Tag Archives: Cityread

Cityread London 2018

If you live within the M25 you may have come across Cityread London. If not, then this is your chance to take part in the biggest annual reading event in London, for Londoners and about London. As the organisers put it:

“This is an celebration of literature that brings reading to life for the whole capital in a massive book group”

This event is in its seventh year and for the first time will take place in May, rather than April. Each year, a different author and book are chosen and this time it’s the turn of Jessie Burton and her second novel ‘The Muse’. Many of you may remember her wonderful debut work ‘The Miniaturist’ which was broadcast as a BBC TV drama last Christmas.

We encourage all of you to read this year’s book and take part in the conversation. You may like to join one of our many book groups that are taking part this Spring. You can find details of our groups here

Not only that, May will be packed with events related to the themes of the novel, which are many and topical: live jazz band performance plus talk on the jazz clubs scene of 1960’s Soho, talks on the Spanish civil war, swinging Sixties, the changing role of women, immigration and its impact on the capital, art, food, drink and more.  Take your pick and book your place

And don’t forget to look at the Cityread website for a London wide picture of what is going on this May.



April in Queen’s Park

The Riot by Laura WilsonApril is a busy month for readers, with Cityread and World Book Night offering lots of opportunities to share books.

Queen’s Park Library recently held events to celebrate both occasions, beginning with a talk by award-winning crime novelist and Guardian critic Laura Wilson.

Laura has written a range of contemporary and historical fiction, but this evening she focused on The Riot, set during the 1958 Notting Hill race riots and very much in keeping with this year’s Cityread theme of social unrest and disorder. Laura described her research into the riots and offered a fascinating glimpse into an area that has changed so much in recent years, before explaining why she chose to place her fictional detective, DI Stratton, in this setting. An audience of Laura Wilson fans and locals keen to find out more about the area’s history made for a very lively question and answer session following the talk.

Author Laura Wilson at Queen's Park Library, April 2016

Then on Saturday 16 April, local young people enjoyed an early World Book Night event and the chance to get a free copy of fantasy novel Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, one of this year’s WBN titles. The group voted on which film to watch from a choice of three, each based on a young adult fantasy novel. ‘Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials’ was the clear winner and seemed a good choice – the audience was unusually quiet throughout and the film earned a round of applause at the end!

Clapper board / reels of filmWe run film events aimed at 11 -16 year olds quite regularly, and the great thing for the library is that they attract such a wide audience: boys as well as girls, book fans and more reluctant readers. We’d like to work with teenagers to develop future library events, so if any young people would like to get involved and boost their CVs in the process they should definitely get in touch!


Ten Days into thirty

April is here again, and that can only mean one thing if you’re a library member in London: Cityread!

Cityread LondonEach April, Cityread asks London’s citizens, workers and visitors to pick up a book – the same book – and read it together. Taking the chosen novel as a starting point, a month-long programme of book groups, film screenings and other events takes place across all 33 London boroughs in libraries, bookshops, museums and other venues.

This year’s book is Ten Days, a newly published and gripping thriller by Orange Prize-shortlisted author Gillian Slovo:

Ten Days by Gillian Slovo‘Ten unpredictable days of violence erupt from a stifling heatwave. And, as Westminster careers are being made or ruined, lives are at stake. Ten Days is about what happens when politics, policing and the hard realities of living in London collide.’

Here in Westminster we have a programme of special events including historical talks and a walk around key ‘rebel’ points in Westminster’s streets. Our many reading groups will be joining in and discussing the book at meetings throughout the month – pick one and come along!

Click on the book cover above to find copies of Ten Days available in your library. It’s also available as an ebook and we have limited numbers of free copies to give away – ask in your library.

We’d love to know what you think of the book. If you can’t get to a reading group to discuss it, let us know your views in the comments.


Let’s talk about books

Book Talk recently planned its programme for this year. What’s Book Talk?
It’s our telephone-based reading group for the housebound residents of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea. Among the titles to be discussed at the monthly meet-up over the phone are:

Queen Camilla by Sue Townsend Shakespeare by Bill Bryson Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann Mr Mac and Me by Esther Freud Notes from an Exhibition by Patrick Gale  The Pirate's Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson Margot at War by Anne de Courcy The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Ten Days by Gillian SlovoThe selection is a great mixture of fiction and non-fiction, and includes Shakespeare by Bill Bryson in this 400th anniversary year. We’ll also be joining many other reading groups, right across London, in reading the Cityread London book – Gillian Slovo’s Ten Days – in April.
Next on the schedule though is February’s title, Queen Camilla by Sue Townsend.

