Monday, December 16, 2019

Books of 2019

And we're off: our (amazingly) 10th annual popular post of books of the year as they feature in the press (excluding pay-walled material, such as the London Times and Sunday Times, Financial Times, and Telegraph) and on some blogs. This is a selective list of what we judge the highest-quality lists: if you want almost everything that moves, check out Largehearted Boy.

The list will be updated pretty well daily up to Christmas.

Previous lists are here: 2010201120122013201420152016, 2017 and 2018.
  • The Irish Times selection includes choices by Sinéad Gleeson, author of one of our own books of the year, Constellations (the interesting Annie Ernaux's Happening, and the spectacular Underland by Robert Macfarlane), Joseph O'Connor, author of another of our choices, Shadowplay (including Sarah Davis-Goff's Last Ones Left Alive) and Diarmaid Ferriter (Shadowplay itself, as well as the final volume of Charles Moore's excellent biography of Margaret Thatcher, and the great William Trevor's Last Stories).
  • The outstanding Five Books site has lots of recommendations (gathered here) by superbly-qualified writers, such as Nigel Warburton's Best Philosophy Books of 2019, Best Non-Fiction Books by the editor of the TLS, Stig Abell, and Best Poetry to Read in 2019 by Jamie McKendrick (though we're wondering where Fiona Benson is).
  • The Guardian has a lot of selections, starting with their own critics, with categories like Fiction, Crime & Thrillers, SF & Fantasy, Graphic, Poetry, Children, and more, as well as well-known writers, starting with Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo (including The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins) and further down top thriller-writer Lee Child noting the departure of the great Toni Morrison by choosing her The Source of Self-Regard. Here are best children's books for all ages ('titles about mental health and emotions are everywhere', which is sad, but Chris Riddell's Poems to Fall in Love with is 'a stupendously well-chosen, feelgood anthology in which even feel-bad poems feel good.' On the same site have a look at the Observer's choice of graphic novels
  • Still with The Guardian, one of the most enjoyable features every year is their readers' choice (free of log-rolling). Magrat123 recommends Deborah Moggach's novel The Carer: 'it should generate discussion about parents and children, relations between men and women, social expectations and obligations, keeping secrets and telling the truth.'
  • The Times Literary Supplement podcast on Books of the Year hosted by Stig Abell is here, discussing this list (as mentioned, not so 'international' as in the past, when foreign languages were everywhere, and the more common titles elsewhere aren't prominent here). Ones to look forward to: Bernard O'Donoghue's Poetry: a very short introduction, and Richard Davenport-Hines: "Richard Bassett’s memoir Last Days in Old Europe (Allen Lane) gives lessons in how to cope with political vandalism, social estrangement and the entrapping tombs of our time."
  • In the New Yorker, Katy Waldman's Best Books of 2019 includes Ocean Vuong's On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous (good title?). Their Non-Fiction selection includes David Wallace-Wells's The Uninhabitable Earth, called by some the scariest and most important work this year.
  • In The Gloss, Sophie Grenham recommends Ten of the Best Irish Novels to Give this Christmas: it's been a fine year, but let's pick out a less-noticed book, Doreen Finn's novel Night Swimming: 'If ever there was a novel that encapsulates a season, it’s this one. A perfect snapshot of childhood during the summer of 1976 in Dublin, you can actually feel the sun splitting the stones.'
  • The New York Times's famous feature, 100 Notable Books in 2019 includes Lucy Ellmann's much-noticed mammoth Ducks, Newburyport, and the amazing Edna O'Brien's latest novel, Girl ('immensely painful to read'). Also, 26 best art books.
  • The New York Times podcast discusses 10 books of the year (and nine additional ones), including Irishman Kevin Barry's Night Boat to Tangier ('a dark, witty take on Waiting for Godot').
  • The New York Public Library has, perhaps not surprisingly, a great list, in several categories: teen fiction includes Bill Konigsberg's The Music of What Happens, a well-received YA novel about two teenage boys' love.
  • Esquire's Best Books of 2019 (so far) includes a novel on many lists, Colson Whitehead's The Nickel Boys (The Underground Railroad appeared on our own list a while ago) and Arias, a new collection by that wonderful poet, Sharon Olds.
