From Christian Stevens & David Bushell at Brompton Library:
On Thursday 3rd July Brompton Library hosted its first ever Graphic Novels reading group. We were discussing the frankly crazy yet genius fantasy graphic novel Saga (Volume 1) by Brian K Vaughan. The heat of the day was tempered by the special occasion refreshments and good company, some of whom we knew, along with some surprise visitors from elsewhere who shared our enthusiasm for the art form.
It was easy for the flow of conversation to get started as we laughed about the very adult themes in the book and the funny content, as well as a collective admiration for the artwork and storytelling within, along with our own personal stories of discovering the joys of graphic novels.
In the end it was all good fun and the feeling of something more regular and established was begun, with us looking forward to the next event – which is today, Thursday 6th August.
If you’re interested please come along! Don’t be shy. We will be discussing Chew by John Layman.
As we started these posts around this time last year we are proud to celebrate a full year of bloggery, fun and learning on the Old Brompton Road. This month we have been busy with class visits, craft /story-time events and our new homework club for children age 7-11 which has proved popular and is aimed at giving children extra support with their studies, hopefully helping to boost their confidence in school. Sessions run Tuesdays and Thursdays 15:30-17:00.
November 2013 sees a month-long celebration of Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful stories, marking his 70th birthday this year. We’re inviting book lovers, schools, libraries and bookshops nationwide to take part and celebrate 30 unmissable books by one of our greatest writers for children.
Throughout November the Michael Morpurgo website is hosting free teacher resources, brand new author videos, audio downloads and competitions, focusing on a different book each day. From War Horse to Beowulf and the Butterfly Lion to Kensuke’s Kingdom, celebrate 70 years of Michael Morpurgo’s stories this November.
We love Mr. Morpurgo so we have made a display with a selection of his work.
Half-term craft and events
One of our favourite rhymes at our usual Thursday morning Story Time is Incy Wincy Spider. So for our half-term and Halloween craft we made paper-plate spider webs. We punched holes around a paper-plate, wove wool through and across to make the web and then stuck on a spider.
For our monthly craft session we took inspiration from autumn leaves. We cut strips of card long enough to go around our heads, stuck on a length of double sided tape and then stuck leaves onto the tape to make a leaf crown. It was very quick and successful!
On Tuesday our Reading Group discussed The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers. Set around the cathedral of Chartres, it is about a woman called Agnes Morel who cleans the cathedral but also does odd jobs for various people of the town. Agnes is anxious to stay in the background and have a quiet life, after being brought up in the harsh environment of a nunnery and experiencing a pregnancy at a young age, and is determined to forge a new life. Despite this, she touches the hearts of the many people that she helps and slowly they acknowledge this lovely but troubled woman.
I think that all of us agreed that this was an easy book to read as it was so well written. Although the story weaved back and forth in time it was very convincing. The collection of the town’s characters was well conceived; especially the sniping and gossiping friends who are really enemies who gave it a comical but also tragic edge. After reading those Booker Prize novels, this book felt like slipping into a warm bath – a book that could be enjoyed on a cold winter’s day and with a few hours to spare.
It’s amazing what topics of conversation flow in our Reading Group – from discussing The Luminaries, we then discussed the equally Antipodean The Thornbirds. We then jumped onto great TV dramas that we had watched in the eighties such as The Far Pavilions, a Passage to India and The Jewel in the Crown. Listening and discussing various topics and sharing each other’s company is equally as important as discussing the monthly book – it is a cathartic and engaging experience.
Next month’s Reading Group book is Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I can’t wait to read this!
Hello and Happy New Year from everyone at Brompton Library!
Fortunately the world did not end on 21 December 2012 as some had predicted (based loosely on information regarding the Mayan calendar) which meant that most of us could make those last-minute present purchases, enjoy our Christmas lunches and join hands in a jolly rendition of Auld Lang Syne at 12.oo am on New Year’s morning. It also means that we could open the doors again on 2 January and welcome 2013 with some new events, promotions and books for our library customers.
