Author of the Month: Dorothy Koomson

Our author of the month for October is the brilliant Dorothy Koomson.

Born in 1971, Dorothy Koomson is a bestselling author of adult fiction books with over 2 million books sold. She has earned her title ‘The Queen of the Big Reveal’ with her nail-biting psychological thrillers, which pack an emotionally devastating punch.

Dorothy Koomson has been a strong advocate for Black authors to write the stories they want to tell without compromising their vision.

Try her latest novel ‘My Other Husband’ which critics are calling one of her best yet. This expertly crafted novel is full of twists and turns sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Check out our full catalogue of Dorothy Koomson titles.

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

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…

Join in with the Big Jubilee Read

If you’re a keen reader The Big Jubilee Read could be just the challenge you’re looking for. Featuring 70 titles, one for each year of Her Majesty The Queen’s reign, the books were all selected by a panel of experts to reflect our changing nation through fiction.

Each decade, from the 1950s to the 2020s includes ten books written by authors from Commonwealth countries including Australia, Canada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and the UK.

The star-studded list of authors which includes Margaret Atwood, E. R. Braithwaite, Anthony Burgess, John le Carré, Bernardine Evaristo, Seamus Heaney, Kazuo Ishiguro, Marlon James, Hilary Mantel, Andrea Levy, Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith, Douglas Stuart, Derek Walcott, and Markus Zusak; brings some of the best writers of the last 70 years back into the limelight.

In Hampshire we have purchased eleven full sets of the collection of seventy books, plus 22 additional reading group sets of key titles from every decade. To complement the full sets of printed books we have also purchased the titles as eBooks and eAudiobooks, where they were available, which can be borrowed for free through the BorrowBox app.

The full sets of the collection of seventy books, which can also be reserved for a small charge and sent to any public library in Hampshire, will be based at the following libraries from Saturday 28 May for the remainder of 2022:

For the full list of books please visit this website. Which will you read first…

The Lonely Londoners, Sam Selvon

A vivid picaresque comedy with serious, melancholy undertones, The Lonely Londoners documents the 1950s immigrant experience through the affectionate relationship of a new arrival and a rueful old timer.

Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys

Her grand attempt to tell what she felt was the story of Jane Eyre’s ‘madwoman in the attic’, this classic study of betrayal, a seminal work of postcolonial literature, is Jean Rhys’s brief, beautiful masterpiece.

The Sea, The Sea, Iris Murdoch

When Charles Arrowby retires from his glittering career in the London theatre, he buys a remote house on the rocks by the sea. He hopes to escape from his tumultuous love affairs but unexpectedly bumps into his childhood sweetheart and sets his heart on destroying her marriage. His equilibrium is further disturbed when his friends all decide to come and keep him company and Charles finds his seaside idyll severely threatened by his obsessions.

The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

This is the story of Rahel and Estha, twins growing up among the banana vats and peppercorns of their blind grandmother’s factory, and amid scenes of political turbulence in Kerala. Armed only with the innocence of youth, they fashion a childhood in the shade of the wreck that is their family: their lonely, lovely mother, their beloved Uncle Chacko (pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher) and their sworn enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun, incumbent grand-aunt).

The Bone People, Keri Hulme

The Bone People is the story of Kerewin, a despairing part-Maori artist who is convinced that her solitary life is the only way to face the world. Her cocoon is rudely blown away by the sudden arrival during a rainstorm of Simon, a mute six-year-old whose past seems to hold some terrible trauma. In his wake comes his foster-father Joe, a Maori factory worker with a nasty temper.

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Attwood

Both an unforgettable portrait of defiance and authoritarian rule and a devastatingly powerful exploration of female oppression, The Handmaid’s Tale is a classic dystopian vision with an all-too chilling resonance for our times.

