Pue’s Recommendations for December

Juliana Adelman I was in London a few weeks ago and lucky enough to spend some time in the Wellcome Collection which houses the anthropological and medical collections of  Sir Henry Wellcome as well as changing exhibitions on contemporary biomedical science.  Free and well worth a visit.  Wellcome also maintains an absolutely first class website where you can search for images (as well as the usual documents and books).  I am way behind the curve in finally picking up Kate Summerscale’s The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. My only regret is that I didn’t save it until Christmas: perfect fireside reading.   Ok, since I have already mentioned the ‘C’ word I might as well go with it.  My favourite part of Christmas is cooking and so I was really excited to find this quirky blog by Julia Skinner which is based on modernizing recipes from a 17th C book of household management.  Wet suckets anyone?

Lisa Marie Griffith I was trapped in Edinburgh for last week and in between my daily trips to the airport to have my flight cancelled I managed to get some sightseeing done so all of my recommendations this month come from there. I visited the Real Mary King’s Close, just off the Royal Mile, last Monday and would thoroughly recommend it. This is a guided tour of seventeenth century streets and houses which are remarkably still standing and navigable underneath the city. The guide, dressed appropriately in seventeenth century costume, enthusiastically re-created life and living conditions for those who would have lived in the rooms whether they were lower, middle or upper class inhabitants. I also made it around the corner to the Writer’s  Museum which, unlike our own, is free and open to all. The museum is worth a visit for a look at this beautiful and unusual building known as Lady Stair’s house. While the exhibition focuses on just three Scottish writers, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson (as well as an exhibit about Scottish PENthe world wide international association for writers) it is well worth a look and I picked up lots of books to stuff in my hand luggage on the way home. Thankfully Ryanair did not check the weight of my bag! While lots of things were shut for the snow (including Holyrood Palace unfortunately) I did manage to make it to Edinburgh Castle which was free and open all last weekend and absolutely beautiful in the snow. The view from the top was truly superb!

Christina Morin I managed to be away on holiday for last week’s snowfall -luckily, some would say. Being from New Hampshire, however, and a fan of such snow, I’m hoping the weather will continue over December. It’s perfect, I think, for curling up in front of a roaring fire with a cup of hot tea and my new Kindle. A birthday present from my thoughtful hubby, the Kindle has been a rather unexpected delight already. Although I’m sure it will never replace the “real” thing, the Kindle has proven a handy little gadget, especially whilst on holiday – no lugging loads of paperbacks in my suitcase, access to the internet where there’s free wi-fi, and only a few teething problems so far as I’ve been able to tell. Over Christmas, I’m looking forward to rounding out my post-Christmas-dinner satisfaction with a few of my childhood favourites – L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series. That’s one of the great things about the Kindle for fans of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century texts – they’re substantially cheaper than more recent titles. A bargain well-suited to today’s recessecionary times!

Kevin O’Sullivan It came as a surprise to read last week that Come Here to Me! had only reached its first birthday – it seems like that their mix of history, football, music and stories from Dublin’s streets has been around a lot longer. Something that has been around a long time, but for some reason has popped up three times on a variety of television channels over the last month, is The Day of the Jackal, the 1973 film about an attempted assassination of Charles de Gaulle, based on Freddie Forsyth’s novel of the same name. I’ve no idea whether it’s historically accurate or not, but with such a cracking storyline, who cares? For the weather that’s in it, Sara Wheeler’s The Magnetic North: Notes from the Arctic Circle (which I may have recommended here before) is a superb read: part travelogue, part history, and excellent throughout. Finally, over the last month I’ve been watching bits of the new series, Reeling in the Years: The 2000s, on RTÉ 1. It’s too soon, of course, but no less compelling as an example of how history reflects the times it’s written in.

One Response to “Pue’s Recommendations for December”

  1. Felix Larkin Says:

    Can I recommend FRIENDS OF THE NATIONAL LIBRARY: FORTY YEARS OF THE NATIONAL LIBRARY SOCIETY by Dónall Ó Luanaigh, the official history of the National Library of Ireland Society which will be launched in the Library’s front hall on Wednesday, 8 December 2010. An illustrated 64-page paperback, this book is published by Associated Editions and is on sale in the Library’s bookshop at €14.95. It is the ideal Christmas present for bibliophiles this year.

    The National Library Society was founded in 1969 in order to harness “the tremendous amount of goodwill towards the National Library”. The Library was then falling far short of its international equivalents in terms of adequate staffing and storage, purchasing funds and conservation, and there was an urgent need to alert public opinion to this unfortunate situation and to demonstrate the public’s support for remedying it. In his meticulously researched monograph, Dónall Ó Luanaigh records how the Society played its part in reviving the Library’s fortunes and has otherwise contributed to Dublin’s cultural and literary life.

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