Category Archives: Online

Celebrating black voices in literature – non-fiction

If the last few weeks have taught us anything it is that we should be lifting black voices, authors, artists, etc every day of the year, not just when there’s a protest or when it is Black History Month. With that in mind we searched through our online catalogue to find the best in black literature and over the next few weeks we’ll be highlighting different genres from non-fiction to Young Adult. We’ve chosen four adult contemporary fiction books this week.

All these eBooks are available to download from our cloudLibrary here.  All you need is a Westminster library card and if you are not a member, don’t worry, just click here – it’s completely free to join and use our resources.

5gt4t3How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

The perfect book to kickstart your journey. Ibram explains antiracist ideas for the reader to understand just how far reaching the depth of discrimination in our society is and how you can stand up and speak out against it. Kendi asks us what an antiracist society might look like and how we can work together to build it.




9781784705039Brit(ish) by Afue Hirsch

“You’re British. Your parents are British. You were raised in Britain. Your partner, your children and most of your friends are British. So why do people keep asking you where you are from?” Afue Hirsch explores the nature of that question within British society by exploring the origins of racism, heritage and class, and what it means to not be white in Britain today.



why-i-m-no-longer-talking-to-white-people-about-raceWhy I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

This book started as a blog post back into 2014 when Reni felt overwhelmed and frustrated with the way discussions on race and racism in Britain were being held by those not affected by it. In this book Reni Eddo-Lodge explores the history of racism, eradicated black history, and whitewashed feminism. An essential read for understanding race and black history in the UK.


biased-199877404Biased by Jennifer Eberhardt

From one of the world’s leading experts on unconscious racial bias, a personal examination of one of the central controversies and culturally powerful issues of our time, and its influence on contemporary race relations and criminal justice. We do not have to be racist to be biased. With a perspective that is both scientific, investigative, and informed by personal experience, Jennifer Eberhardt offers a reasoned look into the effects of implicit racial bias, ranging from the subtle to the dramatic.

This list is only a small selection of the books we have available in our online collection. If you want to read more about black history, antiracism, or you want to find out what other black authors we have then head over to the Cloud Library to find more.

Recommended Reads

Our Book of the Week is Chan Ho-Kei’s Second Sister. This novel deals with the themes of crime, family, and investigation, so we have put together a list of similar titles we hope you will enjoy.

11 missed calls jpeg

11 Missed Calls, by Elisabeth Carpenter

If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers and suspense, this book is perfect for you. Past and present are woven together in Anna’s desperate search for answers. What happened to her mother 30 years ago? And, on the discovery of another woman’s love letter in her husband’s wallet, is there anyone left she can trust?

dead man's folly book cover

Dead Man’s Folly, by Agatha Christie

A classic crime favourite, Dead Man’s Folly is a detective story featuring one of Christie’s best-loved detectives, Hercule Poirot. Summoned to Devonshire to investigate the details of a Murder Mystery Party, Poirot begins to realise not all is as it seems as a real murder plot emerges amongst the summer festivities.

cat spitting mad book cover

Cat Spitting Mad, by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

If you’re looking for a more modern read, try Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s Cat Spitting Mad, a humorous take on the crime genre narrated by felines. Joe Grey and Ducie are two former housecats turned detectives in their bid to absolve an old friend from a gruesome murder. Will they prove successful?

splinter book cover

Splinter, by Sebastian Fitzek

Our last recommendation is Sebastian Fitzek’s Splinter, a chilling tale of memory loss and illegal experimentation. Wrecked with grief after the death of his wife, Marc wants nothing more than to forget everything. When Marc returns home one day to find his wife still alive, he is plunged into a nightmare unable to recognise reality from fiction. But is there a deeper conspiracy at work?

All of these books are available to download from our cloudLibrary here.  All you need is a Westminster library card and if you are not a member, don’t worry,  just click here – it’s completely free to join and use our resources.

Books We Love

Join us every Sunday for our new series, Books We Love.  We will be sharing staff reviews off all the books they have been catching up with lately.  Join us every Sunday for a new review.  Today’s review is from Simon, normally found at Maida Vale Library, who is reviewing ‘Me’ by Elton John.

