Welcome to the third entry in our blog series 'Lost in the Stacks' - recommendations by Dublin City Libraries staff exploring overlooked gems and helping you find your next read!Our entry today comes from one of our wonderful librarians, Jessica, and looks at some of the best essay collections in our libraries!Essay CollectionsIs there a greater joy than settling comfortably with a beverage of your choice and reading a well-crafted essay?There is a particular form of literary alchemy that takes place in the best essays - the fusion of the personal with social commentary combined with a stylistic elegance. Often offering a unique perspective on a cultural moment or a brief window into another world, a good essay has a habit of staying with you long after the pages have turned and the book is closed.Here is a selection of the very best essay collections for you to enjoy. If you'd like to borrow any of the books discussed below, simply click on the book cover or title to be taken to the reserves page, where you'll need your library card and PIN to request the book.1. Pulphead: dispatches from the other side of America by John Jeremiah SullivanPulphead is a fascinating collection of essays exploring pop culture and subcultures of American life fused with memoir and aspects from the writer’s own life. Written with a gentle wit and probing intelligence, it is hard to resist reading the entire collection in one go.2. Changing my mind: occasional essays by Zadie SmithThis is a fabulous collection of Zadie Smith’s book reviews, film reviews and non-fiction prose. Witty, honest and refreshing, it is a pleasure to dip in and out of.3. Naked by David SedarisDavid Sedaris has cornered the market in humorous memoir based essays. The stories here are sardonic, wry and darkly hilarious with a touch of pathos and just the right amount of hindsight and self-knowledge to balance the comic absurdity.4. Men explain things to me by Rebecca SolnitThe title essay of this book has gained iconic status since it was published but each of the essays in this book are powerful reminders of why we need feminism. Essential reading.5. This is the story of a happy marriage by Ann PatchettAnn Patchett is best known as a novelist but this book collects her earlier non-fiction articles. This is a fabulous collection of personal essays and memoir pieces that explore key moments in her life. Her writing is warm, engaging, and shining through with humour and kindness.
Lou Reed passed away on the 27th of October 2013.He was one of the most influential figures in rock music. His first band The Velvet Underground is probably solely responsible for any "Indie Music" we hear today. However he is most famous for two songs, "Walk on the Wild Side" and Perfect Day". The former was a hit in 1972. A most unusual chart song with sparse arrangement of an infectious backing vocal, two note bass line and spoken styled melody of lyrics about transsexuals and prostitution inspired by characters of the pop artist Andy Warhol's hangout, The Factory. The song surfaced again in 1990 as it's memorable bass line was sampled by A Tribe Called Quest as the backbone of their song "Can I kick it?". The latter was "Perfect Day" (the b side to Walk on the Wild side) which had a resurgence in the film Trainspotting and was released by an all star cast as a charity single in 1997. Both songs were featured on the album Transformer.The Velvet Underground were formed in 1964 and played as the house band in Andy Warhol's Factory. Reed and John Cale were the main composers. Their first Album The Velvet Underground and Nico is so unusual, some tracks sound like Bo Diddley duelling with a violin and other tracks are so achingly beautiful and simple the album is hard to forget. There is no point in me trying to explain it, just listen! It is still one of the most unusual records I have ever heard. When you look back to what was happening in the charts at the time, Nancy and Frank Sinatra, The Doors, the world was not ready for The Velvet Underground.The album only sold 30,000 copies, but as musician Brian Eno said "each one of those people who bought the record started a band".Lou Reed went on to record twenty solo albums after The Velvet Underground disbanded. He died of complications following a liver transplant.His life partner is artist Laurie Anderson.
This year witnessed the passing of one of the greatest country singers who ever lived, Frank Sinatra referred to him as “the second best male singer in the world”, George Jones.His story is a dramatic rags to riches tale with broken marriages and alcohol problems, subjects which are often the content of country songs. His recent auto biography I Lived to Tell It All is available in Dublin City Public Libraries.As a child he would play the guitar and sing for pennies. He rode on the bus for free because the driver would want to hear him sing. His first hit was White Lightening in 1959, even though he did not pen most of his own hits, like Elvis he was the great interpreter.He is also known for his stormy marriage and music partnership with the famous Tammy Wynette. Their daughter Georgette Jones published a book titled The Three of Us giving an intimate account of the first couple of Country's tempestuous relationship, often fuelled by drugs and alcohol.However, I think his previous work with Melba Montgomery is far superior. Although it is lesser known and not as commercial as the Wynette duets he does admit in the biography that himself and Melba did define the male, female duet sound. They attain the close harmonies that I have only ever heard family musicians achieve before. For Instance the Everlys or The Louvin Brothers. Check out George and Melba's sublime version of the Hank Williams classic House of Gold. Well, if that has whetted you appetite for some more information on Country Music, you can read this amazing book In the Country of Country: A journey to the roots of American Music by Nicholas Dawidoff.Using interviews and research he gives an account of the lives and careers of American Music greats from Jimmy Rodgers to contemporary artists including Emmylou Harris and Iris Dement.It is beautifully written and sometimes brutally honest.
