Brilliant Book Titles #143

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

Shalom Auslander was raised with a terrified respect for God. Even as he grew up, defying and eventually being cast out of his community, he could not find his way to a life in which he wasn’t locked in a daily struggle with Him. Foreskin’s Lament is a rich and fascinating portrait of a man grappling with his faith, his family and his community.

‘Bracing and witty . . . Never, frankly, can there have been a more blasphemous book . . . Foreskin’s Lament somehow expresses the ideas of Richard Dawkins in the tone of David Sedaris. You can read it for the humour, you can read it as reportage into a secretive and bizarre world, you can read it as a personal tale of triumph over adversity, or you can just read it for the misery. It doesn’t really matter. But do read it’ William Sutcliffe, Independent on Sunday

‘One of the funniest books I’ve ever read, killingly so’ Hilary Spurling, Observer

‘Exceptional . . . very, very funny’ Time Out

‘Painfully poignant and hilariously noir’ Jewish Chronicle

‘By turns hilarious and devastating . . . Few books are laugh-out-loud funny. This one is’ Naomi Alderman, Sunday Times

‘America’s hottest, funniest, most controversial young Jewish memoirist . . . blackly hilarious, groundbreaking’ The Times

#girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

If you are in the mood for a book that will give you the self-belief that you can start a business, this is the book for you! The author, Sophia Amoruso gives an honest, behind the scenes look at how she set up her online clothing empire ‘Nasty Gal’. Sophia is not your typical entrepreneur. She didn’t create business plans and never got seed money to start her company. She literally built ‘Nasty Gal’ from her bedroom with just her laptop.

The book goes through how she set up a vintage fashion shop on eBay and eventually was able to grow this into an online store. She’s very honest about the trials and tribulations of being a business woman and the struggle when you have no prior business knowledge. But with a will to work you can overcome these obstacles.
If you have recently been bingeing on the new Netflix series ‘Girlboss’ you will already be familiar with Sophia. That series is loosely based on this book. Loosely being the operative word. The book gives a far more rounded view of Sophia. So if you have written off Sophia as an annoying millennial in the TV show, give her a chance with the book.
It’s an easy read and very approachable business book for those that don’t have a business background. It’s funny and in your face, but has a charm. If you want to light the match of entrepreneurship within, this is a good start.
This book will really appeal to those finishing up with their Leaving Cert or in college and are wondering ‘what next?’ This might just be the book that helps open their eyes to what is possible and maybe become their own Girlboss.


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

Master of Ceremonies by Joel Grey

Joel Grey is an icon, of that there is no doubt. As the Master of Ceremonies, or Emcee, in Cabaret, he created that role with the writers that made his career, but the parallels go far deeper than just the role.

Well-written and engaging, this book charts Grey’s life from his youth, when he was Joel Katz, and performed with his father, and then was a star of the nightclub scene, which he hated – since he always wanted to be seen as a serious actor.

That, and heterosexual. These desires; to become a world-renowned actor and to beat the homosexual feelings that had “plagued” him since he started fooling around with boys at the age of ten, are the main drive of the book. Whilst he achieves the former, he never manages to achieve the latter. The book is a document of a section of gay men a few generations ago who felt the crushing desire to conform and have a wife and kids – it should be noted that Grey seemed to desperately want a family of his own, independent of this conformity – and he stamped down his homosexuality as much as possible, which is very sad. However, interestingly, Grey doesn’t veer away from his failings with his marriage to his wife, Jo. He browbeat her into marrying him, into having his child, and ultimately to give up her promising career (she was also an actor on broadway) as HE was the star, not her – he couldn’t deal with her having her own career and when they had their second child, Grey got his way and she gave up work.

There is much discussion of the Emcee and the notion that although he’s smiling and inviting and asking you to come play, he is callous and soulless underneath and the parallel between Grey and the Emcee rings out loud and clear, in the way he treated his wife. They had happy times, sure, but I never got past the sense that his wife had to subsume herself to his career, his way, and that was that. And when, years later, he confessed that he had been with men years ago, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back and she divorced him. Much like his Emcee, I found Grey utterly engaging although not at all sympathetic.

