After something of a pause, here’s the latest selection of staff book recommendations. This is the second set of recommendations from the City of Westminster Archives Centre – see the first set here. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s a slight bias toward history – but with varying approaches!
The Horrible Histories series, by Terry Deary
My life revolves around these books at the moment, because my two daughters Ruby and Lotte have become obsessed by the stories. It’s brilliant to see the power of the gory bits of history – they always want to get more of the books from the library every time we visit, and know the Henry VIII: Divorced, Beheaded, Died and Charles II: King of Bling songs (from the TV series) off by heart! [Peter]
Lee Miller: On both sides of the camera,
by Carolyn Burke
I found this book a fascinating insight into the life of the Surrealist icon Lee Miller- actress, model, muse and herself successful artist. Well known for her friendships with the artists Picasso and Man Ray, this biography tracks Miller’s life from childhood through to her later career as a successful World War II reportage photographer and correspondent for Vogue.
Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years,
by Sue Townsend
Having grown up with Adrian Mole (his Secret Diary, aged 13 ¾ was published in 1982 when I was 14) I always look forward to reading his latest offering. So, when the most recent instalment Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years was published I borrowed a copy from my local library. This episode is more sober than the previous diaries. Adrian is diagnosed with a potentially terminal illness (no doubt a reflection of author Sue Townsend’s diabetes-related poor health and loss of sight). There are, however, still some hilarious “laugh-out-loud” moments and Aidy, now in his early forties and bumbling through life as most of us do, is as endearing as ever. An amusing, and moving, read. [Michelle]
The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien
I read this as a single work rather than as three books. I’ve read it several times because for me it has infinite variety – it’s a complete world, and ties in to so many aspects of our own ‘lost history’. Tolkien was informed by place names and history from the Anglo-Saxon period, so the reader can find a lot of depth in the story.
A Little History of the World, by EH Gombrich
The Austrian art historian Ernst Gombrich was invited to attempt a history of the world for younger readers. Originally written in German in 1935, this is an excellent book, charting the story of mankind from the Stone Age to the First World War and beyond with infectious enthusiasm. A great book, which can be enjoyed by children or adults, both as a story and as a piece of history. [Georgia]