With the prospect of things slowly returning to some form of normality, this month our librarian’s picks have been inspired by the wider world. Race is the focus of our non-fiction, fiction and audiobook choices. And traveling takes centre stage with our children’s picks, whether you are peddling or a flying pig.
Top non-fiction, chosen by Jane: Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
One of the best books I have read on Race and in my view an essential read for anyone who cares about social justice. Reni describes the history of slavery and racism in Britain, and I have to say that there was not a single word that I didn’t agree with. I learned so much about myself and my own personal attitudes to race and difference. It certainly highlighted for me the issues of white privilege in an honest and enlightening way.
Some may say it’s not an easy read, but I found it engrossing and feel it is a must read for schools and I do hope it is being considered for the curriculum.
Top fiction, chosen by Emma: Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
We thought we had it hard here in East Sussex this winter, with the constant rain that caused mud so deep it came over the tops of our walking boots. For Laura McAllan, who’s husband Henry casually announces that he has bought a farm, this isn’t just an annoyance she experiences when out walking the dog, this is something she can’t escape from.
The story is set on a cotton farm in the Mississippi Delta Region in 1946. There are two families. The McAllan’s are white and own the farm, the Jackson’s are their black tenants. Both are living in dilapidated shacks, surrounded by mud.
“When I think of the farm, I think of mud. Limning my husband’s fingernails and encrusting the childrens knees and hair. Sucking at my feet like a greedy newborn on the breast. Marching in boot-shaped patches across the plank floors of the house. There was no defeating it. The mud coated everything. I dreamed in brown.”
This book is not as famous as it should be. Maybe that will change if I point out that it has been made into a successful Netflix production staring Carrie Mulligan and Mary J Blige. I’ve also heard a rumour that Hillary Jordan is writing a sequel. If you liked The Help , this is better!
Top audio book, chosen by Chris: White Tears by Hari Kunzru
“If horror believes in you, there’s nothing to be done”
Like, if High Fidelity was written by David Lynch! And with its Soul Jazz Blues referencing record collecting, definitely a hint of Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue.
Two white guy audiophiles Seth and Carter, obsessed with Black music “more intense and authentic than anything made by white people…we knew we didn’t own it,” admits Seth, “a fact we tried to ignore… masking our disabling caucasity with a sort of professorial knowledge.”
Seth is slightly unhinged believing that every sound that has ever happened still resonates – you just need the right equipment to hear it. He’s also slightly (just slightly?) creepy, and with hidden equipment he records/eavesdrops on the ambient surroundings.
When he listens back to one of his recordings, he hears the Graveyard Blues. He and Carter create a hoax, they slap scratches all over the recording, invent the undiscovered blues legend Charlie Shaw and pass it off as a 78.
However; Charlie Shaw was real, he never got paid, and he’s coming back to collect his dues.
A weird and creepy ghost story, a satire on cultural appropriation and a terrifying murder mystery with a great soundtrack.
Top children’s fiction, chosen by Andy and Bill (aged 3 1/2 ) : Peppa Pig Goes Around the World
It’s hard to go wrong with a Peppa Pig picture book and this is no exception. Adventures around the World, a few silly jokes and lots of bright, colourful pictures. Fans of the books and TV series will be reassured to know that muddy puddles are still involved. Bill loves Peppa Pig. He found this book funny; especially the different ways Mummy and Daddy Pig flew and landed the plane.
Top children’s non-fiction, chosen by Maureen: Pedal It! – How Bicycles are Changing the World by Michelle Mulder
A bike’s design is to get you from A to B, but it can also mix a smoothie, spin a centrifuge, grind grain and even change the world!
Pedal It! celebrates the humble bicycle—from the very first boneshakers to the sleek racing bikes of today, from handlebars to spokes to gear sprockets—and shows you why and how bikes can make the world a better place.
Not only can bikes be used to power computers and generators, they can also reduce pollution, promote wellness and get a package across a crowded city—fast! Be part of the joy of cycling!
Looking for more ways libraries can help during lockdown? We’ve got you covered.
Have you read any of the books featured this month? If so, we’d love to hear what you thought! Leave your reviews in the comments below. Missed June’s book reviews? Catch up on them here.
You can find out more about libraries in East Sussex by visiting the East Sussex County Council website.