Books with a sense of place – Podcast 14

Hello and welcome to the Falkirk Libraries podcast. Today Vikki and Margo were discussing our take on all things travel but, in particular, books with a sense of place.  All of the books and dvds referred to in this blog can be found at

What we have been reading and listening to:
Vikki has been reading:
• Danya Kukafka – Girl in Snow
• Shane Spall – The voyages of the Princess Matilda
Margo has been reading:
• Gail Honeyman – Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine
• Philip Pullman – The Book of Dust

New and forthcoming adult books:
• Louise Candlish – Our House
• John Connolly – The Woman in the Woods (A Charlie Parker thriller 16th in the series)
• Kirsty Logan – The Gloaming
• Walter Lucius – Angel in the Shadows
• Raymond E Feist – Kings of Ashes

New and forthcoming children’s books:
• Lemony Snicket/Matthew Forsythe – The bad mood and the stick (0-5)
• Nigel Auchterlounie – Dennis and the Chamber of Mischief (9-11)
• Linda Newbery – Polly’s march (9-11)
• Sue Wallman – Your turn to die (Teen)
• Yuval Zommer – The big book of the blue (Non Fiction)

DVD recommendations
The Snowman (15)
Happy Death Day (15)
Paddington 2 (PG)

Our Reading Agony this week: “I’m pregnant and I’m wondering what the library can offer parents and new-borns”
We had a general discussion about all the different books and activities there are on offer for parents to be at the library, covering areas such as:
• baby names
• pregnancy
• life with a baby lots of different parenting styles and theories
• general parenting
• weaning, sleep, potty training
• relationships with siblings,
• baby massage
• starting school and nursery.
• Some factual some quite humorous…
• We also have activities – Bookbug Rhymetime,
• books for babies
• My First Library Card scheme: when you register you’ll receive:  An exclusive, specially-designed, library card; a lovely cotton tote bag featuring our library bear; vouchers for free activities across Falkirk Community Trust.

Staff quote of the day: “We’ve got loads of tubes and we never do anything with them”( To clarify that would be map tubes not people, any suggestions please get in touch!)

Our discussion was all about books we have liked with a sense of place. Below are some of the titles we have enjoyed past and present. We agreed that in lots of the books we both read the setting and landscape is like another character in the story, or used by the author as an important plot device. We also agreed that novels set in another country and / or place and time give you as a reader a totally immersive experience, not only the feel of another culture but also a slice of history as well, perhaps. Here are some of the authors and titles we discussed with their main setting listed as well.
• Ragnar Jónasson –  Snowblind, Blackout, Nightblind (Iceland)
• Hannah Kent – Burial Rites (Iceland)
• Annie Proulx – Shipping News (Newfoundland)
• Margaret Atwood – Alias Grace (Canada)
• Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Half of a yellow sun (Nigeria)
• Elizabeth Laird – Welcome to Nowhere (Syria)
• Nadia Hashimi – Pearl that broke it’s shell (Afghanistan)
• Meera Syal – House of Hidden Mothers (set between UK and India)
• Donna Leon (Venice)
• Salley Vickers – Miss Garnet’s Angel (Venice)
• Joanne Harris – Chocolat, Lollipop Shoes, Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure, Blackberry wine, Five quarters of the orange, Coastliners. (France)
• James Lee Burke – Detective Dave Robicheaux (set in New Orleans and Louisiana)
• Fred Vargas (France mainly Paris)

Some Children’s Titles
• Katherine Rundell – Rooftoppers (Paris), The Wolf Wilder (Russia)
• Cornelia Funke’s –Thief lord (Venice)
• Philip Reeve’s – Pugs of the Frozen North

Did you know? The Library is a source of all sorts of travel information. We have guides to many parts of the world from shorter guides for weekend breaks, or more comprehensive ones for the independent traveller, lots of walking guides and Ordnance Survey maps, cookery books from around the world often accompanying latest tv series, children’s books on different countries, festivals food etc. Not to mention lots of travel memoirs. Below are just a small sample:
• Mhairi Hedderwick (author & illustrator of the Katie Morag children’s books)
Sea change; the summer voyage from East to West Scotland of the Anassa
• Alistair Moffat – The hidden ways; Scotland’s forgotten roads
• Rick Stein’s – From Venice to Istanbul, and Road to Mexico.
Hairy Bikers Mediterranean adventure

Thank you for listening to the Library Love podcast, we hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and if you did, then give us a shout out on Facebook or twitter. We love to hear from you and if you’d like to get in touch with us, then go to, Falkirk Libraries on facebook, or @LibFalkirk on Twitter.

Book suggestions from Bantaskin Primary


We had a chat with some P7s and P1s from Bantaskin Primary about their favourite books.  P7s and P1s at Bantaskin do shared reading where the older children read to the younger pupils – I persuaded a few of them away from their reading and chatted with them about the books they love the most.

Sorry for the sound quality – we recorded this right next to the music room, so we had a little theme tune going on.

Jake, Crystal, Mark and Amy chose:

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson (picture book)
The Three Little Pigs (picture book)
Gruffalo’s Wean by James Robertson and Julia Donaldson (picture book)
The Twits by Roald Dahl (6-9 years)
The Magic of the Unicorn by Deborah Lerme Goodman (11-14 years)

Thanks very much to everyone in P7M and P1McP at Bantaskin Primary.

