15 books you really need to read this Christmas

Christmas is the perfect time to snuggle up beneath the blankets or next to an environmentally friendly peat fire burner and enjoy a good read. Reading is also a good way to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of a busy home during the festive period.

We asked staff at CityLibrary for their favourite Christmas books and got some great recommendations.


‘Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.’

Spot on'”

The Twelve Days of Christmas

“This book is basically the song with pictures, I always have trouble remembering all of the rhyme but my kids love shouting FIVE GOLD RINGS !!!!!”

Box of Delights by John Masefield*

“The wolves are running and the evil Abner Brown and his gang are on the prowl. They’re after a magical box, but Kay has it, and he’ll fight to keep it”.


“I don’t read during Christmas, busy enjoying relaxing/socialising with friends and families”


Hercule Poirot’s Christmas 

“A festive murder mystery full of family intrigue.  A bit like my own dysfunctional family, except more lethal”.

Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs

“Shows Father Christmas in an interesting and humorous light and has elements for both kids and adults.”

Hogfather by Sir Terry Pratchett*

“It’s an entertaining look at Christmas and winter traditions through the distorted lens of Discworld, and features Death (tall chap, hood and scythe) being forced to take on the role of Father Christmas/The Hogfather while his granddaughter sorts out the world”.

‘Twas the night before Christmas

“It was a gift for my daughter and is beautifully illustrated” says one member of staff; “because it rhymes” says another.


“The short story The Dead IDK if it takes place at Christmas but there is a party and it has a very evocative scene where a character watches snow falling from the the window.”

A Christmas Carol

“Reminds me of Christmas”

“Just because”

“The Christmas spirits reminding us all of Christmases past, why we should  enjoy the present and to help people in need.  The amazing change in Scrooge and how it made life better for everyone around him”.

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

“These short stories are quick reads in between meals that never fail to leave me in stitches”.

MR James*

“A most spooky collection. Spine chillingly good, like a cool slushie”.

Gawain and Greene Knight

“Love the lines about Christmas ‘On þe morne, as vch mon myneȜ þat tyme, joy reigns in every dwelling in the world“.

The Gospels

“I have heard the Christmas story as told in the Gospels every year for many years in church, and I like the familiarity of it”.

Harry Potter saga*

“I used to do it in school, taking advantage of the two weeks off. Now I don’t always do it, but I always feel Christmas as Harry’s time”

shooting star

*All books with asterisks are held by our friends in Islington Libraries. Anyone from City can join with a valid City card.


This year (2017) the Northampton Square Library will be open 27th – 29th December 10 am – 6 PM for self-service and reference only use. Check Library Services website for more information on library opening times.

What’s your favourite holiday reads? Tell us in the comments below.

Library Staff Love #17: City Novel / City Crime

Our students studying for an MA in Creative Writing are a super talented bunch and benefit from a sector leading course which has led to graduates becoming successful and award-winning published authors.

You can get a flavour of their creativity by reading City Novel and City Crime: brilliant collections of their stories available in the Library, so brilliant in fact that they’re the subject of our latest Staff Pick submitted by an enthusiastic, anonymous colleague:

“They’ve only gone and done it again! City’s talented writers have knuckled down and created some fresh, raw and revealing fiction. I just love to read new books and these collected excerpts are all brilliant. They really whet the appetite for more.

The City Crime books are all full of spooky whodunnits and the City Novel books are all just full of great novels. It’s like a little bonsai library. Just perfect.”

Librarians are known for knowing their fiction so you can’t go wrong with a recommendation from one, including from our very own mystery author. You can pick up copies of City Novel and City Crime from Level 5 of the Northampton Square Library today.

(We’d love to hear your reviews or recommendations: @CityUniLibrary)

A very short introduction to all the knowledge of the world

Summer breaks are the perfect time to read around different subjects and explore the world in more detail.

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A perfect way to do this is the Very Short Introductions series published by Oxford University Press. Over 500 books have been published on various subjects, written by academic experts in an accessible and engaging style. Covering everything from Anglo-Saxon England to thermodynamics dipping into these easy to read books can give you an instantaneous knowledge in various tough subjects. So whether you want to prepare for University Challenge or just show off in the Courtyard Cafe, check out some Very short Introductions now.

