Autumnal Poetry: Entries, winners and reviews.

The writer is skilled in pulling the reader into their world.

Poppy medenis, local poet

Enfield libraries recently opened a poetry competition for local people to write about what the Autumn months mean to them. We are proud to be a borough that hosts a thriving community of poets; based at The Dugdale Theatre, the Enfield Poets provide an opportunity for local poets to perform their work in a supportive and stimulating environment. We also have the talented Poppy Medenis, an inspirational poet who explores how easy, fun and powerful poetry can be for people of all ages. Through her highly enjoyable, live poetry-jam workshops ‘People with Voices‘ held monthly at Palmers Green library, participants get to write and recite in an encouraging and welcoming space. We got in touch with Poppy and asked her to read and review the entries to the competition – enthusiastic as ever, she provided feedback for each poem, which can be read below.

Our judge is 51 year-old, woman of colour Susan Belle; a poet born and raised in Wembley. She has taken part in a handful of events within the LGBTQ poetry community and has published her poems on POETIZER, an inclusive social network for poets to showcase and discover work. You can read Susan’s contributions under her profile Bellesy64 and connect with her via Instagram @QUEENB51712

A WORD FROM OUR JUDGE: I started writing poetry at a young age, but didn’t really pursue my craft until later on in life. I’m inspired by real life situations and draw from my own experiences and encounters. I feel my writing style is more spoken word and felt compelled to write more during lockdown to share my thoughts and fears. I first shared my poems on a virtual platform called Poetry LGBTQ – I was nervous at first but I met some great poets on this site.

THE WINNERS: Congratulations to Sylvia Clare (An October Morning) and Jennifer Scagell (I’m sitting in Oakwood Park) who’ve each won a £25 book voucher! You can read their poems, along with other entries below. Thanks to everyone who participated and to all those who happily got involved.


AN OCTOBER MORNING
by Sylvia Clare
The brittle breeze scolds my bare hands
A reminder that winter is coming
And I am not yet acclimatised away
From the subtle cosiness of autumn.

A smattering of drizzle coats my hair, a veil
Of diamonds on snow, damp, comforting.
I stop to smell the wind, coming from the wet, windy west
pull up a hood and continue tending to chickens.

It is the time of year when log fires await indoors
And the kitchen seems the best room in the house.
Home knitted jumpers call to be worn. Knitting needles
feel more at home in my hands than pens or keyboards.

Even though words clamour
to be written down, winter needs become more attractive,
the logs checked for dryness, the yarn stash plentiful
hot soup made from the last of the summer veg.

Poppy says: This poem has a tactile and sensory quality, the writer is skilled in pulling the reader into their world and making them feel the sensations of an October morning through their words. ‘I stop to smell the wind’… ‘A smattering of drizzle coats my hair’, ‘words clamour to be written down’: we become alive to the present moment through reading this inspiring piece.


I’M SITTING HERE IN OAKWOOD PARK
by Jennifer Scagell
I’m sitting here in Oakwood park
Thinking Autumn makes me smile
I’m wrapped up with my coat and scarf
I think I’ll stay a while

I know summer is behind us
And winter’s on its way
But I like this change of season
There’s a crispness to each day

I like the colour of the trees
I like the rustling leaves
When I get home I need to check
The birds have got some seeds

I’ll put away the BBQ
It’ll go back in the shed
I’ll make some soup
And serve it up
with warm and crusty bread

I’ll be back tomorrow
For a single, simple reason,
To enjoy the park at this time of year because
Autumn is the season

Poppy says: I love the way this poet has brought in specific details of a place, the poem being an ode to Enfield’s Oakwood Park as much as an ode to Autumn. The sweet rhythm of life and the seasons is thoughtfully conveyed, and the poet brings our attention to the beauty which sits right under our noses. “I’ll be back tomorrow for a single, simple reason, to enjoy the park at this time of year because Autumn is the season”. This life affirming piece can encourage and be enjoyed by everyone.


CHANGE IN AUTUMN
by Deborah Walker
Better to make changes while the sap is drying
and the leaves, hold on to them as long as possible
until with a tremulous sigh, succumb, fall dry and 
itchy to the floor. 
The desiccated, discarded summer dress trod on. 

I remember the tree younger, twenty years gone. 
Bearing sweet queenly plums, blushing skin
dripping enchanting, surprising yellow flesh
Although, even then, it was not perfect. 
One had to eat with care, should 
some house a tiny disgusting grub.

No gardener I am.  
This tree has been subject to too long neglect.
Yes. It has become too big. Too solid. Too much.
Instead of a proper tree, with one trunk and branches 
from the crown, like a child may draw,
you are grown unwieldy.
Where once slender limbs graceful like hands raised in a courtly dance
Your trunks cross like meaty thighs. Solid. Intertwined. 
Spiders veins your bark. Ivy creeps and enfolds. 
And your fruit is small, yellow, and old. 

This autumn, there must be changes. 
Yes. As I stand, a shower of leaves falling reveals an empty nest.
Bigger and more untidy, then one might expect.
But it did its job.  
And I remembered that this old tree still has its moments.  
In spring, blossom swings sweet petal rain.
In summer shades a childhood of darling green.
And if I do prune savagely, I might disturb the empty nest
Do birds return to the empty nest? 
I think they will.

Poppy says: This poem reaches into my heart with its evocative imagery and imaginative storytelling. The more I read it, the more layers there are to be discovered and unpeeled. The concept of ageing is grappled with, and the poem feels like a process of acceptance: “I remembered that this old tree still has its moments…Do birds return to the empty nest? I think they will”. This final line fills me with emotion as I think of the cycles of life and our fluctuating relationships with one another throughout time. I am left feeling that hope prevails through time, age, and the tree’s transformation. This is a beautifully rendered poem that expresses a human truth everyone can relate to.


AUTUMN ALMANAC (NO, NOT THAT ONE, ANOTHER ONE)
by Peter Bayman

September comes and we are told, as if it’s overrated, there will be no more sun this year, the chain stores have dictated.  My partner wants a summer dress to wear upon some tropical isle but when she asks at M&S she’s greeted with a pitying smile. A brand new poster proudly proclaims, in letters green and gold, ‘Winter collection now on sale!’ as if to say ‘forget what you need, just buy what you are told’.

Back home again and our grandchild plays on the lawn with paddling pool and slide; It’s 27 Celsius in the shade and feels even hotter outside.  Nobody told her that Summer’s over, she just wants to have some fun, go to the park, play on the swings and smile and laugh and run.

She’s only three but she’ll soon learn.        

October follows and they say a hunter’s moon is on the way.  I’m not sure what that is but it sounds dangerous anyway!  Google says it’s when the tribes stored game to get them through the winter ahead.  We’re not really into hunting so we go to ASDA instead.

I pack away the paddling pool as the sound of children’s play is replaced by the sound twits with leaf blowers at all hours of the day.  This is a new game that someone has invented (pretty clever).  First, you blow the leaves off your property into the nearby lane then the wind or the council come along and blow them all back again.  And the best bit is the game can go on for ever!

That is until someone spoils the fun by actually picking up the leaves and then nobody knows who won!      

November’s next and pretty soon, as we all surely know, bonfire night brings fog and rain (or maybe even snow).  The hardy parents venture out into the cold damp night, clutching some overpriced fireworks that they then attempt to light.  The fireworks suddenly spring to life, much to the kids’ delight, burning off dad’s eyebrows and setting the shed alight.  The fire brigade are very good and, as they drive away, Mum says’ “maybe next year kids we’ll go to a display”.

With December not too far away and as he lays in bed, Dad starts to think of Christmas gifts, perhaps a brand new shed.  The kids will have their presents, which they’ll break by Boxing Day, and all he’ll have to worry about is the credit card bills to pay.

Still, looking on the bright side he might have grown some new eyebrows by then.

POPPY SAYS: There is an undeniable warmth to this poem as the narrator takes us on a journey through daily life, conversations, and thoughts. Little details are brought to life through rhythm and humour, my favourite moment is the description of the game where the leaves are blown back and forth by the people, the council, and the wind. The last line must also be highly commended: “Still, looking on the bright side he might have grown some new eyebrows by then.” This cheerful poem puts a smile on my face, and I build up a vivid image of who the narrator is through their words. I wonder if the author has ever thought of doing any spoken word poetry? It would be great to hear the poem read out loud too!


MY COLLECTION
by Henry Benjamin Jacobs

The tree from my window is golden, it used to be green,
Autumn’s magic, sheer wonder transforming the scene.

The leaves whisper gently, summer’s reign at an end,
Cascading in chorus, in gusts to descend.

A carpet of crimson revealed early morn’,
Glowing amber and russet, a cloak for the lawn.

Mother Nature never failing to follow her course,
Exciting, rewarding, unstoppable force.

And now comes the twilight, changing fortune and form,
Soon to be followed by rain, wind and storm.

Chill days of bleak winter, Jack Frost’s icy fingers,
Come snow or harsh blast, still the memory yet lingers.

Of autumnal delight; season ripe, warm and mellow,
The palette of colour: red, orange, bright yellow.

The crunch and the rustle, the seasonal story,
All the shades and the hues of fall’s golden glory.

Shining copper and scarlet, swirling leaves in a squall,
To dance and to spin, playful sight to enthral.

But how to look back on the annual surrender?
To have and to hold fine blades of such splendour.

Selected and saved, dried pressed to perfection,
Preserved to recall, autumn leaves – my collection

POPPY SAYS: I love the brightness of this poem and the way the writer has shared their awe of Mother Nature with the readers, capturing the “exciting, rewarding, unstoppable force” that she is. All the enchantment of the changing of the seasons is expressed and I find myself falling in love with the magic of the world through the words. The poem also provides space for reflection about the passing of time and deals with this idea of loss and memory thoughtfully: “Selected and saved, dried pressed to perfection, preserved to recall, autumn leaves – my collection”. The poem feels like a pressed leaf itself – another means by which to collect, hold and preserve the beauty of autumn within, all year round.



Design a Monster Competition!

Congratulations to our three winners; Aravind, Amaiya and Valentina!

Congratulations to our three competition winners, who’ve each won a ceramic monster painting kit and a £10 Amazon voucher! Scroll down to read all about The Radioactive Rabbit, Thorns and Cutie along with all of the other amazing entries!

How did we pick our winners?
We know each participant put a lot of effort into imagining, illustrating and describing their design, which meant it was necessary to award points following a scoring system. First, we split the entries into three age groups; 5-7 years, 8-9 years and 10-11 years. Outlined in the competition brief were five questions; Where does it lurk? Is it absurdly large? What are its bad habits? Does it have a favourite food? Can you describe its odour? We scored 1 point when the description or illustration included information about the monster’s habitat, size, bad habits, food preferences and odour. We then awarded another 0.5 points for each extra detail.

BLOOBY THE BLOB MONSTER by Malisa (11yrs)

Brilliantly drawn and hugely descriptive Malisa, we hope we never fall victim to Blooby’s disgusting habits!

Known as Blooby the Blob Monster, this creature lives mainly high above the ground in the trees in hot countries such as Algeria, Argentina and Afghanistan. Using its succulent back, Blooby never falls out of his branch no matter the weather. People find it impossible to hunt or catch a glimpse of him because of his colour changing skin – yes, it can camouflage!
Bloobies are known for being really, really nosy – that’s where their extendable neck and twisty eyes come in handy; they know all the latest news in town. Blob Monsters can slither across walls like a slithery snake and chomp absolutely anything with its powerful jaw. But their all-time favourite is mango + mac’n’cheese soup. Yucky! 
Blooby is the size of a 4-year-old child with very disgusting habits including:
-consistently scratching its bum (ewwww)
-picking its boggies (disgusting)
-farting all the time (smellyyy)
-sticking their tongue out to anyone he doesn’t like (rude!)
-and slimes their enemies with sticky, gooey, uncleanable goo!
One way to know if a Blob Monster is spying on you or anywhere around listening to the conversation , they leave a transparent silver/shiny slimy trail behind them… watch out!

HARSH THE HERO by Khadijah (11yrs)

We froze with fear upon first sight of Harsh Hero, but the more we read about him, the more honourable (and less scary) he became. The unprincipled beings won’t be saying the same thing though!

Harsh Hero looks scary and threatening, but he has a real soft side. He sticks up for who and what is right. Whoever harms something without a reason they will have a hard time trying to get past him. He has sharp teeth; good to bite and chew through things. The monster has sticky saliva to lick or spit people with, so they freeze. However, sometimes this monster can get out of control if someone or something provokes him, he will rip you or skin you alive with his teeth. He comes from planet Zenom. His zodiac sign is Leo and often goes into war  with other monsters such as the Hoker, Harley Queen and the rest. He likes to eat mostly vegetables and water but, on a cheat-day stuffs down pizza, doughnuts and 7up. He has only seen humans on rare occasions and usually they either think they are in a nightmare or faint. The beast’s favourite hobby is boxing and basketball. He likes to sleep in caves or mountains in space as they have a great view of planet Earth. The big creature hates being referred to as an ‘animal’ as he is clearly not an animal. The mighty giant is a Hero as he stands up for climate change and equality.

GORROOD by Sofia (10yrs)

Great job on the graphics Sofia – Gorrood might be the most terrifying, blood-thirsty monster we’ve ever heard of!

Gorrood is a terrifying, blood-thirty gorilla who likes searching for blood just like a vampire. This gorilla looks like he has just murdered a fine person as he has tomato red blood on his whole entire body. Continued with 1 blind eye on the left and a red wheel on the other side, both eyes have blood dripping down his tremendous, chocolate brown cheeks. Gorrood always has his creepy smile on his face, which never comes off.
Please don’t be misunderstood as Gorrood has this bad habit of finding a human-being and then sucks every bit of the human body parts. Gorrood odour smells like rotten blood which smelt unpleasant to smell. This smelly creature lives in a very dirty, disgusting cave that is near an abandoned alley. I can assure you, this is very real so be careful when taking a walk to the park or to an alley because Gorrood just might appear out of nowhere, so be careful…

THE RADIOACTIVE RABBIT by Aravind (10yrs)

What a despicable experiment – the manic scientists are just as monstrous as their creation! The glowing, toxic radiation effect really paints a picture.

At midnight on Hallowe’en, manic scientists feed an innocent, hapless rabbit a radioactive-infused pumpkin as a daring experiment! The conclusion was a glow in the dark bunny running rampant!
Smelling like a polluted junkyard, the ‘toxic terror’ has a rather distinctive aroma as he tends to stalk people in that area. Having a good sense of smell assists the bunny locate his prey, pumpkins, which it belligerently ravages through.
The daunting, luminous, hostile creature dwells in the streets of Enfield. In his residence, especially on Hallowe’en, the radioactive rabbit generally raids children’s sweets. So watch out trick-or-treaters, the bunny is coming for you!
There is a rumour spreading like wildfire that the rabbit has rabies. Local vets suspect the gossip may be true as the bizarre origins of the beast may have caused illnesses that may affect humans. Look out everyone! You never know when a tempestuous whirlwind of rabies- infected, radioactive monsters come hammering on your door.

MYSTERY MONSTER by Alisha (10yrs)

What a peculiar creature – could the Mystery Monster be evolving so that it has more defenses against future falls?

His name is Mystery Monster because no one knows what to call him! The two pairs of ears on his head allow him to hear better and if he gets mad, smoke comes out and it sounds like a train is just beginning its journey. The towering horn is to show when he is nervous. All the spots pop out and he begins to sweat. Next, he has dirty claws, with grime caked under his nails to tear things apart, but usually used to climb on things by digging his nails into rock. His cheery smile is usually showing because he is usually happy until something bad happens or has happened. His little third foot with black dirt underneath appeared after he was born because he was dropped and then out of the blue a third foot sprouted out. It is still in the process of growing but possibly in the next one hundred years or so, it should have fully grown. Mystery Monster is kind and will help anyone who needs help and will make anyone laugh when they are sad. However, most monsters who are bigger and stronger make fun of his ability to be kind, but it doesn’t bother him.
The main thing is that he is a mystery monster and that is the most important thing in the world to him!

GREED by Lilly Mae (9yrs)

I think you’ve put us off forest walks Lilly Mae! A captivating and descriptive piece on Greed.

My monster is from a dark lonely forest by a disgusting black murky pond. My monster’s name is GREED. I must tell you what he looks like. He is a green greedy slimy monster, but you can smell him before you see him. He leaves puddles of green smelly slime beneath him as he walks. He has antennae to track who is close by. He also has a big bushy beard dripping with slime and thick brown teeth. He has very long legs and arms with claws on both, his nose is a funny triangle shape and he has eyes as red as blood with dark angry veins in them.

SALVAGE MONSTER by Zainab (9yrs)

Wow Salvage Monster is mesmerizing – it would be hard not to spot him if he ever did try driving!
Excellent creation!

My spooky, salvage monster is made up of things everyone uses in everyday life. His antlers are glistering and burnished. He also has lots of hair which kind of look like feathers. This spooky monster of mine also has popping-out, all directional eyes which are very useful to drive with, but this unique monster can not drive because he’ll just spit green, gross goo all around the car. He has a colossal, mammoth mouth and sharp, pointy teeth and a plump porty tongue. His mouth is actually a bit spiky like pipe cleaners. His body is blue with black, spotty polka-dots and he lurks near a spooky, nightmarish place called ‘Hallowed Shallows’ – he loves it there. He is not really massive like some freaky, blood-curdling monsters. His bad habits are that he spits sticky, slimy, smelly slime on people like hunters. This monster’s favourite food is green goo. He gobbles it all up in seconds and you can tell that because he is a very fussy eater and he does not eat anything else.

