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.
When I first started doing the under-5s at Chelsea I had no experience at all, in fact I had come from delivering the housebound service in Hammersmith, so I was used to dealing with the very elderly who were often slow on their feet and very polite. I was in no way prepared for the chaos of pre-schoolers: the tired and distracted mothers and the nannies on their mobiles.
My God they were a tough audience!
I soon realise why so many people were reluctant to take on the responsibility. Some fellow workers were not brave enough to put on the baritone voice of the ogre in The Three Billy Goats Gruff.
There was almost a sense that the children’s library should be free of noise and chaos.
Did we really need class visits when books were left strewn across the carpet? Well, yes we did! We needed to embrace the chaos.
I soon developed a taste for amateur theatrics and found myself thinking my way inside Mr Bear’s mind in the wonderful ‘Peace At Last’ where the adults are amused by Mr Bear’s wretched sleepless night, his snoring wife and the horrible brown letter from the Inland Revenue which appears at the end and is clearly responsible for the wiggly lines etched round his eyes.
Last month I was sent on a story-time training session in Barnet where I hoped to pick up some new tips.
Would there be some hints on puppetry?
How to throw your voice or even a magic spell to aid concentration?
The session in Barnet was led by three high octane women. They had a personal interest in all the stories and like fans of music they felt a special relationship with Lucy Cousins and Jez Alborough. They had taken ownership of the books. Their enthusiasm was a little daunting for the first timer. I both appreciated the course and squirmed with embarrassment at having to sit on a small inflatable ring in a mock-up of a farm yard. Story-time means you have to let go, become cartoonish, engage the children with eye contact and big swirling gestures.
What I learnt is that repetition in a story is great, less text too, stories that elicit a call and answer response and some of those almost silent books such as ‘Hug’ which repeat one word over and over are the best. Most important of all don’t be afraid of repeating the same story. They will soon know Jack and the Beanstalk by heart.
We had a busy Summer Reading Challenge party and began with some themed record breaker questions for the completers. No one was prepared for the weird questions quizmaster Vince Symmons prepared: the length of the longest nose hair or the greatest distance covered by a skate-boarding goat?
Answers on a postcard please.
The more absurd the question the better the children responded.
Story-craft this month was structured around monsters. Di devised some brilliantly huggable creatures with folding arms and big furry bodies – a bit like an angry sporran. Earlier we designed frogs with red woollen tongues and a squashed fly on the end.
We also had a visit from the Holland Park ecology centre. The staff brought cockroaches and millipedes to the library and they did very well with our very own two-legged mini beasts!
By DanielJeffreys Customer Service Assistant, Chelsea Library
John McHugo headlined Kensington Central library on Tuesday 20th October with a talk based around his book ‘Syria: A Recent History’ as well as addressing both current and future concerns for the country and putting them in a wider context.
130 people attended this inaugural event of the Nour Festival which concluded with an intensive and thorough Q&A before John signed copies of his book. It was all made possible through partnership working with Saqi books who also sold copies on the night and Nour who continue to have an excellent range of events and provided assistance on the day.
We were especially pleased to invite John McHugo back after his appearance in 2013 as part of The London History Festival. This year’s festival runs for 10 days and commences on 16 November with the line-up including Marc Morris, Jessie Childs, Max Hastings, Tom Holland, Helen Castor, Dan Jones and more.
Our next event at the library which was also part of the Nour Festival was on Saturday 31st October, entitled ‘Site Unseen: Safeguarding MENA (Middle East and North African) Cultural Heritage.’ It was a panel discussion with 4 academics about the ongoing crisis of preserving Middle East heritage, looking at the current state of archaeological sites and artefacts, the laws on the protection of heritage during conflict, the illicit trade of artefacts, and rescue and educational remedies in the field.
Chris Riddell was appointed Children’s Laureate in June in recognition of his prolific body of work as an illustrator and writer of children’s literature. Originally a political cartoonist for The Economist and currently The Observer (check out his drawings of Putin on the Iron Throne and other disturbingly accurate caricatures of our politicians), he is now best known for his beautifully detailed illustrations of strange characters, monsters and fantastic creatures in books for kids, most notably theEdge Chronicles by Paul Stewart.
We wanted to pay our respects to this home-grown talent with a humble display showcasing some of the books available in our libraries that feature his work. Resident library assistant and fellow illustrator, David Bushell created the poster and found a great selection of titles which have proved to be popular with the younger readers.
As you all know, Chatterbooks is the monthly reading group for 8 to 12 yr olds and is a forum for young book lovers to discuss and discover authors and titles they have enjoyed.