  • John Wilson's annual Year of Reading is thoughtful, including the Selected Letters of the great novelist Ralph Ellison. 
  • Quill and Quire from Canada has its Editors' Picks, include Sonnet L'Abbé's Sonnet's Shakespeare, in which she 'overwrites each of Shakespeare’s sonnets, submerging the originals in meditations on Indigenous justice, sexual assault, climate change, David Bowie, and Prince', which is pretty ambitious.
  • The Spectator's selections are always worth checking out, and this year come in two tranches. In Part 1 Sara Wheeler recommends Alice Oswald's Nobody which is 'perfect for a bedtime read' (seems odd for that particular poet) while in Part 2 Douglas Murray goes back to the reissue of R.C. Sherriff's excellent The Hopkins Manuscript (nothing to do with the poet)
  • The American Spectator selection includes Stephen Bayley, who goes for Ian Sansom's September 1, 1939: a biography of a poem, a 'fanatically detailed investigation of the W.H. Auden poem' which in the end is 'unforgettable.'
  • Smithsonian Scholars make their choices here with a list that concentrates on history, geography and science. One novel that makes its way in is Marie Benedict's The Only Woman in the Room, a fictionalised treatment of the life of Hedy Lamarr, and 'an important reminder, even today, that femininity does not preclude a person from having strength of will or brilliance' in the words of Danielle Hall.
  • GQ Magazine's selection includes New Yorker writer Patrick Radden Keefe's Say Nothing: a true story of memory and murder in Northern Ireland, a work which delves into the culture of Belfast in the Troubles, unpicking the background to the murder of Jean McConville: it's a devastatingly sad reminder of what we faced not so long ago.
  • Slate magazine has a choice by its books editor, Dan Kois: Limbo by Dan Fox, a selection of short essays from the excellent Fitzcarraldo Editions looks interesting. In her selection, critic Laura Miller goes for many we'd second, including Underland, Say Nothing and Normal People.
  • The Washington Post's 'Best Books of 2019' include Say Nothing (see above), and there are also lots in the categories Thrillers and Mysteries, Romance, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Children, Poetry, Fiction, Non-Fiction and Audiobooks (via the same link above). To pick out one from Children, the wonderful Naomi Shihab Nye has There Is No Distance Now in which a 'series of semi-connected (very) short stories explore the influence of class, ethnicity, war, peace, life and death on our daily lives, through the eyes of characters who are both three-dimensional and deeply universal.'
  • Time magazine has 10 Best YA and Children's Books (including the lovely work of Oliver Jeffers), 10 Best Non-Fiction Books (including the great Underland) and 10 Best Fiction Books (including unsurprisingly Margaret Attwood's The Testaments).
  • The Toronto Star has various categories, starting with its overall Best Books of the Year, Part 1: the great nature-writer Barry Lopez features with his new book, Horizon.
  • For NPR, Maureen Corrigan's '10 Unputdownable Reads' include new new 'gorgeous and devastating' novel from Ann Patchett, The Dutch House.
  • Powell's City of Books Best Kids and Young Adult selection is one of their several lists.
  • History Today has a high-quality list. Kathleen Burk chooses the great Robert Caro's Working (a mere couple of hundred pages as we all wait for the final volume of the LBJ biography, and very enjoyable too). Jessie Childs calls Tom Holland's acclaimed Dominion: the making of the Western mind 'the most intellectually stimulating book I've read all year", and Helen Parr goes for Robert Saunders's Yes to Europe! on the previous 'Brexit' referendum of 1975, when we saw ' a British society alert to the devastation nationalism could bring, and anxious of economic disruption.' Hmm.
  • Foyles Books of the Year: Katherine Rundell's The Good Thieves sounds great (the children's winner). 
  • A new one to us, but providing an interestingly different perspective: The Beijinger in its review of the year is perfect for anyone visiting  or wanting to know more about China. Under Red Skies, a multi-generational memoir by Chinese writer and former New York Times researcher Karoline Kan, sounds promising.
  • Constance Grady in Vox gives her favourite 15 books of the year and the uniquitous Sally Rooney is there with Normal People.
  • David Didau has a rich selection on The Learning Spy, including Tom Holland's much-noticed Dominium and Lucy Mangan's Bookworm: a Memoir of Childhood Reading (mention here of the wonderful The Phantom Tollbooth).
