The best book podcasts to listen to in 2023 

Pop in your headphones and tune into the perfect podcast for you in 2023. If you’ve ever explored the world of podcasts, you’ll know that there’s a wealth of book-related content to choose from.  With so much choice, trying to pick a new podcast can feel a little overwhelming. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of our favourites for you to listen to in 2023 so you can get the lowdown on your favourite authors, learn about the publishing industry or discover your next great read.  

Best for the library-goer 

First things first, if you’re not already following our Love Your Library podcast then you’re missing out. Love Your Library is a book lover’s podcast, brought to you by Hampshire Libraries. We interview authors and companies from across the world about books and reading and have fun discussing what we’re reading. From Phillipa Gregory to Rory Cellan-Jones, no matter what you love to read we’ve got something for you.  

Listen now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Android or online.  

Best for a bit of everything  

If you’re looking for podcast that covers book discussions and interviews as well as publishing news, then Books & Boba is the perfect show for you. Hosts Marvin Yueh and Reera Yoo pick a book by an Asian or Asian American author to read and discuss on the podcast every month as well as reporting on book deals, new releases and other bookish news. 

Listen now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or online

Best to enjoy with a cup of tea  

If you’ve ever googled the most beautiful bookshops in the world, then you’ve probably come across Shakespeare and Company. Nestled in the heart of Paris, the shop isn’t just a picturesque place to browse, but since its opening in 1951 has been home to over 30,000 writers, artists, and intellectuals (known as tumbleweeds). These tumbleweeds include prolific authors and poets such as Allen Ginsberg, Anaïs Nin, Ray Bradbury, and Jeanette Winterson. 

So, settle down with a cup of tea and a macaron and connect with a piece of bookish heritage. The weekly Shakespeare and Company: Writers, Books and Paris podcast is hosted by the Literary Director Adam Biles and features conversations with internationally acclaimed authors, recorded live from the bookshop. 

Listen now on Apple Podcasts or online

Best for sleuths  

Bookriot produce a wide range of excellent book related podcasts but if you’re a mystery or thriller fan then Read or Dead is the one for you. The bi-weekly mystery fiction podcast is dedicated to unearthing and discussing mystery and thriller literature. From true crime to fictional mysteries involving games, the show has a wide range of topics for you to uncover. 

Listen now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or online

Best for comic book fans 

Novels aren’t for everyone – and that’s okay. If you’re more interested in reading comics, then The Stack from the team at Comic Book Club is a wonderful podcast pick. The hosts review new releases and the latest news in their weekly episodes. Whether you’re a Marvel, DC, or more of an indie fan, The Stack has you covered.  

Listen now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or online

Best for classics 

For a more classically based podcast, then check out On the Road with Penguin Classics. Each episode, author Henry Eliot travels across Europe to interview novelists and readers alike. From Soho to Lisbon, the podcast focusses on literary locations and classic literature in an entertaining but educational way.  

Listen now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Acast 

Best for a bedtime story 

If you’re looking for new way to experience your old favourites, then the Anne of Green Gables podcast is the place to start. The unabridged book is read by a full cast of talented actors, bringing read L.M. Montgomery’s childhood classic to life.  

Listen now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or online

BBC Sounds also regularly release abridged versions of popular contemporary books. These include darkly funny How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie and People Person by the bestselling author, Candice Carty-Williams. 

Listen now on the BBC Sounds website or on their app
 

We’re all ears 

Let us know what your favourite book-related podcasts are on Facebook or Instagram, and sign up to our newsletter so you can hear more from us in 2023. 

How libraries can support your New Year’s resolution

Starting something new doesn’t have to be expensive or require a lot of effort; your local library is full of free resources and services to help you throughout the year. We’ve compiled a handy guide to how libraries can support you in your New Year’s resolutions. No matter how big or small your milestones are, we’ve got you covered.

Woman reading book at library bookshelf

Read more, spend less

Do you want to read more often, but find yourself spending too much money on books that you never get round to reading? Borrow a book from your local library instead. There’s a huge selection of books to browse in the library catalogue, or if you’re into ebooks or audiobooks, download the BorrowBox app. Just log in with your Hampshire Libraries membership details and see the wide variety of books available. Read on your travels and when you’re out and about – the perfect way to start reading more often. And it’s super sustainable too!  

