UEFA European Women’s Championship

The UEFA European Women’s Championship’s are well underway and this tournament will go down in history for breaking many records.  The Lionesses have been front and centre of these achievements, securing the competition’s biggest win, a record they had set themselves by beating Scotland 6-0 to open the 2017 group stage.  Along with total goals scored, most goals in a half and most goals scored in a group stage this has truly been a historic campaign for women’s football, now more so than ever after their brilliant 2-1 win over Spain in extra time. 

The fans have played their part too.  The record crowd at Old Trafford that watched England defeat Austria surpassed the previous record by more than 27,000 spectators.  An attendance 68,871 smashed the previous record of the 41,301 fans attending the 2013 final between Germany and Norway in Solna, Sweden. The new benchmark looks set to go on 31 July, with the Wembley final already sold out.

With women’s football and women’s sport in general receiving additional coverage and interest, the National Literacy Trust have put together a reading list which showcases the best of what your library has to offer with a collection which focuses on sport and amazing stories from popular sporting figures.  Take a look and see how many you can read – maybe you can break some of your own reading records along the way.

UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 | National Literacy Trust

Jaz Santos vs. the world by Priscilla Mante
The first in a new series about a group of unlikely friends who come together to make their own girls’ football team, proving to everyone that they should be taken seriously.

Marta : from the playground to the pitch by Charlotte Browne
Marta is the best footballer in the history of the women’s game. The Brazilian has jaw-dropping flair and skill. She has scored more World Cup goals than any other player, and has won FIFA World Player of the Year six times. But pure talent alone was never enough – this book tells the story of how Marta chased her dreams with determination and a never-give-up attitude, to earn the right to be called the best player ever.

How to be extraordinary : real-life stories of extraordinary humans! by Rashmi Sirdeshpande
Could you be EXTRAORDINARY? This book will inspire you with the real-life stories of extraordinary people, showcasing a total variety of personalities and talents. Whoever you are, and whoever you want
to be, read about the extraordinary stories of these 15 people, and decide how YOU will be extraordinary too!

Our beautiful game by Lou Kuenzler
A hundred years before the Lionesses, Lily Parr, Alice Woods and their teammates were proudly playing their beloved, exciting and skilful game. As men were sent to fight in the war, women and girls took their place in munitions factories. Football became a favourite pastime and, before long, they were creating all-female sides and playing public matches to sell-out crowds, overshadowing men’s football. Despite drawing crowds of 50,000, women’s football was outlawed by the Football Association in 1921, who deemed it ‘unsuitable for females’. This is the incredible story of these amazing women.

Rocky by Tom Palmer
A struggling student and brilliant footballer, Rocky Race is many things, but to most people she’s just Roy Race’s little sister. It’s not much fun, especially as Melchester Rovers head to the League Cup Final. Rocky’s sick of everyone knowing her through Roy, she’s had enough of school, and she’s even started having panic attacks. Now it’s up to Rocky to find her own way – as a person and a player – and she’s going to need all her grit and determination to do it…

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. 

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.

LGBT+ History Month – February 2022

Hello there! My name is Jordan. I’m currently a Library Assistant at Winchester Library and today I’m guest-writing for the blog to talk to you about LGBT+ History Month.

Throughout February, Hampshire Libraries will be celebrating and spotlighting LGBT+ history and culture, as well as recognising the achievements of LGBT+ pioneers from all fields of life. LGBT+ History Month started in 2005, and is supported by a network of various charities, organisations, and schools.

This year’s theme is ‘Politics in Art’, with the aim of highlighting the importance of art and artistic expression in furthering LGBT+ rights and challenging injustice. It is easy to forget that only a few decades ago, creating art that was outside the norms of society would have been heavily censored and criticised, and continues to be this way for many parts of the world today.

Despite this, there were many bold pioneers. Artists such as Keith Haring generated awareness and activism about AIDs in the 1980s. Poets such as Audre Lorde spoke of gender and sexuality in an era where such topics were not widely accepted.

Art in all its forms has the power to inspire, educate and provoke. There is a rich history of defiantly challenging oppressive attitudes with the power of the written word. However, I feel art also fosters a sense of community. Art draws us together and provides space to see society – and ourselves – reflected in it. Underground zines allowed oppressed LGBT+ communities to communicate and be themselves during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Even today, book clubs allow all types of people to relax and feel safe while talking about their favourite novels.

On a personal level though, art helps us make sense of ourselves and where we fit in. It’s so important for art to reflect everyone in society, and while it hasn’t always been the case, in recent years I’m really proud that a wider range of diverse books are being printed and finding their way into libraries.

For a young teenager exploring their sexuality and finding the strength to come out, to the older person wishing to read about the history they lived through, Hampshire Libraries has a range of books available to read and reserve, either in branch or on BorrowBox, our eBook and eAudiobook service.

We have produced a book list, featuring a range of talent whatever you’re looking for. Below are a couple of my personal selections, but I encourage you to look through the whole list and find the book for you!

To reserve the books below from our catalogue, just click on the book image.

My recommended books are:

  • Pride: The Story of the LGBTQ Equality Movement by Matthew Todd
    Pride documents the milestones in the fight for LGBTQ equality, from the victories of early activists to the passing of legislation barring discrimination, and the gradual acceptance of the LGBTQ community in politics, sport, culture and the media. Rare images and documents cover the seminal moments, events and breakthroughs of the movement, while personal testimonies share the voices of key figures on a broad range of topics. Pride is a unique celebration of LGBTQ culture, an account of the ongoing challenges facing the community, and a testament to the equal rights that have been won for many as a result of the passion and determination of this mass movement.
  • Queer Intentions: A (Personal) Journey Through LGBTQ + Culture by Amelia Abraham
    Combining intrepid journalism with her own personal experience, in Queer Intentions, Amelia Abraham searches for the answers to these urgent challenges, as well as the broader question of what it means to be queer right now. With curiosity, good humour and disarming openness, Amelia takes the reader on a thought-provoking and entertaining journey. Join her as she cries at the first same-sex marriage in Britain, loses herself in the world’s biggest drag convention in L.A., marches at Pride parades across Europe, visits both a transgender model agency and the Anti-Violence Project in New York to understand the extremes of trans life today, parties in the clubs of Turkey’s underground LGBTQ+ scene, and meets a genderless family in progressive Stockholm.