  • The Millions has one of the most comprehensive collections around each year,  and the 2019 version has over 90 contributors on their way. Nick Ripatratzone, for example, often writes interestingly.
  • Sinéad Crowley from RTÉ starts with mentioned the BorrowBox app for Irish libraries (including audiobooks). Her crime novel of the year was by the successful Australian writer Jane Harper, The Lost Man, another by this author in which the environment features powerfully. 
  • Not surprisingly, the School Library Journal has some of the best-informed recommendations each year, and this year there are categories such as Picture Books, Transitional Chapter Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Graphic and Non-Fiction. And a special feature - you can download the whole lot as a colour PDF for printing-out.
  • The Belfast Telegraph gives us best books by Northern Ireland writers, from Damien Smyth. We can endorse David Park's short A Run in the Park.  
  • And Largehearted Boy himself (David Gutowski) has chosen his best 11 novels of the year, including Lanny by Max Porter, 'a fable for our time'. 
  • The BBC History Magazine presents 37 books from 11 historians. Susannah Lipscomb goes for Jack Fairweather’s The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero Who Infiltrated Auschwitz, which 'tells the astonishing story of underground operative Witold Pilecki, who chose to be imprisoned in Auschwitz in order to uncover what was happening there.'
  • The GoodReads Choice awards round up the best 20 books this year according to their readers, with unsurprisingly Margaret Atwood's (shared) Booker winner The Testaments heading the list.  
  • Jeffrey Brown of PBS has a fine selection of 29 books. Kevin Barry, Ann Patchett and Robert Macfarlane are here. For a different name, there's Jericho Brown with The Tradition, 'Poetry that engages history and today’s front page, in lyrical language that moves quietly and then lands with a punch. Brown’s is a tough and tender voice.'
  • The New European has both the best and the worst books of the year, from Charlie Connelly, the biggest disappointment for him being Ian McEwan's The Cockroach (sad to see how poor McEwan has become in recent years).
  • In the Wall Street Journal, Meghan Cox Gurdon, author of one of our own selections, The Enchanted Hour, gives us the Best Children's Books of the year, and they have lots of other categories too. 
  • Turn to Polygon for the best science fiction and fantasy books of the year. Sarah Gailey's Magic for Liars, set in a 'magical high school', sounds fun.  
  • iNews has Christmas present choices from the best books of the year, with Crime represented by the excellent Attica Locke and Heaven, My Home.
  • Newsroom from New Zealand has Best Kids' Books of the Year, including local ones. Best title goes to Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?
  • The Skinny's Books of 2019 goes for Books of the Year and Honourable Mentions. Hallie Rubenhold's The Five; the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper is getting tremendous reviews, and is here chosen by Rebecca Wojturska.
  • The English and Media Centre Christmas list is always good (unsurprisingly). Annexed by Sharon Doggar reimagines the Anne Frank story through the eyes of 'Peter', and another YA novel, Toffee by Sarah Crossan, also sounds interesting.
  • The Paris Review contributors are always on the 'high end' of recommendations, and this year is no different.
  • ABC News has the Best 24 LGBTQ books, from Lambda Literary (just a list, without comments).
  • The Quietus Best Fiction & Non-Fiction includes in the former category Deborah Levy (great cover for The Man Who Saw Everything), and in the latter Joe Thompson's Sleevenotes ('core curriculum reading for those just embarking on the path of rock music today'.)
  • On RTÉ Damien O'Meara selects the Best Sports Books, starting with Richie Sadlier's Recovering ('the bravest book I've read in a long time').
  • The Big Issue magazine has Kids' Books of 2019, including The Fate of Fausto by the great Oliver Jeffers.
  • Rick O'Shea from RTÉ has made his selection of 30, including Kevin Barry's novel Night Boat to Tangier ('probably the best book I've read this year') and E.M. Reapy's Skin (criminally overlooked this year').
  • Vanity Fair's choice by Phoebe Williams includes The Salt Path by Raynor Winn (great cover), which sounds really good.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Our Books of the Year 2019

