The staff at Rugby Library are back again with a few reading suggestions as we move from Summer into Autumn. You’ll find them on our library shelves or in our BorrowBox collection. What will you be reading this September?

Not yet a Warwickshire Libraries member? Find out more and how to join online here or visit one of our libraries and speak to a member of staff.


Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

Barbara Pym’s books are warm and funny, and her observations of human nature are always very acute. Her books are set mostly in the 1950s and usually feature a central character getting into various awkward social situations.

The Pym world is one of jumble sales, bumbling curates, and village gossip, but it would be a mistake to think of them as cosy. There’s always a melancholy there that gives her top-quality writing a bit more depth.

I’m a big fan of Elizabeth Taylor too (the author, although I like the actress too) and I think of her and Pym as opposite sides of a coin. Where Taylor is a bit darker, Pym has that ray of optimism among the sadness. Her books are a good palate cleanser between heavier reads and I really enjoyed this one.  

Orlam by PJ Harvey

I am a PJ Harvey stan so I should know to expect the unexpected, but even I was surprised by Orlam. Anyone who knows Harvey’s music knows that she is the type of songwriter who trades on simplicity – her lyrics have always been pretty direct and spare. 

Orlam, her first real full-length poetry collection, is a revelation. I was really impressed with the scale and quality of the writing; they are true poems and completely unlike any of her songs or previous work. 

Orlam is a mythical, mystical ride through the seasons – the book is divided into each month of the year – and Harvey uses the changing landscape of her native Dorset to explore nature, childhood, the loss of innocence, and the cycle of life and death through the central character of Ira-Abel. It employs Dorset dialect and there is a modern-day translation on the facing page.

It’s strange and beautiful, full of folklore, but also surprisingly funny and brutal too. It’s made me excited for whatever she comes up with next. 


Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (physical copies, eBook, eAudio)  

This is definitely my favourite book of 2022 so far, and one of my favourite ever reads. It is set in 1950’s America amongst a backdrop of sexism, especially in academia.  The fabulous Elizabeth Zott is a brilliant chemist who struggles to be taken seriously by her male colleagues.  She is fearless and never afraid to defend herself and her beliefs.   

The book is quirky and fast paced with wonderful characters.  Elizabeth’s faithful dog, Six-Thirty, narrates some of the book.  A failed bomb detection dog, he is wonderfully wise and has some of the best lines in the book. 

Despite heartbreak and dark moments, the book manages to be uplifting and utterly joyous.  It is a debut novel and I can’t wait to see what Bonnie Garmus writes next. 


How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie (physical copies, eAudio)

Darkly funny and engaging, you immediately find yourself rooting for Grace, the antihero, as she recounts just how and why, she killed each member of her family.

Told from the confines of her Limehouse Prison cell Grace takes you on her journey, from the exotic poolside in Marabella, to partying with the social elite in London; with just a bit of casual murder on the way.  

Bonus points awarded if you whip this book out of your bag and read a few chapters while surrounded by your family before your niece notices the title!   


The Blackbird by Tim Weaver

Wow, well what can I say, I have just finished reading The Blackbird by Tim Weaver and I think it is without doubt his best book yet by far. Tim Weaver is a truly amazing writer, who knows exactly how to draw you in from the very first page and keep you hooked throughout, with twists and turns that you just never see coming. 

The Blackbird is the latest instalment in the David Raker missing persons series and if you don’t know who David Raker is, then you seriously do not know what you are missing. When people go missing under mysterious circumstances and the police have failed to find them, there is only one man for the job. Raker will stop at nothing to uncover the truth.  

These books are unputdownable. Just waiting for the next one now. 

Hide and Seek by Andrea Mara

I could honestly not recommend this book enough.   

Set in 2 different timelines, it tells the story of 3 year old Lily, missing, presumed dead and the events leading up to her disappearance.  Skip forward 30 years to the current day, the new owners of the house that Lily lived in, and Joanna’s obsession to find out the truth.  However, Joanna has secrets of her own, secrets she has kept from her family. How can it be that Lily resembles someone she once knew?  

It is truly an amazing, intriguing read, that will have you hooked from the first page, with twists and turns all the way along, which will have you guessing and doubting everyone, right up until the very last page.   


The Half Life of Valery K by Natasha Pulley


Valery Kolkhanov, a former nuclear specialist imprisoned in a Siberian gulag, is transported to City40 and expected to serve out his prison term studying the effect of radiation on local animals. However, his moral compass leads him to study the effect on humans too and brings about a surprise friendship with a KGB Officer. What, exactly, is being hidden from the thousands who live in the town? And if he keeps looking for answers, will he live to serve out his sentence? 

This is a book that I’m not sure I would have picked up if it had not been written by my favourite author.  It is set in the Cold War and based on real events in a Soviet city that houses a set of nuclear reactors.  With current events, it is a part of the past we’d rather not remember in much detail in fear that it is our future. However, I was sucked in as always and am so glad I read it. 

The themes in this book differ from her other books in that there’s no magical realism, nothing spanning time or defying physics. But as always it has amazing characters and relationships that develop between them are dealt with so well. Especially the real star Albert the Octopus! 

Happy reading this Autumn!