The 20 Most Borrowed Books of 2015

2015 has been a fantastic year for books so as the year ends we thought we would share with you the 20 most borrowed fiction books from all Hillingdon libraries over the last year.

  1. goset Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

With To Kill A Mockingbird being a much loved book by many it’s not really a surprise to see this one on the list. As soon as Go Set a Watchman was released we had huge reservation lists on all our copies as readers were desperate to find out what happened to Scout, Jem & Atticus Finch.

2. miracle Miracle at Augusta by James Patterson & Peter De Jonge

Miracle on the 17th Green was first published back in 1996 and is a very different kind of book of James Patterson book with only two copies existing in Hillingdon Libraries. We can only assume that the sequel Miracle at Augusta has been so popular with our readers this year because it is a James Patterson novel and they always issue well.

3. stranger The Stranger by Harlan Coben

The Stranger released in March has been another huge success for Harlan Coben, the master of the suspense thriller. Be sure to keep your eye out for The Five, a new Sky original drama series written by Harlan which will be premiering at some point in 2016. I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of episode one and it looks amazing.

4. cavendon The Cavendon Women by Barbara Taylor Bradford

The Cavendon Women is the second book in the Cavendon Hall series, a sweeping historical saga that’s billed as being perfect for Downton Abbey it’s hardly surprising that it has been one of our most borrowed titles in 2015.

5. 14th deadly sin  14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

The 14th instalment in Patterson’s popular Women’s Murder Club series sees Detective Lindsay Boxer and friends on hunt for a gang of killers dressed as police officers.

6. vintage wedding A Vintage Wedding by Katie Fforde

Another popular romantic comedy from Katie Fforde that features weddings, romance and plenty of humour.

7. thedandelionyears The Dandelion Years by Erica James

With it’s dual narrative between present day and World War Two, Erica James novel is a tale of friendship and love.

8. prodigal son Prodigal Son by Danielle Steel

Danielle Steel is one of the world’s most popular authors with vast number of bestsellers to her name it isn’t surprising that the Prodigal Son has been one of our most borrowed books.

9. lonely girl Lonely Girl by Josephine Cox

Lonely Girl the latest novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Josephine Cox is a family drama full of hope and heartbreak.

10. mightier Mightier than the Sword by Jeffrey Archer

The fifth book in The Clifton Chronicles series, Mightier than the Sword has been described by the Mail on Sunday as ‘a rip-roaring read’ and has proved a big hit with Jeffrey Archer fans.

11. finalminute Final Minute by Simon Kernick

Another thriller has made our top 20, this time the seventh book in Simon Kernick’s maverick detective, Tina Boyd series.

12. privatevegas Private Vegas by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

With Private Vegas, James Patterson claims his third spot in our twenty most borrowed books of 2015. The ninth book in Patterson’s Private series and with one tagline saying ‘Showgirls. Millionaires. Murder’ what more could you want.

13. threethings Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell

Three Amazing Things About You is Jill’s 26th novel and has been described as a novel that ‘will drive readers to seize life with both hands and make the most of every minute…’

14. girlontrain The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Quite possibly one of the biggest books of the year, Paula Hawkins debut The Girl On The Train exploded from nowhere at the start of the year and ended up being the book that every psychological book published after was compared to.

15. cakeshop The Cake Shop in the Garden by Carole Matthews

With such a pretty cover it is not difficult to see why The Cake Shop in the Garden was borrowed as many times as it was.

16. dieagin Die Again by Tess Gerritsen

Die Again sees Boston duo, Rizzoli & Isles back for their eleventh outing and on the trail of yet another killer.

17. burningroom The Burning Room by Michael Connelly

Detective Harry Bosch is back in The Burning Room which is book number nineteen in the Bosch series. Harry Bosch has been described as ‘one of the greats of crime fiction’ and it looks as though Hillingdon library users agree.

18. graymountain Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Gray Mountain, Grisham’s latest legal thriller features lawyer Samantha Kofer who has been described as his finest heroine since The Pelican Brief

19. emptythrone The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell

Bernard Cornwell is probably the king of historical fiction and the fact that The Empty Throne, the eighth book in The Last Kingdom series is in our top twenty just goes to support that.

