Book Chat- June 3

We would like to recommend you some books that have been read and enjoyed by library staff during this lockdown period. Where indicated they are available in our digital library at

This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankelthis is how it always is

 This novel tells the story of the Walsh-Adams family, and their chaotic but wonderful life with their five boys.  The youngest of these, Claude, is an exceptionally bright three year old with lots of ambitions for when he grows up, including being a scientist, a farmer and a dinosaur.  He also wants to be a girl.  This is the start of a long and complex journey for Claude, as he makes the decision to become Poppy.  His parents and brothers do everything in their power to help, but unfortunately discover that society is not always as welcoming or understanding and difficult times lie ahead for the family.

 This novel deals sensitively with some complex and difficult themes around gender, parenting and what it’s like to be different in a world where conforming is seen as the norm.  It’s a moving and thought-provoking read, that has at its heart a remarkable child who can help us all learn something new about acceptance.

The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullenlost letters

 In this novel we meet William and Clare, who have somehow reached a point in their marriage where they no longer even seem to know how to talk to each other.  Williams spends his days in the Lost Letters Depot, trying to reunite wayward mail with its intended recipient.  He is a failed novelist, too scared to try again in case he fulfils his parents’ belief that he will never amount to anything.  Clare is a high-flying lawyer, building a career to prove she is a success and to escape a traumatic childhood, but beset by doubts that this is the life she really wants.  One day William discovers a letter addressed only to ‘My Great Love’, signed ‘Winter’.  He feels instantly that this letter was meant for him and that destiny has brought it to his desk.  As more letters arrive and William’s obsession with finding the mysterious Winter grows, his marriage to Clare comes under increasing strain and he feels torn between the reality of his life now and the promise of a life with Winter.

 Throughout this novel we hear both William’s and Clare’s viewpoints as they battle with their emotions, and it’s impossible not to get drawn into their story as they try to decide what their future holds.  Set in a time before emails and texts and instant messaging, it’s a gentle reminder of the joy that a simple letter in the post can bring. This is availabe as an ebook and eaudio book.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owenscrawdads

 This novel tells the story of Kya, or as she is known locally The Marsh Girl.  She is left alone at a young age to fend for herself in a landscape of marshland, isolated and shunned by the residents of the local town.  The marsh provides company, an education and a way to make a living, but what Kya craves most of all is human company.  This, however, will have unexpected and devastating consequences.

 This is a lovely novel, filled with detailed descriptions of the wildlife that surrounds and supports Kya.  It deals with some big themes, including domestic violence and racism and is an interesting social commentary on how people fear the unknown and what they don’t understand.

Our Dark Secret by Jenny QuintanaOur dark secret

 Life is not easy for Elizabeth as an overweight, clever teenager growing up in the 1970s.  Her life changes with the arrival of a new family, and their daughter Rachel.  Rachel is everything that Elizabeth yearns to be – popular, beautiful and slim –  and the two form an unlikely friendship.  Rachel’s life is not all it seems though, and her bright façade hides a darker side.  Twenty years on a body is discovered and Elizabeth finds herself being drawn back to events that she has spent her adult life trying to escape.

This novel is a brilliant illustration of what life is like as a teenager when you feel that you don’t quite fit and are struggling to make sense of an adult world.  The relationship between the two girls, and the impact this has even far into their adult lives, is fascinating to follow.

This book is available as an ebook













Poet’s Corner

Members of Wokingham Library Poetry Group have sent in some more contributions for our library blog, some with a topical twist!

Lockdown 2020 by Alan Brown

 I’ve tried to read an unreadable book

and stared for hours at my video screen

until I could no longer bear to look

at such an unremitting, sterile scene.

But when I sleep I ride on rolling seas.

I view the moonlit ripples on the tide

and feel again the freshly laundered breeze

caress my face and stir the soul inside.

Simplicity, not cherished in the past,

or overlooked, like backdrops of a play,

is seen and truly valued at long last

and stored in mind until a better day.

So when this veil of gloom is lifted clear,

let me recall these things I now hold dear.