DECAGON THE DEMON by Humayra (9yrs)

Fantastic detailing on the Decagon, especially its glistening camouflage skin!

I named my animal Decagon because it has 10 legs and decagon means 10.
Where do they live/come from? Decagons mostly live in green places; they are camouflage in green places (as they are green themselves). It is rare to find them as they are always camouflage, that is their special ability. You can search for them at parks, fields and farms.
What do they eat? On one hand, Decagons favourite food is grass, leaves and freshly picked green grapes. On the other hand, if the grapes aren’t freshly picked and is mushy then the decagon will not eat it. The things they hate is cabbage, brussels sprouts and spinach.
What is their personality like? They are only friendly if they know you for a very long time. If you give them food that they like, then they will follow you around everywhere for more. They can tell who you are by the look and smell of you.

THORNS by Amaiya (8yrs)

Thorns sounds like an interesting, smelly, mean and ancient monster! We might be avoiding Tottenhall park from now on!

My monster is called Thorns. He is 732 years old.
He lives in an abandoned shed in a garden next to the Tottenhall park. He likes to lurk in the overgrown grass because he can camouflage himself. Whenever he is bored, he likes to jump out and scare children and dogs. Thorns hates dogs because they wee on him. But he hates children more because they try to smell his flowers. Whenever they do that, Thorns shoots tiny spiky thorns at them. Then he laughs when they start crying.
Thorns is quite large and bushy and has two spindly legs. His favourite food is apple pie which has expired and is full of green and blue mold. His teeth are black because he never bushes them. Thorns smells like rotten cabbage because he has not has a bath in 10 years. This is mainly because he likes smelling like rotten cabbage but also because his shed does not have a bath or shower.
Whenever it’s his birthday he invites his best friends called Cookie and Ikeela. They are monsters too. He does not invite anyone else because he does not like to communicate with humans and animals.

FURRY FRED by Maeve (8yrs)

We’re intrigued now – what’s behind those shiny sunglasses?

My monster is as furry as fleece blanket. He likes to go to the beach even though he gets so sweaty he faints. In the evenings he loves to sleep on the floor. Furry Fred thinks he’s a cool, funny friend but he’s actually a weird, hairy lump. He’s also a bit of a lazy lump! The foolish, funny, funky, furry friend loves to put jet black sunglasses on (even when it’s not sunny). There’s lots of weird things about the monster but one thing is nobody’s ever seen his real face because of the sunglasses. 

NINGA MONKEY by Myuri (7yrs)

Name: Ninga Monkey. Animal: Monkey. Looks like: Black, scary, dark and unusual. Likes to do: Go around at midnight swinging in the trees. Eats: Leaves and water. Lives: Doesn’t live anywhere.

Ninga Monkey is even scarier knowing we can’t avoid an encounter with him, as he doesn’t live anywhere specific!

CHERY by Myla (7yrs)

Chery is an intriguing monster – it’ll be hard to spot during the Autumn whilst the leaves are changing colour.

Name: Chery
Likes: Knights, princesses, princes
Dislikes: Wasps, bees, spiders
Family: Mum, dad, brother, little sister
Home: in corners of the forest
Eats: Mainly cucumber, tomatoes, carrots

BOGGY by Jake (8yrs)

Wow, incredible attention to detail Jake. Boggy is huge, double the height of humans!

Hi I’m Boggy. I eat mushrooms and all berries. I live in a cave close to Shrek. I like it there. I drink lake water. There are lots of trees and bushes.

SISU by Angelica (8yrs)

Name: Sisu
Birth: 19 December
Size: When angry, big. When happy, small.
Habitat: Sea

Sisu’s multi-couloured body is captivating – fantastic paint job Angelica!

MONSTER by Miiya (7yrs)

From now on, our doors will be triple-locked! A terrifying piece of writing Miiya, great job at scaring our socks off!

Boo! Did I scare you? I’m glad. Was it my vicious and yellow teeth that were as sharp as a knife? Or was it my green and ghastly three crusty eyes that are staring into your innocent soul? Well, as you stare at me, you’ll maybe realise I have bloody pink slime dripping down my dry, green forehead. However, the only place you’ll find me is in most darkest, deepest and deadly cold cave. Follow the trail of the revolting flies lead you to my dungeon of hell. Enter if you dare.
Once you enter my cave of doom, you’ll smell your rubbish that you leave out every Monday evening but what you don’t know at midnight I steal and gobble up your rotten rubbish. I celebrate my birthday on Hallowe’en so make sure you open the door when I say trick-or-treat. Boo!

NOGEL by Evie (7yrs)

Even though Nogel smells like cabbage and may splat us with goo, we’d love to feel it’s fur – the texture you’ve achieved here is brilliant!

My monster smells like cabbage.
Name: Nogel. Size: Large. 40 yrs old. 100 set of teeth.
Favourite food: Space-ghetti.
Home: In Scotland.
Bad habits: Slime trails and goo splats. Smooth fur.

CUTIE by Valentina (6yrs)

Cutie looks and sounds sweet, but she might hug us and never let go! Her grey fur looks very smooth – it would be hard to refuse a cuddle!

My monsters name is Cutie.  She has grey fur all over her and has love heart shape hands and love heart shape ears and love hearts for eyes and pink love hearts down her legs.
She is four foot tall.
She has a massive heart in her chest.
She is obsessed with loving people.
She lives a massive pink cave, covered in hearts.
Cutie loves eating heart shape chocolates and anything pink!
Her bad habit is that when she sees anyone she will run up to them, throw her love hearts shaped hands around them and plant pink kisses all over them!
Cutie smells of chocolate and strawberries!

MONSTER by Layla

It’s huge. Its favourite food is tree branches and leaves. It smells like armpit. In a cave is where it lurks. Always crying.

Your monster’s facial expression matches the description perfectly. Nice colour job Layla.

BLUEY by Ben (5yrs)

Eww old bath water! Smelly socks! Bluey has a questionable diet. Excellent colouring-in Ben.

My monster is called ‘Bluey’. He lives under the bed; he drinks old bath water and he eats smelly socks! He smells like soggy pants! Poooooo!

PENGUIN MONSTER by Noah (5yrs)

This is a penguin monster because he has penguin arms! Lol

His superpower is that he bites villains and saves the day!  He’s really good at solving mysteries and always makes sure that his family is safe. He’s the best monster ever.

Penguin Monster sounds like a noble creature – what a relief!

MR CRARH by Oscar (4yrs – helped by his daddy)

“My name is Mr Crarh, I am really smelly, and I am really green and slimy. I have no legs, but I like to slither around and watch TV every day.
Also love to get up to no good!”

Please keep Mr Crarh away from the library until he is ready to put down the TV remote and pick up a book instead!

No Privilege, Just Words – Increasing diversity in the Enfield Libraries Catalogue

Enfield Libraries have joined up with local community project Nexus Enfield to become part of their No Privilege Just Words campaign, a movement to provide more diverse reading options for young people in Enfield, particularly with regard to issues of race and racism.

The campaign was started by long time teacher Alfie Egembah, who created it in response to the murder of George Floyd in 2020 and the subsequent protests that happened across the world in response. The goal of No Privilege Just Words is to help young people of all races to “to think about race relations in an informed manner with empathy” as the Nexus project page explains.

A list of 21 books was created, with the goal of having these books available at every school library in Enfield. Nexus were able to support Alfie in this, and connected with our library service to have these books available physically in thirteen of our library branches, and able to be reserved in any branch in Enfield and The Library Consortium at large. Nexus Enfield have kindly donated over 250 books to our service, including titles from Malorie Blackman, Stuart Lawrence, and the Making History 2020 book created by local Performing Arts School ‘Platinum Performing Arts’, full of artwork created by young people in Enfield during the first year of the pandemic. Please see the full list below, as well as some of our branches displays featuring the collection.

You can visit your local branch to borrow or reserve any of these books today, or via our online catalogue, and don’t forget that reservations for under 18s are free.

The No Privilege Just Words Collection

  • I know why the caged bird sings – Maya Angelou  
  • The bluest Eye – Toni Morrison  
  • The good immigrant – Nikesh Shukla 
  • Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race – Reni Eddo Lodge  
  • We come apart – Sarah Crossan  
  • Black History matters – Robin Walker 
  • Natives – Akala  
  • Black listed – Jeffrey Boakye  
  • Slay in your Lane – Elizabeth Uviebinené & Yomi Adegoke  
  • I am thunder – Muhammad Khan  
  • Run Riot –  Nikesh Shukla 
  • All American Boys – Jason Reynolds  
  • Black leopard red wolf  – Marlon James  
  • Well Read Black Girl – Glory Edim  
  • Orange boy – Patrice Lawrence
  • Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman 
  • Knife edge – Malorie Blackman
  • Double cross – Malorie Blackman
  • Checkmate – Malorie Blackman
  • Silence is Not an Option – Stuart Lawrence
  • Making History 2020 – Platinum Performing Arts

Happy Halloween!

Welcome to the spookiest night of the year, the perfect night to sink your fangs into a chilling tale, old or new. Lucky for us, then, that some of our staff decided to put together a few Enfield Libraries-related scary stories. Some of us will have a few more goosebumps going into work in the morning!

Spooky, Magical Libraries: A Small Anthology of Stories and Poems

Please enjoy these short stories written by our staff members for Halloween, these events may have been inspired by true events… or they may have not. We will let you decide.

Paranormal Palmers Green

For those who come by Palmers Green on a regular basis they might think of the library and its bright colours, the sounds of people and children searching for books. This is a pleasant atmosphere and for the most part this is how the library is. However, what would you say if I told you a friendly ghost, we think, resides within these bookended walls?

This is the tale of the hand dryer ghost who has been with us for many years now, we call him Dave. Dave’s not a very talkative chap, he mostly likes to be left alone and minds his own business. This suits us just fine although on occasion we can hear him playing the hand driers as we are about to lock up for the day, when nobody is in the bathrooms. He tends to only do it on the ground floor, going back and forth between the staff and customer bathrooms. It was a bit odd at first but we got used to Dave!

You can also hear him on an early morning, as we are preparing to open the library, walking around upstairs. What could he be up to? We all wondered about it, the consensus seems to that he is browsing for books just like everyone else. After all, who said ghosts can’t read!? We think he prefers Adult non fiction the most.

Magical Bowes Road

Bowes is a rather magical place. A small little library all wood and tall shelves, you can easily lose track of time in your own little world while there. It is such a cozy little library that even animals wish to join in on the fun! We had Jerry the fox, Alice the cat and Berry the squirrel! Jerry was a shy little fox, he had built up the courage to come in the library and browse about but when it came down to borrowing he got so scarred that he couldn’t talk to me at first. Alice visits us more often, but most unfortunately we had to bar her from the library as she argued with a fellow cat about the best way to enjoy milk. The we have Berry, who actually used to live upstairs. An elderly lady, she was very energetic and would keep the Brownies company in the attic company. We have been wondering if they are the reason for our furry friends paying us visits. Regardless of the reason, there is magic in the air that’s for sure.

Eerie Winchmore Hill

It was an eery winters night, the sun had set hours before and the coldness was drawing in to the library.

My colleague had finished their shift early that evening, leaving me with the regular customers and my thoughts.

An hour before close, the last customer had decided to brave the weather and head home early.

I decided to catch up on my emails, doing what I could to pass the time, keeping an eye out to greet any late comers.

That’s when I heard it, footsteps behind me, someone was coming down the stairs.

I leant back in my chair to see if the lights were on in the gym down the corridor., they were always working late.

But it was dark

No one had walked in, the front doors hadn’t opened

I turned round to face the door to the stairs

The footsteps reached the bottom

And the door did not open.

I was alone. Or was I?

9 Books that fans of Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ should read this Halloween

It’s late evening, you’re visiting your local library on the way home from work to return some books that are about to go overdue. It’s been a long, tiring day because you were up all of last night binging the brand new Netflix show Squid Game, and you’ve paid for it by not getting nearly enough sleep. As you walk up to the self-service kiosk to do your returns you see a small black box in the card reader slot. Before you hand it in to the Librarian at the desk you go ahead and open it, curious about what could possibly be inside.

You see this:

What do you do?


Happy Halloween from Enfield Libraries! Like everyone else we’ve seen and heard the Internet’s excitement over Squid Game, and many of us have seen and enjoyed it too. After binging something so thrilling and scary that has you constantly on the edge of your seat it’s only natural to look for more of the same. So we had the thought: what are some books available in our library catalogue that you should absolutely borrow if you’re a fan of the show and looking for something with similar themes.

1. ’20th Century Boys’ by Naoki Urasawa

While the premise is not the same by any means, 20th Century Boys and Squid Game share similar themes and motifs: games from childhood being twisted into something much more sinister, a charismatic main character who is down on his luck, and a mysterious masked figure at the centre of the mystery. The manga series by internationally-acclaimed artist Naoki Urasawa follows the story of a group of childhood friends who find that a growing cult led by a mysterious man known only as ‘Friend’ is replicating events that they created in a book they created as children that they named ‘The Book of Prophecy’. Highly recommended for comic and manga fans, and fans of thrillers and mysteries.

2. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

We know, we know, you probably read this in school and found it boring or difficult, but hear us out. Just like Squid Game, Lord of the Flies is about the human condition, our survival and animal instincts, and the propensity that some have towards violence once normal societal rules are out the window. Give it a go with those things in mind, and we’re sure you’ll notice the similarities.

3. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

A famous short story by prolific horror author Shirley Jackson, The Lottery is about a small, fictional town where once a year a member of the community is chosen by chance. What do they win as a result of being chosen? You’ll need to read to find that out, won’t you?

4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The immediate comparison people make when discussing Squid Game is to The Hunger Games, a defining trilogy in the world of dystopian YA fiction, as well as an acclaimed movie franchise. The trilogy follows the story of teenage protagonist Katniss Everdeen and the fictional country of Panem where every year children from 12 districts are selected to take part in a televised battle royale known as ‘The Hunger Games’. Despite it being aimed at a teenage audience the books have been praised by adults and young people alike, so don’t let the ‘Young Adult’ tag put you off, if you’re interested in dystopian fiction we would recommend it.

5. Battle Royale by Takami Koushun

While mainstream audiences immediately made a comparison between Squid Game and The Hunger Games, manga readers’ minds instantly went to the equally gruesome Battle Royale. The first and only novel to be written by author Takami Koushun, Battle Royale takes place in a fictional, fascist version of Japan where everything considered “immoral” and “rebellious” is outlawed. The government creates a military program wherein fifty high school students are kidnapped, brought to a remote island and forced to kill each other until one student emerges as the winner. Like in Squid Game we get to see different characters and their way of handling the situation, how some try to hide while others take to violence immediately and so on. The novel was massively well received and turned into a manga series and a film that even gained a sequel.

6. The Running Man by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)

One man participating in a reality show in which contestants are chased by the general public. If they kill him, they get a huge prize. Another examination of human violence and the lengths people will go to for money when they are desperate. If you’ve seen the movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger it’s almost nothing like it, far more bleak and closer in tone to something like Squid Game.

7. The Long Walk by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)

Another one of King’s Bachman novels, and also taking place in a dystopian version of the US, the Long Walk follows the contestants of a brutal annual “walking contest” where contestants who fall slower than a certain speed are killed, and the last one standing receives a huge sum of money.

8. 100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello

While the previous few recommendations have a very similar premise to Squid Game, 100 bullets isn’t quite the same, but like Squid Game it shows you the lives of various people who have been made victims and are presented with the means and the opportunity to exact violent revenge. There is no prize, and they are by no means forced to accept, and those that do don’t always find happiness with their choices. 100 Bullets is lauded as a “must-read” series in the world of graphic novels and has won multiple awards.

9. Future Diary by Esuno Sakae

This last recommendation is a little more fantastical and, quite frankly, weirder than the rest, especially if you’re not an avid manga reader, but since it’s Halloween we couldn’t make a list without some supernatural horror thrown in! Twelve contestants are entered into a battle royale known as ‘the Diary Game’ and given access to different types of diaries that can read the future. The game is created by an entity called Deus Ex Machina, the God of Time and Space, and the last surviving player is set to become his successor. Oh, and to prevent the apocalypse. Of course.

We’d love to hear if you decide to read any of these, if you already have, or if you would recommend other books! Be sure to comment below or on our social media pages to let us know!

Design Your Own Wild Animal Competition – Summer Reading Challenge 2021

A banner showing this year’s Summer Reading Challenge theme – Wild World Heroes

The Summer Reading Challenge may be over for another year, but before we say goodbye altogether, we’re casting our mind back to mid-July when Enfield Libraries put out the call for the wildest, wackiest creature creations that the young people of Enfield could offer. We thought we would get some great designs, but nothing could prepare us for just how creative and brilliant all of our young readers are! It was a tough decision trying to pick a winner – so tough, in fact, that we ended up with two instead of one!

An image of our poster for the Wild Animal Design competition

What did they win?

In keeping with this year’s summer reading challenge message of animal conservation, being environmentally conscious, and taking care of the wild world around us we opted for a slightly different form of prize than usual. For both this and our Review Writing competition Enfield Libraries would be gifting the winners an animal adoption from WWF, the world’s leading animal conservation charity organisation and the partner for this year’s reading challenge.

Our winners will be receiving a year’s worth of pictures, cards, updates and information on their chosen animal which they will be able to collect from their local library. All of our winners have been informed of their prizes and picked their animals, and are very excited about them!

So, who won it?

