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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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The Reader launches its 5th annual Bookshelf

Liverpool-based national charity The Reader today launches its fifth annual Bookshelf 2024/5 and the new theme is ‘Wonder’.

This annual collection of 24 novels, plays, poetry and non-fiction for adults, young people and children is a carefully curated list exploring a different theme each year. It is designed to inspire people to discover a diverse range of literature, old and new, including through Shared Reading.

The Reader launches its 5th annual Bookshelf

Highlights of this year’s recommended list include Jonathan Swift’s 18th century tale of adventure Gulliver’s Travels, The Fat Lady Sings, a story of mental health by black British author Jacqueline Roy and Alive Again, a picture story for ages 3+ exploring philosophical questions about the cycles of life by award-winning Iranian author and poet Ahmadreza Ahmadi. 

There is also the aptly named Wonder, an eclectic mix of old and new poems inspired by The Natural History Museum’s collections.

All come recommended for Shared Reading by the charity’s colleagues or volunteer Reader Leaders, who are trained by The Reader to run Shared Reading groups.

Katie Clark, Director of Literature at The Reader, located in Calderstones Park, said:

“This energising, hopeful theme goes to the heart of Shared Reading. ‘Wonder’ is about being bold, curious and open, not least in our reading choices. It’s about surprise and encountering other points of view. ‘Wonder’ will remind us to notice the changing seasons and the natural world, as we open the door to new experiences and connections for visitors to Calderstones Park. 

“We’ll also be thinking about what happens when wonder runs to excess, or when it runs out. ‘Wonder’ can be about the very big, or the infinitesimally small; the extraordinary and the unknown.”

Frances Macmillan, The Reader’s Head of Literary Content, said:

“Our 2023 Weathering the StormBookshelf led to many Reader Leaders and their groups around the UK connecting with literature that was new to them, and the theme resonated with many during a challenging year. 

“The sense of new beginnings, energy and hopefulness is in-built into our new theme of ‘Wonder’ and I hope the new Bookshelf, which mixes tried and tested Shared Reading favourites with new discoveries, will open the door to many more powerful reading experiences.”

To see the full list and find out more about The Reader’s new Wonder Bookshelf 2024-25 visit here.

FULL LIST: The Reader Bookshelf 2024-2025: Wonder 

FOR ADULTS:

Novels

  • Foster by Claire Keegan – an acclaimed 2010 novella about a young girl sent to live with foster parents in rural southeast Ireland.
  • Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski – a father’s attempt to trace his lost son after World War Two is a story of how to live with the pain of hope.
  • The Fat Lady Sings by Jacqueline Roy – a story of mental health and race set in a psychiatric ward.
  • Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift – lauded as one of the greatest novels of all time. 
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – what happens when curiosity and the thirst for knowledge goes too far? There is more to this famous novel than Hollywood and Halloween.

Poetry

  • A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry ed. by Czeslaw Milosz – themes of ‘Nature’, ‘Travel’, ‘Places’ and ‘People Among People’ are explored in this wide-ranging collection of poetry from around the world, full of the spirit of wonder.
  • She Had Some Horses (and other collections) by Joy Harjo – a powerful exploration of women’s most intimate moments – of despair, of their imprisonment and ruin, but also of their awakenings, power, and love.

Short Stories

  • A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin – a selection of 43 stories, this is considered one of the most remarkable unsung collections in 20th-century American fiction. Berlin’s stories are full of joy and wonder at life, even at times of confusion and suffering.
  • Collected Short Stories by Ray Bradbury – a fantastical, imaginative, left-field collection looking at humans from the perspective of distant futures and outer space, but also from the midst of the everyday.

Ancient work

  • The Conference of the Birds by Farid Attar – a 12th century Persian poem which describes the consequences of a conference of the birds of the world in search for their ideal king

Play

  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare – magic, spirits, charms, sprites and sea nymphs…a brave new world, or one that reflects our own back to us?

Essays (non-fiction)

  • Surfacing and Findings by Kathleen Jamie – third collection of essays by the Scottish poet, exploring ‘late middle age’, archaeological digs and the natural world.

FOR CHILDREN:

Picture books

  • Alive Again by Ahmadreza Ahmadi – when the blossom falls from the trees, a little boy wonders, will it come back? A tale for ages 3+ about understanding and hope from one of the greatest Iranian contemporary poets.
  • Twenty Questions by Mac Barnett – a quirky, wandering exploration of where the best questions lead to stories.
  • The Something by Rebecca Cobb – creative wonderings through the eyes of a child.
  • This is Not a Book by Jean Jullien – a playfully deceptive format that challenges young readers to see things differently.
  • Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena – an energetic bus ride through a bustling city highlights the love and understanding between a little boy and his grandmother.

Middle grade 

  • Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan – 15 stories that transform the everyday into the extraordinary.

For older children

  • Skellig by David Almond – a multi-award winner about a mysterious character encountered by a 10-year-old boy when he moves into an old house with an ancient garage.
  • The Final Year by Matt Goodfellow – the first novel, told in verse about a boy entering Year 6 by a leading children’s poet, with atmospheric pictures by a Carnegie-shortlisted illustrator.
  • Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell – inspired by ancient poetry, Norse sagas and Greek myths, this is the first book in a new series about a secret archipelago where all the creatures of myth and legend still roam.
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – a joyful, funny and deeply moving story about the friendship between a girl called Fern, a special pig called Wilbur and a beautiful, large, grey spider called Charlotte.

Poetry

  • A Whale of a Time ed. by Lou Peacock – an inexhaustible, whimsical collection of funny poetry for children.
  • Wonder: The Natural History Museum Poetry Book ed. by Ana Sampson.

READ MORE: THE READER ANNOUNCES NEW SUMMER SEASON 2024

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