At this week’s session we concentrated on the “discovering” as we explored the weird but decidedly wonderful world of augmented reality books. For those who haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, with the help of a tablet and a free downloadable app the books come to life. Thanks to the stock team we had one book on dinosaurs and another on the solar system. In the iDinosaur book we watched a dinosaur hatch from its egg, another one walked out of the book, onto the carpet and under the table, roaring as it went.
With the help of the solar system app (iSolarSystemAR) all the planets were orbiting around the sun in (Learning) Space! The children and parents were suitably impressed and amazed and were all keen to have a go with the library iPads. Many thanks to Sally from the Stock Team, and Fiora for helping me with the two books shared between 6 children!
After exhausting the possibilities of the books, they had time to write a few lines about what they had just seen and start on a dinosaur and solar system word search.
So, it wasn’t a typical Chatterbooks session but I think our eyes were opened not only to the subjects of dinosaurs and the planets but also to new ways of learning and interacting with new technology. Now we’re buying more books and exploring more opportunities for showing them off to our users, young and old!
If you’d like to see the books in action with ipads, give Brompton a ring and we’ll arrange a mutually convenient time for you to come along and try them out. Alternatively, you can borrow an augmented reality book and use your smart device to bring them to life.
We’ve gathered all the contenders and winners of the UK’s most popular literary awards in one place! So if you’re keen to read a whole shortlist, want to know what all the fuss is about a particular winner, or are just looking for a great book to read – take a look. All our book lists link straight in to the library catalogue, so you can find out which libraries hold copies of the book you’re after and whether they’re available (you can reserve from here too).
The book awards we feature include the Man Booker, Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, the Specsavers National Book Award and many more!
Why not try The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (above) – winner of the 2014 Waterstones Book of the Year, winner of Book of the Year and Best New Writer in the 2014 Specsavers National Book Awards. This is a wonderful read set in 1686 Amsterdam. It follows eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman as she arrives from a small village to the Amsterdam household of merchant trader Johannes Brand, her new husband. A gripping story unfolds as she is given a cabinet by her husband containing an exact replica of their house.
Take a look too through the excellent shortlist for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, including the latest book by Sarah Waters: The Paying Guests. The winner will be announced in just a couple of weeks!
Each time a new shortlist is announced, the lists are refreshed – but we are gradually building a ’round up’ list of past prizewinners, so you can always be sure to find some great quality reading.
David, Customer Services Assistant at Brompton library, writes:
Friday the 13th is usually said to be unlucky, although it usually turns out alright for me personally. The last one was no exception, as I was given the enviable task of visiting Gosh!, a Graphic Novel institution located in Berwick Street, in deepest Soho, to see what goodies we will be receiving from our local independent supplier.
Friday the 13th (the comic book) was fittingly on display, as were a diverse array of other titles spanning all the genres. As someone who has long been a ‘fellow traveler’ of the graphic novel community, whilst not being totally immersed, I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer range and beauty of these books. Many are truly collectors’ items for a reason; much of the art is staggering, and there is often as much depth as any traditional novel or non-fiction reportage. It’s easy to dismiss Graphic Novels as merely famous superheroes with their underpants on the outside of gaudy tights, but whilst this is a staple of the medium, there’s so much more to be discovered. Luckily for me and the good people of Kensington and Chelsea, a new range of stock will be coming our way in the coming weeks, straight from Gosh! and expertly curated by the personable manager of the store, Andrew.
We are also planning miscellaneous stock picks by yours truly and other members of staff, although input from our customers is most welcome – so please feel free to let us know of any stock suggestions you may have! Also keep an eye out for Free Comic Book Day on May 2nd; there’ll be many goodies to be had! Watch this space…
Katie Collis, Brompton Library, writes: Here at Brompton Library we thought it would be fitting to celebrate the life of Sir Terry Pratchett, whose books were loved by millions of people all over the world.
I asked the staff at Brompton which books they particularly liked and, not surprisingly, I had very different responses.
Christian: “As a kid I loved comedy shows on TV, everything from Fry and Laurieto Red Dwarfand The Detectives but when it came to reading, I was only interested in dark horror books by Stephen King and James Herbert or science fiction comics. Terry Pratchett changed all of that for me.
When a friend introduced me to the Discworld novels I became addicted to the series, as it seemed to capture the kind of Monty Python humour that I loved, but in a fantasy novel setting. I really connected with the sarcasm and humour of the characters, especially Rincewind the Wizard and Death who seemed to possess very human qualities despite such a fantastical setting. Terry Pratchett should rightly be remembered as a national treasure, whose quintessentially British wit and incredible imagination will be enjoyed by young and older readers for a very long time to come. RIP Sir.”
Elisabeth: “There is nobody quite like Terry Pratchett. His books could be sly and tongue-in-cheek, but always witty and warm too. The first book I read was ‘Guards! Guards!’ after which I wanted to read more about this fantastic world he had created. There were so many enjoyable characters: Captain Vimes and Constable Carrot – and not forgetting the Librarian!”
