5 more books to get you through the holidays

Now that Christmas is all unwrapped and tidied away, we bring you 5 more books to take you through the hazy cloud of New Year and on to 2014

1. The Hangover cure

If the Bucks Fizz, the Prosecco and the Eggnog has been flowing a little too freely this Christmas and you want to take a break between now and New Year’s Eve. For the sore headed and bleary eyed we recommend:

The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Give your liver a break by reading about the hedonism of New York in the 1920’s. If you loved Fitzgerald’s later novel The Great Gatsby you will no doubt adore this exploration of youth, money, and more alcohol than you can imagine. It’s all the delights of an extravagant party without any of the consequences.

2.  The musical accompaniment

If your tolerance for peppy Christmas jingles has officially hit its limit and overly cheery carollers now fear your perfected “Get away from my front door,” stare then maybe you need a little change of tempo.

For you music lovers we recommend:

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon

IMG_101500Behind the action of life in North Oakley and California lies a soundtrack of smooth jazz. If you are a vinyl obsessive and a lover of old school record stores, then the backdrop of this novel will make you rush to your local music hub before you can even close the book.

3. For the uncertain future

As 2013 rolls to a close and yet another year approaches you may begin to hear the familiar questions popping up in conversations, “So what are your plans for the future? Have you decided on what you want to study after you finish you A Levels? How’s the job hunt going?”

Unfortunately it is not socially acceptable to simply slap these unwanted humans  and so for you and your pain we recommend:

I Left My Tent in San Francisco by Emma Kennedy

IMG_1014A shining example of the amount of life to be lived on an unplanned adventure. If you don’t have any answers to the questions being asked and simply say “San Francisco. I am going to San Francisco.”

4. The undiscovered bookworm

You’ve made it clear that you’re more of a TV and movie fan but for some reason people keep giving you books at Christmas. You smiled and said thank you after you unwrapped the pile of paper and ink because you are not an ass-hole and someone went to the trouble of thinking of you. Hell maybe you will pick one of them up over Christmas.

For you we recommend:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

IMG_1016If there is another book that demonstrates the importance of books and reading as poetically as Zusak does here then we haven’t heard of it. If that’s not enough to keep you interested it also has Nazi’s, book burning and death to enthral you. With the film adaptation being released in the UK in 2014, you won’t want to miss out on the depth of Liesel’s struggle through life.

and finally…

5. For wizards and muggles alike 

You may, like so many potterheads still be waiting on you Hogwarts acceptance letters to arrive and maybe 2014 will finally be he year it does (although probably not).

For all of you who are holding hope we recommend:

Harry Potter (all seven of them) by JK Rowling

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Because it’s awesome, and let’s face it the Christmas break is the only time you have to binge read the entire series…until the stage play is release, and the new movie comes out.

5 books for surviving the holidays

There comes a time for everyone over the holidays where everything becomes too much and you need to go and find a quiet corner to escape. Be it hiding from overly inquisitive relatives, overachieving siblings, or you’ve accidentally ruined Christmas by setting fire to the turkey – Hey it happens – then we have the perfect Christmas reads for your situation.

1. The over achieving sibling

Breaking from school or university for Christmas is eagerly awaited by people across the country. But for any child with an outstanding sibling the holidays can be tough. Whilst you may be proud of your merit in the first exam of the year, the distinction gained by your sibling is all the family can talk about.  It’s not that you are bad at everything, it’s just that they seem good at everything, and they don’t even seem to try.

For you we recommend: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

#olk#;lkNo matter how much your siblings may drive you crazy, these two sisters will beat your competitive nature hands down. If the imagery of beautiful palaces, juicy royal romance, and deathly betrayal don’t calm your envious spirit then at least you can imagine your sibling as the Anne Boleyn to your Mary. Try to keep the beheading to a minimum though.

2. The lovesick

Yes you’ve met the person who makes you feel all gooey and impairs your ability to act like a rational human, but tragically you have been separated by family responsibilities.

To heal your temporarily broken heart we recommend: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

IMG_1011To remind you that love can overcome a great many number of things and that your temporary separation will be completely forgotten once you are reunited.