If you have made any resolutions to get fitter and healthier then check out some of our lifestyle books with exercises and diet regimes to get in shape. Or maybe you are looking for a career change and can benefit from some of our work skills books to brush up on interview techniques and help get that new job. Plus we have loads of books on learning new skills, everything from playing the guitar to using that new smart phone Father Christmas left under the tree. We also have a hand sewing workshop with Eithne Farry in our meeting room on Tuesday 22 January!
Last week it was nice to receive positive comments from a customer who visits our library every week. She told us how she really liked the displays and staff recommendations that we put out, saying that these give her a good selection of new and interesting books that she can browse and take home.
Brompton Library Reading Group in 2013
So, what’s on the cards for our reading group this year? A whole plethora of stuff. Next month we will be discussing Ian McEwan’s newest novel, Sweet Tooth, a spy story set in 1960’s Oxford. This will be closely followed by the Cityread London choice for all of our groups, which is AWeek in December by Sebastian Faulks. Our group usually reads newly published fiction, but this year we are branching out into historical and crime drama. This includes John Grisham’s Calico Joe, an apparently weightier tome than his other books; although I find that it does exactly what it says on the tin! Others we are looking at are The Heat of the Day (World War Two espionage) and Jeanette Winterson’s The Daylight Gate (witches and witchcraft). I don’t think we could have picked a more diverse set of books to read!
Senior Customer Services Assistant
We all enjoyed making Christmas crafts after school on Thursday 20 December 2012.
Sixteen children of various ages got together to make a Christmas tree picture using hands cut from green paper. We stuck on spots & made other decorations. Using hand and feet shapes we made reindeer faces. Some children coloured Christmas shapes and others drew their own pictures. We also stuck together paper chains to decorate the children’s library.
Craft and art are popular activities in the library. One child asked ‘Can we do this again tomorrow?’
We have story and craft sessions during every school holiday – look out for posters in the children’s library for the next session and on our website.
Welcome to our fourth blog post from Brompton Library!
On Sunday I was preparing supper and listening to Radio 4. This group of Irish poets were reading out their poetry and discussing it amongst themselves. It immediately brought me into their environment, their history and above all, their imagination. I do hope that our display does offer something a little bit different to our reader’s here at Brompton Library.
Senior Customer Services Assistant
Christmas plans at Brompton Library
With only a few days till Christmas you would think that the amount of people using the service would be reducing, but our lovely library is still full of users borrowing books for the Christmas holiday period (including Christmas themed cookbooks, fiction and audio books to curl up with on the cold winter evenings, Christmas themed children’s books and our selection of festive audio CDs and DVDs for all the family). There are also lots of people making use of our computer and study area, completing end of term coursework assignments, booking flights, and exchanging seasonal greetings with friends and family members via social networking sites and email.
So we will be running a full service until Christmas Eve when we will close for three days and open again the day after Boxing Day (27 December).
Chatterbooks is a very popular reading group for children in Brompton Library. It is fun and free. The group focuses on reading and talking about books, but some sessions include word games, quizzes, plays or other book related activities. The children love reading and it is an ideal opportunity for them to enjoy books. The group meets once a month after school on Mondays. There are eight regular members of the group. There is generally a theme for each month. This month the group met on 17 December and the theme was Christmas.
Chatterbooks is an ideal way to promote a love of reading. Sessions are designed to give children confidence in speaking, writing and reading in a group, choosing books for themselves, and talking about what they like to read. It is fabulous to hear them enthusing over their reading and recommending books to other children.
Bitter Truths – Author Event
On a bitterly cold evening on 29 November Brompton hosted its first author event (in my living memory, anyway!). One of our reading group members has published her first trilogy of novels, collectively called the Samurai Revival, and gave a very professional presentation relating to the first in the series – Bitter Truths.
We had an audience of ten who were very appreciative and I think for our first venture into author events which was great.
Calling all readers in Kensington and Chelsea! Get involved in TextTribe, our new online reading group brought to you by us and our Triborough library partners Hammersmith and Fulham and Westminster.
