Derby's favourite book is revealed

Tue 20 Oct 2020

The results of Derby Libraries’ public vote to find the city’s favourite book are in – and the winner is the classic American novel, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Readers were asked to nominate their favourite adult fiction book, and the results show how personal books are. Classic novels old and modern and more recent works feature on the list, along with stories considered classics of their genre and two books by Derbyshire writers.

Set in Alabama in the mid-1930s, To Kill a Mockingbird tells its story through the eyes of six-year-old Scout Finch, growing up in a town where many residents are racist. When her lawyer father, Atticus Finch, is asked to defend Tom Robinson, a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman, he takes on the case even though his chances of winning are seen as slim. The developing trial is seen through the eyes of Scout, as she and her brother learn some valuable lessons about tolerance, empathy and understanding.

To Kill a Mockingbird.jpg

Comments from readers who voted for the book include:

“This book opened my eyes to the world of adult literature, through the eyes of a child. It is a beautifully constructed novel with so many powerful messages.”

“I loved it as a child, adolescent and an adult. I know the story but it never ceases to move me. I learned about love, consideration and compassion from this book. I can pick it up anytime no matter how I feel and learn something new from it. It will be many people’s favourite, and that explains why it is still a wonderfully written book.”

Derbyshire writer Joanna Cannon’s debut novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, also scored high on the list. Readers say:

“An excellent book set in the glorious summer of 1976 with characters we all recognise, living in our streets. An excellent story interwoven in these characters’ lives, following two young girls and various mysteries. Lots of discussion points for book clubs and leaves individuals asking questions.”

“Great storyline with very recognisable characters - people who live down everyone's street. Questions raised by the book and memories of a great summer (1976).”

These books also feature in the list of favourites, with readers’ reviews:

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – “It is a very moving book, which I can easily relate to.”

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – “It's thoroughly British sci-fi with an intensely dry wit. ‘What's so unpleasant about being drunk?’ ‘Ask a glass of water’ How can you not love it?”

Beloved by Toni Morrison – “An historical novel portraying the horrors of slavery in USA. Beautifully written by a lyrical wordsmith, exploring the desperation of a slave mother to protect her child from the same brutality in the future.”

Autumn by Ali Smith – “Ali Smith's experimental style somehow flowing from one section to another, while being all sorts of weird, just works. This book made me put all my packing to move house to one side and instead I sat in a half-packed room reading for eight hours, unable to stop until I reached the end. It's here and now, it's Autumn and Winter and Spring and Summer all bundled into one. It's Autumn and it's special to me. (Even though it does mention Brexit but we can see past that.)”

Carrie by Stephen King – “This was not the first Stephen King book I have read but it is the one that has stayed with me. Memorable characters, in particular the troubled teenager Carrie White bullied by classmates and at home who eventually snaps with dire consequences. The book is well written, disturbing and has haunted me for a long time. It was King's debut novel and even though he has written many books, some have become modern classics, I still think it is one of his best novels. I would recommend it to anyone.”

The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stuart – “A really funny, quirky story, with full bodied, lovable characters.”

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – “It's a book about witches and vampires which is intelligently written. The author is a historian and a Professor of Historical Science. A totally different take on witches and vampires.”

The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth – “The forensic attention to detail and excellent research makes this an exciting read set in a scenario of historical accuracy. I have read and enjoyed it several times.”

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins-Reid – “Completely immersive, I forgot I was reading a fiction book.”

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – “A wonderful sense of place and a fantastic realisation of modern history, through a riveting story and characters I didn’t want to leave at the end of the final page.”

We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver – “It's one of the most thought-provoking, shocking and moving books I've ever read which explores nature v. nurture and a mother's relationship with her son. There aren't many books that keep you guessing right to the end. I was thinking about it for a long time after I finished it and have reread it twice since.”

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – “A dark, unsettling and gripping thriller. A true page turner right till the end.”

