Ways to use your library during the cost-of-living crisis

As times become tougher, we look to libraries to inspire the local community.

Hampshire Libraries are versatile spaces. From cosying up and enjoying a good book to popping along to one of our rhyme time sessions with younger children – there’s something for everyone. We’ve put together some helpful guidance on the different ways you can use your local library during the cost-of-living crisis. Our libraries are welcoming spaces for the whole community to enjoy, so make the most out of our free resources. 

Find information and advice

Libraries are a great source for information and advice. This advice is provided in many accessible formats, from podcasts to eBooks and magazines, so however you like to research there’s a format for you.

Why not look at some of our books on budgeting and personal finance? These handy tips can help us through the winter period, especially as energy prices rise and the festive shopping period starts. You can even find books on cooking on a budget. There are many resources on how to budget while providing for your family.  

Upskill with a Learning in Libraries course

Our Learning in Libraries courses provide a great start to finding the right job for you. From courses on computing for all, to English for speakers of other languages, there’s a wide variety of new things to learn. Add some useful skills to your CV to give you that little boost. Or why not learn something that you’ve always wanted to give a go, such as capturing the perfect photo or the art of watercolour? 

Enjoy free entertainment

Cancel your streaming subscriptions to save some pennies? Stay warm and cosy in the library this winter to enjoy free entertainment and a range of exciting new books. All Hampshire library card holders can use the BorrowBox app, which gives you free online access to a huge selection of eAudiobooks and eBooks.

And if you enjoy listening, give our Love You Libraries podcast a go. Episodes feature interviews with some of the nation’s best-loved authors, as well as book news, library updates and in-depth discussions with the people behind the bookshelves at our branches. 

There’s also plenty of free activities available to keep children entertained over the holidays. There’s free worksheets and activities on the Kids’ Zone and audiobooks to listen to while you’re on the school run. Entertaining the whole family doesn’t have to be expensive with a little help from your local library.  

Stay connected

It can feel very isolating when we’re trying to avoid spending money on socialising. Stay connected at the library and join one of our friendly clubs. Based in warm, comfortable spaces, community clubs are welcome for anyone to join. There are a variety of activities for you to enjoy, from knit and natter groups to a Spanish communication club. Or practice wellbeing and join a mindful moments class to focus on your mental health in what can be a challenging time for many.

Get online

Public computers are free to use for all library card holders, or you can bring your own device along and connect to the free Wi-Fi. Our library staff can help you to log on and find the right software to use. Libraries also provide cost-effective printing, either from a public computer, your own device or even from home.

Support your local community

Hampshire Libraries are supporting the most vulnerable within the local community. There are now 19 community pantries across the county providing access to discounted food, some of which are in Hampshire Libraries. Community pantries provide groceries at a lower cost than supermarkets or shops, offering a range of fresh, frozen, and general foods which change on a weekly basis. Anyone can access their local community pantry as long as they’ve signed up to become a member. 

Do you know someone  who can’t visit their local library themselves? We can arrange to have library books delivered to their home on a regular basis. We offer books in standard and large print and have a wide range of audio books in different formats. If you would like to borrow a particular title from Hampshire’s stock, we can get it for you!

Looking for more ways your library can support you and your household during the cost-of-living crisis? Visit our cost-of-living resources page for more information.

Ten ways your local library is supporting students

The autumn term is in full swing, and everyone’s back to school, university or college. While homework, coursework and revision piles up, it can be tricky to study from home if you need access to specific materials or just a space free from distractions.

Hampshire Libraries offer a wide range of free resources for students. From study spaces to a variety of research materials, we’ve got you covered. So here’s a handy list of ways your local library is supporting students.

Free access to computers

Computer at Chandler's Ford library

If you don’t have access to your own computer, don’t worry – there’s free access to computers at Hampshire Libraries for all library card holders. You can even pre-book a library computer online to make sure you’ve got a spot saved for cramming the day before an exam. Our helpful library teams can help you to log onto the system and navigate through the different programmes you need.  

Access to printing

Anyone can print documents at the library from any computer or mobile device, you don’t have to be logged into one of our library computers or be a member of the library. You can print A4 and A3 full colour documents – perfect for coursework and poster printing. Printing and photocopying charges apply.

