Top Picks from Read Liverpool

Connecting our Communities: Top Picks from Read Liverpool

It’s lockdown, you’re bored and you need to escape reality without leaving your home. “How?” you ask. Here’s where Liverpool City Council’s amazing Libraries and Information Service team come in, along with Read Liverpool – the valuable e-reading platform, available at your own fingertips.

The Read Liverpool service is completely FREE of charge and features a wealth of books, audio, comics, magazines and newspapers.

In fact, this wonderful resource is so expansive that we needed the help of our own Libraries team to get some top recommendations…

Steven Dearden, Team Leader

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle

It might also be time for a ‘comfort read’ – an all-time favourite you haven’t read for years. My favourite is The Hound of the Baskervilles – everyone has recollections of this on film – whether the Basil Rathbone black and white masterpiece or more recently Jeremy Brett or even Peter Cushing. The book is every bit as good! If this interests you, some other crime classics we have available include Agatha Christie’s Poirot and George Simenon’s Maigret.

Hammer to Fall – John Lawton

A brand new thriller in the style of Philip Kerr or John Le Carre, this is the third title to feature spy Joe Wilderness  – here posted in disgrace to remote northern Finland during the swinging ’60s. Inevitably the action culminates in cold war Berlin. A brilliant author to discover if you haven’t tried him before – lots of titles are available on our e-platform.

Selections from the diary of Samuel Pepys – Samuel Pepys

If you are stuck indoors more than usual it may be a time to tackle one of the big, long classics you have always meant to try! I would recommend Pepys Diary, the definitive eye-witness account of 1660s London – the Great Fire and plague included. Pepys is unequalled for his frankness, high spirits and sharp observation.

London labour and the London poor – Henry Mayhew

This is the fullest picture we have of labouring people at the time of Charles Dickens, who was a friend of the author, Henry Mayhew. Their hopes, customs, grievances and habits of the working classes come alive in their own words.

Under Milk Wood – Dylan Thomas

Finally, if you haven’t used e-audio recently you could ease yourself in with a memorable shorter masterpiece of the radio play of Under Milk Wood. Richard Burton is brilliant as the narrator… “To begin at the beginning, it is spring, moonless night in a small town, starless and bible black…”.

Pauline Scotland, Library Manager Childwall & Team Leader Archives

Open Season - CJ Box

Open Season – C. J. Box

This is the first in a series of mystery books featuring Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett and his family.  Joe is charged with investigating the first murder he has ever encountered when a poacher turns up dead in his backyard. Joe battles grudge holding neighbours, corrupt officials and out of town activists as he begins to unravel a mystery that threatens the life and family he loves.

What makes this this book special is the main character, Joe Pickett. He loves his family but is also dedicated to his work, he is smart but he’s not perfect. And the best thing is there are twenty books in the series!

Pied Piper – Nevil Shute

When he tries to escape back to England from France after Germany invades, John Howard agrees to take the two small children of friends with him. John collects other children on his journey through the French country side.

Nevil Shute is such a great story teller, I whizzed through this book. It was written during the war which adds interest because the author would have no idea what the eventual outcome of the war would be.

Georgina McGarry, Library Assistant

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets  – J K Rowling 

This is the second book in the popular series, but it is by far the best one in my opinion, as we catch up with Harry and his friends. We find Harry discovering more about his past, while the pupils and teachers find themselves fearing Harry, as more and more of his past unravels. Will Harry survive? Will he yet again defeat the dark side of the followers of “he who shall not be named”? Will Moaning Myrtle discover how she died? Grab the kids or just make some hot choc, grab your magic duvet and lose yourselves in the magical world of wizards and witchcraft.

Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

This book is a charming step back in time that takes you into the heart of a period that is far removed from modern day life. It has drama and intrigue, a hint of romance, and Bathsheba is a force to be reckoned with! You will either love her or love to hate her – she is everything a women needs to be; clever, cunning, but also compassionate, and she leads her suiters on a merry dance. The men who cross her path are all very different but all have one goal in mind; to win over Bathsheba and make her theirs. A great read for an afternoon with your favourite cake and a cuppa! I give it 5 *****.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams 

Grab your bath towel and the drink of your choice, as you strap in for a whirlwind ride around the galaxy with Arthur Dent and his friend Floyd the alien! This intergalactic duo bounce, hop, shoot and crash through the Galaxy on a mission to goodness knows where!  If you need some light-heartedness in your life and a good ol’ belly laugh, this is the book for you. The aliens are out their… Literally! If i could give this book 100 stars I would, but   a big fat 5* will have to do.

My Not So Perfect Life – Sophie Kinsella 

Kate Brenner is a 20-something girl. She travels the tube to work, she dreams of money and perfection, and longs to be the woman she portrays in her Instagram posts. In reality, she lives in a flat with three very strange flatmates. She is also envious of her boss and tries to escape her country girl past, only to be thrown right back to her roots. Will Katie ever get the life she wants? This is definitely a bottle of wine and bar of chocolate read. If you want light-hearted escapism, then give this a try. I promise it will not disappoint.

The Stand – Stephen King

One of the most disturbing “end of days” books that you will ever read about a struggle between mother, Abigail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman; and Randall Flagg, the nefarious “Dark Man”, who delights in chaos and violence. Who will survive and who will die? If you are looking for a truly frightening page turner, then try The Stand. I read this book over three nights and it is as good as it is frightening. So if you’re having trouble sleeping and your imagination is under control, give this a try… But be warned; it’s not for the faint of heart!

