Brilliant Book Titles #162

this is how you lose her
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Junot Diaz’s new collection, This Is How You Lose Her, is a collection of linked narratives about love – passionate love, illicit love, dying love, maternal love – told through the lives of New Jersey Dominicans, as they struggle to find a point where their two worlds meet. In prose that is endlessly energetic and inventive, tender and funny, it lays bare the infinite longing and inevitable weaknesses of the human heart. Most of all, these stories remind us that the habit of passion always triumphs over experience and that ‘love, when it hits us for real, has a half-life of forever.’


Henry and Glenn Forever & Ever by Tom Neely and Friends

henry and glenn.jpg

I’ve always been a big fan of Henry Rollins. I love his speaking tours, where he can talk for three hours almost, it seems, without taking a breath. I had heard of this comic, where Henry Rollins and Glenn from Danzig are portrayed as a gay couple, and thought I’d give it a try. It struck me as curious that these two were chosen for the protagonists. Henry, bless him, has never read it, but knows it exists and doesn’t have a problem with it (he’s also very pro-gay rights). Mostly, these are a lot of short stories about Henry & Glenn’s relationship, which at times can be quite sweet. However, a lot of the stories are wisps of nothing and, whilst some of the art is gorgeous (Neely’s and Wuvable Oaf’s Ed Luce’s art – and Oafie turns up in this too!), a lot of it is – well – terrible. The comic’s roots as a zine shows through and the more I read of this collection, the more that I felt it didn’t warrant a collection. I wish instead of lots of friends telling mostly pointless stories, that Neely used this space to tell his own story, with his own art, both of which are strong in places, but sadly that didn’t happen. Might be worth looking at for curiousity sake, but that’s about it unfortuneatly. (I really hate writing bad reviews, but sometimes they have to be done!)

5 New Poetry Collections to Watch Out For

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur (3 Oct 2017)
the sun and her flowers.jpg
The Sunday Times Number One Bestseller

From Rupi Kaur, the bestselling author of Milk and Honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry. Illustrated by Kaur, The Sun and Her Flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising and blooming. It is a celebration of love in all its forms.

this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year 
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
in order to bloom

Praise for Sunday Times bestseller Milk and Honey:

‘Kaur is at the forefront of a poetry renaissance’ Observer

‘Kaur made her name with poems about love, life and grief. They resonate hugely’ Sunday Times

‘Poems tackling feminism, love, trauma and healing in short lines as smooth as pop music’ New York Times

‘Caught the imagination of a large, atypical poetry audience…Kaur knows the good her poetry does: it saves lives’ Evening Standard

‘Breathing new life into poetry…It has people reading, and listening’ The Pool

‘Every so often, a book comes along that seems to have a life of its own, that is passed lovingly from one reader to another with recommendations that insist, “You must read this”. Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey is one such book’ Red Magazine

Christmas Poems by Wendy Cope (2 Nov 2017)
christmas poems.jpg
For more than thirty years Wendy Cope has been one of the nation’s most popular and respected poets. Christmas Poems collects together her best festive poems, including anthology favourites such as ‘The Christmas Life’, together with new and previously unpublished work. Cope celebrates the joyful aspects of the season but doesn’t overlook the problems and sadness it can bring. With lively illustrations to accompany the words, it is a book to enjoy this Christmas and in years to come.

Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry (2 Nov 2017)
The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney.

They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. In Stephen Fry’s hands the stories of the titans and gods become a brilliantly entertaining account of ribaldry and revelry, warfare and worship, debauchery, love affairs and life lessons, slayings and suicides, triumphs and tragedies.

You’ll fall in love with Zeus, marvel at the birth of Athena, wince at Cronus and Gaia’s revenge on Ouranos, weep with King Midas and hunt with the beautiful and ferocious Artemis.

Thoroughly spellbinding, informative and moving, Stephen Fry’s Mythos perfectly captures these stories for the modern age – in all their rich and deeply human relevance.

Storm for the Living and the Dead: Uncollected and Unpublished Poems by Charles Bukowski (14 Dec 2017) 
A timeless selection of some of Charles Bukowski’s best unpublished and uncollected poems

Charles Bukowski was a prolific writer who produced countless short stories, novels, and poems that have reached beyond their time and place to speak to generations of readers all over the world. Many of his poems remain little known, material that appeared in small magazines but was never collected, and a large number of them have yet to be published.

