books & reading

Every book it's reader

Banned Books Week was on recently, a week in the US to highlight some of the books that are "challenged" and reasons for these challenges.  I thought about talking about reasons to ban a book.  After some thought, I actually couldn't think of any real reason to ban a book. Some books might irritate me or try my patience (don't get me started on Twilight!) but as an adult I have the choice.  I can choose to abandon a book mid-way through, and I have.  There aren't many and they really aren't books I'd recommend to anyone, but I know there are fans of those books and I'd hate to tell them they're wrong.

Rachel Allen's New Book 'Easy Meals'

Rachel Allen Easy MealsRachel Allen’s new cook book 'Easy Meals. Over 180 Delicious Recipes to get you Through your Life' is now available to borrow from Dublin City Public Libraries. Included in her new book are lots of quick and trouble-free recipes and plenty of great ideas such as her one pot recipes and recipes that have just five ingredients.

As always her book is full of colourful pictures and has lots of interesting and original combinations of ingredients for example Pork, Chorizo, Haricot Beans with Red Wine and Chickpea and Aubergine Salad.

Everyone remembers their last summer of Primary School

The Unforgotten Coat

A tear wells in my right eye, spills over and rolls slowly down my cheek. I can't help it. As it drips off my chin I sigh with satisfaction and close over the last page of 'The Unforgotten Coat' by Frank Cottrell Boyce. I read this book in one sitting, and I challenge anyone to put it down once begun. 'The Unforgotten Coat' was commissioned for the Reader's Organisation 'Our Read' programme in the United Kingdom and was inspired by a true story of refugees, immigration and deportation. 

The Danish Invasion

The KillingWhen the Vikings raiders first arrived in Ireland towards the end of the 8th century, they came from Norway rather than Denmark, the Danish Vikings preferring to plunder the English coastline. But in more recent times the Danes have made their mark here and elsewhere with a conquest of a different sort.

French crime writer extraordinaire

Fred VargasThink crime fiction, think France, and the name that ought to come to mind is that of Fred Vargas. In my estimation one of the best fiction crime writers around today. Vargas, born Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau in Paris in 1957, is an archaeologist, historian political agitator and crime writer, but best known for the latter. She, along with her twin sister, adopted the name Vargas having seen the film 'The Barefoot Contessa' starring Ava Gardner. She is BIG in France, but elsewhere too, and rightly so. Vargas's works can be bizarre, quirky, humourous, refreshing, are definitely imaginative, and certainly well written.  Her series starring Commissaire Adamsberg you will find a joy to read; I waited so impatiently for the latest instalment, An Uncertain Place (2011), which I read in June.

The Leitrim Fancy

McGahernPop Zeus found himself in lovely Leitrim last weekend for the opening of the John McGahern Summer School, run by Dr John Kenny of NUI, Galway.

George R R Martin

Game of ThronesSo I have to ask, was anyone else as glued to the Game of Thrones series as I was?  Oh man, it turned me from being fond of the series to completely caught up by it.  Eagerly awaiting the next episode to see what happened next.  I also managed to get my husband completely hooked on it and eagerly awaiting the next episode.

George R R Martin is an engaging man, I knit my way through a talk he did at Octocon where he was the guest of honour and I was very glad that the socks I was knitting weren't that complicated! 

We just got some new copies of the first book, Game of Thrones in, and if you're trying not to spoiler yourself for the rest of the series there's a Graphic Novel that involves some peripheral characters called The Hedge Knight and in the books Legends and Legends II where this story starts.

Swedish Crime is on the Climb! (Part Three)

Continuing my look at Swedish crime writers, this is the third instalment (of four) and introduces five more from the conveyor belt of Swedish crime writers.

Featured Swedish authors

Dublin Literary Award Winner Colum McCann Reading and Q&A

Colum McCannTo mark the occasion of Colum McCann winning the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award with his book Let the Great World Spin, Pearse Street library played host to a reading by Colum McCann and a question and answer session between Niall MacMonagle and the author.

(Photo: Jason Clark Photography)

In this fascinating session Colum talks about his personal experience of 911, and how he chose to confront it obliquely in his writing, rather than head on as Roth and DeLillo chose to do. He discusses the process of developing and managing the many characters, voices and narrative strands of Let the Great World Spin.  The conversation then turns to the issues of identity and place and a familiar motif in Irish writing, the writer leaving home to live and write abroad.

Laos Coroner is Crafty Crime Solver

Colin CotterillLondon-born writer Colin Cotterill has lived and worked in various countries, but he has spent most of his latter years in either Thailand or Laos, and it is in the latter that his series of novels starring coroner Dr Siri Paiboun are based.

The first thing to say about this series is that humour is bountiful and makes this mystery series a joy to read. As the state coroner, and an unwilling one at that (the position being foisted upon him as he was about to retire, and being the country's only remaining doctor), he nonetheless is in the ideal situation to get involved in investigating curious deaths. Siri is in his early seventies, and though a communist and well connected, he has a rather sardonic view of his country's regime and the everyday effects of its societal changes.

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