Homelands – A Celebration of the British Isles

What will your adventure be? With our long-awaited freedom finally on the near horizon, and the opportunity to travel overseas still limited, there has never been a better time to explore and celebrate The British Isles.

With increasing awareness of the importance of nature and the benefit of being outside, many of us have made time to enjoy our natural environment. From rugged coastal regions, dramatic downs, rolling farmland, idyllic islands, wild waterways, picturesque seaside towns and magnificent landscapes, it cannot be denied that the British Isles offers something for everyone.

This selection of books has been collected under the heading of Homelands to celebrate our great British Isles through its varied landscapes and histories. We hope that this collection, which will be in some libraries and available on BorrowBox too, will inspire you to make your own voyage of discovery. Highlights of the collection include:

The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane
In this inspiring and bewitching book Macfarlane embarks on a series of journeys in search of the wildness that remains in Britain and Ireland. At once a wonder voyage, an adventure story and a work of natural history, this text also tells a story of friendship and loss, mixing history, memory and landscape in a strange evocation of wildness and its importance.

The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn
Nature holds the answers for Raynor and her husband Moth, who after walking 630 miles homeless along the Salt Path, found a home in the coastline. Life beyond the Salt Path awaits, but the sense of home is illusive and returning to normality is proving difficult – until an incredible gesture by someone who reads their story changes everything: a chance to breathe life back into a beautiful but neglected farmhouse in the Cornish hills – rewilding the land and returning nature to its hedgerows becomes their new path. Along the way, Raynor and Moth learn more about the land that envelopes them, find friends both new and old, and embark on another windswept adventure when the opportunity arises.

Waterlog by Roger Deakin
Roger Deakin set out in 1996 to swim through the British Isles. The result a uniquely personal view of an island race and a people with a deep affinity for water. Swimming in the sea, rock pools, rivers and streams, tarns, lakes, lochs, ponds, lidos, swimming pools and spas, from fens, dykes, moats, aqueducts, waterfalls, flooded quarries, even canals, Deakin gains a fascinating perspective on modern Britain. Detained by water bailiffs in Winchester, intercepted in the Fowey estuary by coastguards, mistaken for a suicide on Camber sands, confronting the Corryvreckan whirlpool in the Hebrides, he discovers just how much of an outsider the native swimmer is to his landlocked, fully-dressed fellow citizens. Encompassing cultural history, autobiography, travel writing and natural history, Waterlog is a personal journey, a bold assertion of the native swimmer’s right to roam, and an unforgettable celebration of the magic of water.

The Frayed Atlantic Edge by David Gange
After two decades exploring the Western coast and mountains of the British Isles, the historian and nature writer David Gange set out to travel the seaboard in the course of a year. This coastline spans just eight-hundred miles as the crow flies, but the complex folds of its firths and headlands stretch more than ten-thousand. Even those who circumnavigate Britain by kayak tend to follow the shortest route; the purpose of this journey was to discover these coastlines by seeking out the longest. Travelling by kayak, on foot and at the end of a rope, Gange encounters wildcats, basking sharks, and vast colonies of seabirds, as well as rich and diverse coastal communities.

The Homelands collections will tour the county, starting their journey in the following libraries: Andover, Basingstoke, Chandlers Ford, Fleet, Gosport, Petersfield, Totton and Winchester. You can also place reservations for any of the titles in the collection.

Jan Morris

The greatest distance travelled by Jan Morris, was not across the Earth’s surface but from being newspaper reporter James Morris to the female voyager and historian Jan Morris. The Guardian

James’ Morris post-war career as a journalist, writing for The Times and the Manchester Guardian, was balanced with time spent researching and writing travel books, with his unique voice as a travel writer first emerging in the publication of Venice in 1960.

Morris’ approach to travel writing hooked readers. His written voice always sounded certain, but his personal life was overshadowed by the knowledge that the male body of James was an error, and his true identity was female. With the support of his wife Elizabeth, he had reassignment surgery in 1972 and returned from clinic in Casablanca as Jan.

Morris had been denied surgery in the UK because the couple refused to divorce, and wrote in Conundrum (1974), which told most of the story, that the marriage had no right to work, “yet it worked like a dream, living testimony … of love in its purest sense over everything else”.

Morris’s exploration of sexual identities enhanced her trilogy on the social history of the British empire, Pax Britannica (1968), Heaven’s Command (1973) and Farewell the Trumpets (1978). Sometimes she made whimsical choices of subject, and of genre, especially the fantasy-fiction travelogue Last Letters From Hav (1985). Morris acknowledged the indulgence, adding that “the whole oeuvre of travel is one enormous ego-biography”, but the criticisms hurt.

She vowed several times to type no more but could not give up the daily practice of writing, which produced the inspired Fifty Years of Europe (1997), Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere (2001), In My Mind’s Eye (2018), which was serialised on BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week, and her final book Thinking Again which was published in 2020.

Upon her death, the lives of Jan and Elizabeth, with whom she had lived for many years as ‘sisters-in-law’ were marked with a memorial stone inscribed in English and Welsh which read: ‘Here are two friends… At the end of one life’

Books by Jan Morris are also available to loan as eBooks, aAudio on the BorrowBox app.

