Archive for the ‘Pue Recommends’ Category

Pue’s Recommendations for December

5 December 2011

Juliana Adelman  I always seem to find myself going to the theatre around Christmas. This year I am taking my son to see White Christmas at the Grand Canal Theatre and hoping that family friendly means suitable for 4 year olds…The series After Life: the strange science of decay on BBC4 (Tues 9pm) has caught my eye.  They leave a house to rot and see what happens, rather like the ‘future archaeology’ thought experiment that inspired The World Without Us.  Having at last received our historical boardgames in the post I can say that Buccaneer is simple and would do nicely to fill the food/wine coma period after Christmas dinner.  Escape from Colditz, however, may take us the rest of the month to figure out how to play.  I am hoping it will be worth it.  Finally, I’m intrigued by the Victorian Christmas festivities in Wicklow Gaol which includes a replica Victorian streetscape and a storyteller.

Lisa Marie Griffith December always feels like one long wait and preparation until the 24th of December when you can put your feet up and forget about work but I have just started a new job in the National Print Museum and have a lot to do between now and Christmas! At the moment I am doing some research on museum and library studies, a module I am teaching for the first time. I am eagerly waiting the arrival of a few books from Amazon on the subject including Sharon MacDonald’s A companion to Museum Studies which has been recommended as a good broad basic text on the subject and Timothy Ambrose, Museum Basics which looks at care, preservation and museum heritage. I am also teaching Folklore for the first time and had fun last week introducing my students to Folklore through the UCD Department of Folklore website which is not only a great introduction to the collection they house (including interviews and photographs which they enjoyed listening to), it’s a great introduction to the topic in general. The above picture is a nineteenth century depiction of some Wren Boys on the 26 December. I am doing some research for my class coming up to Christmas. Did you now they were also apparently called ‘mummers’? If anyone has any recommendations for good basic books on Museum and Library studies or Folklore studies please add them below.

Tina Morin This month I’ll be frantically writing chapters while also trying to get ready for Christmas. For the former, I’m drinking a lot of coffee and tying myself to my desk. For the latter, I’m planning to hit the Belfast Christmas Continental Market and the Christmas Craft Fair at Belfast’s George’s Market for some unique Christmas gifts for family and friends. In that same vein, I’d love to stop by Avoca’s new food market and cafe in Monkstown, Co. Dublin – not just to treat myself to lunch, mind, but also to pick up a few goodies to bring home with me to my family in New Hampshire. I brought my mom an Avoca Christmas pudding one year, and it went down a treat (and was wrapped so nicely as well!). Once that’s sorted, I might treat myself to a few things on my own list, including Claire Connolly’s recently published monograph A Cultural History of the Irish Novel and PD James’ novel Death Comes to Pemberley, a murder mystery sequel to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Kevin O’Sullivan  Yes, yes, I know. I’m waaay behind on this. But have you seen The Killing? For those in search of life after The Wire, and with a penchant for Wallander and all things dark, moody and Scandinavian, series 2 is now showing on BBC 4. We’re still only halfway through the first in our house, but it’s something special. I’m sure you’ve seen our historians’ Christmas gift list but if you’d like to add something for that sports fan in your life, the trailers for the Senna DVD release, made up of documentary footage and archive interviews from the Brazilian’s Formula 1 career, look superb. Finally, the obligatory book recommendation: I’ve been reading Larry McMurtry’s 1985 novel, Lonesome Dove, set in the nineteenth century American West. Cowboys, cattle, and a slice of the brutality of life on the frontier. Superb.

Pue’s Christmas Gift List

29 November 2011

We at Pue’s thought we would start a new Christmas tradition this year.  The following gift ideas are not just things that historians would like, but also gifts that historians might like to give to others!  Enjoy and feel free to add other ideas in the comments section.

1. Irish Film Institute, archival film DVD.  Available online and in the shop. 2. Complete Wallander, Rocky Road to Dublin, Fire in Babylon, all available on  3.  Book stand.  Comparable model available from Eason’s.  4.  Replica London Olympic Games poster, from Next.  5.  Rory’s story cubes.  Also available as an iPhone app.  6.  Napoleon’s head on a plate.  National Gallery, London.  Available from Article, Dublin.