 We’ve got the virus on the run

Time to open windows wide

Life will once again belong to us

No longer will we hide


But what’s this new phenomenon

Coronaphobia is rife

Even though the risk’s diminished

Folk are fearful for their life


Come on guys, we must be brave

And when the time is right

Go forth into the sunshine

And enjoy God’s given light


If we ran from every daily risk

We’d soon be out of breath

We’ve got the chance to live again

’Though we’ll still mourn every death


Don’t be like a caterpillar

When with hope the future’s bright

Emerge from the chrysalis

Like a butterfly – take flight


Don’t fall victim to the phobia

Don’t let worries manifest

The greatest fear is fear itself

We’ve survived – we’re truly blessed


So when Boris gives the go-ahead

Let’s raise one mighty cheer

And once again we’ll live and love

Without Corona fear



 Now I’m just full of bright ideas

On how to pass the time

I saw this on the internet

So confess it isn’t mine


To ring up random numbers

In countries, on the phone

And scare all their old ladies

In lockdown on their own


We’ll say that we’re from Microsoft

And their computer’s on the blink

And rob them of their money

Before they’ve time to think


A fantasy – I’m dreaming

I wouldn’t stoop to cause distress

To all the world’s old ladies

While we’re together in this mess


I’m not really horrid

Nor normally unkind

But what I’d do to scammers

Paints pictures in my mind


When with smarmy voices

They set out to target us

I summon up this image

Of them flattened by a bus


In centres dotted round the world

With scammers, caring not a jot

I’d line them up against the wall

And each one would be shot


I’d have gibbets up the high street

Hang them by their scrawny necks

’Cos they reduce old ladies

To nervous, frightened wrecks


They prey upon the elderly

The weak and old and frail

And I’d like to see the lot of them

Rot in the nearest jail


So when a scammer rings you up

Just terminate his call

He’s a nasty little weevil

A brick short of a wall


Or string along his patter

But don’t believe a word he said

Then tell him that the nurse has come

To put you back to bed


Be cautions and be wary

Don’t think they’ve picked on you

We out there are many

And they’re just an evil few


Don’t get upset or worried

See the wheels of justice grind

Imagine their comeuppance

Paint the pictures in your mind


WAKES WEEK by Jean Hill

 It’s Wakes Week up in Lancashire

In eighteen-ninety-five

The mill wheels have stopped turning

And Blackpool comes alive


The looms at last fall silent

As the shuttle ceases flight

And the spindle stops revolving

No more spinning from tonight


The cotton fluff will settle

The clamorous din will halt

The oily stench of weaving looms

To a standstill will be brought


The lads will court the lasses

Flat caps at jaunty angle

And with wages in their pockets

The pennies jingle-jangle


A donkey ride across the sands

And winkles picked with pin

Jellied eels and pie and mash

And coconuts to win


With Vaudeville at The Empire

Wonders every night performed

For just a brief time in the year

The toils of life transformed


Bread well spread with Shippam’s paste

And many a lass would bake

To have with tea cold from a flask

A lump of lardy cake


To ride the tram along the front

And see the lights shine bright

To take the lift in Blackpool Tower

From the top a bonny sight


With toes dipped in the Irish Sea

Between The Ribble and The Wyre

See many a romance blossom

In that bright and breezy shire


For just a week or maybe two

A respite from daily grind

As the cotton mills fall silent

And all hardship’s left behind













Wokingham Borough Libraries Newsletter June 2020

Wokingham Borough Libraries Newsletter June 2020

For information on the latest guidance and advice about Coronavirus (COVID-19) please visit

At present Wokingham Borough Council has taken the difficult decision to temporarily close all of its libraries.