Non-Fiction November

Non-Fiction November was created by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups and is celebrated each November in honour of all things factual. This month long celebration is for those young readers who share a passion for reading about information, but also for those who have yet discovered the amazing world of factual books.

Libraries are a hub of information and there is so much on offer with your Hampshire library card. Why not make November the month you start your factual reading journey?
With your library card you can borrow up to 30 items at a time from your local library. If the kids have got a project to work on, instead of solely using the internet, you can pop down to the library and check out the information section and don’t forget there’s also a reservation system so you have access to books in all Hampshire Libraries.

This year the focus is on ‘Transport and Travel around the world’! It’s an exciting topic and we have some amazing books for your child to learn about travelling, transportation and the world. Check out the list below for a snippet of the many books you can find on Hampshire Library shelves. To browse all factual books for children visit our website.

Transport
by Paul Mason

This innovative series, illustrated with amazing isometric artwork, reveals the technology, science and engineering behind our world’s infrastructure. Discover in this book how transport helps us to travel around the world and the huge range of vehicles we use to move from place to place, from driverless cars to high-speed maglev trains. It also takes a look forward to see how transport might evolve in the future.

Wonders of our world
by Carron Brown and illustrated by Stef Murphy

What are the wonders of our world? Shine a light behind the page and see. From long, winding walls and reefs full of fish to lost ancient cities, the amazing wonders of our world are revealed.

Great explorers
by James Buckley, Jr.

Join the explorers and heroes that have dared to go where no-one has before. ‘Great Explorers’ is packed with fascinating facts about heroic explorers for kids just beginning to read fluently with support. From historical explorers such as Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus, to modern explorers like Bear Grylls and Erik Weihenmayer, this book covers all bases for kids interested in exploration.

Transport around the world
by Moira Butterfield

Take a journey around the world to discover the transport methods used by of children just like you! Where in the world do children learn to run their own railway? What is the best way to travel across a sandy desert? What colours are the cable cars of La Paz, in Bolivia? Children will love reading about the transport that their contemporaries in other countries use; from boats paddled between houses and carts pulled across busy cities, to riding reindeer and the fastest trains!

Amelia Earhart
by Ma Isabel Sánchez Vegara and illustrated by Mariadiamantes

In the ‘Little People, Big Dreams’ series, discover the lives of outstanding people from designers and artists to scientists. All of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. This volume follows Amelia Earhart, whose strong will and self-belief helped her overcome prejudice and technical problems to become the first female flier to fly solo across the Atlantic ocean. This inspiring and informative biography comes with extra facts about her life at the end of the book.

Around the world in 80 ways
by Henrietta Drane and illustrated by Katy Halford

Travel around the world by yacht, tram, train, unicycle, jetpack, camel – any way you can imagine, in this non-fiction children’s book. Every mode of transport is part of a charming scene. See how astronauts travel around space, watch surfers ride the waves at the beach, and race to an emergency with the firefighters. Illustrator Katy Halford’s beautiful drawings brings the scenes to life and fun complementary facts will prompt discussion and laughter between readers.

If you would like to have a first hand look at the many amazing factual books you can find for children, come along to your local library today!

Mr Golightly’s Holiday by Salley Vickers

About the book

Many years ago Mr Golightly wrote a work of dramatic fiction which grew to be an international best-seller. But his reputation is on the decline and he finds himself out of touch with the modern world.

He decides to take a holiday and comes to the ancient village of Great Calne, hoping to use the opportunity to bring his great work up to date. But he soon finds that events take over his plans and that the themes he has written on are being strangely replicated in the lives of the villagers he is staying among.

He meets Ellen Thomas, a reclusive artist, young Johnny Spence, an absconding school boy, and the tough-minded Paula who works at the local pub. As he comes to know his neighbours better, Mr Golightly begins to examine his attitude to love, and to ponder the terrible catastrophe of his son’s death. And as the drama unfolds we begin to learn the true and extraordinary identity of Mr Golightly and the nature of the secret sorrow which haunts him links him to his new friends.

Mysterious, light of touch, witty and profound, ‘Mr Golightly’s Holiday’ confirms Salley Vickers’s reputation as one of our most original and engaging novelists.

Reviewed by Women Who Read

“Can be read on different levels. A mixed reception from our group. Some of us felt that if we re-read it we’d pick up on more of the hints and points

star rating ** ½

 

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The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society by Chris Stewart

About the book

The Good Life goes on at El Valero. Find yourself laughing out loud as Chris is instructed by his daughter on local teenage moves; bluffs his way in art history to millionaire Bostonians; is rescued off a snowy peak by the Guardia Civil; and joins an Almond Blossom Appreciation Society.

You’ll cringe with Chris as he tries his hand at office work in an immigrants’ advice centre in Granada, spurred into action by the arrival of four destitute young Moroccans at El Valero. And you’ll never see olive oil in quite the same way again…

In this sequel to ‘Lemons’ and ‘Parrot’, Chris Stewart’s optimism and zest for life is as infectious as ever.