Without further ado, our winners for the Design Your Own Wild Animal competiton are:

Chris and Amina!

Well done to you both! Chris wowed us with his super cool ‘Bloodfaced Parrot Octopus’ while Amina really impressed us with the cleverness of her ‘Trial’. Both winners were given the chance to adopt an animal, and Chris went for the bottle-nose dolphin while Amina chose the elephant. Congratulations to both our winners, and we hope you never stop creating!

Finally, a massive thank you to all of our entrants, we loved your designs so much and were so impressed by your creativity and knowledge of animals! You can view all of the submissions and read their descriptions in the gallery below!

Book Review Competition Recommendations!

Summer is coming to an end but remember, reading isn’t just for summer holidays, it’s for all year round! We’ve gathered all your fantastic book reviews and popped them into this blog post to help you choose your next read. If you have any more suggestions, be sure to comment them here!

Betul reviewed Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway by Jeff Kinney (reserve here)

Here’s what Betul had to say about it:

“I have to start by saying how much I loved and enjoyed reading this book. Even though there were some parts that went very slow, I really enjoyed the general topic of this book – it was both adventurous and hilarious. I think one of the many reasons as to why I liked this book is that it is the perfect weather and season to be set in, which makes it so realistic for me. It also allows me to dive into the book without any distractions. Now that I have written about my review on this book, I’d like to move on to a summary consisting of a paragraph or two.

It all starts on a December evening when Greg and his family come across an advert for a tropical island. They decide to go right away. A couple of days in paradise and the entire family are exhausted. Various things happened that prevented the family from enjoying their holiday. Finally, the trip is saved by dad’s genius plan to have fun, one last time.”

Betul rated this book ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5!

If you’ve read this one, why not let us know if you agree with this review in the comments?

Georgina reviewed Bing by Ted Dewan (check out the books here)

Georgina said:

“I like the pictures. It is for 4, 6-year-old who can’t read and write.

It made me hungry. Bing’s been chewing toys all day. It is funny.”

We think that sounds like a fantastic story!

Nihit read The Back Garden Build by Jonathan Litton (reserve it here)

Nihit’s review says:

“My favourite character is Miss Gizmo because she’s helpful. She made a bird bath and a roof which was very kind and thoughtful. She helps the kids to make a new kid garden. Suzy and Max were working very hard to fix their garden with Miss Gizmo’s tools. At the end, they managed to build a swing, the seesaw and the slide and they had lots of fun.”

Nihit rated this book ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5!

Sounds like a lovely story and matches the Wild World Hero theme for the Summer Reading Challenge!

Nihal’s book review was for The Scarecrows’ Wedding by Julia Donaldson (reserve this title here)

This is what Nihal thought of the story:

“My favourite character is Betty and Harry because they scare lots of scarecrow every day. And they make a list and Harry got some flowers in dozen, he had got some white feathers shells with necklace bells and two rings. They managed to get the feathers from the geeses to make a dress. They managed to get the bells from the cows. They managed to get the shells from crabs. They managed the bee took some of the flowers. The mices found 2 rings in the bin and gave it to Harry. It a good teamwork for Betty got married, never happened that before.

I don’t like that it is the scarecrows Reginald Rake because he got some fat cigar and he make a smoke from Betty’s knee. But Harry gets some water and he ran and hurried up and he poured the water and Harry saved her life because he is a hero. Then Harry and Betty start for wedding but the snail is too late and he was so slow.”

Nihal rated this book ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5!

Julie Donaldson is one of our favourites too!

Jing Yi reviewed Rose Campion and the Curse of the Doomstone by Lyn Gardner (reserve it here)

The review says:

“Everything is a mystery in little Rose Champion’s eyes. Curses. Dooms. Deaths. If you like mystery books then you’ll definitely like this one. Staged in Victorian London, this is the 2nd book of the series where she lives in Champions Palace of variety and wonders. It opens its doors to the famous Gandini, a stage magician ready to do one of his biggest acts yet. However, the Doomstone diamond, with a horrific history, gets stolen and the Champions Palace is in despair. Will Rose and her friends dig up the secrets and uncover everything? Will unexpected twists be unlocked? There is more to the theft than meets the eye…

This book is part of a series and you must read the first one to enjoy this one even more. Lyn Gardner published this on the 2nd February 2017. The reading age is 9-12 however in my opinion the language used is vivid and detailed so this book can never be overage or underage. The language made me instantly fall into the book however the excess of language can make the story plot quite confusing for some readers. I also think the end wasn’t interesting but overall really great.

I particularly liked the fact that the main character is a young girl with high ambitions in society, many people underestimate young girls and women making opportunities harder. Girls and women can be whoever they desire to be. Since the book is written in first person you can put yourself in Rose’s shoes. Also the historical setting, people know what it was like in the Victorian era so it gives off a posh feeling.

So summing it up, this book is practically amazing, the plot, murder and action can be breath-taking. I just love that the main character is a courageous girl as we don’t see that a lot. Since I’m a girl I can relate. Anyone who is into murder and mystery can read this book!

‘…perhaps you need to look less hard to see the truth’ – Rose Campion Page 139”

Jing Yi rated this book ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5!

What a fantastic review, will you be adding this book to your ‘to be read’ list?

Jingwen reviewed Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison (reserve it here)

Here’s what Jingwen thought:

“Hii! My book review is about a book called little leaders: bold women in black history by Vashti Harrison, a wonderful woman with a passion for telling stories. This book is about black women and it’s dedicated to them, because they’re bold, brave and hardworking, with also having to deal with heaps and heaps of racism, and is still goes on, yes racism! Still goes on in this world. I think it’s pathetic. Starting with the marvellous Mary Prince and signing off with lucky Lorna Simpson. So what are we waiting for?

My favourite part: Althea Gibson- 1927-2003

Althea was very sporty and loved to stay active. She was very gifted. At her time most sports were unfortunately segregated but fear not, Althea still found many other sports! At 14 she found tennis. At 15 she won a championship for juniors!”

Jingwen rated this book ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5!

We highly recommend this book too, we’re so glad you liked it!

Liang-Tao read Head Kid by David Baddiel (reserve it here)

Liang-Tao says:

“In the story there’s a head teacher called Mr Fawcett and he retires but then these is a new head teacher called Mr Carter. Mr Carted wants to turn the school around because the school the school inspectors are coming in a week but there’s a big problem, Ryan Ward the prankster.

When Ryan pulled a prank he got sent to the head’s office and there was a box on the table, a flash then they passed out. They woke up and Ryan was in the headmaster’s body and Mr Carter in Ryan’s body.

Notice: so this doesn’t get confusing, when I say Ryan I mean Mr Carter in Ryan’s body and Mr Carter is Ryan in Mr Carter’s body.

They were confused what happened but they still saw each other.

Mr carter has ideas for different school meals but when all the fun is happening the school inspectors come and see all this and they give Mr Cater 1 more week.

Mr Cater does a debate with the best school then they draw and the school goes from the worst ranking to the best.”

Liang-Tao rates this book ⭐⭐⭐/5!

Sounds like a complicated plot! Have you read this one? Do you agree with the rating?

Kayden read Pokémon: Aloha Adventures (reserve it here)

Here’s what Kayden had to say:

“I really enjoyed reading this book. My favourite character is Ash. The best part is when Ash got his new friends, the not so good part was when Ash lost his trials. I hope other people will get the book and read it.”

Kayden rates this book ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5!

Pokémon always gets 5 stars from us, would you agree?

Maija read I Wish I’d Been Born a Unicorn by Rachel Lyon (reserve it here)

Maija’s review of the book says:

“I thought why does he want to be a unicorn.

Macky is a horse and he wants to be a unicorn because he is smelly and has no friends.

I would recommend it because is nice, good and amazing.”

Maija rates this book ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5!

Do you wish you’d been born a unicorn? This story sounds very exciting!

Lili reviewed Murder on the Safari Star by M.G.Leonard & Sam Sedgman (reserve it here)

Lili says:

“(suitable for 9+)

The Adventures on trains series are a mystery filled triplet of books. They include theft and kidnap. The main character Harrison Beck (or Hal) and his trusty sketchbook help solve all the mysteries in ways no one could imagine! These three plot-twist-filled books are:

The Highland Falcon thief

The kidnap on the California Comet

Murder on the Safari Star

Hal loves going on train journeys with Uncle Nat. Wonderfully illustrated and available at Enfield Town Library. I loved these books because they made me really thoughtful and entranced. Anyone who is a crime-scene adventure lover should read this. If looking for a book that makes you want to read on, this is the one.”

Lili rates this book ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5!

What a great recommendation, we love a good series!

Thank you so much to everyone that submitted a review, hopefully these have inspired you to pick up some of these stories! We hope you enjoyed your Summer Reading Challenge this year, we can’t wait for next year…

A special congratulations to Jingwen for winning our random prize draw and getting to adopt an animal through the WWF, we’ll be in contact with you directly!

A warm welcome to Essex & Thurrock Libraries, the latest to join The Libraries Consortium!

Harwich Library, part of Essex and Thurrock Library Service

Essex & Thurrock libraries have now joined the largest library consortium in the UK, which means literary material – in all formats – can be shared far and wide between member libraries. We connected with our most distant library cousin, who are over 99km away from our flagship Enfield Town Library, to find out how the staff and customers felt about becoming a member of The Libraries Consortium (TLC). Harwich is the most northern coastal town within Essex, lucky enough to have a beautiful beach and rolling countryside nearby. Harwich Library itself is situated in the centre of the small town of Dovercourt and takes pride in being a friendly and welcoming community library. They also have nine primary schools within their catchment area and enjoy a close rapport with each of them.


Enfield’s libraries have already started to notice an increase in library stock being transferred to the Essex & Thurrock branches in order to fulfil reservations, and it is brilliant to see this kind of uptake. Read an interesting case study on Stronger co-ordination and partnership working with the London Libraries Consortium on GOV.UK. Essex alone is a huge county managing a whopping 74 libraries! Kay, the Senior Customer Services Officer of Harwich Library says, ‘we are excited to have joined The Library Consortium and our customers are already feeding back to us how pleased they are to be able to reap the benefits of sharing further stock’. It is quite incredible that so many libraries are connecting in this way, with couriers transporting stock at least once a week between branches, it goes to show libraries really do go the extra (proverbial and literal) mile!
Staying on theme, we asked Kay from Harwich library to share a memorable experience of when she went the extra mile for a customer and she was delighted to share this touching story of discovery and their inclusive Dyslexia Friendly collection:

Harwich Library’s Dyslexia Friendly section

“We have a small Dyslexia Friendly section in the library which has a bright and eye-catching header and it has proved its weight in gold.  I have had countless conversations with parents and children who have spotted the header and who were previously unaware that such books existed.  I have a heart-warming example of the time that I spotted a young girl who was sitting on her own in the corner of the children’s library and didn’t want to join the Summer Reading Challenge.  After taking the time to chat to her about various things I asked her why she didn’t want to join in and she explained she found it very difficult to read words as she has an eye condition which means the words jump about the page.  Her twin brother was also slightly autistic and found it hard to concentrate.  Neither had joined SRC previously and had always sat back and watched their peers go up in school assemblies to proudly show off their certificates and gold medals.  Together with their Mum I showed them the Barrington Stokes dyslexia books and it was amazing to see their faces light up when they realized they could read the different typefaces.  They signed up for SRC for the first time and  the pride on their faces when they completed the Challenge was amazing.  Their Mum had tears in her eyes and thanked me so much for taking five minutes of my time to make her children feel included and which had literally opened up their reading world to them again.  The twins found a new confidence and discovered their love of reading again and are regular users of our library. Whenever I see them, they always give me a cheery wave and I always remind myself that such a small thing to me made such a big difference to others.”

Hey Craft! – Celebrating our #LibraryStaffCrafts!

The UK Crafts Council are spotlighting a series of events between the 14th and 16th of May this year as part of the nationwide Get Creative Festival and Mental Health Awareness Week. We’ve planned some exciting craft activities for people of all ages to participate in, as well as a collaboration with the wonderful AmazeLab who have designed a wonderful STEM-based craft for children centred around this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme: nature. Get involved with them now on our YouTube Channel and be sure to share with us how you get on (once you’re done with this blog, of course!)

All this talk of crafts, creativity, and mental health got us thinking: since the start of the pandemic and people spending less and less time outside of their homes many of us may have used some creative hobbies to help us cope or picked up something brand new to keep ourselves occupied. So we asked some of our staff and volunteers to share their #LibraryStaffCrafts with us and show off some of their creative exploits. Keep reading to see just how talented Enfield Libraries staff are (as if you didn’t know already!) and please send us your creations via our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram! We’d love to see just how creative our readers are.

Jurgita – Knitting and Crochet

Prior to the pandemic, Jurgita ran the Knitting and Crochet Club at Ordnance Unity Centre Library, who would meet on Thursday mornings each week to chat and work on their projects. Jurgita has also recently had a new baby, and has been using her amazing knitting and crochet skills to make some beautiful things for her and baby over the last year. Pictured above is a table runner, table mats, a storage box and blanket, laundry basket, a dress made for her maternity photoshoot, storage baskets for the baby’s room, and some adorable baby hats!

Chloe – Sewing

“Here are some wall hangings I made, definitely found it a good way to destress during the first lockdown after working on the phonelines all day! I basically cut all the shapes out of felt and then sewed them on… I’m now trying to get into making my own clothes and finding The Dressmaking Book very helpful!”

Shamima – Painting, drawing, collage, design


“I really enjoy decorating and embellishing items, so creating canvas collages and designing wooden boxes are my favourite things to do. I find that I can loosen up and not think much about what I am doing, I can just let go and have fun with it. Also, it just helps me to destress or relax my mind and at the end of it, I feel a sense of accomplishment that I created something pretty. I do like to draw sometimes but I am a beginner and very impatient, so I do less of that, but I have added my version of Rapunzel.”

Yasmin – Jewellery Making

“I make ceramic jewellery from white stone clay and then paint each piece with watercolour and gouache – I like the fact that each piece turns out a little different!”

Oxana – Furniture DIY

Oxana recently accomplished this DIY project that she says has been waiting to be done since 2004! She is very pleased with the end result, and we can’t help but agree! Not to mention, there’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishing something that you’ve been waiting a long time to do.

Brian – Tapestry and Cross-stitch


Brian shared beautiful pictures of two stitching projects, a blanket (left) and bookmark (right). He says: “I do tapestry and cross-stitch. Stitching can be a form of meditation and the repetitive nature of some stitching can help me ‘zone out’ and silence all the ‘noise’ of daily life. It can also be a bit of a conversation starter when I’m out and about.”

Kerry – Pet furniture DIY / WW2 Re-enactment DIY

“Onyx is almost 16, and although she is still ardently pursuing squirrels on the park patrol, she has for the last few weeks struggled to get up and down on to the sofa.
She loves her sofa snuggles, and I couldn’t bear to watch her struggle, or think about her possibly getting injured at home whilst I was at work. So I built a dog ramp, 1 metre long. I used a recycled kitchen work top for the ramp incline, and odd bits of timber I had hoarded from last year. Sourced the industrial rubber flooring to give her some grip (even with wet paws) and away she went. She is still getting used to using it, stubborn as Onyx is she still opts for a jump first then settles for a plod up the ramp. I love to build and create things for the simple pleasure of it, but this was a project very close to my heart, and gives me some peace of mind while I’m at work that she won’t be trying anything heroic while I’m gone.”
(Some of you may recognise Onyx from our #FridayFluff posts from last summer!)

“As a WW2 Re-enactor for a few years, I really wanted the next event I attended to be as a living history display.

As the lockdown stopped all events for the season last year, I put a lot of physical energy in creating a small checkpoint outpost. It helped keep me sane and gave me logistical problems to overcome in my confinement (Clinically Extremely Vulnerable). It was a great boon keeping me physically and mentally active. I am fairly sure that I would have gone stark raving bonkers without the project to work on.

The barriers were hand made from scratch drawings. The timber used was salvaged from a neighbours DIY project gone wrong.

This design was not the original they started out as, the first were too bulky and a bit wobbly, so I modified them in to smaller, sturdier versions. 

To anchor the legs to a set position, I used hemp rope instead of the favoured chain most people go for, using the rope kept in with the period for wartime as most checkpoints were cobbled together with whatever was to hand, rope being easily found in any quarter masters store, and generally found even in remote areas without too much trouble.

The bar was an absolute beast to paint in equal quadrants, particularly being a plastic drain pipe. I settled on red and white, as these colours were mostly used on the Homefront. Paint does not hold too well on it, even plastic specific paint but I persevered. It now showcases an authentic used look about it as an original would have done.

The halt and MP checkpoint signs, were again scraps of timber salvaged from various different sources. They were stencilled using the really handy chalkboard white pens and then stained and waterproofed using a specific varnish used on yachts to help them survive the great outdoors.

As a re-enactor the only thing you can be certain of in a British summer is a downpour.”

Jackie – Scrapbooks, Jewellery making, and resin crafts

“I participated in the January Challenge run by 64 Million Artist this year to train myself out of that awful perfectionist mindset that if you’re not immediately good at something you shouldn’t do it. I had a scrapbook full of all my different projects, successes and failures alike, but looking at all the people online talking about their craft supplies and things got me excited to try my hand at jewellery making! I have a lot of earrings and necklaces that I’ve been meaning to fix or change for years now, so what better time to start than now? So far I’m having a lot of fun with fixing things and making potion bottles because of my fantasy nerd, dungeons and dragons playing brain, but I’m excited to see what other things I can make!”