20. nosafehouse No Safe House by Linwood Barclay

Our final most borrowed book of 2015 is Linwood Barclay’s No Safe House which is the sequel to his breakout book No Time to Say Goodbye which was a Richard & Judy Summer Read winner back in 2008.

So there you have it, our twenty most borrowed titles of 2015. It’s a list that proves crime remain the most popular genre in our libraries.

by Sam (Manor Farm library)


New Voices – ones to watch 2016 (part two)

We are always on the look out for exceptional debuts and 2015 saw some fantastic new voices. Yesterday we shared a selection of some of the debut novels we are looking forward to reading in January,February and March. Today we are letting you know what to look out for in April to June 2016.


  • shtum Shtum by Jem Lester (Orion)

Funny and heart-breaking in equal measure, SHTUM is a story about fathers and sons, autism, and dysfunctional relationships. Keep your eyes peeled for details of our event with Jem in April at Ickenham Library.

  • Not Working by Lisa Owens (Picador)

Claire Flannery has quit her job in order to discover her true vocation – only to realize she has no idea how to go about finding it. Whilst everyone around her seems to have their lives entirely under control, Claire finds herself sinking under pressure and wondering where her own fell apart. ‘It’s fine,’ her grandmother says. ‘I remember what being your age was like – of course, I had four children under eight then, but modern life is different, you’ve got an awful lot on.’

Funny, sharp, tender and brilliantly observed, Not Working is the story of a life unravelling in minute and spectacular ways, and a novel that voices the questions we’ve all been asking ourselves but never dared to say out loud

  • Five Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris 

One quiet evening in Salisbury, the peace is shattered by a serious car crash. At that moment, five lives collide – a flower seller, a schoolboy, an army wife, a security guard, a widower – all facing their own personal disasters. As one of those lives hangs in the balance, the stories of all five unwind, drawn together by connection and coincidence into a web of love, grief, disenchantment and hope that perfectly represents the joys and tragedies of small town life.

A moving literary debut from a prizewinning young writer – a story of the small tragedies in everyday lives.

  • translationoflove The Translation of Love by Lynne Kutsukake (Transworld)

A deeply touching, powerful debut about a young girl searching for her sister amongst the Ginza bars of post-war Tokyo.

  • thebricks The Bricks that Built the Houses by Kate Tempest Bloomsbury)

Award-winning poet and rapper Kate Tempest’s electrifying debut novel takes us into the beating heart of the capital in this multi-generational tale of drugs, desire and belonging


  • prettyis Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell (Orion)

A fiercely imagined fiction debut in which two young women face what happened the summer they were twelve, when a handsome stranger abducted them.  Maggie Mitchell’s Pretty Is beautifully defies ripped-from-the-headlines crime story expectations and announces the debut of a masterful new storytelling talent.

  • theoutsidelands The Outside Lands by Hannah Kohler (Picador) 

    The Outside Lands is the story of people caught in the slipstream of history, how we struggle in the face of loss to build our world, and how easily and with sudden violence it can be swept away. With extraordinary skill and accuracy, Hannah Kohler takes us from 1960s California to Vietnam, capturing what it means to live through historic times. This powerful debut novel announces Kohler as a remarkable new literary talent.

  • thehouseattheedgeofnight The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner ( Random House)

Full of strong women and big emotions, it is, at its heart, about what it takes to hold a family together and what it means to survive on the very edge of history. Catherine Banner has written an enthralling, character-rich novel, epic in scope but intimate in feeling. At times, the island itself seems alive, a mythical place where the earth heaves with stories. And this magical novel takes you there.


  • babydoll Baby Doll by Hollie Overton (Random House)

Impossible not to read in one sitting, Baby Doll is a taut psychological thriller that focuses on family entanglements and the evil that can hide behind a benign facade.

  • themanyselves The Many Selves of Katherine North by Emma Geen (Bloomsbury)

Kit has been projecting into other species for seven years. Longer than anyone else at ShenCorp. Longer than any of the scientists thought possible. But lately she has the feeling that when she jumps she isn’t alone.
A breathtaking debut about identity and humanity for anyone who loves Station Eleven and The Bees

Please let us know if there are any debuts that we’ve missed that you are looking forward to in the first half of 2016.

