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Reading: Reading suggestions

News

Don't forget:

If you would like any advice about reading material and cannot find what you want on these pages, please contact us and we'll try to help.

If you would like to be notified of new books that come into the Library within your areas of interest please use this form

What should I read?

If you are unsure what you could/should read, these tabs and lists will give you some ideas:

  • The Reading Journey Booklist tabs mostly feature fiction titles, divided into different genres. 
  • The Academic Reading Guides offer reading suggestions for different curriculum subjects.
  • The New Books selections showcase new physical items added to the library collection.
  • For staff reading suggestions, the new Professional development LibGuide, brings all our staff Professional Development reading suggestions together.
  • Links to the Love Reading websites are below if you really can't find what you are looking for, or fancy trying something completely different.

Academic Reading

New books in Fiction

Project Hail Mary

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission - and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn't know that. He can't even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he's been asleep for a very, very long time. And he's just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it's up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery-and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he's got to do it all alone.

Or does he?

Klara and the Sun

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change for ever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.

Grown Ups

MEET JESSIE, CARA AND NELL.

Married to brothers Johnny, Ed and Liam Casey.

Three very different women tied to three very different men.

Every family occasion is a party - until the day the secrets spill out.

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to know

It is August in Paris and budding art historian Khayyam should be having the time of her life - but even in the City of Lights she can't stop worrying about the mess she left back home in Chicago. Only when she meets a cute young Parisian - who happens to be a distant relative of the novelist Alexandre Dumas - do things start to get interesting, as she starts to unveil the story of a 19th century Muslim woman whose path may have intersected with Dumas, Eugène Delacroix and Lord Byron.

Two hundred years earlier in the Ottoman empire, Leila is the most favoured woman in the Pasha's harem. Her position is meant to be coveted; but she is struggling to survive as she fights to keep her true love hidden from her jealous captor.

Echoing across centuries, as Khayyam uncovers the scintillating truth of Leila's long-forgotten life, her own destiny is transformed forever.

On Borrowed Time

Book two in a stunning new crime series from 2m+ international bestseller Adam Croft. Each morning, the first train of the day leaves Oakham station and thunders through a tunnel under the village of Manton. But today the driver sees something that changes his life: A dead body hangs in the tunnel's exit. DI Caroline Hills knows this isn't a suicide. It's murder. And when a second apparent suicide appears in Rutland, Caroline uncovers a shocking link: the victims knew each other. As Rutland Police fight to catch the killer, a group of friends is left with an even more shocking realisation. One of them is the murderer. And one of them will be the next to die. 'Incredible' - BBC News 'A sensation' - The Guardian

Are you watching?

Ten years ago, Jess's mother was murdered by the Magpie Man.

She was the first of his victims, but not the last.

Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she's using it to catch the killer once and for all.

The whole world is watching her every move.

And so is the Magpie Man.

Heroes

Join Jason aboard the Argo as he quests for the Golden Fleece. See Atalanta - who was raised by bears - outrun any man before being tricked with golden apples. Witness wily Oedipus solve the riddle of the Sphinx and discover how Bellerophon captures the winged horse Pegasus to help him slay the monster Chimera.

Filled with white-knuckle chases and battles, impossible puzzles and riddles, acts of base cowardice and real bravery, not to mention murders and selfless sacrifices, Heroes is the story of what we mortals are truly capable of - at our worst and our very best.

New books in Non-Fiction

Beyond possible : one soldier, fourteen peaks: my life in the death zone

In Beyond Possible Nimdai Purja tells the story of his life before his recent epic achievement of leading the team that scaled K2 in winter. He reveals how leadership, a willingness to learn, integrity and collaboration are essential qualities behind the world's greatest mountaineering feats. Nimsdai is the first man ever to summit all 8000m 'Death Zone' peaks in less than 7 months, and this book reveals the man behind the climbs - how his early life in Nepal and Special Forces training made him the person to go beyond possible...

Pandora's jar

Stories of gods and monsters are the mainstay of epic poetry and Greek tragedy, from Homer to Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, from the Trojan War to Jason and the Argonauts. And still, today, a wealth of novels, plays and films draw their inspiration from stories first told almost three thousand years ago. But modern tellers of Greek myth have usually been men, and have routinely shown little interest in telling women’s stories. And when they do, those women are often painted as monstrous, vengeful or just plain evil. But Pandora – the first woman, who according to legend unloosed chaos upon the world – was not a villain, and even Medea and Phaedra have more nuanced stories than generations of retellings might indicate.

