Get cosy with a Christmas read

There’s nothing better to escape from the turkey cooking, present wrapping, Christmas madness than a great book. Here’s our list of the 10 of the most popular books for adults in 2015, all available in Hampshire libraries for free, to give you a little inspiration for your Christmas distraction. So you sort the sprouts, and we’ll take care of the stories!

Girl on the train, Paula Hawkins

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see: she’s much more than just the girl on the train.

Go set a watchman, Harper Lee

Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father Atticus. She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand both her father’s attitude toward society and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.

Elizabeth is missing, Emma Healey

‘Elizabeth is missing’, reads the note in Maud’s pocket in her own handwriting. Lately, Maud’s been getting forgetful. She keeps buying peach slices when she has a cupboard full, forgets to drink the cups of tea she’s made and writes notes to remind herself of things. But Maud is determined to discover what has happened to her friend, Elizabeth, and what it has to do with the unsolved disappearance of her sister Sukey, years back, just after the war.

I let you go, Clare Mackintosh

At the scene of a tragic accident, life changes immediately for everyone involved. Finding it impossible to stay in Bristol, Jenna Gray moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast. She is desperate to escape the past, but is haunted by the accident, by the loss of her son, and by her own fears. DI Ray Stevens is determined to get to the bottom of this case. The investigation takes him away from his family and he finds himself growing closer to Kate Evans, a young and forthright detective on his team. But Jenna’s past is about to catch up with her, with devastating consequences.

Us, David Nicholls

‘I was looking forward to us growing old together. Me and you, growing old and dying together.’ ‘Douglas, who in their right mind would look forward to that?’ Douglas Petersen understands his wife’s need to ‘rediscover herself’ now that their son is leaving home. He just thought they’d be doing their rediscovering together. So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again. The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed. What could possibly go wrong?

The miniaturist, Jessie Burton

On an autumn day in 1686, 18-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways. Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all.

All the light we cannot see, Anthony Doerr

Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret. Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father’s life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering. At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home.

The bazaar of bad dreams, Stephen King

A generous collection of thrilling stories – some brand new, some published in magazines, all entirely brilliant and assembled in one book for the first time – with a wonderful bonus: in addition to his introduction to the whole collection, King gives readers a fascinating introduction to each story with autobiographical comments on their origins and motivation…

Big little lies, Liane Moriarty

Jane hasn’t lived anywhere longer than six months since her son was born five years ago. She keeps moving in an attempt to escape her past. Now the idyllic seaside town of Pirriwee has pulled her to its shores and Jane finally feels like she belongs. She has friends in the feisty Madeline and the incredibly beautiful Celeste – two women with seemingly perfect lives … and their own secrets behind closed doors. But then a small incident involving the children of all three women occurs in the playground causing a rift between them and the other parents of the school. Minor at first but escalating fast, until whispers and rumours become vicious and spiteful. It was always going to end in tears, but no one thought it would end in murder.

On the Origin of Species

Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species, considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology, was first published on 24 November 1859.

The full title was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. In the 1872 sixth edition “On” was omitted, so the full title is The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. This edition is usually known as The Origin of Species. Darwin’s book introduced the scientific theory that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection. It presented a body of evidence that the diversity of life arose by common descent through a branching pattern of evolution. Darwin included evidence that he had gathered on the Beagle Expedition in the 1830s and his subsequent findings from research, correspondence, and experimentation.

Hampshire Libraries and Discovery Centres have copies of The Origin of Species as well as eBook and Audiobook editions. We also have other books by and about Charles Darwin, such as Darwin’s The voyage of the Beagle and, for younger readers, Sarah Ridley’s biography of Darwin.

Our many digital resources have much information about Darwin and his ideas and books. You can follow the links in this Blog for some examples. A particularly interesting approach is to look at contemporary newspaper articles. For example, there are the Gilchrist Lectures as reported in the Cheshire Observer  on Saturday, November 10, 1877 and available from 19th Century British Newspapers. You can also look at The Times through the Times Digital Archive and many other 19th Century newspapers through the British Newspaper Archive.


Hampshire Libraries Launches Code Club!

Code club took off to a flying start at Lymington Library this month, with 6 eager youngsters attending to join, learn and have fun! The group, aimed at 9-11 year olds, was a fantastic mix of new starters who have never coded before and those who were already taking their skills to the next level.