Wolf Hall – The Wolf Hall Trilogy, Hilary Mantel

The first novel in her Man Booker double award-winning Wolf Hall Trilogy sealed Hilary Mantel’s reputation as one of Britain’s greatest living writers. Bursting with life and colour and peopled by complex, fully-realised characters, it’s impossible to imagine a more convincing and thoroughly immersive historical novel.

Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart

An uncompromising yet tender and warmly witty exploration of love, pride and poverty, Shuggie Bain charts the endeavours of its eponymous protagonist – an ambitious and fastidious boy from a dire mining town with a thirst for a better life.

Author of the Month: Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory was chosen to tie in with the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations.  We wanted an accessible author who has a royal theme in their work, as well as having a good backlist.

Philippa Gregory is a world renowned historical novelist and a recognised authority on women’s history.  She has written 27 novels – her 27th, Dawnlands, will be published in November 2022 as well as 3 books for children.

As well as being a full time writer, she enjoys riding, walking, skiing and gardening.  She  also runs a charity which builds wells in The Gambia and teaches children how to cultivate their own food. The well digging side of the charity stopped during the pandemic to focus on a public health initiative.

We were lucky enough to chat to Philippa Gregory on one of our previous podcast episodes. You can listen to that here: https://pod.fo/e/e0f93.

“If it means something, take it to heart. If it means nothing, it’s nothing. Let it go.”
― Philippa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl

Supporting Ukraine in libraries

Dobro Pojalovat v bibliotyeku – Добро пожаловать в библиотеку
(Welcome to the Library)

Our libraries are pleased to have been able to work alongside colleagues, communities, and partners to offer support to refugees arriving in Hampshire.

Alongside free and flexible emergency library membership and information on our services, which has been translated into Ukranian and Russian, we have also been able to offer Ukrainian Connections drop-in sessions for Ukrainian guests and their hosts in many of our libraries. Needs have varied, but many people attending these sessions are seeking local information, activities for children, access to the internet, support with completing forms, and company in a welcoming space where people are willing to listen without judgement.

For information on all events and activities at your local library, including Ukranian Connections sessions please visit our website

In addition to this direct support, we have also created a special collection of books to take you beyond the headlines. Explore the country’s history, culture and literature with our two BorrowBox promotions – Ukraine and Read Ukraine.

In Wartime, Stories From Ukraine
Tim Judah
Making his way from the Polish border in the west, through the capital city and the heart of the 2014 revolution, to the eastern frontline near the Russian border, seasoned war reporter Tim Judah brings a rare glimpse of the reality behind the headlines. Along the way he talks to the people living through the conflict – mothers, soldiers, businessmen, poets, politicians – whose memories of a contested past shape their attitudes, allegiances and hopes for the future. Together, their stories paint a vivid picture of a nation trapped between powerful forces, both political and historical.

Ukraine Diaries
Andrey Kurkov
Ukraine Diaries is acclaimed writer Andrey Kurkov’s first-hand account of the ongoing crisis in his country. From his flat in Kiev, just five hundred yards from Independence Square, Kurkov can smell the burning barricades and hear the sounds of grenades and gunshot.

Life Went on Anyway (Stories)
Oleg Sentsov
The stories in Ukrainian film director, writer, and dissident Oleg Sentsov’s debut collection are as much acts of dissent as they are acts of creative expression. These autobiographical stories display a Tarkovsky-esque mix of nostalgia and philosophical insight, written in a simple yet profound style looking back on a life’s path that led Sentsov to become an internationally renowned dissident artist.

Author of the Month: Len Deighton

Leonard Cyril Deighton was born in London in 1929. His publications have included cookery books, history and military history, but he is best known for his spy novels. 

In 1940, at the age of eleven, Deighton witnessed the arrest of Anna Wolkoff, who was detained as a Nazi spy and charged with stealing correspondence between Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Deighton later said that observing her arrest was “a major factor in my decision to write a spy story at my first attempt at fiction”

It was on an extended holiday in 1962 that Deighton wrote his first novel – The Ipcress File (short for the “Induction of Psychoneuroses by Conditioned Reflex under Stress”), which was a critical and commercial success.  