Now, in Pandora's Jar: Women in the Greek Myths, Natalie Haynes – broadcaster, writer and passionate classicist – redresses this imbalance. Taking Pandora and her jar (the box came later) as the starting point, she puts the women of the Greek myths on equal footing with the menfolk. After millennia of stories telling of gods and men, be they Zeus or Agamemnon, Paris or Odysseus, Oedipus or Jason, the voices that sing from these pages are those of Hera, Athena and Artemis, and of Clytemnestra, Jocasta, Eurydice and Penelope.

William Blake vs the world

Poet, artist, visionary and author of the unofficial English national anthem 'Jerusalem', William Blake is an archetypal misunderstood genius. His life passed without recognition and he worked without reward, mocked, dismissed and misinterpreted. Yet from his ignoble end in a pauper's grave, Blake now occupies a unique position as an artist who unites and attracts people from all corners of society, and a rare inclusive symbol of English identity.

Blake famously experienced visions, and it is these that shaped his attitude to politics, sex, religion, society and art. Thanks to the work of neuroscientists and psychologists, we are now in a better position to understand what was happening inside that remarkable mind, and gain a deeper appreciation of his brilliance. His timeless work, we will find, has never been more relevant.

In William Blake vs the World we return to a world of riots, revolutions and radicals, discuss movements from the Levellers of the sixteenth century to the psychedelic counterculture of the 1960s, and explore the latest discoveries in neurobiology, quantum physics and comparative religion. Taking the reader on wild detours into unfamiliar territory, John Higgs places the bewildering eccentricities of a most singular artist into context. And although the journey begins with us trying to understand him, we will ultimately discover that it is Blake who helps us to understand ourselves.

This is your brain on music : understanding a human obsession

'What do the music of Bach, Depeche Mode and John Cage fundamentally have in common?'

Music is an obsession at the heart of human nature, even more fundamental to our species than language.

From Mozart to the Beatles, neuroscientist, psychologist and internationally-bestselling author Daniel Levitin reveals the role of music in human evolution, shows how our musical preferences begin to form even before we are born and explains why music can offer such an emotional experience.

In This Is Your Brain On Music Levitin offers nothing less than a new way to understand music, and what it can teach us about ourselves.

The sea is not made of water : life between the tides

Few places are as familiar as the shore – and few as full of mystery and surprise.
How do sandhoppers inherit an inbuilt compass from their parents? How do crabs understand the tides? How can the death of one winkle guarantee the lives of its companions? What does a prawn know?

In The Sea is Not Made of Water, Adam Nicolson explores the natural wonders of the intertidal and our long human relationship with it. The physics of the seas, the biology of anemone and limpet, the long history of the earth, and the stories we tell of those who have lived here: all interconnect in this zone where the philosopher, scientist and poet can meet and find meaning.

In this blend of fascinating, surprising ecology and luminous human history, Adam Nicolson gives an invitation to the shoreline. Anyone who chooses can look beyond their own reflection and find the marvellous there, waiting an inch beneath their nose.

Testosterone : the story of the hormone that dominates and divides us

The biological source of masculinity has inspired fascination, investigation and controversy since antiquity. From the eunuchs in the royal courts of ancient China to the booming market for 'elixirs' of youth in nineteenth-century Europe, humans have been obsessed with identifying and manipulating what we now know as testosterone. And the trend shows no signs of slowing down. Thanks to this history and the methods of modern science, today we have a rich body of research about testosterone's effects in both men and women.

The science is clear: testosterone is a major, invisible player in our relationships, sex lives, athletic abilities, childhood play, gender transitions, parenting roles, violent crime, and so much more. But there is still a lot of pushback to the idea that it does, in fact, contribute to sex differences and significantly influence behaviour.

Hooven argues that acknowledging testosterone as a potent force in society doesn't reinforce stifling gender norms or patriarchal values. Testosterone and evolution work together to produce a huge variety of human behaviour, and that includes a multitude of ways to be masculine and feminine.