The annual selection of books published in either hardback or paperback for the first time this year.

(Here is our 10th annual round-up of Books of the Year lists from lots of publications).

Book of the Year
Robert Macfarlane: Underland: a Deep Time Journey. Macfarlane is simply one of the best writers working today, and this immense achievement shows again how close he is to the most important issue of our time.


  • Joseph O'Connor: Shadowplay. Light of touch, richly-patterned, this fictional treatment of Bram Stoker and his friends Henry Irving and Ellen Terry is tremendously enjoyable.
  • Rachel Cusk: Kudos. The completion of the Transit trilogy confirms Cusk as one of the most interesting novelists working today.
  • Jonathan Coe: Middle England. Everything Coe writes is enjoyable. This hits the spot right now, during the psychological seizure that is Brexit.
  • Sinéad Gleeson: Constellations. Essay collection of the year: fascinating meditations and accounts of a wide variety of subjects, the most important of which is the female body.
  • Rachel Cusk: Coventry. Cusk makes the list twice: the first few essays in this collection are characteristically edgy.
  • Patrick Radden Keefe: Say Nothing: a true story of murder and memory in Northern Ireland reminds us of a terrible time in our history, weaving together the story of the era with the story of the murder of Jean McConville.
  • Laura Cumming: On Chapel Sands: my mother and other missing persons. Cumming unpicks the truth behind her family's history. The end is seriously moving.
  • Fiona Benson: Vertigo & Ghost. Poetry book of the year - a savage achievement, particularly in the first-half 'Zeus' poems.
  • Robert Caro: Working. While we all await the fifth-volume completion of the LBJ project, surely the greatest achievement in biographical history, this selection of essays about Caro writes just about keeps us junkies going.
  • Bart Van Es: The Cut-Out Girl: a story of war and family, lost and found. Deserved winner of the Costa Prize, this examines the Jewish experience in the Netherlands in the Second World War (and after) beautifully.
Education books

  • Tom Sherrington: The Learning Rainforest Fieldbook has case studies from the UK and around the world' is a rich and fascinating series of insights into schools, unexpectedly moving in its accounts of children and teachers determined to learn. We declare an interest (see pages 58-61). Add also to this Sherrington's hugely successful short book, Rosenshine's Principles in Action.
  • Both of Tom Sherrington's books are illustrated by Oliver Caviglioli, whose Dual Coding for Teachers has made big waves in the teaching world. It's not surprising that his work is so popular now: in a world of clutter and poor design, it's beautifully clear and purposeful.
  • Inventing Ourselves: the secret life of the teenage brain by Sarah-Jane Blakemore  is essential for all teachers of teenagers (parents, too). Deeply rooted in evidence (Blakemore is Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience at Cambridge University) it tells beautifully clearly the story of what is going on in that mysterious world.
  • David Didau: Making Kids Cleverer: a manifesto for closing the advantage gap. Didau always argues tightly, and this is no exception. He examines questions of nature and nurture, and the always tricky subject of 'intelligence', and what we can do to give all children the best foundation possible.
  • Meghan Cox Gurdon: The Enchanted Hour: the miraculous power of reading aloud in the age of distraction. This convincingly makes the case for the enduring significance of reading aloud to both children and adults (even more so nowadays given the demands on our attention).
  • Finally, two English teaching books previously recommended here, which provide lots of excellent material for those of us in the profession: How To Teach English by Chris Curtis is terrific on the granular detail of improving the quality of pupils' writing, 
  • How to Teach English Literature: overcoming cultural poverty by Jennifer Webb is also excellent on helpful approaches to literary texts.


Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Submarine, December 2019

The latest edition of The Submarine, edited by Avi and Edna Johnston, is now out, and can be read online (and downloaded) here. Among the articles are ones by Éile Ní Chianáin about her experience of the recent Climate Change Youth Assembly, Elise Williams on the UCD Leinster Debates, Cian Slyne on dystopian societies, and Zofia Cannon-Brookes, as well as lots of pupil art work.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Young Adult Books 2019

Our Librarian, Ms Kent-Sutton, has put together a list of ten of the best Young Adult books from recent months. It's below, but you can also download it (with images of covers) for printing out here. Included is the much-acclaimed first novel by Old Columban Sarah Davis-Goff.

1. Other Words For Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin (Teen and Young Adult Book of the Year- An Post Book Awards)
The house at the end of the lane burned down, and Rita Frost and her teenage ward, Bevan, were never seen again. The townspeople never learned what happened. Only Mae and her brother Rossa know the truth; they spent two summers with Rita and Bevan, two of the strangest summers of their lives. Because nothing in that house was as it seemed: a cat who was more than a cat, and a dark power called Sweet James that lurked behind the wallpaper, enthralling Bevan with whispers of neon magic and escape. And in the summer heat, Mae became equally as enthralled with Bevan. Desperately in the grips of first love, she'd give the other girl anything. A dangerous offer when all that Sweet James desired was a taste of new flesh.

2. All The Invisible Things by Orlagh Collins
With Pez, the days felt endless - cycling, climbing trees, sucking sour sweets till our tongues burned. I'd give anything to be that girl again. For four years Vetty Lake has been keeping her heart in hiding. Since her mum died and her family moved out of London it's felt so much safer not to tell people how she really feels. She's never even told anyone she's attracted to girls as well as boys. But now Vetty's seventeen and coming back to London she's determined to start living out loud. She's convinced that reconnecting with her childhood best friend Pez is the key. She was always fearless around him. But when she sees Pez again, he's different. Guarded. It's like their special connection never existed. And suddenly Vetty's sure he's been hiding too.

3. The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne
Amelie loved Reese. And she thought he loved her. But she's starting to realise love isn't supposed to hurt like this. So now she's retracing their story and untangling what happened by revisiting all the places he made her cry. Because if she works out what went wrong, perhaps she can finally learn to get over him.

4. The M Word by Brian Conaghan
Moya. The M Word. Whisper it. Conceal it. But please, never mention it ... Maggie Yates talks to her best friend Moya every day. She tells her about Maggie's mum losing her job. She tells her that Mum's taken to not opening the curtains and crying in secret. And she tells her about how she plans to cheer Mum up - find her a fella with a bit of cash to splash. Moya is with her every step of the way. You're surfing a rainbow if you think someone like that exists round here , she smiles. But I'll help. But at the back of her mind Maggie knows that Mum's crying is more than sadness. That there are no easy fixes. And that Moya's not really there. Because though she talks to her every day, Moya died months ago...

5. Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff
'You'll be terrified, fascinated and above all, uplifted by Orpen - a heroine to rival Philip Pullman's Lyra or The Passage's Amy'  (Stylist); 'Fiercely feminist, highly imaginative' (Observer). Raised by her mother and Maeve on Slanbeg, an island off the west coast of Ireland, Orpen has a childhood of love and stories by the fireside. But the stories grow darker, and the training begins. Ireland has been devoured by a ravening menace known as the skrake, and though Slanbeg is safe for now, the women must always be ready to run, or to fight. When Maeve is bitten, Orpen is faced with a dilemma: kill Maeve before her transformation is complete, or try to get help. So Orpen sets off, with Maeve in a wheelbarrow and her dog at her side, in the hope of finding other survivors, and a cure. It is a journey that will test Orpen to her limits, on which she will learn who she really is, who she really loves, and how to imagine a future in a world that ended before she was born.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Seamus Heaney and the Music of What Happens