Haven’t got time to go to a book group but always wanted to join one? Whether you’re at home looking after the kids or working long or unsociable hours, whether you want to discuss books with like-minded people or hear the views of a wide range of other readers – this group is for you. Once you’ve read the book we’re discussing, make your comments or join in with the discussion on out TextTribe site.
Our first book was ‘Sleepyhead’ by Mark Billingham, the first novel in his successful ‘Thorne’ series (and inspiration for the 2010 TV drama). As part of the launch of the group, Mark discussed this book at a live event in earlier this month at Kensington Central Library.
Don’t worry if you missed the event as videoed it especially for those who were unable to attend, and those who sent questions in via Twitter. Hope you enjoy watching them!
In the video he talks about how he became a crime fiction reader (being introduced to Sherlock Holmes at the age of 11 by a teacher), how he moved from being a TV writer and stand-up comedian to first reviewing (for the Ham & High newspaper) and then writing novels, and how Jean-Dominique Bauby’s ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ inspired the plot of ‘Sleepyhead’, his first book.
This video consists of Mark being introduced by David Ruse (Director of Libraries) and Mark’s talk. After his main talk he read a passage from ‘Sleepyhead’ (not filmed) and answered lots of questions.
Here are the four (short) videos of the Q & A sessions with Mark Billingham.
In Pt I, Mark talks about doing the research for his books, the nature of crime writing and the crime series genre, and how he is ambivalent about – and fond of – ‘Sleepyhead’, his first novel.
In Pt II, there are questions and answers about the writing process, why authors need publishers (and editors), and why Mark recommends John Connolly’s ‘The Book of Lost Things’.
In Pt III Mark Billingham talks about genre snobbery, Scandinavian crime writing, setting books in London, naming his characters and how he manages to write a book a year.
Pt IV includes his views on the common features of stand-up comedy and crime writing, how we are all capable of murder, and why he thinks that writer’s block is a myth.
Mark was an excellent guest many thanks to him.
Next Book for TextTribe?
We asked Mark to nominate the next book for the group, and he suggested ‘The Book of Lost Things’ by John Connolly, saying “It’s the last book that made me cry” and adding that it’s the sort of book that you press into friends’ hands, and if they don’t like it you don’t want to be friends with them any more! An excellent choice, and an interesting change – not a crime book, but written by a crime writer.
There will be copies of ‘The Book of Lost Things’ in all Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster Libraries, so get hold of a copy now!
Notting Hill Gate Library’s reading group met this week after reading Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss. It was a day of sharing stories. We found that the book had inspired us to talk about some of the key themes covered by the author such as immigration, class, background and poverty.
We talked about our personal experiences in these areas and of those we knew about. We spoke about the countries we had visited and the difference in attitudes that changed from place to place. We spoke about how attitudes and behaviours have changed over time and then over our lifetime.
The title, The Inheritance of Loss, raised lots of questions such as does the family you are born into determine who you will be? Did some of the characters in the story have no hope of success as they had already inherited the loss by simply being born? Is there hope? Is it possible to be successful despite not being born into success?
The Inheritance of Loss is a strong book covering strong subjects. One thing we all agreed on, this book took us on a rollercoaster of emotions.
Senior Customer Services Assistant, Notting Hill Gate Library
One of the best things about working in a library is chatting to our customers about books and authors. An even better thing is finding out which authors we mutually admire and adore.
One of these authors is Patrick Leigh Fermor. He was a young man of 17 when he decided to walk, in 1933, from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople . He later wrote what was to be become a trilogy of those wanderings, A Time of Gifts (published 1977), Between the Woods and the Water (published 1986) but the third instalment wasn’t published.
Patrick would go on to have many adventures, including one particularly audacious episode. During World War II he and his band of brothers on the island of Crete kidnapped a German General, Kriepe, and they blagged their way through 30 different checkpoints and escaped to Egypt. This would not have been successful had it not been for Patrick’s convincing impression of a German officer and his total belief in this daring enterprise. This was turned into a film, starring Dirk Bogart, called Ill Met By Moonlight.
I could say a thousand things about why this author is so inspiring, but apart from his thirst for knowledge, places and language he loved people above all else, their culture, heritage, habits and traditions. That was why he was such a compelling story teller and a great raconteur.
