Jonathan Bardon: many authors, while (rightly) concerned to be scholarly, do not seem to put themselves out to be lucid, lively and just plain readable

Historian Jonathan Bardon’s works include A History of Ulster (Blackstaff Press, 1992); Belfast: A Century (Blackstaff Press, 1999); Beyond the Stu(...)

‘Reading is a choice. Not only in the obvious sense of taking up a book, or taking up one book and not another, but when reading the book at hand. It’s assessing the facts of the case (even the fictional ones) and seeing some as more relevant to a satisfying reading than others.’

George O’Brien is Professor Emeritus of English at Georgetown University, Washington DC. He is author of three memoirs, The Village of Longing, Dan(...)

Romola Garai as Gwendolen Harleth in a 2002 BBC TV production of  Daniel Deronda, based on the novel by George Eliot. Diana Souhami’s Gwendolen: A Novel takes up her tale. Photograph: BBC

Gwendolen Harleth, at the start of George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, is beautiful, confident, ambitious and witty. She is also narcissistic and impulsive(...)

Author Lean Cullinan. Photograph: Alan Betson

Léan Cullinan has been writing since childhood and is a graduate of the MPhil in Creative Writing at Trinity College Dublin. Her debut novel is The(...)

Holiday ereading: Kindles and other devices are easy to hold on the beach, to pack and to travel with. Photograph: Eyeswideopen/Getty

The sun is out, the cream is on, the laptop is locked and a new book lies waiting. This is the stuff that summer holidays are made of, but the reality(...)

Sheila Agnew: I can’t write fiction at a desk. Whenever I try to do so, all creative thought abandons me

Sheila Agnew’s first book for children (aged 9+), Evie Brooks is Marooned in Manhattan, was published in Ireland and Britain in March. The second b(...)

Anakana Schofield: Every book I read seems to change the way I think about fiction. Sometimes they drive me to despair by indicating how much more we need to demand from our fiction and other times they send me into orbit with the possibilities they reveal

Anakana Schofield is the author of the award-winng debut novel, Malarky, which is out now in paperback, a funny and moving tale of sexual shenaniga(...)

Humane: George Eliot. Photograph: London Stereoscopic Company/Getty

There are books you grow up with and books you grow into. For the writer Rebecca Mead, Middlemarch was one of the former(...)

1. “Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.” George Eliot, Middlemarch (1871) 2. “All happy f(...)

Author Elizabeth Gilbert at a film premiere in London. Photograph:  Chris Jackson/Getty Images

“Successful writers who complain about their lot are a little detached from the concept of what a horrible job really is.” So said Elizabeth Gilbert (...)