Isn’t every day a book day?

Well, apparently today is, in particular, World Book Day, as I’ve been reminded by some excellent posts by several bloggers on the topic. And I agree with them all.. ’cause that’s the kind of guy I am. I suppose I should add that yes, I have The List of books, which is continually being added to .. and yes, I already have The Pile of books to be read, which is also continually being added to (the sequence in The Pile is subject to revision at any time). Update Auds adds a list for your favourite niece/nephewSeemingly, unlike the other Piles out there, mine consists of mostly non-fiction at the minute, not completely, but mostly, and dominated by my obsession with the development of science in the 17th Century, along with some loosely connected topics. The most recent addition being The Diary of John Evelyn, published to mark the tri-centenary of his death in 1706, assorted volumes on, or by, Sir Francis Bacon, including Lisa Jardine’s biography, to add to her biography of Christopher Wren, and some fascinating stuff on Paracelsus, The Devil’s Doctor Philip Ball’s biography of the 16th Century alchemist who travelled throughout Europe, including Ireland – it’s accompanied by the Paracelsus: Essential Readings for reference.

And to answer Richard Waghorne’s unasked question that’s how I put my Pile together.. I go on a binge.. and add, and add, and add.. whenever something looks vaguely connected to the loose thread of inquiry I’m following it goes on The List, or The Pile. Which at least explains why I have Leviathan and the Air-pump on The Pile… and it explains why I’ve, always, a lot of catching up to do.. now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to read..


  • foreign correspondent

    I have more than sixty unread books on my shelves, most bought recently. At the moment I´m reading very little yet I still keep buying more. Do I need help? Very possibly

  • Pete Baker

    From the various posts on this topic, fc.. you’re in good company 🙂

  • Maybe I’m been too literal here – but is your Pile really a pile? Books heaped up on top of one another in a corner forming a pile?
    Wouldn’t that dog-ear and contort paperbacks as well as fraying the tips of the spine covering on hardbacks?
    Or is the Pile merely in the mind and the books on the shelf?

    (Is that dedicating shelving for the unread? Or are the unread randomly distributed thoroughout all bookshelves where the book insertion doesn’t create excessive total shelf content inward bending?)

    My comment is relevant, despite the ??? tendency towards a bad Cosmo quiz.

  • Pete Baker

    It is a relevant question, auds, and I’ll try to answer it.. The Pile is, primarily a construct of the books I’ve bought, and yet to read.. although many of them are in actual piles, one on top of the other.. I have an untidy office.. with scant space on my current bookshelves..

    The books listed, though, are the most recent additions to The Pile.. which, in reality consists of smaller, potentiallly more manageable, Piles.. mostly for safety reasons. 🙂

  • susan

    Pete/foriegn correspondent
    from susan

    Can I ask where you binge buy? I find the lack of decent independent bookshops in Belfast really depressing. Waterstones bulk buys mainstream titles and only stocks single copies of some new titles, (the more obscure ones). They also return titles that don’t sell very rapidly and don’t re-stock. I do use Amazon but I like to browse. Queen’s is good but the majority of its stock is aimed at the academic market.

  • Pete Baker


    I’m out in the wilderness, so my main binging is done via Amazon.. who, to their credit, stock plenty of obscure titles, and the ‘have also bought’ links work well for browsing for related titles in my experience.. and it also suits my buying pattern.

    Occasionally, though, I’ll spot something from an independent publisher in an article and order direct from them.. and, sometimes, just sometimes, I’ll get really really lucky

  • foreign correspondent

    I´m in Madrid so my problem is too much choice- in Spanish, English or whatever language you´re having yourself…
    However if you think Belfast is bad bookwise you should check out my home town of Derry. Even a Waterstones type bookshop would be a welcome addition there.
    However maybe there will be less bookshops not more in the future. I read recently in the Irish Times that the mythical Kenny´s Bookshop in Galway was closing their premises there. They now exist solely as an Internet outfit which maybe makes business sense for them but it still seems a big loss to Galway to me.

  • Dublin readers might like to check out my stream of consciousness survey of bookshops in Dublin. It’s not exhaustive, but it might be helpful.

  • barcode

    Any good recommendations for Norn Iron stuff? I’ve got Number 5, by Glenn Patterson, on the shelf and just finished the autobiog Freefall, by Tom Read. He was in the SAS in NI before going stark staring mad. Strong stuff.

  • SlugFest


    What kind of NI stuff? I’ve got a huge collection of books on NI and the troubles, but even there you’d need to be more specific — generic overviews, detailed povs from a particular community, british military, etc.

  • barcode

    Sorry Slug. I mean recent, up to date kind of stuff. Fiction and non-fiction. Mostly recent fiction from NI I guess. Seems to be a bit of a dearth compared to days of old, or maybe I’m just nostalgic.

  • SlugFest


    Ah well, then i’m really no help to you. The most recent (troubles-related) fiction i’ve read are danny morrisson’s novels (yawn).

  • Barcode
    If it’s fiction you’re after, I’ve got a recommendation for you that I’ve just finished. It’s just been published and is called The Emigrant’s Farewell by Liam Browne. Part fiction, part historical novel so it’s set in modern day Derry/Donegal and Derry in the 19th century. Really engrossing and well-written.

    I’ve got a review here if you’d like to know more.

  • Pat McLarnon13

    theres a great little cultish one called WoundLicker about present day belfast by jason johnson. kinda violent and tender. theres also one called jakes eulogy part set in belfast. its so so but has some ni exploration

  • SlugFest

    Sinead & Foreign Correspondent,

    thanks for the advice (though i wasn’t the one looking for it!) … just ordered both books from amazon.

    … guess it’s time to buy yet another bookcase.


  • barcode

    Many thanks to you all for the tips. Popping over to read Sinead’s review now and then probably to Amazon and as long as the postal workers agree, I’ll see them all soon.

  • SlugFest


    Just one thing: i had already pressed the final ‘purchase’ button from (UK) Amazon before i realized that Woundlicker would be ‘dispatched in 4-6 weeks.’ you can get it right away on, which has a number of vendors on either side of the atlantic (my suggestion is to pick the one nearest you)

  • magee3

    Barcode et al.
    NI fiction is like northern ireland….Backward looking. Most best fiction these days is from usa but agreed that woundlicker is a tight read. Liked it a lot. Not read / heard of emigrants tale but will get round to it. Hope its not as dreary and as full of cholera and infant mortality as it sounds ??? BTW sineads site above is talking about a book club. might be a runner ??

  • foreign correspondent 000

    What´s the weird moniker stealer thing going on on this site. The above foreign correspondents are not me. I´ve never even heard of woundlicker.
    My penny´s worth would be Fat Lad by Patterson, Resurrection Man by Eoin McNamee, Remembering Stone and Light (or something like that) by Deirdre Madden
    ( The Real Foreign Correspondent )

  • Zach

    Little late in the thread but seeing as how Pete noted that for some of us every day is book day I figured better late than never. I think that for 2005 I only got to around 35+ books which were non-fiction or classic/canonical lit. Though in my defense I’ve got transferred to night shift for seven months so that cut into my reading time.

    I’m actually looking for a couple books on the Troubles. Specifically I’m looking for books on OIRA and the INLA if anyone might know some reputable titles. I read “From Civil Rights to Armalites” in May and was wondering if there was anything comprable for Belfast?