In Storm for the Living and the Dead, Abel Debritto has curated the very finest of this material—poems from obscure, hard-to-find magazines, as well as from libraries and private collections all over the country—most of which will be new to Bukowski’s readers and some of which has never been seen before. In doing so, Debritto has captured the essence of Bukowski’s inimitable poetic style—tough and hilarious but ringing with humanity. Storm for the Living and the Dead is a gift for any devotee of the Dirty Old Man of American letters.

Who Reads Poetry: 50 Views from “Poetry” Magazine by Fred Sasaki and Don Share (18 Dec 2017)
who reads poetry.jpg
Who reads poetry? We know that poets do, but what about the rest of us? When and why do we turn to verse? Seeking the answer, Poetry magazine since 2005 has published a column called “The View From Here,” which has invited readers “from outside the world of poetry” to describe what has drawn them to poetry. Over the years, the incredibly diverse set of contributors have included philosophers, journalists, musicians, and artists, as well as doctors and soldiers, an iron-worker, an anthropologist, and an economist. This collection brings together fifty compelling pieces, which are in turns surprising, provocative, touching, and funny. In one essay, musician Neko Case calls poetry “a delicate, pretty lady with a candy exoskeleton on the outside of her crepe-paper dress.” In another, anthropologist Helen Fisher turns to poetry while researching the effects of love on the brain, “As other anthropologists have studied fossils, arrowheads, or pot shards to understand human thought, I studied poetry…I wasn’t disappointed: everywhere poets have described the emotional fallout produced by the brain’s eruptions.” Even film critic Roger Ebert memorized the poetry of e. e. cummings, and the rapper Rhymefest attests here to the self-actualizing power of poems: “Words can create worlds, and I’ve discovered that poetry can not only be read but also lived out. My life is a poem.” Music critic Alex Ross tells us that he keeps a paperback of The Palm at the End of the Mind by Wallace Stevens on his desk next to other, more utilitarian books like a German dictionary, a King James Bible, and a Macintosh troubleshooting manual. Who Reads Poetry offers a truly unique and broad selection of perspectives and reflections, proving that poetry can be read by everyone. No matter what you’re seeking, you can find it within the lines of a poem.

Foster by Claire Keegan


It is a hot summer in Rural Ireland. A small girl is taken by her father and sent to live with strangers on a farm in Wexford. She does not know when/if she will return home. In the strangers’ house, she finds a warmth and affection she has not known before and slowly begins to blossom in their care. And in this house where affection grows and there are meant to be no secrets- a secret is revealed and suddenly, she realises how fragile her idyll is.

This book is beautifully written; sad , melancholy and moving. It is a story of longing to belong. It is short, only 87 pages, but it still won the Davy Byrnes award and I would gladly have read more.


[Editor’s Note: Another contributor reviewed this on the blog before here]


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Brilliant Book Titles #161

girl interrupted
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Cult movie heroine Winona Ryder starred in the film of the best-selling book by Susanna Kaysen, adapted and directed by the creator of Copland and Heavy. Girl, Interrupted charts the experiences of eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen as she is suddenly – and without warning – incarcerated in a mental hospital, then made to spend the next two years of her life in a ward reserved for teenage girls, within an institution renowned for its famous clientele: Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, Ray Charles. Mangold’s adaptation of Kaysen’s extraordinary memoir is unsettling but unflinching, funny but deeply poignant.

Brilliant Book Titles #160

earth hums
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Gwenni Morgan is not like any other girl in this small Welsh town. Inquisitive, bookish and full of spirit, she can fly in her sleep and loves playing detective. So when a neighbour mysteriously vanishes, and no one seems to be asking the right questions, Gwenni decides to conduct her own investigation.

Mari Strachan’s unforgettable novel was one of the most acclaimed and successful debuts of 2009. It is a heart-breaking and hugely enjoyable story.

The Creative Entrepreneur by Isa Maria Seminega


Have you ever thought about starting your own business? Are you an artist, author, photographer but have yet to take the leap into the business world. This might just be the book for you!

The Creative Entrepreneur by Isa Maria Seminega is the perfect introduction into starting your own business. The book is really accessible with plain english throughout. It also has helpful illustrations and workbook-like feature that you can work through as you read the book.  