We’d love it if local primary schools want to share some top book suggestions with us – just email tanya.milligan@falkirkcommunitytrust with your audio recording of your pupils sharing their suggestions or just drop us an email with a list of recommendations.

International Women’s Day – podcast 13

Hello and welcome friendly podpeople. So lovely to see you on International Women’s Day. Vikki, Lynne, Anna and I (Tanya) chatted about women’s issues today – but this is definitely a podcast for 100% of the population

What we have been reading and listening to:
Lynne has been reading:
• Val McDermid – Retribution
Vikki has been reading:
• Muriel Spark – The Driver’s seat
Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear
Tanya has been reading:
• More Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
Anna has been reading:
Neogenesis by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller – Most recent in the Liaden series – an SF book, very strong on character with a real Georgette Heyer in space feel
And listening to these podcasts:
• Tim Ferris: Tribe of mentors
• Gretchen Reuben: Happier

New and forthcoming adult books:
Head Case by Ross Armstrong
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Iron Gold (Red Rising Series) by Pierce Brown
This Could Change Everything by Jill Manselll
Deeds Not Words by Helen Pankhurst

New and forthcoming children’s books:
The Strongest Mum by Nicola Kent (0-5 years)
The Big Box by Sue Graves , illustrated by Louise Forshaw (5 – 7 years)
• Reissue of Ailsa Wild’s Squishy Taylor series (7-9 years)
A most magical girl by Karen Foxlee (9-11 years)
The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson (12 – 15 years)

DVD recommendations:
Atomic Blonde (15)
Wind River (15)
Lego Ninjago Movie (PG)

Our Reading Agony this week: ‘I’m a busy mum, all these books sound great, but I don’t have time to read’
Ebooks while kids falling asleep
Eaudiobooks / audiobooks – while doing other things, such as traveling, housework, feeding / sleeping children / cooking tea
• Take a book to work and read during lunch
• Be a reading role model and read so your kids see you – curling up with a book on the sofa together under a duvet is lovely
• Always have a book (e or paper) with you for any waits
Quick reads – short, high interest books by popular authors
• Short stories
• Kids and Teen books
• Get rid of your tv and social media and read instead ….
• Encourage your children to take up activities with days /weekends away….

Staff quote of the day ‘We need more scary women’

Our Discussion was looking at feminism and things we’ve loved as women. It was fairly wide ranging, ‘cos we’re all pretty keen, but here’s a brief taster of what we touched on and some book recommendations:
International Women’s Day 2018 campaign theme: #PressforProgress
• It’s just over 100 years since women (over 30) got the vote in February 1918
• I (Tanya) recommends that everyone should read How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran;
Guilty Feminist podcast (sweary warning) with descriptions of the comedy industry and sexism
• What annoys me – that research has found that women read more than men, that there are more women authors than men, but that far more books by men are reviewed in newspapers. I haven’t counted what we review here… maybe we should …
• We have a load of new books on the libraries’ shelves about inspiring women, rebel girls etc.

Lynne recommends women in rock memoirs. Particularly:
• Carrie Brownstein (Sleater Kinney and TV’s Portlandia) Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl
• Viv Albertine (UK punk icons, The Slits) Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys ,Boys, Boys
• Patti Smith’s Just Kids,  the beautiful memoir of her youthful NY relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe
And adds: Chrissie Hynde’s Reckless and Kim Gordon’s Girl in a Band

Vikki remembered historical strong women, especially Eleanor Marx and Ada Nield Chew and we talked about the joy of Virago published books , especially authors Angela Carter, Margaret Atwood, Marilyn French, Maya Angelou ,Vera Brittain, Muriel Spark.

Other powerful women writers inspired Vikki as a young woman:
Maya Angelou
Alice Walker The Colour Purple & In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens.
Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
• Anna was interested in the girl boss idea and recommended:
• Jen Sincero : You are a bad ass
• Elizabeth Gilbert: Big Magic
• Sarah Knight: You do you

• The Reading Agency have a great new book list of brilliant books for kids with strong women

Did you know? Libraries have loads of comics and they are for everyone.  Have a look back at our Podcast 5 all about comics, but here’s a couple to tempt your children with strong central female characters: DC Superhero Girls, Lumberjanes and My Little Pony. Also, for older teens (a bit of a sweary warning, but themes not too adult) Paper Girls which Vikki loves

Coming Soon: Digi Drop in Day. This is for everyone to try our techie kit. It’s at Falkirk Library, during the Easter School holiday on Friday 13th April. Try our 3D printer, create your own design in Tinkercad, give coding a go. We’ll have cool toys, we’ll use our green screen to slot you into the photo of your choice. You can learn about Ancestry to search for your family history, get advice about tablets and we’ll show you how to set up and use our eBooks, magazines and audiobooks. We’re still planning this extravaganza so watch our facebook page for details.

Thank you for listening to the Library Love podcast, we hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and if you did, then give us a shout out on Facebook or twitter. We love to hear from you and if you’d like to get in touch with us, then go to then go to, Falkirk Libraries on fb, or @LibFalkirk on Twitter