Monthly Archives: September 2013

Samuel Johnson Prize

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As well as the many novels I want to read, I also love to plunge into a well-written factual book, one that introduces me to a really interesting topic. One source of fascinating reads is the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction: there is always something to catch my fancy on the list. Previous winners include ‘The Suspicions of Mr Whicher’ by Kate Summerscale, ‘Nothing to Envy: Real lives in North Korea’ by Barbara Demick and ‘Into the Silence:the Great War, Mallory and the conquest of Everest’ by Wade Davis.
The shortlist this year is
Empires of the Dead: How one man’s vision led to the creation of WWW1’s War Graves by David Crane
Return of a King by William Dalrymple (the story of the first Afghan War)
A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson (reintroducing and protecting bumblebees)
Under Another Sky by Charlotte Higgins (what Roman Britain has meant to people through the ages)
The Pike by Lucy Hughes-Hallett (an attempt to create a utopian fascist state in Croatia)
Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography Volume One: Not for Turning by Charles Moore.

What a rich and varied list! I’ve read all of William Dalrymple’s books. He is one of my favourite factual writers so I know I’ll be reading Return of a King and I think Under Another Sky will be on my Christmas list. Do you like reading factual books and do any of these attract you?

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Wakefield Literary Festival: Telling Tales – Susanna Meese

Wakefield Literary Festival: Telling Tales – Susanna Meese.

Freedom to read

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What do these books have in common?

This week, libraries and bookshops in America are celebating Banned Books week, which highlights attempts to get various titles removed from bookshops, schools or libraries because of their content. It also celebrates all the times that this has failed.

The books pictured above are from their list of books most complained about in 2012. Many books have been banned by various countries: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World was banned in Ireland in 1932 for its sexual content, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales were banned in America in 1873 for obscenity. China banned Dr Seuss Green Eggs and Ham for it’s apparent depiction of early communism and United Arab Emirates banned Orwell’s Animal Farm for containing references to pigs.

There is a list of books that have been banned at various times here

Whatever you have chosen to read this week, sombody would probably like to stop you. Let’s celebrate and defend the freedom to read.

Prize winning Mobile Library

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We’ve shared some pictures of our new Mobile Library on the Improvements page. This weekend the van went to the National Mobile Meet at Chorley, Lancashire. The event is organised by the Public Libraries Group of CILIP (The Professional Librarian’s Chartered Society) annually. Mobile libraries, library suppliers, and vehicle builders drive from all around the country to meet together for the one day conference and share good ideas and new developments. This year Library Manager Andy Wright gave a talk on the work we have been doing merging our Home Library and mobile library offer into a single service using a new kind of delivery model, and we took our brand new van with us.

We won the CILIP President’s Award for the Best Small Mobile Library, and we also won the “Delegate’s Choice” award, which is a kind of “best in show” as voted for by everyone there. We were absolutely delighted with these awards, as you will see from the picture which shows Andy , drivers Ann and Eddie who got up at the crack of dawn to drive the vehicle (limited to 56 mph!) across the Pennines, and Jacquie who has worked hard getting timetables and routes sorted and liaising with the company who have built the vehicle.

Man Booker Prize 2013 Shortlist Announced

The Man Booker Prize promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year. This prize is the world’s most important literary award and has the power to transform the fortunes of authors and publishers. The winner will be announced on the 15th October.man booker2013

The shortlist for 2013 has been announced thus:

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (Chatto & Windus)

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (Granta)

The Harvest by Jim Crace (Picador)

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (Bloomsbury)

A Tale for the Time Being  by Ruth Ozeki (Canongate)

The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín (Penguin)

Robert Macfarlane, the chair of this year’s Man Booker Prize judges, has called this years list the most diverse in recent memory. They are geographically diverse with novelists from New Zealand, England, Canada, Ireland and Zimbabwe . They range in size from the 832 pages (Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries) to just 104-pages (The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín). They depict time periods ranging from the biblical Middle East (Tóibín) to contemporary Zimbabwe (NoViolet Bulawayo). The oldest author on the list, Jim Crace, is 67 and the youngest (also the youngest ever shortlistee), Eleanor Catton, is 28.
Who would win your vote?

Richard and Judy Book Club

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The autumn list is out for the Richard and Judy Book Club and this time it’s a smaller list with a mix of new and established authors. Judy commented ”As always, that’s based purely on merit – Richard and I are ‘author blind’ – we simply look for the best new reads on offer”. Two of my favourite authors Maggie O’Farrell and Tracy Chevalier feature. I’ve just finished ‘The Last Runaway’ and it’s excellent. The story and characters stayed in my mind for days and I’m looking forward to hearing her talk about it at Wakefield Lit Fest. Deborah Moggach’s Heartbreak Hotel will also have many fans. What do you think of Richard and Judy’s choice this time?

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