Our young coder’s first challenge was to program several cartoon characters to deliver an on stage theatre or band performance. Printed instructions were available as a guide, but everyone was allowed to “Play” and add their own style if they wished. The team were encouraged to seek answers and inspiration amongst themselves initially, to get to know each other and to help them develop a variety of problem solving skills. For those who needed a little more help; friendly Library staff and a young volunteer were available to point them in the right direction.

By the end of the hour, all of the children felt relaxed and comfortable with their new coding buddies. They were thrilled with what they had achieved and extremely proud to show off what they had created to their parents, who were equally blown away by their coding skills!

The Club runs every Friday; 4pm – 5pm at Lymington Library and will run for 12 weeks. There are still a few spaces available, but they won’t be there for long, so Sign up now!

Is Lymington too far for you to travel to? Well there are coding clubs starting at Farnborough, Fareham and Winchester this autumn, but watch this space because a Code Club is being rolled out accross Hampshire Libraries in the New Year.

Do you have IT skills or any experience with coding? Are you enthusiastic about supporting and developing children & young people? We need your help as a volunteer to support the clubs at Libraries across Hampshire.

This is a great opportunity to build experience and work with young people. If you would like to find out more, you can contact your local library for details or sign up as a volunteer at . All volunteers are DBS checked and receive training and advice on participating in Code Clubs.

This blog post was brought to you by Adrian Rea, Code Club Coordinator at Lymington Library

Expert advice for your Christmas shopping

There’s only one place to go for trusted reviews and advice about everything from televisions to gluten-free mince pies, Which? Online will help you pick your Christmas gifts with confidence.

Hampshire Libraries are offering free membership to the Which? Online service, that’s a saving of £10.75 per month. All you need is a Hampshire Libraries card, and, you guessed it, that’s free too!

So what are you waiting for? If you’re not a member yet, sign up online  or head down to your local Hampshire Library. When you’ve got your library card ready, all you have to do is pop into the library and a member of staff will get you started on one of our public PC’s.

Costa Book Awards Shortlist

The Costa Book Awards shortlist was revealed on the 17th November, take a look at the 4 books in the novel category below. Don’t forget you can borrow them all for free from Hampshire Libraries, all you need is a Hampshire library card, and that’s free as well!

Click on the title to see the book in our catalogue where you can reserve for collection at your local Hampshire library.

Keep watching our blog, we’ll be putting up the other lists too.

A god in ruins, Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson’s ‘Life After Life’ explored the possibility of infinite chances, as Ursula Todd lived through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. In ‘A God in Ruins’, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy – would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband and father – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

The green road, Anne Enright

The children of Rosaleen Madigan leave the west of Ireland for lives they never could have imagined in Dublin, New York and various third-world towns. In her early old age their difficult, wonderful mother announces that she’s decided to sell the house and divide the proceeds. Her adult children come back for a last Christmas, with the feeling that their childhoods are being erased, their personal history bought and sold. A darkly glinting novel set on Ireland’s Atlantic coast, ‘The Green Road’ is a story of fracture and family, selfishness and compassion – a book about the gaps in the human heart and how we learn to fill them.

A place called winter, Patrick Gale

A privileged elder son, and stammeringly shy, Harry Cane has followed convention at every step. Even the beginnings of an illicit, dangerous affair do little to shake the foundations of his muted existence – until the shock of discovery and the threat of arrest cost him everything. Forced to abandon his wife and child, Harry signs up for emigration to the newly colonised Canadian prairies. Remote and unforgiving, his allotted homestead in a place called Winter is a world away from the golden suburbs of turn-of-the-century Edwardian England. And yet it is here, isolated in a seemingly harsh landscape, under the threat of war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism that the fight for survival will reveal in Harry an inner strength and capacity for love beyond anything he has ever known before.

At hawthorn time, Melissa Harrison

Four-thirty on a May morning: the black fading to blue, dawn gathering somewhere below the treeline in the east. A long, straight road runs between sleeping fields to the little village of Lodeshill, and on it two cars lie wrecked and ravished, violence gathered about them in the silent air. One wheel, upturned, still spins. Howard and Kitty have recently moved to Lodeshill after a life spent in London; now, their marriage is wordlessly falling apart. Custom car enthusiast Jamie has lived in the village for all of his nineteen years and dreams of leaving it behind, while Jack, a vagrant farm-worker and mystic in flight from a bail hostel, arrives in the village on foot one spring morning, bringing change. All four of them are struggling to find a life in the modern countryside; all are trying to find ways to belong.

Hampshire Book Award

On the 12th November pupils from across the county celebrated the 13th annual Hampshire Book Award. The award is organised by Hampshire County Council’s School Library Service and this year involved over 430 students from 50 secondary schools across Hampshire.

