Tag Archives: Brent

Books and Mental Health: The Shock of the Fall

“Mental illness turns people inwards […] It keeps up forever trapped by the pain of our own minds, in the same way that the pain of a broken leg or a cut thumb will grab your attention, holding it so tightly that your good leg or your good thumb seem to cease to exist.” – Nathan Filer, The Shock of the Fall

I really feel that this book tried as much as possible, within the confines of the written word, to take us into the mind of someone struggling to deal with the introspective nature of a mental illness. The reality that no one else can see these struggles can make a person feel they are going mad before the symptoms have begun manifesting themselves physically outside of their heads.

“I can only describe reality as I know it. I’m doing my best, and promise to keep trying.” – Nathan Filer, The Shock of the Fall

The Shock of the Fall is refreshing for not having a schizophrenic protagonist who spends the entire novel talking to himself and clutching his head in a dark corner of a room. I think Filer’s done a great job of giving more substance to something which can too often be viewed under one umbrella – not all mental health sufferers look the same, and not everyone deals with these issues the same way. In this book, Matt, despite his illness and outbursts, shows in his witty and often sarcastic observations of his life, that he is not defined by his mental health.

“Inside my head is a jigsaw made of trillions and trillions and trillions of atoms. It might take a while.” – Nathan Filer, The Shock of the Fall

This week is mental health awareness week, and relationships is the focus of the campaign this year – which I think is very important. Having been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) a few years ago, I have had to re-learn how to interact with people, to rewire and divert my thought processes so that I am not always assuming the worst and feeling terrible because of it. BPD is so wide and so vast, but to me, it means that on top of navigating a minefield of symptoms, I am always looking out for signs of rejection as a defence mechanism – whether in micro-expressions or brief changes in body language. This makes relationships difficult because BPD sufferers feel emotions intensely, and the slightest perceived negativity can send them into episodes of depression and self-doubt that can last days, and interacting with others during this period can be incredibly stressful. 

“[…] one thing I’ve learnt about people, is that they can always surprise you.” – Nathan Filer, The Shock of the Fall

One of the hardest things for a mental health sufferer to accept is that this illness is theirs whether they want it or not, and that can be a very isolating experience. This is why this week is so important in highlighting just how much a human presence can mean to someone like Matt, who felt often deflated and without a clue how to help himself, or accept help. Just like relationships take time to nurture, understanding the dynamics of mental health will take a long time. But all of us can make a small start by making a cup of tea for a struggling loved one, or even by picking up a book and being open about what we find in it.


by Lauris


Brent Libraries have great stock of mental health related books, whether factual or fictional. It’s never too late to start talking about mental health, and books always make great conversation starters.
Some helpful contacts, should you feel you need them:

15-19 Broadway, Stratford, London E15 4BQ
T: 020 8519 2122, Info line: 0300 123 3393
e: contact@mind.org.uk
24 hour helpline: 116 123 (freephone)
Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, Chris
PO Box 90 90

Sane Line
Offering specialist mental health emotional support 6-11pm everyday.
You can also email through their website.
Tel: 0845 767 8000
Web: www.sane.org.uk

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Filed under books, Brent Libraries, Libraries, mental health, Mental Health Awareness Week, Modern Fiction, reading

Reading Well for young people

The Reading Agency have compiled a list of books to help young people deal with and  gain understand of mental health issues.  This is an extension of the successful Books on Prescription scheme.

There’s some really interesting choices and it’s not all about self-help, there’s fiction and graphic novels too.

What do you think?  Can reading help with health?  Would you add anything to this list…or take any of the titles off it?!

Here is the list the Reading Agency suggest:

  1. Stuff That Sucks: Accepting What You Can’t Change and Committing to What You Can by Ben Sedley (Robinson, Little Brown)
  2. Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson (Hot Key Books)
  3. The Self-Esteem Team’s Guide to Sex, Drugs and WTFs?!! by The Self-Esteem Team (John Blake Publishing)
  4. Blame My Brain: The Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed by Nicola Morgan (Walker Books)
  5. Quiet the Mind by Matthew Johnstone (Robinson, Little, Brown)
  6. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (Walker Books)
  7. Kite Spirit by Sita Brahmachari (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  8. House of Windows by Alexia Casale (Faber)
  9. Every Day by David Levithan (Electric Monkey, Egmont)
  10. My Anxious Mind: A Teen’s Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic by Michael Tompkins and Katherine Martinez (Magination Press, American Psychological Association)
  11. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Simon & Schuster)
  12. The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida (Sceptre, Hodder)
  13. Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome: A User’s Guide to Adolescence by Luke Jackson (Jessica Kingsley)
  14. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (Vintage)
  15. Teen Life Confidential: Bullies, Cyberbullies and Frenemies by Michele Elliott (Wayland, Hachette Children’s)
  16. Vicious: True Stories by Teens about Bullying Hope Vanderberg (Free Spirit Publishing)
  17. Banish Your Self-Esteem Thief: A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook on Building Positive Self-Esteem for Young People by Kate Collins-Donnelly (Jessica Kingsley)
  18. Teen Life Confidential: Self-Esteem and Being You by Anita Naik (Wayland, Hachette Children’s)
  19. Face by Benjamin Zephaniah (Bloomsbury)
  20. Am I Depressed and What Can I Do About it? by Shirley Reynolds and Monika Parkinson (Robinson, Little, Brown)
  21. I Had a Black Dog by Matthew Johnstone (Robinson, Little, Brown)
  22. Can I Tell You About Depression? by Christopher Dowrick and Susan Martin (Jessica Kingsley)
  23. Can I Tell You About Eating Disorders? by Bryan Lask and Lucy Watson (Jessica Kingsley)
  24. Banish Your Body Image Thief by Kate Collins-Donnelly (Jessica Kingsley)
  25. Touch and Go Joe by Joe Wells (Jessica Kingsley)
  26. Breaking Free from OCD: A CBT Guide for Young People and their Families by Jo Derisley, Isobel Heyman, Sarah Robinson, Cynthia Turner (Jessica Kingsley)
  27. The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten (Walker Books)
  28. The Truth About Self-Harm by Celia Richardson (Mental Health Foundation)
  29. Fighting Invisible Tigers: A Stress Management Guide for Teens by Earl Hipp (Free Spirit Publishing)
  30. Teenage Guide to Stress by Nicola Morgan (Walker Books)

(All these books are available to borrow from Brent Libraries)

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Filed under books, Brent Libraries, Libraries, mental health, reading, Reading Well, Teen fiction, The Reading Agency

Event: The Sign of Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes could be said to be the world’s greatest multimedia star. But he never even existed. In stories, plays, musicals, movies, not to mention TV and radio, he’s been played by over 70 actors from countries across the globe. The magic is that we all feel we know the character, he’s as ubiquitous as The Beatles or Father Christmas in popular culture and adored by even those who’ve never read a word of Arthur Conan Doyle’s original books. How did this happen? And how has a very Victorian character endured and thrived in the modern, digital world?

Sherlock on sofa

Tomorrow night amateur sleuth and Holmes buff WJ Bird be appearing at The Library at Willesden Green to take you on a journey from Baker Street to the bright lights of Hollywood and beyond to answer these questions.

The first Sherlock Holmes film was made in 1900, the latest just last year. His author died in 1930 but new stories about his most famous creation are still being written. Sherlock Holmes himself was killed off in a story in 1893 but returned from the dead in 1901 so perhaps his immortality was assured back then!

I met up with Will to ask him a few questions about his relationship with the great  fictional detective.

Q. What’s Your favourite Sherlock Homes story and why?

“The Red Headed League” is a personal favourite as it is such a bizarre case and a lovely depiction of working life in Victorian London. Like many of the early short stories, nobody dies either. “The Musgrave Ritual” too is interesting as it’s a historical case that Holmes himself narrates – it’s set before he met Watson.


red headed league

Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes in the ITV version of The Red Headed League.

Q. Why do you think Sherlock Holmes captured the public’s imagination?

Come to the talk to find out my theories on this! But it’s mainly down to 1) the spread of popular media like magazines, cinema, TV and radio and 2) the creativity and passion of a lot of talented people over the past century, not just Arthur Conan Doyle!

Q. How has Sherlock Holmes influenced modern detectives on TV and in fiction?

Difficult question, but I guess being the first popular detective in English fiction means that he’s influenced them all. The detective as a maverick, not an establishment figure, has become a common theme, as has the importance of the more approachable “sidekick”. Conan Doyle also helped establish the idea of exposing the criminal underworld of a modern city through sometimes shocking tales, setting the template for Raymond Chandler and his like.