If like me you have been following Wimbledon over the past few weeks and will soon begin to have withdrawal symptoms why not pop by to your local library and learn some more about your favourite players. We have a range of books and also some DVDs which document the lives of some of the greatest players of all time, as well as some of the current tennis pros. John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova have been hailed as two of the greatest tennis players in the world. John McEnroe Game, Set, Match is a DVD which “captures the vividly colourful life of one of the greatest tennis players in the world”. The film shows some of his greatest matches as well as some of his famous on-court outbursts. The DVD Martina Navratilova: Her Story looks at Martina’s life and career as “one of sports true superstars!”Read all about this years Wimbledon men's champion Roger Federer in a biography by Chris Bowers called Roger Federer spirit of a Champion. The book documents Federer’s career highs and lows as well as other aspects of the Swiss stars life including his family and the work he does for charity. In his book, Andy Murray - Coming of Age, this years Wimbledon men's runner up, Andy Murray, one of Britain's most successful tennis stars, gives a warts and all description of his tennis career to date including the highs and lows, the triumphs and the near misses. It has been described as honest and unassuming and is a must read for anyone who wants to get to know the real Andy Murray.For the fifth time, Serena Williams became this years Wimbledon women’s champion. In 2009 she released her autobiography called My Life: Queen of the Court. This autobiography not only follows Serena growing up and becoming a tennis star, it also follows her career into the world of fashion, television and film. Another one of the worlds greatest tennis stars is Andre Agassi, who‘s career has seen eight grand slam wins. Open an Autobiography is a real treat for any Agassi fan. Following his life from the age of seven in Las Vegas to his last tournament in 2006 this haunting autobiography tells the story of a life “balanced precariously between self destruction and perfectionism”.Finally, why not go to our online catalogue and do a keyword search for your favourite star and see what the libraries have to offer.
Doc Watson was the best American Folk guitarist that lived. He died on the 29 May 2012 at the age of 89. He was born into a musical family and lost his sight before his first birthday. Although he never had a hit record or was in the American Billboard chart, he was a leader of the American folk music that became commercially popular particularly through the Coen Brothers film, "O Brother Where Art Thou?". His distinctive style was born out of playing fiddle parts in a country swing band. Before that the guitar was a background instrument to the ukulele and fiddle. His lightening quick finger and flat picking style is a pleasure to listen to as it accompanies his mellow voice filled with sincerity.He has won seven Grammy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award.The Album Trouble in Mind is a compilation of performances and background of the earliest folk and blues songs that inspired him while growing up.I think if you are new to his music then The Essential Doc Watson Volume 1 is a great place to begin. Both of these titles and more are available in the Music Library. There is also a biography available called Blind But Now I See.If you are a fan of the Robert Plant and Alison Krauss album Raising Sand, then you are familiar with an original Watson song, Your Long Journey. Just go to www.youtube.com, and type his name in, enjoy!
A quick blog for Musical Books, just want to tell you that I went to an amazing gig in Belfast last week to see Martin Carthy. This folk singer sings ancient songs from Irish, English and Scottish descent. His unusual and rhythmic guitar playing coupled with a distinctive voice keep ancient sea chanty and tales of war, woe and love alive in their purest form. His music has influenced Bob Dylan and his arrangement of Scarborough Fair was used by Simon and Garfunkel. His no nonsense stage presence and self-deprecating humour was a refreshing cherry on the top of an amazing performance. Check out this amazing album by him in the Music Library, Signs of Life.Now here is the twist, before the gig started in the tiny basement of a rustic bar, I struck up a conversation with the people sitting beside me and it turns out that one of them was Colin Harper. He has written for Mojo and Uncut music magazines and a biography of Burt Jance. He is also the author of a very important book Irish Folk Trad & Blues. The book investigates the influence of American blues on Irish folk and trad. It includes interviews and first hand accounts of live performances and pays recognition to the unsung heroes of Irish music, including Terry and Gay Woods from Sweeney's Men and Ottilie Paterson, (an amazing Irish blues singer way before Mary Coughlan!). And the final entry is Green Beat, The Forgotten era of Irish Rock by Dara O'Halloran. This book is a testimony that during the showband time in Ireland there was another kind of music blooming. This has an interesting piece of information, a cult hit of the original garage scene in the US was written by John Byrne who moved to the USA from Drimnagh in Dublin and set up a band called The Count Five. The hit was called Psychotic Reaction and was recorded in 1965.Maybe you could leave a comment with more information on the Irish music scene of that time? You just might know someone who was almost famous.
