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

Author of the Month: Haruki Murakami

August 2022

Biography

Haruki Murakami was born in 1949 to middle class parents in Kyoto, the cultural capital of Japan. However, at an early age the family moved to the bustling port town of Kobe, where a young Murakami was exposed to American culture through books, movies and jazz music. Murakami studied drama at Waseba University in Tokyo, where he expanded his reading and developed a taste for Western writers such as Jack Kerouac, Franz Kafka and Kurt Vonnegut. After completing his studies, Murakami and his wife Yoko opened a coffee house and jazz club in Tokyo called the ‘Peter Cat’. Murakami began to write during this time, publishing his first novel Hear the Wind Singin 1979 at the age of 29. This debut novel would win the well-respected Gunzo Prize for New Writers (1979) and convince Murakami to continue writing.

Career

Murakami’s writing does not sit easily within the cannon of Japanese literature, and for much of his career he has been seen as an outsider due to the American influences in his novels. Murakami’s novels are generally seen as examples of magical realism. However, the plot and style of his novels are eclectic at best and defy all attempts at categorisation. Murakami has characterised himself as a conduit from his own subconscious to that of the reader, expressed through his dreamlike and often experimental prose. Common themes in his work include cats, baseball, jazz, classical music and the Beatles.

Following on from Hear the Wind Sing (1979) Murakami would complete a trilogy of works with A Wild Sheep Chase (1982). The novel was successful in Japan and received critical praise from Western reviewers. However, Norwegian Wood (1987) was the novel which would bring Murakami to his widest audience yet. It became a sensation in Japan and then abroad (in 1989), selling more than 1 million copies in the first 7 days of its release and 3.5 million in its first year. Murakami has been a household name in Japan since, with fans going to great lengths to meet the famously reclusive author.

Awards and Accolades

Some of Murakami’s most notable works include The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1995) which won the Yomiuri Literary Award and Kafka on the Shore (2002) which received a World Fantasy Award for its English translation in 2006. Murakami has also received a Hans Christian Anderson Award (2016) and an America Award in Literature (2018) for lifetime achievement in writing. Notable exceptions to this trend include Murakami’s three volume novel 1Q84 (2009-2010) which has been voted one of the greatest novels of the last 30 years in Japan but received poor reviews with Western critics and fans. For first time readers A Wild Sheep Chase or Norwegian Wood are a great place to start, while Murakami’s short story collections are interesting and challenging in shorter manageable chunks.

Links  

The Paris Review – Haruki Murakami, The Art of Fiction No. 182

The Guardian – Haruki Murakami: ‘You have to go through the darkness before you get to the light’

The New Yorker – The Underground Worlds of Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami – Author

NPR – Haruki Murakami: ‘I’ve had All Sorts of Strange Experiences in My Life’

Fantastic Fiction – Haruki Murakami

Find Murakami’s books here

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” – Haruki Murakami

9 great reads from The Amplify Project

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

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

The Humiliations of Welton Blake by Alex Wheatle

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

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

The Frequency of Magic by Anthony Joseph

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

Homecoming by Colin Grant

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

Ordinary People by Diana Evans

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

We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan

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

Tales from the Caribbean by Trish Cooke

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

Death of England: Delroy by Roy Williams

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

This One Sky Day by Leone Ross

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

A wedding feast to conjure and cook.

An infidelity to investigate.

A lost soul to set free.

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

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

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

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

Earth Matters March

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

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

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

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

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

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

Half Term fun with Hampshire Libraries

What are you up to this half term? Don’t forget there is so much going on in Hampshire Libraries. Take a look below at a selection of our events.

Teddy Bear’s Picnic

Fun crafts to make and a wonderful trail. 10am -11am. £2 per child.

Tuesday 22 February –
Totton Library. Book now: https://bit.ly/34KjeVC.

Wednesday 23 February
Hythe Library. Book now: https://bit.ly/3Jchxii.