3. For the hungry person in need of food

Dinner was supposed to be ready an hour ago. Over and over again a kind if thoughtless aunt has smacked your hand away from the Pavlovian bell ringing mince pies, with the promise that food would be ready very soon. She has lied to you and now she must be punished.

For you hungry fellows we recommend: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

IMG_1012Imagining your family members as tributes will take away any adverse feelings you had toward them when they were denying you food. The lack of food mentioned in the book won’t make you any more hungry than you are, and you will be all caught up for the next Hunger Games film. Perfect.

4. The Philanthropist 

The Christmas period makes you all aglow with your love of your fellow man. Just the spirit of the season makes you more generous than the previous 111 months combined. Maybe it’s the brandy, maybe it’s the carol singers, maybe it’s the inhalation of fumes as you walk past the perfume counters looking for last minute presents. Whatever the reasons, you always end up thinking of others at Christmas.

For you, you very good human being we recommend: Stuart a Life Backwards by Alexander Masters

IMG_1010The story of a very unique man and a very unique friendship in Cambridge. This book will change the way you look at homelessness throughout the UK. If nothing else, I guarantee that you will attempt to make convict curry at least once over Christmas.

5. The Adventurer 

Being trapped in a house for long periods of time is really not your thing. You would rather be climbing Kilimanjaro or sand surfing in a sweeping desert, just you and your adventurous spirit against the elements.

We sympathise with your insatiable wanderlust and so we recommend: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R Tolkien

IMG_1013Great news, you can find escape from the boredom of staying inside by going on a adventure with Frodo, Samwise Gamgee and the rest of the  fellowship. Travel with them as they journey across Middle Earth experiencing fantastical situations that allow you to feel twice the excitement with none of the danger.

Are there any books that you use to escape during the holidays. Let us know what books you love and why you love them and they could end up in another top list very soon.

Happy Holidays

Pop up books (but not the kind you would think)

Seren Books have established a pop up store in the Nation Theatre of Wales store

Seren Books have established a pop up store in the Nation Theatre of Wales store

Pop up book stores have been appearing all over the UK in the run up to Christmas.

Stores like student book seller Blackwells and Welsh independent publisher Seren have been establishing temporary locations to promote their stores over the holiday period.

This is not the first time that publishers have used pop up shops have been used to promote and sell books. in 2012 Penguin books established a scooter driven pop up book cart in London.

So if you are looking for a fun alternative to crowded book stores in the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, or if you are just looking to help support smaller independent stores, look out for a pop up book shop near you!

 

Getting young people back into libraries

Not so quiet in the library. Cardiff Central Library holds weekly concerts to encourage new members. Image Credit: Eloise Mclennan

Not so quiet in the library. Cardiff Central Library holds regular music event to encourage new members. Image Credit: Eloise Mclennan

Silence in the library. It’s a well established concept. You walk in, keep your head down grab the book, CD or DVD you came for and leave. Under no circumstance do you talk to anyone else.  Unless you break something, in which case you hide it, mumble apologies and leave as quickly as possible in the hope that no one else saw you.  It’s clear, historic, and very British.

The rise of digital publications since the release of e-books and digital cataloging has made going to the library an even more solitary event. Whilst reading a book is generally considered to be a private process, as the reader fills in blanks in the text with their own imagination, nowadays you can check your books out and return them without speaking to a single soul. You don’t even have to make eye contact with anyone.

Local government is pushing to fill libraries with readers. Image credit: Eloise McLennan

Local government is pushing to fill libraries with readers. Image credit: Eloise McLennan

Libraries were the  consider Google of their day, however nowadays young people have Google. If libraries lack a social aspect, why should young people bother to go?

Get it Loud in Libraries has been organising music events since 2010, inviting artists to perform between the shelves of carefully categorized books and charging the public a small entrance fee. Compared to expensive stadium concert tickets, a £6 entrance fee is an interesting concept for young people who don’t have the money to spend on pricey tickets.  And for a parent, “I’m going to the library,” sounds far more comforting than “I’m going to a club in Soho to see -insertdodgynamehere-”.

Dimmick is in full support of the introduction of alternative events in libraries across the UK, “It could be a gig it could be a theatre performance, it could be sporting stars,” he said “It could be anything to get people into the space and then to cross sell and upsell the books and the services that they offer whilst they have a captive audience.”