Here are some of our favourite books in the series:


Barthes: a very short introduction by Jonathan Culler

A fascinating cultural critic who analysed everyday objects through the lens of structuralist philosophy, Barthes is both an eminently readable and difficult author all in one. A classic in the genre of very short introductions. This book is written by afiniciano of Barthes, Jonathan Culler and has won several awards. 2017 saw Barthes back in a big way, following Laurent Binet’s stunning novel.

Civil engineering : a very short introduction by David Muir Wood

Civil engineering is what’s just built Crossrail, digging through 42 km of new tunnels to remove over 3 million tonnes of excavated materials. It’s also built dams, bridges, hospitals and schools.  Check out this book for more information about the discipline, that’s literally shaped the world around you.

Criminal justice : a very short introduction by Julian V. Roberts

One of the more exciting areas of the legal system, whether you just want to understand the news better or you are a fan of crime thrillers and procedurals this little book will help you make sense of the criminal justice system. It’s a good introduction to a very complex area and takes you through the basics of how criminal justice is administered.

Corporate social responsibility : a very short introduction by Jeremy Moon

Corporations take their social responsibility very seriously, as this very short introduction makes very clear. A fascinating insight into an aspect of the corporate world, which corporations take very seriously.

Game theory: a very short introduction by KG Binmore

Game theory is a mathematical method of understanding logical decision making. It’s a great market to get into, according to an acquaintance of Lord Bragg. This is your chance to find out more.

Globalization : a very short introduction by Manfred B. Steger

Globalization [sic] is the process of the world becoming more connected via communications, companies and markets and travel. It has had a massive impact across the world. Recent political events will affect this process in ways that we probably can’t predict. It has its supporters and critics, and is worth studying in more detail. A fascinating area of globalisation is glocalisation, which links local and global markets.

Information: a very short introduction by Luciano Floridi

In his Very Short Introduction, Luciano Floridi presents his Philosophy of Information by looking at how information is presented and seen in various subjects including Mathematics, Economics and Biology.  Floridi looks first at the Age of Information that we live in (the 4th Revolution after the works of Copernicus, Darwin and Freud) before presenting his philosophy and using different subjects to explain it.  The book is a short and interesting read about how we look at and use information.

The history of mathematics: a very short introduction by Jacqueline A Stedall

Following the dramatic discovery of an unknown medieval manuscript belonging to Johannes Sacrobosco, the history of mathematics is suddenly big news again. This book will take you through all the big news stories in the subjects giving you a deeper understanding of how mathematics has shaped us and how we have shaped mathematics.

Linguistics: a very short introduction by Peter Hugoe Matthews

Language is central to how we understand the world and communicate with others about it. Linguistics is the study of language and so is in some ways the study of everything, but it is also the study of language.

Racism : a very short introduction by Ali Rattansi

Ali Rattansi tackles this very important subject with great sensitivity and insight. Sadly, in these latter days it is more important than ever for all of us to remain vigilant and look after each other. If you only read one very short introduction this year, make it this one.

Risk: a very short introduction by Baruch Fischoff & John Kadvany

Not to be confused with the military strategy board game of the same name, this addition to the series looks at different sorts of risk and how people analyse them.  The authors look at the definition and analysing of risk before talking about how individuals understand risk and make decisions, including the involvement of bias.  They also look at how societies differ in the ways they deal with risk.

Science Fiction: a very short introduction by David Seed

By breaking Science Fiction into a variety of themes, this book by David Seed, analyses and discusses a genre that has captured many an imagination.  Via space travel, encounters with aliens, technology, the polar opposite societies types utopias and dystopias, time travel and the communities created by sci fi, this book explores all media formats used in its creation.  An interesting read, this very Short introduction will interest all who enjoy science fiction.

Statistics : a very short introduction by David J. Hand.

Big data is the big news at the moment, but statistics has always underlaid several disciplines. Understanding the trends and problems of statistical modeling can help you understand important subjects with ease.


What’s your favourite very short introduction book? What topic do you think the subject should cover?

Out and About in London during the Summer

We asked staff at CityLibrary about their favourite London places and things to do in summer and, despite the recent weather, they mostly like to be outside, listing a number of favourite spots.

Although, of course, we feel you should take a break and get and about to see these places when in London, a number can also be visited in a virtual manner via CityLibrary’s collections – so click those links to find out more!