  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
    This is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born. It tells of Vietnam, of the lasting impact of war, and of his family’s struggle to forge a new future. It serves as a doorway into parts of Little Dog’s life his mother has never known – episodes of bewilderment, fear and passion – all the while moving closer to an unforgettable revelation.

  • The Whispers by Greg Howard
    Before she disappeared, Riley’s mama used to tell him stories about the Whispers, mysterious creatures with the power to grant wishes.
    Riley wishes for lots of things. He wishes his secret crush Dylan liked him back. He wishes the bumbling detective would stop asking awkward questions. But most of all he wishes his mother would come home . . .
    Four months later, the police are no closer to finding out the truth – and Riley decides to take matters into his own hands.
    But do the Whispers really exist? And what is Riley willing to do to find out?
  • The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
    When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants – as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to lose her family, but she also doesn’t want to hide who she is, which only gets harder once Flávia walks into her life.
    Beautiful and charismatic, Flávia takes Nishat’s breath away. But as their lives become tangled, they’re caught up in a rivalry that gets in the way of any feelings they might have for each other.
    Can Nishat find a way to be true to herself… and find love too?

Books and me: Carly Harrod

Carly Harrod from Hampshire Countryside Service tells us about the books that inspired a career with nature and why adults should read more children’s books.

Where’s your favourite place to read?

I like to find a nice sunny spot in the garden to sit and read my book, so I tend to read more in the summertime. Usually as soon as I finish work, I like to get out in the garden to read something. I have a wood fire in my living room so it can be nice to curl up in the evening and read a bit of a book there too.

How do you read?

I went through a stage of reading on my kindle until I filled my kindle up, but I actually really like the feel and smell of a real book, so I tend to read more physically.  If I’m really into a book I can’t stop reading it. I need to read it until it’s finished. So that might mean I read constantly for two days if I have time, but that can be hard when you have a seven-year-old running around. I find if I leave a book for too long, I get a bit lost and I might move onto something else and forget about it, so I like to read in one hit.

I like an easy read that I can just get completely lost in. There are some books that I just cannot get into though, and I’ll just stop and move onto another book if I’m not enjoying it. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien is one that I keep trying but I just can’t get through. I love Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit,but I get about 5 pages into The Silmarillion and just can’t go further. But I will never get rid of a book, I will always keep it in case I want to come back to it another time because it might not be that I will never like that book, it might just be the way I’m feeling on that day or that I’m just not into that genre at the moment.

Books are quite precious to me, I would never fold a page over or leave a book open and face down to save a page either. I have a few books that are really special and they sit in their dust jackets on my shelf to keep them safe.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just finished Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series which I re-read all the time, especially in the summer. They’re just nice books to return to because I can get through one of them in a couple of days and I love to just get lost in that magical world.

Reading patterns

Fantasy is a big love of mine and I really enjoy authors like Tolkien and Pratchett, but I also love a bit of Scandi-noir. They’re crime novels that tend to follow the police trying to solve a puzzling case and I love the twists and turns, but they can be a bit darker. I think because they’re set in cities covered with snow, the crimes feel so far removed from here and I find them easier to read about. Samuel Bjork’s novels are some of my favourites but those are as dark as I can go with reading now. I used to be really into horror writing, I loved Stephen King and James Herbert, but I can’t read them at all these days. I used to love the Point Horror book series when I was growing up and R.L. Stine was my absolute favourite Point Horror writer but I think as I get older I prefer reading books that leave me with a nice feeling at the end.

First love, best loves

I have older siblings and a lot of what I read came from them. They had this lovely bookcase filled with some really old-fashioned books, like Swallows and Amazons and Enid Blyton and other books that can be quite outdated now. But I loved these stories about children going out into the countryside and having adventures. I think that’s probably why I do what I do now. As I got older, I began getting into the Point Horror books, I did enjoy them them but it was what everyone was reading at the time. What really stands out in my memory is when my sister bought me The Hobbit. I absolutely loved it. It’s still one of my favourite books and I go back and re-read it constantly. It was one of the first more adult books that I had ever been given. The writing was so immersive, I really felt like I was going to Middle Earth.

A series of books that I really love is by Monica Dickens, the series starts with The House at World’s End. It’s about this group of siblings who get sent away to live on a farm on their own and end up looking after all the stray animals in the area. They’re just such nice books, there’s nothing horrible in them, just very sweet escapism.

I also spend a lot of time looking through ID guides as part of my job and they can be really interesting. One that I absolutely love is called The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, the pictures in it are all hand drawn. It shows plants and animals all throughout the seasons and it’s just beautiful. Another brilliant one is Janet Marsh’s Nature Diary which is all about the Itchen Valley and the nature you can find throughout it. They’re both brilliant because even though they’re really old, it’s still plants and animals that we recognise. For anyone who wants to get out and become more involved with nature I would really recommend Francis Rose’s book on wildflowers, it’s a brilliant book to get started identifying flowers and I would really recommend Joseph Cornell’s book of activities for something to do as a family too.

But my all-time favourite book is A Fly Went By from Dr Suess. It’s just a long poem. I still have the copy that was read to me as a child and I still read it to my kids. Our oldest kids have children of their own now and we bought the book for them to read to their children as well.

