Get reading!

What to expect in the New Year

It’s the time of year we make resolutions and think about changing habits…. Maybe we decide to lose weight, or get fit, or go jogging, or take up golf or a myriad of other things. There are ample resources in the library to help you with most of these ambitions. Additionally, maybe this year you want to just simply read more? You are in good company. The BBC are launching Get Reading – an initiative to, well, get people reading… They are tying it into the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in April 2016. No, he didn’t die in 2016 – of course – it’ll be 400 years then. That’s when the BBC will have their Shakespeare fest.

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2016 is also the year of Roald Dahl’s centenary so on BBC Two, a new television film Roald Dahl In His Own Words will frame Dahl’s life and work in the playful, inventive, distinctive style of a Roald Dahl story. It will draw on a wealth of letters, diaries, autobiographies, as well as archive television interviews – and feature the work of Dahl’s long-time collaborator Quentin Blake. Roald Dahl’s unique appeal will apparently be brought to life as never before. From the Oompa-Loompas to Matilda, Fantastic Mr. Fox to the BFG, Roald Dahl’s remarkable literary inventions live on in our collective imagination. But where did these stories spring from? This film will show the truth that, however far-fetched and fantastical, Dahl’s children’s fiction was in fact anchored in his own experiences…

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There are other events planned using the Horrible Henry series and people talking about how books have impacted their lives. Lots to look out for there I think. But, I hear you saying, that’s all very well, I just like my crime novels. (I do too!) But don’t forget the ITV Crime Awards season and the Dagger awards. As well as recognising the “old favourites”, there are debut awards and people’s awards and you may find a new writer that you can follow. There are awards in the fantasy genre, in romance, in LGBT, in poetry and in Young Adult so keep watching and the library staff can keep you informed.

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This time of year there are many lists of best books…. Often they include the same titles – “the classics” – and I find myself wondering who is reading these books every year as they aren’t borrowed much and they don’t appear in best sellers lists. I think a lot of time people say they read them or rate them because they think they “should”. Controversial? Maybe? But a recent list had the titles people said they enjoyed “reading” and that was a different list. My current favourite is a list by non-British journalists of the best novels in the English language and that has a few of the “old favourites” but many different choices. I like it because I rate Virginia Woolf and Charles Dickens but the top ten are – in reverse order…
10. Vanity Fair (William Makepeace Thackeray, 1848)
9. Frankenstein (Mary Shelley, 1818)
8. David Copperfield (Charles Dickens, 1850)
7. Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë, 1847)
6. Bleak House (Charles Dickens, 1853)
5. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë, 1847)
4. Great Expectations (Charles Dickens, 1861)
3. Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf, 1925)
2. To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf, 1927)
1. Middlemarch (George Eliot, 1874)

The first thing you might notice is no Jane Austen – she is in at number 11 – and that’s why I think this list is interesting…

And I reckon this might be the year I read Middlemarch and Bleak House. What about you?