T’is the season of giving and so in this spirit I thought I would gift you with some rather lovely book recommendations! More of an abstract guide to suit all tastes than my usual ‘themed’ affairs…

What can you expect from my gift package? Lots of Children’s books and Chernobyl, obviously! What better combination? I will try and balance this with staff suggestions as well as some of this year’s bestsellers.

I hope you all enjoy reading and find some inspiration for your gifting or your own festive reading. Don’t forget you can access BorrowBox all over the festive period and access eBooks and eAudio straight away through the BorrowBox app.

We have plenty of content for the little ones if you need a bedtime story at a push or just something to keep them happy in the car or while you’re busy wrapping!

A definite winner for anyone who likes to cook or who thinks they would like to cook (we all know someone like that!) or perhaps someone who you really wish did know how to cook! This is one of the biggest selling Non-Fiction titles of 2019 and I’ve yet to meet a person who doesn’t rave about it:

9781529014068Pinch of Nom

Pinch of Nom is a slimming blog with an active and engaged online community of over 1.5 million. Sharing delicious home-style recipes with a hugely engaged online community, Pinch of Nom has helped millions of people to cook well and lose weight. This cookbook shows both novice and experienced home cooks alike how to slim down while enjoying exciting, flavourful and satisfying meals.

I think this book transcends the usual fad diet genre and has a far reaching appeal, there is a very active online community underpinning this ‘phenomena’ and the book is sure to appeal to all those health conscious recipe hunters out there.

Is this one that will be on your list? Just writing about this one reminds me that I need to add this to my list as I think there are some great recipes in here and I can also think of a couple of friends who would appreciate this as a gift!

When writing these posts I always like to put my lovely colleagues on the spot and ask 9780008194871them for recommendations when they’re least expecting it! Today I asked for one book they read this year that they loved and the first response was Cecelia Ahern’s Postscript:

It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life. She’s proud of all the ways in which she has grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind.

I suspect that this will be on many people’s wish list this year; I myself am a bit of a philistine and have never read Cecelia Ahern so don’t know what I’m missing!

What would I recommend? Well I hope you’re not asking me to narrow it down to one… Firstly of course, I must mention that the third instalment of my most adored children’s series is now available – Alex Bell’s Explorer’s On The Black Ice Bridge.

Ice princess Stella Starflake and her father Felix are in trouble: President Fogg has expelled them from the Polar Bear Explorers’ Club, and banned them from going on any further expeditions. Stella’s not going to be put off by rules and regulations though. She knows her friend Shay is in danger of turning into a witch wolf himself, since receiving a deadly bite on their last adventure.

If you haven’t read the first two then I would urge you to drop everything, build a duvet fort, stock up on marshmallows and get reading! Of all the series I have shared with my son I can’t think of a single one I have enjoyed more than this one. Many times I have heard him cackling with laughter thinking about Colin the carnivorous cabbage or one of the scenes we have just read.

The perfect trilogy for gifting.



Here’s a book I fell in love with when it arrived and really wanted to keep it forever: The Book of Trees Why are trees so important? How many types are there? How do they benefit the environment and wildlife? This book, by the award-winning author Piotr Socha, answers these questions and more, tracking the history of trees from the time of the dinosaurs to the current day. This book is really unique and clever. As gifts go, this one is a showstopper! A cover image alone really doesn’t do it justice  – here’s an inside spread: (one of my favourites)


The next suggestion is one that you can really have some fun with and I suspect might get stolen by the adults! I actually saw a presentation by the author of Science Is Magic – Steve Mould, a while back now and can still remember how amazed I was! It was a proper magic show all based on science. I can tell you that this book is tried and tested by my son and all of us adults are suitably amazed and confounded and my colleagues will confirm that I was so impressed with some of the ‘tricks’ that I made everyone here try them as well.


Learn how to perform magic tricks and illusions using simple science experiments in this children’s activity book for kids aged 7-9. Join science presenter Steve Mould to find out the secrets behind amazing magic tricks. Learn how to bend water with a balloon, make a glass beaker disappear in oil, and wow your friends with levitating tinsel!

Perfect festive entertainment – you don’t need any complicated equipment, just everyday objects and it is far more fun than charades or monopoly!

This is the sort of book I think is well worth owning as it can be dipped into whenever there’s a spare five, ten minutes that need filling and it won’t date on your shelves.