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson – “I really like the time period, and the characters are kind and fun. It's a lovely positive story.”

The Binding by Bridget Collins – “I couldn't put this book down; I was captivated from beginning to end. I actually didn't want it to end! I loved her vivid descriptions and clever use of words, she could set/change the mood of the scene with one word. There was an element of mystery at the beginning, which kept me in suspense, followed by an unexpected twist. Just when you think you're lost in a typical romance...Bridget turns it upside down. I've read so many brilliant books in the past, but this one really stands out for me.”

The Beach by Alex Garland – “It evokes imagery of travel and exotic locations while forcing the reader to confront uncomfortable questions about human nature.”

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers – “This book is one of the warmest sci-fi books I've ever read. It features the multi-species crew of a spaceship with fantastic worldbuilding and great friendships. It's my favourite book to reread when I want something comforting and cheerful. I love the variety of the different species and their experiences and how the crew fit together like a big family.”

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – “One of the great characters of British fiction, in twelve adventures full of wit, warmth, amazing deductions and gas lamps in the fog.”

Sticks and Stones by Jo Jakeman – “A fabulous debut from a Derby author.  Suspense, twists and turns, and delicious revenge.”

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – “I chose The Night Circus because it first introduced me to magical realism. I became immersed in the world that Morgenstern created, invested in the characters, and enchanted by the magical elements of this circus that arrived at night. There is a feeling of suspense throughout, and I didn't want the story to end.”

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller – “Whilst the story is set against the backdrop of the Second World War, the themes of inept leadership, poor decision making and profiteering in a global crisis strike alarming similarity with what we’re facing today.”

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx – “The characters are engaging, the landscape in which the action takes place is perfectly described, it made me laugh, it made me cry and at the end of the book I was disappointed that the book wasn't longer.”

Eon by Greg Bear – “Excellent visionary 'hard science-fiction' which takes the reader to the end of the Universe (together with the sequel 'Eternity') and back again.”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – “A much loved classic by a much loved author, Austen's heroine teaches us to hold out for something better, and to change our opinions in the light of new evidence. It's also a technically brilliant book: Austen was one of the first authors to consistently use free indirect speech to give us a glimpse into the minds of all her characters, not just Elizabeth.”

The Colour Purple by Alice Walker – “Celie's story is one of eventual success and happiness after many years of abuse and heartache. A glimmer of hope tentatively shines through the trauma, and is celebrated with a heartwarming conclusion.”

Thud by Terry Pratchett – “This encapsulates the humanity and humour of Terry Pratchett’s work. So funny and so realistic. Don’t be put off if you think you don’t like fantasy books...these go way beyond that.”

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (first published in the UK as Fiesta) – “Deals with the legacy of war and its impact on a mainly American and British collection of exiles, as they search for identity in Paris, and later Pamplona in Spain, where the bull-fight becomes a central motif. Notable for its limpid and succinct prose style, this can be re-read every year and still come up fresh.”

Star Wars the New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force by James Lucerno – “Because it has the best story.”

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri – “Compassionate, moving and beautifully written.”

Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres – “This book is set on the Greek island of Cephallonia and is about a group of people whose lives become intertwined during the Italian and German occupation of Cephallonia in the Second World War. It is a history lesson, a war story and a love story all in one. It's sad and funny and reveals a lot about human nature in times of real adversity.”

Browse Derby Libraries’ online catalogue to find new books to read, and place a hold on them for collection. They can be collected from Riverside and Mickleover Libraries during opening hours, or by using the Click and Collect service at Normanton and Alvaston Libraries. Visit our welcome back page for library information and current opening times.

One of the entries in the People’s Vote was drawn at random to receive an iPad Mini 5th generation – useful for all kinds of tasks as well as reading eBooks! Congratulations to the winner, Sam Osbourne, who has been notified. Her nominated book was Autumn by Ali Smith. There are plans for future votes to find Derby’s favourite non-fiction book, and children’s book.