Ellen Williams, Library Assistant

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

This is my all time favourite book. It’s the ultimate story of unrequited love, but it’s also so much more. For a relatively short novel, it is rich in history and packed with detail… so much so you will want to read it over and over again just to check you’ve not missed something seemingly trivial but actually desperately important. It is so rare to come across a book where you feel like every word was ever so carefully chosen by the author, but this is one of those moments.

Normal People – Sally Rooney

My latest read, I’d seen there was going to be a TV adaption airing at the end of April and wanted to get going and read the book before I saw it on television. I was not disappointed. The book follows the young lives of Marianne and Connell, and the enduring connection between them. It is this connection, both special and normal, frustrating and exciting, and always so wonderfully written by Rooney that makes this book shine.

Atonement – Ian McEwan

A beautiful and devastating book written in three parts, it tells a dramatic story in pre-war England which then almost hauntingly transcends through the Second World War and into the modern day. This book almost works on two levels. The first level is the gripping love story of Robbie and Cecilia, and the second is perhaps a more complicated story of growing up and the consequences of the changing perspective this can bring. Ultimately, the story comes to end with the best twist I’ve ever read. My advice would be to make sure you’ve got tissues at the ready!

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

One for lovers of the likes of Mindhunter (perhaps looking to fill a post Netflix binge).  A masterpiece of true-crime. In this book the gripping and terrible account of the 1959 murders of the Clutter family in Kansas almost plays second fiddle to the author turned detective’s pursuit of a story in which all the characters, both victims and perpetrators are fully fleshed out. It is at times frightening, but ever so human, how Capote manages to make the strict categories of definitions such as ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’ blur, and it is this talent which will have you questioning everything you think you know about morality. Note: it is definitely worth doing a bit of research around the context of this novel to fully appreciate its controversy.

The Five – Hallie Rubenhold

This might be cheating a little as I haven’t actually read this title yet, but it is very much next on my list and I am so looking forward to get started! As a history graduate it is so exciting when you see a buzz around a new work of historical non-fiction, and I’m sure from the reviews I’ve read that this will be a worthy prize winner. It promises to be a revisionist history of the Victorian ripper murders, in which the women so violently killed are returned their voices and able to break out of the narrow confines of a victim narrative in which society and history has cemented them… what’s not to be excited about?!

Pat Nuttall, Library Manager Norris Green

How to be a Fottballer - Peter Crouch

How to be a Footballer – Peter Crouch

This is an easy to read,  funny,  light hearted look at the life of a professional footballer.  I laughed out loud in parts.  Not really an autobiography but more a collection of funny stories. Peter Crouch comes across as likeable, intelligent and very funny.

The Hundred year Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson

This story will make you smile.  It’s about 100 year old man called Allen,  who climbs out of the window of his nursing home to escape his 100th birthday party, that he didn’t want in the first place. Next follows a series of unlikely adventures which include being chased by a criminal gang.  We also find out about Allen’s life and the crucial role he has played in some of the 20th century’s momentous events.

Jan Grace, Archivist – Liverpool Record Office

The Book Thief

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

This is a fictional story, narrated by Death, set within the factual background of living in Germany during World War Two. There are unsettling and sad moments, but the main character discovers the power of the written word after she takes a book from a gravedigger and goes on to steal books from a rich person’s library. To celebrate Hitler’s birthday there is a book burning, where she takes another book. It’s very poignant, not long after reading it I saw the Bebelplatz in Berlin, where there is memorial, empty library shelves seen through a glass paving stone, for a book burning of books by Jewish authors during the war.

God’s Architect – Pugin Building of Romantic Britain – Rosemary Hill

A biography of Augustas Welby Northmore Pugin, architect of numerous churches, he also collaborated with Charles Barry for the Palace of Westminster, the clock tower of Big Ben being one of his most universally viewed. He is known for his recognisable Gothic Revival style, he was prolific, many of his designs can still be seen in various parts of the country including alterations to AltonTowers, the ruins of which are still to be seen. The pulpit of my local church SS Peter and Paul’s in Crosby was designed by A W Pugin and is a good example of his busy style. Possibly the most incredible thing about A W Pugin is how much work he completed before his death, aged 40.

Bringing Up The Bodies – Hilary Mantel

This is the second part of a trilogy about the life of Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540), and follows on from Wolf Hall. It’s a work of fiction, based on fact and is essentially about how Cromwell joins forces with Anne Boleyn’s enemies to get her executed. Thomas is in an endlessly changing, fascinating position as the brutality and double dealing of life in Henry V11’s court is demonstrated. It takes some exceptional writing to be able transport the reader from a 54 bus in Liverpool to being rowed across the Thames while feeling a total part of the intrigue

Anatomy of a Soldier – Harry Parker

Some very unusual perspectives on the life of a British army captain following the moment he steps on an IED incendiary trap in a war zone. Each chapter presents differing viewpoints, some from inanimate objects, but characters, including local people from the area of the war and those involved in his recovery also play an integral part. It’s a fascinating read and interesting to know that Harry Parker, in common with the main character, lost both his legs while serving in the army in Afghanistan.

God in Ruins – Kate Atkinson

This is a work of fiction, based on carefully researched facts about World War Two in London and the south of England. It helps to have read her earlier novel, Life after Lifewhere the same characters, including the main players, Ursula Todd and her brother Teddy are introduced, but I feel God In Ruins is a much more powerful book. The time is not chronological, it jumps around and stories with a beginning are given different endings and outcomes. It sounds complicated, but is easy to read and evokes London and the lives of its people at this time in history.

Aside from all of the amazing literary pieces listed above, there’s even a dedicated Kids section, should the little ones need something new to keep them entertained.

Do any of our recommendations take your fancy? If so, sign in or register with Read Liverpool, set up your device and get searching for them today!