Tuesday, 13 December 2011

January 2012 Reads

The cold eye of heaven by Christine Dwyer Hickey

Farley is an elderly Irishman, frail in body but sharp as a tack. Waking in the middle of the night, he finds himself lying paralyzed on the cold bathroom floor and so his mind begins to move back into his past. Decade by decade, Farley unravels the warp and weft of his life, recalling loves, losses and betrayals with the darkly comic wit of a true Dubliner. For this is also Dublin's story, the city Farley has seen through poverty and prosperity, boom and bust - each the other's constant companion throughout his seventy-five years. Epic in scope, rich in detail, and shot through with black humour, "The Cold Eye of Heaven" is a bitter-sweet paean to Dublin and a unique meditation on the life of one of its citizens.
Winner of the Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year, 2011.

Solace by Belinda McKeon

As tender as it is heartbreaking, this is a brilliant debut from an exciting new voice in Irish fiction. Mark Casey has left home, the rural Irish community where his family has farmed the same land for generations, to study for a doctorate in Dublin, a vibrant, contemporary city full of possibility. To his father, Tom, who needs help baling the hay and ploughing the fields, Mark's pursuit isn't work at all, and indeed Mark finds himself whiling away his time with pubs and parties. His is a life without focus or responsibility, until he meets Joanne Lynch, a trainee solicitor whom he finds irresistible. Joanne too has a past to escape from and for a brief time she and Mark share the chaos and rapture of a new love affair, until the lightning strike of tragedy changes everything. "Solace" is a work to be admired for its spare, intense lyricism, its range, and its deeply compassionate portrayal of life as it is lived now.
Winner of the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards Sunday Independent Best Newcomer of the Year Award for 2011 and shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year Award for 2011.

December Reads

Grace Williams says it loud by Emma Henderson
The doctors said no more could be done and advised Grace's parents to put her away. On her first day at the Briar Mental Institute, Grace, aged eleven, meets Daniel. Debonair Daniel, an epileptic who can type with his feet, sees a different Grace: someone to share secrets and canoodle with, someone to fight for. A deeply affecting, spirit-soaring story of love against the odds.  Shortlisted for the Orange Prize, 2011.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
This is the first volume of the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, and focuses on the 40 year-old mystery of young Harriet Vanger's disappearance from a family gathering on the island owned by the powerful Vanger Corporation. Henrik Vanger believes that a member of his family is responsible for the murder of his niece, and hires Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist recently convicted, to investigate. Then enters Lisbeth Salander on the scene, the socially inept but genius computer hacker. The author cleverly interweaves the investigation of Harriet's disappearance with Blomkvist's attempt to clear his own name.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Lolita by Vladimir Naboko

The story of Humbert Humbert, poet and pervert, and his obsession with 12-year-old Dolores Haze. Determined to possess his "Lolita" both carnally and artistically, Humbert embarks on a disastrous courtship that can only end in tragedy.

A World of love by Elizabeth Bowen

An uneasy group of relations are living under one roof at Montefort, a decaying manor in the Irish countryside. When twenty-year-old Jane finds in the attic a packet of love letters written years ago by Guy, her mother’s one-time fiance who died in World War I, the discovery has explosive repercussions. It is not clear to whom the letters are addressed, and their appearance begins to lay bare the strange and unspoken connections between the adults now living in the house. Soon, a girl on the brink of womanhood, a mother haunted by love lost, and a ruined matchmaker with her own claim on the dead wage a battle that makes the ghostly Guy as real a presence in Montefort as any of the living. (Random House Inc.)

Friday, 25 November 2011

"The Top 10" Count Down as voted by our Reading Groups!

Do you agree? Vote for your favourite in our great read survey! 
Have we missed your favourite? Let us Know...
10: A Short History of tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka

9: The Corrections by Joanathan Franzen
8: Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

7: Atonement by Ian McEwan

6: Fire in the Blood by Irene Numirvosky

5: The Essential Chekhov by Anton P Checkhov

4: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

3: Middlemarch by George Elliot

2: That they may face the rising sun by John McGahern

1: Dancer by Colum McCann

Watch out for..

