We love reading. As a nation Ireland is bewitched and obsessed with the wonderful world of reading, from the winding prose of a mystery thriller to the uncharted territories of a fantasy novel.
Indeed the ability of a great book to capture the imagination and transport you to an amazing fictional universe is just one of the reasons why reading is one of the easiest as well as most joyous creative pursuits. To celebrate National Book Lovers Day, we asked some of our own favourite reading devotees on how they came to be book-lovers, their all-time cherished titles and the reading spots they love the most.
Senator Lynn Ruane is an independent senator serving in Seanad Éireann and the winner of an Irish Book Award in 2018 for her debut title, People Like Me.
My all-time favourite book is In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio by Philippe Bourgois. I read this book when I was in my early twenties. I always had views on poverty and drugs but this book opened me up to a whole new understanding. It also inspired me to write about addiction and crime in a way that wasn’t sensational but with analysis instead. Philippe gives a real structural analysis of street level drug dealers and gives the reader a real insight into the cause and effect of poverty and inequality. He does this by telling their story after years of living with the people at the centre of the book. If more writers who publish books about crime used this method of ethnographic style research, Ireland will reach a greater understanding of society and the policies we need to address deprivation.
The first book I ever remember having an impact on me is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S Lewis. I remember the teacher in school reading a few pages a day over the course of a few weeks, I read my copy at home to get ahead of her. I was fascinated by the characters and it really allowed me to explore my imagination. I remember trying to imagine all these other worlds that might exist that all we had to do was find. I loved anything to do with animals so imagining a world where animals spoke was the best feeling ever. I would lie awake at night imagining what their voices would sound like and what they might say. It was my first real introduction to that type of fantasy. I could see what I was reading.
I read while in transition, and if not while moving, it would have to be the beach. I love reading on planes or trains. Sometimes I imagine myself spending weeks on trains travelling around Europe while reading lots of books. I seem to relax while in movement, I also like life happening around me while I read. I love to be able to put my book down and grab a coffee or a glass of red wine. I don’t work, write or read in silence so the train especially is just the right amount of noise levels and the changing scenery is a plus.