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Pretty Places and Views

A clear favourite place to go is Hampstead Heath with two librarians mentioning how close it feels to being in the countryside.  Other highlights on the heath include Kenwood House, swimming in the lidos and ponds and the view from Parliament Hill.  Although a bit depressing as I recall it, the film Scenes of a Sexual Nature was shot on Hampstead Heath and is a good way to visit it in the sun when it isn’t actually sunny for reals.

Speaking of views, Catherine picked out the view from Shooter’s Hill for its “great views of the City” that provide “inspiration that anything is possible in this great City.”

Providing another beautiful view across London, and looking back south toward Shooter’s Hill and Crystal Palace (and not far from Hampstead Heath) is Alexandra Palace, where Lynn likes to take a “jaunty bus ride” in order to view “beautiful flowers and plants” as well as enjoy its tea shop.

Perambulating and Promenading

Another theme was walking in London, with the South Bank of the Thames a popular place to visit.  It’s an area that provides a lot, with Alex saying, “There’s always something going on for free. You can sit inside or outside the Festival Hall. Browse book stalls, have a drink, walk along the river;” while Lyn picked out its “History, street performers, shops, pubs and a good breeze from the river” making it worth a visit; and Samantha addded that it’s a “lovely place to while away time – there’s usually something on… there’s the Tate Modern, lots of nice places to eat, food stalls… you can take a boat trip, [and] plenty of things to see and people to watch, [with] lots of lovely bars to break up your work in.”

A further, anonymous, walk lover shared their love of meandering alongside the Regent’s Canal and even gave this suggested walk:

“Start your walk by Goldbourne Road (at the better end of Portobello Market – good for North African food and vintage shopping).

“Walk down the canal through Little Venice and peer at the house boats and the million pound mansions.

“Carry on your walk east past Regent’s Park, through the zoo to Camden Town for a spot of people watching. Then carry on to King’s Cross, Islington and Hackney‘s vibrant Broadway Market.

“If you still have fuel in your legs continue east past Victoria Park then Mile End Park, avoiding speedy cyclists, then end up in historical Wapping where you can go to an old river side pub before limping home. Nice day out.”

Inside and Outside

London Zoo in Regent’s Park got a mention there and is another favourite place for Samantha who, “really, really, really like[s] chilling out in the giraffe house.  They’re very peaceful animals.  But also the zoo funds animal conservation work around the world and is a wonderful place to spend a day off. Also penguins.”

Other enjoyable outside activities mentioned were reading in the park, cricket on the lawn, barbecues and garden parties, visiting Hyde Park and riding in Swan boats.

It wasn’t all about being outside, though.  Galleries on the South Bank have already been mentioned, as were The Barbican and the British Museum.  Alongside the cinema, these are great places to escape the rain and provide a good tip for students in London through the winter.

And, finally…

Finally, and perhaps controversially, London is not for all.  One Librarian stated that they like to get out of London during the summer.

But to where?  Well, our next CityLibrary Summer post will let you know where us CityLibrary people like to go to on holiday.

Until then, look out for us with a book and a flask of tea underneath the bandstand.

25 interdisciplinary books you must read now

Summer is a great time to expand your mind. During the year, you can find it too busy to read up on all the stuff that has piqued your interest;  but there’s nothing better than taking the time to explore new ideas and find out more about what’s going on. It’s good for inspiration and creativity and if nothing else, you can always get more interesting conversation pieces from reading widely.

Here’s a list of great books from across different subjects that are worth reading.

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  1. Margaret Austin, Rudy Crawford, and Vivien J Armstrong, First aid manual: the authorised manual of St John Ambulance, St Andrews First Aid and the British Red Cross
  2. Jean-Dominique Bauby, The diving-bell and the butterfly
  3. Leonard Bernstein, The unanswered question: six talks at Harvard
  4. Tom Bingham, The rule of law
  5. Michael Blastland and AW Dilnot, The tiger that isn’t: seeing through a world of numbers
  6. James Cameron, Point of departure
  7. Dale Carnegie, How to win friends and influence people
  8. Michel Foucault, Discipline and punish: the birth of the prison
  9. Sigmund Freud, The Penguin Freud reader
  10. James Edward Gordon, Structures, or, Why things don’t fall down
  11. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John “JJ” Jay, The Federalist papers
  12. Andrew Hodges, Alan Turing: the enigma
  13. Helena Kennedy, Eve was framed: women and British justice
  14. Tim Lang and Michael Heasman, Food wars: the global battle for mouths, minds and markets
  15. Harper Lee, To kill a mockingbird
  16. Larry MacDonald, The Bombardier story: from snowmobiles to global transportation powerhouse
  17. David Ogilvy, Confessions of an advertising man: the all-time best seller about advertising
  18. Inderjeet Parmar, Foundations of the American Century : the Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the rise of American power
  19. Sheryl Sandberg, Lean in: women, work, and the will to lead
  20. Mary Seacole, Wonderful adventures of Mrs. Seacole in many lands
  21. Gary Slapper, How the law works
  22. Susan Sontag, Illness as metaphor and: AIDS and its metaphors
  23. Thorstein Veblen, The theory of the leisure class
  24. Dan Ward, The simplicity cycle: a field guide to making things better without making them worse
  25. Alex Wright, Cataloging the world: Paul Otlet and the birth of the information age