7.  iPad2, so we can dream…8.  U2 Achtung Baby uber deluxe edition.  9.  Reissue of Dierdre Madden’s All about home economics.  10.  Jane Austen earrings (from recycled book pages) from Bookity on  11.  Buy a piece of history.  1950s handbag, from the Flourescent Elephant.  12.  The Civil Wars, new album.  13.  Reaktion books ‘Animal‘ series, Owl.  Histories of all your favourite beasts.  14.  Fingerless gloves.  For the unheated archive…15.  Book weight.

16.  Dublin 1911, ed. Catriona Crowe. Royal Irish Academy.  A particularly nice kind of coffee table book.  17. Vintage book shaped locket.  From Freshyfig on 18.  Vintage style recipe cards. 19. The beast in Boston Harbor, print.  From Alternate Histories on 20. New illustrated edition of E. H. Grombich’s classic. 21.  Anatomical plate, National Gallery, London.  22. Toasting fork.  23.  Seeds from the Irish Seed Savers Association.  Grow your own Irish food history.

Pue’s Recommendations for November

7 November 2011

Juliana Adelman My joyful return to fiction reading has continued (albeit at a slower pace now that deadlines are approaching).  Last month I enjoyed The man who was Thursday: a nightmare by G. K. Chesterton and now, having gotten into the Edwardian mode, I am moving on to Tono-Bungay by H. G. Wells.  Back to the nineteenth century and I’ll be heading to see an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, one of my favourite books from childhood, at the Gate Theatre.  Back to the realm of history work and I am grateful to a librarian at the National Library of Ireland for pointing out the digital resource of the Hathi Trust library.  Much nicer to use than Google Books, with a number of ways to read and view, it has a surprising number of Irish-relevant books.  Finally, I love Belfast at this time of year because it kind of reminds me of New England.  Take a walk through the Botanic Gardens and visit the excellent Ulster Museum.  And if you’re hasty you might be able to get tickets to hear Americana music and listen to Ian Rankin read from his new book on the 11th and 12th.  in an event organised by my favourite book shop, No Alibis.

Lisa Marie Griffith Perhaps because the weather is finally getting colder my main plans for this month are to get through a long list of films.  The French Film Festival runs at the IFI between 16th and 27th of November. One of the films that stands out on the programme is The Silence of Joan. It focuses on an invented narrative of the last days of Joan of Arc. My week with Marilyn is also out at the end of the month and features Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. Sigor Ros’s second concert film Inni (Inside) is also released this month. I was really disappointed to miss Sarah’s Key when it was in the cinema during the summer. The film looks at the round-up of Paris’s Jewish population by the Vichy government in 1942 and is released on dvd this month.

Tina Morin This month, I’m treating my hubby to tickets to see  The Saw Doctors, who are playing in a variety of venues across Ireland and Northern Ireland throughout the month. We’re also considering going to Belfast’s Waterfront Hall on 30 November to catch Dave Gorman, the guy behind the hilarious Googlewhacking Adventure and Are You Dave Gorman? For those of you unfamiliar with Gorman, ‘googlewhacking’, in his terms, refers to the phenomenon of entering a search term into Google and getting a single hit. I’ve seen bits and pieces of the show he produced after his travels around the world trying to identify as many ‘googlewhacks’ as possible, and it’s incredibly funny! On a more serious note, I’m completely immersed in an education by fire of digital humanities for a grant application I’m preparing and have been delving through myriad web resources to familiarise myself with terms and techniques while also getting a feel for design, layout, etc. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is absolutely essential for getting the necessary ‘tech-speak’ and for learning what’s behind the terminology. And, showing the incredible possibilities of digital resources beyond the obvious digitisation of primary texts, is the DHO:Discovery website, which links scholars with the digital holdings of an impressive range of Irish-based collections, allowing for inter-collection searching and comparison as well as offering an innovative range of ‘visualisations’ of material.

Kevin O’Sullivan I’m a little late to this I’m sure, but for those of you who’ve been participating in or, like me, fascinated from afar by Ireland’s own mass observation project, then you’ll have been intrigued by the film Life in a Day, produced by Ridley Scott and filmed by a cast of thousands from around the world in July 2010, that was broadcast on BBC2 last week. Well worth checking out. This month has also been a good one on the reading front. I’ve just finished Alice Wondrack Biel’s Do (Not) Feed the Bears, a fascinating, if not always the  most eloquent account of man’s relationship with wildlife in America’s national parks. I doubt the medieval world looked much like the fantasy depicted in George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, but who cares? The book’s at times sloppy, at times makes your skin crawl, but it always demands your attention. A great piece of escapism. Finally, an app to make your life easier: for those of you with any kind of computer, laptop and/or smartphone who haven’t discovered Evernote yet, check it out. The possibilities are boundless.

