Tag Archives: library lounge

Library Lounge Collection: further favourites

Here’s the second half of our series of Library staff top picks from our leisure-oriented reading collection located in the Forum Library Lounge.


The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox

Chosen by Hilary Norris, Information Assistant

This is a story of revenge and obsession set in Victorian England.  It is written in the style of Victorian novelists such as Wilkie Collins but with a more modern sense of moral ambiguity. I enjoyed the detailed recreation of Victorian London and I was gripped by the plot from the opening line.

Find it in the Forum Library Lounge at classmark 823.92 COX  




Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch

Chosen by Roxanne Crabb, Forum Library Supervisor

Jaffy Brown begins life in the sewers of Victorian London with only poverty to look forward to – until a chance encounter with a tiger propels him into the world of Mr Jamrach, a collector of exotic animals. In Jamrach’s employ, animal-loving Jaffy struggles to reconcile his fairytale-like joy at being able to walk amongst bears, camels, tigers and toucans with the harsher realities of his new job: many of these creatures are extremely dangerous and the conditions of their captivity are cramped and squalid.

When reports of dragon sightings in the East Indies tempt Jaffy to sign on to a whaling ship in the hope of capturing one of these mysterious beasts, the novel morphs from a lively, almost Dickensian, portrait of lower class London life into a work of nautical horror that recalls both Moby Dick and particularly Poe’s Arthur Gordon Pym. The tone is often grisly but this fast paced survival adventure kept me gripped throughout.  Birch unfolds a harrowing but unforgettable story with a diverse cast of characters. Jamrach is apparently based on a real historical figure but I felt the real menagerie here was the ship-bound one: Jaffy’s crewmates are an assortment of misfits who are as memorable, as unpredictable and ultimately as dangerous as any exotic beast.

Find it in the Forum Library Lounge at classmark: 823.92 BIR   



The Sixth Lamentation By William Brodrick

 Chosen by Jo Brewer, Shelving Assistant

Father Anselm is a monk, who was previously a barrister, and this is the first in a series of thrillers that feature him. The book starts with an old man claiming sanctuary at the Priory where Father Anselm lives. The old man is a suspected war criminal and wanted by the police. The story then moves back and forth in time between occupied France in the Second World War and the present day. This is an intricate book, weaving together the stories of several people and it keeps the suspense going right until the twist at the end. Both a gripping and a thought-provoking read.

Find it in the Forum Library Lounge at classmark 828.91 /BROD


If you missed the first half of this series then you can read another three mini reviews as well as a brief introduction to the Lounge collection here.

What do you think? Did any of these titles tickle your fancy? If you’ve borrowed any of the books from the Library Lounge collection and would like to share a recommendation of your own then we’d love to hear from you. Let us know your favourite Library Lounge titles by commenting here or on the Library Twitter: @ExeterUniLib

Library Lounge collection: some of our favourites

Of course our primary aim is to support your research, but did you know we do also stock a number of books geared more towards leisure and recreational reading?  The Library Lounge Collection is shelved  just at the entrance to the Forum Library on level 0. This collection contains a regularly updated selection of books intended to cater to a broad selection of interests and abilities: from graded readers to help international students improve their language skills, to genre-fiction bestsellers, or novels that have been shortlisted for literary awards like the Man Booker or Orange prizes.

Books from this collection can be self-issued in the normal way using the machines located on each floor of the Forum Library. Ask staff you need a hand doing this.

So why not have a browse next time you’re passing by? You might just find your new favourite novel!

Find these and many more titles in the Library Lounge


Here are a few favourites from this collection chosen by Library staff:

The Oath by Michael Jecks

 Chosen by Rachel Dawson, Shelving Supervisor

Michael Jecks is a local author who writes about places we know.  However, as his novels are set in Medieval history we see these towns and cities in a different light.  Michael Jecks’ writing often includes a murder and The Oath is no different.  It’s a more complex book than the others I’ve read by him, as the story is told from the perspectives of different people and eventually they all link up and meet up.  The setting is 1326 – a time of great unrest due to a falling out between King Edward II and Queen Isabella.  Their 14 year old son (who later became King Edward III) is used as a pawn and the knights and peasants find their lives significantly disrupted by the King and Queen’s dispute.  This is a great way to learn about historical events and the lives people lived then, whilst being entertained by an excellent fictional murder mystery.  I left me feeling grateful that however difficult things seem today, it’s a lot easier than living in the 14th Century!

Find it in the Forum Library Lounge at classmark: 823.914 JEC  



The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Chosen by Jo Brewer, Shelving Assistant

The circus arrives mysteriously and only opens at nightfall. Within are magical displays and an array of fascinating characters.

