books & reading

Dublin One City One Book 2014 Launch

Brendan Kennelly reading at the launchDublin: One City, One Book 2014 "If Ever You Go: A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song" was today (Tuesday, 25th March) launched by Lord Mayor, Oisín Quinn, in the Mansion House, Dawson Street, Dublin 2. Present also were Owen Keegan, Dublin City Manager, Margaret Hayes, Dublin City Librarian, and renowned poets Dermot Bolger, Brendan Kennelly, Paula Meehan, Gabriel Rosenstock, Enda Wyley, as well as that famous musician and poet, John Sheahan (The Dubliners).

Right: Brendan Kennelly reading at the launch

The Shamrock – An Seamróg: Ireland’s national symbol

NS-07 Caleb Threlkeld's ShamrockThis weekend many people around the world will be wearing the Shamrock, a tiny plant symbolising the Irish nation. Taoiseach Enda Kenny will present a bowl of Shamrock to the President of the United States, Barack Obama, today. One of the earliest published accounts, Caleb Threlkeld’s treatise on native Irish plants, Synopsis Stirpium Hibernicarum, published in 1726, refers to our national symbol the Shamrock under its botanical name Trifolium Pratense, (White flowered meadow trefoil). There has been much debate about the exact origin of the Shamrock, many people considering it a form of clover. See Charles Nelson's book on the subject. Threlkeld notes its identification by Gerard in his Herbal of 1597. He gives its Irish name Seamar-oge, and refers to people wearing it in their hats on 17th March, St Patrick’s Day. As a clergyman, Rev. Dr. Threlkeld shows his disapproval of the way the people celebrated the day by "wetting the Shamrock".

Seachtain na Gaeilge 2014: Moltaí Leabhair do Dhaoine Fásta

Anna HeussaffTá áthas orainn fáilte a chur le húdar a bhfuil an-dúil aici i leabhair, Anna Heussaff.  Bhí Anna ag cinntiú go raibh tosach iontach ag daoine fásta atá ag gabháil don Ghaeilge agus ag dul i mbun léamh na Gaeilge ag a Clinic Leabhar ar fud na cathrach. Chuaigh Anna chun cainte leo maidir le leabhair spéisiúla a d’fhéadfaidís a léamh i ngach seánra, agus chuir sí comhairle orthu ag brath ar a ábhar spéise agus an cumas teanga atá acu.

For Seachtain na Gaeilge this year, we celebrate the wonderful variety of books in the Irish language available at your local library. We are particularly pleased to have been working with author and book-lover Anna Heussaff, who has been operating as a Readers’ Advisor, making sure that adults who want to explore their love of Irish through reading have the very best start at her ‘Book Clinics’ around the city. Anna chatted to readers about interesting books to read, in a variety of genres, and gave advice tailored to their individual taste and language ability.

The illustrations of John Tenniel

Alice in Lewis Carroll's Alice in WonderlandSir John Tenniel died just one hundred years ago, on 25 February 1914, aged 94 (see The Irish Times, Friday 27 February 1914, p.7). Tenniel was chief political cartoonist with Punch, the satirical weekly magazine, but he is best known to generations of children as the creator of the pale blonde Alice in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. He was born on 28 February 1820 in Bayswater in London. He was invited to join Punch by its founding editor, Mark Lemon, at Christmas 1850 and worked there until his retirement in 1901. He was knighted by Queen Victoria for artistic achievements in 1893.

If Ever You Go to Dublin

If Ever You GoSoon to be upon us is Dublin: One City, One Book, the Dublin City Council initiative, led by Dublin City Public Libraries, which encourages everyone to read a book connected with the capital city during the month of April every year. This year's choice of book, 'If Ever You Go: a Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song' is something completely different yet very Dublin.

'If Ever You Go: a Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song' is a collection of poems, ballads and songs from a range of literary luminaries connected with Dublin. Edited by Pat Boran and Gerard Smyth and published by Dedalus Press, it is a unique volume of writing about Dublin, from early to modern times, and very soon you will be able to borrow it from our branch libraries or buy a copy in bookshops.