Overlooked delights

I think adults should read more children’s books. They’re just simple pleasures with nothing bad happening. I like the positivity in life, and I think children’s books show us that. One I really enjoyed recently was Oi Frog! There are some fantastic kids’ books out there that can teach you stuff as well as teaching your kids stuff and I think we forget that. It reminds us of when things were easier, and I think we all need that sometimes.

Carly Harrod is a Project Manager for the Countryside Service, as part of her role she looks after the Countryside Service social media account and supports the volunteers who work throughout Hampshire. She regularly speaks on the Looking After Nature podcast. Carly was speaking with Isaac Fravashi.

10 must reads for Reading Groups – National Reading Group Day

Tuesday 14 September is National Reading Group Day, a yearly celebration of reading groups and the communities they create. Reading groups are great if you want to grow your reading habits and make new friends. It’s easy to get started if your reading group has a Hampshire Libraries membership, you’ll have access to up to 1,300 reading sets including large print and audio formats for members with different needs. Sets can be booked up to 12 months in advance so that everyone will have their book at the same time and sets can be borrowed for 8 weeks to ensure you have plenty of time to read. Find out more about borrowing reading sets, joining a reading group, or starting your own.

Check out this video which shows you how to reserve reading sets through our website:

Here are 10 of our favourite reads that are all available to borrow as reading group sets:

  1. The Foundling by Stacey Halls

Two women, bound by a child, and a secret that will change everything…

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst, that Clara has died in care, Bess is astonished to be told she has already claimed her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why. 

Less than a mile from Bess’s lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

2. My Sister the Serial Killer by Braithwaite Oyinkan

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in “self-defence” and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

3. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

On 21 June, 1922, Count Alexander Rostov – recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt – is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol.

Instead of being taken to his usual suite, he is led to an attic room with a window the size of a chessboard. Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely.

While Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval, the Count, stripped of the trappings that defined his life, is forced to question what makes us who we are. And with the assistance of a glamorous actress, a cantankerous chef and a very serious child, Rostov unexpectedly discovers a new understanding of both pleasure and purpose.

4. The Binding by Bridget Collins

Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a letter arrives summoning him to begin an apprenticeship. He will work for a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice – but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse. He will learn to hand-craft beautiful volumes, and within each he will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, he can help. If there’s something you need to erase, he can assist. Your past will be stored safely in a book, and you will never remember your secret, however terrible. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and memories – are meticulously stored and recorded. Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of them has his name on it.

5. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

Teeming with life and crackling with energy — a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood

Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.

Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.

6. Becoming by Michelle Obama

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her-from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it-in her own words and on her own terms.

7. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Shocking and controversial when it was first published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer prize-winning epic remains his undisputed masterpiece. Set against the background of dust bowl Oklahoma and Californian migrant life, it tells of the Joad family, who, like thousands of others, are forced to travel West in search of the promised land. Their story is one of false hopes, thwarted desires and broken dreams, yet out of their suffering Steinbeck created a drama that is intensely human, yet majestic in its scale and moral vision; an eloquent tribute to the endurance and dignity of the human spirit.

8. A Good Man in Africa by William Boyd

Morgan Leafy is hardly the most respectable of Her Majesty’s representatives in the West African state of Kinjanja. For starters, he probably shouldn’t have involved himself in wholesale bribery. Nor was it a good career move to go chasing after his boss’s daughter; especially when his doctor banned him from horizontal pursuits.

But life is about to change for young Morgan Leafy. Every betrayal and humiliation he has suffered at the hands of petty persecutors is suddenly put into perspective. For Morgan has a dead body on his hands – and somehow, some way he’s going to have to get rid of it.

9. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorise it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, they 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. But all around him, impending danger closes in.

10. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything. One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Written by Isaac Fravashi

Climate Change Reads for Young Adults

Climate change is big news, and it’s becoming apparent that making small changes to the way we live now, could be amplified, to have an even greater effect in 10 or 20 years time.

We have created a very special collection of books and audiobooks for young adults to help them learn about the environment and nature, through fiction, information about climate heroes or simple, but effective actions they can take to make a difference right now. Find them on the eBooks app, BorrowBox.

“We deserve a safe future. And we demand a safe future. Is that really too much to ask?” ~ Greta Thunberg

Fiction titles

City of Rust by Gemma Fowler

Railey dreams of winning the drone races with her bio-robotic gecko friend, Atti. But when a bounty hunter crashes their biggest race yet, the pair are forced to flee to the feared Junker clans who mine the rubbish orbiting the Earth.

The Summer We Turned Green by William Sutcliffe

It’s the summer holidays, and thirteen-year-old Luke has just had his life turned upside down. First his older sister Rose moved ‘across the road’ – where a community of climate rebels are protesting the planned airport expansion – and now his dad’s gone too.

A fresh, funny, heartfelt look at this generation’s must-win battle: one earth, one chance.

The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe by Tricia Springstubb

Beautifully written, The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe is about expeditions big and small, about creatures who defy gravity and those of us who are bound by it.   A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

A Girl Called Joy by Jenny Valentine

Meet ten-year-old Joy Applebloom, a girl with a knack for finding the silver lining in even the darkest of rainclouds.
After years of travelling the world with her parents and older sister, Claude (Claude rhymes with bored, which is just about right), Joy and her family move to suburbia – back to school, back to her grumpy, rule-obsessed grandad and back to normality.

Joy soon finds her usual irrepressible positivity and zest for life waning, but when the powers that be threaten to pull down a mighty oak tree, Joy decides to fight back, and realizes that not all magic requires wands and spells, and perhaps the most important sort of magic is the power, resilience and courage that was there all along . . .