New Voices – ones to watch in 2016 (part one)

As 2015 draws to a close I’ve been been reflecting on some of the brilliant debut novels that I’ve read over the last year. ‘The Girl On A Train’ by Paula Hawkins and ‘I Let You Go’ by Clare Mackintosh were both runaway successes and totally deserve all they hype that they received. Vanessa Lafaye’s ‘Summertime’ blew me away at the beginning of the year and Andy Jones brought me to tears with his debut ‘The Two of Us’

So what will 2016 bring? I’ve been talking to some people in the know ie the publishers and they’ve been sharing with me their hot picks for 2016. Take a look at the books you should be adding to your reading list January through to March.


  • riverofink River of Ink by Paul M M Cooper (Bloomsbury)

Set in 13th century Sri Lanka River of Ink is a powerful historical tale set in the shadow of oppression–one with deep allegorical resonances in any time–celebrating the triumph of literature and love.

‘Potent, beautiful and wholly absorbing, Cooper’s portrait of a reluctant revolutionary had me in thrall from its first chapter. A wonderful, memorable debut’- Madeline Miller, Orange prize-winning author of The Song of Achilles

  • the widow The Widow by Fiona Barton (Transworld)

For fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, an electrifying thriller that will take you into the dark spaces that exist between a husband and a wife.


  • rebound Rebound by Aga Lesiewicz (Pan MacMillan)

Claustrophobic and tightly wound, Rebound by debut author Aga Lesiewicz is a real edge-of-your-seat read. After she meets a handsome stranger on Hampstead Heath, Anna becomes obsessed. Then a series of violent attacks on a women take place in the same area and she starts to think her life might be in danger (Good Housekeeping)

  • mostbeautiful For The Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser (Transworld)

In this startlingly original and thrillingly imagined debut, a brilliant new voice reveals the untold story behind the Trojan war: the princess and the slave who undid Achilles and fought to save Troy . . .

Perfect for fans of Tracy Chevalier’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring and Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist

  • landofpapergods In A Land of Paper Gods by Rebecca Mackenzie (Tinder Press)

A gorgeous literary debut in the tradition of The Poisonwood Bible about a school for the children of British missionaries in China, at the top of a mountain, at the edge of the Second World War


  • lookatme Look At Me by Sara by Sarah Duguid (Tinder Press)

Look at Me is a deft exploration of family, grief, and the delicate balance between moving forward and not quite being able to leave someone behind. It is an acute portrayal of how familial upheaval can cause misunderstanding and madness, damaging those you love most.


  • goneastray Gone Astray by Michelle Davies (Pan MacMillan)

A compelling debut crime novel featuring FLO Maggie Neville.

  • siren Siren by AnneMarie Neary (Hutchinson)

A dark and suspenseful psychological thriller about the slippery nature of truth in post-conflict Ireland, and a redemptive story of a woman claiming back her own identity.

  • finding The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace (Transworld)

A peculiarly charming story of friendship, fairy tales and finding your own sense of identity. Perfect for fans of Amelie, Hugo and Elizabeth is Missing.

Part two coming soon.

by Sam (Manor Farm library)

Staff Review – A Summer of Drowning by John Burnside

51j9FlwhVTL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_A Summer of Drowning is a challenging read. It’s difficult to place the novel in any particular genre. The opening sentence “Late in May 2001, about ten days after I saw him for the last time, Mats Sigfridsson was hauled out of Malangen Sound, a few miles down the coast from here,” prepares you for yet another crime story in a frozen landscape with sorrowful stares out towards the ocean and horrible murders to solve. But, as with everything in this novel, the opening is deceptive.

Our narrator, Liv, who confesses to seeing things and is believed by her own Mother to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown, quickly informs us that the old man she is friends with, Kyrre Opdahl, believes that Mats Sigfridsson, and his brother who soon joins him in death, are victims of the huldra, a character from Norwegian folklore who appears as a beautiful woman at face value but who has nothing behind her and leads besotted men to their deaths. And like all the best of the old stories, folklore, fairy tale and horror aren’t so distinguishable, they’re intermixed, useful visors through which to see the truth of the world.

John Burnside confesses that this was a difficult book to write. He wanted to write something about Norway, a place he’d fallen for, and a young adult novel, and after numerous failed attempts and a decade or so of effort A Summer of Drowning was produced. It’s an extremely slow book, not least because moments of mystery are often hinted at and mediated through a protagonist who constantly doubts herself. There are also, it has to be said, long ponderings of art (including the Narcissus myth) that some readers may find frustrating.

