Every month, we shine the light on a book from our collection – one which is new to the library, which has been particularly enjoyed by a borrower, recommended by a volunteer, or which seems salient to the month’s events or happenings. To see the archive of past books of the month (formerly book of the week), click here.

The current book of the month is…

January: The Book of Hopes ed. Katherine Rundell

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January is always a good time for hope: even in the depth of winter, a hope for all the bright and good things that will happen in the year to come. It’s why we make resolutions, there’s Veganuary and Dry January and gym memberships double in the first month of the year – it’s the hope that we will improve ourselves, hatch into something new. This year we’re all hoping for something a bit simpler, though: just that this year will be better than the last.

The Book of Hopes edited by Katherine Rundell is an excellent place to start in reflecting on hope. In her introduction, Rundell outlines why it’s so important: “Real true hope isn’t the promise that everything will be alright – but it’s a belief that the world has so many strangenesses and possibilities that giving up would be a mistake.” Vaccines and statistics and science can give us hope, but so too can delight and wonder. Even in the darkest times, you can find hope through imagination, which can take you to joyful places, thoughtful dreams, adorable situations. It is the possibility of change and the power of the unexpected that can give us hope, and this wonderful collection reminds us of that.

Though nominally for children and families, this book can be enjoyed by people of any age. Poems, short stories, and brief meanderings have been commissioned from over 100 much-loved illustrators and writers (including Kevin Crossley-Holland, Jackie Morris, Yasmeen Ismail, Jacqueline Wilson, Joseph Coelho…), and the result is kaleidoscopic. Put an axolotl to bed in Catherine Johnson’s instructions to “Never give your axolotl chocalatl in a botl, / Serve it in a tiny eggcup, not too cold and not too hotl.” Visit the town of Hope near Aberdeen in Anthony Horowitz’s poem. Hear Ed Vere describe stumbling across a hare while out for a walk, or learn to fly with a baby dragon in Katie and Kevin Tsang’s offering. Each contribution is bite-sized, for when you need just a shot of wonder, and is peppered throughout with doodles, drawings, and cartoons.

Now more than ever is the time to be reminded of the strange and magical world we live in, and this book is an ideal antidote to despair to keep us going until we can all explore a bit more of that world again. Here’s to a more hopeful, more delightful, and more wonderful 2021.