It would seem there is a daughter for every occupation, including a blind astronomer and a Can Opener.
I never wanted to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I’m not a fan of books based on letters – I find it hard to gain an interest in the characters. I did however see the movie. I quite liked it, (especially the clothes, but that probably isn’t really the basis for a good movie) However, what it did do was pique my interest in a part of World War II that I knew nothing about.
The library has recently purchased a title that was originally published in 1995, The Model Occupation: The Channel Islands under German rule 1940-1945 by Madeleine Bunting. This is a fascinating story of what actually happened and the author looks at a variety of previously unanswered questions. Why wasn’t there a resistance movement against the German occupation, how did Britain manage and cope with the occupation, and what of the Islanders themselves – were the stories true of collaboration, or was it just a means of survival. Was this all a dirty secret that Britain didn’t want the rest of the world to know about, and what has been the impact on these Islands and their inhabitants?
Although I wasn’t a fan of either the book or the movie, they did create a curiosity and interest in the occupation and the toll it took on the Islands’ inhabitants. I recommend this book if, like me you knew nothing about this time in history.
Fiction publishing is very much trend and theme driven, and as Heidi Klum said “one day you’re in and the next day you’re out”.
There are always the bestseller authors, but in amongst their numbers are a few subjects and authors that can come out of left field.
Bookshops. Books and people who sell them, read in them, murder in them and fall in love, usually in old dusty quaint places – none of which resemble Whitcoulls or Paper Plus. The recently released movie The bookshop might also create some interest in this area.
Librarians and Libraries
Librarians and libraries! Well, not exactly a major trend, but for a generally under-represented group in books and films we seem to be featuring on a regular basis lately – usually there is a murder involved …which is um, interesting?
Bakeries. Food has always been a feature in fiction, but just lately there has been the odd bakery/romance popping up, which seems like a nice mixture to me.
Bees and Beekeepers
Feminist dystopias – not surprising considering the dramatisation of The Handmaid’s tale. These books are not for the faint hearted.
Find more feminist dystopias in our collection.
Of course, fiction publishing is also affected by what is going on in the world, there have been more titles published in the last few years about refugees for example, plenty of titles about the economic crisis, climate change and a plethora of light easy reads for those of us who just want to escape.
Places that maps can’t confine or identify, Utopias, pieces of land in the middle of a highway, political places and cyberplaces. Written by the author of Off the Map, this book is hard to define but easy to read. Each chapter is short, creative writing about places that defy definition in the normal scheme of things. Makes you look at the notion of Place in an entirely different way.
Perhaps you are a child of the 50s and 60s, or you just love the design from this era? Better Homes and Gardens presents the new decorating bible for those favouring that wonderful mid-century design sensibility. Crammed full of original designs, plans, colours, design and advertising. Great for ideas but also wonderful just to ponder times past.
I love cute dog photos, (I blame Facebook for this), and luckily Really Good Dog photography has plenty of them, but what has been surprising (and in a good way) is the depth of the photos and the accompanying essays. These are no ordinary pictures, they tell a story both about the dog and the photographers. Many are startlingly beautiful, some fit the cute variety and others are just wonderful photographs with a dog almost there by chance. All tell a story and this is a great book for those who love dogs but also for those who are interested in photography.
You can usually rely on children’s books to have interesting inviting covers. This month’s selection do not disappoint. Designed for children – but equally enjoyed by adults – there should be something here that appeals to all ages.
The World of Moominvalley by Philip Ardagh
The ultimate guide for any Moomin fan, old and new. A 350 page introduction to the unique hippo-esque shaped world where the best use for gold nuggets is as flowerbed borders, and a lending paw is more important the even the largest of large rubies.
Filled with illustrated maps and family trees, facts about Moomintroll behaviour and habits, this gorgeous book contains all you could wish to know about the beloved characters from the original Moomin stories and the world in which they live.
The Ways of the Wolf by Smriti Prasadam-Hall
Wildlife illustrator Jonathan Woodward brings these animals to life with breath-taking papercut collage artwork.
We travel so far by Laura Knowles
Small stories of incredibly giant journeys. From the epic migration of the huge humpback to the unbelievable determination of the tiny hummingbird. Each tale is told by the migrating animal and is wonderfully brought to life by the glorious illustrations of Chris Madden.
