As children, my older brother and I would compete for ownership of the Argos catalogue. The noise it made as it landed on the kitchen table in early December, that unmistakable plonk, was our starter pistol. We would push past my retreating mother, holding our arms out to the side to block each other, shilling out the kind of names only a seven and nine-year-old can in the heat of battle.
In my mind, I was already uncapping my highlighter pen, smoothing down a page in my new notepad. There would be columns and neat underlining and numbered lists. My brother, the Beast of Buttery Fingers, didn’t stand a chance. Once I got the catalogue, I would retreat upstairs, shutting my bedroom door with a soft but triumphant click. The next few hours would be spent in a meditative daze, circling particularly impressive light fittings and fancy hair crimpers. This was Stoke in the mid-90s. This was entertainment. Soothing, glorious entertainment.
Since then, I’ve found a new hobby. When I’m feeling sad or stressed – say during a global pandemic – I like to browse through book covers online. New books are my favourite. There’s something uniquely thrilling about seeing new cover art, reading the blurb, and thinking: this one is for me or I can’t wait to recommend you at work. Luckily, my job involves selecting stock for our secondary fiction collection. Instead of pretty lawnmowers (it’s a thing), I now get to circle books – brilliant, exciting, fresh and challenging books – and promote them to our users. With ELS temporarily closed to visitors, I thought I’d showcase a selection of these books on the off chance that you might want to get your own highlighter out. And request books for your students and school library. That too.
Written by ELS librarian and former Argos aficionado Samantha