Study spaces and room hire

Man with headphones on laptop in public area at the library

Libraries are the perfect place to study. Avoid procrastination and pesky distractions in one of our designated study spaces. There are quiet zones throughout our libraries that offer a place to settle into a deep focus for last minute revision. You can even bring your own cold drinks and snacks into the library to refuel throughout your study session. 

You can also hire a room at the library from just £7 to teach a class or host a private study group. These are great areas for group projects and collaborative spaces, to share ideas and work on presentations together. There are over 20 locations to choose from. 

eBooks and audiobooks

Tablet with borrowbox logo resting on bookshelf

There are thousands of eBooks and audiobooks which can be downloaded for free with just a few taps on your smartphone, tablet, eReader or computer. Just download the Borrowbox app or log onto the Borrowbox website to gain access. Catch up on your reading while you’re on your travels or sit back and listen to a new book.   

Free Wi-Fi

Girl with headphones using laptop at Winchester Library

Internet speeds at home leaving a lot to be desired? Broadband dropping out just as you get to the good bit of your study break comfort watch? Stay connected in your local library and get online with free Wi-Fi available at all our branches. Log onto your own laptop, tablet or phone or use one of the public computers to get online. 

Accessibility for all

Hampshire Libraries are welcoming, inclusive spaces for all to enjoy. Our teams receive regular disability awareness and equality training. All our libraries are wheelchair accessible and are either on one floor, or have lifts provided. Most of our libraries have fixed hearing loops in which our staff are trained. All Hampshire Libraries have computers with large print keyboards and tracker ball mice.  

Study resources

Girl reading book in study area at the library

Libraries are full of study resources – from books to magazines, the British Newspaper Archive and a variety of podcasts. You can also access 15 million peer reviewed articles, perfect for project research. There are loads of online research platforms for you to use for your studies.

Activities and entertainment

Take a well-deserved break and recharge with some entertainment at the library. From comedy shows to author talks and theatre productions, check out what’s on at your local branch and extend your study session to include some much-needed leisure time too.

And if you’re a book lover, why not listen to our Love your Library Podcast? Our episodes feature interviews with some of the nation’s best-loved authors, as well as book news, library updates and in-depth discussions with the people behind the bookshelves at our branches. 

Pick up a new skill

Our Learning in Libraries courses are a great way to learn a new skill and to prepare you for life after studying. There are a variety of courses available – from finding the right job to photography and digital skills. Or unwind and destress from your studies with a yoga session – there’s something for everyone.

Group reading sets

Working on a Shakespeare play or To Kill a Mockingbird in your English class? Hampshire Libraries provide sets of books for groups to borrow. There are over 1700 sets available, with a focus on modern fiction, but we also provide some classics and non-fiction works. Make learning more fun by reading along with your friends and discussing your thoughts on the plot and characters.

So whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to study, a place to socialise with your pals or access to free eBooks and audiobooks, we’ve got you covered. Find out more and explore what your local library has to offer over on the Hampshire Libraries website.

Feeling the pinch? 4 free ways families can make the most of the library

This blog post is brought to you by Fostering Hampshire Children. Check out their #OpenYourDoor campaign to learn more about what foster care is and how you can support children across the county who need our help. 

Libraries have long been a haven for adventurers, mystery solvers, romantics, inventors and historians to settle down with a title to quench their curiosity. And it’s not just books that libraries provide; there are courses to learn a new skill, clubs to spark imagination, groups to make connections and resources to support you through some of life’s challenges.  

There’s so much your local library can do for you and your family that it can be hard to know where to begin, so we’ve rounded up some of the best free and low-cost things Hampshire Library has on offer for families. 

Connect with clubs

Children playing with construction blocks at the library

Hampshire Libraries’ various clubs and activities are a great way to catch kids’ curiosity! Maybe they want to learn about coding, or perhaps they want to try constructing something from their wildest dreams. Whatever their interest, they’ll be able to meet and make friends with other young people while learning something new and having fun. The best thing? Most of these activities are free, meaning you save money on toys and teaching! 

