The Art of Reading Book Club with Colm Toibin 2023

In partnership with the Laureate for Irish Fiction, libraries present The Art of Reading monthly book club for individuals and book clubs across the country.  

See The Art of Reading Book Club with Colm Tóibín 2022 here

Readers, book lovers and book clubs everywhere are invited to join in the Art of Reading monthly bookclub, a collaboration between libraries and the Laureate for Irish Fiction, Colm Tóibín. 

Over the course of 2023, the Laureate will meet a different library book club each month to discuss a novel by an Irish writer, highlighting outstanding Irish writing and celebrating readers and book clubs. Each event will be recorded and available to watch online or to listen to as a podcast. 

The selected titles include new work by contemporary Irish writers and works from the past that the Laureate wishes to bring to a new generation of readers. 

Readers everywhere can take part 

There are a few ways you can get involved. 

Libraries Ireland and the Arts Council have paired library book clubs with selected titles for 2023. These book clubs will have the first chance to hear the Laureate chat about the books, and will have an opportunity to take part in the discussion. 

Even if you’re not in one of the selected book clubs, you can still take part! You can watch or listen to a video and audio recording, which will be available on this page and on the Art of Reading web page on the last Thursday of each month

Each event will also be available as a podcast, which will be available from the Arts Council podcast channel at the end of each month.

March Book Club Pick

The March Art of Reading book club features Laureate for Irish Fiction Colm Tóibín in conversation with writer Philip Ó Ceallaigh about his collection of short stories, Trouble.

Colm Tóibín and Philip Ó Ceallaigh met online with members of Granard Library book club to discuss the book. 

“Philip Ó Ceallaigh is a brilliant, uncompromising and ambitious writer who has long been resident in Bucharest. Of his collection of stories ‘Trouble’, the Los Angeles Review of Books wrote: ‘Ó Ceallaigh writes with such immediacy, such confessional intensity, that when the narrator leans in close and says, “Look — there lies trouble,” it is impossible to look away.”

February Book Club Pick

The February Art of Reading book club features Laureate for Irish Fiction Colm Tóibín in conversation with writer Louise Kennedy about her book Trespasses.

The unforgettable protagonist of Louise Kennedy’s Trespasses is 24-year-old Cushla Lavery, a Catholic schoolteacher living in 1975 in a small town outside Belfast. The novel narrates the story of her love affair with an older, married, Protestant barrister with the same wit and eye for detail as are on display in her book of stories The End of the World is a Cul de Sac. - Colm Tóibín

Louise Kennedy grew up in Holywood, Co. Down. Her short story collection, The End of the World is a Cul de Sac (Bloomsbury 2021) won the John McGahern Prize. Her debut novel, Trespasses (Bloomsbury 2022) won Eason’s Novel of the Year at An Post Irish Book Awards, and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize and the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize. Before she started writing, she spent nearly thirty years working as a chef. She lives in Sligo.

January Book Club Pick

The January Art of Reading Book Club Pick is A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride.

In describing his idea for the Art of Reading Book Club series Colm Tóibín said:  “Our experience of reading became more intense and more essential during the lockdown. Although reading is mainly done in silence and when alone, it includes a sense of community, an idea of sharing. Readers want to talk about the books they like, to think about the internal workings of a novel or a story, and exchange ideas on books, all to enrich the experience of reading. Reading, as much as writing, is an art. It requires a creative response to the text. No books matters unless someone is reading it. The purpose of the Art of Reading Book Club is to deepen the idea of a community of readers and to recognize the vitality and excitement in the act of reading and thinking about books.”

Watch Laureate for Irish Fiction, Colm Tóibín, in conversation with Eimear McBride below