Congratulations to Jonathan Stroud, our winner this year with the spooky The Screaming Staircase.

Councilor McNair Scott, Chairman of the Culture and Communities Select Committee said: “The Hampshire Book Award is hugely popular, and every year it motivates hundreds of young people to take a keener interest in books, by giving them the responsibility of judging a prestigious award. Pupils were given evaluation guidelines and were asked to reflect on enjoyment, enrichment and engagement. As a means of promoting reading for pleasure and literacy at Key Stage 3, the award has shown to have had a positive and significant impact within the Schools who have taken part.”

Pupils were presented with goodie bags, activity sheets and some lucky guests even won a prize.

Jonathan lead a wonderful 45 minute talk for students about how he became a writer, where his inspiration for his books came from, and what kind of gear you need to become a ghost hunter!

This was followed by an opportunity to meet Jonathan and have a copy of his book signed by the man himself.

Hampshire Libraries and Hampshire School Library Service would like to say a massive thank you to Jonathan, and all the pupils who came to make this event so special. Look out for next years shortlist!

Our live tweets can be found under #HBA15 on Twitter, where you can see some exclusive photos of the day.




Young children tend to think of themselves as the centre of the world. This can make sharing toys, people and places with other people problematic and can lead to jealousy and arguments.  Sharing story books about other children sharing may help to explain why sharing is the right thing to do.


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Elephant Learns to Share – Sue Graves & Trevor Dunton

Elephant doesn’t like to share anything and everyone at school thinks he is mean. One day he is given a gift that he can’t play with on his own. Will he work out how to have fun and make friends?
Age: 3+

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Friends – Kim Lewis

Warm simple story about a boy and girl who fall out because they don’t want to share, but realise it’s more fun to do things together.
Age: 3+



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Sharing a Shell – Julia Donaldson & Lydia Monks

When a little hermit crab finds a shiny new shell he doesn’t want to share it – not with a blobby purple anemone and a tickly bristleworm.
Age: 3+

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There’s a Bear on my Chair – Ross Collins

Poor Mouse! A bear has settled in his favourite chair and that chair just isn’t big enough for two.
Age: 3+


Remembrance Day

One of Hampshire Libraries’ digital resources is British Newspaper Archive which has content from 535 British local newspapers. They have put together a number of contemporary accounts of the Armistice.

The Armistice came into being 97 years ago, at the 11th hour of the 11th Day of the 11th month. As the anticipation of the end to hostilities grew, the local papers tried to stay on top of the story while at the same time addressing local concerns. Britiah Newspaper Archive has gathered together some of the coverage and also look at the story of Sussex man, Private Albert Corden. While Albert’s story is ultimately tragic, the story of the local community who worked together to remember him is inspiring.

If you do not already use British Newspaper Archive, you will need to visit one of our libraries or Discovery Centres and register an account. Then use is free and you can read many other accounts of Armistice Day as it happened in 1918.

The picture is from the Liverpool Echo of 11 November 1918


6th November 1935 – First flight of the Hawker Hurricane

The Hawker Hurricane, iconic RAF fighter plane of World War Two, took to the air for the first time on 6th November 1935.

On 3 November 1935, George Bulman taxied the fighter out onto the Brooklands grass, so beginning the steady task of acclimatising himself to the aircraft.

A potential set back reared its head on 4 November, when Rolls-Royce informed Hawker that the Merlin had failed to pass its 50-hour certification test. A quick inspection had failed to reveal why the engine lost power after just 40 hours.

On 6 November Bulman taxied K5083 out for its first flight. No press were informed, let alone invited, and photography was not permitted, such was the level of secrecy surrounding Hawker’s latest product. Taxiing to the end of the runway, the silver monoplane turned into the wind and, with a roar from its Merlin, seemed to be into the air and over the banking of the old racing circuit in no time at all.

In the years ahead the Hurricane served throughout World War 2. From the Battle of Britain to service on aircraft carriers, in the Western Desert and Burma, and in the skies over Murmansk, the Hurricane gave faithful service.

Hampshire libraries have many books about the Hurricane, in particular our Aviation Collection at Farnborough Library. Maybe try Hurricane Aces, 1939 – 1940 by Tony Holmes or Soviet Hurricane Aces by Yuriy Rybin.

For hundreds of contemporary reports about the Hurricane take a look at British Newspaper Archive. It is free to register and then you can look at newspaper reports from across Britain about the Battle of Britain and other actions featuring the Hurricane.