Our volunteers and staff recommend… Book Picnic of the month

Christmas is so close now, and we are sure that, just like us, you might be struggling with Christmas presents ideas. So why not get some inspiration through our new recommendations for the book picnic of this month?

Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery by M. Evelina Galang 

Angel has just lost her father, and her mother’s grief means she might as well be gone too. She’s got a sister and a grandmother to look out for, and a burgeoning consciousness of the unfairness in the world—in her family, her community, and her country.  Set against the backdrop of the 1986 Philippine People Power Revolution, the struggles of surviving Filipina “Comfort Women” of WWII in the early 1990s, and a cold winter’s season in the city of Chicago is the story of a daughter coming of age, coming to forgiveness, and learning to move past the chaos of grief to survive.

Recommended by Emily, who really REALLY enjoyed it!

Legendary by Stephanie Garber 

This one is the sequel to Caraval, the first book of the series.  

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more – and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets . . . including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about – maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Recommended by Elaine

Daughter of Fortune by Isabelle Allende 

Set in Anglophile Chile and goldrush California during the middle years of the nineteenth century, this magnificent romance tells the story of English foundling Eliza Sommers who grows up in the bustling entrepot of Valparaiso. Eliza is a spirited, sparky and ambitious romantic who becomes embroiled in a forbidden love affair with the charismatic but capricious Joaquin Andieta. When he disappears suddenly for California, and the promise of riches that rumours of gold strikes have brought him, she can but follow after him…

Recommended by Elaine

The collected stories by Grace Paley 

From her first book THE LITTLE DISTURBANCES OF MAN (1959), to ENORMOUS CHANGES AT THE LAST MINUTE (1974) and LATER THE SAME DAY (1985), Grace Paley’s quirky, boisterous characters and rich use of language have won her readers’ hearts and secured her place as one of America’s most accomplished short story writers. Her stories are united by her signature interweaving of personal and political truths, her extraordinary capacity for empathy and her pointed depiction of the small and large events that make up daily life.

Recommended by Mattie

The Outrun by Amy Liptrot 

When Amy Liptrot returns to Orkney after more than a decade away, she is drawn back to the Outrun on the sheep farm where she grew up. Approaching the land that was once home, memories of her childhood merge with the recent events that have set her on this journey.

Amy was shaped by the cycle of the seasons, birth and death on the farm, and her father’s mental illness, which were as much a part of her childhood as the wild, carefree existence on Orkney. But as she grew up, she longed to leave this remote life. She moved to London and found herself in a hedonistic cycle. Unable to control her drinking, alcohol gradually took over. Now thirty, she finds herself washed up back home on Orkney, standing unstable at the cliff edge, trying to come to terms with what happened to her in London.

Spending early mornings swimming in the bracingly cold sea, the days tracking Orkney’s wildlife – puffins nesting on sea stacks, arctic terns swooping close enough to feel their wings – and nights searching the sky for the Merry Dancers, Amy slowly makes the journey towards recovery from addiction.

Recommended by Rosie

The Accidental by Ali Smith 

Arresting and wonderful, The Accidental pans in on the Norfolk holiday home of the Smart family one hot summer. There a beguiling stranger called Amber appears at the door bearing all sorts of unexpected gifts, trampling over family boundaries and sending each of the Smarts scurrying from the dark into the light.

A novel about the ways that seemingly chance encounters irrevocably transform our understanding of ourselves, The Accidental explores the nature of truth, the role of fate and the power of storytelling.

Recommended by Rosie

Selected Poems by Kathleen James 

Kathleen Jamie’s Selected Poems gathers together some of the finest work by one of the foremost poets currently writing in English. Although Jamie is perhaps best known for her writing on nature, landscape, and place, Selected Poems shows the full and remarkably diverse range of her work – and why many regard her work as crucially relevant to our troubled age.

No poet currently writing has a keener eye or ear; no poet has paid more careful attention to the other consciousnesses with whom we share the planet – and no poet has Jamie’s almost miraculous ability to show us just how the world might look when the human eye ceases to gaze on it. This exceptional collection of poetry, spanning several decades, allows readers to chart the development of one of our most important contemporary talents, and serves as perfect introduction to her work.

Recommended by Wendy

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto In 15 Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie’s letter of response.

Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions–compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive–for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can “allow” women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.

Recommended by Wendy

 

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