Featured Readers

Each month we sit down for a chat with a ‘Featured Reader’, to find out about their favourite books of all time, their literary preferences, recommendations, revered authors, & the likes...

This Month

Poppy Masterson

Poppy Masterson

Veterinary is very detail orientated, so I gravitate to the opposite in what I read. I love books that provide scope on big subjects.

Poppy Masterson

Tell us a bit about yourself, where did you grow up?

I grew up in Dublin. There was definitely a respect and love for animals modelled for me by my mother. She picked up every pigeon, rodent, waif and stray! Every little life was given some recognition. Though I never thought of being a vet when I was younger, it was obviously making an impression on me as I grew up.

Tell us about your job and how the pandemic has affected it.

As for working through the pandemic, I can’t say it has been too bad for vets. It is really only the mechanics of the job that have changed -where you see animals, how you communicate with their owners, etc. It was probably harder for the nurses and reception staff who had to manage the flow of work and explain the Covid protocols to owners - that they could not accompany their animals into the surgery. There were also an increased number of people buying puppies, but the work is otherwise very much the same and has continued throughout the lockdowns.

What’s that like, listening to people’s stories while they’re in that moment of a crisis about their pets or needing advice?

Pet owners have always shared important bonds with their animals, but now, it is important to be cognisant of the fact that many, many people are relying on the company of a cherished pet for weeks on end. They are without interaction with their families, friends and communities. There are of course limits on how much an animal can replace for a person, but the value of a consistent little companion is hugely significant for a lot of people. It is quite a precious thing. Of course it was much harder for people losing their pet or having to make the painful decision to euthanise them. In that case, of course the owners were allowed to be present to say goodbye.

What is your earliest memory of reading? Do you have a favourite book or author from childhood?

Actually I wasn’t a big reader as a child. It is something that came to me later in life. I always thought that reading was for a different kind of person, some kind of higher being, not someone like me. I think it's because I wasn’t thriving in school at the time. It was only in my Leaving Cert. year that I met teachers that believed in me and it changed my attitude to reading and learning.

Which of your books is battered and worn from using over and over again?

Far From The Tree by Andrew Solomon. This book means so much to me. I have read it many times and like a great piece of music, there is always more to be found in it. I refer to it as “my bible”, which is not meant in a sacrilegious way at all, but more as a reference to the fact that I go back to it often to remember the powerful lessons I learned from it. It looks at the relationship between parents and their children who are divergent from how they expected. It looks at vertical and horizontal identities and examines topics like: autism; criminal behaviour; disability; gender and sexuality.

Some people found it hard to concentrate and read over lockdown - what about you?

Fits and starts. I tend to get pretty into something for a while and then leave it for days or weeks before coming back to it. I certainly can see why it is harder to focus on reading during this time. I think our minds ask for a balance of interaction and quiet time. It is hard to focus the mind if it can’t get a healthy range of experiences.

Is there a book in particular that opened up another culture to you?

In terms of another culture, I would probably say The Islandman by Tomas O’Crohan. Though it is about life in Ireland, it is from a world so different to our own that, in most ways, it was like another culture.

What are you reading right now?

All the Kaiser’s Men by Ian Passingham. It is about the experience of WW1 German soldiers. A relatively new interest of mine. It certainly gives you more perspective that is easy to handle.

Do you think your job affects what you read or has your reading affected your job?

I think that veterinary, like most science related jobs, is very detail orientated. So I gravitate to the opposite in what I read or listen to. I love books that provide scope on big subjects, be they social or historical or political.

Do you have any book recommendations for aspiring young vets?

I don’t think so. Some things have to be experienced to be understood!


The Books

We have been finding out about the books that matter to you, to grow this virtual bookshelf that represents the lives, families and culture of the people that call Dublin home. Here are a selection of some of the books that you have been telling us …

Share Your Favourites?

We want to hear about the books that matter to you. Tell us about your most cherished books, what you’re reading right now, your favourite book from your childhood, and the books that make up the story of your life. Share your recommended reads and take part here

Take Part

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