Grab a cuppa and get ready to settle down in a comfy corner as our lovely librarians bring you their top five reading recommendations each month. Here, librarian Henry kicks things off with September’s selection of must-reads.
Top non-fiction: England’s Dreaming: Sex Pistols and Punk Rock by Jon Savage
You really don’t have to like either the Sex Pistols or Punk Rock to enjoy this book.
Essentially it’s the story of a pop tragedy: spoilt brat art student starts a band – the Sex Pistols – to “sell a lot of trousers”. The Pistols accidentally start a youth movement and upset everybody before it all ends catastrophically with substance abuse, rancour, lawsuits and murder.
It reads like fiction and encompasses: the winter of discontent; the long hot summer of ’76; the Jubilee and England descending into urban decay; unemployment; financial crisis and disaffected youth.
But the real star of the book is the great city of London itself.
Top fiction: Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
Imagine the Archers if it were written by Ted Hughes.
The synopsis of Reservoir 13 reads like a clichéd crime setup: rural village, missing girl, the search for a body, the search for a perpetrator. But
McGregor’s tale is a meditation on village life after a tragedy: seasons unfold, things change, babies are born, there’s a funeral, people arrive in the village and leave, the teenagers go to university and some come back again.
And everywhere there is nature; fieldfares flock, foxes prowl and “The woods were thick with the stink of wild garlic and the leaves gleamed darkly along
All the time, over thirteen years, we expect the body of the girl (“Rebecca, or Becky, or Bex”) to be found, the crime to be solved but although McGregor teases us; Reservoir 13 refuses to be conventional crime fiction.
Top audiobook: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Voted one of the 10 best first lines in fiction (Telegraph and Guardian) “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” You may have read this in your angsty teens,
it is well worth revisiting this version narrated – drawled – by Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Feel again the powerlessness of those who love her, as the narrator’s mental health degenerates. As she descends from witty, vibrant New Yorker, to hospitalisation.
The Bell Jar was published only a month after its author’s tragic death in the bleak winter of 1963.
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Librarian’s choice: Driving Short Distances by Joff Winterhart
A comic book about Sam; returning home after a breakdown and working for Keith.
The job seems to consist of ‘a lot of driving around, getting out of the car for a few minutes and then getting back in’. Keith has been described by Zadie Smith as another in the ‘short but potent list of great British literary Keiths!”
This book evokes the bittersweet kitchen sink realism of Mike Leigh, where almost nothing happens but slowly everything changes.
Top kid’s book: Kat Wolfe Investigates by Lauren St John
This is the first in a new series by Lauren St John a detective adventure story with added animals.
It starts out as a fairly simple story, but pulls you in and before you know it you have lots of mysteries to be solved.
There are animals, beautiful seaside locations, libraries, friendship, secret agents and a horse called pocket rocket!
Have you read any of the books featured this month? We’d love to hear what you thought! Leave your reviews in the comments below.
You can find out more about libraries in East Sussex by visiting the East Sussex County Council website.