Comment below and let us know which project was your favourite, and the creative things you’ve been working on this past year!

World Book Night 2021

It’s World Book Night! This year’s theme is ‘Books to Make You Smile’, and we have gathered a few recommendations from our staff to celebrate the occasion.

There is a myriad of reasons why a book can make you smile. Anything from childhood favourites to new discoveries, they contain quotes that lift the spirits, can make you cry with laughter, or just make you feel seen, amongst many other things. Here’s a small selection of some of the books that have made us smile:

Edwina:

I love Stephen Fry’s retelling of the ancient Greek myths, especially in audiobook format. Fry approaches the themes of the human condition with such eloquence and a lively and humorous delivery of the stories. Mythos makes the psychological dimensions of the selected myths easy to follow, visualise and enjoy particularly if you like Fry’s droll sense of humour!

George:

My choice has to be Flann O’Brien’s ‘The Third Policeman’ which always makes me smile, if only for the ‘Rules of Wisdom’ which have taught me how to deal with life’s more administrative problems…. And a simplified guide to the Atomic Theory, what more useful guide to life could there be.

Jackie:

Title: Love in Colour

Author: Bolu Babalola

Love in Colour is a collection of love stories from mythologies around the world retold, taking some of the most well-known tropes about love in storytelling and modernising them or approaching them from a different perspective. I’ve got such a soft-spot for really sweet, heartwarming love stories and this book delivers 100 per cent!

Suzanne:

All the lonely people by Mike Gayle:

The timing of this book is very relevant, as one of its central themes is loneliness, and it was published during lockdown last year.

The story centres on an 84-year-old man called Hubert Bird, who is part of the Windrush generation. Hubert lives a lonely life but for the sake of his daughter who lives in Australia, he pretends that he has an active social life with lots of friends. With the arrival of a new neighbour who is determined to befriend Hubert, life starts to change for him in ways he could never have imagined.

The plot moves back and forth in time, from Hubert’s arrival in the UK to the present day and you experience a rollercoaster of emotions along the way. Ultimately though, it is an uplifting story about the power of community and friendship, which leaves you feeling hopeful for the future, and we all need that in these strange times.

Sylva:

I really love character focused books, no matter what genre they are in. My favourites usually contain great, dynamic, hilarious friendships, so books like Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which features best friends Karou and Zuzanna, and Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet which follows a motley crew of friends across space, both sit fairly high on my list of recommendations to anyone who wants to have a permanent grin on their face while reading.

Another favourite of mine is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, which introduces us to Cath, one half of a set of twins who heads off to college and is immediately thrown into sharing a dorm with a stranger. Cath wants to be a writer, and has a large online following for her fanfiction Carry On, which Cath co-wrote with her twin sister, Wren. Cath has crippling social anxiety and doesn’t make friends easily, which makes the friendships she does make all the more endearing. Her relationships with her room mate Reagan, and Reagan’s ex-boyfriend/best friend Levi makes me smile whenever I re-read it- and now there is a manga adaptation, I can experience a new angle to one of my favourite books. Also, Fangirl introduced me to the concept of an ‘Emergency Dance Party’, which I won’t elaborate on- you will just have to read it to find out for yourself!

We always yearn for more recommendations, so would be delighted to hear about the books that make YOU smile. Drop us a comment here or on our other social media to let us know what titles you would suggest for us to read!

Enfield’s favourite children’s authors – International Children’s Book Day 2021

It’s international children’s book day, a celebration of stories for children all over the world that coincides with the birthday of Hans Christian Andersen, famous for stories that have inspired dozens of retellings and even films (The Little Mermaid and Frozen to name two of the most famous).

To join in with the celebrations, we wanted to look at some of Enfield’s favourite children’s authors and titles and find out just what children in Enfield are reading.

First off, we spoke to some of our young readers to find out what their favourite books and authors are while they came in to pick up reservations! Some of the titles we were told are:

Kitchen disco by Clare Foges
Boy at the back of the class by Onjali Q. Raúf
Charlie and the chocolate factory by Roald Dahl
Horrid Henry (series) by Francesca Simon
Artemis Fowl (series) by Eoin Colfer
My Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi

We also gathered up some stats to create a top 10 children’s authors in Enfield Libraries as of March 2021. This means children’s authors whose books are most regularly borrowed from our Libraries. If you’re familiar with children’s books you’ll know these authors for sure, but there may be some lesser-known titles by them that you haven’t picked up! If you find any author in particular catches your interest, be sure to click on their name and see which of their titles we have in our online catalogue.

Our Top Ten Most Borrowed Children’s Authors

(As of March 2021)

10. Holly Webb

Holly Webb is a prolific middle-grade author whose books have been translated into 31 different languages. The majority of her work is Animal Stories, and any young animal lover is sure to find a Holly Webb novel that they will enjoy, but there are also the Maisie Hitchins mysteries, and Emily Feather or Rose for fans of magic and fantasy.

9. Caryl Hart

Caryl Hart has written a lot of picture books. her Whiffy Wilson books may be the ones you know her best for, especially if you’ve attended any of our Storytime and Play sessions, but we’re really into her latest release Meet the Oceans and last year’s Meet the Planets, perfect for mini-explorers to learn more about Earth’s oceans and the solar system!

8. David Walliams

An author who does not stay on the shelves for long, if you asked any one of our staff who one of the most borrowed authors in our libraries was David Walliams would be one of the first names you’re given. It would feel a bit silly recommending his books since we’re sure you know them, but you may not have seen Blob his World Book Day book from 2017, or his picture books for younger readers like Little Monsters or The Slightly Annoying Elephant.

7. Lauren Holowaty

Don’t be surprised if you don’t recognise the name Lauren Holowaty, a lot of her books don’t tend to have her name easily visible, but you’ll know her books once you search her name on the catalogue. If you’ve ever seen or borrowed a Peppa Pig book, a Hey Duggee book, even Transformers or Sesame Street – there’s a good chance that’s a Lauren Holowaty title. So if your little one has a favourite TV show or game but you can’t get them as excited about books, maybe see if there’s a book version of it in our catalogue.

6. Francesca Simon

Speaking of TV shows and books, next up on our list is the creator of the infamous Horrid Henry. I once had a parent who was a regular at Winchmore Hill Library tell me she was so conflicted because her son loved to read the Horrid Henry books…but he was also picking up some bad behaviour as well! So if you’re a bit worried about creating something horrid in your own home, a good compromise could be the Horrid Henry joke books or fact books, as well as her many other chapter and picture books (we’re fans of the Mortal Gods series!)

5. Kes Gray

Another Storytime and Play favourite, we love Oi Frog! in Enfield Libraries and clearly parents and children love it too! Kes Gray has so many great Picture Books and middle-grade fiction titles it’s hard to recommend just a few, but Daisy and the Trouble with Unicorns just came out last month, so what better time than now for your child to get into the series?

4. Michael Morpurgo

A classic favourite of children and adults alike, many of us probably remember reading Michael Morpurgo books in school. A prolific author, Morpurgo has been writing for children since the mid-late 70s and his stories are still clearly resonating with children today. Keep an eye out for his two upcoming titles The Birthday Duck and A Song of Gladness coming out this month!

3. Adam Blade

Beast Quest, Sea Quest, Space Wars, Team Hero…the list of Adam Blade books and series seems almost endless! These short, action-packed reads are always popular among young action and fantasy fans, and a good way to get more reluctant readers interested in books as they are easier reads. There are multiple series within each so it’s hard to recommend a starting point, so browse through the online catalogue with your child, see which books grab their interest and go from there!

2. Daisy Meadows

Similarly to the Adam Blade books, if you’ve got a massive fan of animals, fairies, and…honestly anything you can think of at home there are a plethora of Daisy Meadows titles to choose from! Does your child like coding? Try Cara the Coding Fairy! What about horses? There’s Helena the Horseriding Fairy! What about music? Well there’s Melodie the Music Fairy or Ellie the Guitar Fairy or…you get the picture.

1. Julia Donaldson

Our number 1 most borrowed author in Enfield Libraries is Julia Donaldson! If you can cast your mind to our massive 20th Birthday Party for the Gruffalo at Enfield Town Library it will be evident that the works of Julia Donaldson are well loved in the borough, and never stay on our library shelves for long! While she is well loved for her picture books like What the Ladybird Heard, Zog, and of course The Gruffalo she has board books, early reader books, chapter books, plays, and so much more under her belt, so whatever age your children are there’s almost certainly a Donaldson title they can enjoy!

International Women’s Day 2021: a Women in SFF special!

It is no secret that I am an unabashed fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I extol its virtues to all I meet, and use this blog partly as a way of enticing people into picking up a book in the genre they might not have previously considered. So, on International Women’s Day 2021, I would love to take the opportunity to introduce you to some of my favourite female SFF authors!

Samantha Shannon: author of The Priory of the Orange Tree, a high fantasy, ‘feminist retelling of the St George and the Dragon’ legend, and The Bone Season series- an alternative London where not only are clairvoyants widely known about, but are hunted and persecuted. I’ve recently finished the fourth book in the series and each book has managed to get even better- even if the last chapter destroyed me!

Leigh Bardugo: author of Ninth House, which delves into the (fictional) occult activities of Yale University’s secret societies, and the Grishaverse series, comprising of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, the Six of Crows duology, the King of Scars duology and two short story collections, The Language of Thorns and The Lives of Saints. Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows have recently been adapted for Netlix, and is due for release in April. These are some of my favourite books so I am looking forward to seeing them on screen.

Laini Taylor: author of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, and the Strange the Dreamer duology. I’m not kidding when I say that Laini Taylor is one of my favourite authors of all time. Her writing is beautiful, it weaves a tapestry of magic that draws you in and entwines you with the story. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was my introduction to her work, and it follows Karou, art student and assistant to Brimstone at his magical shop- the door of which is in our Prague, and the rest of which is Elsewhere, as she makes startling discoveries about herself.

V.E. Schwab: author of a large back catalogue of books across Junior fiction, Young Adult and Adult fiction, including the fantastic Shades of Magic trilogy, the Villains series and her latest, The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue. Shades of Magic absolutely stole my heart and kept it racing from the first page to the last of the trilogy. A Gathering of Magic, first in the series, introduces us to the four alternative Londons, and to Kell, one of the last Antari, who travels between them.

Sabaa Tahir: author of the Ember in the Ashes quartet. Ember is the first in the series, and her writing is so effective that you feel the danger that our heroine Laia faces, and the fear she feels, as she is taken as a slave to serve the cruel and sadistic Commandant at Blackcliff Academy. Thrilling from start to finish, I am looking forward to reading the rest of the quartet!

Tomi Adeyemi: author of Children of Blood and Bone, the first in her Legacy of Orisha series. Inspired by her Nigerian heritage and African mythology, the series follows Zélie as she fights to bring magic back to the land of Orisha, accompanied by her brother Tsain and Amari, a runaway princess. I practically inhaled the first book, and the sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, is firmly on my list of books to read next.

Nnedi Okorafor: author of the Binti trilogy, amongst an impressive back catalogue including Lagoon, Who Fears Death, and her latest, Remote Control. I was introduced to her work through a short story, ‘Mother of Invention‘- available to read online, which hooked me. I am currently reading (and loving) Binti, the story of a Himba girl who travels to Oomza University, a prestigious school on a distant planet, to study mathematics with the best in the universe. On the way, Binti’s ship is attacked and she is left the sole survivor amongst the terrifying Meduse, but comes to an agreement with the attackers as she learns their story.

Becky Chambers: author of the Wayfarers series. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is the first in the series, and is a much loved story of found family in space. It is what I would call gentle Sci-fi; the science isn’t overbearing, it’s just a part of the fabric of the book. The main draw, at least for me, lies in the motley crew of the Wayfarer, who find love, defend each other and face loss together as they journey across space. Believe me when I say that part of the ending is gut wrenching, and yes, it made me cry. Have tissues handy! A Closed and Common Orbit is the second in the series, which is 4 books long plus a novella, and I am very much looking forward to reading it.

Katherine Arden: author of the Winternight Trilogy. This is one book I will recommend over and over, because it is just sublime. Inspired by Russian folklore, The Bear and the Nightingale follows Vasya, a precocious girl who can see and talk to house and nature spirits, as she fights to protect her home from an ancient evil.

Maggie Stiefvater: author of The Raven Cycle. Four boys on the hunt for a sleeping ancient Welsh king in Virginia, USA, and a girl from a family of psychics, with no psychic ability of her own, who is determined not to fall in love; because if she kisses her true love, he will die. What follows is a thrilling story of a magical forest, a dreamer who can bring objects and even ravens out of their dreams into the real world, and the quest for a king that binds them. The series only gets better after this!

The two that started it all: Robin McKinley‘s The Blue Sword, and Tamora Pierce’s Alanna: The First Adventure. These stand the test of time. I first read them as a teenager, and I still love them. McKinley’s The Blue Sword is a story of hidden power, and the effects of colonising a wild land filled with magic, with demon hordes just across the border. Our heroine, Harry, is carried off in the night by the king of the Damarian hillfolk, himself under the influence of his own strange, random power, and during her stay with the hillfolk, discovers her own dormant abilities and her destiny.

Tamora Pierce‘s Song of the Lioness is my favourite series, discovered in a school book fair and loved ever since. Alanna and her twin brother are sent to a convent and to the palace to train as a knight respectively, but Thom wants to study magic instead of fighting, and Alanna wants to train to be a knight, in a world where women are not allowed to. She disguises herself as her brother, forges a note from her father and they switch places, and what follows is a series of adventures as Alanna, now Alan, befriends the heir to the kingdom, discovers an ancient sword, and helps fight off an evil presence, while an enemy close to home plots against the royal family. I adore anything Tamora Pierce writes and will still heartily recommend these books to anyone.

Honorable mentions go to Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown, Deborah Hewitt‘s The Nightjar, and Mimi Yu’s The Girl King- all books I have yet to read but really want to!

Written by Sylva @ Enfield Town Library

World Book Day 2021

World Book Day is today!

What is World Book Day? The World Book Day website says: “World Book Day changes lives through a love of books and shared reading. Our mission is to promote reading for pleasure, offering every child and young person the opportunity to have a book of their own.

Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income. We want to see more children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, with a life-long habit of reading for pleasure and the improved life chances this brings them.”

The World Book Day website has amazing resources for all ages from nursery, primary to secondary. We particularly recommend their Share-a-Story corner with pre-recorded stories to share with your children. It’s never too early to start reading stories to your child and enjoying books together can make a big difference to their development!

We were so inspired by the Share-a-Story Corner that we have made our own! We’ve asked our library staff members to share their favourite children’s story, whether that’s a childhood favourite or something they’ve discovered while working in our libraries and sharing stories during class visits.

Jackie recommends:

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (reserve it here: Where the Wild Things Are)

“One of my favourite books as a child was Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I loved to read books about fantasy worlds like Narnia or Harry Potter where you could leave the normal world and become a completely different person. I related to Max because I loved to go on ‘adventures’ in our old flat and turn each room into whatever magical, monstrous world I wanted to live in that day!”

Edwina recommends:

Ten Fat Sausages by Michelle Robinson, illustrated by Tor Freeman (reserve it here!)

“I love this humorous adventure that follows ten daring sausages deciding to ditch their frying pan fate. The journey of the ‘Ten Fat Sausages’ is a scrumptious feast for the eyes and whips up young audiences into counting-along with the story, providing the perfect bite-sized exercise for kids establishing their basic maths knowledge. 
I discovered ‘Ten Fat Sausages’ in the library, moments before running a StoryTime session. It was so refreshing to see the children engaging, holding up their fingers and soaring each ‘sausage’ up and out of their imaginary pans! To complement the story of these courageous sausages, you can find a nursery rhyme video on YouTube here and be sure to check out the many fun picture books by Michelle Robinson.”

Suzanne has lots of recommendations! Have you seen our latest YouTube video of Suzanne’s recommended picture books?

Suzanne says:

“Favourite children’s author as a child – Enid Blyton. I read most everything of hers, but I particularly enjoyed the Malory Towers and St Clare’s series and the Famous Five and Secret Seven series as well.

My favourite book as a child was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. My teacher read it to me when I was in Y3 and then we all had a chance to buy our own copy from the school book club and I still have it 48 years later!!!

Favourite children’s author now – Michael Morpurgo. He is a wonderful storyteller and he writes across the age range, from picture books and short chapter books for younger readers to longer novels such as War Horse and Private Peaceful.

One of my favourite picture books to read during class visits is Oi Frog by Kes Gray, or any of the sequels, which are just as funny. I also love to read Stick Man by Julia Donaldson at Christmas time.

Recommendations for different age groups – these are mostly timeless classics that can be enjoyed by new generations repeatedly:

0-5

Dear Zoo – Rod Campbell

The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – Michael Rosen

The Tiger Who Came to Tea – Judith Kerr

Eat Your Peas – Kes Gray

Shark in the Park – Nick Sharratt

6-8

If a child likes animal stories, we can recommend anything by Dick King-Smith, most famously, The Sheep Pig

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory/The BFG – Roald Dahl

The Enchanted Wood – Enid Blyton (has been updated)

Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

The Worst Witch series – Jill Murphy

Horrid Henry series – Francesca Simon

9-11

Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling

Private Peaceful – Michael Morpurgo

Goodnight Mister Tom– Michelle Magorian

The Hobbit – J.R.R Tolkien

The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis

Teens

The Noughts and Crosses series – Malorie Blackman

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon

Kate recommends:

“For picture books, I recommend Funnybones and Bumps in the Night by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. I loved reading along to these as a child, especially when they had to put the skeleton dog back together

One of my favourite stories to read for class visits at the library is Think Big! by Kes Gray. It’s a beautiful picture book that has a great message of dreaming big and aiming high. Humpty Dumpty is thinking about what he wants to be in the future and all the other fairy tale characters are very shocked to hear he wants to be a boiled egg! They come up with some excellent suggestions for what else he could be, and it has a very funny ending.