Big screen sherlock

Sherlock Holmes has appeared many times on the big screen

Q. Will Sherlock Homes still be in the public consciousness in 100 years?

As he keeps being reinvented then absolutely yes. As I say in my talk he’s gone in and out of fashion in popular culture over the decades, but the stories have never been out of print. But he’s becoming almost a mythical figure like Robin Hood now, not merely a literary one.

To hear more from Will do please come along to our free talk at The Library at Willesden Green, 6.30pm, 18 November.  (They’ll even be free wine and mince pies!)

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Filed under Brent Libraries, Christmas, Libraries, Mystery, Sherlock Holmes

Books and understanding

Exploring our new library has had to wait.

Exploring our new library has had to wait.

Change has been in the air lately. It had been my plan to review books discovered in the new Library at Willesden Green. I have, however, needed to travel down a different path, somewhere deeper. I’ve explained before how books are a powerful tool for me on my journey of self-discovery, like having a compass along with the map. This has been so poignantly apparent for me in recent weeks.

too close to homeI’m just finishing reading Too close to home by Susan Lewis. It’s currently on the best seller list, and is well placed. I
must admit that it took me a little while to get into the meaning of it and feel absorbed in, but once I did, it was deeply felt. It portrays the paths of a mother undergoing a messy separation from her husband, along with her teenage daughter who is being severely bullied at school. Towards the last half of the book it took on the tones of a psychological thriller, which was a welcome surprise

It supported me in understanding more clearly how in change, the past is always hidden.  A new structure is a catalyst, crucible, poultice for stirring up old wounds. The pressure around the structure of change lances the boil, brings the struggles to the surface so that they cannot hide any more, and can be more effectively healed as more safety is built around them.

Other readers may come to a different conclusion from the novel, and I’d be interested to hear what you learn from this, and any other book you’ve been immersed in recently.

Another recent highlight is She’s come undone, by Wally Lamb. Pootling, as I do at times, around the library catalogue for psychological fiction, I came across this, and reserved it immediately upon reading the blurb online. I’ve read some of Wally Lamb’s work before, and enjoyed it. He explores the vagaries of human distress very sensitively.

shes-come-undonoeI admit that I was expecting this one to be slightly heavy going, difficult to stomach, but it was a real page turne
r for me – I couldn’t put it down! Well, I had to to go to work etc, but you get what I mean! The underlying themes of the effects of trauma on multiple levels upon an individual’s well-being and life path are well defined and touching. Although it’s set during the 60s, it doesn’t feel out-dated, as the themes are very pertinent to the present and the struggles young women [and men] face as they grow up and try to overcome the pain and restrictions of their pasts.

I’m going to leave it at that, as a surprise for those who would like to discover this book for themselves!

Having just about made it to book 40 of the year, I’m trying to get in a few 300 pagers to keep things ticking over target wise until I start the long awaited paperback version of The Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett!


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Our Artist in Residence

Jared Louche PBW

Great blog from our wonderful Artist in Residence Jared Louche.  He’s doing some fantastic work with young people and Brent Libraries feel very lucky to be working with him!

He’s been with us for a month already but there are still plenty of workshops to come at Harlesden Library, please see our online calendar for times and dates.

That’s all from me, here’s what Jared has to say about the project:

