Meet our Book Doctor... Asher from Darling Reads

Asher Woolford

In a reading rut? Want to health-check your reading habits? In our Book Doctor feature, we welcome a guest to prescribe just the right read for any mood or occasion.

Asher Woolford from Darling Reads in Horbury, West Yorkshire – one of National Book Tokens' Newcomers of the Year 2021 – has joined us for Independent Bookshop Week. Asher has picked five questions – sent in by Caboodlers just like you – to answer. All five Caboodlers will each receive a £15/€20 National Book Token to spend in their local bookshop.

Got a bookish bothering of your own? Send your questions in and if we pick yours for the attention of our future Book Doctors, you’ll get a National Book Token!


This year, we will be going on Scottish holidays and partaking in staycations. Can you recommend some books that will be exciting companions and inspire feelings of warmer climates and adventure? – Lauren, age 32

Hi Lauren, that sounds lovely! Santa Montefiore is always brilliant for exotic locations, evoking sunshine, and adventure. We're loving Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Wood and Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce at the moment too, both would be brilliant for your holiday reading list. Something a little bit different that fits the adventure side of your question would be The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox or for total sunshine escapism, The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams is pure holiday bliss.

Grown Ups

Please can you recommend authors who have that rare ability of seeing deeply into human nature, but somehow make it seem amusing – laugh out loud amusing – while at the same time being sympathetic to the human condition? – Andrea, age 52

Hi Andrea, such a brilliant question! I could go on for days, but I'd definitely recommend Dawn O’Porter (especially The Cows), Marian Keyes (Grown Ups) and Caitlin Moran (How to Build a Girl). Sally Rooney's Conversation with Friends was written with bags of dry humour and insight. I'd also say to give The Midnight Library a go, it’s not laugh out loud amusing, but Matt Haig has so gloriously captured the human condition and its trappings that it would be remiss of me not to mention it.


I want to read more of the 'classics', but I find it hard to pick ones that suit my reading tastes. How would you recommend getting into these books? – Antonia, age 15

Hi Antonia, I always think it’s best to ignore the fact that they are 'classics' and try to see them in terms of genre. So, if you like a bit of gritty reality go for Dickens or Zola, or, if you prefer a bit of sci-fi, then HG Wells or Jules Verne could be more up your street. Remember that it's OK if you don't like all of them; just because people rave about Wuthering Heights, doesn’t mean you have to! Choose a genre that appeals to you then research which classic best fits that bill and, most importantly, ignore the many, many lists that tell you what you 'should' be reading.

Vi Spy

I'm enjoying the Who Let the Gods Out series, but I don't know what to read next. Maybe you could suggest something, please? Some of my favourite books are The Secret Garden and Five Children and It. I like to read about things that happen in the real world. – Lila, age 10

Hi Lila, if you’re enjoying Who Let the Gods Out, then a good one to try next is by the same author, Maz Evans, called Vi Spy: Licence to Chill. It's a very funny and exciting read, Vi has to become a spy in order to save her family, and the world, from evil domination! If it's a series you're after to really sink your teeth into then I would definitely recommend the Adventures on Trains series by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman. The first one is The Highland Falcon Thief, which introduces you to the characters Harrison and his Uncle Nat. I think you’ll enjoy these because they're set in the real world and they're really exciting!


I run a small, informal book library at my primary school. The children tend to like the same – quite narrow – range of books. What can I tempt them with, beyond Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dogman, The Simpsons, and the like? – Les, age 52

Hi Les, this is something we often come across and we love making suggestions that help broaden children's reading experiences. One of our favourite series is Hotel Flamingo by Alex Milway – these books are just fab! The stories appeal to children because all the staff and guests are animals but they are also brightly illustrated throughout which will appeal to the most reluctant of readers. Another one has to be the Pizazz series by Sophie Henn – Pizazz is a superhero, but she’s not very happy about it. The books are jam-packed with Sophie's brilliant illustrations and with its comic-book style, it will be a hit with your Wimpy Kid/Dogman fans! The Kid Normal series by Greg James and Chris Smith is another great series to tempt them away from the usuals! For younger readers just getting into chapter books, these are all fantastic series – Isadora Moon, Unipiggle, Wigglesbottom Primary (lots of exciting things happen at this school!) and Squishy McFluff.

Need urgent book advice? Why not visit your local bookshop where the booksellers will be happy to recommend your next read – find your nearest.


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