Thursday 24 February
Andover Library. Book now: https://bit.ly/3B1Qnb6.

Friday 25 February
Romsey Library. Book now: https://bit.ly/35XbwYL.

New Milton Library

Tuesday 22 February –
Craft Activities: Drop in between 10am – 4pm . No need to book.

Leigh Park Library

Saturday 19 February-
Games Club: 10am – 12noon

Tuesday 22 February-
Construction Club: 10am – 2pm

Thursday 24 February-
Craft Club – junk modelling: 10am – 2pm

Friday 25 February-
Games Club: 10am – 2pm

Saturday 26 February-
Craft Club: 10am – 12noon

Basingstoke Discovery Centre

Saturday 19 February-
Children’s Craft – Flowery fun: 2pm – 4pm
Construction Club: 10am – 4pm

Monday 21 February-
Construction Club: 10am – 4pm

Tuesday 22 February-
Children’s Craft – Flowery fun: 10am – 12noon

Wednesday 23 February-
Construction Club: 10am – 4pm

Thursday 24 February-
Construction Club: 10am – 4pm

Friday 25 February-
Storytime: 10.30am – 11am
– Followed by Stay and Play with building bricks and puzzles

Saturday 26 February-
Construction Club: 10am – 4pm

Colouring available all week!

Emsworth Library

Saturday 19 February-
Construction Club: 10am – 12noon

Totton Library

Thursday 24 February –
Pop-up Army Flying Museum: 11am – 3pm. Free family drop in activities. Parachute making, handling objects from the museum and things to make and do.

Petersfield Library

Saturday 19 February-
Science Appliance (Science Club): 1pm – 4pm

Saturday 26 February-
Storytime: 11am – 11.30am

Picture trail around the children’s library during all of half term!

Portchester Library

Monday 21 and Thursday 24 February –
Rhymetime and mini craft activity: 10am – 10.30am

Wednesday 23 February –
Craft and colouring activities

Saturday 19 and Saturday 26 February –
Storytime and craft: 11am – 11.30am
Construction Club: 10am – 12noon

Waterlooville Library

Wednesday 23 February-
Construction Club: 10am – 1pm

Friday 25 February-
Games Club: 12pm – 3pm

Saturday 26 February-
Book Bugs: 10am – 11am

Eastleigh Library

Saturday 19 February –
Craft & Colouring: 10am – 4pm
Construction Club: 10am – 4pm

Monday 21 February –
International Rhymetime: 10.30am – 11am
(English, French, German and Spanish)

Tuesday 22 February-
Storytime & Craft: 10am – 11am
Construction Fun: 11am – 4pm

Thursday 24 February-
International Rhymetime: 10.30am – 11am
Puzzle & Boardgames: 11am – 4pm

Saturday 26 February-
French Fun with Languages: 10am – 10.30am
Craft & Colouring: 10am – 4pm
Construction Club: 10am – 4pm

Lymington Library

Hidden Pets Trail: running all week. No need to book.

Hayling Island Library

Spring Time Trail: running throughout the Half Term week

Wednesday 23 February-
Rhymetime: 10.30am

Friday 25 February-
Birds event with School Holiday Club OSCARS: 2pm – 4pm

Fleet Library

Spring Treasure Trail: running throughout the half term week. Find the pictures of nature, associated with Spring, around the children’s library

Monday 21 February-
Storytime: 10.30am – 11.15am

Wednesday 23 February-
Construction Club: 10am – 12noon

Thursday 24 February-
Rhymetime: Session at 10am and a session at 11am

Saturday 26 February-
Construction Club: 2pm – 4pm

Gosport Discovery Centre

Saturday 19 and Saturday 26 February-
Storymakers with craft activity: 10.30am. Tickets £1 from Gosport Discovery Centre.

