Here are seventeen books we recommend you read this year!
1. The Humans by Matt Haig
This book is about an alien’s trip to earth, but it’s also about what it means to be human. It’s funny and uplifting and it explains the difficulties and the joys of being alive.
2. Slade House by David Mitchell
This is a clever ghost story about a paranormal house. You never know whether you can trust what you’re reading.
Welcome to our new blog, where we hope to entertain and inform you about everything to do with Kensington and Chelsea’s libraries! Sign up for posts about fun things that that we do, events that we’ve organised, what our bookclubs think about their current read, and more. We’ll also be posting regularly about our special collections, so you can find out more about the treasures we have on our shelves…
We’ve got a marathon of John Byrne Cartoon Workshops today, starting right now at North Kensington Library, then moving on to Kensington Central Library (11.30am to 12.30pm), Chelsea Library (2 to 3pm) and then Brompton Library (3.30 to 4.30pm).
Marvel, as our cartoon workshop host flies from library to library… Gasp, as John leads the group through a fast paced and fun session which will get them copying his cartoons perfectly in the first five minutes… and doing their own cartoons by the end of the session!
Contact the library to book your free place for this National Libraries Day event!
Warning! Searching the online resource the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) can be addictive as “all human life is here”. Most people use this dictionary to search for a specific individual. However you may not be aware that using the advanced search options and selecting other search criteria will create lists of names of the great and the good… and also, it must be said, the not so good.
To use the advanced search facility, click on one of the “More Search Options” displayed beneath the main search box.
Curiosity led me to check how many people there were with Kensington and Chelsea links by using these terms in the ‘place search’ category option. The result was over 3000! However this figure is misleading, as a casual check of a few entries revealed that the connection was often limited either to their unfortunate death in one of the borough’s hospitals or attendance at one of the borough’s schools.
I whittled down the 1975 Kensington entries to 122 by selecting the “Law and Crime” category from the drop down list of occupations (found in the “Fields of Interest” search category). Amongst the list of lawyers and judges I found John Christie, the Notting Hill mass murderer.
You may wonder why he is included. The DNB does not only include the great and the good. To quote the website “the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is the national record of men and women who have shaped British history and culture, worldwide, from the Romans to the 21st century”. In the case of Christie, the miscarriage of justice leading to the hanging of the innocent Timothy Evans, to quote Christie’s DNB entry, “played a significant part to the subsequent abolition of the death penalty in Britain”.
Finally it is also worth investigating the “Themes” tab to display the large number of collective biographies brought together under such topics as climbers of Everest, British monarchs, First World War poets and significant military and political leaders involved in that conflict. Other lists include a number of founder members of institutions and other significant groups.
Lucy Yates, WW1 Centenary Project Support Officer, writes….
Do you know where shrapnel fell on Kensington during the First World War? That the Suffragettes started a nursery for WWI orphans near Notting Hill, or why Rodin gave eighteen of his sculptures to the V&A during the war?
You can find out all this and more by downloading the interactive scavenger hunt/ tour guide app ‘Huntzz’ on your smart device.
Designed in conjunction with local cadets, this interactive online walk (with ten clues for you to solve along the way) showcases the World War One history of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
The 236 cadets, pictured above with their leader, braved the late evening darkness to help map the World War One sites they’d researched so as to turn this information into a guided online walk of World War One heritage around the borough.
Last week, Brompton, Chelsea, Kensington Central and North Kensington libraries had the pleasure of hosting Canela Fina! who ran their “Quiero Bailar Flamenco” interactive Flamenco storytelling session in Spanish and English.
We hear a lot of Spanish as we’re floor-walking, especially after school when the kids have come into the library, so we expected a good turnout for this workshop – and we weren’t disappointed!
Not all the attendees were Spanish speakers, but amongst those who were, some came along in their own beautiful flamenco dresses.
For the others, workshop instructor Maria brought along all manner of accessories to help them get into that Spanish spirit: flowers, hair combs, bracelets and shawls.
Although most of the children started off a little shy and hesitant, by the end of the session there was plenty of rhythmic footwork and ¡Olé!s coming through the walls and ceilings as the children (alongside their parents and carers!) gradually lost their inhibitions and really threw themselves into the spirit of the dance! And who wouldn’t move to the familiar sound of Bamboleo? (Not strictly speaking a well-known flamenco song but undoubtedly Spanish!)
Everyone learnt some Spanish words and were really pleased they’d come to the session.
Celebrate and discover the amazing world of comics on Free Comic Book Day!
Taking place annually on the first Saturday in May, Free Comic Book Day is a single day when participating comic book specialist shops around the world give away comic books – and this year, for this first time, we are very pleased to have some free comics from Forbidden Planet to give away at some of our libraries.
Participating libraries will have a poster advertising they are taking part. It’s first come, first served, so if you are an avid comic fan, visit one of the participating libraries – Brompton, Kensington Central or North Kensington Library – on Saturday 2 May to pick up your special free copy.