Book of Bones : 10 record-breaking animals by Gabrielle Balkan
There’s a lot going on in this book. First you examine animal skeletons and guess who they belong to. The answers are revealed in vibrant, full-colour scenic habitats, with easily understood and humorous explanations. For example a reticulated python would need a row of 5 king-sized beds to stretch out on. (What a dreadful thought!)
This entertaining introduction to the connection between animal bones (anatomy) and behaviour is playful, relatable, and includes touch-and-feel finishes that bring the bones to life!
I couldn’t resist the title Holidays in Soviet Sanitoriums:
Holidays in the USSR were decidedly purposeful. Their function was to provide rest and recreation, so citizens could return to work with renewed diligence and productivity
So, no lounging by the pool or sipping a pinacolada for these folk then? The sanitoriums turned out to be a cross between a medical institution and a form of summer camp, complete with exercise regimes, edifying and educational talks, and strictly healthy but bland diets.
Many of these institutions have closed, some have become more like the western ideal of a spa complete with mud wraps and the like, while others have maintained their strict adherence to alternative forms of physical therapy. For a fee, you can soak in crude oil, be wrapped in paraffin, wax, endure electrotherapy – or for the really adventurous, spend your summer vacation in a salt mine breathing in the pure minerals and sharing a curtained off dormitory area metres underground.
As well as the information about the therapies available, there is also fascinating insight into the architecture of the time with photographs alongside the interesting stories of the healing properties meted out in these unique institutions.
I nearly always judge a book by its cover, it is an enticement…a taste of things to come, but I sometimes find myself wondering if I have read a particular book as so many of the more recent book covers look very alike.
The covers in the era 1920-1970 were works of art in their own right. Representing a variety of art styles from Art Deco, Modernism, postwar neo-romanticism and the intriguingly named Kitchen Sink School (Wikipedia tells me a form of social realism depicting the situations of the British working class), this book includes over 50 artists mainly from the US and the UK. It is beautifully put together by the publishers Thames and Hudson and is a lovely book to dip into, both to read about the artists and to admire the beauty and detail of the covers.
The Art of Winnie-the-Pooh: How E.H. Shepard Illustrated an Icon. By James Campbell
The collaboration between the writer A.A Milne and illustrator E.H. Shepard was unheard of at the time, and led to an iconic series of books where story and illustration became synonymous with our enjoyment of Pooh, Piglet, Christopher Robin, Eeyore, Tigger, Rabbit, owl, Kanga and Roo. This is a lovely book of whimsy and memory, including examples of how the illustrations developed, descriptions of the life and family of Shepard and his relationship with A.A. Milne.
Bothies were originally built as rudimentary accommodation for bachelor farm workers, and the vast majority of them were abandoned but have now been renovated by the Scottish Bothies Association. They are randomly found across Scotland, are free, and often nowhere near attractions or national parks, however the nature of their existence and local make them an attraction in themselves. These are not luxury 5 star huts, they are basic…”the two low benches can be edged towards the hearth, but there is a strange absence of chairs”. “Not available during stag stalking”. “No stove or fireplace” or “bring your own fuel”. The views, landscape and the sheer out-of-the-way nature of these places however make up for the lack of home comforts. Detailed descriptions of how to find them are included along with beautiful photographs of the hut and surrounding areas.
At Home with Dogs and Their Designers: Sharing a stylish life by Susanna Stalk
Coal, a yellow Labrador retriever is owned by Interior Designer Jeffrey Alan Marks.
“Coal travels with me a great deal, so her things are held in a navy leather tote bag that matches not only the car but also the navy leash I designed for her”
The dogs in this books live a charmed life, surrounded by opulent furniture, luxurious soft coverings and well clad owners. They generally tone in well with surroundings and exude a certain smugness as they lounge beside their owners. If you have a love of dogs and good interior design then this book will certainly not disappoint.
The author puts herself somewhere between the age of 80 and 100, so death is not an abstract idea, but she stresses that this is not a sad book. Certainly clearing away all that clutter accumulated over a long life, alongside making decisions about the precious to alleviate family arguments, and perhaps dealing with things that you would rather people didn’t pore over after your demise is not a bad idea. These are all practical suggestions, but this odd little book is as much about ideas on how to declutter as a memory of a life well lived.
In complete contrast to decluttering is an ode to the past, a collection of beautiful objects with memories attached, this little book is a celebration of the everyday. It is a mixture of history and art with beautifully painted renditions of old china and ceramics that the author remembers from her childhood, alongside family stories and interesting detail about some of the history behind these beloved pieces.