It really does go through everything you need to start a business. Here is how the book is broken down:
Laying the groundwork
Purpose and vision
Building the foundation
Creating actionable goals and intentions
Branding your business
Making it happen by accurately pricing your product or service
Promoting your work
Growing your business
Life as an entrepreneur

Another feature of the book is that it is full of real life case studies of creative businesses. Their interviews are honest and engaging. It’s interesting to read how so many businesses have the same issues when they are starting.

One of my favourite parts of the book was about how to create a purpose statement for your business. This was something I had never done before. But with the questions provided in the book I was able to create a purpose statement for my own business that gives me a clarity that I never had before.

Look out for the section on branding your business as it is full of useful tips and ideas and has a great part about how to position your brand.

When reading this book, be sure to have a pen and paper nearby, because you will want to take notes!

if you have found business books dry and boring in the past, this is the book for you! It is aimed at creatives but any entrepreneur could read this and learn.


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here

5 New Science Books to Watch Out For

Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker (28 Sep 2017)
why we sleep.jpg

‘Vital … a life-raft’ Guardian
‘A top sleep scientist argues that sleep is more important for our health than diet or exercise’ The Times
‘It had a powerful effect on me’ Observer
‘I urge you all to read this book’ Times Higher Education

Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life, health and longevity and yet it is increasingly neglected in twenty-first-century society, with devastating consequences: every major disease in the developed world – Alzheimer’s, cancer, obesity, diabetes – has very strong causal links to deficient sleep.

Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why its absence is so damaging to our health. Compared to the other basic drives in life – eating, drinking, and reproducing – the purpose of sleep remained elusive.

Now, in this book, the first of its kind written by a scientific expert, Professor Matthew Walker explores twenty years of cutting-edge research to solve the mystery of why sleep matters. Looking at creatures from across the animal kingdom as well as major human studies, Why We Sleep delves in to everything from what really happens during REM sleep to how caffeine and alcohol affect sleep and why our sleep patterns change across a lifetime, transforming our appreciation of the extraordinary phenomenon that safeguards our existence.

Dawn of the New Everything: A Journey Through Virtual Reality by Jaron Lanier (16 Nov 2017)
dawn of the new everything
Jaron Lanier, ‘the father of Virtual Reality … a high-tech genius’ (Sunday Times), tells the extraordinary story of how in just over three decades Virtual Reality went from being a dream to a reality – and how its power to turn dreams into realities will transform us and our world.

Virtual Reality has long been one of the dominant clichés of science fiction. Now Virtual Reality is a reality: those big headsets that make people look ridiculous, even while radiating startled delight; the place where war veterans overcome PTSD, surgeries are trialled, aircraft and cities are designed. But VR is far more interesting than any single technology, however spectacular. It is, in fact, the most effective device ever invented for researching what a human being actually is – and how we think and feel.

More than thirty years ago, legendary computer scientist, visionary and artist Jaron Lanier pioneered its invention. Here, in what is likely to be one of the most unusual books you ever read, he blends scientific investigation, philosophical thought experiment and his memoir of a life lived at the centre of digital innovation to explain what VR really is: the science of comprehensive illusion; the extension of the intimate magic of earliest childhood into adulthood; a hint of what life would be like without any limits.

As Lanier shows, we are standing on the threshold of an entirely new realm of human creativity, expression, communication and experience. While we can use VR to test our relationship with reality, it will test us in return, for how we choose to use it will reveal who we truly are.

Welcome to a mind-expanding, life-enhancing, world-changing adventure.

Rise of the Machines: A Cybernetic History by Thomas Rid (21 Nov 2017)
rise of the machines
As lives offline and online merge even more, it is easy to forget how we got here. Rise of the Machines reclaims the spectacular story of cybernetics, one of the twentieth century’s pivotal ideas.

Springing from the mind of mathematician Norbert Wiener amid the devastation of World War II, the cybernetic vision underpinned a host of seductive myths about the future of machines. Cybernetics triggered blissful cults and military gizmos, the Whole Earth Catalog and the air force’s foray into virtual space, as well as crypto-anarchists fighting for internet freedom.

In Rise of the Machines, Thomas Rid draws on unpublished sources–including interviews with hippies, anarchists, sleuths, and spies–to offer an unparalleled perspective into our anxious embrace of technology.