Plastic Girl by Jessica Maison

Eva grew up in a climate apocalypse, her parents are dead, and the boy she once loved is probably trying to kill her. Just when she’s about to give up, she discovers a new species born from plastic waste. More incredibly, she can mould these creatures into other beings – first a butterfly, then a fish, a deer, a bear – and eventually, a sister, Iris. As Eva dabbles with creating life, it becomes frightfully clear that her creations, Iris included, will either save humanity or end it.

Eva, one of Earth’s last inhabitants, is a lonely girl searching for companionship and evidence that life might return to Earth. What time she doesn’t use to survive her harsh environment, she spends searching for life, stewarding the lake around her cabin and making sculptures of extinct animals out of found materials. One day, while checking on her island, she discovers something alive that shouldn’t be, something she can transform and that can also transform her. She embarks on a grand and dangerous scientific journey that ultimately will birth a new era and provide her with the companionship she so desperately needs. Through Eva’s engagement with this new life, readers will discover that to save the world, humanity may have to become something else entirely or disappear completely.

Flood World by Tom Huddleston

Kara and Joe live outside the Wall, spending their days navigating perilous waterways and scratching out a living in the ruins of the old city. But when they get swept up in a police chase, and find themselves in possession of a mysterious map, they’re suddenly in a world of trouble!As they delve deeper and deeper into a dark world of rebellion and revenge they’ve soon got gangsters, cops and ruthless Mariner pirates in their hi-tech submarines hot on their heels. But as Joe and Kara are swept up into a revolution of justice and vengeance, they must find a way to fight back and save their city before the walls come tumbling down, and the waves come rushing in…

The Territory by Sarah Govett

Noa lives in what’s left of Britain where flooding means land is scarce. Everyone must sit an exam at 15: if you pass you can stay in the Territory, if you fail you must go to the Wetlands. Rich families can buy their children an upgrade to help, but ‘Norms’ like Noa must succeed on their own merit. Noa is a bright funny teenager, not sure which boy she likes, devoted to her friends. The book follows her as she and her friends face the exam. Who will pass and who will fail?

Watership Down by Adam Richards

Set in the once idyllic rural landscape of the south of England, ‘Watership Down’ follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the destruction of their home, as they head towards a mysterious promised land.

Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Years after the Switch, life inside the Pod has moved on. A poor Auxiliary class cannot afford the oxygen tax which supplies extra air for running, dancing and sports. The rich Premiums, by contrast, are healthy and strong. Anyone who opposes the regime is labelled a terrorist and ejected from the Pod to die.Sixteen-year-old Alina is part of the secret resistance, but when a mission goes wrong she is forced to escape from the Pod. With only two days of oxygen in her tank, she too faces the terrifying prospect of death by suffocation. Her only hope is to find the mythical Grove, a small enclave of trees protected by a hardcore band of rebels. Does it even exist, and if so, what or who are they protecting the trees from?A dystopian thriller about courage and freedom, with a love story at its heart.

Deep Secret by Berlie Doherty

Deep in a Derbyshire valley live two girls, twins, so alike that even their family can’t tell them apart. But tragedy is waiting. When the valley is sold to be flooded for a huge dam, the villagers are forced to leave their homes. Deep secrets are uncovered. New characters enter their lives and desires, love and grief come to the surface.

Zenith by Julie Bertagna

Sixteen-year-old Mara and her ship of refugees are tracking the North Star, desperate to find a homeland in the melted ice mountains of Greenland. The vast, floating city of Pomperoy is just one of the shocks that are not in their navigation plans. Unwittingly, the refugees bring catastrophe in their wake for Tuck, a gypsea pirate-boy, and also for Ilira – a land whose inhabitants exist in a state of terror at the top of the world. Back in the drowned ruins at the feet of the towering sky city, Fox is beginning his battle with the cruel, corrupt forces that rule the New World. But separated from Mara, his resolve begins to waver . . .

The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold

When a deadly Fly Flu sweeps the globe, it leaves a shell of the world that once was. Among the survivors are 18-year-old Nico and her dog, on a voyage devised by Nico’s father to find a mythical portal; a young artist named Kit, raised in an old abandoned cinema; and the enigmatic Deliverer, who lives Life after Life in an attempt to put the world back together. As swarms of infected Flies roam the earth, these few survivors navigate the woods of post apocalyptic New England, meeting others along the way, each on their own quest to find life and love in a world gone dark.

Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean

Every summer Quill and his friends are put ashore on a remote sea stac to hunt birds. But this summer, no one arrives to take them home. Surely nothing but the end of the world can explain why they’ve been abandoned – cold, starving and clinging to life, in the grip of a murderous ocean. How will they survive?

Non-Fiction titles

Be the Change by Liz Brownlee, Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens

From National Poetry Day Ambassadors Liz Brownlee, Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens comes an incredible anthology of poetry identifying ways we can Be the Change.

These positive and upbeat poems will explore sustainability and the positive efforts being made to protect the planet and are perfect for starting conversations about looking after each other and our environment.

Climate Rebels by Ben Lerwill

Most people know about Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough. But there are many other climate rebels around the world. They are not as famous, but they work very hard. This book is about some of these amazing people.

99 Maps to Save the Planet

A shocking but informative, eye-catching and witty book of maps that illustrate the perilous state of our planet. The maps in this book are often shocking, sometimes amusing, and packed with essential information.

Save our Species by Dominic Couzens

Focusing on thirty of our most loved and most ‘at risk’ inhabitants, this uplifting and hopeful book will give naturalists of any age the tools to respond to the SOS calls heard from their garden, local park and beyond.

The Almost Zero Waste Guide by Melanie Mannarino

In a perfect world, we would all be able to fit a year’s worth of waste in a mason jar. But for most of us​,​ doing so can be immensely intimidating or simply not feasible. In ​The (Almost) Zero Waste Guide​,​ author Melanie Mannarino shares 100 simple tips for being less wasteful w​ith what​ you eat, ​how you live in​​ your home, when you’re curating your wardrobe, when you practice self-care, during your travels​ near and far​, and in your community.

