literary fiction is good for you

“…after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence — skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking. The researchers say the reason is that literary fiction often leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity.”

To read more of Pam Belluck’s article, visit the NY Times.

the castle

from bu.edu/castle

Last night I gave a reading at Boston University at The Castle with 8 of the other Global Fellows.  I was nervous, reading in front of so many people, but I think I did well.  I read the first few pages of a short story in progress that takes place in Ireland called “The Roses”.  It was amazing to hear about the other fellows’ travels to places like Kenya, Bhutan, Sarajevo, Cuba, the Iberian Peninsula, and Lithuania.  I wish we could see each other more often.  You can read about their experiences here.

my own Irish brown bread

After falling in love with Irish brown bread in August, I decided to try to make my own.  I found a recipe on the New York Times website.  As they recommended, I ordered extra coarse wholemeal flour from Food Ireland.  The rest of the ingredients were pretty basic.  I did have to pick up some wheat germ and oat bran from Whole Foods.

The dry ingredients, mixed.

The finished product.  The crust was perhaps a bit too hard, so next time I’ll take it out of the oven 5 minutes earlier.

I couldn’t resist picking up a few more goodies from Food Ireland.  Strawberry jam and Irish tea.  Yum.

roadtrip summary

When I set out from Dublin, I didn’t have a detailed plan regarding where I would go.  I only knew there was an arts festival in Kilkenny that I wanted to check out, and that I wanted to see Galway.  This is where I ended up:

Glasnevin, County Dublin
Dublin, County Dublin
Kilkenny, County Kilkenny
Kells, County Kilkenny
Inistioge, County Kilkenny
Cashel, County Tipperary
Cahir, County Tipperary
Ennis, County Clare
Doolin, County Clare
Inisheer (Aran Islands), County Galway
Carron, County Clare
Galway, County Galway
Salt Hill, County Galway
Spiddle, County Galway (Connemara)
Carna, County Galway (Connemara)
Roundstone, County Galway (Connemara)
Clifden, County Galway (Connemara)
Leenane, County Galway
Westport, County Mayo
Keel (Achill Island), County Mayo
Belmullet, County Mayo
Aghlearn (Mullet Peninsula), County Mayo
Ballycastle, County Mayo
Ballina, County Mayo
Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim
Kells, County Meath
Slane, County Meath

ancient sites

poulnabrone dolmen
ceide fields

This is probably the most beautiful view I experienced in Ireland.  Located at the northern shore of County Mayo, Ceide Fields is an archeological site where a civilization once thrived thousands of years ago.  Evidence of dwellings and stone walls enclosing what they think were fields for grazing animals were found by a farmer deep in the bog.  That tiny pyramid in the distance is the interpretative center.  Oddly, for a good twenty minutes I was the only person walking around on the boardwalk – everyone stayed in the building to watch a movie and look at the displays.  They were too lazy for this, the best part by far.  Just beyond view are high sea cliffs, and behind where I was standing rolling fields with sheep grazing.  It was absolutely spectacular.

newgrange

Being a bit claustrophobic, I was worried about going into this tomb or temple, they aren’t sure which.  So I made sure I was the last one on the tour in so I could hurry out if the panic started.  But I was fine, despite the very narrow entrance and low ceiling.  Inside is a chamber where, once per year on the winter solstice, the sun is positioned perfectly to bathe the dark interior in light.