Pue’s Recommendations for October

3 October 2011

Juliana Adelman  Last month I posted on my autumn resolutions which included reading more fiction.  So far I’ve enjoyed The third party (Glenn Patterson) and Jamrach’s Menagerie (Carol Birch).  I’m only halfway into J. G. Farrell’s Troubles set in Ireland after WWI, but it is my favourite so far.  It is faintly reminiscent of The Irish R.M. series but Farrell’s portrayal of the atmosphere of inter-war (and then civil-war) Ireland and Britain is at least as convincing as some of his characters and a pleasure to read.  The British Society for the History of Science has started a great blog devoted to reviews of history science museums and sites and open for contributions.  So far this island is only represented by the Ulster Hall, but it’s a good idea.  Finally, in my continued interest in combining maps with other kinds of information I came across two interesting web sites that are linking stories to places: Storymap (by two Irish film makers) and Lifescapes: mapping Dublin lives (a collaborative project in Trinity College Dublin).

Lisa Marie Griffith For the last month I have been watching ‘The Story of Film: An Odyssey’ on Channel 4. This is a documentary about the history of film, but it is far from traditional. The documentary refuses to look at the best-selling and most popular films and is consciously inclusive and international in its outlook with a strong focus on both the small and large innovations (like light, editing, shading, actors, sets) which helped drive forward the art of film. What I really like about this series is that it highlights a radical step or scene taken by a film and then points out other film makers who have copied this idea (often very closely), so that iconic scenes in modern films are often shown to be subtle sign posts of where that film maker’s inspiration originated from. The 1930s aired on Saturday and the 1940s are due for this Saturday but if you’d like to catch up you can watch it on 4oD. Film 4 are also airing some of the films featured in the documentary. I am a huge Hilary Mantel fan and caught an interview of Mantal a couple of weeks back. She is currently writing a follow up to Wolf Hall but due to illness it has been delyaed. To keep myself occupied in the meantime I have picked up Beyond Black, which the interviewer claimed was a blend of Mantel’s contemporary books and historic fiction. I visited the Dublin Contemporary exhibition at Culture Night. While tickets are expensive (€10 although I got in for free), it is well worth a visit but ends 31 October.

Christina Morin As I mentioned last week, I was down in Cork for the Digital Cultures Workshop – a fascinating day and a half of lectures, slams, and discussion about the current and future state of Digital Humanities in Ireland, Europe, and further afield. I’ll be sharing some of the highlights soon, but suffice it to say now that I was incredibly inspired, encouraged, and excited by the whole event and can’t wait to follow through on some of the ideas that started brewing in my brain! In the meantime, since this is October, I think it’s only appropriate to mention a couple of ‘scary’ events to prepare for Halloween. Something that’s certainly taken my fancy is the Horrorthon Film Festival at the IFI Halloween weekend. Earlier that week (26 October), there’s the launch of Charles Robert Maturin and the Haunting of Irish Romantic Fiction by yours truly from 6:30 at the Neill/Hoey Lecture Theatre in Trinity’s Long Room Hub. All Pue’s readers most welcome!

Kevin O’Sullivan  In case you’ve missed it (how could you?), it’s the 100th anniversary of Flann O’Brien’s birth. So if you’ve never done so, or need an excuse to do so again, dig out some of his books and sit down in the shortening evenings with a pint of plain. As those who’ve shared an office with me in the past will know, I’m a big fan of puns, so the short collection edited from his Irish Times columns, The Various Lives of Keats, Chapman and the Brother, is among my favourites. But it’s all good. I also came across a couple of excellent apps in the last month. Evernote is great for taking notes, making to-do lists and the like, with the added handiness of adding photos and syncing between your computer and phone. And RDM+ is a free app that lets you control your computer from your phone or Blackberry – handy for Powerpoint, etc.