I’m currently involved in the Apples&Snakes SPINE Festival as artist-in-residence based in Harlesden Library. I’m a poet, performer, rock star, writer, photographer and workshop facilitator. For the past fifteen years I’ve been working at the nexus of the Arts, Education and Health Care. I facilitate writing, art and performance workshops in schools, prisons, hospitals, museums and libraries, using creativity as a way to excite people to better command the language and their ideas. Creativity’s a thrilling tool of empowerment that helps people release their imaginations and express things they might never dare tackle and I love to help midwife that creation.
This is an exciting and important project that highlights a collection of London libraries. With the explosive growth of the internet as a research tool, combined with extensive government cutbacks to library funding, libraries are currently fighting a battle to remain relevant in the 21st century. One of the things that I’m constantly fascinated by is creatively exploring people and buildings that are marginalized in society, those who (for whatever reasons) can’t tell their own story or whose stories aren’t seen as important by the society around them. We place value on the young, on the new, on the freshly rearranged. In doing so though we seem to feel that importance can’t simultaneously be placed upon the elders of our communities, upon older buildings and older traditions. There’s much that’s lost because of this and many voices that are no longer heard, fading as mist before a too-bright sun.
Libraries are the perfect illustration of this; every library has gone through countless changes, alterations and renovations. They’ve seen war and peace, busy times and slow, and down the years they’ve watched the community around them shift and change. Despite being the richest realm of words though, the one thing that no library has ever been able to do is to find its unique voice and be able to tell the story of its life. No library has ever been able to tell us its experiences, what its greatest fear and proudest moment might have been or what it dreams about when the last librarian has locked up, the stacks are still and the lights are finally out. The only way to hear that hidden voice is with your creative ears.Jared table
At Harlesden I’ll be working creatively with a broad spectrum of the local community, developing stories from the library’s perspective as well as looking at language and books in alternate ways. We’ll be developing Haiku-brief poems about secrets and hiding them in books throughout the library. We’ll also be creating and binding our own books. I’ll be running workshops with groups from schools as well as in a much more guerilla context with people who have come to borrow books and unwittingly wander into my orbit.
With children from local Primary Schools, I’m unleashing creative writing and creative thinking workshops to look differently at the amazing things the language can do. The ancient, universal language of poetry is the most phenominal spade with which to dig into the loamy soil of language and ideas. This helps expose children to the delights their library contains and allows them to see the space as both useful as well as exciting. Although the project only just launched last week, we’ve had lots of excited school children writing and talking about the language, and the library staff have been inundated with gleeful waves of children clamouring for library cards.
This is exactly the sort of project I love being involved in; one that allows for broad conceptual interpretation, that pushes at the membrane between the Known and the Unknown, that involves both the local community and Primary School children. Art may not change the world, but I’ve watched it change individual lives and I’m honoured to be able to be a part of SPINE.
Thanks Apples. This is already an excellent project. As usual, you rock!



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Filed under books, creativity, Libraries, reading

What is Urban Fantasy?


Next month Brent Libraries are joining in with a fantastic scheme to encourage reading called Cityread London.  Have you heard of it?  It’s been running for a few years now and is basically like an absolutely massive book group.  Everyone in the city is encouraged to read the same book in the month of April and discuss it, attend related events etc.  You can read more about it on the Cityread London website.

This year’s chosen books is Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch which is described as ‘urban fantasy’, we started telling our library users about this book but many of them asked “What’s Urban Fantasy?” – and we found we weren’t sure how to define it!  Luckily for us Paulo who works in Lewisham Libraries, who are also part of the scheme, has provided a wonderfully comprehensive definition.  And here it is…

“Since ancient times, the supernatural has captivated storytellers and their audiences. Some of the earliest WIZARDsurviving literary forms—myths and folktales—feature such preternatural beings as wizards, ghosts, fairies, or vampires living among humans. Today, this fascination exists in the current boom in urban fantasy, a genre defined as texts where fantasy and the mundane world interact, intersect, and interweave throughout a tale which is significantly about a real city.

Urban fantasy’s roots date back to the late 1980s and early 1990s, when readers were introduced to the possibility of supernatural, fantastic beings in modern settings, and later authors contributed to the development of what is now identified as “traditional urban fantasy”.

Buffy-the-Vampire-SlayerUrban fantasy describes a work that is set primarily in the real world and contains aspects of fantasy. These matters may involve the arrivals of alien races, the discovery of earthbound mythological creatures, coexistence between humans and paranormal beings, conflicts between humans and malicious paranormals, and subsequent changes to city management. The protagonists are often under a responsibility or in a position to help others survive or get justice from a world even more bizarre than our own.

Many urban fantasy novels geared toward adults are told via a first-person narrative, and Brooklyn Knightoften feature supernatural beings, protagonists who are involved in law enforcement or vigilantism. There has always been a strong noir element to adult urban fantasy, as there is often an underlying mystery to be solved in the books, even if the protagonist is not technically on the side of the police. The characters’ struggles to manage both the extraordinary and mundane sides of their lives tend to be difficult, especially when family or romance is involved, drawing a parallel with the general difficulties of adult life.

TwilightbookOn the other hand, teen urban fantasy novels often follow inexperienced protagonists who are unexpectedly drawn into paranormal struggles. Amidst these conflicts, characters often gain allies, find romance, and, in some cases, develop or discover supernatural abilities of their own. A common thread running through almost all teen urban fantasy is that as well as dealing with the fantasy element, they’re also coming into their own and learning who they are. These coming-of-age themes and a teen ‘voice’ are what distinguish young adult urban fantasy from adult books in the genre.”

So there you are – thanks Paulo!