But did you know...?

"If ever you go" are the first words in a poem by that famous Irish poet and novelist Patrick Kavanagh (1905-1969).  The rest of the verse goes as follows:-

The Capuchin Annual in Dublin

The Capuchin Annual 1940Dublin, in the turbulent early decades of the Irish Free State, was home to an extraordinary number and variety of literary and cultural periodicals. Some, such as Klaxon (1924) and To-morrow (1924), had a very limited editorial remit and managed to survive for only one or two issues; others, such as The Dublin Magazine (1923-1958) survived for twenty years and more. The Bell (1940-1954) is probably the most well known and well researched of the Dublin periodicals, but published research on the other periodicals has been limited.

Yet, consider this: one of these Dublin periodicals had a readership of 25,000 worldwide and was published for 47 years. The periodical in question was The Capuchin Annual. It was, wrote Patrick Kavanagh, an ‘amazing phenomenon of modern political Catholic Ireland’.

2013: My (Crime Fiction) Year in Review

2013 5-star readsUpon reading a blog post recently where book reviewers highlighted their favourite crime fiction reads of 2013, I got curious as to how my year just gone had fared in similar respect. So I took a look back over my 2013, what I had read, what I had thought of the various authors and their books, and in so doing see what overall impression I was left with, and what books made it to the top of my list.

Right: The Top 4 of 2013 (see below for more details)

I should preface what is to follow by stating that most, but not all, of the books I read tend to be either recently published or, if in translation, recently translated. After reading a book I give it a star rating, 5 being the maximum number of stars. Anything that gets 3.5 stars or more I can well recommend, 3 stars is borderline, while anything less disappointed. The star system of course is not a precise measure, but can be used as a rough rule of thumb. But enough of that!

READ The Powers - citywide reading promotion for children

TRead the Powers launchhis Spring children in Dublin and beyond are encouraged to READ The Powers – a fun story about superheroes and pirates that will appeal to boys and girls aged 8 and upwards.

Left: The Lord Mayor, Councillor Oisín Quinn, with some superheroes and pirates at the launch of the reading initiative at the Mansion House, 16th January. (click to view larger image)

The Citywide Reading project for children is organised by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and Dublin City Public Libraries, in conjunction with Little Island Publisher and runs from January to March 2014. The campaign encourages children to read for pleasure.

Playing Catch Up with Some Crime Reads

It's been some time since I last posted about crime fiction, November it was, in fact I last reviewed my own reads on the 7th November. So time to catch up, not another moment to be lost! I have in fact been reading away, and here I am going to mention five books I read before Christmas, and unusual enough for me, it is my second time to read one of these. That book is 'Echo Park' by American Michael Connelly, while I will also mention two books by Sweden's Hakan Nesser and a book each by Italians Andrea Camilleri and Maurizio De Giovanni. 

Echo ParkThough I missed Michael Connelly's visit to Dublin in late November, I thought it a good time to revisit his Harry Bosch series, it being some time, years even, since I had last read him. My choice was 'Echo Park' 3 stars, for no particular reason other than it being ready to hand. 'Echo Park' was first published in 2006 and is the 12th in the series featuring Los Angeles detective Harry Bosch. In it a convicted killer is ready to admit to a killing thirteen years previously as part of a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty, a case Harry was involved in but which remained unsolved. Harry over the years had revisited the case time after time to see if any further progress could be made, but never to any avail, despite his resolute belief in the guilt of one particular suspect. And now this new development suggests that his long time chief suspect was innocent all along.

Reading Groups’ Book Choices 2013

In 2013 136 book clubs attached to Dublin City Libraries enjoyed and discussed 454 different books!

Most popular titles were the 2013 Dublin: One City One Book choice Strumpet City by James Plunkett; City of Bohane by Kevin Barry - the winner of the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes and Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese.

Anne Tyler, Graham Greene, Nora Roberts and Ian McEwan were the most popular authors.

 The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenThe Paris Wife by Pauline McLainThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman