‘Summer, Summer, wherefore art thou Summer’. It is July, not that you would know it from looking outside, and our top librarians are here with their monthly picks. We experience two authors traumatic childhoods and how nature helped the healing process for one. We travel to 1930s Moscow to meet the Devil before getting a little more PG with two great picks for the kids to kick off this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.
Top non-fiction, chosen by Zoe: Plot 29 : a memoir by Allan Jenkins.
Plot 29 intertwines the story of troubled childhood memories with reflections on the restorative and healing effects of gardening, growing and nature. By moving between reflections on his present life on his North London allotment, and half memories of a disruptive childhood, Jenkins writes a beautiful and melancholy story of broken family, fragile relationship and the hope of love and growth.
Beautifully, and sometimes humorously, written, Plot 29 reminds the reader to find peace and joy from simple acts; to engage with the moment and let go of the future; and the nourishing and healing power of the earth.
Top fiction, chosen by Lynn: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
From the moment a conversation between two leading literary lights triggers the arrival of the devil in the guise of smartly dressed Woland, the inhabitants of 1930s Moscow are in for bizarre ride. As storylines switch between Moscow and first century Judaea, we are one moment in the company of Behemoth the vodka drinking, gun-toting cat, the next with Pontius Pilate and Judas.
Surreal and supernatural, darkly comic and complex but also full of love and hope, a lifetime could be spent reading and revisiting this novel. Some do: since its publication in the 1960s, two decades after Bulgakov’s death, the book has achieved cult status.
Top audio book chosen by Lucy: The Ungrateful Refugee by Dina Nayeri
What is it like to be a refugee? It is a question few of us give much thought.
Dina Nayeri interlaces the story of her own refugee journey – as a child forced to flee Iran, eventually finding asylum in America – with the stories of others making their own journeys today. She sets unpacks the refugee experience, and gives voice to those in today’s refugee camps and those who are forced to lead a nomadic existence, being moved on for the rest of their lives.
It’s a myth-busting sometimes uncomfortable experience with some incredible stories of human resilience.
Top children’s fiction chosen by Simon: Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt.
Scaredy Squirrel never leaves his nut tree. He’s afraid of lots of things: bees, germs, Martians, the unknown. He’s so afraid that he has his daily routine down to a series of schedules, contingency plans, and emergency exits.
A book about bravery and how you can’t control every environment. Also, a hilarious comedy picture book for adults and children alike, with genuinely great sight gags, and an important message.
Its all about the great outdoors and perfect for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge ‘Wild World Heroes’
Top children’s non-fiction chosen by Roger: Zombie Makers True Stories of Nature’s Undead by Rebecca L. Johnson
Not to frighten you or anything but, there are things that can take over the bodies and brains of innocent creatures, turning them into senseless slaves. Meet nature’s zombie makers—including a fly-enslaving fungus, a suicide worm, and a cockroach-taming wasp—and their victims.
This is a fun, accessible but totally disgusting science audiobook, brilliant for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge ‘Wild World Heroes’
Be afraid be very afraid.
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 May 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.