Please join in with Cityread by reading the book this April.  You can also meet the author at Kilburn Library on 20th April – please see our website for details of this and other Cityread events.

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Filed under books, Cityread London, Crime, Libraries, reading

Reading the Rainbow: Mosaic LGBT Youth Centre choose books for Brent Libraries

This week at Wembley Library we have a grand unveiling (well, we had flags and free biscuits!) of the books chosen for the library by the Mosaic youth group.   The youth centre manager, Lukasz Konieczka, told me a bit about why they wanted to select the material for the library

Lukasz Konieczka, Mosaic LGBT Youth Centre Manager

Lukasz Konieczka,
Mosaic LGBT Youth Centre Manager

“After group trip to watch flim Pride (recently awarded Bafta) we at Mosaic LGBT Youth Centre felt that young LGBT persons do not have enough connection with history and heritage of LGBT Community, they also did not feel that local libraries help them with that connection. After consultation with young persons we decided to approach Brent Libraries with idea of supporting them becoming more inclusive through purchasing LGBT relevant stock of books that would be more representative to young LGBT population. Brent Libraries kindly agreed and provided some funding to purchase some new LGBT themed books. We were keen however to highlight that connection with LGBT history and heritage present in said film through making our purchases at ‘Gay’s The Word – London oldest LGBT bookshop’, we even managed to get a speaker Gethin Roberts from Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners movement depicted in ‘Pride’ film to inspire young persons activism. This small project helped Brent Libraries, LGBT young persons and hopefully wider community that can now access LGBT books and hopefully get rid of stereotypes and prejudice that feed homophobic attitudes.”

The books are now available for everyone to borrow, they can be found in a temporary display in Wembley Library before they are shelved with library stock.

Free grapes and biscuits at our grand unveiling!

Free grapes and biscuits at our grand unveiling!

Library users browsing the new books

Library users browsing the new books

The big moments as the new books are unveiled!

The big moments as the new books are unveiled!

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Filed under books, LGBT, Libraries

Book Review – Matilda by Roald Dahl

This is one of my childhood favourites (I’m not going to say exactly how long ago that was!) and it’s still very popular today.  It’s recently been turned into a hit West End Musical.

Matilda letters

I think I liked it so much partly because Matilda had so much against her but turned out to have a special gift.  Being a child can make you feel very powerless sometimes, especially when  parents are being mean, teachers or classmates nasty.  There’s nothing you can do, you just have to keep your head down and follow the rules – but in this story the child does find themselves with power!  It’s a fantasy I think many of us wish we could have played out, unfortunately I was never as clever as Matilda.  It’s also such a great book because of how Matilda uses her wonderful local library!

Being a child isn't always fun!

Being a child isn’t always fun!

That’s enough from me, here’s what some of the young readers from Brent Libraries thought of the book;

“This in the best book because it is very rare to know hard things when you are little.  The genre of this book is like a mystery because how did she learnt things that quick?  5/5”


“Matilda is clever.  This is my favourite book because it is enjoyable to read.  Matilda’s parents are rude and always mean to Matilda.  Matilda’s headteacher is strong and she’s furious whenever one of the children does something wrong.  I recommend this book for big children because it’s good entertainment for kids.  5/5”


“Matilda is my best book because it is very interesting and Matilda’s parents are sometimes funny and also Mrs Trunchbull is funny.  This is the best book I have read and I feel like I want to read the book forever!”


“Matilda is a stunning book about a girl who is really smart for her age but her parents, who are rich, don’t care about her studies and think she is foolish.  It is a children’s book and is written by a famous author Roald Dahl.  This is the best book in the World and a real page turned. 5/5”


Matilda“Matilda is a very funny and interesting book, it is the best book I’ve ever read.  I also liked the book because Roald Dahl used a lot of interesting vocabulary when he described Miss Trunchbull.”


“Matilda is a very interesting book, it has interesting words that I didn’t know before.  the book was funny and Roald Dahl has a good way of writing.  5/5”


“This book is the most mysterious and hilarious book because Matilda is clever , kind and mysterious but can be incredibly powerful.  Miss Trunchbull is powerful too but mean, rude and bossy.  I liked reading this book at night before going to sleep.”


“Matilda is my best because it is funny and Matilda is very interesting.  Roald Dahl is my favourite author.  It is also a page turner that I wouldn’t put down, I would keep on reading it.  5/5”


So it’s unanimous 5/5!  What do you think?  Is this one of your childhood favourites?


