handiwork is a contemplative short narrative from acclaimed writer and visual artist Sara Baume. It charts her daily process of making and writing, exploring what it is to create and to live as an artist. handiwork offers observations at once gentle and devastating, on the nature of art, grief and a life lived well. Baume’s first work of non-fiction offers readers a glimpse into the process of one Ireland’s best writers, written with the keen eye for nature and beauty as well as the extraordinary versatility Sara Baume’s fans have come to expect.
Q. Do you have a favourite smart thinking book (and why that book)?
Minor Monuments by Ian Maleney. This is a collection of connected essays that was published last year by Tramp Press. Maleney writes variously about his obsession with found sounds, his family history, Alzheimer’s disease, artificial intelligence, Brian Eno, Seamus Heaney and the decline of rural Ireland. He folds all of his subjects together very tenderly, but the book is also full of philosophy. Maleney contemplates the future as skilfully as he laments the past.
Set around a small family farm on the edge of a bog, a few miles from the river Shannon, Minor Monuments is a collection of essays unfolding from the landscape of the Irish midlands. Taking in the physical and philosophical power of sound and music, and the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on a family, Ian Maleney questions the nature of home, memory, and the complex nature of belonging.
A thought-provoking and quietly devastating meditation on family and loss. With echoes of Tim Robinson, Tara Westover and John Berger, Minor Monuments is a beautiful and unique literary experience.
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Q. What's the most recent smart thinking book you've read (and how would you rate it)?
I’m going to cheat a bit and instead mention the book I’m most looking forward to reading this summer: Notes from an Apocalypse by Mark O'Connell. This was published last month by Granta and is subtitled A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back, and so perhaps 'looking forward to...' isn’t quite the right way of putting it, especially at this particular moment in time! But I have the utmost confidence in O'Connell's exhaustive research and excellent writing. His last book, the award-winning To Be a Machine, somehow managed to be jaunty, wise and terrifying all at once.
Notes from an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back
Review From Book Depository:
From the prize-winning author of To Be a Machine - meet the men and women preparing for the end of the world
In the remote mountains of Scotland, in high-tech bunkers in South Dakota and in the lush valleys of New Zealand, small groups of determined men and women are getting ready.
They are environmentalists who fear the ravages of climate change; billionaire entrepreneurs dreaming of life on Mars; and right-wing conspiracists yearning for a lost American idyll. One thing unites them: their certainty that we are only years away from the end of civilization as we know it.
Not unconcerned himself by the possibility of the end of days, Mark O'Connell set out to meet them.
M. Hart,Sue Tarsky, Ingrid Selberg, Su Swallow, Ruth Thomson
This book contains six of Usborne Publishing's highly successful Nature Trail Books: Birdwatching, Wild Flowers, Seashore Life, Insectwatching, Ponds and Streams and Trees and Leaves. Nature Trail books are practical guides about nature and are packed with things to do, general information and full colour pictures to help the reader identify over a thousand species.
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Q. Do you prefer reading on paper, Kindle or listening to an audiobook?
I don’t own a Kindle and though I listen to a lot of radio and podcasts, come to think of it I’ve never downloaded a single audio book. Apparently I only ever read books in the form that God intended them: paper. My own new book, handiwork, actually expands and reflects on this a bit; my life-long attachment to physical objects.
Q. Do you have a favourite bookshop (and why that shop)?
The Bantry Bookshop in West Cork on the south coast of Ireland. Bantry is a seaside town close to where I live. Every July a wonderful week of events takes place there as part of the West Cork Literary Festival. Authors come from all over the country, and all over the world, and everybody congregates around the bookshop, and the pub, of course!
Massive thanks to fellow Corkonian Sara for answering my questions and for such diverse and interesting recommendations! Please don't forget to check out her new book Handiwork.
Image Copyrights: Tramp Press (Handiwork, Minor Monuments), Granta Books (Notes from an Apocalypse), Usborne Publishing Ltd (Nature Trail Omnibus)
Smart Thinking Books was born to shine a spotlight on books that can fuel your mind! Many smart thinking books have changed the way I look at the world for the better, so I started this site to help spread the word. - Daryl Feehely
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