Several of Deighton’s novels have been adapted for the screen. In March 2022, ITV broadcast a new six-part adaption of The Ipcress File, starring Joe Cole as Harry Palmer. The new series had a big budget and big name stars, and plenty of overseas locations to capture the eye of the viewer. 

During 2021, Penguin Books reprinted all of Len Deighton’s fiction backlist, creating a range of fresh and vibrant cover designs that hark back to the 1960s, when designer Ray Hawkey did the covers for their first Deighton editions. 

‘The hallmarks of a Deighton novel are an intricate plot, an easy grasp of detail and a total mastery of storytelling technique.’ – Sunday Times

Behind the Bookshelves

Ali Archer, Stock Services Technician

What is your role and what do you like about it?

My job title is Stock Services Technician and I’m based at our Stock Support Services hub in Winchester.  Day to day I co-manage the stock services team at Bar End (in Winchester), who ensure that all the behind-the-scenes work such as sending out reading group sets and approving invoices is done.  I also develop county-wide promotions to ensure our book stock reflects current trends and affairs. Recently we created shelves on Borrowbox showcasing the work of Ukrainian writers in both fiction and non-fiction, we also included books about Ukraine in these shelves.  All of which has proven very popular with our readers.

What do I like about my role?  So many things! I’m part of a small, supportive, and friendly team where I get to talk all things books and libraries. I think my favourite thing about this role is when I can be creative with promotions and have to research books – it gives me the perfect excuse to read lots, my to read list is continually being added to!

What did you do before you came to Hampshire Libraries?

First and foremost, I am a mum. It’s a role that I’ve had the pleasure to hold since 2001, I have four children, and all share my love of reading.  I was lucky enough to be able to stay home for the first few years of my children’s life and then I had several retail roles – I especially enjoyed working at a well-known high street store as their staff shop meant I often came home with a cut price caterpillar cake!  After that I was self-employed as a seamstress.  I created bespoke clothing and accessories using vintage patterns. My favourite makes were relaxed boho style wedding dresses, prom dresses and clothing for vintage events. I still sew, but now it’s just for myself and family.

What made you want to work at Hampshire Libraries?

I realised that I was missing the hustle and bustle of working with more than one person at the time, my youngest child was about to start infant school and I wanted to do something that would be for me but would also where I was helping others – that’s when I noticed the job advert for Romsey Library.

I’ve always been a reader, as a young child I remember making sure that the landing light was on when I was sent to bed so I could carry on reading – I devoured the Malory Towers and St Clare’s books by Enid Blyton before moving on to What Katy Did books by Susan Coolidge and the Green Gables books by L. M. Montgomery. As a teenager I loved Judy Blume – Tiger Eyes will always have a special place on my bookshelf at home. Libraries have always been a big part of my life; in fact I think walking to the library on my own was one of my first tastes of freedom as a young girl.  As I’d always felt so at home in libraries, working for Hampshire Libraries seemed a natural move to me.  I’m so glad I applied, being surrounded by books all day is just heaven!

Is there anything that surprised you about working for Hampshire Libraries?

I wasn’t prepared for the incredibly variety of library customers. A library plays such a rich and diverse role in a community – it’s not just books as I naively thought!  What surprised me most is how much I miss being around the public now that I’m not in a public facing role anymore, especially running events such as Time to Talk coffee mornings and organising the craft after a story time session. 

When I joined Stock Services, I was amazed at how much work is done behind the scenes to ensure the libraries have everything they need. Learning more about the publishing industry has been incredibly interesting, who knew that the pandemic would have a negative impact on the paper pulp industry which in turn has affected the book supply chain!

If you had to live out the rest of your life on a lonely space station overlooking the planet, which three books would you bring and why?