That is, until the end, when he says that after his divorce, now that he’d finally dealt with all of his guilt, shame and fear about being gay, that he hoped he would meet a man that he would have a connection with the way he did with Jo, but that that never happened. He concludes that he is a better family man, than a gay man. And despite his selfishness, there was a love between him and his wife, and now that he was free to be himself, I did hope that he’d find a little happiness but that appear to be the case.

A fascinating memoir, that at times flies by years and lingers over others (the book could’ve been longer in parts, more detailed in others), that is a portrait not only of a bygone era of nightclub acts, variety shows and the “golden age” of Broadway, but of a man who excels at being someone else because he could never truly be himself.


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

The Diva Rules by Michelle Visage


Michelle Visage is most famous for being a (some would say the) judge on her best friend’s show RuPaul’s Drag Race. If you don’t know what that show is, you’re probably not going to pick up this book, but for the uninitiated, RuPaul’s Drag Race (entering into its 9th season, with two spinoffs) is a reality tv competition to find America’s Next Drag Superstar. Think America’s Next Top Model, for Drag Queens.

The full title of this book is The Diva Rules: Ditch the Drama, Find Your Strength and Sparkle Your Way to the Top. It’s ostensibly a self-help book, something that I’ve never read before, and it offers a number of rules to help improve your life but what’s clever is that the book is actually a memoir. Each of the rules is illustrated with tales from her own life, which just happen to be in chronological order, much like a memoir. The second clever thing about this book, which may not seem it for fans of the show straight away, but there’s very little about Drag Race. We get the inside story (or in the lingo of the show, the T – or the Truth) about why she wasn’t on the first two seasons (her day job wouldn’t give her the leave) but by the time we get to that period in her life in the book, the book isn’t about that. It also, cleverly, leaves room for her to follow this up with a book about drag race.

So what does this book talk about? It talks about her life, starting with her youth, it then talks a lot about her first taste of fame in the girl group, Seduction, at the young age of 18/19, and her million-selling song with S.O.U.L. S. Y. S.T.E.M on the bestselling soundtrack of all time, from the movie The Bodyguard, but it also talks about her family, her husband, her friends and a lot about her true love; her radio career. She is a very grounded character who’s been through a lot, and this book was a fantastic light read, that still packed a lot of clever, grounded, useful life advice that were almost slipped in there since they sprung out of events from her life. A must for any fans of the show, and for those who don’t know the show but like self-help books, or find themselves currently needing a boost, or a pep-talk from a no-nonsense Diva.


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

Brilliant Book Titles #97

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

The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie.

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved―plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager.

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time―and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candour and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

Brilliant Book Titles #90


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

A star-struck, naïve 17-year-old country bumpkin leaves her mum, her cat, her budgie and her 16ft caravan home in Oxfordshire and catches a coach to a near-mythical land – London and the Swinging ’60s. Days later, mascara running, itching in her prickly suit and stammering from shyness, she turns up for a job interview with the UK’s first ever pop magazine, Fabulous (later Fab 208). On the strength of a letter she invents on the spot, she is miraculously hired and begins the job of her dreams.

In Keith Moon Stole My Lipstick – which, of course, he did – Judith Wills reveals her remarkable story. She sang with Freddie Mercury, got high with Jim Morrison, had a strange encounter with David Bowie, babysat Kate Beckinsale, accompanied Billy Fury to a christening, went hiking with Mr Spock, starred at the Albert Hall with Tom Jones, lunched with George Best, graced the red carpet with Peter Sellers, got chased by Andy Williams, had the Book of Mormon read to her by an Osmond, and met – and sometimes had to fight off! – just about anyone who was anyone in the day.

Later to become a respected food and health author and journalist, one day Wills decided to return to her time of pop heaven and hell and tell the true – and sometimes shocking – story of those years.

Brilliant Book Titles #72

This is absolutely one of my favourites! AND a great subtitle too!


