I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

The Book

What’s happened to Scottish Labour?

British Labour’s seats in Scotland were always an important part of its majority - when it got a majority. Last week it recorded its lowest percentage vote there since 1910. Why? Because it behaved as if it owned its seats and failed to listen to what its working class voters told it they wanted.

Wisdom Builds Itself a House

Sitting at a laptop, for all that our curious fingers flit across cyberspace, confines us to our private space. We need the opportunity to wander and discover and be let loose among the materiality of paper and physical buildings. Peter Sirr writes on libraries, theft and the clutches of Hades.

Not reading but yawning

Well of course we all love books. There’s absolutely nothing like a book. Nothing so gripping. Nothing so enthralling. So why do I sometimes fall asleep in my armchair?

Diana Athill 1917-2019

Diana Athill was a publisher’s editor who worked with some of the most distinguished novelists of the twentieth century. She found a measure of fame at the end of her life through her wonderfully lucid and engaging memoirs, while she also fascinated with her frankness about her personal life.

First Impressions

It is not unusual today to pick up a book that is written by an Italian, published in London and printed in China. But the business of printing from the outset was no respecter of national boundaries and indeed had many globalist aspects as early as the sixteenth century.

Robert Silvers: 1929-2017

The longtime editor of 'The New York Review of Books', who died this week, still working at 87, was simply the best in the business, a business that it is somewhat surprising can still be carried out in the 21st century.

Right to the Bitter End

Asked what books he read, Donald Trump replied that he read chapters - chapters of what is not recorded. But should we feel guilty if we don't finish every book we start?

Cakes, Ale and Learning

Lord Byron, exiled after a welter of scandals in England, found Venice a good place to pursue his normal interests of debauchery and adultery. But you can't hack that all the time without taking a rest.

The Pleasures of Destruction

Book-burning is a recurring element in our cultural history, though mostly the authorities have found censorship and regulation more effective. For the people, however, a good show is always popular and great satisfaction can often be derived from the destruction of symbolic goods.

Women in the Library

Like teaching, librarianship is a profession that has long been associated with women and offered them employment opportunities when many other paths were closed off. And occasionally too they were cherished.

Yellow socks and guacamole

Is an apparent lack of intellectual or cultural sophistication an essentially English trait? It is certainly one that can bear fruit for the populist politician.

Death and Life of the Bookshop

Adam Gopnik laments the recent closure of a famous Parisian bookshop. Elsewhere, however, la lutte continue, the fight continues.