This is an amazing and imaginative book where you escape and become immersed in the sights, sounds and sensations of a different place. It is a story of illusion, manipulation, love and rivalry. In reading this book you embark on a journey of the imagination and to say any more would detract from the element of magic it contains. All I will say is that I didn’t want the book to end!

Find it in the Forum Library Lounge at classmark: 813.6 MOR  



The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham

Chosen by Finlay Jones, Digital Library Resource Developer

Although perhaps better known for The Day of the Triffids or The Midwich Cucoos, The Kraken Wakes is an excellent piece of 1950’s sci fi horror from Wyndham. The novel follows the events of a three-stage clandestine invasion from aliens who settle in deep sea trenches all over the world, from the perspective of a married pair of journalists.

Although I was initially disappointed that there was in fact no Kraken mentioned, this ended up being one of my favourite elements. Wyndham leaves the alien threat almost entirely unexplained (in fact, it is not even explicitly stated that they are aliens) which allows the reader to invent their own form, motive and methods using their imagination- inevitably much more terrifying. I also particularly enjoyed how long it takes the penny to drop for the general public, with the realisation of the threat left to only a few “scare mongers”.

Stylistically the book is somewhat dated, but the themes covered could be from last week. The bad flooding suffered this winter, the Russian-Crimean situation (although in the book Russia is a simple red herring for the west to blame) and the management/manipulation of the media and media ethics are all echoed in the book.

Overall a thoroughly enjoyable read.

 Find it in the Forum Library Lounge at classmark: 828.9/WYN-4  


Would you second any of  these suggestions? If you’ve borrowed any of the books from this collection and would like to share a recommendation of your own then we’d love to hear from you. Let us know your favourite Library Lounge titles by commenting here or on the Library Twitter: @ExeterUniLib

Stay tuned for more Library staff recommendations coming later in the week!


Library Lounge Collection: Library Staff Top Picks 3

The third and final part of our series of Library staff recommendations from the Forum Library Lounge.

The Cosmic Verses: A Rhyming History of the Universe by James Muirden

Chosen by Janet Sandy, Information Assistant

Its dust cover says “This is the story of five millennia of  ‘head-scratching’ – of how humans have tried to make sense of the cosmos.  …. James Muirden’s wonderful new poem cleverly and humorously examines the quest for understanding of our universe. … The Cosmic Verses encapsulates and illuminates five thousand years of the greatest thoughts and thinkers…in brilliantly constructed couplets, cheerfully and copiously illustrated with David Eccles’s delightful line drawings.  … Wonderfully funny and extremely clever, The Cosmic Verses: A Rhyming History of the Universe instructs and clarifies even as it amuses.”

This book is great fun and extremely informative, being written in an historical time line from before 700 BC to after 1900.  I have giggled out loud while reading it, am enjoying it tremendously and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys poetry and enjoys learning.

Find it in the Library Lounge at 821.089 MUI


The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Chosen by Viki Jones, Shelving Assistant

A young boy called Daniel is taken to a secret library called the ‘Cemetery of Forgotten Books’ by his father and is allowed to take one book which he must protect. Daniel picks a book called The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax. He enjoys the book so much he looks for further books by the same author only to discover that a strange man calling himself Laín Coubert (after a character in The Shadow of the Wind who happens to be the devil) has been seeking out Carax’s books for years, buying them all and burning them. Intrigued, Daniel must find out why….

Full of mystery, intrigue and with a doomed love story this is a great book by a Spanish writer (translated into English by Lucia Graves). The plot has a story within a story and I was drawn not only into Daniel’s life but Julián Carax’s. I also love the idea of a secret location hiding and safe guarding forgotten books. Do we have one hidden in the basement of the Forum Library?

Find it in the Library Lounge at  868.6/RUI-10 


Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

Chosen by Kerry Pankhurst, Collections Manager

This is a gripping debut novel about obsession, domestic abuse and the psychological impact of both. It is not a comfortable read and I found it really quite chilling, but unputdownable. The narrative jumps between two timelines which is incredibly effective at building the tension. It definitely made me double check if my front door was locked at night!

Find it in the Library Lounge at 823.92 HAY



Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl

Chosen by Imogen Ward-Smith, Information Assistant

These stories are macabre, dark, twisted and wonderful; Roald Dahl’s unique imagination in an adult outlet. The book contains eleven varied tales with a common thread of the sly and slightly sinister side of human nature. Think horror, revenge, lies, cheating, murder, and theft. If any of the above appeal to you, then give this book a go! Not necessarily recommended for bedtime reading, at least I couldn’t (I don’t like scary movies or roller coasters and these tales definitely count as nightmare-fodder) but they gave me a delightful satisfying shiver that wasn’t at all unpleasant.

The bit that most stuck with me….


…. There is a brain kept alive in a bowl!!

