books & reading

How to be everything?

You can find out how to do and be lots of things in the library.

Actors, gardeners, jugglers, farmers, knitters, bakers, candlestick makers, secretaries or being idle. Staying single or looking for partners?

Librarians: doing the write thing!

Dinner at the Homesick by Anne TylerLibrarians spend their days surrounded by books – all kinds of books, good, bad, and indifferent. They promote them, mend them, shelve them, read them, think about them; and occasionally, they write them. Here’s a selection of books by librarian-turned-authors.

Anne Tyler is a fiction writer who worked as a university librarian for a time. Nearly all of her books have been finalists for various literary prizes, and Breathing lessons won the Pulitzer in 1989. She tends to write about relationships, of all types. The accidental tourist was made into a film with William Hurt and Geena Davis; while Dinner at the homesick restaurant is the book Tyler herself is most proud of.

The Reading Room - what would you put in?

Have you ever speculated which books you would bring with you to a desert island? (I've always thought that should be 'deserted' not 'desert' but perhaps it's an obscure grammar point I don't get?) As part of the Re Think + Re Act Exhibition, Pivot Dublin have set up a Reading Room in Filmbase in Temple Bar, Dublin. They invited readers in Dublin to submit their favourite book to be displayed in the Reading Room during the exhibition. 

My choice? 

McCann and O'Connor Titles Featured Strongly in 2011

Ghost LightLet the Great World SpinTwo fiction titles that featured prominently in Dublin City Public Libraries during 2011 also featured very strongly when it comes to the list of most borrowed fiction titles in Irish libraries during the same year. Joseph O'Connor's 'Ghost Light', the selected title for the Dublin: One City, One Book initiative that took place in April 2011, was the most borrowed fiction title (adult and children combined) nationally, while 'Let the Great World Spin' by Colum McCann, the winner of the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (announced in June) was the tenth most borrowed adult fiction title nationally. This award, one of the most prominent of international literary prizes, is administered by Dublin City Public Libraries.

As I Went Out One Morning: Books for Springtime

The days are getting longer, the daffodils are peeping and Spring has truly sprung. At last we can say farewell to rotten old Winter though, to be fair, Mother Nature was kind to us this year. [Somehow I still think I will be shivering my way through the A-I Club Finals in Croker on St Patrick's Day as usual...but we'll see.] Anyhow, if you need some inspiration to get out of house then check out the following and transport yourself.

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee (1959)

Laurie Lee was a man who both 'talked the talked' and 'walked the walk'. In 1934 he left his Gloucestershire village as a young man 'soft around the edges' and headed to London where he survived by busking with his violin and labouring. Tiring of that dreadful city, he went to Spain where he spent a year free-wheeling through the sun-baked countryside drinking wine, chasing the local girls, and sleeping under the stars. The Spanish Civil War was looming and Lee eventually made his escape on a British destroyer. Lee is an evocative and sensual writer and manages the delicate balance of being wide-eyed without being naive. If ever there was a writer who deserved Dryden's valediction - 'tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today' - it is the mighty, unbounded soul of Laurie Lee.

Life stories

George Harrison biographyBiographies can make fascinating reading: one of the better ones around at the moment is George Harrison:  living in the material world, available both as a book by Olivia Harrison and as a film by Martin Scorsese. The film in particular is well worth a look, with plenty of archive footage, and contributions from the likes of Eric Clapton, Phil Spector and Eric Idle, and is an in-depth look at probably  the most well-rounded, insightful, and interesting of The Beatles.


Just Kids by Patti SmithJust kids Patti Smith’s account of her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, a relationship that  started off as teenage boyfriend/girlfriend, but developed over the years into something much deeper and more interesting. Very evocative of the art scene in 70s New York, and a deservedly popular read.

The Book or the Film? Which do you prefer?

Which do you prefer - the book or the film? The eternal question for us culture vultures. This year's crop of Oscar nominations and eventual winners has thrown up several contenders for that debate; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Help, Hugo, War Horse, The, if you are wondering whether to read the book or watch the film, read on... I found the decision to read or watch these stories was partly personal preference and partly an accident of circumstance.


Everything I know about love I learned from romance novelsIt's Valentines Day and I'm reading Everything I know about Love I learned from Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches Trashy Books (an actual excellent blog I'd recommend to anyone interested in the genre, the D and F reviews are howlingly funny).  Her other book Beyond Heaving Bosoms is also in the libraries.  They don't take themselves seriously, but they do take the topic of romance seriously, particularly when it comes to Genre Snobbery.

Romance is often the bottom of the pile when it comes to respect, dismissed as women's and often trivialised I sometimes almost feel like apologising when I admit to reading Mills & Boons and people sometimes ask me if I read "real" books.  For me Mills and Boons are often great fun, good reads and often a palette refresher. Yes the outcome is known, but that could be argued of a lot of genre books, at the end of a murder mystery you expect to resolve the murder, spy novels expect to save the world, it's the journey that matters, the way in which the characters resolve their relationship that matters with a romance.  Most fiction involve a romance of some sort in the story, it's the believability that counts.  How does James Bond manage to have so many women fall into his arms?

Pole to Pole

Scott2012 is the centenary of Captain Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole, arriving there only to find that Amundsen had beaten him to it by 35 days. The harrowing return journey, culminating in the death of Scott and his three companions, is a gripping story. In fact, the polar regions maintain a grip on the imagination, probably because so few of us ever visit them that they retain a mystery that has been lost to other places. Here’s a small celebration of all things polar.

Charles Dickens's 200th Birthday!

ScroogeFirst we had the 130th anniversary of the birth of James Joyce, now today, 7th February, we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of the world’s other greatest novelists, Charles Dickens!

And to mark the occasion, Laurence Foster has re-created Charles Dickens’ first public performance in Ireland, and the performances (Dickens in Dublin) are taking place in a number of our branch libraries (details below - but do check with location, may well be booked out at this stage).