Love Middlesbrough Lass Claire loves libraries

If I had to put an exact age on when my love for libraries started, I’d have to double check with my mam first, but I’m pretty sure I was probably about 3. This is me when I was 3 – cheeky, freckled, the beginnings of the mad hair just starting to peek through…

The early years as we’ll call them were mainly about running into the children’s section of the library, plonking myself down on the floor in front of the book boxes and deciding which pile I was going to take home that week. There was always a pile, and it was always kept separate from our own books so that there wasn’t any mix up – that’s my mam for you (wish her tidy genes had passed on to me ☺️).

Fast forward to the teenage years and this is where the love for the library service and all it can offer was firmly cemented – I’m talking about you, Sweet Valley High and Sweet Dreams series. There was no way, even with all my babysitting money, that I would ever have been able to afford to buy them all myself – there was loads of them! But each week, I would go in and get myself the next pile in the series, read them all up, and then back again and so on until I finally reached the end. I kid you not, I had a bottomless pit of a rucksack and I used to average 14-15 books per week…

As my reading styles started to evolve my enthusiasm for libraries continued to increase for two reasons: firstly there was so much choice! And in every genre imaginable. Secondly: it’s free. FREE BOOKS! Tell everyone!

Books! Ceilings! Central Library is magical in every way!

And then something wondrous happened: I got a job…in a library! Yep, little old library-loving me was actually going to work every single day in a library – and a big one at that! Now seems a good time to clear a couple of things up: yes, I totally did stamp books with the date stamp – such a satisfying sound – and no, I never told anyone to ‘ssshhhhhh!’

When I moved back up north I got a job in another library (see? I told you it was love ❤️) Chances are, if you went to Teesside University between the years of 2001-2013 you’ll have seen me in the library. Probably pushing a trolley around and usually wearing some very, very bright clothing.

There’s loads of things people don’t realise about working in libraries. It’s definitely not just stamping books and telling people to be quiet, whilst wearing your hair in a bun and boring clothes. It’s basically like living inside the internet, except that all the knowledge sits inside the head of all the people who work there. And the best thing of all? They want to share everything that they know too! And if they don’t know the info, they will absolutely, 100% be able to use their skills to find it for you! Truly, library work is one of the most misunderstood occupations and I’m here to change that! Library staff, and librarians, are proper ace!

Before I became a Love Middlesbrough Lass I was working in yet another library; it won’t come as too much of a surprise that I loved it. The services that public libraries offer are amazing and often, you become a precious lifeline for your customers who rely on you for your help, information giving, and just all round company-providing if they pop in for a chat when they’re feeling lonely. I can honestly say it was the most humbling and inspiring job I have ever done…but becoming a Love Middlesbrough Lass was calling me, which is obviously massively brilliant too!

So here we are. A Love Middlesbrough Lass who loves libraries. I’m a member in two authorities – the one where I live and the one where I work. This is often dangerous, as can be testified by the giant pile of books waiting to be read by the side of my bed. But there can never be too many books…can there?

What does all this have to do with us I hear you ask? Well, this summer we’re so excited to be part of a project called #BoroReads. We’ll be sharing more on that soon, but basically we want to get as many people in Boro reading as we can, from teeny tiny babies looking at picture books to everyone else of any age!

Obviously the first thing you need to do is go and join the library! All the info you need to do that is right here > https://libraries.middlesbrough.gov.uk/web/arena/join-the-library

If you’re not sure where your closest library is you can find that out too > https://www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/leisure-events-libraries-and-hubs/community-hubs-and-libraries/find-librarycommunity-hub

And join us for #BoroReads! We’ll be doing loads of cool stuff over the summer so make sure you join in!

Love Middlesbrough Lasses read!

This summer, we’re hosting a very special takeover on the Love Middlesbrough blog as part of Boro Reads.

What is Boro Reads?
Middlesbrough’s 100 best children’s reads have been chosen by schools across the town, and throughout the summer Love Middlesbrough will be asking children to vote on which of the chosen books are their favourites!

As avid readers, your Love Middlesbrough Lasses are super excited to be involved, so we’ll be posting regularly about Boro Reads all summer, starting today! Sadly the Boro Reads vote is only open to children, so we decided to talk about our own favourite books instead…


Claire

My top 5 books are below. They are in no way, shape or form in any order, because hello?! Don’t make me choose like that!

1. ⭐️ Any Human Heart ⭐️ by William Boyd
I always, always struggle to say why I love this book so much. I’ve never been so completely absorbed by any other book before, and honestly? It took me ages to read it again in case I didn’t love it as much as I did the first time. I always feel completely bereft when I’ve finished it as I don’t get to spend time with the characters any more. So. Good.

