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/
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This book is a story set before and during the Second World War following two young characters and their journeys through troubled times. Marie-Laure is blind and lives in Paris, her Father works at the Natural History Museum. When the Nazis occupied Paris, Marie-Laure and her Father are forced to live with her great uncle in his large house near the seaside. There they hide a secret that they are keeping safe for France.
Growing up in Germany before the Second World War is Werner. Werner and his sister listen to their radio which tells them news and stories from all over the world. Werner discovers a talent for fixing radios and electronic devices. The Nazis notice this talent and he is recruited and eventually succumbs to the influence of Nazi propaganda.
Werner and Marie-Laure’s stories are so carefully described and entwined with each other in this slow paced and beautifully written story. The reader experiences the courage both characters show despite their horrific situations. If you like a bit of history but not wanting a fast adventure style story, this book is for you.
Available as an eAudiobook and eBook.
To Be A Cat by Matt Haig
Barney Willow’s life is not great. His Dad disappeared last year, he gets bullied at school and his head teacher seems to have it in for him as well. Walking past a cat every day on his way to school Barney begins to think life as a cat is beginning to sound rather nice.
Think again. When the unbelievable happens Barney is thrown into a world of cat politics, cat gangs and fish… He begins to realise his life as a human might not be so bad after all!
This adventurous story is packed full of adventure and twists and turns. The cat mannerisms are brilliant. Matt Haig covers topics of bullying, depression and family and friendship.
This book is available as an eAudiobook. There are many other titles by Matt Haig in the eLibrary.
The Martian by Andy Weir
When I finished The Martian, I moved it straight up into my favourite books list. It tells the tale of an astronaut called Mark Watney who has landed on Mars with his crew. Soon everything starts to go wrong and Mark ends up stranded on Mars. His crew, believing that he’s dead, leave Mars and start travelling back to Earth. Mark has to survive on Mars with the items his crew have left behind, disco music and potatoes! He records daily entries of his life on Mars. Eventually the dialogue moves between Mark, the reactions on Earth and his old crew.
“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.” LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”
It’s funny, human, thrilling and emotional. The reader is left guessing right to the end at what Mark’s fate will be. It is a brilliant example of human resilience, and will appeal to everyone, not just readers of science fiction. The film is also excellent and very true to the book.
This is available as an eBook.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
This is such a beautiful book based on a circus and magic. On the surface there is the circus, full of black and white tents with magic tricks, contortionists, acrobats and more. Many people are attracted to this circus of mystery as it appears out of nowhere and only runs at night. The circus creates a following with people who wear black and white with a bit of red to identify themselves. They follow the circus through Europe, following hints as to where it might appear next.
In the background there is a magical contest between two magicians, they do not know who each other are. They have been trained for this contest since they were children and have been in competition for years. This contest surrounds the makers of the circus in the past and the people preforming in the circus in the present. The contest must be completed and cannot be left undone.
Weaving backwards and forwards through time at the start of the twentieth century this book takes you on a journey and will leave you mesmerised, believing in magic and smelling caramel. It has outstanding world-building and characters you will not want to leave behind.
Available as an eBook.
Middle England by Jonathan Coe
This is the third novel of Jonathan Coe’s saga, following on from The Rotters Club and Closed Circle, but it can equally be read as a stand-alone novel. It charts the lives of newlyweds Ian and Sophie, whose differing views on Brexit threaten their relationship; Doug, a political commentator who is writing about, rather than experiencing, austerity; Benjamin, who is determined to change his life by starting a new career in middle age; and Colin, whose only wish is to vote in the EU referendum. They all experience the same events but from very different viewpoints.
This is a funny but moving novel, and a timely reminder of the immense change that the country has seen in recent years, from riots to Olympic fever through to Brexit. It’s our history but told through the eyes of ordinary people, and that’s what makes it so compelling. The characters are believable, even if not always likeable, and I think everyone will have moments of recollection and nostalgia. The author brilliantly captures the mood of the nation at a pivotal point in our history, and his observations of life in Britain today are so accurate they are almost uncomfortable to read!
This books is available as an eaudio book
Sleep by C L Taylor
This novel tells the story of Anna, who hopes that a new job at a remote hotel in the Scottish Highlands will allow to her escape the memories of a traumatic event in her life and finally get the sleep she so desperately craves. The job starts well, with the arrival of seven guests equally keen to escape the pressures of modern life, but events soon take a darker turn and the guests are not all they seem.
This is a fast-paced, enjoyable thriller which combines all the usual elements of a murder mystery, with the characters completely isolated from the outside world whilst knowing that there is a killer in their midst. The plot is enjoyable with a sinister little twist at the end.
This title is available as an eaudiobook.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
We first meet Kathy at the age of 31, when she is working as a carer. She is attempting to come to terms with her childhood, growing up in the apparently idyllic Hailsham School. However, all is not as it seems and the future that awaits the children is slowly and devastatingly revealed.
This is a tale of friendship, love and loss, and the futility of fighting against a destiny that has always awaited you. It’s a beautifully written novel, and it’s impossible not to be deeply moved by Kathy and her story as she relates the life that she has lived. It’s one that will stay with you for a very long time.
This title is available as an ebook.
The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish
Natalie is delighted when Elm Hill lido reopens after standing empty for years, just in time for the summer. She quickly meets Lara, an enigmatic former actress who offers a contrast to Natalie’s own life. As the summer progresses she is quickly drawn into Lara’s inner circle of friends, but all is not quite as it seems and there is more to Lara than first appears.
This is a fascinating tale of obsession and dissatisfaction, as Natalie craves acceptance into the glamarous world that Lara offers as an antidote to her only seemingly uninteresting life. However, the personal cost to Natalie will be higher than she could possible have imagined as she starts to neglect her own family and friends. There are some excellent twists along the way and the ending is surprising.
This title is available as an audiobook.