Books we love…

Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo reviewed by Anton from Victoria Library!

Book cover of Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo

Pedro Páramo is a short book (less than 150 pages), but it is a very important book.  

Published in 1955 it is a precursor of the “magic realism” movement so important in latin-american literature and is cited as an important influence by authors such as García Márquez, Vargas Llosa, Carlos Fuentes or Jorge Luis Borges. The author, Juan Rulfo is admired by writers all around the world, from Susan Sontag or Günter Grass to Gao Xingjian or Kenzaburo Oe. 

In the beginning of the book we follow Juan Preciado, who promises her mother on her deathbed to travel back to her childhood town of Comala and look for his father (“Pedro Páramo” hence the title).  

Comala is a kind of purgatory, a place where the present and the past mix, the people that we meet there are mostly ghosts from the past of the town when it was a lively place and not the dusty desert that it has become. Through their voices we hear the story of Pedro Páramo, or Don Pedro as he was known at the time. He was a successful landowner who would always get what he wanted through money, intimidation or violence. But he was also an unhappy man, unable to have enjoyment or connect with others. We find that he had one true love in his life, Susana San Juan, which was his childhood sweetheart but then moved away from Comala. When Susana returns to the town as a widow Pedro is determined to “get her” one way or another…spoiler ahead…it doesn’t end well. 

Rulfo’s prose is mostly straightforward but this is a complex work; the fragmentary perspective defines the book, going from first person to third person, from the present to the past. The story becomes complicated with many voices interrupting the main narrative to tell their little own tales. It’s a book about hopes and dreams, death and redemption. 

There aren’t many books quite like this: a really small work but with a large lasting impact in literature throughout the world. 

If you would like to borrow a copy from our libraries, use our catalogue to make a reservation:

You can also visit one of our branches (which are currently operating with a reduced service).


Book Awards Announced Recently

With award season in full swing the longlist for the Women’s Fiction prize has been announced.

*Copies of the books are available for Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea Libraries.

To search the Kensington and Chelsea Libraries catalogue, click the link below:

You can select and collect the book or alternatively many are available to download via our new Libby app or via Cloud Library.

This year’s longlist honours both new and well-established writers and a range of genres and themes – family (twins and siblings, mother-daughter relationships); motherhood; rural poverty and isolation; addiction; identity and belonging; race, class and gender; grief and happiness; coming-of-age and later life. The novels span a range of different global settings, from South London to Deep South US; Ghana, Hong Kong, Barbados, Brooklyn and a fantasy realm.

*some books will be available soon or are currently on a waiting list.

Shortlist to be announced 28th April Winner announced 7th July


The Bookseller has shortlisted its books of the year in various categories:


Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell

The Evening and the Morning – Ken Follett

The Lying Life of Adults – Elena Ferrante

The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

The Mirror and the Light – Hilary Mantel

The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett

Fiction: Debut

Exciting Times – Naosie Dolan

Ghosts – Dolly Alderton

Shuggie Bain – Douglas Stuart

The Girl with the Louding Voice – Abi Dare

Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid

Rainbow Milk  – Paul Mendez

Fiction: Crime and thriller:

The Guest List – Lucy Foley

Troubled Blood – Robert Galbraith

The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman

The Sentinal – Lee Child

The Patient Man – Joy Ellis

A Song for Dark Times – Ian Rankin


The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman

The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

Troubled Blood – Robert Galbraith

A Promised Land -Barack Obama

Grown Ups – Marion Keyes

Greenlights – Matthew Mcconaughy

Piranesi- Susanna Clarke

Think like a Monk – Jay Shetty

Sandman – Neil Gaiman

Non-Fiction: Narrative

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough

Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty

Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day by Captain Sir Tom Moore

Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake

Me And White Supremacy by Layla F Saad

Non-Fiction: Lifestyle

Not a Diet Book by James Smith

Skincare by Caroline Hirons

Nadiya Bakes by Nadiya Hussain

Think Like a Monk – Jay Shetty

Five Minute Mum: Give Me Five by Daisy Upton

What Mummy Makes by Rebecca Wilson

Check out these great titles from Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea Libraries.