What are we giving away? DC Comics: Divergence A first look at upcoming storylines, featuring three 8-page previews for the June releases of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman, as well as Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s launch of the “Darkseid War” within Justice League featuring the biggest villains in the DCU – Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor, and Gene Luen Yang’s DC Comics debut with celebrated artist John Romita, Jr on Superman.
Why not join the library and check out the graphic novel collection at the same time? All of RBKC’s lending libraries have a comics section, including great Manga titles at Brompton Library. If there’s something in particular you’re looking for, check the catalogue in advance to find out where it’s in stock. Once you’ve whetted your appetite, you should know that there will soon be a whole lot more for you to enjoy, as a recent big stock buy means that what you see on Saturday is just the start…
If you’ve suggestions for future stock, we’d love to hear your views – contact Customer Services Assistant David Bushell at Brompton Library. and Happy Free Comic Book Day!
“Good afternoon. My name’s Peter Grant, I’m from the police and this is my colleague Beverley Brook, who’s a river in south London.”
Rivers of London, p146
April in Libraries means CityRead, a London-wide book club, and this year’s book is the aptly named ‘Rivers of London.’ Part police procedural, part high fantasy complete with wizards, ghosts and vampires, Rivers of London is above all grounded in its setting – the grand, gritty, sprawling mass of London.
On Monday, author Ben Aaronovitch visited Kensington Central library as part of his tour of ALL the London boroughs (do check out his highly entertaining blog, wherein he charts this heroic journey). The event was a roaring success and it was followed later in the evening by the Central Library Reading group, who met to discuss the book.
It’s still not too late to pick up a copy at your local library – we even have some free copies to give away – and join the biggest book club in London. If you missed your local reading group, you can always share your thoughts about the book with us in the comments below.
I canvassed my colleagues – many of whom read and loved Rivers of London – for their quick reviews and thoughts.
Mike, Director of Libraries, wrote:
Harry Potter grows up and joins The Bill. Subterranean excitement, with murder and supernatural goings on along London’s lost rivers… whilst Rivers of London isn’t something I’d have chosen for myself I was very glad I read it and can also see exactly why it works so well as a CityRead title.
Librarian Sandeep, said:
A gripping series of books with great touches of London which you must get round to reading. Surely the TV series cannot be far away where Peter Grant and co would be brought to life! Also, look out for the graphic novel, which Ben is drip-feeding via his blog and Twitter.
Community Development Manager Chris, said:
It’s the best fiction book I have read in a long time. Ben’s love of the West End, where a lot of the book is set, and of London generally underpins the book and sets the scene, but the main joy of the story is the fascinating characters he has created and who develop as the books progress through a series of supernatural mysteries. When I first heard of the books I was doubtful I would enjoy them (I never liked Harry Potter for instance) but once you try them you are hooked!
Stock Librarian Sally said,
What I loved the most about Rivers of London was how, as a Londoner, I recognised so many of the places the story takes us – from Covent Garden to Wapping; the old school glamour of J. Sheekey Oyster Bar to the Bow Magistrates Court – but all with added little nuggets of history I never knew or suspected. This is a great book for Londoners; it made me love and appreciate my home city a little bit more.
And lastly, Adewale wrote:
A misleading title! I thought it was going to be a about the rivers of London! Was disappointed that neither the Rivers Quaggy nor Ravensbourne were mentioned – very good read, though!
Click here for more information about what’s on this month at your local library.
The Cityread London website has more information about what’s going on around London, and how you can get involved.
Now in its 17th year, World Book Day is a celebration of authors, illustrators and books and most importantly reading. Across the Triborough area it is a major event in the school year and we at Kensington Central Library were privileged to host the multiple award-winning children’s author Jeremy Strong. His titles include the “My brother’s famous bottom” series, the “Hundred-mile-an-hour dog” series and his latest title, “Romans on the rampage” He had an audience of over 250 people roaring with laughter when he visited the library on World Book Day, Thursday 5 March.
The interactive sessions were attended by 8 school classes, teachers and volunteers from Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea.
Jeremy kept everyone amused with tales of his childhood and the inspirations for his bestselling books. He explained why all writers need a fridge and shared with us his very first reworking of the legend of Jason and the Argonauts (written at the age of about 8 and complete with spelling mistakes and the castle door with no handle!). He also answered a range of burning questions and signed copies of his books which were available for sale.
As has become traditional on World Book Day, many pupils and teachers came along dressed as their favourite book characters so we had several Matildas (Roald Dahl), several Dr. Suess’s and a Captain Underpants (but, thankfully, no characters from “50 Shades of Grey”!)
As an encore, Jeremy kindly signed two books which will be the prize for an upcoming competition. Watch this space!
A big thanks to Jeremy and everyone who turned out to see him on that breezy morning.