We are fast approaching the end of our first half term and it’s been an interesting one to say the least. As librarians, we have watched the enormous efforts being made across the board to maintain library services – whether libraries have had to limit opening hours, offer click & collect services, move their parts of their collection to an online platform – valuable changes have been made. And these efforts are set to continue.
There’s no blog next week as it’s half term. It may seem as if we are a little ahead of the game here but we didn’t want to miss out on the Hallowe’en fun.
When asked to suggest scary book titles as we approach Hallowe’en, there were a few blank-faces from LRC staff – well, keyboard silence in this era of working from home. But then, a few of them had a little think about what literary feasts they’ve come across over the years that could possibly fit the bill. And still no suggestions were particularly forthcoming. I think we librarians are made of stern stuff – or possibly we just don’t ‘do scary’…
And Sarah agrees – “I don’t really do scary. So, I found it hard to recommend a spooky book for the Halloween edition of the blog. But on reflection, the book that I found really haunting in my teens was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
Although Jane Eyre is a Gothic romance, it is also a mysterious, psychological thriller. There are so many aspects of the story that I found creepy: the setting of Thornfield Hall and the moors; Mr Rochester’s dark character and especially the noises in the attic! Bronte’s descriptive writing brings the narrative so vividly to life and makes the reader cry out for Jane to survive and secure freedom. If you never got to read Jane Eyre at school, I would recommend that you get a copy to read this Halloween. It’s a classic but thoroughly modern page-turning-thriller that will leave you suitably haunted!”
Sian really thought outside the box with this one but she chose a great author to take with her – “It’s a bit childish, but I love Anthony Horowitz! The book ‘I Know What You Did Last Wednesday‘. It’s really aimed at young teens. When the Diamond brothers receive an invitation to a school reunion on a remote Scottish island, things seem to be looking up.
Little do they know their fellow guests are soon going to meet their deaths in quite ironic ways…”
Having dipped into the odd horror story in her teens – “to see what the fuss was about” – Alison very quickly realised they weren’t for her. However, as a lifelong fan of the crime genre, the odd psychological thriller has passed her way and they can be more than a little spine-chilling – “CJ Tudor’s The Chalk Man alternates between the summer of 1986 with the appearance of the chalk man/men and the discovery of the body of a young girl by a group of 12 years old friends, and 2016 when there’s a resurgence of interest in the murdered girl.
The intricate plot weaves in and out of the two time periods with ease, and leads us in 2016 to very satisfying resolutions to both recent events and those of 1986 – although there are plenty of twists and turns along the way. There is a fair bit of creepiness – mainly due I think to the presence of the chalk figures. They may be innocent and childlike but they bring with them a deep sense of foreboding”
Beth-Anna has ventured into the weird and wonderful world of Neil Gaiman with Coraline and this is about as close as we LRC staff get to a traditional horror story – “In this spine-chilling story by Neil Gaiman, Coraline walks through a mysterious door in her family’s new home, into a flat that looks eerily similar to her own. She meets her ‘Other Mother’ and ‘Other Father’, who give her lavish food and gifts. They want her to stay forever…if she lets them sew black buttons over her eyes. All is not what it seems, and Coraline will have to fight to return to the other side of the door. The LRC has the graphic novel, illustrated by P. Craig Russell. Borrow it…if you dare!”
If you want a taste of the more blood-thirsty stories, then check out the offerings on this list of 33 more traditional spooky stories for Hallowe’en.
Agatha Christie at 100
The first Agatha Christie novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was published 100 years ago this year and a few people are celebrating, not least Agatha Christie Ltd who are keeping the franchise based on her work very much alive. For the 100 year anniversary, they are offering a host of online activities for the lovers of the work of the Queen of Crime and they are very much looking forward to the launch of the film adaptation of one of her most famous novels to feature Hercule Poirot, Death on the Nile. Poirot’s own literary beginnings also started 100 years ago when he solved the aforementioned mystery at Styles Court.
The stories of Poirot continue, however, as in 2013, the author Sophie Hannah was asked to pen a new novel to feature the famous Belgian detective. This year, she has published her fourth mystery, The Killing at Kingfisher Hill, for Poirot to solve. She’s also written this article that explores 10 of Christie’s books which she considers to be unfairly underrated.
