TBR list

Sample Sunday: From New York to Ireland

This week’s candidates for Sample Sunday are all non fiction and take us from the buzz of New York to the busy life of a family doctor in Ireland.

An Apple of My Eye  by Helene Hanff

Published in 1976 this is a New York guide book like no other. Helene Hanff realized she had not been to many of the city’s main tourist attractions: the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, the World Trade Centre. She and her mate Patsy decided to become tourists and set off on a trip around the museums, streets and districts that make up the city. Hanff weaves into her narrative, historical events and tidbits about some of New York’s most notorious personalities.

There’s no doubt about whether this one is staying on my shelves. I love Hanff’s writing and her unadorned take on the world as evidenced in 84 Charing Cross Road.

The Verdict: Keep

The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things by Paula Byrne

In the absence of a large body of information about Jane Austen’s life. Paula Byrne takes an unusual approach. She examines Austen’s life and work through 18 objects connected to her; a topaz cross that was a gift from her seafaring brother; an oil painting and a bathing machine. Reviews have praised Byrne for her ability to tease out fresh insights from these objects not only about Austen’s character, but the context in which she wrote.

I’m tempted to keep this; it could be a good book to dip into the next time I’m up for an Austen re-read. My only reservation is that the text is very small.

The Verdict: Keep

Are You the F**ing Doctor? by Dr Liam Farrel

Farrel has multiple identities: family doctor, musician, anarchist and recovering morphine addict. In 1994 he began writing for the British Medical Journal, the beginning of a career as an award winning columnist. This book contains a selection of his columns, blogs and short stories.

It’s an ARC passed on to me by Susan who blogs at Booksaremycwtches. She describes it as is a “wonderful book, that shines a light on the highs and lows of life, as a family doctor on the Irish Border.  Funny, thought provoking and sad on times..”

I’ve read a few medical memoirs in recent years and every one of them has been insightful (you can’t call them enjoyable). I have a strong feeling this could be the same. The few pages I sampled were unexpected because they deal openly with the way in which he became addicted to morphine. We know from various government reports that doctors, when under stress, are just as prone as the rest of us to smoking, drinking and over-eating, but we don’t often get to hear this from the horse’s mouth as it were.

The Verdict: Keep

All three are remaining on my TBR shelves which is not usually the case when I do one of these Sample Sunday exercises. If you’ve read any of these books what do you think of my decisions?


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

6 thoughts on “Sample Sunday: From New York to Ireland

  • I’m a big fan of being a tourist in your own city – suspect we’ll all become good at that out of necessity!

  • I really enjoyed Apple of my Eye. Helene Hanff writes brilliantly and with great wit.

  • The Hanff sounds great – the kind of guidebook you’d like to take with you on a trip to NY


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