As part of this year’s Chester Literature Festival, we’re celebrating our love for everything words, book and libraries!
We wouldn’t be who we are without the incredible team who keep our library running from day to day, and we wanted to help you get to know some of their friendly faces a little better.
One thing we all share in common is a love for books of all shapes, tastes and sizes, so we asked some of our library team members to sit down and share some of their reading habits with us…
Hi! What’s your name and what do you do at Storyhouse?
I’m Holly and I’m part of the library team. We’re lucky as we do a bit of everything!
We help people with everything from choosing books to getting online. We lead fun Rhymetimes for little ones, craft sessions for adults and generally help people to access books and culture in lots of different ways.
What do you enjoy most about working in the library?
The variety – we never quite know what we’ll be asked next and I love that challenge!
People often mistakenly think that library work is quiet and slow – that couldn’t be any further from the truth. Libraries are amazing, non-judgmental spaces – we are sanctuaries, save havens, treasure troves of adventure, sources of trusted information and even just somewhere to sit and take five minutes out of the stresses of daily life without question or comment – I love being part of that!
And what are you currently reading?
I’m a bit of a horror and non-fiction fan so have been eagerly awaiting the publication of Into the Uncanny by Danny Robins.
Based on Robin’s supernatural BBC podcast, the book investigates stories of ‘ordinary people who have experienced extraordinary things.’ It looks at tales of the paranormal through a contemporary, often witty and amusing lens and tries to answer some pretty impossible questions about the world of ghosts and ghouls.
I’m enjoying it, but it’s definitely not one to read at bedtime…
What was your favourite book when you were younger?
I was fascinated by spooky things even from an early age – I had a really beautifully illustrated, abridged version of A Christmas Carol (well, it actually belonged to my sister but I was always ‘borrowing’ it and it now sits happily amongst my book collection at home!)
I was intrigued by it, afraid of it and even today it’s not Christmas until I’ve opened its well-loved pages and revisited it.
What’s been your favourite book from the last 12 months?
It’s tricky to choose, so can I have two favourites?!
I loved Diary of a Void by Emi Yagi. Translated from Japanese, it’s a subversive, strange and often darkly funny tale about a woman who becomes irritated by the expectation that she alone will keep her workplace clean and tidy…just because she’s the only woman amongst a team of men. She decides to announce that she’s pregnant and therefore can’t undertake these housekeeping duties any more due to being nauseated by odours and becoming quickly fatigued. The only thing is, she isn’t pregnant. Thus begins an odd tale, with a lot of blurring of real life and fantasy and heaps of intrigue. I loved it!
I used to be a School Librarian and still love to dip into children’s fiction from time to time. I adored author-illustrator Jon Klassen’s take on a Tyrolean folktale, The Skull. Beautifully illustrated, mildly spooky and brimming with wit and foreboding, this little book is an absolute treat for both children and adults.
If you could describe your reading taste in 3 words, what would they be?
Spooky, curious, and dark.
Which book have you always meant to read but never gotten round to?
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. My best friend has leant me a copy and I really must get started on it before it gathers any more dust!
Can you describe your ideal reading scenario?
A chilly, dark afternoon in winter, with something deliciously spooky, enjoyed in the corner of a bustling coffee shop (so I wouldn’t feel so alone during the really creepy bits).
How do you organise your books at home?
Somewhat embarrassingly, my collection isn’t very well organised at all!
I tried to implement the Dewey Decimal System for non-fiction and A-Z by author for fiction, but I find it’s even harder to keep collections tidy at home than it is in a public library. Extra things creep on to our main bookcase like notebooks containing to-do lists, bits and pieces of post, car keys – and suddenly the bookcase is more like some sort of installation – I really must get round to a tidy up soon!
What’s the best book you’ve ever received as a gift?
The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan.
Tan is an artist, writer and film-maker and this beautiful book focuses on his work as a sculptor. Based on the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm, this darkly curious book captures the essence of infamous stories, and brings them to life through words and photographs of some exquisite Tan’s sculptures.
It features an introduction by Neil Gaiman which only adds to its greatness – it’s just beautiful!
Who would be your dream Literature Festival speakers and why?
Shaun Tan, Jon Klassen or Stephen King!
I am fascinated by writers who ‘can do it all’ – illustrate, write and create in many other ways, so I’d love to hear Shaun Tan and Jon Klassen talk about how they create the incredible scenes in their books.
I have read The Shining countless times and I’d happily just sit and listen to Stephen King read a few chapters from it! I’m fascinated by him, he’s the king of the macabre (pardon the pun!).
If you could recommend one book that everyone should read in their lifetime, what would it be?
That illustrated version of A Christmas Carol that I mentioned earlier!
It’d melt anyone’s heart and breathe a little of the often forgotten magic of childhood into everyone.