Instead of an easily definable or fast moving plot the novel is an exploration into seeing and believing. It is all too easy to draw parallels between the author’s own psychological issues and past drug use with a character who says “I’m not crazy – I know enough after all, not to talk about these things to the living” and “What had happened belonged to Kyrre’s world, the world of stories and fatal magic, and any attempt to tell what had happened in that world would only convince people that the old man had turned my head with his nonsense. I would be the object of scorn or pity, a hysterical girl […] Sometimes, I even told myself I was exactly that.” But the best horror stories and fairy tales have always been metaphors for our very real anxieties, those feelings when in the woods that there is something else watching, that feeling when you’re alone at night that you really aren’t all that alone, those irrationalities that are fundamental to the human experience. And sometimes we try to understand them better by rationalising them, and sometimes, as Liv’s mother points out, “[d]reams are the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of the world […] Dreams mend us.” A Summer of Drowning feels like a lament for those very old tales humanity used to tell itself to make sense of a world that it couldn’t explain.

This is a difficult novel, one that’s deceptive and evocative and presents mysteries for the reader to answer themselves. Whether there is something more mystical behind certain characters or whether or not you believe that something terrible and impossible has happened is entirely up to you. The plot invites either a rational or irrational reading but which way will you make sense of it?

By Mark (Uxbridge Library)

Staff Review – Marie Colvin’s Final Assignment by Paul Conroy

Under-the-WireIf you are plugged into current affairs in the slightest it’s difficult to not know about the current conflict in Syria. It is, however, easier to forget that this horrible war has already been going on for four and a half years.
From pro-democracy protests in March 2011 the conflict descended into a brutal and blood-soaked civil war between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Free Syria Army(FSA), which to date has resulted in the death of approximately 250,000 people, probably many many more. (BBC News, as of August 2015)
Paul Conroy was one of the last people to see world renowned war reporter, Marie Colvin alive, in the media centre of the besieged neighbourhood of Baba Amr in Homs where the two were reporting for the Sunday Times.
Both Colvin and Conroy were hardened veterans of conflict, Colvin especially known as one of the last reporters to leave a dangerous situation. Conroy describes Colvin as a passionate, caring and stubborn woman, adamant that they were there to bear witness and to get the story to the outside world. Like many of the objective journalists entering Syria, Colvin and Conroy sneaked into Syria via Lebanon. Obtaining visas in order to report usually resulted in being closely monitored by the Syrian government, thereby suppressing the non-partisan reporting of the worlds journalists. Entry into Syria itself was dangerous and only managed with the tactical and operational support of the FSA, however Colvin and Conroy were determined to get to Baba Amr, the main rebel stronghold in the besieged city of Homs.  Once there they were subjected to constant shelling the city was under, at 6.30am sharp it would start, the constant thump and screech of 240mm mortar shells, continuous cracking of machine gun fire and with every move the threat of sniper fire. Senses and nerves were frayed, Conroy speaks about the incredible endurance of the people of Baba Amr, who endured this for two whole years before the city fell.
This book is harrowing, it’s the stuff of history books, it’s the uncomfortable realisation that there is a despicable war happening right now, there is massive loss of life happening right now, and there are people risking their own lives to make us aware of it. Just aware. Marie Colvin gave her life telling this story, and yet the war rages on.
It’s difficult not to feel hopeless reading this book four and half years on from the start of this war, and almost exactly three years since Colvin and Conroys ordeals in Baba Amr, the situation has become more complex and more dangerous than ever.  The Syrian people are now fleeing their home country and the immigration crisis in Europe is now critical. Further more England has just voted to start aerial attacks in Syria, for better or for worse the West is now taking part in this war.
However I had a continuous hopeful feeling from hearing about the reporters Paul Conroy worked alongside, the friendship and bravery of the people who helped to get him out of Homs, and the realisation that these people remain hopeful and determined in the face of desperate odds. If Marie Colvin hadn’t died in a shelling attack in Baba Amr in February of 2012 there is no doubt she would still be there, telling the Syrian peoples stories.
By Amanda (Ruislip Manor Library)