Adam Low's documentary on Seamus Heaney for Arena went out on the BBC recently, and last night at the Irish Film Institute in Dublin it received a big-screen showing to a packed audience, including many members of the poet's family. Afterwards (pictured above) Professor Margaret Kelleher, Chair of Anglo-Irish Literature & Drama at UCD and Chair of the board of the IFI, led a discussion with Marie and Catherine Heaney, as well as Adam Low. 

There's no doubt that Low's work is the most powerful and comprehensive treatment of the poet on film. A skilful tracing of Heaney's life and work since the earliest days, one of its strengths is how it roots (a Heaney-esque metaphor) the work in Bellaghy, and in his family. Of course so many poems do explore this, but it is particularly moving to see so much on film, including Heaney's brothers (who themselves read some of the poems) and several family photographs. 'Mid-Term Break', a staple of schools all over Ireland, gains extra force from hearing of the impact on the family, and from his brother remembering the moment the terrible event of the death happened.

A second great strength is how the poetry is so present - often literally in front of us (particularly effective on the huge IFI screen), and also in the voices of Heaney's family. But above all it is the extraordinary voice of the man himself (surely the best reader of his own work in recent times) which stands out: tender, supple, un-forced.

Much of the music from the film (see the title) comes from Heaney's selection on 'Desert Island Discs'.

In the discussion afterwards Marie Heaney said it struck her strongly how much this was a love story (they were married for over 50 years), and one of the loveliest sights in the film was the handwritten book that her husband gave her in Christmas 1983 with all the love poems he had written her ('because he forgot to get me a Christmas present'). He was, she said, not 'humble', but definitely 'unassuming': he knew how good he was. But still she, as his first reader (what an extraordinary position for her to be in) was the most important critic, and he knew her so well that any tiny hesitation in her reaction to a new poem was followed by 'So what don't you like about it?' He said it was like her putting a coin between her teeth to see if was the real thing.

She was stunned when the New York Times, announcing Séamus's death, had a picture of him 'above the fold' on the front page, an indication of his extraordinary reach (see below). That reach was also reinforced by the silence and then applause of 80,000 football supporters in Croke Park in the days following his death.

Marie Heaney also said after the showing that the film impressed on her once again how terrible the Troubles were, how vital it was that nothing (current events...) should open up any repetition of that terrible time.

That Croke Park applause was echoed in the IFI last night after the film: tribute to the skill of Adam Low and his team in telling the story, and of course to the man himself and his work.

The film is available on BBC iPlayer for those who can access it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Hamlet quotations: all 5 Acts

Quizlet tests for retrieval practice on quotations from Hamlet. Here, the entire play, with quotations jumbled by Act (total of 97).

Think of what should replace 'blank' in each case, then click to see the answer. Now write down (or, better still, discuss with a friend): how could this quotation be used? how is it helpful/interesting? how does it connect with others?

Hamlet quotations, Act V

Quizlet tests for retrieval practice on quotations from Hamlet. Here, Act 5.

Think of what should replace 'blank' in each case, then click to see the answer. Now write down (or, better still, discuss with a friend): how could this quotation be used? how is it helpful/interesting? how does it connect with others?

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Hamlet quotations, Act 4

Quizlet tests for retrieval practice on quotations from Hamlet. Here, Act 4.

Think of what should replace 'blank' in each case, then click to see the answer. Now write down (or, better still, discuss with a friend): how could this quotation be used? how is it helpful/interesting? how does it connect with others?

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Museum of Literature Ireland

Some details of a fine new addition to Dublin's cultural attractions, MoLI.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Hamlet quotations, Act 3

Quizlet tests for retrieval practice on quotations from Hamlet. Here, Act 3.