10 titles have been nominated for The Bookseller’s YA book of the year, with the winner being announced on 6th May 2021 during the Hay festival. Wide ranging subjects feature in the books, and all titles are available from Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea libraries.

Our favourite children’s books (and a quiz!) at Kensal Library

Children's area at Kensal Library
Children’s area at Kensal Library

Here at Kensal Library we boast a colourful and friendly area for the many children that come through our doors on a daily basis. The library has a range of fiction to suit the demands of these young people, and our reservation shelves are often filled with exciting stories about pirates, fairies, spies, talking bears, crime fighting cows and more. (If you’d like to reserve a book – just speak to a member of staff).

I was thrilled at the chance to showcase some of my childhood favourites, alongside some of the most popular junior fiction in recent days. We are particularly proud of our collection and, as the Summer Reading Challenge commences, felt now was the perfect opportunity to introduce our readers to some of the best-loved characters and stories around.  Therefore we have a vibrant new display with facts and pictures introducing books to suit all tastes and ages. We’re sure any young visitor will find something to sink their teeth into in the summer sun.

Kensal Library would love to hear what your most cherished children’s stories are, so feel free to drop by and fill in one of our display cards so that other young people can read about the heroes and adventures that you hold dear.

Quiz time!

Quiz time
Quiz time

To celebrate the wealth of stories available in Kensal and local libraries across the nation I’ve compiled a quiz. Below I have included some quotes from the most well-liked children’s books of the last few centuries.

Do you recognise them?  Answers are at the bottom of the page!

  1. “We have so much time and so little to do. Strike that, reverse it.”
  2.  “Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR G.G., CHIEF OF ORDNANCE”
  3.  “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
  4.  “Grab a chance and you won’t be sorry for a might-have-been.”
  5.  “I stopped believing there was a power of good and a power of evil that were outside us. And I came to believe that good and evil are names for what people do, not for what they are.”
  6. “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
  7. “Where’s Papa going with that axe?”
  8.  “In an old house in Paris That was covered with vines, Lived twelve little girls In two straight lines . . .”
  9. One, two! One, two! And through and through, The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! He left it dead, and with its head He went galumphing back.
  10. ” . . . and he sailed off through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are.”
  11. “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.”
  12. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

 Quiz answers….

  1. Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  3. The Wind in The Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  4. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
  5. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  6. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  7. Charlotte’s Webb by E.B White
  8. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
  9. The Jabberwocky from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carrol
  10. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  11. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A Milne
  12. Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone (Albus Dumbledore of course!)

Sophie Rose, Customer Services Assistant

Kensal Library

Mystery Book Bags at Brompton Library

Mystery Book Bags
Mystery Book Bags at Brompton Library

For the whole of September Brompton Library experimented with trying to tempt our readers into taking a “mystery” bag of 3 books. After a quiet summer we wanted to inspire our readers to discover something new. A colleague kindly supplied some sturdy paper bags and Customer Service Assistant at Brompton Library, David Bushell designed an eye-catching label- the idea for which was of love hearts emanating from a human head, to show how reading and learning can release endorphins in the brain. David said: “I’m not sure if this has been scientifically proven but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is true! It certainly releases endorphins in my brain, in the same way that exercise, music and good company does”.

Choosing what to put in the mystery bags was a great challenge: the fun was trying to select books which our readers might not necessarily pick up from the shelf. This could be a book set in another country or in another culture entirely. Within the fiction section at Brompton Library there are a range of genres, so I felt that mixing those up was a good idea. Sometimes I think we all like to stick to just one type of author or series of books, so all in all I think the mystery bag offered new worlds for our readers to explore!

Stephanie Webb

Stephanie Webb – Lending Librarian