Books, but different

An image of an audiobook displayed on a smartphone

Not everyone likes reading hard copy books, and that’s okay! BorrowBox has eBooks and audiobooks that you can access wherever you are, and specially curated lists put together by Hampshire Libraries’ very own teams. There are also titles for children and young adults, meaning that they don’t even have to put down their phone or tablet to lose themselves in a good story.

The reason for rhyme

Parent holding child on lap while listening to a rhymetime session at the library

Did you know that bringing your little one along to a rhymetime session at your local library can be helpful for their development? Not only will it help them learn new sounds and words, it can boost the social skills they’ll need when they start school. You’ll also get to meet other parents and carers giving you some of that much needed adult time – don’t believe the myth that you have to be silent in the library, stay afterwards for a natter with your new friends! 

Get online

Young adult wearing headphones using a laptop at the library

Broadband speed in a slump? PC on the fritz? Missing technology needn’t be a barrier to getting homework sorted or emails seen to. There’s free WiFi in all of our libraries, computers that are completely free for all library card holders to use, and access to printers and photocopying for a small charge. Plus, you can use Access to Research on any Hampshire Libraries computer, giving you access to 15 million peer-reviewed articles. Homework = sorted! 

There’s lots more to Hampshire Libraries than books, so find your local branch and see what’s on! 

Learn a new skill: 5 books for beginners 

Reading is a great way to learn at your own pace. Whether you’re dipping your toe into something for the first time, or brushing up on an old skill, it’s never too late to learn something new. There are all sorts of guides waiting for you at your local library and checking out a beginner’s book is a great way to discover if a new hobby is for you or not. Check out these five step-by-step guides to start your journey. 

 
Macramé for beginners and beyond 

Macramé has seen a massive resurgence in the last couple of years and fills Pinterest boards across the world. Always wanted to give it a go but not sure where to start? Look no further. Learn all the basic macramé knots with the knot tutorial library so you can get started on your favourite projects straight away. Want to craft a hanging plant holder or a stunning statement arch for the garden or a doorway? This book includes on-trend macramé projects for inside and outside the home. Choose from an assortment of projects with easy and more advanced versions so you can develop your skills as you go. 

RHS grow your own veg and fruit bible 

Highly regarded gardener, Carol Klein, has collaborated with the Royal Horticultural Society to create an easy-to-follow, practical and inspiring beginner’s guide to everything you need to know to grow fruit, vegetables, salads, and herbs all year round. With an environmentally friendly approach, Carol gives all the advice you need to succeed. From preparing a plot, planning what to plant, and how to grow any one of the 80 featured food plants, this is a book to help you any time of year, whatever your experience. 

DIY on a budget: the very best tried-and-tested ideas for your home 

Let’s face it, DIY is hard. It’s a skillset all of us need but few of us master and, with all the different online tutorials, it’s impossible to know the best way to get that much needed work done. This official handbook from the founder of a 2-million-member strong online community offers tried and tested advice and all the inspiration you need to re-decorate rooms and homes of all sizes, no matter how big or small your budget. No more scrolling through YouTube tutorials – phew! 

Crochet: learn it, love it 

Crochet can be a lifelong skill perfect for making inexpensive personalised gifts for friends and family alike. With pictures, diagrams, and step-by-step guides to 40 essential crochet techniques and 12 simple beginner projects, you can dive straight in with this skill-building book by renowned crochet designer Tracey Todhunter.  

Joe’s 30-minute meals: 100 quick and healthy recipes 

Fall in love with cooking again by learning a few new healthy recipes that won’t take hours of preparation. Joe’s 30-Minute Meals is packed with everyday healthy dishes that you’ll want to make, time and time again. With chapters simply organised by main ingredient, it’s easy to find a dish you can’t wait to get started on.  

There’s more to explore 

Not found what you’re looking for? Hampshire Libraries has all sorts of books to help you learn a new skill, just search for your topic in our online catalogue to get started. Or if you learn better with tuition, check out our Learning in Libraries courses, many of them are free! 

Get inspired by the Gadgeteers 

The Summer Reading Challenge launches on Saturday 16 July – any anyone who signs up, online or at their local library and reads six books gets a special medal and certificate.

You can read any six books, big books, little books, picture books, funny books, graphic novels, cookery books, eBooks or eAudiobooks… but if you’re inspired by the cool Gadgeteers you might want to borrow one of these brilliant science books this summer.  