Monday 21 February-
Stories & Songs: 10.30am

Tuesday 22 February-
Discovery Time (pre-crawlers): 10.30am
Rhymetime (baby): 1.45pm

Wednesday 23 February-
Storytime (all ages): 10.30am

Thursday 24 February-
Rhymetime: 10.30am

Friday 25 February-
Omi Projector games: 1pm – 4pm

Stubbington Library

Saturday 19 February-
Explore Learning- Fun with Phonics (ages 4 – 6): 9.30am – 10.30am
Explore Learning – Be a Grand Wizard (ages 7 – 9): 11am – 12noon

Tuesday 22 February-
Big Garden Birdwatch Paper crafts: 10am – 11am. £1 per child. Please book at the library.

Havant Library

Tuesday 22 February-
– Rhymetime: 10.30am

Saturday 26 February-
Animal themed event: 10am – 12noon
Construction Club: 2pm – 4pm

Chandler’s Ford Library

Saturday 19 February-
Construction Club: all day

Monday 21 February-
Storytime: 10.30am
Construction Club: all day

Tuesday 22 February-
Rhymetime: 10.30am
Construction Club: all day

Wednesday 23 February-
Construction Club: all day

Thursday 24 February-
Rhymetime: 10.30am
Hedgehog Craft: all day

Friday 25 February-
Construction Club: all morning

Saturday 26 February-
Bear Craft: all day

Fareham Library

Monday 21 – Friday 25 February-
Harry Potter themed activities: Drop in at any time.

Monday 21 February-
Discovery Time for pre-crawlers: 10am – 11am

Tuesday 22 February-
Stories & Songs for pre-schoolers (1 adult to 2 children): 2pm – 2.30pm

Wednesday 23 February-
Stories & Rhymes for pre-schoolers (1 adult to 2 children): 11am – 11.30am

Thursday 24 February –
Homework Club: 4pm – 4.45pm

Friday 25 February-
Toddler Rhymetime: 10am – 10.30am
Baby Rhymetime: 11am – 11.30am

Saturday 26 February-
Storytime (5 – 8 year olds): 11am – 11.30am
Saturday Craft Club drop in: 11.30am – 3pm

Behind the bookshelves with an Area Manager

We caught up with one of Hampshire Libraries Area Managers, Liz, to find out how she came to work with the libraries, her time as a children’s librarian, and her top picks for younger readers.

How did you come to work at Hampshire Libraries?

I’ve always worked in libraries. When I left school, I started working in the libraries in Hull. I went off to university but came back to working in libraries in North Yorkshire after. I came to Hampshire as a Children’s Librarian in Fareham. That was a brilliant thing to do because it’s all about getting the right book to the right child at the right time. It really shaped my way of working. I’m an Area Manager now, so I manage an operational team, keeping the libraries open and developing services, but I think I’ll always be a Children’s Librarian by trade. As a Children’s Librarian, you have to be quite comfortable in front of large groups of children, telling stories in quite extravagant ways. I got to meet so many children’s authors and illustrators as well through book launches and the Wessex Book Fair.

I was so enveloped by children’s books at that time. Parents would come to me with questions like “my child doesn’t really like reading, do you know a book that can help?” or “my child has to go to the dentist soon, are there any books that will help them feel less scared?” and I needed to know those things. Books enable children to articulate what they’re feeling because children don’t always have the language to tell you what they’re thinking. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to somebody through a book than it is to have a direct conversation, especially when children are learning to communicate. Reading develops so much more than literacy and language, it’s empathy and understanding too. Even as an adult reading them, you learn things about the world you didn’t know before. Whether it’s about somebody else’s culture or about being a refugee, they just help you to understand somebody else’s life.

When I was younger, I really struggled to learn to read. I can still remember how humiliating it was because I just couldn’t do it, it was hard. So, I wasn’t really much of a reader when I was a kid, but I think that’s why I really believe it is about getting the right book to the right child at the right time.

Where do you like to read?

