staff picks

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? 

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 Descendants.....so, 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.

Pole to Pole

Scott2012 is the centenary of Captain Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole, arriving there only to find that Amundsen had beaten him to it by 35 days. The harrowing return journey, culminating in the death of Scott and his three companions, is a gripping story. In fact, the polar regions maintain a grip on the imagination, probably because so few of us ever visit them that they retain a mystery that has been lost to other places. Here’s a small celebration of all things polar.

Norway Revisited

Bergen, NorwayBack in March 2011 I wrote a post on Jo Nesbo, probably the best known and most widely read of the Norwegian crop of crime writers. Jo had been to Dublin, and I had the pleasure of meeting him in Eason's bookshop where he was in conversation with leading Irish crime novelist John Connolly. Since then I have been meaning to revisit Norway (metaphorically speaking on this occasion, have been to Bergen, wonderful in the sun if you can get it!) and talk of some of the other, maybe less well known, Norwegian crime novelists. Then, on the 22 July, the horrendous attacks in Oslo and Utøya that left so many dead and injured, and which are said to have changed Norway forever. And it felt somehow wrong for a time after that to write at all about crime fiction and applaud the many wonderful writers and novels coming out of Europe in general, and Norway in particular. And the very incident itself I know, has impacted not alone on Norwegian society, but also on Norwegian crime writers, and it might be fair to say that their future writings will have the shadow of the Oslo/Utøya tragedy over them. In this regard you may want to read the article "How do you write crime fiction in the wake of a massacre?" that appeared in the Guardian in November 2011.

Spotlight: Muriel Spark

Muriel SparkMuriel Spark (1918-2006) wrote psychological novels, usually set in respectable, middle-class environments but dealing with the darker side of human nature. Her writing is wonderfully economical, so that, though her novels are mostly short, they manage to convey a lot.  Chronology isn’t an important feature: they leap backwards and forwards in time, and you often know the ending at the start, or at least you think you do. Here’s a taster of some of her better-known works.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is probably Spark’s best known work, and one of her best creations. The magnificent and monstrous Miss Brodie teaches her classroom of girls about the art of life and love, while battling against the narrowness of her world, her loneliness, and of course her own prime.

Picks of 2011, Children's and Teen

There are no cats in the bookPart 3 of my three part comments on my own reading during 2011.  Non-Fiction was the first in the series with Adult Fiction second. This is my Children's and Young Adult or Teen reads.  Some great fantasy is being published in the Teen section and I do enjoy the reads.

I read a lot of books over the last year, approximately 290 of which I noted from the library.

Of all the books I read from the library some stood out, I couldn't pick a small number but I'm going to put them into themes and pick the best of that theme.  Sometimes it's hard to pick just one, the first listed is my favourite, the rest are in no particular order.  This isn't a definitive list, it's a list of books that are readable alone or are the start of a series, that I read during 2011, that stood out above the others and that I would recommend to others.

Adult Fiction favourites of 2011

Sprit Thief I was intending to post this earlier this week, and then I got laryngitis and my doctor determined that I needed rest, so here's part 2 of my 2011 favourites.  Fiction, of a more adult nature, post 1 was Non-Fiction and post 3 will be Young Adult and Children's

I read a lot of books over the last year, approximately 290 of which I noted from the library.

Of all the books I read from the library some stood out, I couldn't pick a small number but I'm going to put them into themes and pick the best of that theme.  Sometimes it's hard to pick just one, the first listed is my favourite, the rest are in no particular order.  This isn't a definitive list, it's a list of books that are readable alone or are the start of a series, that I read during 2011, that stood out above the others and that I would recommend to others.

My non-fiction favourites of 2011

Contemporary Irish KnitsI read a lot of books over the last year, approximately 290 of which I noted from the library.  Over the next few weeks I'm going to pick out a few that stood out from the herd.  This week is Non-Fiction.

Christmas 5-Star Crime Reads!

Christmas Crime Reads - book covers

Having been asked to recommend a Jo Nesbo book for Christmas, I thought I might just do a random post listing a selection of stocking fillers - you couldn't give or receive a nicer present than a book that is not just a good read, but is indeed a GREAT read!

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