Readers' Recommendations

Our Books

Jessica Mc Carry

Jessica McCarry

Cabra via Wexford

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

What are you reading right now?

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

Tell us a bit about it ...

Historical fiction following the life of Thomas Cromwell, advisor to Henry VIII in Tudor England. Meticulously researched and full of detail, this is the third book in an acclaimed trilogy that imagines the inner life of a famous politician and self-made man. Gripping and tense (maybe because we know what the eventual fate of Thomas Cromwell will be) this is a an immersive book that will bring you to another time and place.

What is your favourite book of all time?

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter.

Tell us a bit about it ...

A book of short stories, based on fairy and folk tales, subversively retold in deliciously dark gothic prose. This is a book that I like to come back to every once in a while, usually with the intention of just reading one of the stories but I find it hard to resist reading the whole collection again.

What book do you remember most from childhood?

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgeson Burnett.

Tell us a bit about it ...

This was one of many books that I reread when I was a child. I liked the melodrama of it - orphaned Sara Crewe's sudden reversal of fortune and demotion to servant in the boarding school that she had previously attended hooked me every time.

As a child I was fascinated by stories of schools and boarding schools (with the requisite gang of mean girls) so this book ticked many boxes for me! Even though I read it many times, Sara's eventual triumph over her enemies and misfortune thrilled me every time.

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

Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers.

Tell us a bit about it ...

My copy of this book is falling apart because it is an old battered paperback that I picked up many years ago in a second hand bookshop. I had been intrigued with the fiction of Dorothy L. Sayers ever since I had come across one of her earlier novels in a library.

Lord Peter Wimsey as a gentlemen detective, fabulously wealthy and dashing, is an enjoyable (vaguely ridiculous) creation on his own but when teamed up with Harriet Vane, herself a writer of detective fiction, the books come alive. Gaudy Night is Harriet Vane's vehicle, a satisfying mystery set in a college in Oxford with a plot revolving around poison pen letters. This book is a joy to read, both as a period piece (published in 1936) and a reflection on the ongoing rights of women to an education and a career.

What is your favourite book by an international author?

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk.

Tell us a bit about it ...

An eccentric old lady lives alone in a cottage in the woods ... sounds like the beginning of a fairytale, right?

This is a dark, funny novel - the story of Janina, a retired engineer and dedicated astrologer, who claims that the series of people turning up dead in a small town in rural Poland are are the inevitable result of nature and animals taking their revenge on local hunters.

A quirky thriller with some beautiful nature writing and occasional bleakness that contains some memorable characters.

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

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.

Tell us a bit about it ...

A brilliantly written story of some of the families who live in a makeshift settlement on the outskirts of Mumbai. Over a three year period, Katherine Boo captures the minutiae of their daily lives and the bigger changes that will affect their future.

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

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold.

Tell us a bit about it ...

I came to this book as an occasional true crime reader but in truth it’s so much more interesting than a rehashing of the Jack the Ripper story. This book focuses on the lives of the five women murdered by Jack the Ripper and is a deep dive into the social history of the time and an exploration of the lives of working class women and girls of the Victorian Era.

Historian Hallie Rubenhold convincingly makes the case that these five women were rough sleepers in the wrong place at the wrong time. She draws on primary resources like census records and documents from institutional archives to build a fascinating picture of these five women, how they lived and the devastating consequences of poverty, social upheaval and misogyny that lead to their murders. There’s a lot of information in this book to take in but it’s written in an accessible way and the humanity and empathy of the writer shines through.


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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