Monday, 30th November 2020
It is almost December and we are starting to think about Christmas. Like so many other events this year, the 2020 version will be somewhat different to those that we have previously known. For some, the “celebrations” have already started. In order to cheer up their loved ones and themselves, a good number of people have already put up their trees and decorations, despite it still being November. (To cater for demand, my local tree supplier has brought in their stock of real trees early. I hope they are still looking fresh by the time I head over there in mid-December).
Booker Prize 2020
The winner of the 2020 Booker Prize was announced on November 19th. The shortlist contained books from some established writers as well as from a few first time novelists. The award this year went to one of the first timers – Scottish writer Douglas Stuart.
The title of his book is Shuggie Bain. The story starts in 1981 in Glasgow when we are introduced to six year old Shuggie, his older siblings and his ever-increasingly alcohol dependent mother, Agnes. The family has been abandoned by Shuggie’s father and are living in poverty. We follow Agnes as she battles her addiction, and Shuggie as he heads towards adulthood, struggling, caring for and loving his mother.
After his win, Stuart tweeted “Snuffle, Shuffle, Shruggie. I love that people are SCREAMING at their autocorrect this morning. Thanks for the love”. And there has been a lot of love from readers, reviewers, and an assortment of prize-giving judges for this heartbreaking tale.
Give a Book This Christmas
This week we’re not talking about the charity aspect of donating a book this Christmas. Instead we are considering just how special books can be as gifts. Sometimes we carefully and lovingly match a book to its recipient, other times we just want an opportunity to spread the love we may have found for a great read to our nearest and dearest.
And there are some special books out there. Not necessarily just the content. Authors have obviously been busy signing as many of their books as possible. The usual promotional tours that come with the launch of a new book have generally been cancelled, and the festivals where readers would normally form a long and orderly queue to get their purchases signed also fell by the wayside. So many authors have been signing books in empty shops or from the comfort of their own homes in order to make the launch of their latest masterpiece as special as possible. Some have produced limited special editions of their work with sprayed edges, or an alternative cover – something to make that particular copy a bit different to the more mass produced ones..
Irrespective of whether it’s a special signed edition or not, books can be lovely gifts. For people of all ages and with all interests. And if in doubt, there’s always a book token.
And so to our countdown to Christmas…
Days of Christmas Quiz
12 Drummers Drumming meets 9 Ladies Dancing
The LRC team have had a little bit of fun in designing a quiz based on the perennial favourite song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. Here’s a taster round of questions, based on each Christmas gift sent by Her True Love. More rounds will be linked to our Twitter page.
Twelve Drummers Drumming
Q1. Name the authors of these books who have 12 letters in their name
Eleven Pipers Piping
Q2. Name these famous Pipers:
Ten Lords a Leaping
Q3. Name the following leap related facts:
Nine Ladies Dancing
Q4. Name these famous Dancing Ladies
Q5. And we have a picture quiz. Use the books chosen as clues to the name of a famous Christmas story. (All the books are from the LRC catalogue).
Check our blog next week for the answers!
Christmas Cake Recipe
How about a recipe for a sumptuous rich fruit Christmas Cake, straight from one of our Catering tutors? There’s still enough time before Christmas to get this one baked and ready to decorate.
Click here for a conversion table for the ingredients needed for pretty much any size of tin that you may have in the kitchen cupboard. This recipe, however, is based on a round 15cm/6” or square 13cm/5” tin. Set the oven at gas mark 1/140*C (fan 120*C). The recipe makes cakes that are 7.5cm/3” deep.
125g/4 oz Plain flour
½ tsp Mixed spice
A pinch Ground nutmeg
100g/3 ½ oz Butter
100g/3 ½ oz Dark brown sugar
½ tbsp Black treacle
2 large Eggs
½ tbsp Chocolate spread (ie Nutella)
25g/1 oz Ground almonds
½ Lemon (zest/juice)
50g/2 oz Currants
125g/4 oz Sultanas
175g/6 oz Raisins
40g/ 1 ½ oz Glace cherries
40g/ 1 ½ oz Chopped apricots
40g/ 1 ½ oz Flaked almonds
1 tbsp Brandy
Up to one week before (but at least a day before), wash the dried fruit and pat dry (no need to wash the glace cherries). Chop up the apricots and cherries, and place in a large bowl. Add the washed fruit, the brandy and the zest and juice of the lemon, and leave to steep.
On the day of making, make sure all ingredients are at room temperature and line the tin with two layers of parchment. These should be about 25cm/1” higher than the top of the tin. Preheat the oven.
Cream the butter, sugar, treacle, nutella, spices and ground almonds until lighter in colour, then add the eggs one at a time. Stir in the flour, and then add the fruit and flaked almonds by hand.
Place the mixture in the prepared tin and pat it down with the back of your hand. To smooth it off run a little water in the empty mixing bowl – this makes a slurry – and pour a bit onto the cake, and with a wet back of hand, smooth.
Place in the oven on the middle shelf. You can put a tray of water in the base of the oven to create steam which stops the tops drying out. Bake for 3 hours. Then check with a skewer and, if it comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, leave a bit longer and test again. Once baked, leave for ½ hr then pour brandy (yum) over top of each cake and cover with a tea-towel.