They’re all available as physical books in the library, eBooks and eAudiobooks – so wherever you are and whatever you’re doing this summer you can still enjoy six great books and win that medal (did we mention the medal?) 

You can find plenty of books on our special category on our catalogue, check them out here: Summer Reading Challenge library catalogue.

Or if you enjoy reading or listening to books on your device, you can use our free BorrowBox service: Summer Reading Challenge BorrowBox bookshelf.

Here are some recommendations below:

Listen Layla by Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Janey Mack! Layla’s back! And she’s getting her inventions ready for the Grand Design Competition. But when her grandmother is taken ill and her family must go to Sudan to be by her side, Layla starts to feel like she is being pulled in so many different directions. Can she stay on the inventions team at school, if she’s in a different country? Why are her cousins making protest signs? And is anyone even listening to her?! This was not the halal girl summer she thought she was going to have. 

The taylor turbochaser by David Baddiel

Amy loves cars, and dreams of being a driver. But there’s a major catch: her slow old wheelchair with its broken wheel. When Amy finally gets a new electric one, it’s exciting – at first. But standard engines only have so much power. And that’s where Rahul comes in – Amy’s best friend and genius inventor. Soon Rahul turns a wheelchair into a supercar! And so the Taylor Turbochaser is born. But when it all goes suddenly wrong, Amy is going to have to hit the road – and drive. 

Uma and the answer to absolutely everything by Sam Copeland

Uma Gnuderson has a world full of questions: How can I save my home from being sold? Will my dad ever start talking again? And how do alpacas get drunk? But since her mum died, Uma’s life has been short on answers. Until one day she finds a mysterious Bluetooth earpiece and starts to ask it questions. And it answers them. All of them. It knows everything, from the capital of Mongolia to the colour of her headteacher’s underpants. The earpiece is an incredible high-tech artificial intelligence called Athena. Through Athena, Uma suddenly has the answer to every question she can imagine – and she’s going to use them to save her home and her father.  

Doctor Proctor’s fart powder by Jo Nesbo

Doctor Proctor is an ageing inventor just waiting for his big break. When he teams up with Lisa and her peculiar friend Nilly in making the world’s most powerful fart powder, it seems his dream may be coming true. But the ruthless twins Truls and Trym Thrane are lurking in the background just waiting to spoil their plans. 

George and the unbreakable code by Lucy Hawking and Stephen Hawking 

George and his best friend Annie haven’t had any space adventures for a while and they’re missing the excitement – but not for long. Seriously strange things start happening banks are handing out free money; supermarkets can’t charge for their produce so people are getting free food; and aircraft are refusing to fly. It looks like the world’s biggest and best computers have all been hacked. George and Annie must travel further into space than ever before in order to find out who is behind it. 

Kay’s marvellous medicine by Adam Kay

The olden days were pretty fun if you liked wearing chainmail or chopping people’s heads off but there was one tiny little problem back then – doctors didn’t have the slightest clue about how our bodies worked. It’s time to find out why Ancient Egyptians thought the brain was just a useless load of old stuffing that might as well be chucked in the bin, why teachers forced their pupils to smoke cigarettes, why hairdressers would cut off their customers’ legs, and why people used to get paid for farting. (Unfortunately that’s no longer a thing – sorry.) You’ll get answers to questions like: Why did patients gargle with wee? How did a doctor save people’s lives using a washing machine, a can of beans and some old sausages? What was the great stink? (No, it’s not what doctors call your bum). 

How we got to now: six innovations that made the modern world by Steven Johnson 

Did you drink a glass of water today? Did you turn on a light? Did you think about how miraculous either one of those things is when you did it? Of course not – but you should, and author Steven Johnson has. This adaptation of his adult book and popular PBS series explores the fascinating and interconnected stories of innovations – like clean drinking water and electricity – that changed the way people live. 

Danny Chung does not do maths by Maisie Chan

Eleven-year-old Danny Chung loves drawing more than anything – certainly more than maths, which, according to his dad and everyone else, is what he is ‘supposed’ to be good at. He also loves having his own room where he can draw in peace, so his life is turned upside down when a surprise that he’s been promised turns out to be his little, wrinkly, ex-maths-champion grandmother. Nai Nai can’t speak a word of English, which doesn’t make things easy for Danny when he is charged with looking after her during his school holidays.  

