Top 5 books from people in the know!

‘Tell us your Top 5 books’, the Love Middlesbrough Lasses asked. How hard could it be? Very hard, as it turns out…

Ha! We do love a good challenge, so we decided to ask Middlesbrough library staff and librarians what their favourite books are as part of our brilliant #BoroReads project this summer. They’ve come back with some great titles if you’re looking for some reading inspiration. As you can imagine from people who love books, it’s a long post so grab yourself a cuppa and a sweet treat before you start … over to you, lovely library peeps! 

favourite books

Ruth
As a librarian I read an awful lot of books and choosing five favourites took me a while! Here they are in no particular order:

Anne of Green Gables by L.M.Montgomery
As I child I loved reading about Anne’s adventures on Prince Edward Island where she’s adopted by a brother and sister and discovers what it means to be part of a family. She gets into scrapes such as dying her hair green and selling the neighbour’s cow by mistake but charms everyone she meets with her kindness, humour and imagination. Written in 1908 it continues to enchant and I recently read it with my daughter who loved it too.

The Power by Naomi Alderman
The winner of the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. This is a book I’ve been recommending to anyone who’ll listen. Set in the near future teenage girls suddenly develop an extraordinary physical ability and the balance of power between men and women shifts with devastating effect. If you think you don’t like science fiction I’d give this a go – you might just change your mind!

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Composed by Shelley when she was just nineteen as part of a challenge to write the scariest ghost story, Shelley examines what it means to be human and the monstrosity of man. Scientist Victor Frankenstein sets in motion a destructive sequence of events when he ‘plays God’ and creates a man. His creation is abandoned and subjected to the worst of mankind’s behaviour. The horror doesn’t come from the creature but from the men around him. A perfect introduction to classic fiction – it’s not too long and the plot moves quickly.

11/22/63 by Stephen King
Stephen King is one of my favourite authors but this time travel story broke away from his usual horror novels. High-school teacher Jake Epping travels back to 1958 and becomes embroiled in a thrilling race to prevent the assassination of John F Kennedy on 1963. King’s writing always creates empathy with the characters and this is no exception. From the first page I was hooked.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
This is a murder mystery novel like no other. Christopher Boone is fifteen and has Asperger’s Syndrome. The reader is drawn into Christopher’s world in this deeply moving but also very funny story. Christopher ‘s life is turned upside down as he searches for the truth about a dead dog and discovers truths about his own family. A great read for teens and adults alike.

library book shelf

Jenny
I work at Central Library and am so privileged to have access to a wide variety of books every day – it means I often have a pile to get through when I take too many home!

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
This novel is extraordinary, it centres on four characters whose lives all intersect during World War II. Moving backwards through the war, we are introduced to the complex lives of glamour girl Viv, big hearted and caught in an impossible situation; Duncan, who has a mysterious past that he is coming to terms with; Helen, always searching for true love despite a jealous nature, and Kay, who has never left the war behind and misses the comradery of the Blitz spirit. The level of historical detail and rich character portrayals make you feel as though you are living it with them and leaves you wondering what is coming next.

This must be the place by Maggie O’Farrell
This book is very funny, and O’Farrell captures perfectly and succinctly just how chaotic and weird families can be. In a criss-crossing story stretching across Ireland, L.A., and New York, to name a few, we are introduced to Claudette, an ex-film star who is prone to shooting anyone who ventures near her secluded property, and Daniel, whose love for another woman 20 years ago throws their lives into disarray. Can their unique family unit be saved? Full of warm humour and moving insight into the reality of relationships – this is a love story unlike any other.

Horrible Histories (the series) by Terry Deary
This series of books opened up a subject I had previously little interest in as a child. From the ‘Vile Victorians’ to the ‘Measly Middles Ages’, I couldn’t put them down. They are so funny and full of amusing facts, especially the cartoons that help to keep your attention and break up the text. I still love them, and recommend them to junior borrowers now, who have very often seen the TV show on CBBC.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
I recently read this book out of curiosity, having spotted it on our Reading Group shelves. This tale of double standards, rich and poor, longing and love, all set in the Dorset countryside, reminds you that though time and practices change, people and relationships never do. Naïve and poverty stricken Tess is put under the spell of wicked Alec D’Urberville, leading to events that will test her ideas of morality, and possibly the love of her beloved Angel Clare. This book has stayed with me, and I was rooting for Tess throughout. Classical literature can be a daunting prospect, but once you dive into such a book, you are completely absorbed in it and eager to see how it develops.

The Power by Naomi Alderman
The central question of this novel asks what would the world be like if women had more power? What would happen if women ruled absolute, and could use electrical charges from their palms to physically shock and kill their enemies? Governments fall, rebel groups form, and women take their revenge on patriarchal society. There is Tunde, a young Nigerian journalist risking his life to understand the phenomenon; Allie who finds meaning despite her troubled childhood; Roxy, London tough girl who does what she has to in order to survive; and Margot, who is trying to make her way in the male dominated political world. This book is unique, and not always comfortable to read due to there being some graphic elements in the book, but it is a real eye opener. Fans of Margaret Atwood would love this, as she acted as a mentor to Alderman during the project. It also won the 2017 Bailey’s women’s prize for fiction. [LML Claire note: this was already on my list but with two library recommendations – I’m deffo adding this to my pile!]

favourite books

David
My top 5 books? Here goes…

Fair Stood the Wind For France by H E Bates
Contact by Carl Sagan
The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C Clarke
Danny The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
The Whales’ Song by Dianne Sheldon, illustrated by Gary Blythe

[LML Claire: ooh there’s some authors there I’ve never heard of *hurries to library catalogue to investigate further*]

book shelves

More books related content? 

Find out what the Love Middlesbrough Lasses love to read. 

Love libraries? Love Middlesbrough Lass Claire does too! 

Vote for your favourite books with #BoroReads

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!