Today, Thursday 8 March being International Women's Day, I thought I might make mention of just four great Irish women who have made, and continue to make, their mark on Irish society and internationally. The four are: Mary McAleese, Mary Robinson, Christina Noble, and Adi Roche. I will point you to books we have in stock that are either based on their lives or/and which they have authored themselves.Of the four, the first that comes to my mind, for the reason that I got to meet her in Áras an Uachtaráin in June 2011, is Mary McAleese, who served as the eight President of Ireland from 1997 to 2011. The eldest of nine children, President McAleese was born in 1951 in Belfast and became a barrister and a Professor of Law. In 1994, she became the first female Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Queen's University of Belfast. Her lifelong interests have been in justice, equality, social inclusion, anti-sectarianism and reconciliation. The theme of her Presidency was ‘Building Bridges’, and I noted it somewhere that she is also in the record books as being the world's first woman to succeed another as president! You might like to read in the first instance 'President Mary McAleese, building bridges, selected speeches and statements', which has a foreword by Seamus Heaney. I might also suggest 'First citizen, Mary McAleese and the Irish presidency' by Patsy McGarry, and 'The road from Ardoyne, the making of a president' by Ray Mac Mánais.Mary McAleese succeeded Mary Robinson, our first female President who held office from 1990 until 1997. She too is a barrister by profession and she was appointed Reid Professor of Criminal Law in Trinity College Dublin when she was only 25 years of age! Mary Robinson was a member of the Seanad (Senate, the Upper House of Parliament), and she also served on the Dublin City Council. She has a special affinity for developing countries, and was indeed the first head of state to visit famine-stricken Somalia in 1992, and also the first to go to Rwanda following the genocide there. She resigned her Presidency with two months to go to become United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, a post she held until 2002. In 2004, she received Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award for her work in promoting human rights. You must read 'Mary Robinson, the authorised biography' by Olivia O'Leary and Helen Burke. Also of interest, and by Mary Robinson herself, is 'A voice for human rights', which has a foreword by Kofi Annan.A woman I admire very much is Christina Noble, founder of the Christina Noble Children's Foundation, an international partnership of people dedicated to serving underprivileged children. Founded in 1989, it works mainly with children in Vietnam and Mongolia. To the many children she has saved, she is affectionately known as 'Mama Tina'. The Foundation serves to "protect children at risk of economic and sexual exploitation, while ensuring these and other children in need have access to basic care and educational opportunities" (quote).Christina Noble herself was born in Dublin slums in 1944, and after her mum died when Christina was ten, the family was split up and she was sent to an orphanage. She had a sad and cruel life, living herself on the streets after running away from the orphanage, and suffering an abusive marriage into her twenties. Her resolve and work on behalf of street and destitute children in Mongolia and Vietnam since 1989 places her amongst the ranks of the greatest of contributors to the welfare of children in underdeveloped countries. Her work can only be described as life giving for so many. Must reads include her autobiography, 'Bridge across my sorrows, the Christina Noble story', and the sequel, 'Mama Tina, the inspiring sequel to Bridge across my sorrows'.Adi Roche started working on Chernobyl in 1986 in the immediate aftermath of the nuclear accident and formally founded Chernobyl Children International (CCI) in 1991. She has given her life ever since to help the families and communities, particularly the most vulnerable, the children, in Chernobyl affected regions of Belarus and Ukraine. The organisation has strived to make a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of children, and since its foundation has brought more than 22,000 children to Ireland for medical treatment and recuperation, returning "an average of two years to each child’s lifespan" (quote).A must read is 'Chernobyl heart, 20 years on', by Adi Roche herself (and with a foreword by President Mary McAleese), as is her earlier book, 'Children of Chernobyl, the human cost of the world's worst nuclear disaster'.