Reviewed by Goodworth Clatford WI

All the group thoroughly enjoyed reading this, particularly as many of us had read his previous books. The descriptions are vivid and the characters real life. We look forward to reading his next book. A ray of sunshine in dull weather!

star rating ****

 

 

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Under a Mackerel Sky by Rick Stein

About the book

Rick Stein’s childhood in 1950s rural Oxfordshire and North Cornwall was idyllic. His parents were charming and gregarious, their five children much-loved and given freedom typical of the time. As he grew older, the holidays were filled with loud and lively parties in his parents’ Cornish barn. But ever-present was the unpredicatible mood of his bipolar father, with Rick frequently the focus of his anger and sadness. When Rick was 18 his father killed himself. Emotionally adrift, Rick left for Australia, carrying a suitcase stamped with his father’s initials. Manual labour in the outback followed by adventures in America and Mexico toughened up the naive public schoolboy, but at heart he was still lost and unsure what to do with his life. Eventually, Cornwall called him home. From the entrepreneurial days of his mobile disco, the Purple Tiger, to his first, unlikely unlikely nightclub where much of the time was spent breaking up drink-fuelled fights, Rick charts his personal journey in a way that is both wry and perceptive; engaging and witty.

 

Reviewed by Totton 1

“Very bitty. Material not very well presented. Lots of facts but not very interesting”

star rating **

 

 

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Ghosts by Daylight by Janine di Giovanni

About the book

Janine and Bruno first fell in love as young reporters in the besieged city of Sarajevo. Years later – after endless phone calls, much of what the French call malentendu, secret trysts in foreign cities, numerous break-ups, three miscarriages, countless stories of rebel armies and a dozen wars that had passed between them – they arrive in Paris one rainy January to begin a new life together. The remnants of their separate lives, now left behind, are tentatively unpacked into their shared apartment on the Right Bank: Bruno’s heavy blanket from Ethiopia, a set of long feathered arrows from Brazil, an ash tray stolen from a hotel in Algeria, and Janine’s flak-jacket and canvas boots, still full of sand from the Western Desert in Iraq. But having met in another lifetime – in another world – ordinary, civilian life doesn’t come easily. War has become part of them: it had brought them together, and, though both are damaged by it, neither can quite leave it behind. And the difficult journey that follows, through their mix of joy and terror at becoming parents, Bruno’s battle with post-traumatic stress and addiction, and Janine’s determination to make France her home, leads to an understanding of the truth that people who deeply love each other cannot always live together.

Reviewed by Bridewell Beauties

“The timeline was confusing. A vivid and detailed account about the horrors of war. Brilliantly written and atmospheric. An in depth account re the effects on correspondents”

star rating ***

 

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A Tramp in Africa by David Lessels

About the book

Follow the trails of the Scottish explorer, David Lessels, fulfilling a dream to travel the length of Africa, confronting serious challenges to his freedom as he walked and hitch-hiked through history, in the early 1950s. Recalled with vivid clarity, this inspirational traveller’s tale is studded with gems and facts – some of which may be the only written accounts of the early development of unique African cultures. This is a colorful and rich taste of Africa in the raw – share the author’s thrilling experiences of an extraordinary adventure.

 

Reviewed by Hill Head Readers

“A travelogue which was far too long. It was quite well written but our group were defeated!”

star rating * ½

 

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Our Kind of Traitor by John Le Carré

About the book

An English couple, Perry and Gail, are taking an off-peak holiday on the Caribbean island of Antigua. By seeming chance they bump into a Russian millionaire called Dima who owns a peninsula and a diamond-encrusted gold watch. He also has a tattoo on his right thumb, and wants a game of tennis.

What else he wants propels the young lovers on a tortuous journey through Paris to a safe house in the Swiss Alps, to the murkiest cloisters of the City of London and its unholy alliance with Britain’s Intelligence Establishment.

 

Reviewed by CC Readers

“Not Le Carré’s best. An over-elaborate lead up to a not very exciting climax. Tiresome characters and tedious dialogue”

star rating **

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Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search For Everything by Elizabeth Gilbert

About the book

It’s 3 a.m. and Elizabeth Gilbert is sobbing on the bathroom floor. She’s in her thirties, she has a husband, a house, they’re trying for a baby – and she doesn’t want any of it. A bitter divorce and a turbulent love affair later, she emerges battered and bewildered and realises it is time to pursue her own journey in search of three things she has been missing: pleasure, devotion and balance. So she travels to Rome, where she learns Italian from handsome, brown-eyed identical twins and gains twenty-five pounds, an ashram in India, where she finds that enlightenment entails getting up in the middle of the night to scrub the temple floor, and Bali where a toothless medicine man of indeterminate age offers her a new path to peace: simply sit still and smile. And slowly happiness begins to creep up on her.

Reviewed by In Sync

“Not all of us finished this book – as they found it boring, especially the middle bit on India, all to do with meditation. Italy and Bali were more interesting. It needs editing – there are a lot of repetitions

star rating *

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