Pue’s Recommendations for September

5 September 2011

Juliana Adelman I moved house in August (I’m now a northsider!) and the packing and unpacking allowed me to rediscover a few books I hadn’t looked at in years.  Top of the list would be Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, a kind of environmental autobiography that I associate with autumn for some reason.  It is nature writing but not in the usual reverential mode and one of my favorite books.  This week (starting tonight) RTÉ are screening a two-part documentary on Ireland’s psychiatric hospitals in the 20th C.  Sounds grim, but interesting.  Next weekend is the European Heritage Open Days in Northern Ireland which includes a tour of  the Harland & Wolff drawing offices that I would love to see.  This year I’m really hoping to get to the National Ploughing Championships (20th to 22nd, professional interest of course!) and I’m also looking forward to Culture Night.

Lisa Marie Griffith There have been lots of historians popping up on TV or in print this month to discuss the riots in England. Not a new occurrence, historians are called on to discuss everything these days- but is it a good idea and are their comments actually welcomed? David Starkey excited some controversy for his comments on Newsnight during the riots and many suggested that historians, particularly historians of the elite, should not be discussing the social and economic problems of Britain in the 21st century. If you haven’t kept up with the debate History Extra have covered it (not surprisingly arguing that historians should continue to comment). Proving however that Starkey has upset not just the general public but those within his own field, The Times Higher Education printed a petition from a number of people working in the history field who have asked that David Starkey not be asked back onto Newsinght as a representative of the historical community. I also came across the NLI’s brand new blog. Beautifully laid out, the blog’s latest entry is discussing the ‘Small Lives’ exhibition at the National Photographic Archive that looks at the lives of ordinary Irish people as captured on camera. If you can’t get to the exhibit but you’re still interested in photography I would recommend Jacolette, a blog dedicated to historic photography.

Christina Morin Like Juliana, I’m writing at the moment, or, I should say, attempting to do so and largely failing. So slow is the progress that I find myself taking constant little breaks to do more pleasant, less head-wrecking things like obsessively checking Facebook; popping out for lunch/coffee/scone at my new favourite Trinity-area eatery, KC Peaches; re-reading Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White (1860) (last month’s reading of The Moonstone inspired me); attending information sessions on the European Research Council’s Starting Grants (seriously good opportunities for early career academics within 2-12 years of receiving their PhD. The information packet, however, is incredibly daunting, and that’s not even to mention the application itself!); and (ahem – shameless self-promotion alert) organising my upcoming book launch. I’m ignoring the possibility that said activities are actually slowing my progress rather than relieving the tedium of slow progress!

Kevin O’Sullivan I’m caught in a dilemma. I know that at the start of every month I omit to tell you about some of the things that caught my eye over the preceding four weeks, but I don’t know what to do about it. Should I start keeping a diary, or is the fact that I remember some things and not others enough of a quality filter – i.e. the cream rises to the top? Whichever way, there’s always plenty to recommend, and this month is no different. First, be sure to drop in to see the exhibition of Matisse’s art books in Dublin’s Chester Beatty Library before it finishes this month – the same colour, fluidity and style of his great works, but presented in a very different format. Then, dip your toes in some contemporary history: Word magazine’s podcast discussion with Stuart Maconie, Andrew Harrison and Louise Wener about the origins and evolution of Britpop in the early 1990s (that’s nearly *twenty* years ago folks) is a fascinating foray into Britain’s cultural re-emergence in the aftermath of the Cold War. Finally, while the World Athletics Championships came and went last week with barely a whisper among the public and media here, I’ve been reading Ian O’Riordan’s Miles to Run, Promises to Keep as a reminder of Ireland’s past glories on the track. Which reminds me: Sports History Ireland is still going strong – its seventh annual conference takes place at the Hunt Museum in Limerick on 10 September.

Pue’s recommendations for August

1 August 2011

Juliana Adelman: I am slowly working my way through my bedside pile of books and I have finally gotten to E.H. Grombrich’s A little history of the world which was a Christmas gift from my husband.  It is a wonderful little book, written to be read aloud to children.  My favourite part about it, aside from the grandfatherly style, is that modern history takes up an appropriately small portion of the text.  A friend forwarded me the link to Worstprofessorever, a blog written by an ex-academic which launched me into the world of bloggers who have fled academia.  There is the basis of a very interesting social history of the university in the twenty-first century somewhere in there.  Back in the world of history, I have noticed a couple of chances to see some Dublin history on screen, first through the Irish Film Archive‘s screenings of Dublin in the rare oul times at local libraries and second through the promising new programme, The Tenements on TV3, Wednesdays at 930pm.  And last but not least, the 20th to the 28th of August is National Heritage Week.  Plenty to keep you out of trouble during the dog days of summer.