Make it Happen: How to be an Activist by Amika George

In the spring of 2017, 17-year-old Amika George founded the Free Periods movement on behalf of every schoolgirl who couldn’t afford tampons or sanitary towels. Three years later, in January 2020, these products became freely available to every schoolgirl in England for the first time, funded by the government. Anyone can make history, including a teenager launching a global petition from their bedroom. And Amika will show you how, in this essential guide to being an activist.

Taking on the Plastics Crisis by Hannah Testa

In this personal, moving essay, youth activist Hannah Testa shares with readers how she led a grassroots political campaign to successfully pass state legislation limiting single-use plastics and how she influenced global businesses to adopt more sustainable practices. Through her personal journey, readers can learn how they, too, can follow in Hannah’s footsteps and lower their carbon footprint by simply refusing single-use plastics.

Plasticus Maritimus by Ana Pego

For young readers comes an imaginative guide to ocean plastics, filled with tips and tricks for identifying—and combating—pollution in our oceans. Inspired by biologist Ana Pêgo’s life’s work, and filled with engaging science and colourful photographs, this foundational look at plastic pollution in the ocean explains why it is such an urgent contemporary issue.

Imaginary Borders by Xiuhtezcatl Martinez

In this personal, moving essay, environmental activist and hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez uses his art and his activism to show that climate change is a human issue that can’t be ignored.

One Earth: People of Colour Protecting our Planet by Anuradha Rao

One Earth profiles Black, Indigenous and People of Colour who live and work as environmental defenders. Through their individual stories, the book shows that the intersection of environment and ethnicity is an asset to achieving environmental goals.

No One is too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg

‘Everything needs to change. And it has to start today’ In August 2018 a fifteen-year-old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, decided not to go to school one day. Her actions ended up sparking a global movement for action against the climate crisis, inspiring millions of pupils to go on strike for our planet, forcing governments to listen, and earning her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. This book brings you Greta in her own words, for the first time.

Open your mind: Learn to deal with the big stuff in life by Gemma Cairney

Full of honest and practical advice from Gemma Cairney and a whole host of trained professionals and real people, ‘Open Your Mind’ is the best friend of a book everyone needs. From stress, trauma, and anxiety, to your place in the world and everything in between. It includes chapters on anxiety, depression, addiction, politics, our natural world, and feminism.

It’s Getting Hot in Here by Bridget Heos

Tackling the issue of global warming head-on for a teen audience, Bridget Heos examines the science behind it, the history of climate change on our planet, and the ways in which humans have affected the current crisis we face. It’s Getting Hot in Here illustrates how interconnected we are not just with everyone else on the planet, but with the people who came before us and the ones who will inherit the planet after us.

It’s Your World by Chelsea Clinton

In It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going, Chelsea Clinton tackles some of the biggest challenges facing our world today, especially for kids. Using data, charts and stories she unpacks challenges related to Poverty, Climate Change, Gender Equality, Health, Endangered Species and more. She also talks about what’s being done to make a difference in each area, particularly by kids and teenagers. With lots of suggestions and ideas for action, Chelsea Clinton shares her passion for helping others and shows readers that the world belongs to every single one of us, and every one of us counts.

Guarding Eden by Deborah Hart

Guarding Eden tells the personal stories of twelve ordinary people who were so concerned about climate change that they altered their lives to do something about it. Some did quiet backroom work in research, drafted submissions or wrote to politicians; others decided to go public, really public – one was part of the team occupying a 160-metre power-plant chimney, one went on a hunger strike publicised around the world, another started the Lock the Gate Alliance.

V is for Vegan by Kerstin Rogers

Vegan food has long suffered from a fusty, bland image so Kerstin Rodgers set out to change this. Whether you are a vegan, vegetarian, vegan curious, pescatarian or carnivore, if you are looking for something different, or merely to cut down on your animal and meat intake, this book will change your perception of veganism forever.

Chew on This by Eric Schlosser

Based on Eric Schlosser’s bestselling Fast Food Nation, this is the shocking truth about the fast food industry – how it all began, its success, what fast food actually is, what goes on in the slaughterhouses, meatpacking factories and flavour labs, global advertising, merchandising in UK schools, mass production and the exploitation of young workers in the thousands of fast-food outlets throughout the world. It also takes a look at the effects on the environment and the highly topical issue of obesity.

Generation Us by Andrew Weaver

In clear and accessible language, Generation Us explains the phenomenon of global warming, outlines the threat it presents to future generations and offers a path toward solutions to the problem. The reality of global warming has long been accepted within the scientific community, yet it remains a hotly debated topic at the political and social level.

Generation Green by Linda Sivertson

We all know about the Earth’s environmental crisis, but there is someone who can truly make a difference: you. If you text your friends or chat with them online, download music to your iPod, or toss bottles and papers into recycling bins, you’re already more eco-savvy than you think. It’s just as easy to do even more to help save the earth, and Generation Green shows you how. 

We are the Weather Makers by Tim Flannery

We Are the Weather Makers is a concise and revised edition that will allow listeners aged from nine to 90 to learn the facts about climate change and is as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 2006.

How to Change Everything by Naomi Klein

The first book for younger readers by internationally bestselling social activist Naomi Klein: the most authoritative and inspiring book on climate change for young people yet. Warming seas. Superstorms. Fires in the Amazon. The effects of climate change are all around us. Reforestation. School-strikes for climate change. Young people are saving the world and you can join them because you deserve better. Are you ready to change everything?