At the start of Libraries Week, the good people behind the Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival (23rd-25th October) launched a search to find the best 10 word story. Their Twitter feed was buzzing with a variety of #10wordstory offerings. Zoe Robinson, Raworths Managing Partner, said ‘We are looking for all kinds of stories, funny, personal or evocative…I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the 2020 National Libraries Week and can’t wait to read the entries.’ There’s even a prize for the best story.
The search continues until the end of October and stories can either be emailed to the HIF Team or tweeted to @HarrogateFest using the hashtag #RaworthsLitFest.
LRC staff thought they would have a little go…
Beth-Anna looked at Hallowe’en for inspiration:
It arrived as midnight struck, claws scraping against the door
And Alison created a couple including a Harrogate based one:
That hill she chose to die on was very lonely
The Crown-wearing Old Swan glided Majestic(ally), paddling furiously beneath
National Baking Week revisited
If you enjoyed our National Baking Week display last week, here’s a delicious recipe for Chelsea Buns from one of our catering tutors which you might like to try. Many thanks, Sue!
Black History Month Part 2
October has been Black History Month. We started at the beginning of the month with Paola’s presentation about influential black musicians over the years. This week, to round off the month – slightly early but there’s no blog over half term – we have Beth-Anna’s presentation to conclude the month.
Hallowe’en 31st October
We’ve already seen a few examples of reading matter that cause the hairs on the arms to stand on end, and create a spine-tingling sensation for your average college librarian but here’s a presentation from Sian which would have looked great on our currently closed LRC walls.
The Killing at Kingfisher Hill by Sophie Hannah
My previous encounters with Sophie Hannah’s Poirot have been via audiobook and I have loved them. They were the perfect company to keep on my commute to work. So this is my first written Poirot book. I have to confess I didn’t love it as much as the audiobooks to begin with.
The story begins with Poirot and Catchpool heading to Surrey on a bus. Poirot has yet to tell his companion the purpose of his visit – Catchpool’s frustration bounces off the page. It turns out they are off to a private estate to investigate a murder – a murder that someone has already confessed to.
I felt that there was a lot going on in the opening few chapters. Added to the mystery of why they were travelling are the odd little events happening around them, concerning a few of the other passengers. There just seemed a little too much being thrown at Catchpool (and the reader) and he wasn’t happy about it. He was getting irritated at Poirot and, in turn, so was I!
Once the pair arrive at the house where the murder occurred, the story starts to move forward much better, and the events on the bus begin to find their proper place in the story. From here on, the story proved to be thoroughly enjoyable with a few twists and turns, and with a very satisfactory ending.
I may have to revisit the previous stories though. I hadn’t realised quite how much of a foil Catchpool is to Poirot’s superior little grey cells.I hadn’t realised what a difference in perception there can be from an audiobook to the written work it’s taken from.
BBC2 has caught the book club fever and for the next few weeks on Friday evenings, four celebrities will be “grilled” by Sara Cox over their personal favourite book of choice plus collectively discussing a different novel each week. The first week saw the panelists looking at Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library and the final week will be Stuart Turton’s The Devil and the Dark Water which may or may not be the 2020 best book of the year (depending on how much you value the opinion of Assistant Librarian Alison). Alison’s review is here but you will be able to see what others think of it and other books by watching Between the Covers, Friday 7.30pm on BBC2 and available on iPlayer.
Worried about fines? No problem. All loans have been renewed and fines waived while the LRC was closed. Books can now be returned to the College. Please contact the LRC to find out about current procedures.
Access our virtual library online
You can search for e-books on the library catalogue or directly through our e-book providers.. Click on the Shibboleth login if requested and select Brooklands College. If you have any problems please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.
Heritage Online | Proquest | VleBooks
The LRC is still available for book borrowing. Although our shelves are currently not available for browsing we can help find materials for you. Contact us with an area you are interested in or your assignment title and we can suggest some resources for you.
The LRC website contains links to our resources, our online catalogue and is full of information about LRC use, plus there are book reviews, links to our displays and other items of interest. It is only available to College members (sorry) and can be found through links on the LRC Google Classroom, and on the staff and student intranets.
LRC Google Classroom page
Tutors have been invited to join the Classroom and will be passing the joining code on to their students. It’s full of links to resources, and helpful advice and tips.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need support with e-books, e-resources or anything else.