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

Thirty-something-year-old Sophie White’s life appears to be going in exactly the right direction: perfect husband, adorable baby, nice house, interesting job … domestic bliss. But we all know that life is never that smooth and, more importantly, that your dinner isn’t always kale and quinoa.

In this collection of recipes and rants, Sophie shares her life on a plate: from a brush with madness to falling in love; from almost running away from her wedding to getting unexpectedly pregnant (cue a gradual return to crazy); from surviving her mother and her son her arch nemeses and her two favourite people in the world to losing her father in his fifties to early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

And eating. Always eating.

Part cookbook, part memoir, part self-help manual, Recipes for a Nervous Breakdown is a hilarious and refreshingly honest take on the life of a modern millennial woman the perfect kitchen companion for laughing about the silly stuff, crying about the sad stuff, staring down our own personal madness and getting on with it (all while eating some delicious food along the way).

5 New Music Biographies

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Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (27 Sep 2016)
‘Writing about yourself is a funny business…But in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind. In these pages, I’ve tried to do this.’ —Bruce Springsteen, from the pages of Born to Run
In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl’s halftime show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it. That’s how this extraordinary autobiography began. Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humour and originality found in his songs.
He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger and darkness that fuelled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as ‘The Big Bang’: seeing Elvis Presley’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candour, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work, and shows us why the song ‘Born to Run’ reveals more than we previously realized.
  Born to Run will be revelatory for anyone who has ever enjoyed Bruce Springsteen, but this book is much more than a legendary rock star’s memoir. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptized in the holy river of rock and roll. Rarely has a performer told his own story with such force and sweep. Like many of his songs (‘Thunder Road’, ‘Badlands’, ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’, ‘The River’, ‘Born in the U.S.A.’, ‘The Rising’, and ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’, to name just a few), Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography is written with the lyricism of a singular songwriter and the wisdom of a man who has thought deeply about his experiences.

Lonely Boy by Steve Jones
(17 Nov 2016)
Without the Sex Pistols there would be no Punk. And without Steve Jones there would be no Sex Pistols. It was Steve who formed Kutie Jones and his Sex Pistols, the band that eventually went on to become the Sex Pistols, with his schoolmate Paul Cook and who was its original leader. As the world celebrates the 40th anniversary of Punk – the influence and cultural significance of which is still felt in music, fashion and the visual arts to this day – Steve tells his story for the very first time.

Steve’s modern Dickensian tale begins in the streets of Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush, West London, where as a lonely, neglected boy living off his wits and his petty thievery, he is given purpose by the glam art rock of David Bowie and Roxy Music and becomes one of the first generation of ragamuffin punks taken under the wings of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. For the very first time Steve describes the sadness of never knowing his dad, the neglect and abuse he suffered at the hands of his step father, and how his interest in music and fashion saved him from a potential life of crime spent in remand centres and prison. From the Kings Road of the early seventies, through the years of the Sex Pistols, Punk Rock and the recording of Never Mind the Bollocks (ranked number 41 in Rolling Stone magazine’s Best Albums of All Time), to his self-imposed exile in New York and Los Angeles where he battled with alcohol, heroin and sex addiction – caught in a cycle of rehab and relapse – Lonely Boy, written with music journalist and author Ben Thompson, is the story of an unlikely guitar hero who, with the Sex Pistols, changed history.

Publication coincides with the 40th anniversary of the release of the Sex Pistols first record, ‘Anarchy in the UK’, and of Steve’s infamous confrontation on Bill Grundy’s Today programme – that interview ushered in the ‘Filth and the Fury’ headlines that catapulted Punk into the national consciousness.

Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Famous Anarchist Sellout by Laura Jane Grace
(24 Nov 2016)
“”If I could have chosen, I would have been born a woman/ My mother once told me she would have named me Laura/ I would grow up to be strong and beautiful like her.””-“The Ocean”
A searing account of her search for identity and true self, TRANNY reveals the struggles and victories that Laura Jane Grace, the lead singer of the cult punk rock band Against Me! experienced in her quest for gender transition.
Illuminated by Laura Jane’s never-before-published journal entries reaching back to childhood, TRANNY is an intensely personal and revelatory look inside her struggles with identity and addiction. Grappling with everything from sex, drugs, failed marriages, music, and soul of a punk rock star, this memoir paints a vivid portrait of one of the most revolutionary transgender icons of our time.

syd barrett
Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd: Dark Globe
(30 Nov 2016)
Syd Barrett was an art-school student when he founded Pink Floyd, with whom he served as vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter in the original line-up. Famous before his twentieth birthday, Barrett led the charge of psychedelia onstage at London s famed UFO club and his acid-inspired lyrics became a hallmark of London’s 1967 Summer of Love.
Improvisatory and whimsical, Zen-like and hard-living, Barrett pushed the boundaries of music into new realms of artistic expression while battling his inner-demons. This probing and comprehensive biography, a full ten years in the writing, features a wealth of interviews with Syd’s family, intimates, friends and band mates, providing an unvarnished look at Barrett’s life and work.
Author Julian Palacios authoritatively traces Barrett’s swift evolution from precocious youth to psychedelic rock star, examining both his wide-ranging inspirations and his influence on generations of musicians, and presenting an extensive overview of his musical, artistic and literary influences. A never-to-be forgotten casualty of the excess, innovation and idealism of the 1960s, Syd Barrett channeled the “gestalt” of the era and is one of the most heavily mythologized men in rock. “Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe” offers a rare portrayal of this unique spirit in flight and freefall.”

sinatra's century
Sinatra’s Century: One Hundred Notes on the Man and His World by David Lehman
(1 Dec 2016)
In celebration of his one-hundredth birthday, a charming, irresistibly readable, and handsomely packaged look back at the life and times of the greatest entertainer in American history, Frank Sinatra.

Sinatra’s Century is an irresistible collection of one-hundred short reflections on the man, his music, and his larger-than-life story, by a lifetime fan who also happens to be one of the poetry world’s most prominent voices. David Lehman uses each of these short pieces to look back on a single facet of the entertainer’s story—from his childhood in Hoboken, to his emergence as “The Voice” in the 1940s, to the wild professional (and romantic) fluctuations that followed. Lehman offers new insights and revisits familiar stories—Sinatra’s dramatic love affairs with some of the most beautiful stars in Hollywood, including Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, and Ava Gardner; his fall from grace in the late 1940s and resurrection during the “Capitol Years” of the 1950s; his bonds with the rest of the Rat Pack; and his long tenure as the Chairman of the Board, viewed as the eminence grise of popular music inspiring generations of artists, from Bobby Darin to Bono to Bob Dylan.

Brimming with Lehman’s own lifelong affection for Sinatra, the book includes lists of unforgettable performances; engaging insight on what made Sinatra the model of American machismo—and the epitome of romance; and clear-eyed assessments of the foibles that impacted his life and work. Warm and enlightening, Sinatra’s Century is full-throated appreciation of Sinatra for every fan.


Brilliant Book Titles #52

Stumbled across this book years ago, devoured it (more than once) and it landed across my desk today. Recommended.

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

Josh Kilmer-Purcell lived a double life. By day, he was a successful young advertising executive. By night, he would trade in his corporate uniform for high heels and sequins, and perform in downtown New York nightclubs as a drag queen called Acquadisiac before returning to the uptown penthouse he shared with his crack-addicted male escort boyfriend. In this powerfully written, emotional rollercoaster of a memoir, Kilmer-Purcell blends the glittering and highly dramatic world of nightclubs, drugs and drag with a soulful and ironic perspective on his own journey through love and life.

Told with a raw and honest voice that conveys hard truths with unflinching courage, I Am Not Myself These Days is a stunningly witty and ultimately deeply moving tour de force by a remarkable new talent.

Brilliant Book Titles #50

beer in hell.jpg

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

Tucker Max drinks to excess at inappropriate times, disregards social norms, indulges every whim, takes no responsibility for his actions, rebels against any authority, mocks idiots and posers, sleeps with more women than is safe or reasonable and generally just acts like an asshole. I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell contains everything the modern-day bounder that is Tucker Max has written since he started sharing his depraved reality with an audience of millions.