books & reading

Bram Stoker Centenary

Bram StokerAlthough the Dublin: One City, One Book choice for April this year is James Joyce's 'Dubliners', it is timely to remember that the choice for April 2009 was 'Dracula' by Dublin-born writer Bram Stoker; timely because April 20th this year marks the 100th anniversary of Stoker's death (20th April, 1912).

About Bram Stoker

Bram Stoker was born in Dublin's Marino Crescent on November 8th, 1847. After an early life plagued by illness, he went on to graduate from Trinity in 1868 with a Masters Degree in mathematics. His early work life was as a civil servant in Dublin Castle, while he was at the same time a freelance journalist and theatre critic.

101 things you thought you knew about the Titanic.

titanicThe book "101 things you thought you knew about the Titanic.... but didn't" is a fascinating study of some of the myths and half-truths that have arisen since that fateful morning of April 15th 1912. (Growing up in Cobh, I reckon I've heard 99 of them!) Author Tim Matlin dispels many of these popular legends using primary sources such as the US Inquiry and the British Inquiry, both of 1912. He also shows that many of these stories are indeed true. The myths are neatly separated into categories such as: The Ship, Omens, Passengers, Collision, S.O.S etc.

Below are a few examples to whet your appetite:

Can YOU predict the winner?


THE 2012 International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award Shortlist was announced today. The judging panel have dutifully selected interesting and diversely themed novels.

Out of the ten shortlisted titles briefly outlined here, can YOU predict the winner? 

Let us know who you think will win by posting a comment on this blog post.

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.