books & reading

Crime Fiction of a Truly International Flavour

Crime sceneMy crime fiction reads have taken me to many lands and long may that continue. In my previous blog post I visited Italy, Iceland, Sweden, South Africa and Botswana. In this latest compilation of crime reads I revisit Italy and South Africa, while also venturing to the USA, Sweden, Norway and France.

IreneStarting with France and moving in a clockwise-direction, we first encounter Pierre Lemaitre, whose book 'Alex' I have covered previously and thought very highly of. Now it is time to mention 'Irene' 4.5 stars, the prequel to 'Alex', yet which followed it in translation. But reading 'Alex' first, as I did, can prove a bit unfortunate for obvious reasons, so I do recommend you stick to the proper order if you haven't yet read either. And read you must, for I can't recommend this author highly enough. He writes so well, and he is excellent on plot, characterization, atmosphere and tension building. But there is a word of caution: his portrayal of violence is not for the meek, and may put off some. So while you would be forgiven for moving quickly on at some points, you should not let it detract from your pursuit of otherwise top quality crime writing, which both 'Alex' and 'Irene' are. It would be good to know though that an author of Lemaitre's obvious talent could produce just as capable a work without the need for such graphic depictions of violence.

Contemplating our past

History scrollThe Dublin Festival of History has just come to a close, after a very successful run. It covered a huge variety of topics, ranging from the Battle of Clontarf to the Spanish Civil War, and hopefully the festival will have whetted your appetite for more exploration of our past. Public libraries offer plenty to read on all of the subjects covered in the festival, and plenty of other historical topics besides.

Favourite elephants at the Zoological Gardens Dublin

OS map 1843 showing Dublin ZooThe Dublin Zoological Garden was established by the Dublin Zoological Society, under the patronage of the Lord Lieutenant, and opened to the public on 1st September 1831. The site was in the Phoenix Park, near the Vice Regal Lodge, the Lord Lieutenant’s residence, now Áras an Uachtaráin, the residence of the President of Ireland.

To err is human, to arr is pirate

Skull and crossbonesOk, I stole that heading, but in a blog about piracy, a bit of thieving is only to be expected. Of course, the romance of piracy is very different from the reality, which usually meant an outlaw life of hardship and brutality – and still does; nevertheless the romantic view lives on, and is especially celebrated every year on September 19: International Talk Like A Pirate Day. This is a convention that’s been going on for a good few years now, and has a substantial following, replete with costumes, grog, and pretty much every cliché going. Say arr.

the war to end all wars

Red poppies for remembrance. White poppies for a peaceful futureAs you’re probably aware, last year we entered what’s being called the decade of commemoration. It began with the centenary of the lockout, and continues now with the onset of World War One. This war was such a catalyst: The world was a completely different place at the end of those four years than it had been at the start of them; and the sheer bad luck of that generation, finding themselves plunged into a maelstrom, is heartbreaking. The centenary brings a surfeit of material, and with it a danger of overkill, but that will pass, and the commemorative material and research will be invaluable down the line. In the meantime, here is a sample of both fiction and non-fiction looking at the war from different viewpoints.

Going Places with Books - Summer Reading Challenge

Going Places with Books, Summer Reading BuzzYesterday (Wednesday, 30th of July), the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan launched the Public Libraries' Summer Reading Programme in the Central Library, ILAC Centre, Dublin.
(View the photo slideshow below)

The Summer Reading Programme runs in public libraries across the country every July and August and is a hugely popular and successful reading event for children of all ages and abilities. Each child chooses the books they wish to read, keeps a record of their progress and gets recognition for each step along the way. At the end of the challenge, all children who have read the target number of books get a certificate of achievement at a special awards event.

Here in Dublin...

Here in Dublin City Libraries, together with our library colleagues in Kildare, Fingal, Dun Laoghaire-RathdownSouth Dublin and Longford, we run the hugely popular 'Going Places with Books' Summer Reading Buzz (see right).

Nobel Prize Winning Author Nadine Gordimer, RIP

Nadine GordimerSouth African Nobel Prize winning author Nadine Gordimer died in her home in Johannesburg on Sunday, 13 July 2014.

A writer and political activist, she was a strong voice against apartheid. She published her first story at 15, and her works comprise novels and short stories, the central theme of which was apartheid and its consequences. Indeed a number of her works were banned in South Africa before the fall of apartheid.

Desert Island Picks

DESERT ISLAND PICKS

desert islandSo. If you were marooned on a desert island, and could have only one book, one film, and one cd with you, what would they be? Frankly I’m doing well to get it down to five of each: choosing just one is incredibly difficult, and, in a couple of months time, I’d probably give completely different answers. It all depends on what mood we’re in, and where we are in our lives. So I’ve simply gone with: which ones do I keep coming back to over time. Feel free to post your own up.

Supporting literacy in the local authority

Tanaiste Eamon GilmoreTánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore today launched the national 'Right to Read Campaign' in the presence of the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Christy Burke, at Charleville Mall Library. The campaign aims to have an integrated approach to supporting literacy.

Also present were: Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD; Minister of State, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government Jan O'Sullivan TD;  Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello TD; and Minister for European Affairs Pascal Donohoe TD.

Enjoying their visit to the library also were the staff and children from St. Louise's Crèche, North William Street (below).

On the road

thumbing a liftThis is my first blog in a long time, mainly because I’m out on relief, which means I’m not based in any one branch but go to whichever branch is short staffed on the day. There are pros and cons to being on the road: the downsides are I’m living out of a rucksack, carrying everything that I might need every day, because I can’t keep food onsite – (sings) don’t know when I’ll be back again! The upsides are variety, catching up with other staff members I haven’t seen in years, getting to know how different branches do things, different demographics, meeting lots of new people, and, as one staff member here puts it, going feral! So what else could I kick off with but a review of books about life on the move.

Feedback