books & reading

Crime Fiction Anyone?

Donna LeonCrime fiction books are forever popular, as a look at any weekly bestsellers list will demonstrate. Think 'The Girl on the Train' (which I've just finished reading, and enjoyed), it's been a bestseller for umpteen weeks. Liz Nugent was topping the Irish bestsellers for a number of weeks recently with 'Lying in Wait', while James Patterson's name features regularly on such lists, albeit with books penned by other authors.

Right: Donna Leon in Dubray Bookshop, Dublin, April 2013. (See larger image)

Most of my reads are of crime novels in translation, as I like to travel the world a bit, at least in print. This literary journey recently took me even as far as Argentina and new-to-me author Claudia Pineiro (see below), an author I might not have discovered if it weren't for the International Dublin Literary Award. The inclusion of novels in translation adds greatly to the standing of this Award and differentiates it from most other book awards, and you could do worse than visit the Award site where you will be presented with hundreds of books to choose from, many in translation.

A story a day keeps the doctor away

ReadingGreat news! Scientists have shown reading is good for your health (unlike some other sedentary activities we enjoy!). According to a new study, reading for 3.5 hours or more a week can add 2 years to your life (Read the full study via Science Direct, available at your library). 

The short story is an ideal way to get get started on your healthy reading habit, especially if you feel too busy to commit to a book. It's the perfect length for coffee breaks, commutes, lunch in the park or just before bedtime. And with so many excellent collections and interesting new anthologies out there, you have no excuse! This short stories reading list features historical fiction, crime, the best of Irish and international writing, so there's something for everyone.

2017 Citywide Reading Campaign for Children Book Selected!

Dave RuddenWe are delighted to announce that 'Knights of the Borrowed Dark' by Dave Rudden, published by Puffin Books, is the chosen book for the 2017 Citywide Reading Campaign for Children.

This reading initiative is organised by Dublin City Council’s Public Library Service as part of its UNESCO City of Literature programme with the aim of encouraging children to read for pleasure.<--break->

Digital Leaders Summer Reads

Digital to the CoreDigital Leaders asked leaders from across enterprise, government, charities and academia and former winners of their Digital100 Award to recommend their top summer reads.  It makes for an interesting and refreshing summer reading list, as not everyone likes to switch off with the latest light fiction or beach read. It will suit those of you who like to keep your brain engaged even while relaxing by the pool. Dip into these books and you're sure to be inspired and informed when you return to your desk.

Most of these books are available in our libraries and some can be downloaded as ebooks from BorrowBox. Check our catalogue to borrow or reserve one of the Digital Leaders summer reads:

 

A New Harry Potter? Yes, but...

Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildQuestion: When might a Harry Potter not be a Harry Potter? Stumped? Answer: When it is not written by J.K. Rowling!

So what then is this we hear of a new Harry Potter book to be launched on the 31st July? Indeed it's true, the eight book in the series, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts I & II, is to be officially launched in Livraria Lello (Lello Bookstore) in Porto in Portugal. Now it might be a tad unfair to say it is not a J.K. Rowling book as, though not penned by her,  it is based on an original story by her together with a number of others. And it is officially the eight book on the Harry Potter series. So there, record clarified.

Reading the Somme

Soldiers at the SommeThe Battle of the Somme was the largest and bloodiest battle fought on the Western Front during World War I. It was fought between 1 July and 18 November 1916 and left more than 1 million men wounded or killed on both sides, including 3,500 Irish men (read some of their stories as recorded in the RDFA Archive). In our minds, the Somme signifies the horror of war especially the inexorable hardship, suffering and futility of trench warfare.

Image: Detail from DCLA/RDFA1.09.047A  "War 1914-15-16... in the Somme French Offensive Relieving the trenches at Dompierre" (see larger image).

If you would like to read about the Battle of the Somme we have compiled this short reading list.

Two Irish Authors on Bailey's Women Prize Shortlist

Baileys Women's Prize for FictionCongratulations to Anne Enright and Lisa McInerney who have been shortlisted for the 2016 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction for The Green Road, and The Glorious Heresies respectively. "After a long and often passionate debate we are proud to present our 2016 shortlist," said Margaret Mountford, Chair of judges. "Our choices reflect a really diverse mix of brilliant writing from new and established authors around the world and we hope that everyone will find much to enjoy in them."

In The Green Road, Enright tells the story of the Madigan family, mother Rosaleen and her adult children Dan, Emmet, Constance and Hanna who have gathered at home for Christmas for the first time in years. Enright first introduces us to each character when they are younger, more innocent and less damaged: Hanna as a schoolgirl, Dan enjoying the freedom of the New York art scene of the 1990s, Constance, the only sibling to have stayed in Ireland, raising her young family; and Emmet, an aid worker in Mali. When they reunite in 2005 they are very different people and the reader must ponder what life has meant to each in the intervening years.

Great Novelists May Pass, But Great Novels Never Do

To Kill a MockingbirdWhat a sad month February has been in the literary world, witnessing as we have the passing of world-renowned novelists Harper Lee and Umberto Eco. And within hours of one another, how strange that is. And let me mention too English novelist Margaret Forster, who passed away on the 9th February.

America's Nelle Harper Lee,  widely known for her book 'To Kill a Mockingbird', died on the 19th February, aged 89 years, in her home state of Alabama. This modern classic was first published in 1960; indeed until the publication of the sequel 'Go Set a Watchman' in 2015 Harper Lee was a member of that rather unique club of authors known as the "one-hit wonders".

What's the Greatest British Novel?

BooksBBC Culture has asked critics and writers from all over the world to pick the greatest British novel and the resulting list is a great mix of stalwart classics and contemporary favourites. I must admit to loving top 100 lists. These are tried and tested, well-loved books, which much to offer. With so many shiny, newly published books grabbing my attention, it's good to be reminded of classics I've yet to read. 

So what title did critics from outside the UK choose as the quintessential English novel? It's not a Dickens, though three of his books feature in the top ten. It's a book by a woman, written at a time when to do so was a brave and challenging act. She published under the male pseudonym George Eliot...yes it's Middlemarch, a psychological study peopled with a range of characters each flawed in their own unique ways. Eliot shares the top ten with Virginia Woolf, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë and Mary Shelley; leaving space for only two men, Dickens and Thackeray. 

Nails, Axes, Mirrors. And Love! Much ado about Crime

crime titlesIt is all too infrequent these days that I get a chance to post here on the blog regarding my crime fiction reads. It's not to say that I haven't been reading of late, far from it, but it does mean that I can struggle a little to recall the story line details of the many books I have read since my last post and how exactly I felt about them. But let me try at any rate. The following five books are either of an Italian, Thai, French or South African flavour, and I'm glad to say that none of them will disappoint. So read on!

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