If you’d like to find out more about Book Talk, get in touch. Here’s what a couple of group members think:

“It’s a challenge to read something I wouldn’t normally try.”

“People aren’t interested in other people in London. But at least we have one another to talk to about the books.”


Police and (book) thieves

Rivers of London by Ben AaronovitchAre London West End Police Constables too busy to read? Obviously not and in any case the Charing Cross Met contingent will have to make time for it this Spring. Westminster Reference Library handed out to them free copies of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London, the first chapter in the saga of Met Officer (and Apprentice Police  Wizard) Peter Grant and Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale (head of The Folly and the last officially sanctioned English Wizard – the real thing, basically).

Following an unexpected encounter with a ghost, Officer Grant is recruited into the small branch of the Met that deals with magic and the supernatural.  In the process of doing so he comes across evil forces that turn ordinary people into vicious killers, warring gods of the River Thames, vampires and all manner of supernatural underworld trickery.  Almost all of the action takes place in and around the WC2 area – perfect location and subject matter for our local constabulary to enjoy:

“We are delighted, as local police officers, to be a part of Cityread London 2015 – it is a terrific scheme which is encouraging more of us to read.”

Theatre company LookLeft LookRight adapted Aaronovitch’s novel into an immersive participatory experience as part of Cityread London 2015, as described in the previous post.

Cityread 2015 at Westminster Reference Library

PC Alexander Williams from Charing Cross Police Station, seen here with two specimens of the lowest ranks of apprentice wizards Rossella Black and Zsuzsannah Nemeth, was appointed as the lucky recipient of the gifts but remained unimpressed by all the magic and shenanigans…

“All in a day’s work, Guv really, nah mean” Officer Williams said, “nothing in ‘ere that we don’t have to put up with every day and night in this library.”

Hard to impress bobbies, these days!


Rivers of London: A Hidden Chapter

Rivers of London (Westminster Reference Library, April 2015)Ever wonder how the London Met fends off supernatural criminals in the capital?
Or if ghosts are real?
If Rivers could talk, what would they say…?

All these questions and more were answered in Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch‘s supernatural urban fantasy novel and our 2015 Cityread London book.

But the story didn’t end there.

Westminster Reference Library, in conjunction with Cityread and LookLeft LookRight Theatre hosted an interactive theatre performance that ran on Saturdays and Sundays throughout April. The top floor of the library was converted into a special police department: the official training centre for new recruits of the Supernatural Sciences Branch!

Rivers of London (Westminster Reference Library, April 2015)

Anne tells us how she fared on her first day as a wizard’s apprentice….

“Unfortunately I did not have what it takes to become a new police apprentice studying magic at the Folly, but I had a really good time trying out for a place last Sunday.

Sixteen prospective applicants met at Westminster Reference Library, where the top floor had been transformed into The Folly – the training academy for the magic police division in the Cityread book Rivers of London. PC Peter Grant from the book spoke to us first and explained how we would be tested and then we were off in small groups to meet the different protagonists.

I saw Sir Isaac Newton first in a room where the Sherlock Holmes collection had been transformed into a 17th Century study to explain the underlying principles of magic. Then it was onto see Inspector Nightingale who tested our powers of observation in a crime scene, and finally we met with Mama Thames herself and her daughter Beverley Brook. Although a number of us had passed the tests up to this point we all failed to produce a werelight in the laboratory, so none of us made the grade… but we all had a magical time trying.”

Cityread London was a brilliant experience for all concerned this year. We hope that you managed to get involved in some way, either by reading the book, coming to an event, or taking part in discussions online. Roll on Cityread 2016…

London in fiction – for World Book Night

The Hidden Girl by Louise MillarOn World Book Night Pimlico Library hosted a talk by two psychological thriller authors, Louise Voss and Louise Millar, who are part of the Killer Women group.

Focussing on the representation of London in their fiction, the authors also discussed their respective routes into writing and the creative process.

There was a lively discussion on many topics. The audience was particularly interested in the fact that Louise Voss co-authors books with Mark Edwards. They were intrigued by the writing process and the experience of writing alongside another author.

World Book Night 2015 at Pimlico Library, with authors Louise Voss and Louise Millar

As it was World Book Night, after the discussion attendees were given free copies of either the Cityread London title Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch  or the WBN title Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by MC Beaton.