Babysitting Nai Nai is NOT what he wants to be doing! What’s worse, Nai Nai has to share his room, AND she takes the top bunk! Before long though it becomes clear to Danny that there is more to Nai Nai than meets the eye, and that they have more in common that he thought possible… 

Cyborg Cat and the night spider by Ade Adepitan

Ade loves playing football and he’s amazing in goal, despite the heavy metal calliper he has to wear on his leg. He can save any ball that’s sent his way, from any direction, so his friends have nicknamed him the Cyborg Cat. But when the Parsons Road Gang stumble upon some unusual graffiti it starts to have a really weird effect on Ade. Somehow, the art is drawing him into another dimension, where he really is Cyborg Cat! But that’s not all – after seeing the Night Spider’s art, Ade starts to feel weak and everything begins to go wrong. He’s banned from a school trip to a safari park because of his disability, and the doctors have some bad news about his legs. How can Ade overcome his challenges and what power does the mysterious Night Spider have over Cyborg Cat? Ade needs all his friends’ help to uncover the truth. 

Author of the Month: Marian Keyes

Early Biography  
Marian Keyes is an Irish author born in 1963, who grew up in and around Dublin as part of a large family. Keyes completed degrees in law and business, moving to London in 1986 to take on an administrative role. However, Keyes began to struggle with alcoholism and depression in her twenties, eventually attempting to take her own life in 1995. Keyes underwent rehabilitation for her alcoholism in Dublin and began working on short stories, based in part on her own experiences. Keyes submitted these stories to the publisher Poolberg Press, with the promise of a novel to follow. The novel she submitted, Watermelon (1995), would become a best seller in Ireland and launch her career as an author. While Keyes has struggled with mental health difficulties for most of her adult life, she has described her writing as a ‘rope across the abyss’ which has given her the strength in times of crisis. Keyes has been sober now for over 25 years and lives with her husband Tony in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin. 

Work and Career  
Keyes’ works are darkly comic but insightful novels, often based on her own experiences. They cover sensitive topics such as mental illness, divorce, substance abuse and domestic violence while maintaining a tact and approachability which makes them instant favourites with readers. While Keyes’ books tackle heavy topics, their tone and narrative are optimistic and uplifting with a happy ending for all your favourite characters. Keyes main series is the Walsh Family novels, where we join the Walsh Sisters as they navigate the ups and downs of modern life. Watermelon (1995) is the First book in the series, while her latest work Again, Rachel (2022) is the most recent addition. Despite being associated with the genre, Keyes has been a strong critic of the term ‘chick-lit’ and its ‘belittling’ and ‘demeaning’ connotations. Equally, Keyes is a strong feminist and has drawn attention to differences in the way that male and female written works are represented and awarded.  

Accolades, Awards and Statistics 

Keyes is the British Book Awards Author of the Year 2022, recognised for her ‘expert storytelling, incredible warmth of heart, and significant contributions to the publishing industry over three decades of writing’. She has sold over 33 million books worldwide and her works have been translated into 36 different languages. Keyes has won ‘Popular Fiction Book of the Year’ at the Irish Book Awards in 2009 and 2017 for This Charming man (2008) and The Break (2017) respectively. Keyes has had multiple best-selling books in the UK and Ireland, where her works routinely top bestsellers lists. 

Marian Keyes – Biography 
Penguin – Where to start reading Marian Keyes’ books 
The Guardian – Marian Keyes: rehab was one of the happiest times of my life 
Twitter – Marian Keyes  
BBC Radio 4 – Desert Island Discs Marian Keyes 
Independent.ie – Author of the Year 
Chatelaine – Keyes on the term chick lit 

Check out our Marian Keyes collection on our catalogue

“Writing about feeling disconnected has enabled me to connect, and that has been the most lovely thing of all.” ~ Marian Keyes

Pride Month 2022 with our volunteer, Ren

Hello! I’m Ren, a volunteer at Chandler’s Ford Library, and I’ve been asked to tell you about some of the wonderful books we are recommending to you during Pride month 2022.

