The Winter of Listening

Today is my friend’s birthday. I’ve learned a lot from them over the years and this reading of The Winter of Listening by David Whyte is for them. 

Breithlá shona duit, mo chara


What Are You Reading?

Day 78 of #100Daychallenge

I have too many books on the go at once. I do. At the moment there’s six. The only reason I can keep track is using Goodreads. I start books that I think I should read and then I see books that I want to read next. At the moment I’m reading a book on the history of Cork, because I saw it advertised and I went on a guided history walk by the author. I’m reading a Terry Pratchett novel (Book 3 of the Tiffany Aching series) because I want to read his last book. I started a book on vegetarianism and will return to it at some point. I’m reading a version of the Mabinogion, the stories from medieval Welsh legend. I’m reading a book on dealing with jealousy. And I am also reading Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, because because. I’ll work through them. I always do.


A Reader of Books

As long as I can remember, I’ve been a lover of books. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t read.

I can remember discovering Enid Blyton books on the shelf of the small school library when I was about 7. I read The Folk of the Faraway Tree. We had teachers at school that read to us.

I remember the power of stories.

Mr Twomey was our teacher for 3rd and 4th class (roughly ages 8 and 9.). He read us The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. He then read us The Magician’s Nephew. I can still remember the current of elation and excitement that ran around the classroom when the Lion appeared, singing the world into existence.

I learned to identify myself as a reader in those few early years. Mr Twomey had everyone check a book out of the library. When you returned it, you had to check another one out. I remember being one of the few students who had to write a short description of each book because I’d read it quickly.

I am doing some voluntary work just now as a tutor, coaching adults who have difficulties in reading and writing. There has never been a time in my life that I wasn’t in the middle of a book. Sometimes I would read nothing but fantasy and science fiction for years on end. Sometimes philosophy or history or personal development or spirituality. I cannot imagine my life without it. I find it difficult to imagine life for the people I work with.

When I was young, my father used to tell me how when he was younger he would continue reading, with a torch, under the covers, after lights out. Around the same time I was reading so much at school, my dad took me to the join the library in the nearby town. I remember the silence of it and the intensity of the presence of books. My dad is still a reader of books although now they’re usually on Kindle. My niece is a reader and that gives me great pleasure. I look at her and think ‘you’re like me’.

I was lucky. My love of reading was supported by my family who value it highly as an activity. There were always books to read. Christmas presents were usually books. Others are not always so lucky.

Have you always been a reader of books?

I sent this picture to my niece on Sunday with the caption ‘my little piece of heaven’.


Readability and Kindle

I love my Kindle.  I love reading on my Kindle.

I also regularly find information online that I want to read. But you know how it is online. It’s hard to stay focused on one task never mind reading a full article online.  Here’s where sites like Readability come in.To use the site, go to and Register.

Once you’re signed up, go to your Kindle page on Amazon. Take note of your send-to-kindle email address.


Now go back to your Readability account. Navigate to your Kindle settings.


Enter your Kindle email address and select the time you want your digest to be sent to you. I have mine set for 9pm.

Finally, navigate to your Account Settings on Readability and make sure you have archive articles automatically ticked.



I mostly use Safari as my web browser. I have installed the Readability extension but the only button I have on my toolbar is Read Later.



You can download the extension for your browser at

Enjoy reading.

The Graveyard Book

The last book I read that “bit and stung” me was The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

ImageI read it on kindle last week.  It was one of those books I had bought on the Kindle Daily Deal and stored away to be read sometime in the future. I had read only one of Neil Gaiman’s books before and that was the strange and beautiful Neverwhere.  But it didn’t bite me to continue reading like this one did.  The writing is precise and sharp. The story is quirky and intriguing.

Every chapter is an episode in the life of a young boy called Bod (short for Nobody) who grows up in a graveyard after the brutal murder of his entire family.  The characters, both living, dead and otherwise, are complex and intriguing.

I will read it again.

You should read it now.


In the last few months I have done a lot of thinking about my own introversion. It started when I watched Susan Cain’s wonderful TED talk. I read a few book’s on the subject (including Susan’s) but I’ve also been remembering my story.

I remember going with my Dad to a community event in a pub and being sat in the children’s section. I remember being so overwhelmed by all these new kids I didn’t know that I found my Dad and burst into tears.

One of my earliest memories is of walking alone around my primary school watching the birds and thinking about what year it was and what that meant. I must have been 4 or 5 years old. I have a lot of memories of being alone and thinking. Those are good memories.

I have only ever like socialising in small groups. I did and still do feel very out of my depth in large social scenes. I’m happiest on my own, with a book or having one of those ‘deep and meaningful’ conversations with a friend or two.

Anywhere I have worked, I have preferred to spend my lunch breaks alone. I don’t think I ever really understood why. It just seemed like the healthiest and happiest thing to do. Even as a child, long walks walking the family dog were essential to me.

A part of me has often wondered if this is a flaw of mine. Why couldn’t I be more of a party animal or enjoy being part of the gang. It’s a relief to know that it’s simply not what I am.  According to Susan, one third to half of all people are introverted. I have a preference for using adjectives rather than nouns. My noun of choice in all situations is person/people. Introverted people tend to have a lower tolerance for stimulation. They/we also recharge in solitude. We prefer to connect with others through ideas. We live life from the inside out. Our personal/interior lives are where it’s happening for us. We think long before we speak. If you can get us to the party, we’re usually having a deep conversation somewhere or hanging out in the edges.

In her book Introver Power, Laurie Helgoe talks about how when it comes to socialising, extroverts are like solar panels: they are constantly energised by it. Introverts, on the other hand, are rechargeable batteries: we are drained by it and need time out to bring our energy levels back up.

What I am left with, or working with now, is the sense or challenge that my introversion is not something for me to compensate for. Rather, it is the side of me that I should most nurture. When I give myself the time to be alone, to write, to dream, to journal and create, I am at my best. The challenge for me is to take that creativity that comes from solitude and bring it to the world.


Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
Helgoe, Laurie. Introver Power: Why Your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength

Watch Susan Cain’s TED talk ‘The Power of Introverts’