Librarian’s choice: Dog Books

As the owner of one of those troublesome, mischievous, beautiful, loyal creatures known as dogs, I thought I would write about some of the interesting books I’ve recently come across on the subject of our canine companions. When you look through the library catalogue, there are so many great books covering everything you might want to know.

Here is just a small selection:-

Lisa Clever dogClever Dog by Sarah Whitehead

Clever Dog is an easy to read, fun book focusing on behaviour and communication, with plenty of handy tips, examples and case studies bringing her theories to life. Plus it’s also the first book that made me think about my dog’s learning style! I think we’re both mainly visual.

Lisa Dog TalesDog Talk by Bruce Fogle

Dog Talk has some lovely photos of the author’s own dog at various stages throughout his life, smiling the whole time! This one provides bite size segments of information but goes deeper into the relationship between humans and dogs, looking at subconscious needs. There are some quick ways of teaching basic commands and also of dealing with aggression and other unwanted behaviours, although I think some of his advice is a little old fashioned.

Lisa Being a dogBeing a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz

This book is like nothing else I have ever read, and that’s saying a lot! Its main focus is on the dog’s nose and how they experience the world through smell, although the author has done some smell research herself, so it does also go into the human sense of smell. The writing style is really accessible and quite humorous but there’s some seriously scientific research in here, and some myth-busting.

Lisa Rescue MeRescue Me – Dogs Trust

Thought I ought to include this one as our dog came from Dogs Trust! The adoption process was straightforward but fairly rigorous and they’re always available for advice afterwards. The book is very clear and step by step with case studies and lots of useful information for anyone thinking of adopting a dog. Believe me, it’s worth it!

Lisa Test your dogTest your dog’s IQ: how clever is your canine? by David Taylor

I was given this for a Christmas present one year and of course I’ve tried out some of these tests on my own dog and my sister –in-law’s two dogs. There are lots of fun activities in here for all ages – one we tried was covering the dog with a blanket and timing how long it takes for them to free themselves. Not long with ours it turns out, which apparently means she’s intelligent!

Lisa Dog ShamingDog Shaming by Pascale Lemire

This is a great book for cheering you up – dog photos never fail to make me smile, especially when they’re posing with a sign blaming them for having done something ridiculous or naughty. It’s basically a book of photos so won’t take you long to read, but I can guarantee at least some of them will raise a chuckle. I particularly liked the dog who chewed the face off an antique stuffed panda bear, and was pretty surprised by the dog who ate a starfish!

Librarian’s Choice: Printmaking

This blog is from Chloe, an Assistant Community Librarian based in the West of the city.

Here are my top five recently discovered printmaking books! I found them inspirational in making me want to learn new techniques or explore them playfully in different ways. I’m always looking out for accessible art projects that you can try at home, and the majority of these books have templates to get you started learning techniques before progressing to creating your own designs. I have ranked the following titles in order of my favourites…

Chloe Printmaking UnleashedPrintmaking Unleashed: More Than 50 Techniques for Expressive Mark Making by Tracy Bautista

DIY printmaking at its best, this book is a feast for the eyes with gorgeous combinations of pattern, colour and composition explored through a vast variety of playful mark making techniques! The book covers DIY techniques for all abilities in an accessible and affordable way using common materials to get amazing printmaking results. From creating your own stencils using hot glue, carved wooden blocks or materials such as rubber bands and toothpicks, to printing vintage lace textures or creating Sgraffito Doodles (scratching into acrylic paint on top of Perspex) there is a technique everyone will enjoy and want to pursue!
Examples of other expressive mark making techniques include gesso fabric prints (using resits to incorporate texture onto canvas), digital photography stencils (using Photoshop), silkscreen painting (using an embroidery hoop and acrylic), recycled plastic prints (using interesting patterns on plastic to print), masking tape and crochet string resists, and hand cut stencils.

Chloe Making an ImpressionMaking an Impression: Designing & Creating Artful Stamps by Geninne Zlatikis

This book makes you want you to design and make your own collection of stamps for printmaking. It begins with the basic principles of materials required and a selection of templates in the back in order to get you started, then delves into inspiring and exciting techniques.

Aside from creating your own stamps, techniques to try using them to create art work include: stamps with positive and negative space, experimenting with textures of surfaces you’re printing on, and how to create repetition through different angles and colours. There are inspiration ideas for how to use your stamps to create your own personal artwork, as well as a variety of projects to choose from: journals, pillows, t-shirts, and wall art to name a few. My favourite projects I look forward to creating are the bookplate and accordion journal. I’m also particularly excited about the cyanotype (sun printing) technique which I’ve never tried, and exploring positive and negative patterns.

Chloe The Printmaking BookThe Printmaking Book: Projects & Techniques in the Art of Hand-Printing by Vanessa Mooncie

This book also covers the techniques relief, screen, sun and mono printing in addition to image transfers and stencils; however it is aimed at transforming ordinary items with hand printed designs. Again techniques are accessible in that they are fun and easy to try at home, and templates are available to help get you started. From ceramic, lino, woodcut, silk and stencil screen printing, there are plenty of projects to try the techniques in: printed plastic jewellery, photographic transfers onto mirror, wallpaper, and solar plates (metal sheets coated in photosensitive polymer which are used as a printmaking surface).

Marbles, bottle and jar lids, string – you name it and I’ve been collecting it to try in printmaking since reading this book! I look forward to trying the book cover project and would be excited to use the silk printing technique. I’d also like to try the negative photograph cyanotype technique as I’d never heard of it before!

Chloe How to Print FabricHow to Print Fabric by Zeena Shah

This book explains everything you’ve ever wanted to know about creating beautiful hand-printed fabrics easily at home, and again this one has templates to get you started. It begins with the importance of mark making (one of the most exciting and experimental aspects in printmaking) and covers techniques including relief and stencilling. It progresses to screen printing for beginners (using an embroider hoop), and advanced stencil screen printing (using Photo Emulsion). It covers useful information about inks, dyes and fabrics and also has a section on the key concepts in print design, including positive and negative space, motifs and various repeat techniques. The rest of the book is brimming with twenty different techniques for printing on fabric, each followed by a simple sewing project. You can also mix and match printmaking techniques throughout the book for any of the sewing projects. Some examples of the techniques include: bleach mark printing, screen printing with freezer paper stencils, lint roller printing, and watercolour mark printing. A selection of projects include tablet sleeves, bean bags and Furoshiki cloths (ancient Japanese cloths used to wrap objects).

I’ve had some bad experiences sewing (perhaps it’s to do with the fact I can’t sew a straight line), but this doesn’t put me off any of the projects! I’d particularly like to use the lino block technique for the tablet cover project, and lino roller printing to make a Furoshiki wrapping cloth.

Chloe Art LabArt Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Paper and Mixed Media by Susan Schwake

This book is a fantastic reminder of how being playful in your approach to making art can produce fantastic results, (you’re never too old to experiment)! With around twenty pages dedicated to printmaking, instructions are easy to understand and ‘quick guides’ to the basic principles of the following techniques: found object, stencil silk screen, string, polystyrene, mono, stencil and relief printing. Each technique includes an example of an artist working with the medium which is inspiring and makes you pause to consider how you could push the boundaries of the technique further. This is the only book I’ve chosen that doesn’t contain templates or projects but this is fine – the results of experimenting with techniques are works of art in their own right.

I got excited about the gelatin technique as the author described it as their most favourite and addictive process! It’s a way of producing textural-looking, layered monoprints without a press… Ink floats on the surface of the gelatin so you can work on your print over a long period of time. However I want to do more research to check the process is animal friendly before trying it out!

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.