Sometimes it’s the real life stories that are the most revealing and inspiring of all.

Book enthusiast Mel Mitchell
Book enthusiast Mel Mitchell
The School Council and Caroline Dinenage MP at the opening of the new library at Crofton Anne Dale Junior School, Stubbington. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Youngsters thrilled after library given first revamp since the 70s

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Book enthusiast Melanie Mitchell aims to get the community reading more. To spur you on, she offers her Book of the Week and Books to Watch choices

Portsmouth Guildhall is celebrating its 125th birthday over the next month with a variety of entertainment and events organised by the Portsmouth Cultural Trust.

Mel Mitchell's book of the week is The Kindness of Enemies

Mel Mitchell's book of the week is The Kindness of Enemies

One of the highlights is An Audience with Gareth Thomas, Welsh rugby player and gay rights activist, at 7pm on September 11.

Earlier this year Gareth won the Cross British Sports Book of the Year by public vote, with his autobiography Proud (Ebury Press, published June 4), detailing not only his sporting achievements but his struggle to conceal his true identity and his subsequent decision to come out as a gay man.

Sometimes it’s the real life stories that are the most revealing and inspiring of all.

Tickets to Gareth’s event are available now at £10 – but if you can’t make it, read his book or one like it.

Elsewhere, homesickness seems to be the prevailing theme in the best of this week’s new releases.

n Leila Aboulela’s The Kindness of Enemies (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, published August 13) is my Book of the Week, which is set to follow the prize-winning success of her three previous novels.

Professor of history Natasha is forced into confronting her Muslim heritage when she becomes involved with her star student Oz.

She discovers he is descended from a 19th century Muslim warrior she is researching but it is when he is arrested for charges in connection with terrorism that she finds herself re-examining her own values.

Leila’s own experience of social isolation as a Muslim immigrant in the UK has undoubtedly informed her writing. Personal and powerful.

n In my Books to Watch, The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop (Tinder Press, published August 13) begins in 1960s Cambridge with young married couple Charlotte and Henry struggling to connect with each other following the birth of their children.

Henry thinks moving to Australia to start a new life will be the answer to all their problems – but Charlotte finds her own, shocking, solution.

A Game for All the Family by Sophie Hannah (Hodder & Stoughton, published August 13) marks a change of style for this popular crime author.

Justine is happily settling into her new home in Devon when the anonymous phone calls start. Chilling.

n Mel Mitchell is originally from Portsmouth and now lives in Gosport.

She is Publisher Liaison for newbooks magazine and its related website, based in Stubbington.