(In alphabetical order by first author surname)


Have we missed anything that you would recommend to your fellow students? Tell us in the comments below.



Library staff’s favourite summer reads

Summer’s all about finding a good book, a nice patch of sun, and relaxing. Well that and a few other things, but either way the library loves curling up with a good book.

Here’s a list of the favourite books of members of library staff including some great beach reads and airport novels. Enjoy.

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Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy  by Douglas Adams
“I loved a bit of this. Adam’s world is total escapism, very readable on grass, sand or airport lounge.”


Strange Heart Beating by Eli Goldstone
“A brilliant book that explores so much of what makes us what we are. A revelation.”


In Parenthesis by David Jones
“One of the greatest works to come out of the twentieth century. A densely wrought masterpiece that rewards several re-readings. :)”


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
“What’s not to like about Jane? She gets stuff done and she does not let herself be cowed: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me. I am a free human being with an independent will.””


Life on air: Memoir’s of a broadcaster by David Attenborough
Catherine says, “I am engrossed in this. I’m listening to it as an audio book and just lurvve his voice, but his journey is so engaging and so much more than the animal documentaries we all know and love.”


On The Beach by Nevil Shute
Lynn is a big fan of this. She says “More of a nuclear summer? I read this at a young age. Characters carried on regardless in the sweltering heat as I realised, to my horror, they were all doomed.  Scarier than any Pan Book of Horror!”


Puberty Blues by Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey
“It’s set in Sydney in Australia in the late 70’s and is about a group of teenagers ‘coming of age’. It’s not really my favourite book, but it and the movie always give me a good laugh for being so cheesy and kitsch.”


A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
“Entertaining but informs the reader of the culture of the times and the history of partition.”


The Bible
Catherine says this “is my handbook for life. It gives me wisdom, encouragement, inspiration and words of love that lift my spirit. It is always in my mind and heart and never far from my hand.”


The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Alex loves this book. He says it’s “a great mystery with some wonderful characters. Engrossing.”


The Neapolitan by Elena Ferrante
Catie recommends reading these books this summer. She says “they don’t all take place in the summertime, but in Book 2, most of it takes place on a beach in Italy. It’s scandalous, salacious and influences all subsequent books.”


The portrait of the Artist as a young man by James Joyce
“Portrait was challenging conventional ways of writing and long held beliefs and traditions. As an aspiring artist in those days, that’s what I wanted to do as well.  “


The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
“It’s about the love and friendship between a girl and her artist grandmother while they spend the summer together on the Swedish archipelago. It’s about freedom, nature and death and is beautifully written.”


I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
This book sums up summer reading for Samantha. “A beautiful coming of age story about a literary young woman in privileged yet difficult circumstances falling in love, and choosing not to lose her head. It’s wonderfully written, the characters are captivating, and you get a lovely sense of endless English summer.

“I confess it also reminds me of my teenage summers in the countryside, especially as a friend had a very similar house. We had cars though, which did make the meeting of suitable and unsuitable boys much easier!  (Dodie Smith also wrote another much more famous work: 101 Dalmations.)”


The Waste Land  by TS Eliot
“It’s got so many literary illusions – you could DEDICATE your whole life to studying it.”


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
“The atmosphere of a sleepy Southern town; you just get so sucked in. Kids looking for an adventure over the summer. Compelling, moving and very easy to read.”


VALIS by Philip K Dick
“PKD at his best. It got everything: libraries, mind expansion and the grail myth. A real stonker of a book”.


Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Fanfic before there was even an internet to be a fanperson on? This book “expands and presents a very different view of Jane Eyre, illuminating it with the dark side of the British Empire”.


Anything by MJ Arlidge
One member of staff said he got into these books after they were recommended to him by Director of Library Services.


Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
Chosen twice.  One member of staff said he likes it because it reminds him of a year spent in Paris and the South of France which he described as “smashing”. Another member of staff said “I just remember a lot of it being on a beach and it was quite evocative”.


Eleanor of Aquitaine
“Eleanor of Aquitaine was the baddasserest queen to ever badass. She married two kings and birthed two more, and outlived all but one, always making sure to run her own Aquitinian estates perfectly whilst fighting off all sorts of ne’erdo wells and having five equally badass daughters. She shaped the 12th century, and with it, western Europe.”



What do you think of our recommendations? Have we missed anything? Tell us in the comments below.

The Curious Case of Library Staff Love #14

Rather excitingly, and in typical crime fiction fashion, this month we received an anonymous tip-off. It seems that there’s something worth investigating on Level 5 of the Northampton Square Library and, luckily for us, our unnamed online-form-filler left some vital clues to help us take a closer look:

Clue 1: “It’s got loads of great new contemporary writings and photos.”

Hmm, how mysterious. Could it be an online resource? We’ve got so many, including LION– but you don’t need to be on Level 5 to access our e-resources, you can do that from anywhere with an internet connection. No, it must be something else…

Clue 2: “You can just curl up with a big Galaxy bar and sail away to loads of different worlds.”

Hmm, well I know that Bloomberg (available on PCs in the Financial Resources Suite) does a cool thing with little ships, but I don’t think it’s that. What does Clue 3 say…

Clue 3: “It is a great way to discover new writers. You can pick the most recent copies up from Level 5 although our collection goes back to 1979.”

Ah, I think I can see where this is going. Recent copies? A longer back catalogue? I’m thinking Journals, of which we have many in both print and digital form. But which one could it be? It must in print as we were told to look at Level 5. Let’s look at the final clue…

Clue 4: “It publishes work from a lot of hot new things including work by one of our talented alumnae: ‘Strange Heart Beating’ by Eli Goldstone will be published in June 2017 and then be available from all good bookshops and libraries.”

Aha! Time for a little process of elimination: if I Google ‘Strange Heart Beating by Eli Goldstone’ I get a results list, and the top result says Granta has bought the rights to this book. Now, maybe, if look for Granta on CityLibrary Search… huzzah! I can see that we stock… Granta Magazine!

Now, if I head to Level 5 and inspect the scene carefully…

Granta Magazine, on Level 5 of Northampton Square Library

Mystery solved! Us Librarians, we do love a bit of sleuthing. Thanks anonymous tip-off person!

City Library commemorates the Battle of the Somme

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. On this day, over 100 years ago, around 20,000 British soldiers died. By the end of the battle in November 1916 there had been over one million casualties on both sides for little military gain. Sadly this high number is not unique and other battles during this conflict, and other conflicts in later years, have surpassed this number.

A commemoration for the 100th anniversary at London Liverpool Street Station #wearehere

The 1st July 1916 nevertheless stands as an important symbol of the massive loss of life during the First World War. That is why there are many commemoration services taking place around the country today. One of the worst tragedies of a terrible century of conflict, its anniversary allows us time to pause and reflect on war’s destruction.


Several writers explored their feelings of the conflict in poetry and prose:

  • Wilfred Owen did not fight at the Somme in 1916, but his poetry depicts the deep tragedy and futility of the war. He wrote in a draft preface that “all a poet can do today is warn”. Tragically he did not survive the war dying the week before its end.  His poetry was set to music by Benjamin Britten in his great “War Requiem”.
  • Pat Barker’s Regeneration depicts the work of psychiatrist WHR Rivers,  who treated soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder during the war. Both Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, who were treated by Rivers, are characters in this book. A great book, it explores themes of sexuality and identity.
  • Owen Sheer’s Resistance describes a counter-factual history of World War 2, much like Amazon Prime’s popular Man in the High Castle series. There is a cameo in his book by David Jones, artist and poet, whose epic war poem describing his experiences during the Somme, In Parenthesis, was called by TS Eliot “a work of genius” and by Auden as “the greatest book about the First World War”.

