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The point of reading is to appreciate the narrative…

Monday, 1st March 2021

How you got to that point of appreciation really doesn’t matter

As a community, the College is doing a lot of walking. One of our team mentioned how much they enjoy audiobooks whilst they’re out and about. As with many other media, accessibility to audiobooks has been made very, very simple. We’ve progressed a long way from the cumbersome Walkmans of the ‘80s with an equally cumbersome physical stash of cassette tapes. We now have a seemingly endless supply of words available at our fingertips via a phone app, and although audiobooks can be expensive to actually purchase, there are plenty of sources for free audiobooks and podcasts.

A great source for free material is the good ol’ BBC. There are some quite vocal detractors as to whether the TV licence fee is worth what we pay for it but the debate tends to be focused on the quality and political leanings of its TV programmes. It is routinely forgotten that the BBC also produces varied and widely accessible radio channels both here and abroad, the contents of which can often be found to listen to in your own time on the BBC Sounds app.

The BBC Sounds app delivers both audiobooks and podcasts which have previously been broadcast on any one of the BBC’s radio stations. 

Radio 4 has had some wonderful readings of books recently. Barack Obama read excerpts from his book The Promised Land, plus there have been abridged versions of Richard Osman’s record-breaking bestselling debut novel The Thursday Club and Matt Haig’s poignant The Midnight Library, both serialised into ten 15 minute chunks, whilst the current book being split into these daily episodes is Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers. The readings are often only available for a month but there is a new book every two weeks to listen to, and there are some book readings that are available for longer.

Click here for a comprehensive look of the drama available on BBC Sounds. 

There are other sources of free audiobooks. Free Audiobooks Apps can be found on Google Play. This is a catalogue of over 14,000 classic audiobooks ranging from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet to the Sherlock Holmes books of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle. Audible also has a selection of free audiobooks to choose from as well as a few extra titles if you choose to accept a free 30-day trial. (If, after careful consideration you decide to continue with an Audible subscription, the cost of one book per month is significantly cheaper than buying it at full price). 

Never forget, of course, that your local public library is a terrific source for free audiobooks. The technology works in the same way as borrowing an e-book. 

If you want a little variety to your listening, then dipping in and out of the wonderful world of podcasts is recommended. Once again BBC Sounds offers a compilation of the BBC’s latest and greatest. Radio 4 presenter Amanda Literland has put together a list of her favourite podcasts of 2020.  

Audiobooks are also proving to be a great solution for the many people right now who have difficulty picking up a book to read. So many seem to have found it hard to take on activities such as reading since the lockdowns began last year as the ability to concentrate on any one thing has left a lot to be desired. Listening seems to free the mind and be a welcome distraction.

There are also the side effects that have arisen from the increased hours of remote working. A recent survey by the charity Fight for Sight has found that, of the people asked, almost half have increased their screen usage since the start of the pandemic with 38% of those believing their eyesight has been affected. For some, it’s a difficulty in reading, others are being subjected to migraines, or finding it harder to see at night.

First for Sight is promoting the 20-20-20 rule for anyone stuck in front of a computer screen as recommended advice to prevent eye strain. The rule is after 20 minutes of screen time, look away from the screen to a spot 20 feet away for a total of 20 seconds.

Good advice for us all whenever we are faced with an abundance of screen time. One of our team has mentioned that her husband has had eye problems since the first lockdown and is putting it down to eye strain as he’s spent longer hours working in front of the screen. He has taken to listening to audio books to rest his eyes during his downtime. He’s also given us a list of the best of what he has been listening to during the pandemic. It’s quite an eclectic mix.

First title is A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell, read by Juliet Stevenson. The woman in question is Virginia Hall, an American who overcame physical disability – a wooden leg – and entered occupied France in WWII, spied for the British and became the Gestapo’s most wanted Allied spy. A fascinating true story that seems to be worth a listen.

The Only Plane in the Sky : an Oral History of 9/11 by Garratt M Graff features a wide cast of players telling the stories of ordinary people caught up in the events of 9/11. Some of the stories are based on interviews, some on the transcripts between first-responders, some on official documents. This audiobook won 2020 Audiobook of the Year at the Audie Awards.

The third offering is comedian Rob Delaney’s Mother, Wife, Sister, Human, Warrior, Falcon, Yardstick, Turban, Cabbage, read by the man himself. It’s a series of true stories – mainly funny but with some candid ones thrown in. He even reviewed the book himself on Good Reads.