Firstly – why am I on a space station? I’m not sure I’d have gone through choice – I’m a little scared of the idea of space travel!  But…If I must be there then my first choice is Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery, I’ve already mentioned it as being one of my favourite childhood books.  It’s much like a comfort blanket as I’ve read it so many times now, we should all be a bit more Anne, she’s fun, a little a bit naughty and cares deeply about the people and things important to her. My children have also enjoyed this book, so it would be a link to my family whilst living in space. Secondly, I’d take Diary of an Apprentice Astronaut by Samantha Cristoforetti. I’ve always enjoyed reading memoirs and this one is a fascinating account of a young woman’s journey to becoming an astronaut.  She spent 200 days on board the International Space Station, so I’d dip into this book whenever I needed a boost to get through the lonely days. Finally, I’d take Taste: my life through food by Stanley Tucci. I really enjoy cooking; I love a cocktail (or three – Margaritas are my current favourite 🍸) and I adore all things Italian.  This is the book equivalent of a lazy afternoon spent in an Italian piazza with delicious coffees and pastries… and on that note I think I’ll start planning a holiday!

Find out more about Ali by signing up to our Digital Readers Book Club. The group which selects one book to read on BorrowBox each month is free to join. From this month Ali will be the online host of the group’s online discussion – on the fourth Tuesday of each month. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue to the read/listen to for March.

International Women’s Day #BreakTheBias

International Women’s Day (IWD) March 8 is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group, or organization specific. The theme of International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. To achieve this, we ask you to imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. For more information on IWD please visit their website.

Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias. We believe books, information and libraries are a great place to start, so to mark #IWD2022 we have selected some books for younger readers on the theme of inspirational women and highlights from the Women’s Fiction Prize 2022 longlist.

Books for younger readers:

The Extraordinary Life of Greta Thunberg
Devika Jina & Petra Braun

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.

Little People, Big Dreams: Josephine Baker
Ma Isobel Sanchez Vegara

Discover the incredible life of Josephine Baker, the world-famous entertainer, activist and French Resistance agent in this true story of her life. She fought against segregation her whole life and kept going with style, whatever was thrown in her way.

Little People, Big Dreams: Jane Goodall
Ma Isobel Sanchez Vegara

When Jane was little, her father gave her a toy chimpanzee named Jubilee which inspired her lifelong love of animals. Jane went to study them in the wild, living with chimpanzees in their natural habitat and becoming famous for her pioneering approach to research.

Little People, Big Dreams: Marie Curie
Ma Isobel Sanchez Vegara

When Marie was young, she was unable to go to college because she was a woman. But when she was older, her discoveries of radium and polonium dramatically helped in the fight against cancer, and she went on to win the Nobel Prize for Physics. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the scientist’s life.

Little People, Big Dreams: Maya Angelou
Lisbeth Kaiser

Maya Angelou spent most of her childhood in Stamps, Arkansas. After a traumatic event at age eight, she stopped speaking for five years. However, Maya rediscovered her voice through books, and went on to become one of the world’s most beloved writers and speakers. This inspiring story of her life features a facts and photos section at the back.

Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022

The Women’s Prize Trust is a registered charity championing women writers on a global stage. Their goal is to empower all women to raise their voice and own their story, by shining a spotlight on outstanding and ambitious fiction by women from anywhere in the world, regardless of their age, race, nationality, or background through the annual literary award.

This year the panel of judges; Anita Sethi, Dorothy Koomson, Lorraine Candy, Pandora Sykes and Chair, Mary Ann Sieghart; chose a longlist of sixteen books, featuring both debut and acclaimed writers; which span the globe in their settings, from Trinidad, Cyprus and a dystopian England, to Cape Cod, Buchenwald, and Vietnam. We’ve selected some titles which are already available to borrow as a book, eBook or eAudiobook.

Flamingo
Rachel Elliott

Flamingo is a novel about the power of love, welcome and acceptance. It’s a celebration of kindness, of tenderness. Set in 2018 and the 80s, it’s a song for the broken-hearted and the big-hearted, and is, ultimately, a novel grown from gratitude, and a book full of wild hope.