2. ⭐️ To Kill a Mockingbird ⭐️ by Harper Lee
I’ve read this book every single year, without fail, since I was 16 and studied it for my final project in English GCSE. Even now, waaaaaay too many years past GCSEs to count, I still love it, and I still get something new from it with each read…

3. ⭐️ Dogger ⭐️ by Shirley Hughes
I’ve got so many memories associated with reading this book but my favourite is that I used to read it with my grandad, sat on his knee, and sadly that grandad is not around any more … you have my permission to have all the feels now… ❤️

4. ⭐️ The Tales of the City series ⭐️ by Armistead Maupin
Reading this amazing series set in San Francisco made me want to go sooooo much! So I saved up and went and it was one of the BEST holidays I’ve ever been on! And yep, we totally found as many places as we could from the books in real life! (luckily my friend I travelled with is also a massive fan of the series!) Each book (6 in total) is completely battered, yellowed in age and dog-eared from being read over and over again…

5. ⭐️ The Go Between ⭐️ by L.P. Hartley
I’m starting to realise I’m not that good at book reviewing ☺️ Can I just say that I love it again…?

Emma

My age is really going to show here, because I’m all about the YA books (I’m a young adult – this is normal). The more action, the better. So, here’s my Top 5 books (in absolutely no order):

1. ⭐️ An Abundance of Katherines ⭐️ by John Green
Unpopular opinion, but The Fault in Our Stars is not John Green’s best book as far as I’m concerned. An Abundance of Katherines is a lot more relatable and a lot funnier, hence why it made my list.

2. ⭐️ Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror ⭐️ by Chris Priestly
This is more of a children’s book but I really enjoyed this book – so much so that I ended up with two copies of the book. Not as scary as it sounds btw.

3. ⭐️ Glass Houses ⭐️ by Rachel Caine
So, I completely forgot this book exists until this blog post, so now I’m re-reading it (and halfway through after only a few hours). It’s part of a series that I’m pretty sure I haven’t finished (book shopping trip anyone?). I mean, vampires, ghosts and smart 16 year olds, I’m in.

4. ⭐️ ⚡️ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ⚡️ ⭐️ by JK Rowling
If I could, this entire list would be Harry Potter. I love the Harry Potter series and JK Rowling is an amazing author who puts so much thought into her characters. If I had to choose a favourite – which you have made me do- it would be Half Blood Prince. It was by far the funniest book and the movie was the best at capturing Harry’s sass.

5. ⭐️ I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You ⭐️ by Ally Carter
I’m really into spy movies so when I discovered a book series about a young spy, still in spy school, I just had to read it. It is the gripping first instalment of the series which empowers women everywhere. Something any Love Middlesbrough Lass can get on board with I’m sure.

Rachel

I’ve also avoided trying to put these into order, because I love them all too much to say I prefer one over the other.

1. ⭐ Rebecca ⭐ by Daphne du Maurier
I love this book! (I also love the 1940 Hitchcock film, and the 1997 TV adaptation, the 2015 Kneehigh Theatre play, and the 2012 musical, which I travelled all the way to Germany to see (in German!)). You could say I’m a bit obsessed with Rebecca. It’s totally iconic – the beautiful ancestral home, the creepy housekeeper, the brooding secrets…all the yeses!

2. ⭐ The Observations ⭐ by Jane Harris
I love books with a very strong and humerous narrative voice, and The Observations has this in absolute bucketloads. Plus, being a history geek (I know, I kept that one quiet!), the fact that it’s set in the Victorian era makes my inner fangirl very happy. (And, a Rebecca-esque house full of a secrets…)

3. ⭐ Carrie ⭐ by Stephen King
I love the way this book is written – the story is told in a normal chronological way, but it’s interspersed with ‘factual’ articles from some time after the story has taken place, which partly explain the ending. So rather than being shocked by what ultimately happens, you know it’s coming and you watch as the characters, completely unaware, make decisions which contribute directly to their fate. (Plus, a great musical – yes, really!)

4. ⭐ Great Expectations ⭐ by Charles Dickens
For me, one of the marks of a favourite book is that I can pick it up, turn to any page, start reading, and know exactly what’s going on and what’s already happened. It’s like being with an old friend. I love this book because you can take whatever message you want from it, whether it’s about love, family, entitlement, work, selfishness…I could go on. Plus I felt like there had to be at least one classic in our list, and I don’t really know many others!

5. ⭐ From a Railway Carriage ⭐ by Robert Louis Stevenson
Like Claire, I’ve gone with one that’s going to give you all the feels (my reason, not the book). My mum used to read this to me at night when I was little, so it definitely has a special place in my heart.

Honourable mentions go to: Dracula (Bram Stoker), Daphne (Justine Picardie), The Distant Hours (Kate Morton), Chinese Cinderella (Adeline Yen Mah), and Catch That Hat (Emma Chichester Clark)…plus more that I’ve forgotten.

Having flowers laid on your book looks highly impractical for ease of reading… 😅

Oh, and you won’t be surprised to know that our beloved Very Hungry Caterpillar is getting an honourary mention as the Lasses’ joint favourite book! 🐛❤️

We’re also working very hard on getting the Boro Reads page live on the Love Middlesbrough website for you to get voting, so watch out for the link on our Facebook page very soon!