Find it in the Library Lounge at 828.9/DAH-4 


State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Chosen by Roxanne Crabb, Forum Library Supervisor

This is a challenging book both in terms of its pacing (after a slow start it gets more and more gripping as it goes on) and the mighty ethical questions with which it grapples, but it’s well worth a read. Dr Annick Swenson is a field researcher working in the Brazilian rainforest, studying a tribe whose women continue to bear  children long into old age. She is being funded by a pharmaceutical company to produce a miracle fertility drug, but progress is slow and Dr Swenson is becoming increasingly elusive. When her colleague, Anders – sent to the jungle to report on the project’s progress – is reported dead in rather ambiguous circumstances, the scene is set for Patchett’s heroine, Dr Marina Singh, to make the trip herself.

This is a great pick for the armchair explorer: Patchett evokes the beauty, danger, and above all the strangeness of the Amazon in a way that is truly mesmerising. Twists abound too, some of which I had anticipated and a few of which left me breathless. State of Wonder is a walk on the wild side, both in the way it takes you into the steamy heart of the rainforest and in the way that it is not afraid to needle, albeit gently, at some of the big moral problems in Western society.

Find it in the Library Lounge at 813.6 PAT


If you missed the earlier posts in this series check out Part 1 and Part 2.

As you’ll see, the Library Lounge offers a wide variety of recreational reading material. We hope something from our selections will appeal to you. If you’ve read any of the books Library staff have chosen this week why not let us know if you agreed or disagreed with our verdicts? You can Tweet us or leave us a comment on Facebook.


Library Lounge Collection: Library Staff Top Picks 2

Have we inspired you to borrow a book from the Forum Library Lounge yet? Here’s the second part of our series of staff recommendations for books we enjoyed from this diverse and growing recreational reading collection. Perhaps one of these titles will tickle your fancy…


The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

Chosen by Rachel Dawson, Shelving Supervisor

This book was so well written that I ‘had’ to locate the sequel (Tandia) from the public library, and work out if this book was in any way autobiographical, as it was written with such warmth and depth that I was sure it couldn’t be ‘just another novel’. It turns out that the author was born in South Africa, so this is why he is able to write with such understanding of the culture and superstitions of the people there.  A bit like The Kite Runner this book has some disturbing scenes, but they are appropriate and character driven.  Whilst the Kite Runner was made into a film of the same name, The Power of One was made into a film in 2009 and was also used as a basis for ‘Rocky’ – the main character ‘Peekay’ becomes a boxer.  There are plenty of messages the reader can pull out of this book – things like adversity making you stronger, but readers can also pick up some knowledge of South Africa as a country and its history.

Find it in the Library Lounge at 828.9 /COU


Sister by Rosamund Lupton

Chosen by Viki Jones, Shelving Assistant

This is the debut novel from Rosamund Lupton. The story revolves around Bee an English woman living and working in New York, whose sister Tess is missing in London. Bee gets the first flight back to the UK to help in the search.

I found this a compelling read as Bee tries to find out what has happened to her sister. There is an amazing twist that I didn’t see coming! You will have to read the book to find out what it is!

Find it in the Library Lounge at 823.92 LUP



Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

Chosen by Anne Dinan, Subject Librarian for Education, Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology

‘Good King Richard’ or an evil usurper? Maligned king or tyrannical monster of Shakespeare’s play?  “Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority” ( Francis Bacon).  An interesting view is provided in this book, written more than 50 years ago, but published here as a reprint. This novel sheds new light on the mystery of the Princes in the tower and on the role of Richard III – particularly topical given the recent discovery of the skeleton in the Leicester car park having been identified beyond reasonable doubt as that of the last of the Plantagenet kings. The novel is written as a detective story, where the clues are discovered and debated, and a conclusion finally reached.  It is written with humour, and is very thought provoking.  I read it years ago and have just re-read it after the recent news story.  I recommend it; it will certainly ask you to re-think your view of history – not just about Richard III.

 Find it in the Library Lounge at 828.9/TEY


I’m not scared by Niccolo Ammaniti

Chosen by Hilary Norris, Information Assistant

An Italian thriller (translated into English by Jonathan Hunt) told through the eyes of a young boy. During a hot summer nine year old Michele stumbles across a secret hidden in a dilapidated farmhouse. What he finds will threaten to destroy his community, his family and his life. I recommend this novel because it is a story that kept me gripped all the way through.

Find it in the Library Lounge at 858.9 /AMM-2



Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Chosen by Imogen Ward-Smith, Information Assistant

Lee Fiora is a girl from small town Indiana who takes up a place at an exclusive finishing school in New England; this story recounts her experience. Curtis Sittenfeld, writing as Lee, describes so accurately how it really feels to be a young adult navigating the social quagmire that is college/university life.