I read in bed a lot, but I really enjoy reading on the train. I have family in Yorkshire and if I go to visit them, I like to go by train so I can read and relax. I’ll always take a couple of books with me because I think it’s important to give yourself permission to stop reading something you aren’t enjoying. When we’re younger we have to finish the books that we’re told to read because they’re on the curriculum, and that can make reading feel like a lot of work. But one of the brilliant things about being an adult is that you don’t have to do that.

How do you read?

I usually read in small bits and get through books that way. I don’t tend to listen to audiobooks, I do own an e-reader which is great for reading at night, but I do prefer a physical book.

What do you read?

I’m reading a book called Coasting by Elise Downing and another book about triathlon training. I’m reading a lot of non-fiction lately, but I really like novels and depending on my mood I do love a bit of Chick Lit. I enjoy books with central female characters and books about women’s lives. One novel that really stayed with me was A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier. I really love the writing of Tracy Chevalier, I think they’re just great stories and her novels can give such an insight into the daily hardships of women from the past. Another author who does that really well is Kate Atkinson, particularly in her book Life After Life. The book is set during the second world war and really impressed on me how difficult it is for us to understand what it must have been like to live through that.

In terms of non-fiction, I really enjoy reading books about endurance sports. Over Christmas, I read Relentless by Alistair Brownlee, the Olympic triathlete. It’s a really interesting book because he talks to lots of different sports champions about their mindset and training, from footballers to darts players. I do triathlons and love cycling so it’s definitely a topic that interests me.

I must admit though, in times of stress where you just need a story to wash over you, a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine is Alan Titchmarsh’s novels. They’re so easy to read and there’s always a happy ending. If you’re feeling a bit anxious about something they’re just a proper escape.

What books would you recommend for children and teenagers?

A lot of my favourite picture books aren’t very new, but I think the sign of a good picture book is that it can really stand the test of time. The Blue Balloon by Mick Inkpen would be my first pick. It’s a very simple story about a magical balloon but the book has fold-out bits and some lovely language. I was reading it to a group of children and afterwards, I heard a boy say “I know what indestructible means” because it was used in the book. He must have only been about three or four years old, but he understood that word and how to use it because it was in the book. To me, that just perfectly illustrated how important picture books really are. Peace At Last by Jill Murphy, it’s a great story about poor Mr Bear trying to find somewhere to sleep but wherever he goes there’s a different noise that keeps him up. Another wonderful book is Winnie the Witch by Valérie Thomas and illustrated by Korky Paul. We had a visit from Korky Paul a few years ago and he saw a Winnie doll that I had made myself. He said he liked it so I made me one which lead to him signing a book for me addressed to “The Witch Maker”. But the book I would always give to a new baby is Dear Zoo which is such a classic.

Another genre I do love is teen fiction or YA. I’ve read so much teen fiction it’s difficult to pick favourites but one I really enjoyed is Beauty by Robin McKinley. It’s a wonderful retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story. Quite different but equally brilliant is Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful which is just such a beautiful book. I had a flick through the last couple of pages earlier and it still brings me to tears. When it didn’t win the Carnegie medal for children’s fiction, I was just so disappointed.

If you like books that are a bit more whimsical, I would really recommend Skellig by David Almond. It’s about a couple of kids who find a man in their shed, but the man has wings so it’s as if he’s an angel or something like that. All of David Almond’s books are set in the Northeast of England so they’re all grounded in the Newcastle and Northumberland area. He has this quite beautiful way of writing that builds the relationships between the characters really strongly. Some of them can be quite gritty so the books have quite a realistic aspect to them as well.

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman is a must read as well. It was recently turned into a TV series. It shows a different perspective of racism, it’s one of those books that really open your eyes, especially if you’re white.

What books have you loved that might get overlooked?