Answers to Questions You’ve Never Asked: Explaining the What If in Science, Geography and the Absurd by Joseph Pisenti (23 Nov 2017)
Looking for trivia books filled with fun facts and trivia questions and answers? Answers to Questions You’ve Never Asked will entertain you for hour.

Fun facts for kids of all ages: When you take the most absurd parts of history, science, economics and geography, you end up with a pretty confusing picture of humanity. Why do we have borders, what’s the furthest you can get from the ocean, how do you qualify as a country and why did Vikings wear those silly helmets? These are just a few of the strange questions that bounce around the head of YouTube sensation Joseph Pisenti, aka RealLifeLore.

Trivia questions and answers: In his channel, Pisenti presents illogical truths in a logical manner. In his debut book, Pisenti builds on this nonsensical humor of the universe with in-depth analysis of empires, economies, and ecosystems as he helps answer the ridiculous. Why, you ask? Because someone has to. Using line drawings, graphs and charts, Pisenti not only details the absurd, but he also provides explanations on why things are…and why they aren’t. Answers to:

Where can I move to so that I’m never tempted by McDonalds again?
How far into the Pacific does Trump’s wall stretch?
If Plato came back to life, what would he think of modern democracy?
Why do all empires fail?
Who decides what countries are allowed to participate in the Olympics?
What makes Finland so great?

Witty, thought-provoking and occasionally snarky, Answers to Questions You’ve Never Asked is for anyone who beams with curiosity and has a belly-button.

Heavens on Earth by Michael Shermer (1 Feb 2018)
heavens on earth
In his most ambitious work yet, Shermer sets out to discover what drives humans belief in life after death, focusing on recent scientific attempts to achieve immortality along with utopian attempts to create heaven on earth. For millennia, religions have concocted numerous manifestations of heaven and the afterlife, and though no one has ever returned from such a place to report what it is really like – or that it even exists – today science and technology are being used to try to make it happen in our lifetime. From radical life extension to cryonic suspension to mind uploading, Shermer considers how realistic these attempts are from a proper skeptical perspective. Heavens on Earth concludes with an uplifting paean to purpose and progress and how we can live well in the here and now, whether or not there is a hereafter.

The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside ‘The Room’, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero & Tom Bissell


There are bad movies, and then there are terrible movies, and then there is The Room. Written, Produced, Directed and even financed (somewhat mysteriously, it seems) by its star Tommy Wiseau, The Room is utterly terrible. The script makes no sense. Tommy can barely say his lines, let alone act. Plots get dropped for no reason and characters come in and out. In short, it’s so bad that’s it’s good; in that get drunk with friends and watch it way.

And it took a while, but it became a cult success! For being a terrible movie, of course, something that Tommy doesn’t really admit that it is (I think he thinks he’s a genius!)

Starring with Tommy is his best friend Greg, whom he badgered to be in the movie, and given the movie’s popularity, he’s written this book. In-depth, astonishing (at the levels of ineptitude of Mr Wiseau) and quite funny, it cleverly alternates chapters of his life and friendship with chapters of filming The Room. Suffice to say, the book is best enjoyed having seen The Room.

Or, perhaps not. One reason I’m posting this review now is because in December there is a movie of The Disaster Artist being released, with James Franco as Tommy Wiseau. A teaser trailer is here. It’s going to be bonkers. And I don’t think having read the book will spoil the movie – in fact, I think you’ll be comparing Mr Franco to the Tommy in your head when reading, and the Tommy on-screen.

Got to give Tommy Wiseau credit – how many people can turn one bad movie into a career?


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Brilliant Book Titles #159

the moon is a harsh mistres
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

In 2075, the Moon is no longer a penal colony. But it is still a prison…

Life isn’t easy for the political dissidents and convicts who live in the scattered colonies that make up lunar civilisation. Everything is regulated strictly, efficiently and cheaply by a central supercomputer, HOLMES IV.

When humble technician Mannie O’Kelly-Davis discovers that HOLMES IV has quietly achieved consciousness (and developed a sense of humour), the choice is clear: either report the problem to the authorities… or become friends.

And perhaps overthrow the government while they’re at it.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress has been called Robert A. Heinlein’s crowning achievement. His best-known novels include Starship Troopers Mistress and Stranger in a Strange Land.