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

Headshot of Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle

Kilbarrack

My first memory of reading is sitting beside my mother in the kitchen, with the Dandy open in front of me ... Desperate Dan taught me how to read!

Roddy Doyle, Author

Roddy, your books are synonymous with Dublin. Tell us a bit about yourself - where were you born? What memories do you have of your neighbourhood growing up?

I grew up in Kilbarrack, on the Northside. It was almost rural when I was a very young child. Our house, on Kilbarrack Road, was in Dublin 5; the other side of the road, Flood’s farm, was in County Dublin; the boundary ran down the middle of the road. Then the farms were bought by the City Council and private developers and the building started. The building sites – Bayside, Briarfield, Verbena, Thornville – became playground. A lot of the details went into my book, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha.

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

My mother taught me how to read, using comics. So, my first memory of reading is sitting beside my mother in the kitchen, with the Dandy open in front of me, and recognising one of the words in a speech bubble over a character’s head, and seeing the same word in a different speech bubble. Desperate Dan taught me how to read! My favourite author was Richmal Crompton who wrote Just William and all the other William books.

Did you use your local library as a child ? Do you have a favourite one now or from the past?

Baldoyle library was the nearest to me, and I went – with my father – most Saturdays. In particular, I remember taking out the Tintin books. Later, Raheny library opened, and I took out a lot of the Dickens novels. But I always brought them back! I think Wexford library is my favourite. There’s something very special about the building itself and the atmosphere in it.

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

I’ve a copy of Moby Dick which fell apart when I was reading it the second time. I bound it with a couple of elastic bands. The bands have long perished but the book still lives. I have an old cookery book that belonged to my mother: Full and Plenty by Maura Laverty. There’s a recipe for fruit cake in my mother’s handwriting at the back, and several press clippings – recipes – including one for meatballs, by Theodora FitzGibbon. The headline on the other side of the page reads: ‘Sligo Rovers Ban Local Newspapermen.’ There’s also a recipe for peach pudding from the Sunday Press, July 3rd, 1977, alongside an ad for Richard Alan’s summer sale: ‘Tweed Skirts were £13.95 – now £9.’

Is there one of your books of which you are most proud? Tell us why.

I think it’s The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, because it was the most difficult book to write – the narrator’s life and experiences were, in so many ways, so far from my own - and I think I got away with it.

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading a book of short essays, called On Immunity: An Inoculation, by Eula Biss, which is great. I’m reading Hope in the Dark, by Rebecca Solnit; she wrote it soon after the US invasion of Iraq but it feels very current, and important. I’m reading a new novel, called Before my Actual Heart Breaks, by Tish Delaney. It’s narrated by a woman who grows up in Tyrone during the Troubles. In many ways it’s an old story, but it’s told in a very fresh, entertaining, funny and moving way.

Is there a book you think every child should have on their shelf?

All of mine – three hardback copies of each.

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

The Wind in the Willows. Who’d have guessed!

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us.

I once had a few pints with Julie Christie.

shelves

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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