Great Circle
Maggie Shipstead

The life of Marian Graves was always been marked by a lust for freedom and danger. In 1950, she embarks on her life’s dream – to fly a Great Circle around the globe, pole to pole. But after a crash landing, she isstranded on the Antarctic ice without enough fuel and writes one last entry in her logbook. Half a century later, Hadley Baxter, a brilliant, troubled Hollywood starlet is irresistibly drawn to play Marian Graves, a role that will lead her to probe the deepest mysteries of the vanished pilot’s life.

Remote Sympathy
Catherine Chidgey

Frau Hahn’s husband, SS Sturmbannführer Dietrich Hahn, has taken up a powerful new position as camp administrator at Buchenwald, but her stubborn obliviousness to their new circumstances is challenged when she is forced into an unlikely alliance with one of Buchenwald’s prisoners, Dr Lenard Weber, the inventor of a machine that he believed could cure cancer.

Sorrow and Bliss
Meg Mason

Everyone tells Martha Friel she is clever and beautiful, a brilliant writer who has been loved every day of her adult life by one man, her husband Patrick. A gift – her mother once said – not everybody gets. So why is everything broken? Why is Martha – on the edge of 40 – friendless, practically jobless and so often sad? And why did Patrick decide to leave? Forced to return to her childhood home to live with her dysfunctional, bohemian parents, Martha has one last chance to find out whether by starting over, she will get to write a better ending for herself.

The Book of Form and Emptiness
Ruth Ozeki

One year after the death of his beloved musician father, thirteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices. The voices belong to the things in his house – a sneaker, a broken Christmas ornament, a piece of wilted lettuce. Although Benny doesn’t understand what these things are saying, he can sense their emotional tone; when his mother develops a hoarding problem, the voices grow more clamorous.

At first Benny tries to ignore them, but soon the voices follow him outside the house driving him at last to seek refuge in the silence of a large public library, where he meets his very own Book – a talking thing – who narrates Benny’s life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter.

The Exhibitionist
Charlotte Mendelson

The Hanrahan family are gathering for a momentous weekend as famous artist and notorious egoist Ray Hanrahan prepares for the first exhibition of his art – one he is sure will burnish his reputation for good. But what of Lucia, Ray’s steadfast and selfless wife? She is an artist who has always had to put her roles as wife and mother first. What will happen if she decides to change? For Lucia is hiding secrets of her own, and as the weekend unfolds and the exhibition approaches, she must finally make a choice.

This One Sky Day  
Leone Ross

Dawn breaks across the archipelago of Popisho. The world is stirring awake again, each resident with their own list of things to do. A wedding feast to conjure and cook. An infidelity to investigate. A lost soul to set free. As the sun rises two star-crossed lovers try to find their way back to one another across this single day. When night falls, all have been given a gift, and many are no longer the same. The sky is pink, and some wonder if it will ever be blue again.

The Paper Palace
Miranda Cowley Heller

On a perfect August morning, Elle Bishop heads out for a swim in the pond below ‘The Paper Palace’ – her family’s holiday home in Cape Cod. As she dives beneath the water, she relives the passionate encounter she had the night before, against the side of the house that knows all her darkest secrets, while her husband and mother chatted to their guests inside… So begins a story that unfolds over twenty-four hours and fifty years, as Elle’s shocking betrayal leads her to a life-changing decision – and an ending you won’t be able to stop thinking about.

The Island of Missing Trees
Elif Shafak

1974, on the island of Cyprus. Two teenagers, from opposite sides of a divided land, meet at a tavern in the city they both call home. The tavern is the only place that Kostas, who is Greek and Christian, and Defne, who is Turkish and Muslim, can meet, in secret. This tavern provides the best food in town, the best music, the best wine, but there is something else to the place: it makes one forget, even if for just a few hours, the world outside and its immoderate sorrows.