Tag Archives: reading

Cousins in Mayfair

Cousins by Salley VickersMayfair Library Reading Group met yesterday to discuss Cousins by Salley Vickers.

May 1994: Will Tye, a student at Cambridge, falls from the tower of King’s College. This event is the starting point for a story running through three generations of the Tye family, told from the view point of three different women: Will’s sister Hetta, grandmother Betsy and his aunt Bell. The group felt that this device was sometimes confusing, they weren’t always sure who was speaking.

All agreed that the ending (which we won’t give away!) was the best part of the book, when the story really picked up. They saw it as interesting rather than shocking or surprising.

Salley Vickers is probably best known for her first novel, published in 2000, Miss Garnet’s Angel. You can find her other books, including Cousins, in Westminster Libraries.

Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers  The Boy who could see Death by Salley Vickers  The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers

The group meets at the end of March to discuss their next book, Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop. Come and join in!

[Debra]

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Arthur sends his apologies

The apology of Arthur Tresbit by Robert Thayer

“Arthur Tresbit is about to cause the destruction of civilisation as we know it… And for that he’s very sorry.”

Robert ThayerAuthor Robert Thayer gave a balanced and interesting talk about the nature of high finance, and in particular the financial crash of 2008, to the Paddington Library Reading Group recently.
The illustrated talk formed a backdrop to his recently published novel, The Apology of Arthur Tresbit, an amusing fictional account of an ordinary man who destroys the world financial system.

To find out more about forthcoming events at Paddington Library, visit our News & events page.

[Laurence]

The book of the moment

It’s almost time for the announcement of this year’s Man Booker Prize winner!

Where to find the Book Awards section on Westminster Libraries catalogueIt’s not uncommon for individuals or book groups to use book awards as a personal challenge – a colleague in RBKC reads the Man Booker shortlist every year and shares her thoughts with the rest of the staff. Why not join her?

You can find the latest shortlists of all the main awards on the library catalogue itself, making it quick and easy to find out where the books are in stock or to place a reservation.

When a new shortlist comes out, we move the winners from the previous year to the ‘Prizewinning books’ list so that you can still find them.

Latest key dates for book awards:

  • 13 September: Man Booker Prize 2016 shortlist
  • 17 October: Baillie Gifford Prize (formerly the Samuel Johnson Prize) for non-fiction 2016 shortlist
  • 18 October: Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2016 shortlist
  • 25 October: Man Booker Prize 2016 winner
  • 15 November: Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction 2016 winner
  • 22 November: Costa Book Awards 2016 category shortlists

Book awards section on Westminster Libraries catalogue

Reading an article entitled ‘Literary prizes make books less popular, study finds‘ made me wonder why, if this was the case, why on earth anyone in the book industry – authors, publishers or booksellers – continues with the whole awards malarkey? It depends on your definition of ‘popular’. The conclusion of the 2014 study was that sales increase, the book reaches a wider audience than it might otherwise, and those readers may not have chosen the book because it appeals to them but simply because it has won a prize. Therefore the proportion of negative reviews increases – the book is less popular in terms of good reviews, but still more popular in terms of increased sales / borrowing from libraries. If they can cope with the poor reviews, the authors can enjoy the kudos of the award, the prize money, and the revenue from increased sales, as well as the knowledge that their work is being seen by large numbers of people.

A Song of Ella Grey by David Almond Neurotribes by Steve Silberman A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

If you’re an avid reader, sometimes it’s good to have your tastes challenged, either by reading a book that’s won an award or that is recommended by someone whose tastes may not align with your own. An online book group I belonged to once held a ‘reading challenge’, where peoples were assigned a book by other members that went against their preferences. I was given some ‘chick lit’ (I quite enjoyed it) and I challenged a friend who hated biographies and war stories to read Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth (sadly, it didn’t change her mind – but she read it!).

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge One by Sarah Crossan The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neila Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Why not use our handy book lists or even some of the Staff Picks on this blog to find yourself or your children a new, award winning book to read?

[Ali]

What are you reading today?

It seemed like a good time to ask this again – your library staff and their reading habits have been left uninterrogated for too long. So here is a snapshot of answers to the question – a broad spectrum of themes and genres, as you might expect. Click on the links or the cover images to find out where they’re in stock in Westminster Libraries:

Calamity in Kent by John RowlandBritish Library Crime Classics

I’ve been working through the ‘British Library Crime Classics’ series – reissues of long out-of print crime novels from the Golden Age of crime writing 1920s-50s.  I have recently read Calamity in Kent by John Rowland and Serpents in Eden: country crimes edited by Martin Edwards (a collection of rural mysteries).
[Malcolm]

Theft by Peter CareyTheft, by Peter Carey

A book about fraudulent art and the love between two brothers who can’t stand themselves, and can’t live without each other.  It keeps me chuckling on the train.
[Ruth]

Web series, by Mary Balogh
I’m currently re-reading Mary Balogh’s Web series, which covers the lives and loves of two families.
The older brother marries the sister of the other family (The Gilded Web), the twin brother meets and marries the widow of his best friend when that friend is killed and he is injured during the battle of Waterloo (Web of Love). The vegetarian by Han KangThe twin sister marries the brother of the woman that married his older brother (Devil’s Web).
[Gill]

The vegetarian, by Han Kang

It’s weird, beautiful, dark and intense. I can’t compare it to anything I have read in a while.
[Zsuzsanna]

