A Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

A Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

 This month’s discussion was held by a skeleton crew of two: me and the one other person who didn’t have some farfetched excuse not to join. Variously these excuses included: the book not being available from the library and (the somewhat more extreme) moving to another country or preparing for...

Read more
Children from disadvantaged backgrounds have 94% increased confidence in reading after joining Doorstep Library

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds have 94% increased confidence in reading after joining Doorstep Library

Children’s literacy charity Doorstep Library has launched its first Impact Report. At a time when the Coronavirus pandemic and a year of lockdown has had such a devastating effect on children, the report demonstrates that the home-reading service has seen great success with: 94% of children report an increased confidence...

Read more
Closing the book: humanity’s declining literacy

Closing the book: humanity’s declining literacy

When it comes to humanity’s reading habits, official surveys don’t resemble sober data models so much as wide-eyed prophets of doom, frantically waving clapboard signs bearing the legend “THE END IS NIGH”. Ever since the Lumiere brothers started terrifying audiences with short movies of trains arriving at La Ciotat station...

Read more
The White Ship:  Conquest, Anarchy and the Wrecking of Henry I’s Dream

The White Ship:  Conquest, Anarchy and the Wrecking of Henry I’s Dream

Henry I famously died after ‘a surfeit of lampreys’, an unattractive bloodsucking fish that was a great delicacy in Roman times and the Middle Ages. They were favoured by royalty and the aristocracy because their rich and meaty flesh was particularly appetising during Lent, when meat was banned. In 1120,...

Read more
Stirling Moss: Rally Driver by Vic Quayle

Stirling Moss: Rally Driver by Vic Quayle

He was one of the greatest racing drivers the world has ever seen, and he died earlier last year at the age of ninety. He was so famous in the 1950s and 1960s, that when traffic cops pulled over a ‘boy racer’ for some speeding indiscretion, the admonition would usually...

Read more
Trio By William Boyd

Trio By William Boyd

Mr Boyd is a consummate storyteller, cleverly knitting together four essential strands, namely Plot, Character, Narrative and Pace, and, adding to that, sharp, witty Dialogue and Descriptive Prose, and you have a novel worth reading. Another element has crept back into his writing canon, and that is humour. Early books...

Read more
Hail to the Chief?!

Hail to the Chief?!

Where would caricaturists be without politicians? Whilst the occasional Kennedy or Obama is blessed with a fairly normal array of facial features, for the most part Nixon, Eisenhower and LBJ set the tone somewhere between ‘bulldog’ and ‘horrific fire at Madame Tussauds’. As a president, Trump very much hewed close...

Read more
The Irish Cultural Centre has announced the ICC Digital Literary Festival, launching their 25th anniversary celebrations

The Irish Cultural Centre has announced the ICC Digital Literary Festival, launching their 25th anniversary celebrations

The Irish Cultural Centre (ICC) has announced the upcoming Digital Literary Festival – a celebration of contemporary Irish writing, which will form the centrepiece of its autumn cultural programme. The festival will showcase some of the stalwarts of Irish literature, the writers behind many prize-winning works, alongside more recent bestselling...

Read more
Entangled Life

Entangled Life

The subtitle for this mighty, academic tome is How Fungi Make our Worlds, Change our Minds and Shape our Futures, which is quite a statement in itself. My knowledge of fungi is limited to food and the various mushrooms one chooses at the market. I knew nothing, or very little,...

Read more