There are elements of how I felt about life and relationships during my years at school and university that I hadn’t even recognised until seeing them mirrored in the main character. Anybody who has ever been socially awkward, felt like an outsider, or simply been through the experience of trying to fit in needs to read this book, whether you are in that place now or if you left it behind many years ago, in which case it will take you back! Prep had me at different times chuckling, cringing and exclaiming “ that’s me! I felt like that!” I’ve read this book twice and I’d read it again. It’s an ‘easy’ read in that it doesn’t require a huge amount of concentration or effort, it’s the perfect distraction and escape.

Find it in the Library Lounge at 818.6 /SITT


Part 1 of our Library Lounge Recommendations can be found here.

The final part in this series will be published on Friday!

Library Lounge Collection: Library Staff Top Picks 1

Did you know that as well as supporting research we also have a lending collection geared towards leisure and recreational reading? This is located in the Forum Library Lounge area, just at the entrance to the Library on level 0. The Library Lounge provides a more relaxed learning space with comfortable sofas and vending machines, so it’s a great place to take a break or to meet your course mates for informal study.

Students in the Library Lounge

The Library Lounge Lending Collection contains a growing array of books you can borrow. Content is selected by the Library team with the aim of covering a broad selection of interests and abilities including graded readers to help international students improve their language skills, genre-fiction bestsellers, and some of the novels shortlisted for literary awards like the Booker or Orange prizes.

So please feel free to borrow books from this collection – they can be issued in the normal way using self-issue machines. Not sure where to start? Don’t worry! Over the coming week Library staff will be sharing our top picks and recommendations from the Library Lounge collection on this blog – perhaps we will inspire you!

Shogun by James Clavell   

Chosen by Jim Green, Digital Library & Marketing Assistant

Set around the clash of civilisations as Europeans with their guns encounter Feudal Japan at its Bushido-wielding might. Clavell’s impeccable research and descriptive reading make this classic historical novel come to life. Revealed a lot about life, love and death in Japan at the time in the context of rival warlords determined to seek out any advantage they can in their quests to become Shogun. A great adventure with strong central characters and scene-setting on an epic scale.

Find it in the Library Lounge at classmark:  828.9/CLAV


 Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Chosen by Hilary Norris, Information Assistant

A comic fantasy novel about Armageddon as predicted by the “Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes   Nutter. Witch”.   A funny and philosophical novel with a wide range of characters including angels, demons, Witchfinders, a scatterbrained satanic nun, the four horsemen of the apocalypse and Adam (the antichrist). I would recommend this novel because it makes me laugh every time I read it. If you enjoy this book you may like to try Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman or the Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett. These books are also in the Library lounge collection.

Find it in the Library Lounge at classmark: 828.9 /PRA



Manja: a novel about five children by Anna Gmeyner

Chosen by Caroline Gale, Library Liaison Manager

Set between the world wars in Germany, this tells the story of 5 children, from conception to early teens, focusing on their friendship and how this is ultimately changed forever by the differing political beliefs of their parents.

Anna Gmeyner was an Austrian exile, writing in London in 1938, so this story feels very authentic in its coverage of the rise of Nazism in Germany. The innocent friendships of the children make wonderful reading: it’s a satisfying book with a powerful message.

Find it in the Library Lounge at 828.9 /GME


 The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

Chosen by Roxanne Crabb, Forum Library Supervisor

In this magical adventure novel people fall into three categories: the living, the long dead, and the people who are dead but still have living friends, families and former colleagues to keep their memory alive.  The City of the Dead is neither Heaven nor Hell, but it’s a place where souls can ‘live on’ at least until the last person to have known them passes over. The novel’s chapters alternate between the story of Laura Byrd struggling to survive in Antarctica and character-studies of those City inhabitants who once knew her. This book isn’t perfect but I could overlook the plot-holes because the polar survival parts (which riff on Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s real life classic, The Worst Journey in the World) are quite exciting and, above all, because the City of the Dead chapters are always tender, sometimes funny, and raise so many interesting questions about memory and the connections and experiences that make us who we are. Worth a read.

Find it in the Library Lounge at 818.6 BROC


Pure by Andrew Miller

Chosen by Imogen Ward-Smith, Information Assistant

Set in 18th Century Paris, the story describes a young engineer’s task of destroying a crumbling church and relocating its thousand years worth of buried human remains. The cemetery is full to overflowing and the decaying of corpses buried there taints the Paris air for streets around. The bones are buried in pits in the graveyard, layers upon layers deep and the excavation work must be done by a team of men, by hand.

It’s possibly a slightly distasteful subject – the description was so vivid I could taste the decay in the air – but told in such a beautiful and real way that I was gripped and could not put it down. This was a book that I kept sloping off to my armchair to “just read a bit more” then coming round three hours later having done nothing but read, but not minding one bit because it was worth it.

Find it in the Library Lounge at 823.92 MIL


Watch out for Parts 2 and 3 of our Library Lounge Top Picks coming later in the week…..