Patrick died last year at the age of 96. I was gutted not to have met my hero and I feared that the remaining part of his journey had died with him. So I was delighted when one of our readers popped in last week to tell me that the third part of the trilogy will be published next year! Entitled The Broken Road, this will cover the remaining part of his journey.
His biography was published last week, Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure by Artemis Cooper. This is already getting rave reviews so put a reservation on it before anyone else does!
We were so impressed with the monthly blog post from our colleagues at Brompton Library that the staff at Kensington Central Library decided we just had to join in!
Each month we’ll tell you about the fantastic services on offer at the central library for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, such as any special events we’ll be holding and we’ll also introduce you to the staff. We hope you’ll enjoy finding out more about Kensington Central Library but please do let us know via the comments section if you’d like us to cover anything else.
Kensington Central Library’s New Lending Librarian
As part of the new Tri-Borough structure Kensington Central Library has a Lending Librarian, Jodie Green.
I look after all lending stock at Kensington Central Library – this means all the items you can borrow from the library such as books, CDs, DVDs, audio books and even eBooks! If we don’t have an item which you think we ought to have in stock, we have stock suggestion books in the adult and children’s libraries- please just speak to a member of staff & they’ll jot it down. Looking for something to read in a hurry? We always have a display of books recommended by our staff, it’s right by the new enquiry desk near the library entrance.
Jodie Green, Lending Librarian
Kensington Central Library’s Reading Group
Our group at Kensington Central Library meets in the evening, on the third Monday of each month to discuss their latest read. At the moment, the group benefits from private use of the Local Studies area after it closes, where they can freely enjoy a round table discussion. Attendance averages between 8-11 members, with a good mix of age and gender, which makes for lively debate. It’s sometimes a shame that I have to remind them when the library is closing – whereas I’m sure they’d happily continue into the night! Each month, at the end of the session, the group hand me a list of titles that they wish to read. It’s my job to source as many copies as possible of their preference, in time for the group’s next meeting.
Kensington Central Library’s Reading Group is open to all and welcomes new members. This month (November) the group are reading ‘Cider with Rosie’, by Laurie Lee. It’s not necessary to register – so if you like to talk about books, why not pop along and join in?
Amal Sakr, Senior Customer Services Assistant
Halloween Story and Craft session- Thursday 1st November 2012
Although Halloween was the previous day, the children’s area in Kensington Central Library was home to spider-webs and spooky goings on for the half term story and craft session. A story about a witch’s cat grabbed the attention and imagination of the twenty or so children who attended, inspiring them to decorate a simple cat-shaped mask with spangles, fluff and colours of their choice. A great time was had by all, and with the promise of another story and craft session over the Christmas holidays many will be back again to hear a tale and make something lovely to take home! I was the storyteller and I was helped by 3 other members of library staff and various parents and guardians!
Gemma Baker, Senior Customer Services Assistant
Kensington Central Reference Library: Information Event
I will introduce myself and what I do at Kensington Central Reference Library in the next blog post but I wanted to tell you about a brilliant event that will be happening next week.
On Monday 12th November, 11.00am-6.30pm the Open University will be here. If you haven’t studied with The Open University before, or you have had a few years away from study, this event is for you! Come along for an informal conversation to get answers to your questions about qualifications and modules, study methods and other aspects of learning with The Open University. No appointment necessary- just drop in.
Nina Risoli, Reference Librarian
And a final word from the Customer Services Manager at Kensington Central Library:
I have been involved in the training of the library staff in using the self service kiosks that have recently been installed in the library. This means that staff are able to confidently support customers with the new technology. The new sorter machine which is used to return library items is proving particularly popular with children who are enjoying returning their books, CDs and DVDs this way. We have had lots of positive comments from customers about our new look lending library. The children’s and young people’s library is currently undergoing building works and both our customers and our staff are looking forward to the reopening of it before Christmas. Whilst this space is being made brighter and better, we are still offering a range of children’s stock in our temporary children’s area and continuing with our extremely popular baby rhyme time and storytime sessions.
