More than Bully Beef and Jam- a talk with Mike Cooper at Wokingham Library on February 22

More than Bully Beef and Jam-Food in the Great War 1914-18

Come along to our talk with popular  local historian Mike Cooper to find out people were eating a hundred years ago.

The idea of “food” in WW1 usually conjures up ideas of “bully beef” and biscuits, with plum and apple jam. However, food turned into a vital factor in determining how the War was fought and how it was lost. This talk look sat the soldier’s rations, food at home in Britain, and the role of food in economic warfare.

The talk takes place at Wokingham Library on Friday February 22, 10.30am to 12noon.

Tickets £5

To book a place call (0118) 9781368

Mike Cooper Food 2Mike Cooper Food 1



Holocaust Memorial Day 2019 Books for Adults

In Support of Holocaust Memorial Day January 27, 2019 Wokingham, Woodley and Lower Earley libraries will have materials on display along with information booklets from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. Members of the public are also invited to find out about the lives of those who have experienced genocide from our display and write them a postcard.      

 Booklists have been created and a wealth of information is available to use on the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website,

Suggested Book Titles for Adults

 A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal

A Lucky Child is the memoir of Thomas Buergenthal, a survivor of Kielce ghetto and both Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen Concentration Camps.  The story tells of a happy childhood and the vibrant parents who had to flee their peaceful life in Lubochna, Czechoslovakia. .  However, the story he tells is thoughtful, understated and very powerful.  His amazing strength at the age of 10 when he was finally separated from both of his parents in Auschwitz resonates throughout the book.  When, in 1945 he escapes from the deserted Sachsenhausen, the account takes an unexpected turn as we learn how he spent time in the company of the Polish army.  He later became a minor celebrity whilst in an orphanage, as it was so unusual for a child to have survived Auschwitz.  In these early post-war days, he desperately tries to ignore the likelihood that his mother and father are dead.  However, he is reunited with his mother in 1946, and we learn her story too. – See more at:

If this is a Man by Primo Levi

If This is a Man is Primo Levi’s memoir of his experiences in the Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz III.  Between 1944 and 1945 Levi spent 11 months as a prisoner in the camp where conditions were so brutal that life expectancy was only three months for new prisoners.  If This is a Man recounts not only the author’s extraordinary survival of Auschwitz, but the reasons behind the inhumanity of the Nazi concentration camp system. – See more at:

Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally

Schindler’s Ark tells the true story of Oskar Schindler, a Nazi Party member and factory owner, who saved over 1000 Jews from certain death. While the story is true the book is written as a novel.

The book also charts the story of the creation and liquidation of the ghetto in Krakow.  The book won the Booker Prize in 1982 and was made into the Academy Award winning film Schindler’s List by Steven Spielberg in 1993.

– See more at:

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

Suite Francaise consists of the first two sections an uncompleted five-part novel examining life after the German occupation of France in 1940.  The novel was written as the events portrayed were actually unfolding and reflects the experiences of Irène Némirovsky and her family. – See more at:

The Book Thief-Marcus Zusak

The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a nine-year old girl fostered by a family on Himmel Street, Molching, Germany in the late 1930s.  Liesel’s story includes her obsession with reading, her theft of books and the impact of the Second World War and anti-Jewish actions on the people of Himmel Street and is told to us by Death himself. – See more at:

The Children of Freedom by Marc Levy

The Children of Freedom is written from the perspective of 18 year old Jeannot who has, along with his younger brother, found refuge from Nazi persecution in Toulouse in 1942.  The brothers join the 35th Brigade – a group of young foreigners who fight back against their oppressors. Based on true accounts from the Resistance, including that of the author’s father, the book follows the stories of members of the 35th Brigade and looks at those who resisted – in small or large ways – the hatred of the Nazi regime. – See more at:

The OtherSchindlers by Agnes Grunwald Spier

In The Other Schindlers, Agnes Grunwald-Spier explores the motivation of those who rescued, hid, saved or assisted Jews in the Holocaust.  She explores the moral choices made by rescuers and asks us to consider the moral choices we make today. – See more at:

Alone in Berlin-Hans Fallada

Alone in Berlin is based on a true story.  Otto and Anna Quangel’s son has died whilst serving with the German Army.  In a moment of anger, Anna blames Otto and ‘his Fuhrer’.  Otto is offended and decides to resist the Nazi regime in his own unique way – writing and dropping anti-Nazi postcards.  The novel is an interesting look into the fear of ordinary Germans, how many people were made into criminals even though they were living their ordinary lives.  The story also follows the Quangels as they go to jail and their subsequent tria

– See more at:

Far to Go by Alison Pick

Fiercely patriotic secular Jew, Pavel Bauer, is helpless to prevent his world from unravelling when the Nazis invade Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia in 1939.  As the Czech government falls – a system he had great respect for – and then his business partners and neighbours all turn their back on Pavel and his family, only their adoring and dependant governess Marta remains loyal.  This book explores the Bauers’ heartbreaking struggle between doing what is right and acting to save themselves.  It shows how decisions born of fear, love and principle can have unimaginable consequences in wartime.  The reader feels the Bauers’ desperation on finally grasping the true enormity of the Nazi campaign and its destructive consequences for their family and particularly for their son Pepik.   – See more at:

