books & reading

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!

Author Spotlight #1 - Michael Morpurgo

Michael MorpurgoWe decided to kick off our new series of regular blog posts on individual authors by putting the spotlight on that most prolific and popular of children's authors, Michael Morpurgo. A decision heavily influenced I might add by Michael's presence in Ireland right now to attend a big family event in the Concert Hall in Cork this evening.  Michael could be heard on RTE radio's 'Today with Sean O'Rourke' show yesterday morning when he was interviewed by Claire Byrne. If you missed it, you can listen to the interview online (c.16 minutes in length).

Right: Michael Morpurgo (Source)

Magical book found in Dublin - READ All About It!

The Boook of LearningWe invite children to delve into the world of Ebony Smart, a 12-year old girl whose world has just changed forever  - a new home in Dublin that is full of secrets, a magical book that unlocks the mystery to her past and a mysterious boy called Zach who befriends her – for the Citywide Reading Campaign for Children 2016.

The campaign is run by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and Dublin City Public Libraries, in partnership with Mercier Press, and runs from January to March 2016.

New Author Sara Baume is Getting Noticed!

Sara BaumeSara Baume was yesterday awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in recognition of her outstanding achievement as a fiction writer. The prize is awarded annually to an emerging Irish writer under forty years of age for a body of work that the selection committee considers shows exceptional promise. However the Prize website does state that 'a single exceptional work may warrant an award'.

Right: Sara Baume (photo: Tramp Press)

Moone Boy Thrills Hundreds!

Moone BoyThere were some 400 children in the audience at a special 'Moone Boy' event in Dublin's Liberty Hall yesterday (14th October). Chris O'Dowd and Nick V. Murphy, co-authors of 'Moone Boy: The Fish Detective' were there entertaining the children and reading from the second in the hilarious illustrated series inspired by the Sky TV series they co-wrote.

The event was organised by the Dublin UNESCO City of Literature Office in conjunction with Dublin City Public Libraries.

Fallen is One City One Book Choice for 2016!

FallenWe are delighted to announce that Lia Mills’ novel Fallen, published by Penguin Ireland, is the Dublin: One City One Book choice for 2016.

We are also delighted to announce that, for the first time, Dublin will team up with Belfast for a 'Two Cities One Book' Festival.  2016 will see a partnership with Libraries NI (the library authority for Northern Ireland) so that next April readers in Dublin and Belfast will engage with the same book at the same time. The initiative was launched at noon today (14th) by an tArdmhéara Críona Ní Dhálaigh and the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD.

Henning Mankell Passes, RIP

Henning MankellHenning Mankell, that giant of Swedish, indeed European, crime fiction writing, has sadly passed away at the age of 67. He had been suffering from cancer. Though not exclusively a crime writer, his Kurt Wallander (pronounced vahl lahń’ der) crime series are known the world over and are must-reads for all fans of the crime fiction genre. The Wallander TV series has also proved a big success, viewers in this country may have been lucky enough to view the series on BBC 4.

Crime Reads can be Guilty Pleasures

crime titlesIt's been some time since I've had the chance to share with you my crime reads, so when I do get the chance there is guilty pleasure aplenty. This time round I am focusing on books from the Nordic region, with titles in translation from Swedish, Icelandic, Norwegian and Danish authors. Now this concentration might be no surprise to anyone who follows my posts here on the library blog, as I am an avid reader of crime titles in translation, Nordic writers having a particular appeal for me. But not exclusively, as you will see next time round when I will venture further south to France and Italy and even to Thailand and South Africa!

But back to the present, and I have to start with a BIG favourite of mine, Norway's Karin Fossum, and the 7th title in the Inspector Sejer Series, The Murder of Harriet Krohn 4.5 stars.

The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2015 longlist

Children's fiction prize The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2015 longlist was announced earlier today, Friday 10th July. This literary award, first established in 1965, honours and recognises outstanding Junior and Young Adult fiction and has a reputation of selecting books that have become instant classics including Philip Pullman's Northern Lights, Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Patrick Ness' The Knife of Never Letting Go amongst many others.

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