On Thursday night (18th October) I attended a question and answer session with this year’s Booker Prize winner, Hilary Mantel for her book Bring Up The Bodies. Hosted by the delectable Mariella Frostrup, there was a really funny moment (in the beginning) when the introducer stumbled over her name 3 times which she found very amusing.
This week, Hilary Mantel won the Booker Prize for the second time, but more remarkably won it for parts 1 and 2 of her trilogy about the life of Thomas Cromwell, the right hand man of Henry VIII. She is also the only woman and the first British person to win it twice.
Mariella started by saying that in Mantel’s acceptance speech back in 2009 that she would spend her winnings on ‘sex and drugs and rock n’ roll’ to which Hilary said that she paid off her mortgage instead, saying that was just a line for the media. She said that on Tuesday’s award ceremony this week her heart was thumping nineteen to the dozen. She appreciated the fact that the head judge did not do an X-Factor style 20 seconds pause but just launched into who the winner was. She was utterly overwhelmed about winning and she felt overjoyed.
Mantel also touched on how the judges went about longlisting and shortlisting, as she herself has been a judge she could give an accurate account about how daunting the whole process was. She gave praise to this year’s judging panel, in the past they had nearly always voted by a show of hands, but apparently they all reached a consensus which she felt was very mature. Mariella asked her that now she has won twice did it give her confidence to write the next part of the trilogy? Mantel said not really, at the end of the day a blank page is a great equalizer, however she felt as a result of these awards that she had faith in her characters, which was a great starting block.
Throughout the Q&A, Hilary read some excerpts from Bring Up The Bodies which was really entertaining, she brought the text alive and her different voices for each character made it feel like a play. She also engaged with the audience; she tried to answer the questions whilst including everyone in her replies.
There were some really great questions from the audience, such as: do you have the third book in the trilogy all mapped out? Her answer was that it has virtually all been plotted out, but the story needs to be put in. A follow-up question: did the author go off in unexpected directions with any of her books? She said that she did, and the books turned out especially different from one another i.e. Wolf Hall is based over a number of years and even goes back to England at the very beginning of its history, whereas Bring Up The Bodies is set over a period of 9 months of Thomas Cromwell’s life, where Henry VIII is growing tired of Anne Boleyn as she is failing to deliver him an heir.
Mariella ended the session by asking Mantel about the final part of the trilogy, adding we all know the inevitability of Thomas Cromwell’s fate. Mantel’s big reveal – duh duh duhh, was that the third book will not be the fall and decline of Thomas Cromwell, but the rise and rise of Thomas Cromwell, to which Mariella joked that she was writing a fourth book! Mantel is adamant that it will be a trilogy but you get the impression that she is half in love with this man; she did say that she has been with this great man for one decade, although with her husband for four decades.
Katie Collis runs the monthly Reading Group at Brompton Library. In addition to her recent reviews of the 2012 Man Booker shortlist, each month she will discuss a book that has caught her attention:
‘My Reading Group are a talented lot and their families are no exception. One of them was kind enough to give me a free copy of her daughter’s book, The Harbour by Francesca Brill. Set in Hong Kong prior to the Japanese invasion in 1940 it follows the romance between Stevie Stieber (journalist) and Major Harry Field, who is investigating suspicious political activity on the island. This tracks the journey of their relationship amidst the decadence of colonial life and through the desperate traumas of war. I was really blown away by this book, I think that the author has penned a thoroughly believable novel and all the strings in the plot fit well together. Brill never shies away from the tough aspects of war and for me it was a chance to learn more about the history of the island. I highly recommend this book. Amazon have also named Francesca Brill as one of their ‘Rising Stars’!
At Brompton library, customers often praise our wonderful collection of books and book displays. Last week Saturday, an American tourist commented on what she described as an extensive collection of ‘amazing books’ that is ‘plentiful’ She remarked on the differences between libraries in San Francisco and Brompton library, wondering whether there are any other libraries in the Kensington and Chelsea area that offer a wider range of books. When I described the collection held at our other branches that are even bigger than Brompton, she exclaimed ‘Wow!’