A large number of online library services are still available, including ebooks, enewspapers and audiobooks. While the libraries are closed we have suspended the fines so there is no need to renew or return your books. Please look after the books, until such time as the libraries reopen, then you will be able to return them


New Digital Services

  • Sign up for free library membership by visiting the Spydus website to join our libraries online.
  • Freegal Music – Access 15 million songs from thousands of artists. You can download 3 songs per week, and listen to streamed content for up to 3 hours per day. Login to Freegal Music with your barcode and PIN, or download the Freegal Music app from the App Store or Google Play Store, then select your library and log in with your barcode and PIN. Please note: Some of the titles may contain content of a more adult nature. As with all library usage we recommend parents and carers give their child support in choosing appropriate items to match their needs.
  • Ancestry Online website – is a family history website with access to census records, births, marriages and deaths records, and much more. Available at Wokingham, Woodley and Lower Earley libraries. Access to this resource has been temporarily expanded to library cardholders working remotely, courtesy of ProQuest and its partner Ancestry. To log in from home, visit the Spydus website

Smashing Activities inspired by Enid Blyton  Just view our blog here:

Empathy Day LogoEmpathy Day

On 9 June, EmpathyLab will be hosting Empathy Day to help everyone understand and experience the power of empathy through books. Scientists say that we can train our brain with stories, as the more we empathise with characters, the more we can understand other people’s feelings. Throughout the day, they’ll be running brilliant online events and fun home-based activities to help children read, connect and act using empathy. Authors, illustrators, schools, libraries, and families across the UK will be taking part and we’d love for you to join in!

We will also be running the following on our Facebook page and keep checking as we start more activities over the coming weeks

Wokingham Libraries Online Book Chat

If you’re looking for book recommendations join our online Book Chat at

Find out what’s new and what others are enjoying and add your own comments- we would love to hear from you.

Art ChallengeArt Challenge

Each month we will be highlighting a different artist for you to explore, then design and create your own Masterpiece! Just visit to find out more.


E-Services – Did you know you can borrow a range of e-books, e-audio, e-comics newspapers and magazines completely free of charge if you are a library member? Just go to or download the RB Digital app and use your library card number to create a free account with a username and password.

Press Reader –E-newspapers and magazines are available via the Press Reader App, please visit: for more information.

The service allows you to:

  • Read and download newspapers and magazines on your computer, smartphone or tablet
  • Read the current copy of most daily and Sunday newspapers, many local newspapers and a wide selection of magazines
  • Access a selection of newspapers and magazines from all over the world

Why not search our online catalogue from the comfort of your own home to see what’s on offer:  

You can find more about events in libraries via our email newsletter. You can sign up for this at: Or alternatively download this publication at:

Wokingham in Past Times

Local historian Jim Bell looks back at some newspaper reports from the Reading Mercury about life in nineteeenth century Wokingham Jim pic

Mon 30th Oct 1820

At the Justice Meeting at Wokingham, on Thursday last, James Marshall, a carter boy to Farmer Rushton, was convicted in the penalty of ten shillings, for riding in his master’s cart upon the highway, without reins or anyone on foot, to guide the horse. Mr. and Mrs. Brigstock narrowly escaped a serious accident by the above negligence, and it is much to be wished that examples should be made of all persons observed to be guilty of such offences.


Mon 27th Nov 1820


In the Town of Wokingham, or between that place and the Pheasant, King Street, on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 1820.—A Twenty Pound Bank of England Note, No.11,358, dated August 26.—Two Ten Pound Notes of Messrs. Stephens and Co’s Reading Bank, out of the following Numbers, 3225—3292—or, 9798, and a Ten Pound Note of the bank of England.

Payment of all the above Notes being Stopped, they are of no use to any person, but the owner. Suspicion having fallen on certain persons of detaining the Notes, a long examination has taken place before the worthy and indefaticable Magistrates of Wokingham, from which there is good reason to suppose the money is detained under the expectation of a greater reward being offered, but as payment of the Notes is Stopped, and they are consequently useless, no greater sum will be given for the recovery of them than FIVE POUNDS.—Whoever returns the Notes to Mr. Creaker, Wokingham, or Messrs. Cowslade and Co., Reading, shall receive the reward.

P.S. Whoever detains any notes or other articles, having found the same, is subject to a prosecution for Felony.


Mon 6th Aug 1821


A very elegant Ball was given last week in honour of the Coronation at Wokingham. It took place in the Town-Hall, the interior of which was tastefully decorated and brilliantly illuminated with a Crown of variegated lamps and a resplendent G.R. Through the polite attentions of the Stewards [illeg], the evening passed off with considerable [illeg], and the loyalty, which gave birth to the greatly enhanced [illeg] of the scene.


