I’m a big fan of libraries. The people there are friendly, the sense of community is heart warming, and it’s the only place you can have a guilt-free book haul – what’s not to love?!
I volunteer at my local library for a couple of hours every other Saturday, and I just love spending some time in that environment. The library is a fantastic place to take your mind off of your day-to-day stresses, both through mindlessly shelving books and through observing family scenes – I never realised how many families with young children go to the library to read picture books together, or to encourage children to pick out their own independent reading books! It is just lovely and refreshing to see families sharing some off-screen time, even if there are occasional arguments between children and their parents over using the library computers…
Anyway, throughout my last shift at the library, I managed to squirrel away some books from the recent returns to take home myself – let’s get into it:
Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
I am well aware that this book was written for very young children, as opposed to a childless twentysomething like myself, but when I spotted that the picture book had been reissued into an almost chapter book format with illustrations by Chris Riddell, I had to pick it up. I LOVE Neil Gaiman, but I haven’t read any of his books for really young audiences, so I’m intrigued to give this a go.
13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison
I read (and loved) A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison last year, so when I saw 13 Treasures in the recently returned shelves I quickly hid it away until the end of my shift…and read it promptly when I got home. It did not disappoint. I enjoyed how the book took the popular notion of fairies and flipped it on its head – it was refreshing to read about mischievous fae instead of the kind whose only purpose is to serve humans, and there were some genuine moments of fear – creepy houses can be frightened when you hear strange noises while home alone!
Finding the Fox by Ali Sparkes
This book is pure nostalgia for me – it joins the exclusive club of ‘books I read as a child but didn’t realise were published by Oxford University Press (where I work)’ alongside The Companions Quartet by Julia Golding. I vividly remember reading the Shapeshifter series with my friend in primary school – we absolutely loved it and wished we could be shapeshifters too. I also remember it being one of the first times I was disappointed by the conclusion of a series…in any case, I’m interested to see how well the book stands up to my memories now.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Yes, I’ve finally caved to the hype. To be honest, I don’t know if I’ll like it, but at least I can say I tried.
The Midnight Gang by David Walliams
As a children’s book enthusiast, it is high time I read a David Walliams book so I can understand the hype. In fact, I have been searching for a Walliams book at my local library since I started volunteering there last summer – I saw one once a few months ago, fully intending to borrow it, but a child managed to pick it up before me…rude of them, I know (as sarcasm isn’t clear on the internet, I am of course joking). FINALLY, I saw a whole stack of them in the recent returns – clearly, there is a big fan in the area who’s been hoarding them all. I’m reading The Midnight Gang now, so I’ll report back on whether or not I think the hype is worth it.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
This one is a bit of a curveball when you look at the other books in this haul. The reason I picked this book up is because I’ve become quite lazy in reading the ‘classics’ since I left university, and this book is quite short so it seems like a good place to start. While I don’t believe you NEED to read the classics by any means (the reasons for which could fill a blog post), I personally want to read more broadly, and reading classics presents more challenges than my usual choice of children’s books. Plus, this one’s Rory Gilmore-approved.
The Magic Place by Chris Wormell
The last book I picked up is yet another children’s book. I almost bought a signed copy of The Magic Place a while back because it looks GORGEOUS but I couldn’t justify the price at the time, so I’m very excited I get to read it for free now. The other key selling point for me is that the protagonist’s best friend is a clever cat called Gilbert who accompanies her on her adventure – need I say more?