Brompton’s March round-up

Our Brompton Librarians write:

Hello to all our lovely readers!

Well, it looks like spring has finally sprung around town. Without wishing to jinx it, let’s hope the rain stays away for a while because everything looks so much nicer in the sunshine!

On the 8th March we celebrated International Women’s Day, and made a display for it that included books by important female writers such as Mary Shelley and Margaret Atwood and non-fiction titles that explored the history of women’s rights. We also have a current display on historical fiction that will appeal to fans of Hilary Mantel, so come in and check it out!

Christian Stevens

Historical Fiction
Historical Fiction

Chatterbooks  

Chatterbooks is a huge success with the children in Brompton library; always buzzing with creative children wanting to share their ideas. This reading club encourages them to read books, write reviews, recommend the books to each other and on top of everything chatting a lot (hahaha!).

Most of the time the children will select a theme for their next meeting. This month the group decided to write about favourite books/authors/characters on the paper leaves and stuck them on a paper tree. They were so enthusiastic that they drew the pictures of their favourite characters as well. Then they displayed it on the Chatterbooks wall in the children’s library.

For the next Chatterbooks session in April, the children will be bringing one friend along and discussing Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo. Oh how noisy it will be? But we love it!!!! (to find out more, or to join our Chatterbooks group, please see the RBKC libraries website).

Babita Sinha

 Brompton Library Reading Group

 On Tuesday night (after a lively discussion about what West-End productions everyone had seen) we chatted about ‘A Tale for the Time Being’ by Ruth Ozeki. An author, living on a remote island in the States finds a washed-up Hello Kitty bag on the shoreline. Thinking that this must have come from the time of the tsunami, she opens it up to discover some documents and diaries inside. These include the diary of a Japanese teenager, a bright and vibrant girl whose family is really going through the ringer. Nao is very inspired however by her 106 year old great-grandmother -a Buddhist nun- and by the diaries of her great-uncle who details his training as a kamikaze pilot.

 Short-listed for the Booker Prize last year, Ozeki really drew praise from the group with regards to her creativity of story-line and her prose (particularly one member remarked) of Hiroshima and her great uncles animosity to serve for his country. We all loved the character of Nao and her great-grandmother especially, we felt this was much stronger than the author and her husband (maybe this was intentional).

As gruelling as it was in parts, it was a very inspiring read and it was great to see how Nao and her family’s characters evolved, hopefully for the better. The quantum mechanics section at the end let it down slightly, however we would still highly recommend this book (to find out more about our reading groups, or to join, please see the RBKC libraries website).

Katie Collis

 

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Bats, masks and bear-hunts…

 St Peter’s Nursery discovered the Notting Hill Gate Library when they visited us on Friday 17th January. They had a tour of the library and then an afternoon of story time. Snip Snap Alligator by Mara Bergman and We’re Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen were both part of the books read. The 3-4 year old enjoyed these immensely, they had a wonderful time!

We're going on a bear hunt!
We’re going on a bear hunt!

 Adrian, our Customer Service Assistant at Notting Hill Gate Library, really enjoyed the experience of reading to slightly older children: “I hope we can do this more often!” 

Saturday 25th January saw Carnival Mask making at the library. Two to nine year olds made fantastic colourful masks. They were then treated to an impromptu Baby Rhyme Time for the younger visitors which went down very well.

Getting crafty
Getting crafty
Making masks
Making masks

Our regular Story and Craft sessions are on the last Saturday of the month, however from April this will change to the first Saturday of the month.

 The eighth of February was National Libraries Day: Notting Hill Gate Library celebrated with a special Baby Rhyme Time, with stories, rhymes and songs with an enthusiastic audience. Then the parents and children joined in together to make paper Bat Planes and very quickly the air was full of flying bats to everyone’s amusement.

Bats!
Bats!

Last but not least…reading group news!

Two of our reading group members, Brenda Ferry and Janet Mayhew, celebrated after getting an award for Best Attendance in 2013 for the Notting Hill Gate Reading Group. Well done ladies!

Our two best attendees!
Our two best attendees!

The Brompton Blog – December 2012

Brompton Library
Brompton Library

Welcome to our fourth blog post from Brompton Library!

Reading Aloud

 

A Little Loud book cover
A Little Loud

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.

Katie Collis
Katie Collis

Katie Collis

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).