Lisa Marie Griffith: Considering how disappointing the weather has been perhaps our best bet is to stay in doors, and there are lots of reasons to do so. I have by-passed the large pile of books beside my bed and started reading Sebastian Barry’s new novel On Canaan’s Side as soon as it arrived home from the shop. I am a big fan of Sebastian Barry, especially A Long Long Way. I am keeping my fingers crossed to see if I have won some tickets for the Jameson Cult Film Club screening of Snatch on 9 August at an undisclosed Dublin location. They also have a blog to discuss some of the films that will be screened. This month the IFI are screening a series of films on 6 & 7th of August which focus on the Traveller community in Ireland to coincide with a new documentary on Irish travellers Knuckle. If you are not a documentary fan, then there are some other films to tempt you and a Western Series 24th-28th of August. Read more

Pue’s Recommendations for July

4 July 2011

Juliana Adelman I seem to be having a little thing for maps at the moment.  I just picked up a copy of Rebecca Solnit’s new book Infinite city: a San Francisco atlas which contains maps that would surprise even the post-modern geographer.  You can see them on her website.  I have previously read and loved her Book of migrations: some passages in IrelandOn the lookout for nautical charts for my pirate-obsessed son, I stumbled across the US Coast Survey’s site.  It’s a little clunky to navigate, but you can download thousands of hi-res images of historical maps for FREE.  Yes, free (OSI please take note).  Finally, I am excited that the National Library of Ireland is to open a new cafe starting this week.  I am hoping the food improves and the prices go down.  Is that too much to ask?

Lisa Marie Griffith With exams behind me I am looking forward to spending a summer peacefully reading and researching in the library and in preparation for a course next year I am about to begin George Rude, The Crowd in History: A study of Popular disturbances in France and England, 1730-1848. Despite having splurged on some course books on Amazon recently I have also managed to make it to  the Hodges Figgis book sale to pick up some bargains. Hardback copies of Tom Garvin’s Judging Lemass can be picked up for just 15 euro! I have just returned from Havana where you simply can not ignore Ernest Hemingway’s influence on the city, or at least tourist industry so I have managed to pick up some of his books for just 4.50 in vintage classics. I have a feeling that a quiet summer of reading is going to go all too quickly…

Christina Morin Recently I discovered the wonderfulness that is Lapham’s Quarterly. I don’t know how it bypassed me for so long, but I’m glad to have found it! The Summer 2011 issue is titled simply ‘Food’, and it presents a fascinating collection of historical tidbits about the weird and wonderful world of eating. So, for instance, feast your eyes on (sorry – couldn’t resist!) the 1746 Parisian account, ‘What the Dead Ate’, or the firsthand 1910 account of force-feeding suffragettes in Liverpool. Incredible stuff! I’d like to say that I’ve finished all the reading I talked about in last month’s recommendations. Alas, I’ve really only added to the list. In particular, I’m looking forward to reading Diane Long Hoeveler’s Gothic Riffs: Secularizing the Uncanny in the European Imaginary, 1780-1820.

Kevin O’Sullivan In the spirit of Lisa’s Cuba-themed recommendations last month, I’ve been stocking up on books for a trip to the western United States. Top of the pile is Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, but I’ve also snuck in Hemingway’s Spanish civil war novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls. When I get back, I really must drop in to the exhibition of Henri Matisse’s art books at the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin. Looks great. Speaking of which – if, like me, you’re a believer in great book design, then Our Daily Bread, a history of Barron’s bakery in Cappoquin, Co. Waterford, that I came upon recently is well worth the look. Interesting piece of social history too. Finally, six months into 2011 I’m sure that most of the resolutions are dead, but have a glance at this scan of Woody Guthrie’s hand-written ‘New Year’s Rulins’ from some time in the early 1940s. Sample: ‘Help win war – beat fascism.’

Pue’s recommendations for June

6 June 2011

Juliana Adelman I was up in Belfast recently and with some time to kill I rediscovered the joy of second-hand bookshops full of dusty, mildewy intrigue for £1.50.  I picked up the classic Rats, Lice and History by Hans Zinsser.  It’s a history of typhus by a bacteriologist and, although outdated, full of great tidbits like: ‘In the last analysis, man may be defined as a parasite on a vegetable.’  The fantastic Reaktion animal history series is publishing Pig this month and I’ll be first in the que.  Last spring I took my first horse and carriage ride and I’ll be taking my small companion again ASAP.  It’s not cheap, but it gives you a very different perspective and you can get all kinds of interesting chat off the driver.  Obvious places are Dublin and Killarney, but I’ve also found ones in HowthCobh and Sligo.  Returning to dusty, mildewy things, a friend passed on this link to a facebook page devoted to bad taxidermy that makes for strangely addictive viewing (thanks, G).