This Pride month Hampshire libraries are uplifting and celebrating a diverse range of queer voices and spotlighting their works through the theme of ‘coming of age’. Coming of age is an intense time of self discovery, something we all go through, but as queer people coming to terms with the fact you are different from what society expects of you can be scary, but at the same time also freeing. This freedom and celebration in the face of fear is what our ‘coming of age’ pride recommendations celebrate.

As many of you will know Pride started as a riot. Following the Stonewall uprising in 1969 after a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York, people took to the streets in 1970 to march for queer rights, these marches are now known as the first Pride. Understanding this history of Pride is essential in acknowledging how far queer rights have come. Because of people like Martha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, a movement started to push for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people and over time has allowed these protests to grow into celebrations all over the world, uplifting and bringing together the queer community, showing any queer person who feels alone that they can and will find their people and their pride. With how large Pride has become over the years LGBTQIA+ people can now to come into their identity in a much more accepting society.

On a personal note, I’m so proud to be a part of a library service which celebrates queer identities and has such a diverse range of books, and that the book world continues to publish a diverse array of queer voices and stories. It’s amazing to know how many books are available to so many people who can recognise themselves within their pages, and feel at home and seen there. Many of the queer books available and coming into the library will allow people to feel seen in ways they haven’t been before and that makes me so happy. Having pride in your identity is a strength, let these characters’ stories show you that.

Within the pages of these books you will see characters go through the growing pains of life as they come into their own, not just linking to the LGBTQIA+ elements of their identities, but holistically how their whole identity effects their life and how they interact with the world around them.

I hope everyone, people a part of the queer community, questioning, or an ally wanting to diversify their reading, will take this Pride month to read LGBTQIA+ books. Hampshire libraries have a wide array of LGBTQIA+ books available to borrow through our services, either in branch, through our home library service or on BorrowBox (our eBook and eAudiobook service).

There has been a delightful list of queer books curated by our staff, featuring diverse and unique stories which I encourage everyone to look at, as well as checking out the rest of our catalogue and displays in branch for your LGBTQIA+ book needs! Below are some of my personal selections and a little bit about them. (As always make sure you look up any possible trigger warnings before jumping into these stories!)

Hani and Ishu’s guide to fake dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
Queer rep: Lesbian main character, Bisexual main character

In this sapphic story two opposites fake a relationship for their own gains. Hani, easy going and popular, has told her friends she is dating Ishu after they told her that she couldn’t be bisexual if she has only dated guys. Ishu, an academic overachiever, has agreed to fake date to boost her popularity in the hopes of becoming head girl. Through this story of self conviction and self love these two Bengali teens learn what it means to be there for each other and to believe in themselves, no matter what other people may say.

Felix ever after by Kacen Callender –
Queer rep: Transgender main character, Achillian main character, Lesbian side character, Gay side character, Sapphic side character, Non binary side character

Felix Love wants his own happily ever after, but, even with the pride he has in his Black, queer and transgender identity, he is worried he’s one marginalisation too many. After he starts receiving transphobic messages and his deadname and photos of him pre transition out him at school, Felix sets himself on getting revenge. What he didn’t set his sights on was landing himself in a quasi-love triangle.
Through this tale of exploration, identity and love follow Felix as he learns who he is and what he truly deserves.

Loveless by Alice Oseman
Queer rep: AroAce main character, Lesbian side character, Pansexual side character, Nonbinary side character

Georgia is obsessed with love… at least she is in theory and fiction. After a disastrous attempt to confess to her chosen crush goes horribly wrong on prom night she commits herself to finding someone at university. With the help of her outgoing university roommate Rooney, and best friends from school Pip and Jason she is sure to find love, right? But, as Georgia learns of the terms aromantic and asexual, she has to learn if love is in the cards for her at all or is she destined to stay loveless.
This story shows the growing pains of moving away from home, the beauty of friendships and the freedom in finding who you truly are.

Annie on my mind by Nancy Garden
Queer rep: Lesbian main character, Lesbian side character

The history of this book is one to acknowledge, it has been controversial in the past, being banned from many libraries and even being burned in Kansas City! Luckily now the world is much more accepting and this book is acknowledged as one of the first portrayals of a healthy queer relationship in the YA genre.

