Readers' Recommendations

Our Books

Brian bourke

Brian Bourke

Dublin born and bred

Where in Dublin do you live?
Where are you from?

What are you reading right now?

The Quincunx by Charles Palliser

Tell us a bit about it...

This is a novel set in 19th Century England told from the perspective of a young boy living with his Mother, and takes place over about 13 years. It could be described as a mystery/adventure title, given the overarching plotline, but from a chapter to chapter perspective, it is more about engaging the world in which the protagonist lives. This experiential quality never becomes mundane as the story introduces new elements and characters throughout. The result is this 1200 page novel keeps you engaged in a manner more akin to a 200 page counterpart.

What is your favourite book of all time?

The Opium War by Brian Inglis

Tell us a bit about it...

This is a concise history of the First Opium War, originally published in 1976. What makes this title most interesting is the publication date and the author's background in journalism. These two factors result in a very accessible and informative read, which not only showcases it's topic but also offers an insight into the historical approach of near 5 decades ago. A personal highlight for me was the manner in which Inglis engaged with the corporate culture of the British East India Company.

What book do you remember most from childhood?

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

Tell us a bit about it...

Part of the famous series, this book stands out for me, largely due to sentimental reasons. As someone who thoroughly enjoyed the entire series this one comes to mind quickest for reasons as varied as remembering specifically when it was given to me and the ability to still picture the hue of green that spread across most of the cover. In terms of the story itself, this entry marked a substantial change in tone and began the move away from the largely formulaic structure of the previous books.

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

The Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham

Tell us a bit about it...

Undoubtedly the book which I have had to revert back to for reference the most. The topic of this book feeds into understanding so many other fields of interest such as World War I, concepts of Human Rights, the evolution of Colonialism and many other areas. The topic itself is also so large that upon first reading you are doing well just to keep a grasp on the core themes. From the story of explorer David Livingstone, to the foundations of Boer identity and the intricacies of French railroad financing, this book has such breadth that it both facilitates and necessitates constant referral. A close second for my favourite book of all time.

What book do you feel depicts your own or another culture most vividly?

Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean by Abdul Sheriff

Tell us a bit about it...

A rather niche book which I came across largely by happenstance. It is perhaps the most passionate piece of non-fiction writing I have ever read, with the author clearly harbouring a great affinity for the Dhow sailors and lives they lead.

Is there a book that changed your mind/perspective about something?

The Crusades by Thomas Asbridge

Tell us a bit about it...

A history book dealing with the Crusades of the Holy Land, this book largely dispelled a lot of the popular perceptions surrounding the topic for me. The Crusades was not a subject I was versed in at all prior to reading this book, but one which comes with a lot of preconceptions, even if it's just from having watched the 3rd installment of the Indiana Jones movies. The author paints a remarkably detailed picture of the varying motivations underlying the principal actors and interest groups. These different players were also brought into a new light for me as Asbridge delineated them beyond the Christian/ Muslim sectarian divide. The Peasant's Crusade and the Ismaili Muslims stood out on this front as emblematic of a far more complex story than I had previously believed. The Crusades, as documented in this book, is a fully 3 dimensional era in the region with innumerable layers of interwoven events and people. Due to the availability of primary sources, perhaps the most surprising element of this book is how relatable the actors become as you read the stories of their lives.


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 …

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