Understanding the science sheds light on how we work and relate to one another, how we express anger and love, and how we fight bias and problematic behaviour to build a fairer society.

Climate Change

A powerful look at the biggest environmental issues facing our generation

Earth is now warmer than at any time in the past 650,000 years, putting it at huge risk from natural disasters from flooding to desertification. How can we reverse climate change before it is too late?

Our Earth is facing huge environmental challenges, from plastic pollution choking our oceans to critical loss of biodiversity. Ecographics aims to raise young readers' awareness of these challenges with the latest headline-grabbing facts and stats, pertinent case studies and powerful photos.

The idea of the brain : a history

Shortlisted for the 2020 Baillie Gifford Prize

This is the story of our quest to understand the most mysterious object in the universe: the human brain.

Today we tend to picture it as a computer. Earlier scientists thought about it in their own technological terms: as a telephone switchboard, or a clock, or all manner of fantastic mechanical or hydraulic devices. Could the right metaphor unlock the its deepest secrets once and for all?

Galloping through centuries of wild speculation and ingenious, sometimes macabre anatomical investigations, scientist and historian Matthew Cobb reveals how we came to our present state of knowledge. Our latest theories allow us to create artificial memories in the brain of a mouse, and to build AI programmes capable of extraordinary cognitive feats. A complete understanding seems within our grasp.

But to make that final breakthrough, we may need a radical new approach. At every step of our quest, Cobb shows that it was new ideas that brought illumination. Where, he asks, might the next one come from? What will it be?

Reactions

The third book in Theodore Gray's bestselling Elements Trilogy, Reactions continues the journey through the world of chemistry that began with his two previous bestselling books The Elements and Molecules. With The Elements, Gray gave us a never-before-seen, mesmerizing photographic view of the 118 elements in the periodic table. In Molecules, he showed us how the elements combine to form the content that makes up our universe. With Reactions Gray once again puts his one-of-a-kind photography and storytelling ability to work demonstrating how molecules interact in ways that are essential to our very existence. The book begins with a brief recap of elements and molecules and then goes on to explain important concepts the characterize a chemical reaction, including Energy, Entropy, and Time. It is then organized by type of reaction including chapters such as "Fantastic Reactions and Where to Find Them," "On the Origin of Light and Color," "The Boring Chapter," in which we learn about reactions such as paint drying, grass growing, and water boiling, and "The Need for Speed," including topics such as weather, ignition, and fire.

The Amazing discoveries of 100 brilliant scientists

From atoms and X-rays to the Big Bang and the Internet, brilliant breakthroughs by successful scientists have changed the world. Dip inside this intriguing book to read the stories of 100 scientists and their amazing discoveries, including Marie Curie and Albert Einstein.

History! : the World's history as you've never seen it before

This new book in the Knowledge Encyclopedia series will inspire young readers with its vivid depictions of history and its comprehensive and authoritative information on a huge range of topics.
Bringing subjects to life, this groundbreaking children's home reference allows readers to peer inside ancient buildings, marvel at elaborate outfits, and get close to the battles of history. You will discover what everyday life was like in medieval cultures, how inventions such as the printing press changed the world, and so much more. From the lives of ferocious samurai warriors to World War II and contemporary eco-friendly innovations, every historical event is visualized in incredible detail, providing a fascinating introduction to the world through time.
Find yourself transported to the past, from our earliest ancestors right up to the world we live in today.

And if you still need a bit more inspiration . . .

Love Reading 4 Kids : 'Love Reading 4 Kids' is the UK's biggest book recommendation site with suggestions for children from toddlers to teens.

Love Reading 4 Schools: 'Love Reading 4 Schools' offers support to parents, teachers and school librarians in helping engender a life-long love of reading in children.  This site contains reading lists by school year group (Reception to Year 10) along with lots of other ideas.

Love Reading : 'Love Reading' is the UK’s leading book recommendation website whose mission is to share book love and encourage reading for pleasure by offering the tools, advice and information to help you find your next favourite book.

These are great websites for book recommendations but please be aware that we cannot guarantee that we have copies of all of them in the Smallbone Library.  You can check our catalogue to see whether we have a particular title.  If we have a copy, go ahead and reserve it to collect from the library.  If we don't have a copy, you are very welcome to suggest we buy a copy once we are able to.

 

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