In this sapphic book two young girls meet at a museum and quickly form a bond which starts as friendship and blossoms into more. Despite the pressures and expectations of family, school and society the two know they need to be true to themselves and how they feel, and through the help of an unexpected source they may just gain the freedom they need to stay together. This book grabs onto your heart with its exploration of coming to terms with your identity and finding pride in who you love.

Powerful poetry: 7 must read contemporary poetry books

Poetry comes in all different shapes and sizes. From flowery language mixed with rhyme and rhythm, to plain speaking pages that confess something profound (and everything in between). Discover your favourite kind of poetry with these varied recommendations to get you started.

Everyone sang: a poem for every feeling by William Sieghart

This collection of writers new and old is an amazing way to find poems that connect with you. Everyone Sang is a wonderful selection of accessible poems that are arranged to help us map out our emotions. Chosen by the creator of the bestseller ‘The Poetry Pharmacy’, William Sieghart, and brought to life by illustrator Emily Sutton. The collection includes Maya Angelou to A.A. Milne, Lemn Sissay, Jackie Kay, Carol Ann Duffy, Joseph Coelho, Kae Tempest, W.B. Yeats, Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, and many others.

If you’re a fan of Joeseph Coelho, you’ll love our interview with him on the Love Your Library podcast.

The actual by Inua Ellams

A symphony of personal and political fury. Sometimes probing delicately, sometimes burning with raw energy. In 55 poems that swerve and crackle with a rare music, Inua Ellams unleashes a full-throated assault on empire and its legacies of racism, injustice and toxic masculinity. In just 80 pages Ellams shows us the many faces of contemporary poetry and how we can use it to understand the world.

Bluets by Maggie Nelson

While Bluets narrator sets out to construct a sort of ‘pillow book’ about her lifelong obsession with the colour blue, she ends up facing down both the painful end of an affair and the grievous injury of a dear friend. Winding its way through depression, divinity, alcohol, and desire, visiting along the way with famous blue figures, including Joni Mitchell, Billie Holiday, Yves Klein, Leonard Cohen and Andy Warhol.

bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward

Raised in Chorley in the north of England, Yrsa Daley-Ward’s work draws on her early life and her Jamaican and Nigerian heritage. The first collection from a ground-breaking poet, bone looks at identity, race, mental health, and femininity. With celebrity fans from Beyoncé to Florence Welch, this isn’t a collection to be missed.

Hold your own by Kae Tempest

Hold Your Own is a rhythmic retelling of the Tiresias myths set-in modern-day Britain. Kae Tempest’s first full-length collection takes a close look at class and gender in this ambitious multi-voiced work. A vastly popular and accomplished performance poet, Tempest commands a huge and dedicated following on the performance and rap circuit.

Grief is the thing with feathers by Max Porter

Part novella, part sound-poem, Max Porter’s debut depicts a wild and unruly grief embodied by the character Crow – antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter. In a Nanny McPhee-like series of events, the sentimental bird visits a grieving family after the loss of their mother and threatens to stay until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months, and the physical pain of loss gives way to memories, the family begin to heal.

Citizen: an American lyric by Claudia Rankine

Through essays, images, and poetry, Claudia Rankine’s book recounts mounting racial aggressions in 21st century daily life and in the media. The accumulative stresses that come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform and stay alive. Taking a close look at how racism has impacted the lives of Serena Williams, Zinedine Zidane, Mark Duggan and others.

Remember, there’s no wrong way to read poetry, but reading poems in different ways can be great for finding out how they can create different feelings. Why not try reading a poem as fast or as slowly as you possibly can and see whether it changes the sense of meaning you get from it? Lots of poets like to play with how words sound too, so you could even ask a friend to read a poem aloud to you. It’s a great way to discover more about poetry and share your favourite reads with those closest to you.

9 great reads from The Amplify Project

Recently on the Love Your Library podcast we sat down with Patricia and Pauline from The Amplify Project, a podcast that puts the spotlight on Black writers for the stage, page and screen. Through a series of intimate interviews, the podcast puts Black British writers front and centre to explore their work, experiences, and inspirations. Find out why The Amplify Project started and what they see in their future in the latest episode of the Hampshire Libraries podcast.