Leave to go cold in the tin and then wrap in some greaseproof paper. Wrapr further in a layer of foil. Place the cake in a cool cupboard/box. If you’ve made well ahead of Christmas, then top with brandy again after about a month.
Then it’s ready for the icing.
St Andrew’s Day
November 30th is St Andrew’s Day – Scotland’s official national day. Here’s a display from Paola.
Let’s Go Live
The College held a virtual event on Tuesday 1st December, shining a light on the Service Industries department. Sian has added a display on how the LRC can help students in these subjects.
Spotlight on… Scottish reads
If our display about St Andrew’s Day has got you craving some Scottish reads, then you’re in luck! The LRC has lots of books by Scottish authors, covering a variety of genres.
If you like modern thrillers, then we have some great books by some of the biggest names in the genre for you to choose from. The Falls, by Ian Rankin, is an Inspector Rebus book. A young student goes missing in Edinburgh, and Inspector Rebus must follow leads to find her. The student’s father is rich and powerful, and Rebus must battle against the bureaucracy of the large team assembled to find her. He discovers two leads: a carved wooden doll in a coffin, and an online role-playing game. The wooden doll turns out to link to similar dolls found in connection with brutal murders over Edinburgh’s history. To solve the internet clue, he enlists DC Siobhan Clarke: she’s young enough to know her way around the internet better than Rebus, but she may not be experienced enough to spot traps in the deadly game. As old and new evils merge, Rebus must untangle a web of secrets and lies to solve the case.
Big Sky, by Kate Atkinson is the latest in the Jackson Brodie series. Jackson Brodie, has relocated to a quiet Yorkshire town with his teenage son and dog. Working as a private investigator, he is gathering evidence of a husband’s adultery for his wife. It seems like a simple job, until Jackson has a chance encounter with a desperate man on a clifftop. He soon uncovers a dark network and crosses paths with someone from his past.
The Crow Road, by Iain Banks, sees Prentice McHoan return to his complicated Scottish family, with questions about the past, present and future. He finds himself engrossed with death, drink, drugs and more.
If classic detective fiction is more your speed, why not borrow the graphic novel edition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, adapted by Ian Edginton and illustrated by INJ Culbard. Legendary detective Sherlock Holmes will need all of his powers of deduction to solve a mystery involving a walking stick, a family portrait, a missing boot, a convicted killer at large, and a curse of a hound who kills every generation of the Baskerville family.
For poetry fans, we have Four Women Poets. Three of the four poets featured are Scottish. The book features a selection of the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay, Liz Lochhead, and New Zealander Fleur Adcock.
If you’re interested in art, we have some great books about Scottish artists and their work, including Elizabeth Blackadder Prints, by Christopher Allan, and John Byrne: Art and Life, by Robert Hewison. These books feature a wealth of full colour images of the artists’ work, so you can immerse yourself in some great Scottish art.
Finally, Covid-19 restrictions mean that we can’t travel to Scotland at the moment, but the LRC does have a travel guide about Scotland. It’s the perfect read for a bit of escapism and some inspiration for future trips when it’s safe to explore Scotland.
We may not be able to travel to Scotland at the moment, but, if you’re a college member, you can visit through literature and art by requesting to borrow any of these books from the LRC. Happy St Andrew’s Day!
Big Sky by Kate Atkinson
I joined a fledgling book club in February and it was my turn to choose the reading material. Being a fan of the crime genre, I selected Big Sky by Kate Atkinson. Our monthly meeting is later this week and as it approaches it turns out that a couple of us have enjoyed and read it, most will finish just before the meeting kicks off but one has dropped it all together as she ‘couldn’t get into it’.
And I have to say I can see where she’s coming from. I really struggled to get motivated to read the book for the first few chapters. It never seemed to quite get going. Too many characters (some with names so similar – Ronnie/Reggie/Nadja/Katja – that I had to concentrate more than necessary on who’s who), too many irrelevant inner monologues, too many threads seemingly unrelated, etc. There was generally just ‘too much’.
But by the time I got half way through the book I really, really started to enjoy it. There was still too much of everything but the ultimate storyline running through had established itself and become rather interesting. It’s a good story once we get there – quite a page turner – and it carries the reader through quite merrily to almost the very end. But the last few pages remind us that there were simply too many characters and too many threads as Atkinson brings each of the strands to their conclusion.
I think I was generally disappointed in the book – at its heart is a good story and I love Brodie but there wasn’t enough of him, with other characters taking precedence with the action. And there was a little bit too much waffle.
“On the title page, you will see a single word handwritten by me. That word, although meaningless on its own, is part of a piece of writing precisely 1000 words long…Each of these 1000…exclusive editions has one single word of that original piece written in them, dispersed among the people who own them…To read it, one would have to gather all 1000 copies together”. So writes author Will Maclean in a note to the recipients of a special edition of his debut book, The Apparition Phase.
And one intrepid book lover has taken to social media in an attempt to track down as many of the books and words as possible. Book blogger @lovedreadingthis has launched a search on both Twitter and Instagram. Please, wish them well as this is a huge task – at the time of writing this 99 words have been found so there is a way to go.
Books can be loaned from the LRC. Just pop us an email or fill in the Click & Collect form and we will sort out the book for you.
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.
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.