Elderly man using computer in library

Learn something new

We’ve all resolved to learn a new skill at some point. But this can be expensive if you’re buying new equipment or signing up to a course to support your new venture. Many of our Learning in Libraries courses are free and offer a wide range of skills and activities to get stuck into. From seated dance, to learning to sew or computing for beginners, whatever you’re into there’s something for everyone. Or if you fancy learning more independently, read our blog on books for beginners to learn a new skill.  

Group of people knitting and smiling

Join a new group

It can be tricky to make new friends and find clubs or societies in your area. The library is a great place to discover a new group and find people who share your passions. Give back to the local community by volunteering for one of the charity groups or come along to Friendly Fridays at Yateley Library and enjoy some games. Or if you fancy a creative activity, there are knit or craft and natter groups. You can even meet new people from the comfort of your own home with the digital readers book club. Simply head to the events section on our website to find out what’s going on near you.  

Person outside in activewear

Cut down on screen time

We’re all guilty of being consumed by our phones, tablets and TV screens. Seek some inspiration from the library catalogue to spend less time looking at screens and more time exploring the outdoors. Why not try out a new form of exercise or connect with nature at your local park and discover the hidden secrets right on your doorstep? Or entertain yourself on your lunchtime walk and listen along to the Love Your Library podcast.  

Parent and child reading in the library

Share more stories

Sharing stories is a great way to connect with friends and family, through bonding over your favourite twists and turns in tales. Encourage your little ones to read more often by joining the Winter Mini Challenge. Once they’ve finished a book, they can give you their full review so you can find out which stories they enjoy. Or come along to a storytime event and hear your favourite books being read aloud.  

Student sat in cafe with headphones on

Reach new goals

Whether you’ve set a new career or study goal this year, libraries are the perfect quiet spot to concentrate and avoid distractions. Hire a room or study space to get your head down or to learn with a group. Computers are free of charge for all library card holders, and you can log into the free Wi-Fi on your own device. If you’re studying, read our blog on the ways libraries can support students.  

Don’t forget that no matter how big or small your goals are this year, Hampshire Libraries is here to support you. Starting something new in the smallest way is the biggest step to reaching your targets. These aims don’t have to be daunting, stay motivated and focused with a little help from your local library.   

Author of the Month: Bernard Cornwell

Our Author of the Month for January is the ever popular Bernard Cornwell.

Bernard Cornwell has written over 60 books and sold over 30 million copies worldwide.

Bernard is best known for the ‘Sharpe’ series, the central protagonist played by Sean Bean in the hugely popular Television Series.

Bernard primarily writes Historical fiction and his novels always end with an exploration of how they differ from real History.

Find his work on our catalogue:

‘I play merry hell with history, I admit it’ – Bernard Cornwell, The Guardian

Hampshire Libraries wrapped: the best of 2022

Chandler's Ford library with Jubilee bunting

We’ve loved finding ways to make your 2022 better and brighter. Whether you’ve been using your local library to find ways to save money, join the Gadgeteers in the Summer Reading Challenge, or enjoyed listening to the Love Your Library podcast, we’re glad you’ve joined us for what has been a very busy year. 

We wanted to look back on everything we’ve done together this year, so we’ve created a roundup of our best of 2022 as we look ahead to the New Year. 

Summer Reading Challenge  

Two children enjoying a book during the summer reading challenge

Over the summer, we once again held our annual Summer Reading Challenge. This year the theme was Gadgeteers, a collection of friends who love science and wanted to help your children discover the innovation behind the world around them. It was brilliant hearing about all the books Hampshire’s newest Gadgeteers read this summer, and we’re so pleased that so many children had fun! 

If you enjoyed the Summer Reading Challenge this year, why not join in with the winter mini challenge from The Reading Agency? The Gadgeteers are back to spark your children’s love of reading once again. It finishes on 20 February so sign up now and get stuck in. 

Pride month 

Pride month graphic with volunteer holding LGBTQ+ books and a rainbow flag

For Pride month this year, we invited Ren, a volunteer at Chandler’s Ford Library, to talk to us about the delightful list of queer books we have available at our libraries and share some personal recommendations. Our selection covers a range of books published in the last 40 years, so if you’re looking to diversify your reading then there’s sure to be something for you either as a physical copy or an eBook or audiobook on Borrowbox

Love Your Library podcast 

The Atlas Paradox book cover

It’s been an amazing year for the Love Your Library podcast, from superb interviews with award-winning authors, to expert recommendations from our library teams. 2022 has brought us plot twists, belly laughs, bestsellers and so much more. Take a look at all the episodes from 2022 have a listen!  