Below, you’ll find a curated list of book recommendations provided by The Amplify Project. Discover your next favourite read in this exciting collection of novels, plays, and poetry.

The Humiliations of Welton Blake by Alex Wheatle

‘Welton Blake has done it! He’s asked out Carmella McKenzie – the best-looking girl in school – and she’s only gone and said yes!

But just as he thinks his luck is starting to change, Welton’s phone breaks, kick-starting a series of unfortunate and humiliating events. With bullies to avoid, girls ready to knock him out and all the drama with his mum and dad, life for Welton is about to go very, very wrong…’

The Frequency of Magic by Anthony Joseph

‘Raphael earns his living as a butcher in a hillside village in rural Trinidad. He is also a would-be author, but there have been so many changes to the novel he has been writing for forty-one years that many of the characters have lost patience and gone off to do their own thing. But somehow, miraculously, the novel, as Raphael has planned it in one hundred chapters of a thousand words, seems to write itself…’

Homecoming by Colin Grant

‘These are stories of hope and regret, of triumphs and challenges, brimming with humour, anger and wisdom. Together, they reveal a rich tapestry of Caribbean British lives. Homecoming is an unforgettable portrait of a generation, which brilliantly illuminates an essential and much-misunderstood chapter of our history.’

Ordinary People by Diana Evans

‘South London, 2008. Two couples find themselves at a moment of reckoning, on the brink of acceptance or revolution. Melissa has a new baby and doesn’t want to let it change her. Meanwhile out in the suburbs, Stephanie is happy with Damian and their three children, but the death of Damian’s father has thrown him into crisis – or is it something or someone else? Are they all just in the wrong place? Are any of them prepared to take the leap?’

We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan

We Are All Birds of Uganda explores the entangled relationship between communities, generations and identity across two continents. Hafsa Zayyan’s deeply affecting debut novel is a powerful insight into what it means to live between two worlds and what it means to belong.

Tales from the Caribbean by Trish Cooke

This collection of favourite tales from the many different islands of the Caribbean will inform, delight and entertain children as well as educate them about this fascinating and varied region.

Death of England: Delroy by Roy Williams

Written in response to their play Death of England, Death of England: Delroy is a new standalone work by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, which follows a Black working-class man searching for truth and confronting his relationship with White Britain.

This One Sky Day by Leone Ross

Dawn breaks across the archipelago of Popisho. The world is stirring awake again, each resident with their own list of things to do:

A wedding feast to conjure and cook.

An infidelity to investigate.

A lost soul to set free.

As the sun rises two star-crossed lovers try to find their way back to one another across this single day. When night falls, all have been given a gift, and many are no longer the same.

The sky is pink, and some wonder if it will ever be blue again.

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

Winner of the Costa First Novel Award 2019, this murder mystery book explores themes of slavery, freedom and secrets and results in a beautiful and haunting tale about one woman’s fight to tell her story. Remember, you can find interesting and insightful interviews with the authors on The Amplify Project podcast, and catch the episode with Patricia and Pauline on the Love Your Library

Earth Matters March

The Earth’s climate is changing, human activity is causing our planet to warm at an alarming rate. International bodies of scientists have warned that we have just over a decade to halve our emissions to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change on our food supply, national security, global health, extreme weather, and more.

There is no time to waste. Everyone can do something to address our climate challenge, Hampshire County Council is working with all its services to help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, increase biodiversity and make the land we manage as resilient as possible to climate change issues like flooding.

Plans include using our land and built estate to sequester carbon; making changes across our vehicle fleet; making the food we serve our customers more sustainable; ensuring we consider climate impacts when purchasing products and services and promoting changes that we can all make at work and at home.

To help us all make small changes at work or at home Hampshire Libraries launched Earth Matters March on 1 March. This month-long campaign features 31 suggestions – published as Instagram stories – for small changes most of us can easily make.

We are supporting this campaign with three special collections of books:

Our digital library is available 24/7 via the free BorrowBox app – you can join the library online if you’re not already a member – and get access to the app straightaway. All of the books from our three environmental collections can be reserved and sent to your local library for collection – you can reserve online, but a small charge applies to cover our costs.