Book reviews and recommendations

Old Favourites

Do you ever find when you are a bit unsettled, worried and unable to concentrate on anything, that re-reading an old favourite is just the thing you need?

Mairead would love people to share all of these special re-readable books with us and has started us off with a list of her own personal favourites

As you can see I have three books here by Alexander McCall Smith, which are just some of his books from my collection. His 44 Scotland Street, and Isabel Dalhousie series are are not as well known as his No.1 Ladies Detective series, but personally I find them far superior.

The 44 Scotland Street series follows the lives of the varied residents of 44 Scotland Street, particularly young Bertie who is plagued with a tiger Mum whose bizarre ideas for rearing a child often end up with hilarious consequences. The books are very well written and the characters so well drawn you miss them like old friends and acquaintances once you finish a book. His book are feel good reads filled with broad comedy, cheerful satire and thoughtful philosophical asides.


Mary Costello’s Academy Street sat unread for a long time in my book case, then when I start it I could not put it down. Beautifully written, it is a powerful and emotional novel about an ordinary life lived with quiet intensity bravery and fortitude. It is a book that will move you, make you cry, but also it is filled with hope and an appreciation for life lived consciously.


Ian Banks, The Crow Road. I first read this back in 1999 and I have reread it several times since. It is a riveting read, a great gripping plot well written with believable characters and the unique Scottish black humour throughout.


The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. I have loved Oscar Wilde’s writing since my childhood librarian Miss Broomfield introduced me to his children stories, such as The Selfish Giant and The Happy Prince. One of my undergraduate final year mini theses was on Schopenhauer theory of Fate with focus on Oscar Wilde’s Life. I love the comedy of his plays, particularly The Importance of Being Earnest. Nobody comes close to him when it comes to elegant wit. And who cannot be moved by his final writing, the beautifully sad Ballad of Reading Gaol.


James Joyce, The Dubliners. I have admitted defeat years ago when it comes to Ulysses, but I always return to The Dubliners, although some of the characters can appear very dated and one dimensional, others are very memorable and their counterparts can still be found in every large town today. I have a particularly fondness for The Dead. It was a unique collection of stories for its time in its use of narrative prose, a style which we are used to now but was new and strange then. James Joyce manages to transform incidents in the ordinary lives of men and women into atmospheric thought provoking stories

Please let us know all about your favourite books you return to time and time again!

2 thoughts on “Old Favourites”

  1. I don’t if I’ve ever met any who’s finished Ulysses! I just started it myself and am certainly enjoying it, but the smattering of references and languages seem to make its target audience relatively limited. The Dubliners is certainly on my list for later.

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