We’d like to recommend to you a number of titles that are available from our digital library to help you get through these days of lockdown. All books have been recommended by members of our library staff and volunteers who are avid readers. They are available as ebooks or eaudio at https://www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries/library-services/e-books/
Book Chat will be published every Wednesday.
The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce This title is available as an ebook
Welcome to the world of a record shop in 1988. Frank’s whole world is music and his chaotic shop reflects this – he will sell anything and everything as long as it’s vinyl – and he spends his days finding the perfect track for every customer who walks through the door. Frank is happy with his shop and his life in Union Street. He doesn’t need anyone else and he certainly doesn’t need love. Then, one day, Ilse Brauchmann faints outside his shop and Frank’s life takes a turn that he could never have expected.
This novel is bursting with characters who feel so real they almost walk off the page. The sense of community that the novel describes is heart-warming, as a tattoo parlour, undertaker, baker and record shop fight to survive against the odds in a city that is rapidly changing around them. The pressures on them all are enormous as trades falls away and developers start to take control, making it a poignant commentary on how life was changing at the end of the 1980s. It’s a novel about love in all its different forms and how sometimes life can offer us a second chance, if we’re brave enough to take it.
Normal People by Sally Rooney This is available as an ebook and eaudio book
This novel tells the story of Marianne and Connell, who live in the same small Irish town and attend the same school. However, the similarities end there and the characters come from very different backgrounds. They are as far apart in personality as it seems possible to be – Marianne is shy, studious and insecure, whilst Connell is popular, outgoing and the star of the school football team. Yet despite these differences, they are irresistibly drawn together, sometimes with devastating impacts. The novel charts their relationship as it develops throughout their time at school and then at Trinity College in Dublin, but this is far from a romantic novel. Instead it deals with human emotions in their most complex and raw state. It captures perfectly the emotional trauma of being a teenager and how relationships with families, friends and lovers can have such a huge impact on our lives. Following Marianne and Connell’s relationship is no easy feat – but as the characters develop and grow it’s impossible not to be drawn into their complex story and to care very deeply about their future.
The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn This is available as an eaudio book
Anna Fox lives alone in her New York house, unable to leave and go outside. Her only contact from the outside world is from her husband and daughter. She passes her days watching the world go by and taking a keen interest in her neighbours. Life seems to get more interesting when the Russell family move into the house opposite – a perfect family of father, mother and teenaged son. Then Anna witnesses something and suddenly starts to doubt everything that she has seen.
This is a clever, sophisticated thriller that evokes the terror of needing to take action but being trapped inside. The novel is fast paced but unpredictable, with plenty of twists and turns along the way. Anna is a deeply flawed character and at times it’s hard not to feel frustrated with her, but as you discover more about her past it’s impossible not to feel sympathy for her.
Lullaby by Leila Slimani This is available as an eaudio book
In this novel we meet Myriam, a lawyer who finds herself torn between returning to work and caring for her two young children. The solution seems to come in the form of Louise – a demure, quiet and polite nanny who steps effortlessly into their lives. Myriam and her husband can’t believe their luck, but there is so much more to Louise than first appears and as the novel progresses we find out the nature of what she has suffered in the past. Her true nature gradually reveals itself, with utterly devastating consequences.
The opening few lines of the novel are shocking, and it doesn’t get any easier from there. This is a heart-wrenching book that plays directly on parents’ deepest fears – can we really ever know someone and trust them with our children’s lives? This is a challenging and at times upsetting read, and it feels almost voyeuristic when, as a reader, we know what is going on in the house but the parents don’t. It will stay with you for a long time.
Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans This is available as an eBook
This incredibly imaginative story follows Fidge and her sister Minnie. Minnie loves her favourite book ‘The Land of Wimbley Woos’ and has a toy ‘Wed Wabbit’ and constantly asks Fidge to read it to her. When Minnie has a terrible accident and is rushed to hospital, Fidge has to stay with her aunt, uncle and cousin. One day there is a terrible storm and Fidge, her cousin, Graham and a couple of toys fall into Wimbley Woo Land. In Wimbley Woo Land the Wimbley Woos are being threatened by a dictator, Wed Wabbit. Fidge and Graham must explore Wimbley Woo Land and save the day.
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig This is availabe as an eaudio book
This book touches on themes of grief, guilt, family, friendship, bullying and adventure. It is completely zany and I really enjoyed leaving behind my adult brain and exploring the Land of the Wimbley Woos. It reminded me of Enid Blyton’s Book of Brownies.
This is book is an autobiography of the author Matt Haig and his battle with depression and mental health. Matt talks about contemplating suicide at a young age and reflects back on what he would have missed out on if he had, his reasons to stay alive. It is an honest account of what he went through and continues to go through now. It is very thought-provoking and you really get into his head and his thoughts. This is a brilliant book to read if you are struggling yourself, or if you are reading for empathy if you know someone else who is going through a similar situation. It is written in short chapters that cut to the point and really get the message home.
It is a very important book that is highly recommended. Matt Haig is very vocal on social media about mental health, do look him up on Twitter or Instagram
Every Note Played by Lisa Genova This is available as an ebook
Richard is a highly-accomplished concert pianist, playing to sold out venues around the world. His success has come at a personal cost, with the loss of relationships with his ex-wife and his daughter, but now he is facing an even greater loss as he is diagnosed with motor neurone disease and he can no longer continue the career that has defined him and he has sacrificed so much for.
On the surface this is a novel about the devastating impact of motor neurone disease, and how cruelly it robs a person of their independence, dignity and ultimately life, but as the novel progresses the focus shifts to the relationship between Richard and Karina. As a reader we are privy to their innermost thoughts and regrets as they struggle to deal with Richard’s diagnosis and his increasing reliance on Karina. It’s a powerful and poignant novel about love, loss and redemption and, like all of Lisa Genova’s novels, one that will stay with you for a very long time.