My favourite chapter books when I was older were the Goosebumps series by R. L. Stine. I love a scary story and it’s influenced my reading preferences as an adult! My other favourite was anything written by Jacqueline Wilson, especially Tracy Beaker. I love that there’s a new Tracy Beaker story out now and I’m contemplating reading it as an adult because I enjoyed it so much as a child!”

Kerry recommends Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl (reserve it here)

“Everyone knows the standard fairy tales; this book takes what you know and turns it on its head and never fails to raise a smile. Looking for a laugh? This is the one to choose! Not all fairy tales have to be boring! My favourite rhyme is Red Riding Hood!”

Chloe recommends:

“Here is a photo of me dressed as Mildred Hubble from The Worst Witch which was one of my favourites at this age. As an older child who hated school and adults telling me what to do, I really loved the Series of Unfortunate Events, the Wind on Fire trilogy by William Nicholson, and Holes by Louis Sachar, all good books for skeptical kids who like a mystery to unravel.”

Atike recommends Silly Billy by Anthony Browne (reserve it here)

“As I child I mostly enjoyed reading fairy tales. My favourite children`s author now is Anthony Browne.

Silly Billy is a story of boy called Billy, who worries about hats, shoes, clouds, rain, giant birds and staying at other people’s houses. Mum and Dad try to help him, but Granma shows how he can do that with his own imagination.

I think this story might encourage children to speak up about their worries and get help.

Anthony Browne is an excellent writer who writes and illustrates children books. Some of his stories are his own personal childhood experiences.”

Mia recommends:

“My recommendations are The Sophie series by Dick King Smith (here I have Sophie’s Tom and Sophie is Seven). They are about a girl called Sophie and they follow her life over a series of 6 books. She is absolutely animal mad and has an ambition to become a Lady Farmer. Although her parents are not as keen about animals as she is over the course of the books, she ends up getting various pets, a cat called Tomboy, a rabbit called Beano, a dog called Puddle and finally a pony called Lucky. At the end of the story she moves to the Scottish Highlands after her great aunt leaves her a farm. I absolutely adore these books as they are the first series with a strong female main character I read. I could really relate to Sophie as I adore animals and am from the Scottish Highlands, so I think that helps! The character descriptions are great Sophie is quoted as looking “like she’s come through a hedge backwards” and “small but very determined.” She has a few well used phrases like “yikes” when she is startled! 

My second choice is The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. My mum used to read this to me when I was little, and I ended up getting the other two books in the series! They are an absolute joy by two of the best children’s writers. The main story here is all written in rhyme, which I love, and in this version, there are envelopes on each page with letters from nursery rhyme characters to be opened and enjoy. The letters are specific to each character and quite funny when you re-read it as an adult. It was so exciting to read the book as a child and open them all up!

Lastly special mention to the Mr Gum series by Andy Stanton. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much out loud reading a children’s book before. All of these are so absolutely fantastically hilarious I have ended up re-reading bits of them when I need to lift my spirits. Totally bonkers, incredibly clever writing that just must be read out loud- I just can’t recommend them enough! “There were old newspapers from years and years ago with headlines like VIKINGS INVADE BRITAIN and WORLD’S FIRST NEWSPAPER INVENTED TODAY.” Welcome to the mad world of Friday, Alan, Polly, Mr Gum and more!”

We hope you’ll have a lovely World Book Day this year, even if it is a bit different. To reserve some of the books we’ve recommended in our post today, head over to the Enfield Library Catalogue.

Our 4 hub libraries are currently open for click and collect and essential PC usage.

Palmers Green and Ordnance Unity Centre Libraries -Monday-Friday 9am-5pm

Edmonton Green and Enfield Town Libraries – Monday – Saturday 9am-5pm

Contact information and opening hours

Winter Warmers

It’s the first day of Enfield Libraries’ #Librarymas, our homage to the 12 days of Christmas, where we’ll be sharing some of our favourite online resources on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram over the next couple of weeks!

This festive season, we will also be sharing some of our favourite books. Some are wintery-themed, others are just firm favourites, some are both! We’d love to know what you’re planning on reading over the holidays, or if you have any seasonal favourites of your own that you would like to share- please feel free to leave us a comment!

Without further ado, here are some staff recommendations…

Sylva Recommends:

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (Book 1 of The Winternight Trilogy)

If you’ve read our last blog, you’ll remember me mentioning that I quite like reading for the season- this is one of my favourite books in the last few years, and one I associate strongly with Winter. The Bear and the Nightingale is a special book, inspired by Russian mythology and folklore, with a heroine that will completely steal your heart. Vasya is a wild girl with magic in her blood, the youngest in a large family, with an affinity for the spirits that live in her family’s home and land. We see Vasya deal with her beloved older sister and brother setting off to be married and train as a priest respectively, leaving her at the mercy of her pious stepmother and a new priest, while her village is caught in between Morozko, the frost demon, and his adversary Medved, the Bear. At times it is hard to read about all the injustices Vasya endures, and harder still as the audience to see Vasya battling in vain to warn her family and village about the threat they face. I adored reading about Morozko and Vasya, and look forward to reading the other two in the series, The Girl in the Tower and Winter of the Witch, while the weather is still chilly!

Another wintery series I would highly recommend is Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha books, starting with Shadow and Bone– also currently being adapted as a series for Netflix! A brilliant, absorbing world with a compelling cast of characters, following orphans Alina and Mal as they grow up, and as Alina comes into powers long hidden- even from herself. Bundled off to the Grisha palace to learn to use her ability, Alina struggles to keep her connection to her childhood companion whilst adapting to life as a Grisha (practitioners of the small science- something akin to magic) and developing a bond with their leader, the mysterious Darkling. It has magic, action, more than a smidge of romance, and is currently 9 books long (a trilogy, two duologies, and two short story collections)- so perfect to dive into over the holidays.

Dan recommends:

‘The Gritterman’ by Orlando Weeks

Orlando Weeks, former frontman for rock band The Maccabees, wrote and illustrated a short book about a man who grits the roads. Weeks, who studied illustration at university, also recorded an album of songs to accompany the book. In it, the unnamed Gritterman, having been informed by the council that his services are no longer required, talks us through his daily routine on his final job on a wintry night. He also poignantly talks about his late wife. Comedian Paul Whitehouse provides the narrative voice of the Gritterman on the album, in between Weeks’ gorgeous, delicate piano-driven songs. I was fortunate enough to see Orlando Weeks perform the album in full, accompanied by Whitehouse, a choir and musicians, at the Union Chapel in Islington. The illustrations in the book are reminiscent of Raymond Briggs’ work, and the songs on the album bleak and melancholy, but beautifully performed.

Jackie recommends:

As it gets colder and the nights get longer my soppy side starts to come out a bit and I gravitate towards wholesome, romantic reads guaranteed to warm me up on the inside. I’ve picked out three of my favourites for anyone looking for some easy, heart-warming reading:


1. Kimi ni Todoke (From Me to You) by Karuho Shiina – A high school romance manga about a girl that her classmates see as scary, but she’s just awkward and desperately wants to be kind and helpful. Over the course of the story she learns to make friends, falls in love, and learns more about herself and what she wants out of life. It’s light-hearted, and you can’t help but cheer for the main character as she tries her very best to make the people around her happy. If you’re not used to manga you might think it’s a long series at 30 volumes, but each volume is a very quick and easy read. I’m a slower reader and I could get through a volume in a couple of hours at most.

2. Heartstopper by Alice Oseman – Another awkward teenage romance in comic form, this time set in a boys school in the UK where Charlie, who is openly gay, and Nick become close friends and begin to develop feelings for each other in the most heart-meltingly cute way. I selected Nick as one of my favourite LGBTQ+ characters in our Pride Month blog back in June the first time I read Heartstopper, and he’s just as much of a joy on my second read through.

3. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater – This recommendation is based completely on nostalgia, as I haven’t read this book since I was a teenager after my Twilight phase (don’t judge me) but I came across it on my bookshelf the other day and had to flip through some of the pages. Stiefvater creates an interesting twist on the werewolf myth, creating werewolves who change depending on temperature rather than moon cycles. The story follows Grace, a human girl, and Sam a boy who lives as a wolf in the winter and a sweet, brooding human boy in the summer. It’s the first book in the “Wolves of Mercy Falls” series, so if you enjoy it you’ve got more than enough story to last you through the winter.

Edwina recommends:

How to Connect with Nature by Tristan Gooley

“It should be expected that we will find wonder in a vast mountain landscape, but it is a more serious challenge to find wonder in a hill. It is a great achievement to find it in a molehill.”

I’d like to recommend this short read on how to better connect with nature, especially now that the days are short, the skies are grey and the state of the weather is an opening to most conversations.  Living in a city can stimulate a yearning for more of the outdoors, but when the weather is ‘bad’ we’re more inclined to stay home or prefer to remain inside our all-day heated offices in a bid to avoid the elements. Tristan Gooley’s response to this way of thinking is ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing’. Preparedness is key! As we hurry to select the perfect gifts, prudently prepare the pigs in blankets and immaculately arrange the dinner table in an attempt to succeed at Christmas guest/host, perhaps applying a similar determination to deepen our knowledge of our natural environment could be equally rewarding. This little book offers a host of techniques to awaken our senses and expand our understanding of nature’s networks. We can gain a better appreciation of the world – both indoors and outdoors – by cultivating the right mindset. So, for your next winter read, why not take this book outside!

Oxana recommends:

The Snow Song, by Sally Gardner

This is not your typical warm-hearted love story- if anything, it was very sad (and tiny bit of magical), but I really enjoyed it. Would recommend for a cold/rainy day read- easily read in one sitting!

Other staff also sent in some of their favourites:

Brian- Killing for Company: The Case of Dennis Nilsen by Brian Masters

Phil- Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Mahfuza- Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

Nena- Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John

George- Aunts Aren’t Gentleman by P.G. Wodehouse

Reader’s Corner with Sandra

This month we have two lovely reviews from Sandra, one of Enfield Town Library’s frequent borrowers!

Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market by Heidi Swain

This is an absolutely charming book to read at any time of the year, not just Christmas. Ruby has finished  University and come home for the Christmas holidays. Much to her parents disappointment, she no longer wants to continue studying, but dreams of travelling.  However, first she will need money, so against her father’s wishes she helps a friend by running a small stall in the Christmas market, little realizing that her ex, Steve, has his stall opposite her stall. Her father doesn’t want her to rekindle the old romance, but she still has feelings for him. However, she is in for a bumpy ride and lots of misunderstandings.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

This is Richard Osman’s first book,  and I have loved every page and I can’t wait to read more by him. It may be a murder story, but that is almost incidental. It is the lovely characters that he has fleshed out, and has a wonderful gentle humour at the same time. Jane Fallon has written: “A bundle of joy…..I absolutely loved it.” My very sentiments. I have to admit that once I started reading, the rest of the world passed me by for 2 days, and I just read and read… but also didn’t want it to end. Total joy, lovely characters, a very unusual setting in a retirement village, much humour… what more could I ask for.

And there you have it! We hope you’ve all enjoyed reading through this bumper edition of our library blog, please comment and let us know if any of our recommendations have taken your fancy!

Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles- we’ll have some fun, free children’s Christmas Craft activity packs available to collect from our libraries soon, so keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter for more information! We have really been missing doing our children’s activities in our libraries this year, so we’re really pleased to be able to put something together for the kids who would normally be joining in with some crafty fun with us, to be creative with at home. It’s been a tough old year to say the least, we’ll be looking forward to 2021 and all the hope it brings with it.

Lots of love,

Enfield Libraries x

Autumn Reads with Enfield Libraries

We love a good theme here, and what is more perfectly suited to a bookish theme than Autumn? The excuse to settle down in your favourite chair with a hot drink and a book… ah, bliss! We’ve got a little selection of cozy favourites and books on our radar for you, if you need some autumnal inspiration for your next read:

Sylva:

There is something about the season that, for me, calls for a large book that I can fully immerse myself in, or a complete series (I love a good binge read! Many an all-nighter has been pulled before). And as a voracious SFF reader, I certainly feel that a great fit for the autumn chill is indulging in a bit of escapism and sinking into a new world. A great chunky read would be A Game of Thrones- or, if you have read this already, why not have a go at The Eye of the World, the first in the 14 book Wheel of Time saga by Robert Jordan? For those who like to read the book first, Amazon Prime is adapting the Wheel of Time as a series, so it’s a great time to start reading the books! We follow our young heroes and heroines as they flee a monstrous attack on their village, accompanied by a mysterious lady and her companion, as an ancient evil threatens to cast its shadow over the world once more. The Wheel of Time is full of lush, detailed description and intense action, and is definitely one to be savoured.

If you find yourself without the time or energy to read, why not have a go at listening to audiobooks? Currently available and also a fantastic listen as you are winding down for the evening is Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, the brilliant full cast BBC production, boasting a stellar cast featuring Derek Jacobi, the late, great Dame Diana Rigg, and fellow Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer, to name but a few. Such a perfect fit Comprised of short stories of the Norse Gods, it is perfect for a cold, autumn- or winter!- evening- both the regular and full cast editions can be found on Borrowbox. I’m also currently loving listening to Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, a brilliant slow burn of an audiobook, meant to be gently absorbed, preferably with a nice cup of tea. You experience the strange world of The House through the eyes of the mysterious (and observant) Piranesi, as he describes his environment and all it’s quirks, and documents his dealings with the other occupant of the house, The Other.

TV:

I have watched first season of The Witcher so many times over now, that I’ve lost count! It’s definitely working towards filling the Game of Thrones-shaped hole in my life, and it is absolutely suited to the season. Its characters are flawed and compelling, and it doesn’t feel like it takes itself too seriously. I’ve also recently cackled my way through both seasons of Ghosts on BBC iPlayer, and completely on the other end of the scale, I am very late to the party when it comes to The Detectorists, which I have just started watching. If you are looking for something cozy and gentle to sink into, you can’t get better than this show, which follows two amateur detectorists (played by Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones) looking for the next big Saxon horde discovery, whilst dealing with the everyday dramas in their lives. There’s only 3 seasons to get through, all available on iPlayer!

Books on my radar:

Dark Academia as a genre feels well suited to Autumn/Winter- so A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik, and The Secret History by Donna Tartt look particularly tempting!

Jackie:

Comic: Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson – A comic series about 5 girls at a summer camp for “Lumberjane Scouts”, who work together to solve mysteries and encounter all kinds of strange supernatural happenings around the camp. Even though it’s set in summer it’s got an outdoorsy, woodland feel to it that makes me think of autumn and flannel shirts and camping by a big cosy fire, with a hint of spookiness.

TV: Over the Garden Wall – This is my favourite autumn watch, best binged on a chilly evening under a blanket with a mug full of something warm. It’s a slightly spooky, mostly heart-warming story about a teenage boy and his younger brother in a strange, supernatural forest trying to find their way home.

Book: Love in Colour by Bolu Babalola – I really love a good romance. Especially as the weather gets colder it’s nice to have something that leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy. Love in Colour is a collection of classic love stories from history and mythology, retold in a way that shows the different ways love is expressed around the world.

Other staff recommend:

Mia: Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, now also adapted for TV, and Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom books, starting with Sabriel.

Agi: Any Skandi thrillers by authors like Jo Nesbo, and cozy crime novels- Agatha Christie for example!

Readers Corner with Sandra:

VENETIAN GOTHIC by PHILIP GWYNNE JONES

Not only do you have a delicious mystery here, you also have a delicious and enthusiastic tour of Venice.

The details of the City, it’s food, it’s local areas, and you get the added concoction of crime and culture. I especially love the relationship our main character has with his cat, and how the cat continually gets it’s own way. You can feel the love this writer has for Venice and almost visualize the scenes described. You have a British journalist investing a crime going back 40 years, and then you have the mystery of a young tourist found drowned in the icy lagoon. I loved one critic’s comments:  “A crime book for people with sophisticated tastes….Venice, Opera, renaissance art, good food and wine”.

Chilling Tales @ Enfield Libraries

The weather is crisp, the skies are darkening, the leaves are falling… It’s the perfect time to read a book that sends a shiver down your spine! We’re big fans of reading to suit the season, and Halloween is no different. We would love to recommend a few titles for you, spooky or otherwise, and we’d love to hear your favourite Autumnal reads!

Sylva’s list:

The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova: Very much a slow burn, but it has fabulously creepy moments. It takes you on a journey through Europe, with our protagonists past and present being pursued by an ancient evil.

Ninth House, by Leigh Bardugo: One of my favourite reads of the year. We follow Alex Stern, a girl with the natural ability to see ghosts, as she navigates Yale University and its secret societies as part of Lethe House, monitoring their occultist activities and investigating the seemingly unconnected murder of a town girl near campus. Alex is a complex character, battling the demons of her past and dealing with the disappearance of her mentor, a search that brings forth the darkness in her as we find out the lengths she is willing to go to find him. I read this back in May, and it instantly transported me to Autumn- so it is perfect to read over Halloween!