I really like books about people and their lives. A book I enjoyed reading recently was 12 Birds to Save Your Life by Charlie Corbett. After his mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness and subsequently died, he found a way through his grief by reconnecting with the world through nature and bird songs. It’s more about his experience than about nature so even if birds aren’t your usual subject, you can still really connect with the story. A similar book is the amazing true story by Raynor Winn, The Salt Path. It’s about how she and her husband became homeless just as her husband is diagnosed with a terminal illness. With nowhere else to go, they decided to walk the South West Coast Path. She talks about how it just gave them purpose and time to process what was happening. I actually bought it for my niece last Christmas because, it’s such a wonderful book, I just thought she had to read it.

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?

Winter Reads

10 perfect winter reads

There’s nothing better than shutting the door against a bitter winter’s evening and curling up in the warm. All you need is a good book to settle down by the fire with, but don’t worry, we have you covered. Here are 10 books perfect for getting you through the long cold nights.

1. Christmas Days by Jeanette Winterson

A special collection of 12 imaginative Christmas stories and 12 recipes from the renowned author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and Frankissstein.

Ghosts and jovial spirits, chances at love and tricks with time. Jeanette Winterson’s stories are unfailingly brilliant and filled with wonder. These short stories make the perfect read before bed.

2.  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

No seasonal reading list would be complete without an honourable mention of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Ebenezer Scrooge hates Christmas – it’s all humbug to him. But one Christmas Eve he is visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley, and then by three more spirits – the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come. Will the things they show Scrooge be enough to make him change his miserly ways and learn the true meaning of Christmas?

Nostalgia, a haunting , and a cold heart that melts, what more could you want from a winter’s night?

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future.”

3. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.

4. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

When James wakes to see snow falling one December morning, he is delighted and rushes outside to make a snowman. With coal eyes, an old green hat and scarf and a tangerine nose, he is perfect, and James can hardly bear to go inside and leave him. In the middle of the night, he wakes and creeps out to see his snowman again – and to his amazement, the snowman comes to life!

5. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen

A magical, wintery tale of friendship, love and adventure. Join Gerda on her epic journey to the mysterious, snowy lands of the frozen North. Meeting fairy-tale princesses, talking crows and wise old women with enchanted gardens, on her quest to rescue best friend Kai from the Snow Queen’s icy palace.

6. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Late on Christmas Eve, after the town has gone to sleep, a boy boards a mysterious train that waits for him: the Polar Express bound for the North Pole. When he arrives there, Santa offers him any gift he desires.

“Seeing is believing, but, sometimes, the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.”

7.  Winter Wedding by Dilly Court

The brand new novel from the No.1 Sunday Times bestselling author.

Rosalind Blanchard’s husband Piers is gravely wounded in a shipwreck, and she finds herself head of crumbling Rockwood Castle once more. Pregnant with his unborn child and alone, she turns to the only man who has ever made her heart sing. His brother Alex. Alex was her old love, but Piers must be her future. Until shocking news of Piers changes everything. As the first snowflakes begin to appear, so too does another chance of happiness for Rosalind.

8. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr Seuss

The classic tale of the disgruntled Grinch and his fiendish attempts to steal Christmas from the citizens of Whoville. With wacky rhymes and zany illustrations, this book has been a seasonal favourite for over 40 years.

“Maybe Christmas (he thought) doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.”

9. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

It’s the night before Hogswatch. And it’s too quiet. Where is the big jolly fat man? There are those who believe and those who don’t, but either way, it’s not right to find Death creeping down chimneys and trying to say Ho Ho Ho. Superstition makes things work in Discworld, and undermining it can have Consequences, particularly on the last night of the year when the time is turning. Susan the gothic governess has got to sort everything out by morning, otherwise, there won’t be a morning. Ever again…

10. The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig

Upset elves, reindeers dropping out of the sky, angry trolls and the chance that Christmas might be cancelled. But Amelia isn’t just any ordinary girl. And – as Father Christmas is going to find out – if Christmas is going to be saved, he might not be able to do it alone.

Written by Isaac Fravashi

Earth Matters

Scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system, according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report.

The Earth’s climate is changing, and the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed, yet the report also identifies the role of climate change in intensifying specific weather and climate events such as extreme heat waves and heavy rainfall events for the first time.