Just caught another colleague in passing and asked for their recommendation –  Diane Setterfield’s Once Upon a River – apparently it is really good and has a lovely cover!

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A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child. Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can it be explained by science?

Oh that does sound good doesn’t it? Maybe I’ll add that to my own list…

This is actually one of our Reading Group titles, I notice, so if you fancy reading with your group then you can reserve your copies here.

Something a bit different? Some poetry perhaps? Not my usual recommendation, I do love a bit of poetry but I am quite particular! I had the pleasure of listening to Sophia Thakur recently and I was genuinely entranced with her and what she had to say. She has real grace, poise and humour and I would a thousand times recommend her to any of you teachers out there looking for inspiring authors/poets/ performers to visit your school’s. Somebody Give This Heart A Pen:

9781406388534 (1)

From internationally acclaimed performance poet Sophia Thakur comes a powerful collection of poems exploring issues of identity, love, loss, family, and faith. Sophia Thakur began performing poetry at the age of sixteen, and is known for her strong narrative voice and emotional empathy. Her remarkable debut encourages young people to look outside of themselves and to explore their own hearts’ journeys through poetry.

I recommend this for anyone with a lyrical soul or an interest in poetry or words in general! Even if you don’t think you like poetry you can still find something to love in this book, Sophia is such a born storyteller that you will float away in her narrative and wash up better off because of it.

I have a few suggestions for those of you who have been watching popular TV shows this 9780141988351year. Firstly, Chernobyl – you may have watched it, you may be planning to watch it. For anyone with more than a passing interest I can thoroughly recommend Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy . I went to my happy place when I saw this one earlier this year and my joy was only compounded by the TV series and a few more Chernobyl books! I think I bored my husband to death recounting passages from this book late every evening (I may have also stopped the TV at various intervals during the mini series to give him more information…)

Just in case reading about Chernobyl is not your thing (I would urge to reconsider this viewpoint!) you could always listen to the audio version which is available on our fabulous BorrowBox service.

Next up is of course Philip Pullman and His Dark Materials – the original trilogy always makes a welcome gift to adults and young people alike.

My suggestion is for the two most recent books set in the same universe – La Belle Sauvage and The Secret Commonwealth.

Interestingly these two tend to divide staff opinion as to whether they would recommend or not. I think we are generally ‘on the fence’ on these. I realise this is not exactly a glowing recommendation, some of you may have read them and completely disagree, personally I think these are far more ‘adult’ than the original trilogy.

If you are interested in reading the books that the BBC series is based on then you can find the books (Northern Lights, The Amber Spyglass & The Subtle Knife) over on our catalogue or BorrowBox.

Other great gift book ideas based on current or forthcoming TV and Film would be: The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson, Emma by Jane Austen, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer and slightly terrifyingly The Witches by Roald Dahl (I really HATE this story and have omitted a cover image for fear of nightmares.)

This isn’t a comprehensive list of Film/TV adaptations by any means, I just cherry picked and I’m sure we can write another post about forthcoming 2020 productions!

I will draw this to a close now with my last two staff recommendations:

A Woman in the Polar Night by Christiane Ritter and The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea. I am very intrigued by The Glass Woman and will definitely be giving it a listen – I have added the link for the eAudio book. Sounds like the perfect winter read:


Betrothed unexpectedly to Jón Eiríksson, Rósa is sent to join her new husband in the remote village of Stykkishólmur. Here, the villagers are wary of outsiders.

But Rósa harbours her own suspicions. Her husband buried his first wife alone in the dead of night. He will not talk of it. Instead he gives her a small glass figurine. She does not know what it signifies.

The villagers mistrust them both. Dark threats are whispered. There is an evil here – Rósa can feel it. Is it her husband, the villagers – or the land itself?

Alone and far from home, Rósa sees the darkness coming. She fears she will be its next victim . . .

We’re obviously all embracing the Winter Reads here as A Woman in the Polar Night doesn’t sound like a balmy Summer read, either!

In 1934, the Austrian painter Christiane Ritter travels to the remote Arctic island of Spitsbergen to spend a year with her husband, an explorer and researcher. At first, Christiane is horrified by the freezing cold, the bleak landscape the lack of equipment and supplies. But, as time passes, she finds herself falling in love with the Arctic’s harsh, otherworldly beauty. This rediscovered classic memoir tells the incredible tale of a woman defying society’s expectations to find freedom and peace in the adventure of a lifetime.

Happy reading everyone! What will you be reading this December? Which book would you recommend?