I am sorry for giving my own book a 4 star review. Please do not trust me. Read it for yourself and form your own opinion. It could be worse; I could have given myself a 5 star review…I’m proud of it and I poured arterial blood into it, thereby justifying, in my opinion, my biased, untrustworthy 4 star review”.

International Women’s Month
Next Monday (8th) is International Women’s Day and there will be a timely presentation about it in the next blog. However, in 1987 the US decided that there should also be a whole month allocated to celebrate the contribution of women to history, culture and society. As this seems like a grand idea, each March the LRC puts up a display to celebrate notable women and their achievements. 

Last year, inspired by the Cars exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the LRC looked at the role of women in the history of motor racing, specifically those whose paths crossed with Brooklands. Although there’s a wide-ranging collection of modern buildings at Brooklands College, sitting proudly amongst them is ’The Mansion House’ – once the main residence of Hugh Locke-King, founder of the world’s first banked racing circuit and the former home of British motor racing, Brooklands. He lived there with his wife, Ethel who was – quite literally – the driving force behind the project. 

It would be lovely to reproduce a presentation here but copyright for the wonderful accompanying photos would be impossible. There is however this interesting article The Lady Racing Drivers of Brooklands which is worth a read and there are some splendid photos included.

One great story to feature in our display last year concerned one Dorothy Levitt. Whilst not the patent holder (and truthfully she may not be the first individual to have used such a device), she is credited with being the originator of the rear-view mirror. Levitt wrote a book in 1909 entitled The Woman and the Car : a Chatty Little Handbook for All Women Who Motor or Who Want to Motor. In it, she recommended that women should “carry a little hand-mirror in a convenient place when driving” so they may “hold the mirror aloft from time to time in order to see behind while driving in traffic”. She also said women should carry a gun. Thankfully an idea that didn’t gain as much traction as that of seeing what’s behind you when you’re at the wheel.

Displays

National Careers Week
It’s National Careers Week and Glenn has put together an overview of the topic for our students. Click here to have a look.

Community safety
Our tutorial topic for the week is Community Safety. Sian has done a presentation focusing on being safe when out and about. Click here to see.

Book Review 
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri 
Rating: 4/5

Nuri is a beekeeper in the Syrian city of Aleppo and, as the area becomes embroiled in the hideous civil war, he has started to make plans to escape with his family, leaving behind his precious bees. Once both the hives and his beautiful city are destroyed, Nuri and his blinded wife, Afra begin the perilous journey towards relatives in the UK.

Not unexpectedly, this is quite a harrowing story. The couple trek across Syria to the Turkish border, journeying through Turkey to Istanbul and by boat to Greece. They stay in refugee centres and refugee camps and along the way meet other travelers escaping from their own home countries and horrors. It’s a long arduous journey for two people who are damaged and seemingly have run out of hope. 

It’s a beautifully written book. The story weaves from the present day realities of arriving as a refugee in a foreign country to the hazardous journey they’re undertaking, with flashes of the life they had before war was thrust upon them. Both Nuri and Afra are struggling with events that have happened. How was Afra blinded? And why does the little boy befriended by Nuri come and go so frequently?

And then there’s the solitary damaged bee being nurtured by Nuri in the garden of his refugee accommodation on the English coast – it’s a story reflecting that of Nuri’s. How establishing a new hive in a new place will lead a displaced community to finding a home.

– Alison

We love…

A project based at Loughborough University’s Storytelling Academy has morphed into a full-blown campaign aimed at using animation to improve mental health literacy among young people. The Academy initially ran digital storytelling workshops to research the young people’s experiences of mental health. The young participants in the workshop then helped to create the content and stories visualised in the campaign. There will also be more workshops in the coming months to evaluate the impact of the campaign.

Read more about the launch of What’s Up with Everyone here, and also have a look at the campaign itself.


Students

Book Loans
Worried about fines as we enter another lockdown? No problem. All loans have been renewed and fines waived while the LRC is closed. Book returns can wait until the College has safely reopened.

E-Book of the Week

Each week, the LRC will be highlighting an e-book that we feel will be of special interest to certain students. This week, it’s an e-book for our Business students.

Simply click the Brooklands College Login link here and access the book using your College student ID and password.

Tip of the Week

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 library@brooklands.ac.uk.

Heritage Online | Proquest | VleBooks

Contact us with an area you are interested in or your assignment title and we can suggest some resources for you.

LRC website 
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 library@brooklands.ac.uk if you need support with e-books, e-resources or anything else.

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