Reading, watching and responding to the artworks inspired by the war must make us realise how terrible war is and how important it is to seek peaceful forms of international co-existence. In today’s post Brexit world this is more important than ever.

See more poetry from CityLibrary Search:


Happy World Book and Copyright Day

Tomorrow is World Book and Copyright Day. The 23rd April marks the date in 1616 on which Shakespeare and Cervantes, two giants of world literature, both passed. The day, launched by UNESCO in 1995, aims to encourage everyone to discover the pleasure of reading and to “gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those, who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity”.

Why not celebrate this day by exploring some of the great classics of literature through CityLibrary Search?


  • Homer During Antiquity the Iliad and Odyssey had become central cultural texts. They were even used in ancient classrooms to teach children basic literacy. Whilst the identity of Homer is questioned, the beauty of both poems are not.  The Lattimore and Fagles translations held by City Library are considered among the best. For the completely smitten we also have online versions of some of the original Ancient Greek books.
Dr Samuel L Johnson

Did you know that every year Unesco along with publishers, booksellers and libraries select the World Book Capital for each year? This year we chose Wrocław in Poland.

  • During her life Jane Austen was a moderately successful author. Since her death her stature has grown and she is now considered a canonical author of the English literary canon. People often have preconceptions of her work but they are worth reading. Lots of readers love Pride and PrejudiceEmma is considered her more mature work. It displays the skills of an author confidently portraying fully developed characters with only a few words. This novel also inspired the classic 1995 film Clueless.
  • Things fall apart by Chinua Achebe is a brilliant book. Set in 1890 in a fictionalised village in Nigeria, the book centres on Okonkwo and follows the tension between two different cultural traditions. A modern classic, the novel invites rereading.

Did you know that in some areas of Spain St George’s Day, on the 23rd April as well, is celebrated by the exchange of books between loved ones? Maybe recommend a loved one’s favourite book for our shelves through MoreBooks.

  • Stephen’s Copyright LibGuide is a classic read. Going through the complexities of Copyright Law he presents it in a clear and easy to understand manner. Not only is it a great read but it is very important to know about copyright – both for students and staff.
    If you only read one text to mark World Book and Copyright Day make it this one.

Books of the Irish

Ireland is known as the land of saints and scholars. This is partly because of its preeminence in monastic scholarship during the early medieval period, but is there more to Ireland than this?

The answer is, of course, yes. Ireland is famous around the world for the massive contribution its writers have made to literature. This St Patrick’s Day why not explore the luscious literature of this much loved land of lays and fae through CityLibrary Search.

Here are five highlights from our collections:

  • Tristram Shandy is a brilliant novel. It was written by the sometime Anglo-Irish priest and novelist Laurence Sterne. Ostensibly it follows the life of an eponymously named young man, however the cumulative effect of its meandering plot can hardly be called a bildungsroman of the classic school. Rather it is, in the words of a great critic, “a post-modern classic written before there was any modernism to be post about. So it was way ahead of its time and, in fact, for those who haven’t heard of it, it was actually listed as number eight on the Observer’s top 100 books of all time“.
  • Ulysses by James Joyce is the archetypal classic of Ireland: brilliant, translucent and at times puzzling. Giddy with gorgeous prose the book follows the lives of three characters over one day, experiencing their feelings and mental processes in a raw and honest state. Every year on 16th June fans of the book congregate in Dublin to reenact scenes from the book. However it’s a big book. It might be good to start now.
  • W. B. Yeats is possibly the great poet of the twentieth century. Producing a large body of work of high artistic merit throughout his life, his style nevertheless changed as he sought to express his own truth.  In 1923 he became the first Irish person to be awarded Nobel Prize for Literature. Yeats is also one of the select group of artists who have been immortalised by the Lord Bragg on his BBC radio show In Our Time.
  • At Swim Two Birds by Flann O’Brien is the great modern classic of Irish fiction. A funny and intelligent metafictional book in which the act of writing becomes the act of genesis as the characters of a young student writer began to write their own plots and that of their author’s.
  • A Girl is A Half Formed Thing from 2014 is a genuine instant classic. Eimear McBride, who grew up in Ireland, received many  rejection letters for her novel from a lot of publishers before the Galley Beggar Press saw its great artistic value and published it. Since then it has gone on to win a slew of awards and has mesmerised audiences around the world. The stage version is even currently playing at the Young Vic.