Me, Elton John’s autobiography is a highly entertaining and honest account of the rise of Reg Dwight, a shy musical boy from a working class family in Pinner, to becoming the global megastar Elton John. It catalogues his early unsuccessful musical career and chance meeting with Bernie Taupin his lyricist, almost overnight success and then rapid transformation into a completely over the top egotistical drug monster. He also is totally up front about his homosexuality. Most stars would seek to cover up their darker more embarrassing side, but Elton is completely honest about his terrible and usually hilarious antics over the years. I haven’t finished it yet, but I think there’s a happy ending! I had previously read A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, the classic tale of one day in a Soviet labour camp by Solzhenitsyn, which is very absorbing but rather grim, so I went for a complete change with my next read!

Elton John © Michael Putland/Getty Images

Me by Elton John is available here on cloudLibrary.  You can log on using a computer or download the app.  You just need your library membership number to log in.  Not a member?  Don’t worry, click here to join our library service.

Books we love

Join us every Sunday for our new series, Books We Love.  We will be sharing staff reviews of all the great books they have been catching up with lately.  This week This week Andrea from Maida Vale Library reviews Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles.

This is a late Nineteenth Century novel set in the rural west country or Hardy’s fictional ‘Wessex’. It is now considered one of Hardy’s (and literature’s) major masterpieces, although it was seen as shocking by the standards of late Victorian England.

Tess Durbeyfield is a young girl from a poor uneducated family, whose father finds out from the local parson that they may be related to the noble D’Urberville family. Her father insists that Tess seek out the D’Urberville family to claim kinship; a fateful decision which leads to a series of tragic events.

Thomas Hardy by Downey/Getty Images

Hardy’s pessimistic and fatalistic outlook on life inevitably leads to tragedy. Hardy was ahead of his time in his sympathetic treatment of women, calling Tess a ‘pure woman’ in the sub-title, and he condemns the double-standards of the day.  This powerful novel has great characters and lovely descriptions of rural scenery. I particularly like this book as I am familiar with its locations such as the cottage envisaged as Tess’s, which brings it  to life for me.

Woolbridge Manor, Wool, Dorset. The Wellbridge House of the novel.

I would recommend this book and it is available to borrow as an e-book.  Click here to download your copy.  You just need your library membership number and don’t worry if you’re not a member, you can join our library service here.  Its free to join and free to dowload.

Mental Health Awareness Week – Surviving or Thriving?

mhaw17-main-banner_0Read, learn and connect with us during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week –

Libraries’ positive contribution to the mental well-being of the population is well documented – see the Arts Council’s publication on ‘The health and wellbeing benefits of public libraries.’ 

I say population and not just customers or residents as it has been said that living near a library and, indeed, just walking past a library has a positive effect on one’s emotional and mental well-being.

Of course we in libraries are keen to invite people to come through the doors and experience the well-being benefits first hand. The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Surviving or Thriving’ which encourages us to look at our physical and mental well-being.


Some of our offers are more obviously health focused, our health information displays encourage us to feed our brains with the right food and suggest ways to be more active, as well as giving information on managing and living well with chronic conditions.  Poor physical health can be a drain on our mental and emotional strength and poor mental health can lead to inactivity, poor diet and so the cycle continues.

One way to break cycles of unhelpful thoughts and behaviours is cognitive behavioural therapy and Westminster has a free psychological therapy service, Westminster Talking Therapies.

In order to help people decide whether this service is for them or for support while waiting for a referral, or during, or after therapy, the libraries’ Reading Well Books on Prescription collections are recommended by GPs and health promotion specialists. A new collection put together to support those living with chronic conditions will be launched in July this year.

The Reading Well Books on Prescription initiative is part of our Bibliotherapy offer. Our libraries host read aloud groups in partnership with The Reader Organisation. These facilitator led ‘Share a book’ groups meet every week and give members the opportunity to join in reading aloud from good literature and discuss what has been read over a cup of tea or coffee or just sit back, listen and enjoy the company.

lavenderIt is encouraging to look at how we in libraries contribute to what is called ‘the wider determinants of health’  All the things in our lives that support us, family, work, employment, housing, finances, education, lifelong learning, English classes, coffee mornings, knitting groups, activities for children and teenagers, employment advice, business information points for entrepreneurs old and young, all these available in libraries.

Libraries have always been inspirational and aspirational encouraging us to ask for more learning and knowledge and skills to create meaningful lives for ourselves and our families.

There are also some very good enjoyable fiction books available free to borrow hard copy or online! See our new book displays or log on to the 24/7 library. Did you know that reading for as little as six minutes can improve mental well-being?

See what you can do this Mental Health Awareness week to look after your own mental well-being, eat well, sleep well, go for a walk in one of our gorgeous parks and yes, visit your local library.

Kate Gielgud

Health Information Co-ordinator