The girl with all the gifts by MR CareyThe girl with all the gifts, by MR Carey

This is a cross between Never let me go and 28 weeks later. A virus has turned the people of Britain and possibly the world into flesh eating zombies…
I don’t usually read sci-fi books but this is classed as fiction and really got me hooked – I love it.
[Michaela]

Innocent Eréndira and other stories, by Gabriel Garcia MarquezInnocent Eréndira and other stories, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A book of short stories decorated with the vibrant and vivid images that are typical of Marquez’s novels. The book begins with The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother. The ease of reading these tales and the length of each makes this a wonderful collection to read alongside a longer and more difficult book, or to read with someone else.
[Michelle]

Birdsong by Sebastian FaulksBirdsong, by Sebastian Faulks

This is my current book club read and I am near the end now. If you want a powerful sense of the insanity of WW1 and the way it broke just everything, this is the book for you. I will be cheering myself up with some Terry Pratchett.
[Anon]

The professor, the banker and the suicide king: inside the richest poker game of all time, by Michael Craig
This is a book about an American banker and entrepreneur called Andy Beal, who took it upon himself to challenge the best Texas Hold’em poker players to a series of heads-up/one-one-one matches in Las Vegas in the early 2000s. He ended up losing several millions after initially being ahead. It’s a great read as it gets into the psyche of the professional poker player, and demonstrates just how precarious a living being a professional gambler really is.
[Steve]

The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, by Alex RossThe Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, by Alex Ross

A very readable history of music from the early 20th century starting with Mahler, Strauss and Wagner, the development of classical music in America, music under Nazism and Communism etc.
[Hilary]

My Brilliant Friend by Elena FerranteMy Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

I’m currently reading volume three (there are four volumes in total) of this trilogy. A masterpiece! An epic tale of two women and the powerful nature of their friendship throughout their lifetime. But it’s also the transformative story of a neighbourhood, a city and a country in its violent and intellectual political and historic contest.
[Debora]

[Ali]

Charlie’s Trips at Paddington Library

Charlie's Trips by Jack FelsonLocal author Jack Felson recently gave a thoughtful and interesting talk about his novel Charlie’s Trips to the Paddington Library Reader’s Group and guests.

The book is a futuristic version of The Wizard of Oz, a dark tale that deals and plays with many of America’s institutions and values such as family, religion, army, marriage and fame.It’s a science-fiction work as well as a comedy, a social satire and a disaster story. It basically deals with a paradox, the main character being able to see into the future when he lost his past.

Jack talked about the book but also about his life as a bi-lingual French author and film director living in London, about America, politics and more – a thought provoking and entertaining evening!

[Laurence]

Not only Dahl – the Big Friendly Read continues

Professor Lightning and his Mad Science workshop at Pimlico Library, August 2016What’s your favourite Roald Dahl story? The BFG, George’s Marvellous Medicine, or perhaps The Twits?
Whatever it is, you don’t have to read only Roald Dahl books to join in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, The Big Friendly Read. You can read anything you like from the library: joke books, information books, or story books. There is still time to join in, and it’s free – just ask at your local library. If you read 6 books before the Challenge finishes, you receive a medal!

There are also events going on all summer in our libraries, to keep children and families entertained. Here is one of our entertainers, Boo Hiccup, performing magic tricks and all round silliness at Maida Vale Library – the children LOVED it!

Boo Hiccup at Maida Vale Library, August 2016 Boo Hiccup at Maida Vale Library, August 2016

And in the style of Georges’ Marvellous Medicine, ‘Mad Science’ came along to Pimlico Library to conduct some science experiments with the children. Here (and above) is Professor Lightening making some troll bogeys… actually linked polymers. It was great fun!

Professor Lightning and his Mad Science workshop at Pimlico Library, August 2016

[Rachel]

Reading Ahead for success

Over 200 Westminster readers won special recognition for completing the Reading Ahead challenge 2016.

Reading Ahead poster 2015-16Reading Ahead (formerly The Six Book Challenge) is a nationwide challenge from The Reading Agency inviting participants to pick six reads – anything from books and magazines to website articles – and record, rate and review them in a reading diary. The programme is designed to help less confident readers improve their reading skills and is run locally by Westminster Libraries and Westminster Adult Education Service (WAES), particularly encouraging readers with English as a second language to take part. Last year, over 48,000 people took part across the UK.

In Westminster, 746 people participated in this year’s challenge, with 221 receiving the completion certificate. For the third consecutive year Church Street Library led the field with 149 completers, thanks to a great partnership with WAES and Working Men’s College who deliver their Community ESOL classes at the library.

Westminster Reading Ahead awards ceremony, July 2016

Westminster participants celebrated their success at a special event in July with author Diane Sherlock, who said:

“I was much moved and impressed by your wonderful readers. And by what you all have achieved.”

We’d like to express thanks and congratulations to everyone who took part in the challenge, including the library and WAES staff members who worked so hard at every stage from initial promotion through to the final ceremony. And thanks to Diane for her enthusiasm and support. Here’s some pictures of the happy participants receiving their certificates:

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Councillor David Harvey, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Sports and Leisure said:

“Reading is a vital skill and it’s wonderful to see so many people in Westminster take part and develop their confidence. I hope that all participants continue to build on their success and help spread the joy of reading in their communities.”

If you or someone you know are interested in taking part next year, please contact your local library. And in the meantime, why not get your children into the reading habit – it’s not too late for them to join this year’s Summer Reading Challenge!

Westminster Reading Ahead awards ceremony, July 2016

[Debora]