Death Positive Libraries 

Death positive libraries graphic for Hampshire Libraries

Libraries are uniquely placed to be a centre for bereavement support as well as a trusted space where conversations about death and dying can take place with caring staff on hand to help. So, in March we launched Death Positive Libraries.

We specially selected a collection of books for adults offering practical information and guidance and created one for children to help initiate conversations about death. These resources and much more are still available in each of our five hubs, so please make use of them and keep the conversation going.  

Cost of living resources

Man in a cafe in a Hampshire Library

As times have become tougher, libraries have supported communities across Hampshire. We put together some helpful resources on the different ways libraries can support you during the cost of living crisis. From learning a new skill to practical resources on budgeting, there’s something for everyone.

That’s a wrap! 

What was your highlight of 2022 and what’re you most looking forward to reading in 2023? Let us know on Facebook or Instagram, and sign up to our newsletter so you can stay up on all your local library’s news in the New Year. 

Have a lovely festive season, and we’ll see you in 2023.  

5 festive reads for children this winter

Book covers of festive books for winter

As the weather gets colder, it’s the perfect time to cosy up in the library or at home and share a story with your little ones. Escape to faraway lands and engage their imagination with stories about adventure, friendship, and mystery.  

We’ve prepared a list of our favourite festive stories to borrow from your local library, so you can keep your children entertained over the winter months. Based in chilly settings, these beautifully illustrated picture books have twists, turns and heaps of snow to get you excited for the magic of the holidays. 

The Snowman and The Snowdog book cover

The Snowman™ and The Snowdog by Raymond Briggs  

The Snowman™ and The Snowdog is the sequel to much-loved classic The Snowman™. Billy isn’t full of festive cheer as his beloved old dog has passed away. When snow starts to fall, Billy builds a snowman, and with his leftover snow builds a snowdog too. Later that night, something magical happens; Billy embarks on a wonderful snowy adventure as The Snowman™ and The Snowdog come to life. 

And you can join The Snowman™ and The Snowdog in real life on a festive winter wander around some of Hampshire’s most spectacular country parks. A Winter Wander with The Snowman™ and The Snowdog is taking place at Royal Victoria Country Park, Queen Elizabeth Country Park and Lepe Country Park. Head to the event website to book now.  

The Storm Whale in Winter book cover

The Storm Whale in the Winter by Benji Davies  

The Storm Whale in Winter is a follow up to Benji Davies’s bestselling book The Storm Whale. Last summer, Noi rescued a little whale when it washed ashore in a great storm. Now he longs to see his friend again. Winter sets in and Noi worries about his whale and if it can survive the harsh conditions. 

One night Noi thinks he sees the whale out at sea and rushes outside for a glimpse of it. Soon the whale may be lost in the blanket of ice and snow – who will rescue him? Follow Noi and his old friend on an emotional story about long-lasting friendship.  This beautifully illustrated tale is full of busy scenes and captivating characters, to keep children engaged while reading along.  

No Sleep for Bear book cover

No Sleep for Bear by Duncan Beedie  

Winter is approaching and it’s time for Bear to have a nice long sleep. But the more he tries to get to sleep, the more awake he feels. So, he decides to copy his forest friends who seem to doze off without any trouble: he sings in the trees like Blackbird, burrows underground like Badger, and even hangs upside down from his cave roof like a bat. But nothing works – until wise Frog shows him how to relax, and soon the forest is reverberating with his snores! This is the perfect story to send your little ones off to sleep on a chilly winter’s night. 

The Snow Dragon book cover

The Snow Dragon by Abi Elphinstone  

When the first snow of winter falls, Phoebe wishes for it to bring with it some much-needed magic. In Griselda Bone’s Home for Strays, magic, daydreaming, and doodling are banned. Just as Phoebe is about to give up hope, a Snow Dragon appears and whisks her away on an adventure. An enchanting tale, full of fantastical creatures and winter magic. The Snow Dragon is also available to borrow as an audiobook to listen along as the little ones drift off to sleep.

Snow Penguin book cover

Snow Penguin by Tony Mitton  

In the frozen Antarctic, one curious little penguin decides to explore the ice, snow and sea. On his travels he sees two blue whales, a family of sea lions and a whole school of orcas, but soon Penguin starts to miss his own family. Sometimes coming home is the best adventure of all. Told in rhyming couplets, this feel-good book explores themes of bravery and courage. Cosy up on Christmas morning and follow this little penguin’s journey.  