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Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, Libraries, young reviewers

Young Reviewers

I’ve had some great reviews submitted from young Brent Libraries users and have picked 2 for this blog.  If you use Brent Libraries and would like to share your review on the blog ask in the library for details – reviews from adults and children are welcome.

Aaron (10) reviews Holes by Louis SacherHoles

Holes is a story about a teenage boy suffering because of a family curse.  The curse strikes again sending the boy unfairly to a correction facility where part of his punishment is to dig holes…

Here’s what Aaron thought of the book

I have read Holes and the book is about a boy called Stanley Yelants and he is at Camp Green Lake facility center and he must discover the truth!
I recommend you read this book because it has a great beginning to the story, it will make you gasp for thin air!

Diary of a wimpy kidAnton (12) reviews Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

This book is the first of a series of illustrated books following Greg – the wimpy kid – as his deals with the daily trials of family and school.

Here’s what Anton thought

Diary of the Wimpy Kid is a great funny book about a boy called Greg and it tells you all about his life and his annoying brother Roderick. He also has a brother called Manny who always gets him into trouble. I recommend you should read it because it is so interesting.

Thanks to Anton and Aaron for those reviews, hopefully I’ll have some more reader reviews to share soon.


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Filed under Book Review, books, Libraries, reading, young reviewers

One year, 51 books

lots-of-booksI took up the challenge last year to read 50 books in 2014. I actually read 51, having just made it through the last one in time! It could have been more, as one of them was 800+ pages long… !!!

As you’ve probably guessed, I love reading, always have done and always will. My studies and career choices have always reflected that. Back when I was growing up, reading provided me with escape and respite from difficult experiences. As an adult, I find that the books I choose often help me to understand and bring compassion to those difficult experiences, assisting me on my healing journey.
Working for Brent Libraries brings me in touch with lots of books. New books, old books, even those falling apart ones, hold a deep fascination for me. Assisting, as I do, with customer reservations brings the added excitement of coming across books I might not otherwise have seen.

So I thought I’d share with you the highlights from my 51 reads of last year. I thought I would go for the top 3, and The One I Would Never Read Again.

TOP 3 –

Paris by Edward RutherfordParis
I really like this genre, historical fiction spanning generations. It conveys social history really well, and puts into context what I learned about political history at school – in a much more inspiring way. I discovered so much about the building of Eiffel Tower for example. Surprisingly, the Revolution wasn’t really covered as such, which was a bit of a disappointment, but there’re threads of it. On the other hand, I found that a fresh, unexpected approach. Yes, it’s 800+ pages long, and towards the end it dragged a bit, but as a whole, definitely an interesting and thought provoking read.

silver_linings_playbook_cover_book1The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
I’m late to this book, which had a lot of hype with the film, I believe. I’ve never seen the film. The story I feel has a fragile and delicate structure that I found caught at my heart. It covers a lot of themes, including love and loss, and also the stigma that can be attached to having mental health issues. There was one particular well written passage conveying the pain of stigma with depth of emotion and empathy. The frequent American football scenes and references were tedious I found, as well as the main character’s somewhat unconventional relationship with his therapist, but it’s worth pushing through those for the core psychological issues covered in this book.

Refuge by Jenny Smith
This is non-fiction, a biography written by a woman who grew up, like me, in the early 70s, a period when the first women’s refuge was opened. I learned so much about the social milieu of the time, which put my own experiences into context. For me this was a very emotional, therapeutic read. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has lived through domestic abuse of any kind, or who is interested in women’s rights and social history. It also has the racial tensions of the era as a main theme.The RefugeNever Again! –

The Girl with all the Gifts by MR Carey
This was one weird book! Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with surreal, quirky fiction, I read so much of it when I did a Totalitarianism and Literature module at uni! But I didn’t expect this one to be quite so off the wall. It’s post-apocalyptic, packaged in a different way [orange and yellow cover, for example]. The blurb and the cover drew me in, but I found that it really wasn’t my cup of tea at all. But if you’re into zombies and girl with all the giftsall they entail, this is probably a book you would enjoy.

I write poetry, and am working on getting published. For a poet, I barely ever read poetry, so I plan to include some poetry books in my reads this year. I’m open to recommendations.
I also look forward to sharing with you on this blog some of my reading highlights as this year progresses.




Filed under Book Review, books, Historical novel, Libraries, reading