos and would make a thoughtful and memorable present for your nearest and dearest.

angie-thrifty-lampshades50 thrifty DIY lampshades by Adeline Lobut

I’ve never understood why lampshades so expensive to buy when the principle is so easy. What’s more you can use a fabric of your choice and add as many embellishments as your heart desires. The market has begun to recognise the upcycling trend and there are now DIY lampshade kits available to buy. Alternatively, borrow this book from Leeds libraries and have the pleasure of making one from scratch. I love the idea of using old books and men’s ties to create a stand or shade. If you want to show off your eco-friendly credentials there are even instructions for making a living lamp made out of green foliage.

angie-homespun-styleHomespun style by Selina Lake

This is book once borrowed I had to buy..
Indeed why all these books beckon to me is they inspire me to be creative. I hope you are inspired to have a go too!

Angie, Assistant Community Librarian

 

Librarian’s Choice – Absolutely judge these books by their cover

We all judge books by their covers but within this selection what appealed on the exterior is just a glimpse of the visual feast inside. It’s really refreshing to see children’s information books being presented in this illustrative way. This selection is beautiful yet filled with fun and fascinating information. They are all available in Leeds Libraries and you can reserve them into your nearest branch for free.

Rachel Wild animalsWild Animals of the North – Dieter Braun

The imagery in this book is just gorgeous; it has a simple geometric feel but is so rich in colour. This book takes you on a journey to the farthest corners of the northern hemisphere and explores the fantastic creatures that live there. Braun’s illustrations make the animals pop out of every page, its perfect for the young naturalist out there.

 

Rachel Shackletons JourneyShackleton’s Journey – William Grill

This book is filled with tiny clever sketches which make the facts and figures so easy to visualise. I love the maps as you voyage along your Journey to the Antarctica. Grill has a really fun and uncomplicated style which is very appealing and brings this fascinating and brave story alive.

Rachel Something about a bearSomething about a Bear – Jackie Morris

The detail Morris gets using water colour is incredible, the bears just come to life on every page. This book is a bit of a hybrid between a story and an information book, which makes it really accessible for younger children especially when they are being read to. The information is delivered through beautiful wording and even has a little twist at the end. I wonder which your favourite bear will be?

 

Rachel Smart about sharksSmart about sharks – Owen Davey

Davey’s style is so unique; it has a lovely vintage feel and the colours really stand out. This book is filled with fun facts that are backed up by his minimalist yet lavish illustrations. If you love this there is another book call ‘Mad About Monkeys’ which is just as good!

Rachel Frida KhaloFreida Khalo – Eng Gee Fan

This book is part of a new series of children’s biographies ‘Little People, Big Dreams’ telling the stories of remarkable women in history. Each book is illustrated by a different artist and everyone is wonderful. They are the perfect introduction and the pictures on each page are delightful. If you love this one check out ‘Coco Chanel’, it’s fabulous!

 

Rachel AnimaliumAnimalium – Katie Scott

For any family that loves natural history this book is just fantastic; it’s a trip around a 24/7 museum with immaculate exhibits of the world’s finest and most extraordinary creatures. The illustrations are stunning and it’s packed with absorbing facts. I love the larger than average format of this book and can just imagine a family huddled together on the floor flicking through the pages.

 

Blog by Rachel, Children’s Librarian based at Central Library.