Mon 18th March 1822


Toutley Hall, Berks, by the side of the Forest Road, leading from King-street to Bill Hill, about a mile and a half from Wokingham. To be sold by auction by Mr. Creaker, on Friday, March 22nd, 1822 at eleven o’clock, on the premises.

All the genteel household furniture and Effects of a Gentleman leaving Toutley Hall


Mon 22nd April

The Recordership of the ancient Town of Wokingham, in this county, having become vacant by the resignation of Giffin Wilson, esq. Of Lincoln Inn, the Corporation on Friday last unanimously elected John Roberts, esq., to that highly respectable situation. This unsolicited appointment by a body of his fellow townsmen with whom he has been associated for forty years, must be gratifying to the feelings of the esteemed individual, who has been the object of their choice.

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Weekly Origami Challenge: Enid Blyton Picnic

EB activity banner

This week is all about Enid Blyton for half term.  If you’ve read any of her books you will know that the characters love to drink ginger beer and eat cake and ice-cream, and who loves a picnic the most? Timmy the dog from the Famous Five series.  Can you make these for your very own origami Enid Blyton picnic?

Download the Enid Blyton Picnic Origami Pack here.

When you’ve finished please take a photo and tag Wokingham Borough Libraries on our social media or email your photo to

Find instructions here of how to make rectangular paper square if you do not have origami paper at home.

Thanks to  for the instructions.

If you’ve missed them, our previous origami packs can be found here! We have made:

  • Shakespeare Week – The Tempest Play
  • Easter
  • Pondlife
  • Dinosaurs
  • Star Wars
  • Flowers
  • Under the Sea

Splendid Titles – What to read after Enid Blyton

Banner kindly taken from
  • The Mystery of Wickworth Manor – Elen Caldecott
  • Wed Wabbit – Lissa Evans
  • The Adventures Series – Jemma Hatt
  • The Clifftoppers series – Fleur Hitchcock
  • The Binny Series – Hilary McKay
  • The Skylarks’ War – Hilary Mckay
  • The Adventure Island Series – Helen Moss
  • Ribblestrop – Andy Mulligan
  • The Worst Witch – Jill Murphy
  • A Laura Marlin  Mysteries –  Lauren St John
  • Emily Lime mysteries – Dave Shelton
  • Frozen in Time – Ali Sparkes
  • Murder Most Unladylike – Robin Stevens
  • The Mystery of Clockwork Sparrow – Katherine Woodfine
  • Any titles by Emma Carroll

If you like reading Enid Blyton why not try:

Weekly Origami Challenge: Modular Cube

It is a hard one this week, only one model to make but can you do it?  Modular origami looks incredible.  The repetition of folds can be very mindful and the assembly is fiddly but logical.

Some tips. Make sure to turn the paper over when the instructions say – it will not work otherwise! Get a good crease in your folds – this helps when assembling the model.

Download the Modular Cube Instructions here

When you’ve finished please take a photo and tag Wokingham Borough Libraries on our social media or email your photo to

Find instructions here of how to make rectangular paper square if you do not have origami paper at home.

Thanks to for the instructions.

If you’ve missed them, our previous packs can be found here!

  • Shakespeare Week – The Tempest
  • Easter
  • Pondlife
  • Dinosaurs
  • Star Wars
  • Flowers
  • Under the Sea

Sleeping Well during Covid 19 with Dr Lindsay Browning

Sleep during Covid-19

People are finding that their sleep may be very different in the current lockdown and stress of Covid-19 that we are experiencing. People are reporting that they are struggling to fall asleep, waking too early, having vivid dreams and feeling sluggish during the day no matter how much sleep they get. These are very understandable symptoms as we are struggling with increased worry and uncertainly, reduced exercise, reduced social support and adapting to the “new normal”. When we are dealing with major changes, our brains try to process these changes during our sleep – giving us vivid dreams and causing us to wake in the night thinking about everything. Also, we may have worries running though our minds as we try to fall asleep.

Some tips to help you sleep better include:

1) Make sure that you get up at approximately the same time every day – even though you may not have to get up to go into the office, keep setting your alarm to help your body know when the start of the day is.