If your kids would like to try out some other books this winter, head over to the Reading Agency’s website to find out more about the mini winter reading challenge. This challenge is full of fantastic books to discover this winter. Hurry and complete the reading challenge before the holidays end.  

Author of the Month: Margaret Drabble

Margaret Drabble is our Author of the Month for December.

Dame Margaret Drabble was born in Sheffield in 1939. She attended a Quaker Boarding School in York then studied English Literature at Cambridge.

She is the author of numerous novels, in a long career chronicling British women’s experience throughout the changing stages of their lives.

She was appointed CBE in 1980 and made DBE in 2008. Margaret was also awarded the Golden PEN Award for a Lifetime’s Distinguished Service to Literature in 2011.

Find her collection of work on our catalogue here.

Movember & Men’s Health

November is Men’s Health Awareness Month dedicated to bringing awareness to a wide range of men’s health issues. During Movember, men are encouraged to grow a moustache to raise money for men’s health charities.

Men tend to be more reluctant to seek help or treatment and, statistically, have a shorter life expectancy compared to women. But it need not be that way. Find the full collection on our catalogue. You can also find eBooks and eAudiobooks on a dedicated bookshelf with our free provider, BorrowBox.

See below for six titles, taken from our larger list, offering a wide range of information, advice and inspiration to encourage healthier, happier and longer lives.

How to Survive the End of the World by Aaron Gillies

There are plenty of books out there on how to survive a zombie apocalypse, all-out nuclear war, or Armageddon. But what happens when it feels like the world is ending every single time you wake up? That’s what having anxiety is like – and How to Survive the End of the World is here to help. Or at least make you feel like you’re not so alone.

From helping readers identify the enemy, to safeguarding the vulnerable areas of their lives, Aaron Gillies examines the impact of anxiety, and gives readers some tools to fight back – whether with medication, therapy, CBT, coping techniques or simply with a dark sense of humour.

Feel Better in 5: Your daily plan to kick-start great health by Rangan Chatterjee

It only takes 5 minutes to start changing your life. For good.

Feel Better in 5 is the first daily 5-minute plan that is easy to maintain, easy-to-follow and requires only the smallest amount of willpower.

Top tips include:

* A strength workout that you can do anywhere
* Gut-boosting snacks you can eat on the go
* Yoga moves to relax and stay supple
* Breathing exercises to calm the mind

Drawing on Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s twenty years of experience and real-life case studies from his GP practice, Feel Better in 5 is your daily plan for a happier, healthier you at no extra cost.

Inspire: Life Lessons from the Wilderness by Ben Fogle

Writing during the unprecedented period of the coronavirus pandemic and drawing on a wealth of personal stories, Ben reflects on the significance of nature to all our lives and shows us how we can benefit from living a little more wild.

Drawing on his greatest adventures, he shares what his time spent in the wilderness has taught him about life. Ranging across seas, icecaps, jungles and deserts, Ben’s stories are filled with wonder and struggle, with animals, adventure, wilderness, friendships, unexpected acts of kindness and heroism, and are bursting with inspiration directly from nature. Ben’s epic stories reveal a new side to his adventures and show how everyone can find meaning in the wilderness, even if it’s just outside their front door.

Full of exciting adventures and practical guidance, this primer on positivity is a story about overcoming obstacles, surpassing your expectations and inspiring your journey of adventure.

How to Grow Old: A middle-aged man moaning by John Bishop

Whether he likes it or not, John is getting older. His hair is greying, it’s getting that much harder to stay fit, and the potential to become something of an embarrassment is ever increasing.

But hope is not lost.

How to Grow Old is John’s offering to the world. With sage advice on how to avoid the common pitfalls of age, intimate confessions and spit-your-dentures-out hilarious commentary on his own advancing years, this is his observational comic writing at its very best. If you were concerned about how not to be boring or how to get rid of your should-be-old-enough-to-manage kids, this the book has the answers.

Man Up, Man Down: standing up to suicide by Paul McGregor

What does it do to you when someone you love tries to end their life?

Paul McGregor’s dad tried to kill himself, but survived. He went into hospital, came home, and got better. Or at least that’s what people thought. A few months later, the battle continued. And on the 4th March 2009, Paul’s dad ended his life.