Lisa Marie Griffith First on my list is Robert Darnton’s piece in the Chronicle Review dispelling commonly held beliefs on information and publishing today including ‘The Future is digital’, ‘the book is dead’ and ‘all information is available online’. While researching material for new courses last year I came across  The Early Modern Europe blog which has a wide range of subjects including the four humours, seventeenth-century alchemy and exploration. Like Tina I am thinking about my reading list for the summer especially because I am packing my bag for my holidays. Included in my suitcase are the following: Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana (I am going to Cuba and have just finished the John Le Carre ‘Smiley Trilogy’ so need a spy novel to keep me going), John McGahern, Amongst Women and Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (this has been on my list for a very long time so I have finally committed and purchased a copy). With these, a history of Cuba and two guide books in my bag it might be surprising that I am still resisting a Kindle. Read more

Pue’s recommendations for May

2 May 2011

Juliana Adelman Since the weather has been just right for reading in the sun, we should all remember to support the last remaining bookshops by buying books locally.  Hodges Figgis in Dublin currently have a 3 for 2 sale of paperback titles from Vintage.  For Christmas my mother gave me a DVD of the series Circus from PBS and I have just gotten round to watching it.  It’s a documentary following the Big Apple Circus for one year. I think the first 3 episodes are the best, but it is a fascinating watch.  The circus is one of those institutions that has changed remarkably little in its essence over the centuries.  You can also see one of Ireland’s oldest circuses by visiting Fossett’s, check here for tour dates.  If you missed hearing Pue’s on The History Show last night, you can find the podcast here.  And finally, I helped to curate the current exhibition at the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin called HUMAN+.  I tried to get at least a teeny bit of history in, but mostly there are some amazing takes on what our future might be like.

Lisa Marie Griffith Last Monday ‘Kathleen Lynn: Revolutionary Doctor’ aired on TG4. Once again TG4 have proved they are at the fore of historical documentaries in Ireland. The documentary was a good reminder of how truly extraordinary people at the centre of historic events can be dropped from the established  historical narrative. If you missed it you can catch up on the TG4 website. I have also been enjoying the  BBC 4 series ‘If walls could talk: The History of the Home’ which is  hosted by Lucy Worsley, chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces. I am currently gathering books for my summer holidays and will have to add the book that accompanies the series to the pile that will be coming with me. My blog for the month is the Royal College of Physicians Heritage blog which is written by their Heritage Centre Librarian, Harriet Whelock. The blog uses a lot of college sources and highlights the wealth of material which the RCPI houses. It shows how the institution was at the centre of Irish intellectual life but the blog has really interesting posts on social history like this post on the recipe book of Countess Aldborough.

Christina Morin With my parents heading over to Ireland for a visit this month, I’m full of ideas, many of them selfish, for what to see and do. Although both Mom and Dad have already seen much of Dublin, I think it might be fun to try out Temple Bar Cultural Trust‘s Dublin Culture Trail app. I’m also tempted by a trip to the Abbey Theatre for a Public Reading of John Bull’s Other Island by George Bernard Shaw on Wednesday, 11 May, or else a look in at some of the events planned during the Dublin Writers Festival 2011 (23-29 May). And, as my parents have never ventured up north, it might be worthwhile checking out some of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in Belfast (2-31 May). Whatever we end up doing, I’m planning to tote along with me a book that makes such fantastic claims in its title alone that I can’t wait to read it… Judith Flanders’ The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime.