We are all Greta by Valentina Giannella

We Are All Greta sets out the basic ideas required to understand climate change, explained in a scientific and accessible way and drawn from the most authoritative sources. With a chapter on key words and sites to help you understand the climate challenge and a list of websites to visit for further information, this is a book for young people, for parents, for grandparents and anyone having to answer direct and urgent questions about what must be done to protect our world.

Voices of Change

The twelve essays in Voices of Change, by fifteen inspiring youth leading the climate change movement in Canada, explore the most challenging issues around climate change, from sustainability to activism. The contributors, from all across the nation, describe their own work developing successful initiatives that have positively brought about environmental change—from creating a “Library of Things” in Waterloo, Ontario, to an ocean-education program in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

Blue Planet II by Leisa Stewart-Sharpe

Discover all there is to love about our Blue Planet, the stories of its inhabitants, and realise how you can help protect this wilderness beneath the waves.

New Life Stories by David Attenborough

How did Sir David track down a giant Earthworm? Why does he respect Rats? What was the first bribe in nature? Why do well known foods often have two names? And where can you see evidence of the earliest life on Earth? His enthusiasm is as infectious as ever, and conveys a unique fascination on topics as diverse as the Kiwi, Hummingbirds, Monsters, Butterflies, Chimps, Cuckoos, Fireflies and Elsa, the famous lioness. 

“The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.”  ~ David Attenborough

Are you ready to be an Earth Hero?

Climate change is big news, and it’s becoming apparent that making small changes to the way we live now, could be amplified, to have an even greater effect in 10 or 20 years time.

With this in mind, The Reading Agency chose the theme – ‘Wild World Heroes’ for the 2021 Summer Reading Challenge. With ideas from World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), the Challenge focuses on encouraging children to learn about real-world environmental issues, from plastic pollution and deforestation to wildlife decline and nature loss.

We have created a very special collection of books for ‘Earth Heroes’ to help children learn about the environment and nature, through stories, information on real-life climate heroes or simple, but effective actions they can take to make a difference right now.

If your child hasn’t signed up for the Summer Reading Challenge yet there’s still time. Participating children, who visit their local library, will receive a special collector’s poster and stickers when they read books – on any theme or topic. Children who finish the challenge can collect a certificate and medal from their local library too! For more information and to sign-up online please visit our Kids’ Zone website.

We will follow this collection with another selection of digital titles for older children and teenagers and a collection of books for adults, which will be released to coincide with the COP26 UN Climate Conference this autumn.

Story books (fiction)

The Last Bear, by Hannah Gold, with illustrations by Levi Pinfold

There are no polar bears left on Bear Island. At least, that’s what April’s father tells her when his scientific research takes them to this remote Arctic outpost for six months. But one endless summer night, April meets one. He is starving, lonely and a long way from home. Determined to save him, April begins the most important journey of her life…

“This is an important first novel, important for us, for polar bears, for the planet. It is deeply moving, beautifully told, quite unforgettable.” Michael Morpurgo.

Jungledrop, by Abi Elphinstone

Eleven-year-old twins, Fox and Fibber, have been rivals for as long as they can remember, but when they are whisked off to’ Jungledrop’, a magical unmapped Kingdom in charge of conjuring our world’s weather, things get wildly out of hand.

Fox and Fibber find themselves on an incredible adventure in a glow-in-the-dark rainforest full of golden panthers, gobblequick trees and enchanted temples as they race to find the long-lost Forever Fern and save the world.

A Good Day for Climbing Trees by Jaro Jacobs

Marnus is tired of feeling invisible, living in the shadow of his two brothers. His older brother is good at breaking swimming records and girls’ hearts. His younger brother is already a crafty entrepreneur who has tricked him into doing the dishes all summer.

But when a girl called Leila turns up on their doorstep one morning with a petition, it’s the start of an unexpected adventure. And finally, Marnus gets the chance to be noticed…

Nominated for the 2019 CILIP Carnegie Medal Spectator Best Books of the Year selection

Hope Jones Saves the World by Josh Lacey

Hope Jones’ New Year’s resolution is to give up plastic, and she’s inspiring others to do the same with her website. When she realises her local supermarket seems to stock more unnecessary plastic than food, she makes it her mission to do something about it. She may be just one ten-year-old with a homemade banner, but with enough determination, maybe Hope Jones really can save the world.

The Bear in the Stars by Alexis Snell

There was once a bear, a great, white bear – Queen of Beasts. Her kingdom was a beautiful, cold, glistening place. But over the years the ice disappeared, slipping away like sand through an hourglass. Slowly, slowly, one by one, the other animals moved on. The Great Bear has no choice but to leave her snowy realm to search for food, friends and a new home. She soon discovers a world that is growing hotter whilst hearts grow colder – until one small act of kindness changes everything.

Melt by Ele Fountain

A boy lives in a remote, snow-bound village with his elderly grandmother. Their traditional way of life is threatened by the changing snow and ice: it melts faster every year. When the sea-ice collapses while he is out hunting, he only just escapes with his life and is left stranded in the Arctic tundra.

Meanwhile a girl is trying to adapt to another new school. Her father promises his new job at an oil company will mean they never have to move again, but not long after he starts, his behaviour becomes odd and secretive. When their fates take a drastic turn the girl’s world collides with the boy’s and they find themselves together in a desperate search for survival, and for the truth.

Earth Friends, Fair Fashion by Holly Webb

Researching her school project on Fairtrade has been a real eye-opener for Maya. She loves clothes and is appalled to find that her favourite sparkly T-shirts are made by children in other countries who lead very different lives from her own. She knows she must do something about it, but how can she make a difference without revealing her pop star secret to the world?

Burning Sunlight by Anthea Simmons

Zaynab is from Somaliland, a country that doesn’t exist because of politics and may soon be no more than a desert. Lucas is from rural Devon, which might as well be a world away. When they meet, they discover a common cause: the climate crisis.