V.E. Schwab- Any of her books! City of Ghosts and Tunnel of Bones are great for older children to read over the spooky season (especially under the covers with a torch!) and her adult books, the Shades of Magic series, her recently re-released debut, The Near Witch, and her newly published novel, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, are all perfect for the season. I have just started reading Addie LaRue, which follows our titular heroine as she strikes a deal with a green eyed devil that makes her immortal, at a price: no one will ever remember her. I’ve not read very far but I can already tell this will be the book I will be talking about for the next year!

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, by Grady Hendrix: Very, very creepy. And not quite for the faint hearted!

Jackie’s recommendations:

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James – It’s a classic horror tale; spooky old English estate in the middle of nowhere, creepy children, and a creeping sense of uneasiness as the story progresses. It’s what the new Netlfix series “The Haunting of Bly Manor” is based off!

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver – a newer title but heavily inspired by classic gothic literature. It’s not so much scary as it is a slow progression of things getting stranger and creepier until you’re not quite sure if what’s happening is all in the characters’ heads or actually supernatural.

The Witches by Roald Dahl – The scariest book ever when you’re a kid with a wild imagination, and one of the few books where the film adaptation really does it justice. Hopefully the new one is just as good, but the book will always be the best version.

Welcome to NightVale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor – Based on the hit podcast series, this book is just as bizarre, dark, and strangely wholesome as the original show. It’s full of characters that should be scary, like the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home, and makes them relatable and interesting. While libraries, though wonderful in real life, are actually deeply terrifying. (It probably says a lot about me that I love a universe that considers librarians as fearsome creatures…)

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – One of my favourite books ever so if I talk about it too long I’ll just start gushing! I’ll just say it’s a novel that is very important to both science fiction and horror, so if you’re a fan of either I’d highly recommend it.

And if you can’t decide what to read this Halloween, you can always book a browsing appointment to check out our selections! (Such as this display at Enfield Town library!)

Libraries Week with Enfield Libraries!

We’ve come to the end of Libraries Week, where we’ve been celebrating all things reading!

Some of our staff have been taking part in the #ExpressYourShelf campaign, where we’ve been sharing some of the books that have shaped our world- and we’d love to hear about your favourites! Either drop a comment below, or share your photos and tag us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

Without further ado, here is Jackie’s selection:

Jackie writes, ‘I love reading stories about worlds that are similar to ours but a little bit strange. Whether that’s more magical, more futuristic, or more creepy than reality it’s fun to escape into these worlds where almost anything is possible.’

Kate’s To Be Read pile:

Kate writes, ‘I don’t normally pre-order books, but during lock down I was exploring more online and started using Goodreads, so I became more aware of what was going to be released. I’m looking forward to reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig- the first line from the blurb is ‘between life and death there is a library’, and I was sold immediately! I’ve also recently bought Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy, which is about a plus-sized superhero. I also can’t wait to read the sequel to a book that I loved last year (The girl that could move sh*t with her mind) which has very recently been released. This one is called Random Sh*t Flying Through The Air by Jackson Ford. I loved the first book and was really glad to see there was another one coming out. It’s about a woman with telekinetic powers but it’s written so well, it makes it feel as though this could really be someone in real life, it’s not completely imagined like some sci-fi books can be.’

Sylva’s Favourites:

Sylva writes, ‘The BBC are kicking off The Novels that Shaped Our World project in November to mark the 300th anniversary of the English Language novel. So I thought I would share some of the novels that shaped my world! I don’t exclusively read Science Fiction and Fantasy, but it’s almost guaranteed that my favourites will be SFF books.

Going from the bottom of the pile, which is certainly not arranged in terms of how much I adored them, is Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer (described by the author herself as a love letter to fantasy readers) and Daughter of Smoke and Bone (a world and mythology you can lose yourself in). Both of these are firm favourites of mine, and books that I have thrust at anyone I know, and have bonded with friends over.

Red Rising, by Pierce Brown, is another one I have recommended to anyone I know. If I was to give it the crudest description, it would be ‘Romans in space’, but that would be doing it a disservice because it is SO much more than that. Humans have colonised space, but in doing so have created and separated classes of humans, the most oppressed of which are the Reds. This is the first book in the trilogy that follows our Red hero Darrow as he infiltrates the Gold class and plants the seeds of a revolution.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers has shown up in many a staff member’s recommended reads (shout out to Jackie’s list!) because it is one of the most absorbing books you will ever read. It is science fiction, set again in a universe where humans have left a dying Earth for the stars, but it is also a story of found family, a crew of a wormhole-tunneling rickety space ship who all have their own secrets and it is truly a joy to join them for the ride.

A Darker Shade of Magic is firmly up there in my favourite Fantasy trilogies of all time. V.E. Schwab is a master of the genre, and the first line, ‘Kell wore a very peculiar coat’, is a small taster of the wonder to come. I don’t have the words to describe the series, I can only ask that you trust me and read it for yourself.

Last, but certainly not least, we have Neverwhere and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman, another of my favourite authors. Neverwhere was my first foray into his novels, and one that, even a good 13 years after first reading, I still adore, still re-read, hunt down any adaptation going (there’s a BBC show from the 90s that actually existed before the book, a graphic novel, and a BBC full cast audio production featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as the Angel Islington and James McAvoy as Richard Mayhew’). As a Londoner it introduces you to a different, fantastical view of the city- I don’t think I will ever think of ‘Mind the Gap’ in the same way again! The Ocean at the End of the Lane, a short story that became a novella, is simply one of the most beautiful books you will ever read. Recently adapted into a play, Ocean tells the story of a man who returns home for a funeral, and begins to remember the strange and wonderful details of his childhood, forty years earlier, when he knew a girl called Lettie Hempstock who insisted that her duck pond was an ocean… I would recommend any of Neil’s books, but these are a great place to start!

Reader Corner! with Sandra

I MADE A MISTAKE

JANE CORRY

A delightful read.  And most unusually, the mother-in-law (Betty) is one of the warmest, likeable characters.   So often they are portrayed as over-bearing members of the family.

You have the central character called Poppy, who runs her own showbusiness agency and husband Stuart a dentist, and 2 daughters.

Poppy has an unexpected meeting with a man she had been in love with as a young girl, and who had dropped her from his life.  However, when they do get together, sparks fly.

And in between, you have Betty telling the story of her marriage.  An over bearing husband, with old fashioned ideas that she should be at his beck and call at all times, and definitely have no friends of her own.

We do know from the beginning that someone has been murdered, but not who or why.

THE CATCH

T.M.LOGAN

I loved…loved…loved it.  Total page turner.

431 pages of a wonderful psychological thriller, can’t wait to read this author’s next book.

It focuses on a family of three, plus the daughter’s boy friend.  The father feels there is something wrong with this guy (almost too good to be true) but no-one else agrees with him.

Beautifully written, bringing a sense of menace on every page, and a book that I sat up finishing late into the night.  Not a thing I usually do.

Have you spotted a title you like here, or would you like us to recommend any to you? Get in touch! You can call drop us an email at digital.services@enfield.gov.uk, or message us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook- links are in our bio!

Afrofuturism, Sci-Fi and Fantasy / Black History Month in Enfield Libraries

Afrofuturism and Africanfuturism are sub-genres of Science-Fiction and fantasy focusing on black and African history, culture, and folklore. Black Panther is probably the most recognizable example of this in modern pop culture, but there is a wealth of Afro and Africanfuturist literature out there for readers. Whether you are interested in the Sci-Fi, looking for something a little different from your normal reads, or someone who relates to black and African cultures looking for familiarity, there is something within these genres for you to enjoy.

Black History Month is a celebration of black cultures, diasporas, and important figures of the past present and future, so we wanted to kick off Black History Month in Enfield Libraries by taking a look at some of our favourite black Sci-Fi and Fantasy authors. Both of these genres are all about tackling past and present-day issues and fears in fantastical situations, and making sense of the world we live in now by holding a mirror up to it, changing our perspective. Africanfuturism does the same, tackling issues of diversity, equality, identity, health and wellbeing, all things we’re struggling with in 2020, and approaches it not only from a futuristic or fantastical context, but from a black/african perspective.

Also sometimes there are lasers and dragons and that stuff is just cool.

Afrofuturism display at Enfield Town Library

All the titles listed below are available via the Enfield Library Catalogue, and many are available for download as ebooks or audiobooks via our Digital Library.

Nnedi Okorafor

A self-proclaimed ‘Africanfuturist’ writer, Dr Okorafor creates full, complex worlds heavily inspired by her Nigerian heritage, taking inspiration from West-African mythology, cultures, and folklore. Being Nigerian-American and immersed in both cultures is an important aspect of her identity, and no doubt is what inspires the themes of duality and balancing the different aspects of one’s personality in many of her works.


Well known work: Binti
Recommended: SHURI (Marvel comic series)
Upcoming Release: Remote Control

Octavia E. Butler

An important figure in the world of Afrofuturism and one of the most well known black Sci-Fi authors, Octavia Butler has been nominated for and won several awards for her fiction works. She writes primarily from the perspective of marginalized black women trying to survive the situations they are thrown into, and shows how their difference can often times be their strength.

Well known work: Parable of the Sower
Recommended: Kindred

N.K. Jemisin

N.K. Jemisin is a multi-award winning science fiction and fantasy author who writes about fantastical worlds not based in the Eurocentric settings that tend to be common in traditional Sci Fi and Fantasy. Her worlds are diverse, rich in lore, and less about the struggle between good and evil than they are about the human experience and our desire to survive.
Well known work: The Broken Earth Trilogy
Recommended: How Long ’til Black Future Month?
Just released: The City We Became

Sheree Thomas

While Sheree Thomas is an award-nominated author in her own right, some of her most notable contributions to the Afrofuturism genre are as an editor. Her anthologies have gathered together the work of many African-American Science Fiction writers and brought them in front of audiences that they may not have had the opportunity to reach otherwise.

Well-known work: Dark matter : a century of speculative fiction from the African diaspora
Recommended: Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements

Samuel Delaney

If you’re looking for some Classic Sci-Fi, Samuel Delaney is the author for you, if you’re unfamiliar with the genre you may not know his name, but he’s probably your favourite author’s favourite author. Many graphic novel readers may recognize him from the introduction to volume 5 of Neil Gaiman’s iconic Sandman series, and one of his most famous works Babel-17 has influenced authors like China Mieville and Ursula K. Le Guin. Delaney is prolific in fiction and non fiction and tackles themes like language, sexuality, class structures, and mythology. I’d get stuck in now before he puts something new out if I were you…

Well-known work: Nova, Babel-17
Recommended: Dhalgren/The Jewels of Aptor

Tananarive Due

Tananarive Due is best known as an educator with expertise in Black horror. Due and her partner Steven Barnes, another Sci-Fi author who has written for shows like The Outer Limits, Stargate SG-1, and Andromeda, taught a course at UCLA together titled The Sunken Place: Racism, Survival and the Black Horror aesthetic based around the Jordan Peele horror film Get Out. They have also collaborated on works of fiction together as well as being accomplished authors in their own right. We have most of her African Immortals series available as part of The Library Consortium catalogue which is a great series to read for all the Sci-Fi/Horror lovers out there.

Recommended: African Immortals Series

Our Library Staff Also Recommend…

  • Children of Blood and Bone/Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
  • World of Wakanda by Roxanne Gay/Ta-nehisi Coates
  • The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson
  • Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
  • Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
  • Slay by Brittney Morris
  • Blue Light by Walter Mosley
  • An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
  • Rosewater by Tade Thompson
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Be sure to leave a comment below or get in touch on our socials if you decide to pick up any of these titles or have some recommendations of your own!

Pride Month: 10 of our Favourite LGBTQIA+ Book Characters

June is Pride Month, a celebration of LGBTQIA+ past, present, and future the world over. During this time we wanted to highlight some of our favourite LGBTQIA+ characters because representation in literature is important for members of the community, and for the richness of storytelling as a whole. As Malorie Blackman once said, reading is an exercise in empathy. The more experiences we’re able to read and learn about, the more empathetic our societies can be come as we come to understand and accept each other. Not to mention, stories about the same sorts of people over and over would get rather boring, don’t you think?

Many of these titles are available online via our Digital Library. OverDrive in particular has a Pride Month collection available now with a huge selection of Ebook titles.

Credit: Christina Vartanova via iStockPhoto

1. Maurice Hall – Maurice, by E.M. Forster

Maurice tells the story of the titular character’s coming of age in England in the early 1900s. He is intelligent, privileged, with a world of opportunity, but as he comes into his own he discovers the inescapable truth that he is, as he describes “an unspeakable, of the Oscar Wilde sort.” Jackie nominated Maurice Hall, saying “I first read this book when I was a teenager, and as you can see by my battered copy I’ve read it several times since. We had read A Room with A View in secondary school and I had enjoyed it, so wanted to find more books by E.M. Forster to read. I loved the story because Maurice dares to search for a happy ending, despite living in a world that he knew could never truly accept him.”

2. Julian – Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Julian is what so many of us aspire to be in our daily lives – happy, curious, and free to express himself, and he makes the reader feel the same. As you’re going through the book and seeing the beautiful artwork, following Julian as he discovers the mermaids and wants to be just like them, it is impossible not to have a smile across your face by the end of the story because of this charming protagonist.

3. Nick – Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Heartstopper is a feel-good love story about two teenage boys, Charlie and Nick, and the progression of their relationship. You can’t help but cheer them on as they awkwardly fumble around their feelings for each other, especially Nick who has to come to terms with being bisexual and what that means. We picked Nick because he is a wonderfully sweet and earnest character who stands up for the people he cares about, and quite frankly, there isn’t much in the way of representation for bisexual men in literature. There may be a lot of young men growing up who could relate to and learn a lot from Nick, and we think that’s incredibly important.

4. George Mallory – Into the Silence by Wade Davis

This is a slight departure from the rest of our list as George Mallory is a real person! Warren picked him out as a personal hero, and we thought why not stick some British LGBT history into this list as well? Warren says:

“In a period of social conformity, Mallory was different. Post-WWI British mountaineering was dominated by a conservative officer class. Mallory came from a well-to-do background but was bisexual, a socialist and friends with the literary glitterati of the Bloomsbury Set. He wasn’t the conventional macho hero, but instead a complex mix of thoughtful (some reasoned almost obsessive) intellectual and practical ‘man of action’ (asked once why he wanted to climb Everest he replied ‘Because it’s there’).

Normal life was a struggle, he was an utter failure as a schoolteacher but, on a mountain, he was the greatest climber of his generation. The mystery of whether Mallory and Sandy Irvine made it to the summit of Everest in 1924 remains just that, despite the 1999 discovery of Mallory’s body (complete with an unpaid tailor’s bill in his inside pocket). The romance of his unconventional life and ‘before his time’ attitude makes me wish he had made it though.”

5. Joss Moody – Trumpet by Jackie Kay

Trumpet is a fascinating narrative. At the outset, our main character Joss is already dead, and the rest of the story focuses on the impact of his life on the people around him. It is revealed, after his death, that famed jazz musician Joss Moody was in fact transgender which no one other than his wife Millie Moody knew. We picked Joss Moody because of the way his character is built for the reader by the people around him and his impact on them, especially his wife. The tender way in which she describes helping Joss with his chest bindings in the mornings, and the ways in which her grief plays out throughout the novel shows the deep love these two had for each other.

6. Achilles/Patroclus – The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles was put forward by Timea, who describes the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus as “One of the most romantic and tender relationships I have ever read.” She goes on to say:

“The growing bond between Achilles and Patroclus was a journey through human emotions as they navigated jealousy, melancholy and all the pitfalls of love. It was a joy to see them grow, first as friends and then as lovers. I think it is hugely important to have examples of relationships like theirs, where trust reign supreme and conflict is resolved through good communication. This isn’t to say that everything was perfect or that mistakes were not made but I think that through them Madeline Miller was able to showcase one of the most genuine relationships I have ever had the pleasure of reading.”

7. Ead Duryan- The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Almost anything we say about how much we love Ead will end up being a huge spoiler, so we’ll just say that she is a force to be reckoned with, we love her dearly, and that LGBTQIA+ and POC representation in the fantasy genre matters enormously! Just read The Priory of the Orange Tree, especially if you’re already a High Fantasy fan.
Now.
Or at least, once you’ve finished this blog…

8. Noah – I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Noah was picked by Oxana, who says:

“I found Noah very memorable as reading from his perspective felt like being in the mind of an artistic genius. His way of thinking was so beautifully unique, and made you look at the world with a fresh perspective. I have never heard anyone phrase the simple things in life in such an interesting and mesmerising way! Despite dealing with homophobic bullies and family trauma, he managed to harness his passion into wonderful pieces of art, creative games with his sister and a heart-warming friendship turned relationship with the boy next door. Throughout the entire novel I was rooting for him and his happiness, it felt like we were taken on a personal journey with him.”

9. Morgan – Girl Woman Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Morgan is a non binary character who is first mentioned in passing early on in the novel, but we learn more about their story in detail towards the end. As is the case with all of the characters in Girl, Woman, Other, their story is approached from multiple angles and perspectives. Without spoiling too much about the character, all Morgan truly wants is to be themself. We picked Morgan because there is a radical power in being yourself, and it’s a privilege that many LGBTQ+ people are not afforded. It is powerful when you can achieve it, it is a complicated thing for so many people, and sometimes just living your truth can inspire and change the lives of others.

10. Michael – The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Michael’s journey, like many others in this list, is one of self-discovery. Michael is one of our favourite characters because so many of us as people can relate to the way art helps to form and solidify your identity. For Michael it’s music, poetry, and the art of drag that helps to solidify himself in his race, gender, sexuality, and how all of those things intersect. Whether you identify with him in one way or another, or have nothing in common with him whatsoever you will feel empathy in the way his story is conveyed and the wit in his words. However, for anyone who has ever struggled with the urge to “fit in” or belong, Michael’s character will resonate.

