Welcome to our ‘Staff recommendations’ of the year blog.
All of the recommendations listed below are on our catalogue.
I know this kind of list would generally come out in the new year, but I thought it might be of help if you are stuck for an idea looking for something to read, watch or listen to over the holiday period, or maybe you need some inspiration when looking for presents?
So, here we go, in no particular order, first up, Jake S.
I recommend Ores and Minerals by Mazes (CD). If you judge the quality of an album by how many times you keep going back to listen to it then this album is one of my favourites this year. Kind of a poppy take on Krautrock. Apparently they were a highlight of this year’s Great Escape Festival in Brighton.
CD: Ensemble Pearl, Drone CD of the year.
CD: John Wizards. A South African band who effortlessly blend about 5 genres in a single track and sound utterly fab.
Total white knuckle ride of a movie.
DVD: Rush, Beyond The Lighted Stage. It doesn’t matter whether you like the band or not – this rockumentary is hugely entertaining, funny and touching in equal measures. And it rocks.
Book: The Cook by Wayne Macaulry. A dark novel that deftly fillets our current obsessions with all things culinary. Funny, disturbing and a nasty ending.
Book: Straw Dogs: Thought on Humans and Other Animals by John Grey. A tad depressing but if you’re feeling strong and fancy having your belief systems utterly trashed this is well worth a look.
Audio book: Spilling the Beans by Clarissa Dickson Wright. A courageous and very funny woman, talking about her extraordinary life.
Intelligent & witty, the eccentric upper class at their best.
Book: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Continually Inspiring!
Book: Jane Bussmann’s, ‘The Worst Date Ever or How It Took a Comedy Writer to Expose Africa’s Secret War’. The sharp humour draws a savage line through the madness of Hollywood, before turning to the insanity of Joseph Kony’s LRA and African politics.
DVD: ‘Young Adult’, starring Charlize Theron. An amazingly astute – & funny depiction of living in unhappiness! Theron portrays wonderfully a delusional woman who’s clinging to the past.
I would love all children on planet earth to read “This is not my hat” by Jon Klassen for it then to be followed up by “I Want My Hat Back” Bizarre, funny and naughty, it is giggle-making and moral-bending about hat-stealing. IF someone stole your hat, you’re well-placed to eat them, right?
I love reading this to my niece.
This may just be a “Zombie” novel but it’s Moodys ability to make you care about the character’s he creates that really set his books apart from anything else in this genre.
Book: Zombie Britannica by Thomas Emson. A fantastic fast-moving zombie apocalypse novel set in the UK. I could not put it down.
Book: I Am legend by Richard Matheson, although originally published in 1954 this book feels so fresh, a truly original vampire novel.
CD: Splinter by Gary Numan. The best thing he has done since the early 1980’s, Industrial, funky, dark, dirty, electronic rock that pounds on your brain until you submit, this finally puts him back on the musicians to take seriously map. It’s great to have you back Gary.
DVD: Sightseers. Directed by Ben Wheatley this has to be one of the funniest blackest comedies of all time.
An air of melancholy flows throughout most of this album.
Best TV Series: Breaking Bad. In my mind the best series since The Sopranos. Great story with a very satisfying conclusion.
Best Non-fiction book: Scarcity: Why Having too little means so much by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir. Fascinating look into how too little of anything (time, money, food) affects your cognitive functions and behaviour.
Best fiction: Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham: A post-apocalyptic novel it tells the story of the aftermath of a meteor shower that blinds most of the world’s population who are struggling to survive whilst battling giant flesh-eating plants.
Best Films: Biutiful starring Javier Bardem and directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. A bleak film set in the suburbs of Barcelona, this is about one man’s attempts to do the right thing as his life unravels around him. By Contrast Skyfall, the latest Bond movie was great fun
Homeland, series one DVD – I have heard all the hype over this for a while now but never thought to give it a try but I am so glad I did, the storyline had me gripped from the pilot episode. All the twists and turns of the characters along with the background information, I can’t wait to see series 2 (I just know I will need to spend the weekend at home with supplies)
Populaire : A charming, witty, and touching French film based on the Hollywood romantic comedies of the 1950s telling the story of Rose Pamphyle who is trained by her boss to become the fastest typist in the world. Highly recommended.
The Humans by Matt Haig. Sci-Fi love story and cheerful chats with a family pet made this a lovely bit of murderous alien whims.
The city reads book was LOVELY ( even if I’m the only person who thought so) so if people liked that I’d recommend they rediscover ‘Monstrous Regiment’ also by Terry Pratchett – its got Sam Vimes in it but only in passing and no dragons sadly – just lots of socks in interesting places…
And finally a book that I reread this year but is an older title, ‘Year of wonders: a novel of the plague’ by Geraldine Brooks, amazing historical fiction, captures the heartbreak and hysteria that followed the isolation of a small Derbyshire village in the 1600s.
I’ve just read a marvellous book by Peter James, not his Inspector Grace books (they’re brilliant by the way) but one called “Perfect People”. It’s about a couple who decide to have a “designer baby” because they want to eradicate a defective gene that killed their first child. Little do they know the nightmare which they’re about to enter.
Best book I’ve read for a long time. It deals with a serious issue but is very readable.
‘The Night Circus’- Erin Morgenstern. This book is absolutely magical and beautiful. From the book’s striking front cover to the characters who can create illusions and the dark relationship that unfolds. Altered reality and imaginative worlds are created within the circus. You’ll find yourself completely immersed in the book’s world.
‘How to be a woman’- Caitlyn Moran. This is a witty, irreverent and interesting book that embraces and questions concepts of feminism and femininity and our society’s ideas of womanhood. Some of her thoughts are also pretty amusing! You can’t help but agree with her & begin to question the many things we do & beliefs we hold around what a woman should be.
So there you have it, an eclectic selection of items and hopefully plenty to spark your interest.
Have a lovely holiday!