A similar project was launched in Essex in the 1970’s. Harlow Town Park was packed by thousands of people from surrounding communities who came weekly to see bands like the Bay City Rollers, The Sweet, The Jam and a whole host of gigs that were free to the public.

The Sods at Harlow Bandstand in 1978. Image by Micky Mazda

The Sods at Harlow Bandstand in 1978. Image by Micky Mazda

As Harlow was newly developed at the time, the council used the events to draw in people who thought that Harlow was just soulless houses. This simple concept of using music to debunk a preconceived idea of a place worked well in the 1970’s and there is a chance that libraries holding alternative events could have the same effects in 2013, making them a hub for social activities within communities.

Making reading e-zine-er

Alongside hosting alternative events, Canton library in Wales is attempting to compete with the digital market by launching an “e-zine”. The service is a new digital library that compiles over 250 magazine titles that are free for users to read and download to tablets, smartphones or laptops. “Many people who didn’t think libraries were for them can take a fresh look at the libraries in Wales,” said Cardiff minister for culture and sport John Griffiths,  “how they can save a considerable amount of money and discover new areas of interest by using the full range of services available both online and at their local library.”

This launch is just one of Cardiff councils development framework Libraries Inspire. Following reports of 200 library closures in 2012, both councils and library members are keen to lower the number of closures before 2016.

“I’m really excited to be able to access so many magazine titles free of charge,” says Bethan Rogers, a member of the Audience Development Team at Welsh Libraries, “Other members of my family have joined the library too and are downloading the magazines to their PCs and tablets. Libraries are an amazing free resource and we should all make more use of them.”

John Griffiths supported the digital launch in Novemeber. Image provided by Library Wales

John Griffiths supported the digital launch in Novemeber. Image provided by Library Wales

When is a library no longer a library?

There is a danger that libraries could lose their status as a portal for information if too much focus is dedicated to establishing libraries as social hubs. While it is important to encourage young people to enter the library, getting them to stay and interact is a harder task. “ They need to focus on taking part in their own projects,” says library user Calli Powell from Nottingham, “not just to turn up here and there.”

There is a balance to be struck between the traditional, and the modern and that it is what libraries are missing at the moment.  Younger people need an aspect that keeps people interested. Many libraries do offer services and meetings outside of the traditional loaning out of literature. But if you look at what they provide, knitting clubs, reading groups, story times for parents and young children, there is a significant gap in the age range targeted. The idea of silence in the library may need to change before young people are drawn back in, but it remains to be seen whether live music and fashion events will  be able to breath new life into libraries.


 

Goodreads Best Books of 2013 announced

Since 4 Novemeber, Goodreads members have been voting in their thousands for their favourite books of 2013. The books were whittled down into 20 categories, with almost 2 million people casting votes across the world. Finally after a month of waiting, Goodreads have published the final results.

2013 Best Fiction winner And the Mountain Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

2013 Best Fiction winner And the Mountain Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

The Winning Books 

Fiction – And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Mystery & Thriller – Inferno by Dan Brown

Historical Fiction –  Life After Life  by Kate Atkinson

Fantasy – The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Paranormal Fantasy – Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Science Fiction – Madd Addam by Margaret  Atwood

Romance –  Lover at Last by J.R Ward

Horror –  Doctor Sleep – Stephen King

Memoir & Autobiography – I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

History & Biography –  Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones

Non-Fiction – The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin & Richard Panek

Food &  Cookbooks – Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle

Humour –  Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Graphic Novels & Comics – Beautiful Creatures: The Manga by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl & Cassandra Jean

Poetry – The Fall of Arthur by J.R.R Tolkien

Debut Goodreads Author – Tangled by Emma Chase

Young Adult Fiction – Eleanor Park by Rainbow Rowell

Young Adult Fantasy – Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Middle Grade & Children’s – The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

Picture Book – The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywatt, illustrations by Oliver Jeffers

This is the 5th annual Best Book roundup by Goodreads since they first began the event in 2009.

This is third year running that Veronica Roth has come top of the Young Adult Fantasy section with the Divergent series

This is third year running that Veronica Roth has come top of the Young Adult Fantasy section with the Divergent series

What do you think of the winning books? Were you surprised by any of the results?