Tell us some of your favourite LGBTQIA+ characters and the books they are from in the comments below!

Kindness Writing Competition – Poetry

We hope you enjoyed all of yesterday’s short stories, and that you’re now in the mood to read some of the brilliant entries to the poetry categories! We’ve been absolutely thrilled by the creativity everyone displayed with their words and how they presented them, and we hope you all enjoy reading as much as we did.

As with yesterday, if your poem is missing please email us at digital.services@enfield.gov.uk to make sure we’ve got your permission sorted.

Poetry (Age 7-11)

“Kindness is the best thing”
by Tea (Age 8)

“KINDNESS”
by Greta (Age 11)

“Kindness Poem”
by Sophia Smith (Age 8)

Kindness is like flying in the sky
It might feel hard, but give it a try
Kindness can be lots of different things
You know it’s right by the joy it brings
When you be kind you get a funny tingle in your heart
Kindness brings us closer even though we are apart.
 
Kindness is a smile to a person passing by
Kindness is a phone call to your friend to say ‘Hi!’
Kindness is helping others even in the smallest way
Kindness is sharing love each and every day.
 
Be kind
Just do it!
It’ll make you feel good
Fill the bucket of joy
Around your neighbourhood

“Kindness is…”
by Poppy Willis (Age 8)

“A Warm Sunny Day”
by Sofia Riches (Age 11)

A warm, sunny day
On the long, dry fields that lay
And the running people come by
They wouldn't see the slimy slugs and snails that are dry
They wave hello 
But at a distance they go 
The kindness of strangers 
But we distance because of the dangers
Colourless clouds drift in the sky
Frightening forest looms nearby
Only some of the birds fly
All the dogs start to bark
When I go for a walk in my local park 
 

“Being Kind” by Pierce Treacher (Age 11)

When you eat from the kindness pot, you are someone who cares a lot
Should you help someone in need,  You are doing a thoughtful deed
 
'Cos if you have a caring mind, this shows you're extreemly kind
So when you play a KIND part, this shows you have a massive heart 
 
Lets reach out and help if we may, to make each, a kind, & special day.

My Kindness Poem by Savannah Walton (Age 11)

Kindness is something you can't see,
kindness spreads from you to me .
 
Kindness belongs with us here,
it's in animals like cat and deer,
 
We stand up for our friends when they are right, as kindness is here day and night.
 
Kindness kindness is the way to go,
kindness kindness something we can show.
 
This is the end of my poem you see,
next time you see someone be as kind as you can be .

“Kindness” by Henry Lynch (Age 11)

Kindness, an act beyond compare
Acting it out can make anyone's day
Making you feel like butterflies in May
It can be in what you say
or helping out every day.
 
Kindness, an act beyond fair
It does not compare
It hates hatred in stares
It has no system nor does it equalize, because
Kindness is beyond fair
 
Kindness, an act beyond war
With salvation opens opportunities and doors
It glares at war has torn
And then bring war below the floor, because
Kindness is an act beyond war
 
Kindness, an act beyond cash
Some people have so much to stash
But kindness is free and can’t be brought
From people rich and distort, because
Kindness is beyond cash
 
Kindness, an action helping us daily
Kindness is humble
Kindness is loving
Kindness is mindful and free because kindness is beyond compare

“Kindness” by Hannah (Age 9)

“Kindness” by Thalia Moses (Age 10)

Kindness is the best way to be
It can go such a long way
It can stop a million tears
Even if the world is having a cruel,hurtful day
It can make it stop
 
Kindness is in everyone's heart
The best way is to be kind
This can make someone's day
It could give them hope and make them happy
 
Be nice to others
Don't be unkind
Don't ruin someone else's day just for you fun
 
BE KIND ❤

“Kindness, everybody has it” by Siddhi Sonee (Age 7)

Kindness, everybody has it
It will make you happy and kind
Next, you will be the happiest person on the World
Dull, some parts of your life as DULL but
Next, you will be loved by the world 
End of your life
Soon you will be old
Still remembered to be happy

Poetry (Age 12 – 16)

“Outcast” by Isla Doheny-Green (Age 12)

“A Kindness Poem” by Alfie Kemp (Age 12)

“The Sensation of Kindness” by Julena Sopitan (Age 14)

The sensation of kindness inspires me to write.
How It makes my heart skip, smile stretch and arms ready to hug,
When someone shows me affection it Invades my mind day and through the night,
Always dreaming about when it will visit me again
 
Let me compare it to a fruitful game?
Who is more compassionate or loving.
Who waves to their friends while the breeze passes time during the month of May
Who listens attentively whilst locking a deep connection with only a pair of eyes.
 
How can you show it ? Let me count the ways.
Love someone’s tenderness heart, smile and palms.
Thinking of their presence creates smiles that  fill  your days.
Kindness for you is the sympathy shawls.
 
Remember these  great words whilst we're apart.
In summertime, our kindness is wind, like lilacs floating in the breeze.
In wintertime, our appreciation is rapid — it beat’s from heart to toes.
 
If skies are blue, our kindness is omnipotent — neighbours greeting one another.
If thunder rolls our kindness conquers, a sword slashing in a battle.
 
When spring flowers bloom, kindness is bold, like green petals on the rose.
When autumn leaves fall, our kindness is gold, shining bright like a harvest sunflower.
 
From New Year’s Day till Day 365 our appreciation will continue to stretch.
From season to season, Kindness is always! Like a bee’s love for honey.

“Be kind change a life” by Isabella George (Age 13)

Kindness 
such a simple word
a gift everyone can afford 
a way to mend even the most broken of souls
 
Kindness 
take a moment to feel the impact of  this heartfelt word
make it your own and spread it everywhere
let everyone know that no matter how small
your act may be, it is never wasted
 
Kindness
it puts a smile on the faces of many
it'll find it's way into every corner of your heart and soul
so spread a little kindness and it will find  it's way back to you
 
Be kind, Be aware
see the unhappy and make them happy
and remember  the words of Baháʼu'lláh-
"Let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path"

“Kindness” by Pasindi Piers (Age 12)

We’re so proud of all of you for the amazing work you’ve done. The judges didn’t have an easy time picking by any means! Make sure you’re following us on all social media so you can see the winners being announced tomorrow at 11am! Good luck!

Kindness Writing Competition – Short Stories

We would first like to start by saying that we were totally blown away by the response we received for our first ever writing competition, both by the number of entries and the quality of work. It’s clear we have so many talented young writers here in Enfield, and we’re so proud to be helping you all exercise those creative muscles and nurture that talent. We were so impressed, in fact, that we’ve decided to upload all the entries we received onto the blog over the next two days. This post features all the short story entries, and on Thursday the 11th of June we will be uploading all our poems.

Our four winners will be announced on Friday the 12th of June at 11am via our Social Media pages, so be sure to keep an eye on our Twitter/Facebook/Instagram on that day to see who the winners are!

Finally, if you submitted a piece to the competition but do not see it in the blog we may not have received your permission to publish yet! Please send us an email at digital.services@enfield.gov.uk and we’ll be happy to add you to our posts.

Please enjoy, and let our entrants know in the comments what a fantastic job they’ve done!

Short Stories

“The Ghost Boy”
by Ender Oztoprak (Age 11)

It was 2:47 in the morning, the curtains started rattling and a wave of nervousness hit me when I heard thorough footsteps and a tiny footstep on my sisters sand-set. All the World War 2 books started flickering, the books were flickering so fast that they started to catch fire. I knew the fire alarm would go off but there was no sound. Then I covered myself in my blanket even though I thought I was safe but I was then paralysed I couldn’t even breathe. Suddenly, I woke up to my alarm at 7:00 in the morning. Then when I stood up I saw the tiny footstep on the sand-sets I I asked my sister if she did it and she did say yes but something still wasn’t right. I later ask her that if she did hear anything happen last night but she said no. I sighed of relief. Then I did did my morning routine as always and forgot about everything. When I came back from school I remember about what happened so I ask my dad if ghosts are real, “Don’t worry there is no such thing as ghosts.”he chuckled. I rushed up to my room and took all the World War 2 books I had so I could look if there was any damage but there wasn’t except for my least favourite one(the one that has jelly stains all over it). I put the books back and my mum told us it was time for bed. I asked my mum,”What do u do when I am scared.”she then replied saying face your fears so I then went to sleep but I woke up again at 3:00 in the morning.

I was awoken by the ghost but this Time it is on my carpet reading books but not any books my favourite World War 2 book. I remember that my mum said face your fears so I went after the ghost but I was paralysed again and fell asleep on the carpet. I woke up again to the alarm at 7:00 in the morning and did my normal morning routine. Quickly, I woke up my sister and we went to school. For a couple of days I was thinking about this incident. Was it a dream?Was it my imagination? Or was this all real…Until Sunday 11th of June, my family and I all went to the church to pray and look over the graves. One grave caught the edge of my eye and we all started to look at it. It was a boy who died during the blitz. I had a strange feeling was that the boy who is always in my room. I rushed home and got the book he was reading and came back to the grave. “This is yours now.” I said. I looked at his grave for a couple more minutes and it was a old grey stone with hardly readable letters but I managed to read it his name was..MICHAEL WALLTER NEWTON. The 12 year old boy, died during world war 2. He never came again…

“Kindness Story”
by Bella-Rose Sopitan (Age 11)

“Kindness”
by Emily Lynch (Age 8)

Today I was going to school and I felt happy since it was my birthday. When I arrived at the school gates, I saw a new girl and she didn’t look so happy. I asked her if she was ok, but she just looked at my birthday badge and said, “It’s my birthday not yours!”  I said, “Well it’s not just your birthday.” She stomped off groaning to herself. As a matter of fact, I found out it wasn’t even her birthday!

The next day couldn’t have gone worse. She sat right next to me and started to whisper stuff in my ear, and when the teacher turned around everyone looked at me and the teacher shouted, “Mr Shears office …… NOW!  

 The next day I saw the same girl bullying my best friend Cassie! Ok, now I’m really getting fed up of this girl. I had to sit at the same table as her which was even more annoying. So I asked the teacher if I could sit on a different table but she said that the new girl (called Nora) was a sweet girl. But she thought wrong. I saw her the day after that at lunch and she looked grumpy all on her own but I didn’t feel a bit sorry for her. I looked closer and heard her murmur, “It’s so boring here. No one even wants to play with me.” I thought no wonder, not after what you did to Cassie

It was Friday and I couldn’t stand a bit more of this Nora. Guess what the first thing I see her doing is? She’s tripping up Jasmin this time! That was ENOUGH! “I’ve absolutely had ENOUGH of you!” She froze and stood still. She gasped “Hugh!” “…Ha ha ha ha ha!” “You thought I would stop!” By the end of the school day I gave up on Nora. “It’s no use”, I told Cassie as we walked home. “Nora’s won I can’t stop her anymore.” But just then I remembered that the school was still open and Nora had left her locker open! ( I was going to look in her diary only because I wanted to know her secret). I told Cassie I would be back, but Cassie had to follow me.

I ran through the school gates just as they closed. Me and Cassie were in! I told her to be silent because I didn’t want anyone to find out that we’re here, so we snuck over to Nora’s locker. As I said her locker was open! I took out a light blue, leather A5 book that said Nora’s diary. I read through the pages as I found a worries page. I read the first note. Her mother had died and her father was going away for a long time She lived with only her brother and her brother was very stubborn. I read on. It said that if her brother was older, he must do the greatest things so she (Nora) was going to copy him. There was a picture of her brother hurting her when she was very young.    

I looked at the picture closley. He was doing exactly what she was doing at school

I turned around to Cassie with my mouth wide open. I couldn’t believe what I had just read and seen . On the way out through the fire exit, I told Cassie everything and she had the same reaction as me.

On Saturday I went over to Cassie’s to have a sleep over. We took turns to go on the laptop and we had a mid night feast! But most of the food was popcorn so Alex had to puke and had to go home sadly. So for the rest of the night it was just me and Cassie.

I stayed home at Sunday and just watched TV that’s all really.

I walked over to Nora, when I reached the school gates that Monday and gave a little frown but she looked at me kindly. She said that the new girl called Alesha helped her notice her ‘mistakes’ and now she knows why people try to keep a distance from her. I didn’t know if I could still trust her. The new girl had an afro and a golden, brown skin. She looked confident and asked why I looked confused. I said that I didn’t know why Nora was acting friendly. She said that she told Nora that bullying people isn’t the right thing and it wasn’t too late to change her ways. Somehow she actully noticed the pain she was causing to other people. Anyway, Alesha wanted to be friends with me so I said sure! Me and Nora are friends, but I’m keeping an eye on her just in case.

“Last Wish”
by Esmira Oztoprak (Age 9)

Last Wish!

It was a very sunny day, I was running around the park! I still got my last wish balloon, and I was thinking so hard what I want for the my last one , bright pink colour  balloon! I never believed in all this miracles, it is probably my mum, but it is very nice when all wishes became a true! I don’t remember my third wish balloon , yellow! Yes, yellow? Yellow!? What about was yellow!  Barbie doll was white one! Green was scooter! Sky blue….Hmmmm ??? Oh yes it was little hand bag for my baby doll! Purple was for a pencils! Lovely pencil, I lost couple of them already!  Orange balloon was for a new bike! My old one wasn’t bad , but I like to have one like Julia, with a little basket , I can put my teddy bear or a my little baby doll! Oh yessssss! I remember! I remember! Yellow was picachu outfit! I like this outfit tooooo much! And now ….it is left just one last wish balloon! And I don’t know…….maybe an i ice cream van! Yes! An ice cream van ! No no toy store!? Yes ! Toy store, all toy stores in London ! Yes this is my wish! And I never sell any toys for Lena! She is a very naughty girl! No toys for her! Ok ! Mum! Mum! ,

– Yes , my darling! “

–  I know ! My last wish ! “ I sad, it is all toys shops in London!

– Why? It’s very bad wish , as you will get bored very quickly! The toys are similar any way! -answers my mum!

-Yes ! But then Lena can’t buy toys any more!

-But then one day you will get bored of all this toys , you will want  to play with Lena but she don’t want to be your friend any more! Think a better wish!

– yes ,you right mum!

We was walking down to the park! I want to play in the play area ! I was running, jumping up and down! I saw one girl in the sand island, I asked my mum and run there, play with her !

I sad hi , to my new friend, she sad her name is Amber ! We was playing with sand, we done a very big sand castle, sand animals and we got lots  of fun ! Then my mum said , that is dinner time and we will go home soon ! She gave me my last balloon, pink and bright! I ask Amber if she will came tomorrow to play and run around the park?

She looked at her mum, and she sad :

-I don’t know ?! if my mum will be able to bring me! I can’t walk ! I only can sit and play with sand! Then Ambers mum came and put her in baby chair, she smiled and start pushed her down to the road !

-Buy! !” Quietly said Amber!

-Buy! “ I replied! I watched couple of minutes how her mum pushed her in the chair!

My last wish , please….,please! “ I want my new friend Amber, I want she will be able to walk ! “I let it go that bright pink balloon in to the sky! Please!

Well done again to all our entrants, and be sure to check back in tomorrow to read all of the wonderful poems we received!

Volunteers’ Week: Helping the community during lockdown

Sarah, Enfield Libraries volunteer

Here in Enfield Libraries, we have an enormous amount of respect for our volunteers. They are an integral part of our service, from delivering books to our housebound customers, running parent and toddler sessions to our club coordinators and computer buddies to name just a few roles! We value their support and the time they give up to enrich our service, and want to say thank you for all your hard work!

As this week is Volunteer’s Week, we’ve reached out to some of our regular volunteers to find out what they have been up to during lockdown, and got back some wonderful stories of how those who are able have been supporting the people around them during this time.

Images from our International Volunteer Day celebration, 2019

Shelby, one of our children’s activity volunteers, has been helping an elderly neighbour with their shopping. We know that for many elderly people, just venturing to the shops right now is far too dangerous. Many are shielding, or are taking care of their partners who have underlying health conditions or mobility issues, so to take that bit of worry away from your neighbour who may be struggling is a wonderful gesture of kindness.

Mercy, who runs the Bookworm Reading Group at Ordnance Unity Centre has been keeping up with the club members online. They’ve been swapping recommendations for books, as well as films and plays to keep each other going while stuck indoors. For anyone who may be interested in joining in on their virtual conversation, please email bookwormouc@gmail.com for more details!

Finally, Sarah (pictured above) is a former Summer Reading Challenge volunteer who started coming in as a shelving buddy during her time off school. She sent us the following rundown of the ways she has been supporting those around her during the lockdown:

Although I was unable to go outside I did my best to support within my household. At the beginning of lockdown my father unfortunately was ill. I supported him and cared for him along with my mother and siblings. I played my role by looking after the house and supporting my younger brother with school work as lessons have been taking place from home.

My mum is an essential (Key) worker and so has been very busy with work, caring for people that are less able. I tried to ensure that all was well as she often comes home extremely tired, doing her best for the community. I also spoke to members of the church I attend online, such as some of the elderly members to see if they needed anything and spoke about what we enjoy such as baking which brought smiles to our face.

My older sisters and brother are also essential workers so I contact them when they are at home to ask how their day went and if they needed anything such as food. I continue to do my role in helping in the possible ways that I can.”