Kevin O’Sullivan I’ve been in a literary kind of mood this month. First I was directed to See Gee’s ‘Record Books’ project on Flickr – take a famous album title and make an imaginary book cover for it – which reminded me of Phil Bradley’s brilliant posters that accompany the ‘Save our Libraries’ campaign in the UK. Then I read Christopher Bray’s fascinating article on how writers write (published in this month’s edition of The Word magazine and aptly titled ‘First apply the seat of the trousers to the surface of the chair’), had a look at these photos of famous authors and their typewriters, and was much taken by Ruadhán MacCormaic’s portrait of French newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné, one of the few remaining bastions of traditional investigative journalism. The message? Quality always wins. And finally, I came across a piece of inspirational thinking from Harvard Book Store, an independent bookseller serving the university community and beyond in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s a bookseller with a twist, of course, because since 2008 the store has been printing on-demand for customers from its Espresso Book Machine – including the four million or so texts on Google Books. $10 for a 200-page book and you can still browse the shelves if you’re not sure what you want? Clever idea. Why isn’t everyone doing this?

Pue’s recommendations for April

4 April 2011

Juliana Adelman This month I’m really looking forward to the opening of an exhibition of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo’s work at the IMMA.  The website promises that there will also be photographs, diaries and other artifacts.  My brother-in-law recently introduced me to the album ‘London is the Place for Me‘, a compilation of 1950s Trinidadian calypso and I am obsessed.  The song ‘Cricket, Lovely Cricket‘ celebrates the victory of the West Indies over England and it almost (but not quite) made we want to watch cricket.  All the songs are worth a listen and tell an interesting social history of their own.  At the moment I am reading a lot about animal diseases, and I don’t think C. A. Spinage’s Cattle Plague: a history would make too many bedside reading lists.  However, as noted in Kevin’s plea for environmental history reading suggestions, Alfred Crosby’s Ecological Imperialism: the biological expansion of Europe is a great read for anyone curious about the implications for people of living with animals.  Lots more suggestions in environmental history are found here.

Lisa Marie Griffith April means exam revision and assignment correction so my main plans for this month are to get through the pile of essays on my desk before exams come in. Outside of that I have just finished reading Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, a story about the Devil’s visit to Moscow during the 1920s and 1930s. Bulgakov’s books deal with the issue of censorship in Russia under a heavy guise of plots and characters which led to much criticism. My next book is going to be David Fleming’s Politics and Provincial People: Sligo and Limerick 1691-1761.

Christina Morin April is the month of the Dublin: One City, One Book programme, which aims to unify the city’s inhabitants by way of their shared reading of a chosen Irish novel each April. Past choices have included Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels; this year’s novel is Joseph O’Connor’s Ghost Light. To get people out and about (preferably talking about the book, I imagine), there’s a great line-up of cultural events planned, including evenings with Joseph O’Connor, readings from the novel, and lectures on various aspects of the historical, literary, and linguistic heritage from which it sprang. (The schedule is here.) I’ll definitely be picking up a copy and joining in on some of the offered events! I’m also much taken with some of the showings in this year’s Belfast Film Festival, which runs from 31 March to 14 April. Speaking of Belfast, this April is the 999th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, built, of course, in Belfast (‘it was fine when it left here’, or so they say). To mark the event, as well as the upcoming centenary celebration of the ship’s building, the Titanic 100 Festival has a busy schedule of events planned, including a four-day Easter extravaganza, 23-26 April. The festival runs from 31 March to 31 May.

Kevin O’Sullivan The funny thing about preparing a module is that it forces you to go out and re-engage with texts that you thought you knew inside-out. Since January I’ve been teaching – and really enjoying – a course on Irish identity between the late 1960s and late 1990s, so in the former category are a number of the usual suspects: Diarmaid Ferriter’s The Transformation of Ireland 1900-2000, John Ardagh’s Ireland and the Irish: Portrait of a Changing Society, and Fintan O’Toole’s brilliantly-titled A Mass for Jesse James: A Journey Through 1980s Ireland. So far, so predictable. But it’s the little gems that you come across, the ones that worm their way into your most-well-thumbed list, that prove the real finds. Top of the pile from the last three months are Gerry Smyth’s riveting Noisy Island: A Short History of Irish Popular Music; and Ivan T. Berend’s fascinating new history of Europe Since 1980. If you think that probably hasn’t left much time for other reading, then you’re only partially right. I’d heard so many good things about Leif Jerram’s Streetlife: The Untold History of Europe’s Twentieth Century that I picked up a copy last weekend, but it will have a battle on its hands to reach the top of a stellar bedside cast – after Tony Judt’s The Memory Chalet, which I’ve been enjoying – far too slowly – for the last couple of months, and Simon Schama’s Scribble, Scribble, Scribble: Writings on Ice Cream, Obama, Churchill and My Mother. Not a bad line-up!