2) Make sure that you get bright light in the morning and at midday to help your circadian rhythm know that it is daytime.

3) When it comes to the evening, keep the lights dim and make sure your electronic devices have “night mode” enabled to block blue light at least 1 to 2 hours before bedtime.

4) Have regular mealtimes throughout the day – have breakfast soon after waking, lunch at midday and then dinner at the same time each day. Regular mealtimes help our circadian rhythm know what time it is and help us be alert during the day and sleep well at night.

5) Include some exercise in your daily routine – if you can get out of the house for a walk or run in the morning or afternoon that would be ideal, or else do PE with Joe Wicks with the kids at 9am!

6) Give yourself time during the day to think about what is going on in your life (your worries and stresses) so that you do not find yourself thinking about these things as you try to sleep. You could get a worry journal to write down anything you are worrying about – helping you to get it out of your mind.

Dr Lindsay Browning is a local sleep expert based in Wokingham, and offers help and advice on all sleep issues for individuals and companies. Find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on @DrBrowningSleep and her contact details are: T: 0118 901 0544 E: W:

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Wokingham in Past Times

Local historian Jim Bell looks back at some newspaper reports from the Reading Jim picMercury about life in nineteeenth century Wokingham

Reading Mercury Mon 9th Nov 1818


The Fair at Wokingham on Monday last, exceeded everything of the like kind in the remembrance of the oldest inhabitants. The novel scene of an ox roasted whole in the Market-place, excited general curiosity in the adjacent country to a wide extent, which exclusive of those, who attended on business brought a numerous influx of spectators to witness the unusual performance. The whole business was conducted by Messrs. Beechey, Baker, and Giles, butchers with singular judgment and propriety. In a brick erection about four feet high, in the centre of the Market-place, iron bars were placed, so as to have the effect of an extensive wide grate, and at four o’clock in the morning the animal was suspended on a piece of beech timber full three inches square, with a coach wheel fixed at each end, and continued roasting till eleven, when the managers began cutting off slices, in which they had full employment for four or five hours. The meat was well done, and all who partook thereof were amply gratified, and not an atom left.

There was a large shew of Welsh cattle, and others of the home-bred kind, with a great quantity of store pigs, which went off quick at something advanced prices.


Reading Mercury Mon 23rd Nov 1818

It is with peculiar satisfaction we record the establishing of another of those excellent Institutions the Savings’ Banks, in this county. A meeting of the inhabitants of Wokingham was held in the Town Hall, on Thursday, for the above purpose; James Webb, esq. Alderman, in the chair, when it was unanimously resolved, that a Provident Institution, or Bank for Savings be established, under the title of “THE WOKINGHAM SAVINGS BANK.” The High Steward of the town, Lord Braybrooke, was unanimously elected President, as were also the Hon. R. Neville, M.P. Chas. Dundas, esq. M.P. C.F. Palmer, esq. M.P. Sir W. Wynn, the Rev. G. Seeker, and G.J. Cholmondeley, esq. Vice Presidents.

Sir William Wynn addressed the meeting in an animated speech, congratulating the inhabitants on the establishment of such an excellent institution, and most ably and clearly pointed out the benefits derived from such Institutions in a political, moral, and religious point of view. The Rev. Georg Kemble Whatley, as well as the Alderman, bore testimony to the justness of Sir William’s remarks. After the usual votes of thanks had passed, the meeting was adjourned to Wednesday the 2nd Dec. To enable the committee in the mean time, to have the rules, & c. Printed and circulated.

Reading Mercury Mon 17th Jan 1820


A young man named John Wellman, a native of Wokingham, aged 19, went on Monday, for a wager, from Hannican’s Lodge to Wokingham, (a distance of 2½ miles and 51 poles) and back, ten times within twelve succeeding hours, making in the whole fifty three miles and nearly a quarter, which he accomplished with comparative ease twenty-five minutes within the given time, notwithstanding the ground is very hilly and slippery. In the course of the journey he had to open 3 gates 20 times each, making in all 60 times, and to climb over 6 stiles as many times, making in the whole 120, all of which he performed without being at all distressed, as he was able to pursue his occupation the following day.

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