This page lists what I’m reading at the moment: Last Update June 2021

Currently reading this excellent book – will give a full review when completed


Just finished this William Boyd – based in Vienna it moves along with good pace and a twisting plot. Boyd is a very accomplished writer and structures his novels in a way that ensures the story unfolds in an engaging way. I read this book in print/paper format it took me two days and one night.


Donal Ryan writes like very few other writers in both his structure and his ability to get that inner voice. The subject of this short novel is the decline of the Irish economy – the bust after the boom of the Celtic Tiger. Taking a range of characters in a country town setting and using the voice of each one to give their account Ryan weaves in and unveils a dark plot. His subject material, essentially the human condition portrayed in each character, is lifted considerably by his exquisite use of language in particular his use of dialogue where characters’ slang define their predicaments.

Enjoyed Ian McEwan’s Saturday never thought a long passage describing neurosurgery could be so gripping – he is a brilliant writer.

Tariq Ali – provides some thought-provoking essays in this collection which I am working my way through. The writings, sometimes in the form of diary entries sometimes travelogues but mostly essays explore the link between literature, history and politics. Incidently the essay is one of the least appreciated forms of writing – where have all the essayists gone? More essays – I say.

Haruki Murakami is a unique writer and great motivation for my late-started newly – founded running career – has got me past the 5k distance with his simple approach to running and life generally – highly recommended.

Now here is a really different writer – with a very unusual and extremely challenging them that does not fit easily into any genre; I have enjoyed it so far – although I would not have chosen it as my ‘type’ of book. Based around a crime investigation but with very quirky almost science fiction type context. Well done to the local public library for having it in stock – there is hope still!

I have three books on the go at the moment: Benedict Kiely’s Nothing Happens in Carmincross a 1985 novel from this writer known more for his short stories – he died in 2007 after a life dedicated to literature his obituary in the Guardian is here. The next book I’m reading is The Master again by an Irish writer, Colm Toibin a novel based on the life of Henry James. I read Toibin’s the Blackwater Lightship a few years ago, an account of a young mand dying of aids, and it was truely wonderful. Strange then that I am struggling to get into The Master.

The third novel is The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway – controversial in its making because of the apparent use by the author of another man’s bravery – the story is well written and gives one view of the effects of war on the psyche.

September 2009
I’m currently reading Ellen MacArthur’s book Race Against Time which is a short but very interesting read . It is 30 years since the  Fastnet race disaster about which I remember listening to on the Irish radio news – for some reason it left an impression.

Next to read is this 2666 from Roberto Bolaño sounds absolutely fascinating – not quite sure whether to read The Savage Detectives first before 2666 i.e. in the order they were written – perhaps it does not matter – his first book last or his last book first – I know its his last book because he died just as he finished it.

Slumdog Millionaire
When we were driving through Mumbai in February 2011 when the film was released, there were huge billboards with posters like this one. I tried to get a good photo juxtaposing the billboard with the slums but none were quite right. I thought then it would be good to read the book – then the film won all those Oscars and became “must-see” for a while but I never found the time to go. Remarkable now is the amount of content it has created, on Wikipedia, totally out of proportion. So here in Slumdog Millionaire is a book I have not read and a film I have not yet seen.

Secret Scriptures

Sebastian Barry’s – wonderfully written memoir of an Irish woman nearing the age of 100 and writing from a soon to be closed down mental health hospice – lost out narrowly to The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, despite being the bookies’ favourite to win the 2008 Man Booker Prize. The book has however won the Costa Book Award 2009 and well it deserves its victory. Thoroughly enjoying it and savouring its language.

Book cover
Steve Krug’s book is renowned for its brevity and succinct description of how to design a website. The second edition takes it all a little further and updates some of the technology. An excellent starting point for anyone wishing to understand information architcture in a networked environment. I wonder if a similar approach to the design of instructional materials on the web – e-learning – will be forthcoming? A good read – takes about an afternoon – highly recommended.

Always had an interest in this era – just started this extremely indepth account, regarded by many as the authoritative version of events. So far it seems a fairly complicated affair but I have a friend, a journalist in Dublin who is very well up on this subject and also a friend who has lived in Spain and has a good grasp of such things. I shall post my views as I progress.

This book has caused much controversy, indeed that’s the reason I’m reading it. So far it is rather shallow in its analysis. The author seems to argue that (objective) “truth” has been eroded by Web 2.0 applications such as Blogging, and that the honesty of journalists and other media workers has been undermined by allowing the masses to publish. One only needs to have a fairly sound grasp of “history” to see that all truth is actually subjective. Who was it that said history is written by the victors? A fuller review when I finish.

Well I’m finished with this one now – what a disappointment! The level of discussion is woefully inadequate. The author himself is an amateur, something he cleary feels the need to apologise for in his epilogue. More importantly he is sloppy, giving poor references to quotes and confusing, through a simple lack of logic, some fairly basic concepts. However the most difficult aspect of this book is the writing style. One gets the impression that Keen is pointing a finger at his reader, jabbing in an over-assertive manner, in order to get his point across. His sympathy for corporate America from whom he believes bloggers and Wikipedia contributors are stealing, betrays a narrow viewpoint . Delightfully, for those who collect split infinitives, he provides on page 61, one of the ugliest sentences of the Web 2.0 era. “Nevertheless, companies like Wal-Mart have begun to calculatingly play to our false assumptions about the ‘realness’ of the amateur, getting free advertising in the process”. My signed copy will be presented to Bradford College library go there and borrow it rather than spend your money.

Paul Durcan’s latest – was happy to add this to my complete collection of this Dublin poet’s ouvre unfortunately not a signed copy this time. Herein lies his greatest juxtaposition of the mundane with the essentially important. Looking back at his relationship with his mother – and all motherly things.

Ireland’s Other Poetry: Anonymous to Zozimus (Hardcover)
by John Wyse Jackson (Editor), Hector McDonnell (Editor)
This one, just published, is there to dip into – obscure gems with witty illustrations – recommend it to anyone looking for some light relief .