I was a boy in Belsen by Tomi Reichental
Tomi Reichental, who lost 35 members of his family in the Holocaust, gives his account of being imprisoned as a child at Belsen concentration camp. He was nine-years old in October 1944 when he was rounded up by the Gestapo in a shop in Bratislava, Slovakia. Along with 12 other members of his family he was taken to a detention camp where the elusive Nazi War Criminal Alois Brunner had the power of life and death. His story is a story of the past. It is also a story for our times. The Holocaust reminds us of the dangers of racism and intolerance, providing lessons that are relevant today.
(Featured on Today with Pat Kenny – Tuesday, 6 December 2011)


Revolution: A Photographic History of Revolutionary Ireland 1913-1923  by Padraig Óg Ó Ruairc
The period from 1913 to 1923 in Ireland's history of rebellion, is undoubtedly the most significant. The period takes in the revival of interest in all things Irish around 1913, the heroic Easter Rising of 1916, the bloody War of Independence 1919-1921 and the bitter Civil War of 1922-1923. Here for the first time, are images of those two episodes, the people, the places, city and country, with insightful commentary describing the context of each photograph. Includes previously unpublished photos sourced from private collections, the Irish Military Archives, Kilmainham Gaol and a variety of British military museums.
(Featured in Talking History, Newstalk – Sunday, 4 December 2011)


Rugby by Charlie Mulqueen. From the series: Brothers in Sport

Over 50 sets of brothers have played for their country and many more for Leinster, Connacht, Ulster and Munster. Who can forget the sight of the two Fogarty brothers scrumaging down against each other in the 2008 Heineken Cup Semi-Final? Where does all that brotherly ability and aptitude come from? What motivates them? How does it affect their relationship? Featuring some previously unseen photos, 'Brothers in Sport' is a fascinating look at this proud tradition in Irish rugby. Includes: The Wallaces The Kearneys The Easterbys The Heaslips The Bests The Springs The Doyles The Fogartys The Mclaughlins The O'Callaghans
(Featured in the Irish Examiner – Saturday, 26 November 2011)

Great writing is timeless. Indulge yourself and read or re-read one of our recommended classics!

Of Human Bondage by William Somerset Maugham
General Books, Classics - Of Human Bondage

The Narrative of Arthur Gordan Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe

The Outsider by Albert Camus                      
General Books, Classics - The Outsider

The Essential tales of Chekhov, edited by Richard Ford

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Ulysses by James Joyce

Loving and Giving by Molly Keane

Seven Winters by Elizabeth Bowen   

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee                                                   

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf                                                                     

Monday, 14 November 2011

November Reads

General Books, Fiction, Original Fiction - On Canaan's Side
On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry
Shortlisted for the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year Award for 2011 and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for 2011.
'As they used to say in Ireland, the devil only comes into good things.' Narrated by Lilly Bere, the story opens as she mourns the loss of her grandson, Bill. It then goes back to the moment she was forced to flee Dublin, at the end of the First World War, and follows her life through into the new world of America, a world filled with both hope and danger. At once epic and intimate, Lilly's narrative unfurls as she tries to make sense of the sorrows and troubles of her life and of the people whose lives she has touched. Spanning nearly seven decades, it is a novel of memory, war, family-ties and love, which once again displays Sebastian Barry's exquisite prose and gift for storytelling.

Cavan Reading Group

Irish, Irish Interest - The Speckled People
The Speckled People by Hugo Hamilton
The childhood world of Hugo Hamilton is a confused place. His father, a brutal Irish nationalist, demands his children speak Gaelic at home whilst his mother, a softly spoken German emigrant who escaped Nazi Germany at the beginning of the war, encourages them to speak German. All Hugo wants to do is speak English.
English is, after all, what the other children in Dublin speak. English is what they use when they hunt down Hugo (or "Eichmann" as they dub him) in the streets of Dublin, and English is what they use when they bring him to trial and execute him at a mock seaside court. Out of this fear and confusion Hugo tries to build a balanced view of the world, to turn the twisted logic of what he is told into truth. It is a journey that ends in liberation but not before this little boy has uncovered the dark and long-buried secrets that lie at the bottom of his parents' wardrobe.
Unspoken by Gerard Stembridge
Unspoken charts the interlocking stories of a group of unforgettable characters through the 1960s, a tumultuous decade during which Ireland threw off some ancient shackles yet assumed other, more modern ones. Alive with character and understated ambition, it is both a magnificent work of literature and an absolute delight.

Cootehill Reading Group

General Books, Classics - Cry the Beloved Country
Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
This is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its contemporaneity, unforgettable for character and incident, "Cry, the Beloved Country" is a classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man.