We’re grateful to have these hardworking people in our community, and even more grateful they’ve chosen to be a part of our library service. Please comment and let us know how volunteers have supported you either during or before the lockdown, or if you’re a volunteer yourself jump in the comments and get the praise you deserve! For those who may be interested in volunteering with Enfield Libraries in the future, please visit our website here to apply!

Libraries From Home: Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week begins on Monday the 18th of May, and the theme set by the Mental Health Foundation for this year is kindness. It was chosen this year in particular because, with so many of us being separated from friends and family right now, it’s more important than ever to extend kindness and support to each other in whatever ways we can.

We’re hearing and seeing stories online about neighbours and local businesses supporting each other, people coming together to clap for our NHS every week, and even entertaining each other YMCA style. These acts of kindness provide a bit of respite from the fear, stress, and loss so many of us are experiencing right now and those who are being kind can experience as much of a boost as those who are receiving kindness.

Libraries are spaces people use for learning and information, but they also provide an escape from feelings of isolation for many. Whether it’s at our Tea and Chatter events with Age UK, our book clubs, volunteering with us, getting a visit from the Home Library Service for those who are housebound, or the many other events and activities hosted by us. However, it can be tough to think of new ways to still provide that escape in a time where people are more isolated than ever before.

Library users can access our Digital Library for access to Books on Prescription titles

We wanted to provide something in addition to the access to books and courses you can access with your library membership, and also reach out to those who maybe aren’t aware of these resources and would find them useful if they knew. So, inspired by the Enfield Stands Together project and how the council is partnering with local organisations like Age UK, Enfield Voluntary Action and more, we decided to collaborate with Mind in Enfield for Mental Health Awareness Week.

Both Mind in Enfield and Enfield Libraries exist as information and education resources for our local community, and while we were thinking of ways to provide support for our library customers at a distance the Mind in Enfield team have a wealth of knowledge in that very area.

We have collaborated on a resource pack for Enfield Residents with information on how to support your mental health during this time, linked to Mind’s 5 Ways to Well-being: Observe, Learn, Connect, Keep Physical, and Give.

The resource pack can be accessed here via the Mind in Enfield Website.

We’re extremely proud of the final product and want to extend a massive thank you to the team at Mind in Enfield for being so willing to work with us and to provide so much worthwhile information. Please be sure to check out their online exhibition of arts and crafts created by their clients from home, as detailed in the pack.

We have more coming your way for Mental Health Awareness week and beyond, including our super exciting children’s writing competition! Be sure to keep an eye on our socials and let us know what random acts of kindness you’ll be participating in.

Libraries from Home: For the budding film reviewer

Photo by Lucas Pezeta on Pexels.com

So we’ve regaled you with news of our music concert streaming service, Stingray Qello, but did you know you can also access IndieFlix with your Enfield Libraries membership? If you didn’t, our roving reporter Dan has gone on another fact finding mission for you all!

IndieFlix has unlimited access to thousands of titles – an impressive collection of short flims, documentaries and many classic cinematic works. Creating an account with your library card is easy, and then you can start adding films that you’d like to see to your list.

There are numerous genres to browse through, but we’ve picked 5 classic films to whet your appetite…

M (Fritz Lang, 1931, 108 mins)

German expressionist director Fritz Lang made his first sound film with this influential thriller. Peter Lorre is the murderer pursued by both the police and the criminal underworld.

In The Heat Of The Night (Norman Jewison, 1967, 109 mins)

Winner of the Oscar for Best Picture in 1967, this crime drama features Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger (who also bagged an Oscar for his performance) as the detective and police chief investigating a murder in Mississippi.

The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949, 104 mins)

Voted the greatest British film of all time by the British Film Institute in 1999, this legendary film noir stars Joseph Cotten as a writer searching for his best friend (a charismatic Orson Welles) in postwar Vienna.

Sherlock Jr (Buster Keaton, 1924, 44 mins)

Buster Keaton stars as a young projectionist with an interest in being a detective. Keaton was one of the great visionary filmmakers of the silent era, and this film features some of his most well-known and inventive stunts.

Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946, 100 mins)

There are a number of films from the Master of Suspense for you to choose on IndieFlix, but this spy thriller is the pick of the bunch. Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman attempt to infiltrate a group of Nazis, Claude Rains is their prime target.

We’d love to hear what you’ve found while you’ve been searching the site – what have you liked? What should we check out next? Let us know!

Libraries from Home: one for the music lovers

Did you know we have a FREE streaming service for filmed concerts and music documentaries? Well if you didn’t, you do now! Stingray Qello is great for indulging your nostalgic side, and especially brilliant if, like us, lock down is making you miss live music. All you need to access this treasure trove of musical bliss is your library membership!

This is a fairly new resource, so we set Dan, our roving reporter, the task of investigating the nooks and crannies of it for us:


Stingray Qello has the world’s largest collection of concert films and music documentaries – and it’s all at your fingertips! Creating an account with your library card number is easy, and then you’re free to explore the best live acts and most popular artists that music has to offer. Browse the list of genres, decades and artists to find your favourites and discover some new gems.

You can even add your favourite live tracks to your own ‘setlist’ to create the perfect gig for yourself!

To get you in the mood, here are 5 of our top picks – maybe you were lucky enough to catch some of these live at the time!

qello3

  1. Queen – Tie Your Mother Down (Live at Wembley Stadium, 1986)

How about this for a setlist opener? An explosive number from Messrs Mercury, May, Taylor and Deacon, kings of Wembley after their memorable Live Aid performance a year earlier.

qello4

  1. The Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar (Ladies and Gentlemen, 1971)

The Stones at the peak of their powers. We won’t judge you if you fancy a little Jagger strut while blasting this out!

qello5

  1. Cream – Crossroads (Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 2005)

The original supergroup? Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker managed to put their differences aside (for this performance, at least!) for a series of reunion shows in 2005.

qello6

  1. Talking Heads – Life During Wartime (Stop Making Sense, 1983)

A strong contender for the best concert film ever made. It is impossible to sit still when this track from the post-punk/new wave icons is playing – and a good bit of exercise if you try and keep up with the onstage jogging!

qello7

  1. Blur – The Universal (Live at Hyde Park, 2009)

The Britpop heroes returned for a series of rapturously received gigs in 2009, including headlining Glastonbury. ‘The Universal’ was the perfect way to say goodbye and send everyone who attended off into the night.


 

As well as filmed concerts, Stingray Qello also boasts an impressive collection of music documentaries and films. Here’s 3 to check out…

  1. Meeting People Is Easy (1997)

In 1997, Radiohead brought out their seminal album OK Computer, hailed as a classic upon its release. The subsequent tour took its toll on lead singer Thom Yorke, uncomfortable with the level of acclaim and celebrity suddenly thrust upon him and his band. It’s an intriguing insight into “life on the road”.

  1. Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years (2016)

Oscar-winning director Ron Howard explores the Fab Four’s live experiences – from their earliest shows at Liverpool’s Cavern Club to their globe-conquering performances at the height of Beatlemania, to find out what kept them going, and what made them eventually retire from performing in 1966.

  1. No Direction Home (2005)

Martin Scorsese brings together interviews and archive footage to examine the early life and career of Bob Dylan – in particular his transition from acoustic folk hero to an “electric” rocker.


With thousands of hours of performances and documentaries at your disposal, it’s easy to get lost in a whirlwind of melody, noise and extravagance – let us and others know what you have discovered and would recommend in the comments!

Libraries from Home- the World Book Night Edition

WBN banner

It’s World Book Night 2020, and Enfield Libraries are celebrating by sharing our current and favourite books! Join in with the #ReadingHour (from 7-8 pm tonight) on social media, share what you’re reading with us or give us a few recommendations!

Our library staff are a varied, enthusiastic bunch, with many different tastes! So we’d love to share with you some books that we’ve recently read and loved, and some old faves. These are our personal favourites, some might not be available in our Digital Library- but you can always add it to your lists for when we reopen!

(Adding to your list is free, it doesn’t reserve the book but it will allow you to go back at a later date and decide if you definitely want to place a hold for it)

Grab a cup of tea and get those wish lists ready!

Sylva:

My favourite recent read has to be The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. Even though I read it last year, it’s stayed with me ever since- it’s a behemoth of a book at 804 pages long, but one that will grip you from start to finish. Don’t let its size intimidate you! Contains dragonriders, court intrigue, a secret order of mages, and the impending return of an ancient evil being. What’s not to love? Samantha Shannon has also written the excellent Bone Season series, currently 3 (nearly 4!) books in- please read them, you won’t regret it! If you’re waiting for Priory to be available to borrow, the first in Samantha Shannon’s Bone Season series is available on Libby for Overdrive, and in audio on Borrowbox.

I am also currently reading Ninth House, by Leigh Bardugo. Alex Stern can see ghosts, an uncanny ability that overshadows her life and gets her fast-tracked to Yale University to oversee the occultist dealings of their secret societies. It’s pretty dark in places, but utterly gripping!

Diana:

I’ve read a few books over the last few weeks but my favourite has been The Alibi Girl by C.J. Skuse. It’s a book that I didn’t want to put down and it kept you guessing throughout!

Timea:

Currently reading Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking.

I highly enjoyed Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. A very short and quirky book, great for a quick read and rather humorous if only because the main character feels very off kilter to what most will be used to.

I also 100% recommend The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I’ve never read prose more beautiful and touching than hers. A real tearjerker that has touched me very deeply. You need not be a classicist to appreciate this beautiful relationship.

Phil:

The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Professor Brian Greene. Discover why multiple universes are not just possible but probable, almost all recent theories support the idea of multiple universes. You may not be the only you! Fascinating cutting edge physics written for the non-astrophysicist.

Kate:

I really enjoyed The Choice by Claire Wade, it was a bit difficult to get into but when I got to about half way through I couldn’t put it down. It’s set in the UK and the government is monitoring everything you do, everything you eat, how much you exercise, how much you buy. I related to the main character as she used to be a baker but as sugar is illegal she isn’t allowed to do what she loves, I love to bake and it’s been something I’ve used to relax during these times and can’t imagine someone telling me I can’t!

I also loved The Store by James Patterson. It is a really easy read, about a world where a store like Amazon is taking over, invading peoples privacy but trying to make it seem like this is what people want and need. The story flows and keeps you interested throughout.

Warren:

I recommend Washington’s Spies by Alexander Rose – A fascinating insight into the quill pen and invisible ink era of late 18th Century spying. The author brings alive the true story of the American spy network that helped win the War of Independence from Britain. As well as suspense, tension and tragedy, Rose gives us compelling portraits of a rogues gallery of double agents, code-breakers, smugglers and the sometimes hopeless amateurs who provided General Washington with vital information.

George:

I recommend The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse. It’s simply sublime comedy and an excellent tonic remedy for our current times.

Jacqueline:

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams- A funny, honest, heart-wrenching book about a black woman in her late 20s living in Brixton, who just broke up with her boyfriend and is coping absolutely terribly with it! This book is painfully relatable, but with really important points about how we’re impacted by trauma, the importance of understanding how to manage your mental health, and of learning to love yourself.

First, We Make the Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wilson- With everything going on outside and the intensity of the news, it’s only normal to feel even a little bit scared, and for those of us living with anxiety and mental ill health it can just spiral and spiral. The easy, conversational tone of this book about the author’s personal experience makes it very approachable. She also offers tips and advice for how to manage it, some of which have been very useful at this moment in time.

Annarita:

I have finally managed to read Becoming by Michelle Obama. I really enjoyed the book and ‘getting to know’ the former First Lady. She comes across as a very caring, down to earth person, sincerely interested in the welfare of especially disadvantaged people. It was nice to learn about her humble beginning. Growing up in a working class family with strong moral values definitely contributed to her becoming such a humane and fair person. I think the book is really well written so I enjoyed her style of writing with a good sense of humour.

Oxana:

I’ve just read My One True North by Molly Johnson. I liked her belief that things happen for a reason, doesn’t matter how bad it gets, there is a bigger and better plan for you out there. Emotional and sweet, would highly recommend!


Reader’s Corner

Some of our library members have been sending us their reviews of library books they have been enjoying! You can contact us through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to tell us what books you love, and we’ll happily feature them here!

Andy recommends:

Rosewater by Tade Thompson.

The first part of a recently completed trilogy, I came to this late when the author followed me on Twitter but I’m glad he did! The titular Rosewater is a city in 2066 Nigeria that grows from a shanty town to a teeming metropolis of several millions in a matter of years after an alien ‘biodome’ plummets into London in 2012 and burrows its way through the earth to settle in the Nigerian outback in 2055. The alien presence frees up ‘psychic’ powers in some humans, including our narrator, Kaaro – it also ‘opens’ once a year and sends out spores that heal anyone in the immediate area. However, things are more complex than they seem and Kaaro, whose powers are employed by a shady government dept, is forced to start investigating when he discovers his fellow ‘sensitives’ are being killed off. Taking in afro-futurism, biopunk, alien invasion, colonialism, mixed timelines and crime noir (and zombies!), this is a dazzling piece of sci-fi which, as the best in the genre does, mirrors and asks questions of contemporary society. I cannot wait to see where the author takes this in the next two books.

Sandra recommends:

A Question of Trust by Penny Vincenzi.

You always get the most amazing books from this writer.  They are usually 600 plus pages, involve fascinating characters, and you have help working out relationships always by the Character List at the start of the book. I am quoting from a review: “Glamorous, escapist and gloriously enjoyable”! I have noticed over the years that several writers who I rushed to read maybe 10 years ago, now seem to have none of writing skills that I admired then.  Not so with this author. This was published in 2017 and is as enjoyable as books published in 2020. You have a rich cast of characters, and can learn about the political scene at the time, 1940s and onwards. There is love interest, heart-break, politics and glamour all together.


anagrams

And finally, we’d like to leave you with a fun game! These anagrams are made out of the names of some famous authors… can you guess who they are?

  1. Darkness Cliche
  2. Sting Me Anywhere
  3. Queen Scowl In Jail

Leave your answers in the comments!

Libraries from Home

female-woman-home-bookThese are certainly strange and uncertain times, but Enfield Libraries are still here to help as much as we can! There’s loads you can do with your Enfield Library membership from home, and as our physical libraries are temporarily closed, you can now join online without having to visit a branch, so you can start borrowing eBooks and use our other eResources from home! (click here to join as a member today)

There’s so much that we can do for you while closed! We’re going to do our very best over the coming weeks to share recommendations, tips and information for you on this blog and on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Our blog is still quite new and we’d love to reach as many regular and new library members as possible, so please do give us a follow so you can get the latest posts sent straight to your inboxes!


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Some of you might have gone through all your library books by now, and if you are hankering for fresh reading material, we have eBooks, eAudio, magazines and newspapers that you can get on your tablets or smartphones! All of these have apps you can download so you can read or listen to them with ease, you can register with each app individually with your library card and pin number.

Overdrive: eBooks, eAudiobooks, and Graphic Novels

Overdrive has a list of collections if you aren’t sure what you want or if you want to browse through the available titles; they have Comics and Graphic Novel collections, dedicated Children and Teen pages for the kids, and if you like genre fiction- check out their lists of the latest Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance and so on! There is a dedicated app for Overdrive called Libby that you can download from your Google Play or app stores. 

Are you sight-impaired, dyslexic, or have dyslexic or sight-impaired loved ones? Overdrive also have options in their reading settings where you can change font sizes, backgrounds, use dark mode and choose the OpenDyslexic font! Just check out your book of choice, tap the middle of the screen if using a smart phone or tablet, and adjust your settings to your needs.

RB Digital: eBooks, eAudiobooks, Magazines, and Graphic Novels

RB Digital has everything- from eBooks to Graphic Novels to magazines! It is easy to use and has a great variety of material available for your entertainment. There will be some changes coming soon to the RB Digital e-reading features, including text-to-speech support, a dyslexia font, Dark and Sepia settings and more! We’ll tell you more about them when they are available to use.

Download the RB Digital app here.

uLibrary and BorrowBox: eAudiobooks

If life is hectic and you think you might not have time to read anymore, why not try out an eAudiobook? You can access a great selection for free on all 4 of our resources, and all conveniently have apps that you can use on your smart phones or tablets. Spice up your workout with a romance, or inject a bit of excitement into the household chores with a good thriller! If the speed of the narrator is just a bit too slow for you, why not tailor it to yourself and speed it up?

Having trouble drifting off to sleep? Find an old favourite, set your sleep timer (so you don’t sleep through the whole book!) and drift off to the sound of your favourite narrator. I’ve been making my way back through the Harry Potter audiobooks 15 minutes at a time every night, partly because it’s a story I know and love, and also because Stephen Fry has one of the most soothing voices known to man.

Download the uLibrary and Borrowbox apps today!

PressReader: Free Newspapers and Magazines

Free eCopies of newspapers and magazines come in particularly handy if you are self-isolating and can’t go out for your daily paper. Thankfully, with your Enfield Library card you now have a wide choice of newspapers at your fingertips! Follow the instructions for downloading the PressReader app here.

 

 

 

Black History Month in Enfield Libraries

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We are proud to celebrate Black History Month in Enfield Libraries every year, and this year in particular we’ve had some fantastic events for children and adults, and more still to come – have a look at what’s on this month:

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Recommended Books for Black History Month

It doesn’t take much for us to jump at the chance to highlight some of our favourite BAME books, so when we were coming up with ways to celebrate Black History Month, our staff were more than happy to share their book recommendations!

This is by no means a comprehensive list, so if you have any favourite books by black authors or featuring black characters, feel free to send them our way- comment on this post, or message us through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Continue reading “Black History Month in Enfield Libraries”