Katie: “At school, I watched lots of children devouring Pratchett’s books but it wasn’t until my early twenties that I randomly picked up ‘Good Omens’(which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman) and instantly loved the world and characters they both created. I really enjoyed the TV productions of ‘The Colour of Magic’ and other Discworld programmes which led me onto reading his books. I really admired his unflinching and unsentimental approach to his illness and his contributions to developing treatments for Alzheimer’s and dementia. In this he has left a legacy and a legion of books that will be loved again and again.”
What do you like about your library? Well, we had plenty of responses to this question on National Libraries Day, Saturday 8th February, and they were all inspiring: interesting, heart-warming and fun in equal measures!
Books featured quite heavily:
This is where our baby got a passion for books! Thank you.
(I love) Having access to such an astonishing number of wonderful books!
A fantastic place to bring my children, great books
A whole new world of interest in places and stories found in the books.
And so did the staff:
Enjoyable, quiet, and the staff are really helpful
I like this library because the staff are polite
We love the library, libraries have the best books & lovely staff. Keep it going.
Would hate to be without it – and thanks to the splendid librarians!
And some more thought provoking ones:
Basic human rights! To read, to learn, to use your imagination, to be entertained, to save paper…for free!
A place to learn and feel safe and warm without fear.
Access to knowledge and to life.
Libraries have been a part of my life since childhood
Comments on particular resources:
A huge amount- great selection of all types of books together with a fashion reference library upstairs!
Access to online resources.
Computers & Fantastic resources
And of course everyone loves Baby Rhme Time!
This Library is my daughter’s favourite place. Baby Rhyme Time is so much fun! Many thanks for everything!!
Thank you very much Adrian for all the songs & stories
We love Baby Rhyme Time keep the good work up
Great Baby Rhyme Time here at the library!
Joy, joy, joy, joy!
There were far too many to mention all in one blog post but thank you everyone for contributing!
As part of our celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, one of our Triborough Stock Librarian, Elin Jones has written about the various adaptations of this wonderful book.
On learning the script for the TV series, Jennifer Ehle who played the part of Elizabeth Bennet said:
It’s the hardest dialogue I’ve ever had to learn. Shakespeare is a doddle compared to Jane Austen. I think this is essentially because the sense of the line comes at the end of it and also the lines are much longer. When I get to the end of a sentence I usually say, “Oh, I see!” and then I have to go back and read it again. Sometimes the thoughts are quite convoluted – you do all these hairpin bends – so it takes some getting used to. But it’s like anything – by the end I found it much easier to learn. It’s like learning another language.
Pride and Prejudice was a six-hour, one million pounds per episode production: an estimated 40 million Brits watched as the book was brought to life in 1995.
3. The Hero
The perfect Regency hero, Colin Firth, shot to fame in his role as Mr Darcy. You need go no further than the lake scene to realise his suitability for the role! The Guardian called it ‘one of the most unforgettable moments in British TV history’
Colin Firth felt he was the last person who should play the part. He thought he just wasn’t sexy enough, and had major doubts about his ability to bring the character to life. He said:
You really can’t walk into a room and start acting your socks off, and doing all sorts of ambitious things, because Darcy wouldn’t do that. But not doing anything is one of the most difficult things about acting.
It was the scripts that made Colin change his mind. There’s more information about this on the BBC website.
Other actors who have played the role include Lawrence Olivier, Matthew McFayden, Peter Cushing, Patrick Macnee (!) and David Rintoul, whilst Greer Garson and Keira Knightley have embraced the role of Elizabeth Bennett.
In the second annual Regency Awards, held by the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, Colin Firth’s 1995 portrayal of Mr Darcy received more than half of all votes cast.
What modern day Darcy would you like to see in the role? Let us know in the comments section below!
4. The Adaptation
Andrew Davis adapted the book for TV, and went on to do Vanity Fair and Sense and Sensibility as well as writing the screenplay for Middlemarch and collaborating on the screenplay for both Bridget Jones films.
5. The Music
Carl Davis wrote the music score for the series and used Beethoven’s septet in E Flat Major, Opus 20 as the inspiration for his music. The Barley Mow was used as dance music.
Lyme Park in Cheshire was used for the filming of Pride and Prejudice.
7. Further Films and Books
As well as the Bridget Jones offshoots where Colin Firth ‘reprised’ the role of Darcy, there are other films and books that have emerged or have connections to the original novel.
Lost in Austen, a mini TV series about Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper), a devoted Jane Austen fan, unsatisfied with her life and relationship in modern day London. Her very ordinary existence is changed forever when she discovers Elizabeth Bennet (Gemma Arterton) in her bathroom and ends up replacing her in the ‘real’ fictional world of Pride and Prejudice.