I was lucky enough to get tons of books for my birthday a couple of weeks ago. My sister gave me an Amazon voucher which I spent in 5 minutes. I bought Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and The Secrets of Brideshead by Paula Byrne. Brideshead Revisited is one of my favourite books and this book tells the story of Evelyn Waugh’s friendship with the Lygon family who were the direct inspiration for the Flytes. I’ve started this already and it’s well researched and written. The Amazon voucher also bought Beautiful People by Simon Doonan, a memoir from the Creative Ambassador-at-Large of Barneys, and Your Movie Sucks, a collection of hilariously bad reviews from Roger Ebert.

My Dad bought me Hemingway’s Boat by Paul Hendrickson which is a biography that focusses on the last twenty seven years of Ernest Hemingway’s life and his passion for his boat, Pilar. It has been universally well reviewed and I’m looking forward to devouring it. My Dad also lent me his copy of Nuala O’Faolain’s Are You Somebody? which he bought after we both watched the recent RTE documentary on her life. He said it was a tough read but a great book.

My birthday present to myself was John Gardner’s On Becoming A Novelist, a book which I have been meaning to buy for ages. It’s part of my ongoing self-education which I think is important as I haven’t done any creative writing courses and so one could say that I’m working in the dark somewhat! This book is considered a classic and I’ve read most of it so far and found it very instructive and well written. The only part I’ve had any issue with is where Gardner posits that the novelist has nothing to learn about writing from watching television or films. I’d argue against that strongly – lessons on good dialogue, plot and pacing can all be found in the best films and TV programmes.

Lastly, a very kind friend of mine hunted out my Amazon wishlist (stealthy!) and bought me The Avoca Cafe Cookbook 2. One of my promises to myself is that when I move into my new house I’m going to get a lot better at cooking (which frankly wouldn’t be hard).

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