Together they overcome their differences to build a ‘Fridays For Future’ group at their school and fight for their right to protest and make a real impact on the local community. But when Zaynab uncovers a plot which could destroy the environment and people’s lives back home in Somaliland, she will stop at nothing to expose it. Lucas must decide if he is with her or against her – even if Zaynab’s actions may prove dangerous…

Harklights by Tim Tilley

Wick has always lived in the dark and dreadful Harklights Match Factory and Orphanage, working tirelessly for greedy Old Ma Bogey. He only dreams of escaping, until one day a bird drops something impossible and magical at his feet – a tiny baby in an acorn cradle…

As midnight chimes, Wick is visited by the Hobs, miniature protectors of the forest. Grateful for the kindness shown to their stolen child, they offer Wick the chance of a lifetime – escape from Harklights and begin a new life with them in the wild…

Information books (non-fiction)

Climate Rebels – Ben Lerwill

Climate change is happening, now. But it’s not too late to change the story. Meet the people, who are fighting to save our planet. Featuring 25 hopeful stories including Greta Thunberg, David Attenborough, Jane Goodall, Wangari.

This book will transport you from the poles to the oceans, to the rainforests. These are true stories to make you think, make you cry, make you hope – and these are stories to make us all stand together and protect our home.

David Attenborough – Sanchez Vegara & Maria Isabel

His passion for animals led David Attenborough into a career in television, visiting animals in their natural habitats and sharing their untold stories with the world. This moving, illustrated book about his life features includes a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the broadcaster’s life.

Little People, BIG DREAMS is a bestselling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.

Helping our planet – Jane Bingham

Caring for the Earth is the biggest challenge facing us all today, but what can YOU do to help? This practical, hands-on guide is filled with helpful checklists of actions to take and choices to make in your daily life. There are chapters on planet-friendly eating, shopping and travelling, and on ways to save energy and cut down on waste. There’s also clear advice on getting drastic about plastic, and taking better care of the natural world, and links to recommended websites with more information.

Rebel Animals – Kimberlie Hamilton

Discover secrets, stories, and facts about the world’s most at-risk animals!

This beautifully illustrated collection tells the story of over 60 real-life courageous creatures. With incredible facts about animals from all seven continents and the oceans of the world.

This fascinating book includes information about animal conservation and climate change, making it an ideal read for those who love nature and animals and want to make a difference.

How You Can Save the Planet – Hendrikus van Hensbergen

YOU have the power to change the world! Climate breakdown, species extinction, environmental disasters – we know the planet is heating up and running out of time; but what can we do about it?

Lots of things actually like: building a green wall; making recycled bird feeders; rewilding; setting up a ‘swapshop’; organising cycling groups at school.. and so much more!

The Extraordinary Life of Greta Thunberg – Devika Jina

The story of a girl who is changing the world. Greta Thunberg is an activist best known for calling attention to the devastating effects of climate change on our planet. A bold voice even against people that want to silence her, Greta has become a source of inspiration for millions of people who want to work towards tackling the climate crisis.

From taking part in school strikes and owning that her Asperger syndrome is her superpower, to crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a powerful stand against carbon emissions, this is the incredible story of a schoolgirl who is changing the world.

Guardians of the Planet – Clive Gifford

This environmentally positive book contains everything children need to become guardians of the planet. Kids can learn how to become keepers of the coasts, friends of the forests, home heroes and much more through a mix of compelling facts, creative activities, and proactive tips.

Key environmental topics are clearly explained, and the easy-to-follow projects and suggestions help to put the issues in an everyday context. From reusing clothes and composting food to reducing water waste and giving wildlife a helping hand, this book will encourage children to engage with environmental problems and inspire them to take care of our wonderful planet.

Lots: The Diversity of Life on Earth – Nicola Davies & Emily Sutton

Winner of the Margaret Mallett Picture Book Award, as part of the English 4-11 Picture Book Awards.

There are living things everywhere: the more we look, the more we find. There are creatures on the tops of the tallest jungle trees, at the bottom of the coldest oceans, even under the feathers of birds and in boiling volcanic pools. So how many different kinds are there? One, two, three … lots Lots, a beautifully illustrated introduction to the concept of biodiversity for younger readers. With words from Nicola Davies and exquisite artwork by Emily Sutton, this ground-breaking book is certain to enchant and inspire children.

Drastic Plastic and Troublesome Trash – Hannah Wilson

Most of us don’t think twice before we buy something new and when we go to the shops we take the packaging for granted. But where does all our rubbish go to and how can we keep it under control so that it doesn’t ruin our planet?

This thoughtful but incredibly fun book enters the mysterious world of recycling, discovering how materials such as plastic, glass, paper and electronics are made and recycled. It also looks at the many ways we can help to reduce the amount of waste we throw out, has suggestions and activities for upcycling and explains how recycling is crucial to preserving the beautiful and life-sustaining world we live in.

The Lost Spells – Robert MacFarlane

The Lost Spells is a pocket-sized treasure that introduces a beautiful new set of natural spell-poems and artwork by beloved creative duo Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris.

As in The Lost Words, these “spells” take their subjects from relatively commonplace, and yet underappreciated, animals, birds, trees and flowers — from Barn Owl to Red Fox, Grey Seal to Silver Birch, Jay to Jackdaw. Written to be read aloud, The Lost Spells summons back what is often lost from sight and care and inspires protection and action on behalf of the natural world.

Earth Heroes – Lily Dyu

When faced with climate change, the biggest threat that our planet has ever confronted, it’s easy to feel as if nothing you do can really make a difference . . . but this book proves that individual people can change the world.

With twenty inspirational stories celebrating the pioneering work of a selection of Earth Heroes from all around the globe, from Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough to Yin Yuzhen and Isatou Ceesay, each tale is a beacon of hope in the fight for the future of our planet, proving that one person, no matter how small, can make a difference.

Joanne Harris

If you think you’re familiar with Joanne Harris, our author-of-the-month for July, you might want to think again.

While she’s best known for her multimillion-seller Chocolat, Harris’ books don’t tend to neatly fit within one genre. Perhaps uniquely among best-selling authors, her books dip into a multiplicity of topics such as food, romance, France, psychological thrillers, vampires, Norse mythology, fairy tales, author self-help – and Dr Who.

In a recent interview with the Hampshire Libraries’ podcast Love Your Library (available later this month), Harris explained: ‘Much as a I understand the convenience and the financial interest of being a brand who does the same thing predictably every year, I just couldn’t do that. What drives me is an element of discovery and of risk.’

It’s the above-mentioned Chocolat (made into an Oscar-nominated film featuring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp), which first gave her a taste of success. It’s now sold more than 33 million copies worldwide and in 2012 she became only the fifth British female novelist to join the book industry’s “Millionaires Club”: an exclusive list of authors who have seen at least one of their books pass the million sales barrier in the UK since the 1990s.

Joanne Harris (MBE) grew up with her English father and French mother in Barnsley, South Yorkshire and started her career as a teacher, pursuing writing as a hobby. Her first novel, The Evil Seed, is a dark gothic romance which had limited commercial success. She spent more than 12 years teaching French at Leeds Grammar School, the inspiration behind her St Oswald’s series of books, the latest of which, A Narrow Door, is to be published next month. This darkly comic novel continues the story of eccentric Latin Master Roy Straitley, and follows Gentlemen and Players, and Different Class.

She said: ‘In a sense I’ve been writing about teaching since the start. I tend to write about small communities and the pressures they undergo, and the changes new arrivals make – and how the volatile chemistry of the small community can be utterly disrupted by what seems to be a relatively trivial change.’

Harris writes intelligently with a dry humour, and while her work is sometimes described as captivating or enchanting, her novels can frequently be darkly funny. Settings play an important role in her books and she often writes in a first-person, dual-narrator structure with complex characters who may be psychologically damaged or morally ambivalent.

She’s already published two other books in 2021: The Strawberry Thief (the fourth in the Chocolat series, including Chocolat, The Lollipop Shoes and Peaches for Monsieur le Curé), a bittersweet story of motherhood and learning to be yourself; and Honeycomb, a novel built from stories in which every chapter tells a standalone tale, which sits within her folklore/fairytale collection (A Pocketful of Crows, Orfeia and The Blue Salt Road).

This achievement is all the more admirable since, alongside the normal difficulties of living through lockdowns and Coronavirus, Harris was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of last year. With typical generosity, she has decided to share her experience to ‘make it more mundane’ and talks about her diagnosis as ‘Mr C’, a fictional character who has outstayed his welcome: her Twitter updates include the hashtag #GoodbyeMrC.

Harris still lives in Yorkshire, she plays bass and flute in a band first formed with her husband when she was sixteen, and works in a shed in her garden.

If you like Joanne Harris, you might also like Tracy Chevalier, Louis De Bernieres, Helen Fielding, Sebastian Faulks, Kate Atkinson, Salley Vickers, William Boyd, Anne Tyler, Barbara Kingsolver and Edward St Aubyn.

Written by Kate.

Digital Readers – December 2020

The book our online reading group will be reading (or listening to) and discussing in December has been decided on through a vote in the group. The results are in and the December book is…

The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd

In this masterpiece of nature writing, Nan Shepherd describes her journeys into the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland. There she encounters a world that can be breathtakingly beautiful at times and shockingly harsh at others. Her intense, poetic prose explores and records the rocks, rivers, creatures and hidden aspects of this remarkable landscape.
Shepherd spent a lifetime in search of the ‘essential nature’ of the Cairngorms; her quest led her to write this classic meditation on the magnificence of mountains, and on our imaginative relationship with the wild world around us. Composed during the Second World War, the manuscript of The Living Mountain lay untouched for more than thirty years before it was finally published.

From 1 December, until the end of the month, this book will be available to download through the BorrowBox app without having to wait or having to reserve it. It will be available to simply download right away – as both an eBook and an eAudiobook.

The group is open to anyone above the age of 16, with a Facebook account and a Hampshire Library card. If you would like to join the group; just head over to our Facebook page.

Hang on; how does an online reading group work?

Through the BorrowBox app, using your Hampshire Library Card, you will be able to download an eCopy of the selected title to your tablet or smart phone to read and enjoy. Ther will be hundreds of copies, of both the eBook and the eAudiobook version, available for you to download right away, so no need to reserve it or get it added to a waiting list; just download it right away and get reading!

Throughout the month you will be able to talk about the book with others in the group, and there will be regular discussions happening, so check back in to join in on the conversations as they pop up. As is the case with any reading group, there will be books you love, and books you might wish you had never picked up -and that’s okay!
In the group you will be able to discuss your opinions, feelings and thoughts on the month’s title in a friendly environment. To keep the group friendly, and ensure everyone feels confident expressing their thoughts, we ask that everyone keep the language clean and show respect to one another.

There won’t be a set day or time when you have to be available; this means you can join in the discussions whenever it suits you! There is also not a physical place to meet, as all discussions are taking place in the Facebook group, so you won’t have to leave the house to be part of the reading group!
On the last Friday of each month, the book for the following month will be announced, it will then become available for download on the 1st of each month.

If you don’t have a Hampshire Library card, you can apply for one online. It is completely free to sign up to the library, and as long as any physical items borrowed are returned on time, it will continue to be free.
After you sign up, your library card will be sent to your home and you can then join the reading group using your Facebook account.

If you would like to join the group, then head over to our Facebook page and join the ‘Digital readers’ group, you can find it here!