Stabilising the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and net zero CO2 emissions, challenges delegates are meeting to discuss at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow at the end of this month.

In recognition of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, we have created the ‘Earth Matters’ collection of fiction and non-fiction books, eBooks and eAudiobooks, to compliment our existing Earth Heroes environmental collections for children and young adults.

Fiction books

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Set in the not-too-distant future, in the aftermath of a catastrophic event that has wiped out human civilization as well as most humans, Oryx and Crake is a novel about the pitfalls of genetic modification.

Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

In a world wrecked by climate change, Hubert, Seth and Natalie turn their back on the world of rules, jobs and ‘walkaway’ into the empty lands – lawless places where predators, human and animal flourish. Their journey brings them into contact with the initial pioneer ‘walkaways’ who are building a post-scarcity utopia.

The Overstory by Richard Powers

Nine strangers, each in different ways, become summoned by trees, brought together in a last stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest. ‘The Overstory’ unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fable, ranging from antebellum New York to the late-20th-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, revealing a world alongside our own – vast, slow, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us.

Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver

On the Appalachian Mountains above her home, a young mother discovers a beautiful and terrible marvel of nature. As the world around her is suddenly transformed by a seeming miracle, can the old certainties they have lived by for centuries remain unchallenged?

The Fifth Season by N K Jemisin

The first book in the award-winning Broken Earth trilogy, Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, there will be war for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night, but Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

The Drowned World by J. G. Ballard

This fast-paced narrative by the author of ‘Crash’ and ‘Empire of the Sun’ is a stunning evocation of a flooded, tropical London of the near future and a foray into the workings of the unconscious mind.

Non-Fiction books

How to Save Our Planet by Professor Mark Maslin

How can we save our planet and survive the 21st century? How can you argue with deniers? How can we create positive change in the midst of the climate crisis? Professor Mark Maslin has the key facts that we need to protect our future. ‘How to Save Our Planet’ is a call to action, guaranteed to equip everyone with the knowledge needed to make change.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Silent Spring is Rachel Carson’s bestselling, passionate exposure of the effects of the indiscriminate use of chemicals. She describes how pesticides are applied to farms, forests and gardens, with scant regard to the consequences.

We Are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer

Climate crisis is the single biggest threat to human survival. And it is happening right now. We all understand that time is running out – but do we truly believe it? And, caught between the seemingly unimaginable and the apparently unthinkable, how can we take the first step towards action, to arrest our race to extinction? We can begin with our knife and fork. With his distinctive wit, insight, and humanity, Jonathan Safran Foer presents the essential debate of our time as no one else could, bringing it to vivid and urgent life and offering us all a much-needed way out.

Earthshot by Colin Butfield

The Earthshot concept is simple: Urgency + Optimism = Action. We have ten years to turn the tide on the environmental crisis, but we need the world’s best solutions and one shared goal – to save our planet. The Earthshots are unifying, ambitious goals for our planet which, if achieved by 2030, will improve life for all of us, for the rest of life on Earth, and for generations to come. This book is a critical contribution to the most important story of the decade.

The Garden Jungle by Dave Goulson

The Garden Jungle’ is about the wildlife that lives right under our noses, in our gardens and parks, between the gaps in the pavement, and in the soil beneath our feet. Dave Goulson explains how our lives and ultimately the fate of humankind are inextricably intertwined with that of earwigs, bees, lacewings and hoverflies, unappreciated heroes of the natural world.

How to Repair Everything: A Green Guide to Fixing Stuff by Nick Harper

Not everything has built-in obsolescence – as this fantastically handy guide to fixing everyday objects proves! Whether you need to repair a strap on a favourite handbag or mend a leak in a washing machine, this book is packed full of tips and tricks of the trade for the person who likes to do-it-yourself.

You can also find these books on our BorrowBox shelf: Earth Matters | Hampshire Library Service – BorrowBox.