Ken O'Sullivan, author of Stories from the Deep: Reflections on a Life Exploring Ireland's North Atlantic Waters does a great job in answering my questions and recommends some great books! Before diving into the interview, please check out Ken's book Stories from the Deep:
Q. Do you have a favourite smart thinking book (and why that book)?
Anything by Barry Lopez, but especially Arctic Dreams ... he uniquely combines a deep connection to the natural world and native peoples with a visceral interpretation of his subjects which appears to be based in some cases on decades of research and ensuing thoughtfulness.
Q. What's the most recent smart thinking book you've read (and how would you rate it)?
I’m reading Horizon by the same author, Barry Lopez. It’s a very concentrated read, but manages to seamlessly move through stories of exploration, interrogating the explorer’s ideals and motivation and a consequent deconstruction of colonialism and it’s 'ideals', it even manages to traverse a path through all of this into contemporary populism.
Lopez’s knowledge of his subject, brings vivid clarity to his articulation, and it’s one of those reads where you say to yourself, if everyone could read this the world would be a better place ... but that’s unlikely.
I’m also reading The Mystic Warriors of the Plains by Thomas E. Mails, a fascinating book about native American peoples, there’s so much I never knew about the world.
Q. Do you have a favourite childhood book?
You know I didn’t read much as a child, but we had a teacher in 4th class who used to sometimes read Walter Macken to us on rainy afternoons. These were the days of 45 kids in every class, but we were spellbound, and almost afraid to breathe in case you’d miss something.
There was this one kid I knew, now things weren’t great at home for him and far worse at school, but I remember him pleading with the teacher to read and then he’d be up at the front of the class taking everything in, oohing and aahing at all the stories’ twists. I found it deeply upsetting when some years later he died a homeless man on the streets still only in his 20s with substance abuse issues. That one teacher and Walter Macken were possibly the only escape he had in his early life.
Q. Do you prefer reading on paper, Kindle or listening to an audiobook?
Always paper, but I must try some audio books. There can be a magic to hearing a story unfold, and I’ve always found that poetry can be best absorbed as an aural form.
Q. Do you have a favourite bookshop (and why that shop)?
Lahinch bookshop, for a small shop they keep a real bric a brac selection of books and there’s such a lovely ambience, a mix of Bohemian surfer culture with holiday makers searching for a dreamy escapist novel.
Image Copyrights: Stories From The Deep (Gill), Vintage Publishing (Arctic Dreams, Horizon), Marlowe & Co (The Mystic Warriors of the Plains), Pan Macmillan (Flight Of The Doves)