This is a book that celebrates the food of nineteenth century England and includes many of the dishes described in the books of Charles Dickens, including recipes and detail about the history of the time. Pete Evans of Paleo fame would no doubt enjoy Bone Marrow pudding, (apparently Queen Victoria had bone marrow every day so he is in good company), however French plums appealed more to me, alongside a good Leicestershire pork pie featured in Great Expectations. Many of the recipes are surprisingly appealing and are made even more interesting with a good dash of history and an even measure of literature.
The interest in all things Scandinavian does not seem to be waning. There has long been interest in the Scandinavian crafts but one of the more unusual titles: The gentle art of Swedish death cleaning : how to free yourself and your family from a lifetime of clutter is the last in long line in art of Scandi living to arrive at the library.
Not only do Scandinavians have The happiest kids in the world they also know how to stack wood and whittle. Belly fat is dealt to with The Scandinavian belly fat program : 12 weeks to get healthy, boost your energy and lose weight and if you want to look younger there is The Nordic guide to living 10 years longer : 10 easy tips to live a healthier, happier life.
If you are interested in more aspects of Scandinavian life then check out these lists on our website:
- Scandinavian Home Family and Garden
- The Scandinavian way: diet, Fashion, how to be happier and live 10 years longer!
- Scandinavian: Happy and Cool
What’s Your Bias? The surprising science of why we vote the way we do Lee De-Wit
This is a timely book considering some of the surprising election results of recent years. We may take for granted that people vote the same way as their parents, but it turns out that this is not so much to do with upbringing, but because of our genetic similarities. However there is so much more that influences the way we vote – or indeed if we vote! With chapter headings such as “Why do you always think you are right”, “What’s in a face” and “Faking it”, De-Wit offers an easy to read and fascinating look at the psychology behind our political preferences.
The Emoji Code: the linguists behind smiley faces and scaredy cats Vyvyan Evans
A positive look at the way our language has evolved rather than a bemoaning of the imminent loss of the written language. The author argues that emojis enrich our ability to communicate, they ” allow us to express our emotions and induce empathy – ultimately making us better communicators”. When we communicate digitally (every day 41.5 billion texts are sent) our non verbal cues are missed, the emoji can express these nuances. Perhaps after reading this book I will be able to evolve, and move on from the smiley face.
Children’s Garden: Loads of things to make and grow Matthew Appleby
Many of us want our children to get off the computer and enjoy the outdoors. The beauty of this book is there is no need to travel to the high country, you can introduce your children via your own garden, however big or small. The book is divided by the seasons and includes craft projects, cooking your produce, games, keeping animals etc. It shows that a garden can be full of creativity and fun, whatever the season.
Vitamin C: Clay + ceramic in contemporary art
Ceramics have left behind their image of rather nasty shaped pots created in night-school, and have now been accepted into the hallowed folds of “Art”. Each page has full colour plates ranging from the small and delicate to large monstrosities and installations. There is colour, detail, a dash of ‘goodness my three year old could have made that’, and plenty to be challenged by.
Nadiya’s Bake me a story by Nadiya Hussain
Winner of the 2015 Great British Bake Off combines traditional tales and recipes for all the family. She also has a new Christmas title Bake me a Festive Story arriving in October.
Fish girl by Donna Jo Napoli
Napoli teams with Caldecott winner David Wiesner in this Graphic Novel about a young mermaid who is the main attraction in an aquarium. She can’t talk and she can’t walk but she can make friends with a girl named Livia. Can she find a new life on land? Like all David Wiesner’s books the pictures in this book are outstanding.
Celebration of Beatrix Potter : art and letters by more than 30 of today’s book illustrators
Wonderful re-imaginations of some of Beatrix Potter’s famous tales by artists like Jon Agee, Tommie dePaola, Brian Pinkney and Rosemary Wells, the fabulous David Wiesner makes another appearance here also. Each illustration is accompanied by text from the artist explaining what that character means to them, making this a true celebration of Beatrix Potter.
Christchurch – Our Underground Story by Phil Wilkins
If you have a child who has been fascinated by all the trucks, bulldozers, diggers and construction going on around Christchurch then this rather quirky book could be a hit. Designed as a large board book with lift the flaps it contains everything you did (or perhaps didn’t want to know) about what has been going on under our feet.
Read our post on Christchurch – Our underground story
A look inside Christchurch: Our underground story by Phil Wilkins and Martin Coates