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

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.

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