So here at Essex Libraries we have a theory that January is a very important month for readers everywhere.
Why? Well, just like when your New Year’s Resolution is to use the gym membership you keep paying for more, many people set a resolution that they want to read more. The question is always where do you start?! Do you pick up the books you were gifted for Christmas, or do you want to pick a genre you’ve never read from before?
Enter me (stage right) asking people in the team and libraries what their first books of the year are going to be, because who better to ask than people who are around books all day!
Find out what we’re reading below and don’t forget to send us your recommendations on social media @EssexLibraries
Ghosts by Dolly Alderton
Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he's going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan.
A new relationship couldn't have come at a better time - her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of time passing and opportunities dwindling. Friendships are fading, ex-boyfriends are moving on and, worse, everyone's moving to the suburbs. There's no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who's caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing in slow-motion into dementia.
False Witness by Karin Slaughter
Strange Fascination by Syd Moore
It's summer in Adders Fork. The sun is out, the sky is blue and things are going swimmingly for Rosie Strange, thank you very much. The Essex Witch Museum has been relaunched with a new Ursula Cadence wing and picnic grounds.
Then developers roll into the sleepy village to widen the road. When the centuries-old Blackly Be boulder, said to mark the grave of a notorious witch but now in the car park of the Seven Stars, is moved, all hell breaks out. Within hours a slew of peculiar phenomena descends and, when a severed head is discovered atop the boulder, the locals can take no more and storm the Museum to demand someone take action.
Can Rosie and Sam unravel the mystery? And what of the ancient treasure that could drastically change someone's fortunes and offer a motive for murder?
House of Shadows by Pamela Hartshorne
When Kate Vavasour wakes in hospital, she can remember nothing about the family gathered around her bed, or of her life before the accident. The doctors diagnose post-traumatic amnesia and say the memories should start returning. Which they do - but these memories are not her own. They belong to Isabel Vavasour, who lived and died at Askerby Hall over 400 years earlier.
Returning to Askerby Hall to recuperate, Kate finds herself in a house full of shadows and suspicions. Unable to recognise her family, her friends or even her small son, she struggles to piece together the events that led to her terrible fall.
The Promise Damon Galgutt
There is nothing unusual or remarkable about the Swart family, oh no, they resemble the family from the next farm and the one beyond that, just an ordinary bunch of white South Africans, and if you don't believe it then listen to us speak. The many voices of 'The Promise' tell a story in four snapshots, each one centred on a family funeral, each one happening in a different decade.
In the background, a different president is in power, and a different spirit hangs over the country, while in the foreground the family fights over what they call their farm, on a worthless piece of land outside Pretoria. Over large jumps in time, people get older, faces and laws and lives all change, while a brother and sister circle around a promise made long ago, and never kept.
The Man in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes
In the summer of 1885, three Frenchmen arrived in London for a few days' shopping. One was a Prince, one was a Count, and the third was a commoner with an Italian name, who four years earlier had been the subject of one of John Singer Sargent's greatest portraits.
The three men's lives play out against the backdrop of the Belle Epoque in Paris. The beautiful age of glamour and pleasure more often showed its ugly side: hysterical, narcissistic, decadent and violent, a time of rampant prejudice and blood-and-soil nativism, with more parallels to our own age than we might imagine.
Our guide through this world is Samuel Pozzi, society doctor, pioneer gynaecologist, and free-thinker, a rational and scientific man with a famously complicated private life. 'The Man in the Red Coat' is at once a fresh and original portrait of the French Belle Epoque and a life of a man ahead of his time.
RedHanded by Hannah Maguire
What is it about killers, cults, and cannibals that capture our imaginations even as they terrify and disturb us? How do we carefully consume these cases and what can they teach us about what makes victims and their murderers our collective responsibility?
This book rejects the outdated narrative of killers as monsters and that a victim 'was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.' Instead, it dissects the stories of killers in a way that challenges perceptions and asks the hard questions about society, gender, poverty, culture, and even our politics.
With Bala and Maguire's trademark humour, research on real-life cases, and unflinching analysis of what makes a criminal, the authors take you through the societal, behavioural, and cultural drivers of the most extreme of human behaviour to find out once and for all: what makes a killer tick?
Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett
Holy Wood is a different sort of place. People act differently here. Everywhere else the most important things are gods or money or cattle. Here, the most important thing is to be important.'
Alchemists have always thought that they can change reality, shape it to their own purpose. Imagine then the damage that could be wrought on the Discworld if they get their hands on the ultimate alchemy: the invention of motion pictures, the greatest making of illusions.
It may be a triumph of universe-shaking proportions. It's either that or they're about to unlock the dark secret of the Holy Wood hills - by mistake...
Ask a Historian by Greg Jenner
In 'Ask a Historian' the author, BBC podcaster, and public historian Greg Jenner provides answers to things you always wondered about, but didn't know who to ask. Responding to 50 genuine questions from the public, Greg whisks you off on an entertaining tour through the ages, revealing the best and most surprising stories, facts, and historical characters from the past. Bouncing through a wide range of subjects - from ancient jokebooks, African empires, and bizarre tales of medicinal cannibalism, to the invention of meringues, mirrors, and menstrual pads - 'Ask A Historian' spans the Stone Age to the Swinging Sixties, and offers up a deliciously amusing and informative smorgasbord of historical curiosities, devoured one morsel at a time.
Ooh! what a lovely pair by Ant and Dec
An idiosyncratic collection of vivid observations, colourful reminiscence and charming digressions, Ant and Dec's book is packed with comical anecdotes, and will give millions of fans an insight into the genuine intimacy and refreshing sense of humour that the two TV icons share.
Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osmond
In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders. But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, The Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case. The four friends, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron, might be pushing 80 but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it's too late?
The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osmond
The second instalment in the number one Sunday Times bestselling Thursday Murder Club series featuring the old (but far from past-it) team as they pursue a brand new mystery. It's the following Thursday. Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He's made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster and a very real threat to his life. As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn't that be a bonus? But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn't bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?