Think of what should replace 'blank' in each case, then click to see the answer. Now write down (or, better still, discuss with a friend): how could this quotation be used? how is it helpful/interesting? how does it connect with others?

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Hamlet quotations, Act 2

Quizlet tests for retrieval practice on quotations from Hamlet. Here, Act 2.

Think of what should replace 'blank' in each case, then click to see the answer. Now write down (or, better still, discuss with a friend): how could this quotation be used? how is it helpful/interesting? how does it connect with others? 

Hamlet quotations: Act 1

The first of a series of Quizlet tests for retrieval practice on quotations from Hamlet. Here, Act 1. 

Think of what should replace 'blank' in each case, then click to see the answer. Now write down (or, better still, discuss with a friend): how could this quotation be used? how is it helpful/interesting? how does it connect with others?

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

TY House Speech Competition

Maxim Meddah gives an account of the annual TY House Speech Competition:

On Sunday 29th September, the annual Transition Year House Speeches took place once again in St Columba’s College. Each house was represented by two pupils. The topic the pupils could choose was up to them. Some were serious and some were humorous. The contestants were marked out of ten points for delivery and content and five points on lack of reliance on notes. They each spoke for three to five minutes.  

Glen was represented by Antoine Dulauroy who spoke about how Astrophysics can change your view on the world and Akin Babajide who spoke about why the idea of world peace is naive. Gwynn was represented by Tom Casey who spoke about why the earth is flat and Peter Taylor who spoke about anxiety. Stackallan was represented by Marcus O’Connor speaking about the profound message of Kung Fu Panda and Andrew Maguire on the importance of team sports. Edna Johnston spoke about being a twin and Amalia Falkenhayn speaking about being tall represented Iona. Representing Hollypark were Emma Hinde talking about ‘the power of words’ and Caroline Hager speaking about Flying.  

The event started with the announcement of the first speaker Edna Johnston by the evening’s MC, Guy Fitzgibbon. Edna then commenced with her speech which was about being a twin. She talked about her least favourite response to people finding out she has a twin which was “Oh I know a set of twins” and her favourite response being when people look in shock with their mouths wide open. In retrospect, her speech was really about being her own person and that she and her sister are not one and the same person but two individuals that merely look alike. The next speech was by Antoine Dulauroy. He talked about the two different ways someone's view of the world could be affected by astrophysics, showing us how big the universe really is. The first point was that you feel tiny in such a huge world and that nothing matters. The second being seizing that feeling of feeling small and meaningless and use it as a pretext to trying scary and challenging new things. In the end, he mentioned his dream, or rather his objective of becoming an astrophysicist.

The third speech, a humorous one, was given by Tom Casey and he talked about the earth being flat with the example of a grapefruit. His first reason was that if the earth was round an aeroplane which flies from the northern hemisphere to the southern one should arrive upside down, which quite evidently does not. He also reasoned that all the water would pour down the face of the earth if it were round. His speech entertained the audience well and by the end of his speech the whole room was filled with laughter. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

INOTE 2019

Some reactions and resources from the annual conference of the Irish National Organisation for Teachers of English.

Friday, October 11, 2019

INOTE Conference 2019

Notes and links from the keynote at the annual conference of the Irish National Organisation of Teachers of English in Portlaoise on Saturday 12th October 2019.

Link to presentation

Collection of tweets and resources.

The SCC Fortnightly newsletter: subscribe here





    Some more recommended books

    • Sinead Gleeson: Constellations
    • Emily Pine: Notes to Self
    • Tim Winton: The Boy Behind the Curtain
    • Rachel Cusk: Kudos, Transit and Outline, as well as Coventry (essays)
    • Robert Macfarlane: The Old Ways, Landmarks, Underland.
    • Joseph O'Connor: Shadowplay
    • David Park: Travelling in a Strange Land
    • Melatu Uche Okorie: This Hostel Life