My Enemy’s Cradle by Sara Young

Polish born Cyrla has been sent to live with her Aunt, Uncle and Cousin in Holland by her Jewish father in 1939.  Her family keep the secret of her heritage whilst the German Army occupy Holland and Cyrla lives in hiding, afraid that her neighbours suspect her.  Carrying the child of a German soldier, Cyrla’s cousin, Anneke is destined to move to a maternity home in Germany which houses the Lebensborn breeding programme.  Anneke’s death leaves Cyrla facing a dilemma – should she face her Uncle and his growing resentment, or should she take Anneke’s place at the maternity home? – See more at:

Tears of the Desert by Halima Bashir with Damien Lewis

Tears of the Desert is the memoir by Halima Bashir, a survivor of the Genocide in Darfur.  In this book she talks about growing up in a village in Darfur, about the persecution of her tribe – the Zaghawa tribes by the Arab Sudanese government.  She speaks about her triumph of training to be a medical doctor in Khartoum and the escalation of violence and the use of rape and torture during the ongoing genocide, and her fight to find asylum in the UK.

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

The Cellist of Sarajevo is a novel which follows the lives of three inhabitants of Sarajevo during the Siege of Sarajevo which lasted from April 1992 to February 1996. The story is set during a brief period when a cellist plays in the street in remembrance of those killed in a mortar attack on a bread queue. The novel follows the lives of Kenan, who crosses the city to find water for his family; Dragan, who has become isolated from his friends and Arrow, a counter-sniper protecting residents from snipers on the hills surrounding the city. – See more at:

The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman

Wladyslaw Szpilman was born in 1911 in Sosnowiec in Poland.  He studied the piano and composition as a young man in Warsaw and Berlin.  On 1 April 1935 he joined Polish Radio, where he worked as a pianist performing classical and jazz music, until the German invasion of Poland reached Warsaw in autumn 1939 and Polish Radio was forced off the air.

Szpilman and his family were forced to move to the Warsaw Ghetto where he continued to play piano in cafes and bars. Szpilman survived with the help of friends and a German captain, Wilm Hosenfeld.  His family was murdered at Treblinka.  After the War Szpilman returned to Polish Radio and his music career and died in Warsaw in July 2000 at the age of 88.

– See more at:


Wokingham’s Trees-Visible? Valued? Vanishing? A talk at Wokingham Library on Thursday July 19

Wokingham District Veteran Tree Association (WDVTA) is a voluntary organisation that surveys and records veteran and notable trees across the borough as well as working as local Tree Wardens. To date their survey has recorded and mapped over 7500 veteran and notable trees.

In 2017 WDVTA celebrated their 10th Anniversary and published an Anniversary Report which includes a description of the notable trees in each of the seventeen towns and parishes. In this illustrated talk, their chairman, Alison Griffin, will describe the Association’s work and findings.

Wokingham Library

Thursday July 19


£3 charge

To book a place call the library on (0118) 9781368

Tree 1

Tree photo copyright the @WDVTA

The Oriental Plane next to Waitrose car park in Wokingham


LGBT History Month 2018 Display at Wokingham Library

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Members of staff have created a display at Wokingham Library to celebrate LGBT History Month 2018.

LGBT History Month is a month-long annual event that celebrates the history and achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people every February in the United Kingdom.

Throughout February this year the theme is Geography: Mapping the World. Two rather sombre events are being commemorated; the 30th anniversary of the passing of Section 28, which prohibited local authorities from disseminating materials that ‘promoted homosexuality’ in schools; and the fortieth anniversary of the murder by shooting of Harvey Milk, the USA’s first out-gay elected councillor. On a happier note, the rainbow flag was launched upon an unsuspecting public in 1978, although  sadly its creator Gilbert Baker passed away last year. And 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of Sarah Waters’ classic Tipping the Velvet

Books in the display can be borrowed or reserved  in the library, so why not call in and see what’s being recommended.


Events for Adults at Wokingham Library November 2017

Gibraltar- An illustrated talk by Roy and Lesley Adkins about the greatest siege in British History.

Wednesday November 8 2pm to 3pm   £5 charge

Roy and Lesley Adkins’s bestselling books include Trafalgar and Jack Tar. Their new book is Gibraltar: The Greatest Siege in British History. From 1779 to 1783 Gibraltar was besieged and blockaded, on land and at sea, by massive forces from Spain and France. Thousands of soldiers, civilians and their families withstood terrifying bombardments, starvation and disease, with very ordinary people enduring extraordinary events. The action includes an attempted invasion of England, naval battles, shipwrecks, fantastic floating batteries and the creation of Gibraltar’s first tunnels. This is military, naval and social history woven together, with soldiers, sailors and civilians, royalty and rank-and-file, workmen and engineers, deserters and spies, all caught up in an epic struggle.

Book Chat- Join us for book recommendations and coffee, just drop-in.Thursday November 16 10.30am to 11.30am

Printmaking Workshop- Have fun learning printmaking techniques from artist Karen Greville-Smith in a relaxed session of creative fun using Fireworks and Bonfire Night as inspiration. £5 charge

Saturday November 4     1pm to 3pm

Thames Crossings- A talk with Tony Weston. From a ford to a flight – 2000 years of getting to the other side across, under and over the River Thames.  £5 charge

Thursday November 9  5.45pm to 7pm

Festive Origami- Learn origami techniques to make Christmas decorations. £2 charge

Tuesday November 21 10.30am to 12noon

Festive Wireworking – Decorations Workshop with Rachel Freegard. Learn beading and wirework techniques to make beautiful, individual creations for Christmas.

Saturday November 25 10am to 1pm


Printmaking poster