It is August, and those hazy lazy days of summer are upon us. So how about a bit of escapism? This month a crack team of librarian reviewers are recommending journeys of both the natural and supernatural, as well as a rummage in the back of our favourite childhood wardrobe.
Top non-fiction, chosen by Amanda: Underland, A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane
If you find nature, wilderness and the English language fascinating then this book is a must read. Robert Macfarlane (author of The Wild Places) now goes into the ground beneath our feet to explore below the earth. He collects stories from local people, visits burial mounds, ravines and archaeology and the nature surrounding the locations. With his unique use of language and being the master of landscape exploration, reading one of his books is almost not like reading at all.
Top audio book, chosen by Robin: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
All seven of BBC Radio’s dramatisations of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia adventures are available as eAudiobooks! I enjoyed these radio plays so much when I was younger, on rainy days and at bedtime especially. I must have listened to the entire series fifty times and my personal favourites, The Horse and His Boy and The Silver Chair fifty times more. Each story will summon you away on a magical journey to a land of talking beasts, of witches and giants, oceans and mountains, to a land where time stands still and magic lingers in the air.
Top fiction, chosen by Andrea: The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy
It’s like this, Saul Adler.’
‘No, it’s like this, Jennifer Moreau.’
After an accident on Abbey Road, Saul finds himself caught in time and space, piecing history together with his internal mirror. He finds shards of his story, embedded in London, America and former East Germany, in which spectral reflections lead him to recreate a haunted sense of self. Deborah Levy uses memory, that unreliable narrator, to carefully construct a story as delicate as the character on which it is based.
This book is a puzzle, with ethereal connections to the famous Beatles album cover (and the girl in the blue dress); tinned pineapples (not peaches!) and tyrants. It’s a slim book that rewards rereading.
Top children’s fiction, chosen by Julia: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Orphaned Mary is brought back from India forlorn and unwanted to live in her uncle’s lonely house on the moor. She is miserable and disagreeable until she discovers a hidden door to a mysterious secret garden and a cousin she has never met living in a hidden bedroom.
Mary’s character changes and we see an obnoxious child change into a better person. She helps her cousin recover and brings the garden to life & her uncle is stunned by the transformation. The moral of this book is that a child’s love and kindness can heal the emotional scars of their parents.
Top children’s non-fiction chosen by Josie: Hey There, Stink Bug! by Leslie Bulion and Leslie Evans
It’s Creepy! It’s Crawly! It’s Stinky! A swarm of insects introduces readers to the joy of poetry. Witty poems describe how insects capture prey, trick predators, attract mates, and have managed to survive for 400 million years.
Scientifically accurate information further explains bug behaviour. Eye-catching linoleum-cut illustrations practically crawl across the pages.
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 July’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.