Brompton Chatterbooks

Chatterbooks
Chatterbooks

 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

Bitter Truths author event at Brompton
Bitter Truths author event at Brompton

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.

Stephanie Webb
Stephanie Webb

Stephanie Webb

Lending Librarian

TextTribe- Our New Online Reading Group

Text Tribe logo
Text Tribe logo

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.

The Book of Lost Things
The Book of Lost Things

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!

The Inheritance of Loss by Notting Hill Gate Library’s Reading Group

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
The Inheritance of Loss

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.

Ihssan Dhimi
Ihssan Dhimi

Ihssan Dhimi

Senior Customer Services Assistant, Notting Hill Gate Library

Blog post from Kensington Central Library- November 2012

Kensington Central Library
Kensington Central Library

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

Jodie Green, Lending Librarian
Jodie Green

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.

Staff suggestions display at Kensington Central Library in November 2012
Staff suggestions display at Kensington Central Library

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!

A witch reading a story at Kensington Central Library!
A witch reading a story at Kensington Central Library!

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.

Amanda Southern, Customer Services Manager
Amanda Southern, Customer Services Manager

Amanda Southern, Customer Services Manager

Q & A Session with 2012 Booker Prize winner – Hilary Mantel

The Man Booker Prize logo
The Man Booker Prize logo

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.

Bring Up the Bodies
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

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 Frostrup
Mariella Frostrup

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.

Best wishes Katie

Katie Collis
Katie Collis

Who is Katie Collis?

Katie Collis
Katie Collis

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!’ 

Rahima Begum-Miah
Rahima Begum-Miah

by Rahima Begum-Miah – Library Assistant

Booker Prize update

The 5th and penultimate book that I tackled on the Booker List was Deborah Levy’s Swimming Home. This is the shortest read out of all six, a mere 140 pages.

Swimming Home
Swimming Home by Deborah Levy

Set in the south of France, two couples who are renting a villa discover one morning a young woman in their swimming pool. This stranger is soon infiltrating their lives and testing everyone’s emotions. Who is this girl and what is she doing here?

In my opinion, the only good thing about this book was that it was mercifully short. I really do question why this book was even long-listed. I think that this author was trying to write like Salinger and create this real one-off character (the main protagonist), somebody that is volatile, vulnerable yet calculating. But I don’t feel this works; in fact it felt like the book was sucking the energy out of me! It is only my opinion at the end of the day and I do hope that other readers get something out of it.

Sadly I could not get to read all six books by tonight’s announcement! Am halfway through Wolf Hall (very good), but most people have been very effusive about Hilary Mantel’s follow up, Bring up the Bodies. The front cover is very captivating.

I was dreading this year’s crop but actually I am very glad that I have read them. I got to hang out in a Bombay opium den, excavated a pond in Malaysia, stood on a ferry gazing at the Hook of Holland and watched a woman in North London awaken after 50 years.

The Lighthouse
The Lighthouse

My personal favourite is The Lighthouse by Alison Moore – her characters are still stuck inside my head. However I do think that panel will opt for one of the Bookies favourites: Bring up the Bodies (Mantel) or Umbrella (Self).

Katie Collis
Katie Collis

Katie Collis

Booker Prize Reading Challenge – continued

The garden of evening mists
The garden of evening mists

The next book on my list to read was ‘Garden of Evening Mists’ by Tan Twan Eng. A brief (if I can be) premise of the book: It is after World War Two and a young Malaysian woman who has been involved in the Japanese war trials and still suffering the aftermath of the concentration camps arrives to the cloud drenched lands of Cameron in search of a man who was Gardener to the Emperor of Japan. She wants him to design a garden in memory of her sister but instead he takes her on as his Apprentice. This book (like Will Self’s Umbrella) spans different timelines.

This book is full of poetry and words which are really affecting – it makes you feel as if you are living inside this story. It is a story of exile – many of the characters are from different parts of the world but feel incredibly passionate and bitter about their homelands and about the people who they were fighting. The author also creates mysteries within the book and as the reader you need to piece it all together.

The only two downsides are that the plot has certain implausibility’s and you sometimes feel that you are being taught ‘things’. Overall though it is a beautiful and haunting book and I’ve learnt about a place and a time in history that I didn’t know about.

Katie Collis 

Katie Collis
Katie Collis