Thursday, December 18, 2008

Books of the Year

Many thanks to our colleague Dr Garry Bannister, Head of our Irish Department, who in a cross-curricular spirit has responded to our call for visitors' Books of the Year recommendations. He writes:-

For those interested in modern Gaelic culture An Leabhar Mór - which has some fine poetry in it, visual art stuff, calligraphy and the like. Beautifully produced. I'm not really into sport much but Sonia: My Story is a tremendous insight into the life behind the public life of Sonia O'Sullivan. She comes across as a very sincere and passionate woman who struggled hard to achieve the sporting achievements that seemed to come so naturally to her. It's a very compelling and readable book. I was a bit disappointed in Stepping Stones but maybe I have already read too much about Seamus Heaney. I didn't feel that the book conveyed the great humanity of this amazing Irish poet. On the other hand I was very impressed with Dermot Keogh's Jack Lynch - this is a really insightful portrait of the man and his times. I remember well the Jack Lynch period, the fragile and disintegrating political situation in Northern Ireland. I would say that Keogh gives a balanced and very authoritative account - but mainly, it is a riveting read.

There have been some good reads from the fiction-shelf too. For thrills and spills and incredible suspense
Arctic Drift by Clive Cussler and Maeve Binchy's Heart & Soul provides the usual light-handed Binchy soapy magic. I used to get a lot of flak from my family for reading so much of Maeve's work but I still enjoy them and continue to recognise so many of people in her books. She is so very readable. I think there should be two new words coined - a 'Binchy' for a book that everybody reads but doesn't admit to reading and a 'Bragg' for a book that everyone has on their shelf but nobody reads or finishes reading.

Finally, Philip Roth's Indignation is one of those all-and-everything fictional creations covering a young guy's development, his education, his inexperience, his sexual awakening, his courage and the understandable mistakes he makes along the way. It's quite clever in places and rather witty.

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