books & reading

Terry Pratchett

cover of Mort the Graphic NovelIn a moment of blink and you might miss it moment, Terry (or Professor Terry or Sir Terry or Sir Terence) Pratchett met the Queen when she met some of the Staff of Trinity College. (He is an adjunct professor in the Department of English) Irish resident Fantasy Author Diane Duane put the video up on her site.

I have read most of Terry Pratchett's books and enjoyed them mightily.  Though when I first met with them I didn't enjoy them as much and many people I know have said that they didn't like the first few either.  Many fans would suggest you try Mort.  There is quite a good suggested reading order.

May is Busy Month for Childrens Book People

October is the month for Children's Book Festival, and Christmas is the time most children's books are bought, but May is shaping up to be the busiest month in the calendar for people interested in books for children and young people - at least in Ireland - it's been a whirl of award ceremonies, book launches and 'talking heads' events and I've been lucky enough to attend many of them. I'm even getting used to seeing lollipops served alongside the wine - though I haven't tried that mixture yet!

It started with the announcement of the Bisto Children's Book of the Year Awards in the National Library on 16th - which I've already blogged about - congratulations again to Chris Haughton for winning the overall award with 'A Bit Lost' and to Sheena Wilkinson for receiving the Children's Choice award for her novel 'Taking Flight'. Sheena also gets the prettiest coat award for her lovely floral affair - sorry I don't have a picture!

Swedish Crime is on the Climb! (Part One)

Map of SwedenSwedish crime writing has always had a good reputation, and its popularity is greater now than ever, largely because of the movie and TV spin-offs which have served to highlight two writers in particular, namely Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson. There are several others, but I will write a second post soon where I will focus on those other fabulous writers. There is just too much material for one post! So in this post I am going to concentrate on the two biggies, introducing you (as if I need to) to the books that give us those now famous characters, Liz Salander and Kurt Wallander.

Feel the Chill with Icelandic Crime Novels!

Tainted Blood, aka Jar CityIn light of the showing of the Icelandic film 'Jar City' on BBC Four this coming Sunday night (8th May), I thought the occasion definitely warranted mention here of the wonderful crime novels emanating from Iceland. The two principal writers responsible for ensuring Iceland a prominent place on the literary crime scene are of course Arnaldur Indriðason and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir.

Indriðason is the author of 'Jar City' 4 star (probably better known under the title 'Tainted Blood'), one in the excellent series starring Inspector Erlendur and set in and around Reykjavik. Though I would say Reykjavik is portrayed in the book as a somewhat dark and austere place, a friend assures me it is in reality far from that, and well worth a visit. I wouldn't doubt him for a moment! Erlendur has his own personal and family difficulties of course (which crime detective has not?), which only adds to the well-crafted storylines. And they are so well-written (and translated) too of course.

Rhinestone Cowboys

One of the more idiosyncratic aspects of public library layout is the corralling of 'Wild West' novels into their own distinct section...or should that be 'reservation'. Whether this is a form of literary apartheid against genre fiction or a mere reflection of borrower demand is moot (I strongly suspect the latter rather than the former). If you have been unable to take the Western seriously since the infamous 'campfire' scene in Blazing Saddles, here are four literary masterpieces that will restore your faith in the genre.

Give them a shot!

Quirky Reads from Bloomsbury

Publishers The Bloomsbury Group have a series of handy-sized books that are well worth taking a look at if you like a quirky read. The series consists of books mainly from the early 20 century, many of which had fallen out of print. Readers can suggest books they think should be revived. The series is attractively packaged, and contains some real gems.

Mrs Harris goes to ParisMrs Harris goes to Paris’ by Paul Gallico is the story of a London charlady who sets her heart on owning a Christian Dior dress, and scrimps and saves until she has enough money to fulfil her unlikely dream. Her trip to the House of Dior introduces her to new friends, adventures, and perspectives on life.

POTTER MANIA!!!!!

Harry Potter DVDsWith the release of the final Harry Potter movie this summer (on July 15 for those who are counting the days like me!!), and the release of the latest Harry Potter movie on DVD, it’s never too late to become a Harry Potter fan, (or like me read all the stories again in preparation for the film!)All seven Harry Potter novels and DVDs are available to borrow in Dublin City Public Libraries or you can reserve them online using your borrower number and pin number. Your borrower number is on your library card and if you do not have a pin number you can get it at your local Dublin City Public Library.

Inspired by Ghostlight

Ghost LightWhile reading Ghostlight by Joseph O’Connor the One City One Book for April 2011, my interest was sparked.

The library has copies of John Millington Synge’s writings, including his plays, poetry as well as numerous biographies.

I discovered a book of photographs taken by John Millington Singe My Wallet of Photographs the collected photographs of J M Synge arranged and introduced by Lilo Stephens. 1971.

I decided to photograph these same places in Wicklow and Dun Laoghaire in 2011. Places that feature in Synge’s letters to Molly Allgood, the woman who inspired Ghostlight. These photos are currently on display in the Dublin City Library and Archive, Pearse Street.

Dublin IMPAC Shortlist Announced

Shortlisted books10 novels have been shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award from a total of 162 novels nominated by 166 public library systems in 126 cities worldwide. This shortlist includes novels by three Irish authors; Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, Brooklyn by Colm Toibín and Love and Summer by William Trevor. The International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award is worth 100,000 euro and is the world's most prestigious literary award, books are nominated by public libraries world-wide. Pictured are the shortlisted books.

Italian Crime Novels Aplenty

August HeatItalian, or Italian-based, crime novels I have always enjoyed, and there are plenty of authors to choose from. My favourite has to be Andrea Camilleri, the Sicilian writer and creator of Inspector Salvo Montalbano. The Montalbano series are full of humour, the Sicilian landscape, Sicilian society and food! Montalbano loves his food! There is not a concentration on the mafia, just in case you might think there might be, which for me is good, but it is never far away. The crimes can be of ones of passion or greed or revenge, and the author does not go into morbid details, which may be a relief to some also. I always wait impatiently for the next instalment of Camilleri's genius. The first in the series is The Shape of Water (English translation 2002, original Italian 1994), while I await the arrival this June of the twelfth in the series, The Track of Sand. Each book has been such a huge pleasure to read, I always hate getting to the end.

Feedback