You’re a young man, and your dad has just taken his life. How do you grieve? Tormented by the question of why, you lock it away and man up. You wear a mask to show others you’re coping, but you spend every moment you have alone an emotional wreck. Wishing he was still here. You chase money, status, success all as a way to distract yourself from those feelings. But none of it works. You find yourself feeling like you too, will end your own life.

Man Up, Man Down is Paul’s tale of recovery. Taking off that mask and being able to answer the questions that surrounded his dad’s suicide. If you’ve ever lost somebody to suicide, this book is for you.

Testosterone: The Story of the Hormone that Dominates and Divides Us

Through riveting personal stories and the latest research, Harvard evolutionary biologist Carole Hooven shows how testosterone drives the behaviour of the sexes apart and how understanding the science behind this hormone is empowering for all.

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! 

The Big Jubilee Read

The Jubilee weekend celebrations and Commonwealth Games may be over, but you can still take part in the Big Jubilee Read in Hampshire libraries. The Big Jubilee Read features 70 titles, all of which have been written by authors from Commonwealth countries, from Australia to Nigeria, published throughout Her Majesty The Queen’s reign.  

We have chosen a recommended read from each decade to get you started, for the full list of books please visit the website. Which will you read first? Drop us a comment below and let us know. 

1952 – 1961 

A House for Mr Biswas by V S Naipul 

A tale of a dysfunctional family set in post-colonial Trinidad. Mr Biswas is determined to achieve independence, and so he begins his struggle to buy a home of his own, finding one unsuitable home to another. A dark comedy packed with conflict with his in laws. Join Mr Biswas on his determined journey, battling through life.  

1962 – 1971 

Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe 

The Arrow of God is the third volume of Achebe’s African trilogy, following Things Fall Apart and No Longer At Ease. A story of a tribe with different customs and rituals, battling through the ideas of tradition and change. The chief priest of the god Ulu is starting to lose his authority. Is his village under threat?  

1972 – 1981 

Who do you think you are? By Alice Munro 

A collection of stories following Rose as she finds her way in life, away from her overbearing stepmother. Born in poverty in the back streets of a small Canadian town, Rose journeys through life from winning a scholarship to getting married. Written by Alice Munro, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.  

1982 – 1991 

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro 

A tale set in 1956 in post-war England in the great English house Darlington Hall. The ageing butler Stevens, heads out on what he thinks is a relaxing holiday to the West Country. This takes him deep into the countryside and his past. But he may find love along his way.  

1992 – 2001 

White Teeth by Zadie Smith 

With themes of friendship love and war, this book follows three families across three generations and one brown mouse. A tale of two unlikely wartime friends, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. This book highlights Britain’s relationship with immigrants from the British Commonwealth, set in multicultural London between the mid-1970s to the late 1990s.  

2002 – 2011 

The Secret River by Kate Grenville 

Set in London in the 1800s, we follow William Thornhill as he makes the biggest mistake of his life. Happily married to his childhood sweetheart Sal, will William’s family have to pay for his mistake? William’s sentence is to be shipped off to New South Wales for good. Although he doesn’t know it yet, he will soon have to make the most difficult decision of his life.  

2012 – 2022 

A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam 

Set in Sri Lanka at the end of the Civil War, we follow Krishan on his way north from Colombo into the Northern Province for a funeral. His journey follows an island devastated by violence. With themes of loss and longing, this story is a memorial for the missing and the dead.  

To borrow books from the Big Jubilee Read, please visit your local library in Hampshire. You can also reserve these titles online for £1 per book. We have also chosen 22 of the titles as additions to our extensive Reading Groups Sets – if you belong to a Reading Group you can borrow these by signing up for a special Reading Group membership in your local library. Some of the titles are also available as eBooks and eAudiobooks, which can be borrowed for free through the BorrowBox app

Author of the Month: Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is our author of the month for September. Born in 1939, this well-loved Canadian novelist, poet and essayist has won two Booker prizes and been shortlisted for three more, making her one of only four authors to have won twice!

She has become associated with the rights of women and girls all over the world. The iconic red dress of the Handmaid’s Tale has become a symbol of protest against attacks on women’s rights.

Margaret Atwood is a great read for those looking for strong female characters, uncomfortably plausible dystopias and razor-sharp wit and satire. Her novels have had enduring popularity and raise questions as relevant now as when they were written.

Find Atwood’s books on our catalogue.

“Being able to read and write did not provide answers to all questions. It led to other questions, and then to others.” – The Testaments