Ketil Bjornstad: ‘Sometimes I also rent a hotel room to write in peace.’ Photograph: Benedicte Ugland/ketilbjornstad.com

Ketil Bjornstad is a Norwegian pianist, composer and author. ketilbjornstad.comWhat was the first book to make an impression on you?It must have been (...)

Discover the secret history of your college: Trinity has secret wine cellars and of course, the Trinity ball. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Remember the first day in secondary school? Not to freak you out or anything, but college is a lot scarier. Big campuses like UCD and UCC – a world aw(...)

The Metamorphosis Franz Kafka (1915) Gregor Samsa’s unusual transformation from human to giant bug didn’t go down well with the Fascists and was ba(...)

Martin Amis: “Shaping art from horror and reality.” Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images

A man admits to watching a woman and her two daughters, all three wearing white dresses and cream-coloured straw hats, as they proceed along a tree-li(...)

Whether it’s Miami, the Med or, eh, the banks of the Spree, what books should you pack to read your way into the heart of  your destination?

United States Stoner, John Williams (1965) Reissued in 2003 with an introduction from John McGahern, this forgotten classic relates the exp(...)

Patrick McCabe, Kevin Barry, and Ross Raisin. Photographs: Cyril Byrne, Matt Kavanagh, Angus Muir

Asking someone to name their favourite author or book is one of those cruel, impossible-to- choose questions. For some, picking a literary characte(...)

Joseph O’Connor: his advice  to an aspiring author? “Read Orwell. And get a job.” Photograph: Frank Miller

Joseph O’Connor is the author of eight novels: Cowboys and Indians (short-listed for the Whitbread Prize), Desperadoes, The Salesman, Inishowen, St(...)

Randall Truman got his 15 minutes of fame in early 1980. A long-term resident on Mount St. Helens in Washington State, Truman (83) scoffed when author(...)

 Know your art from your elbow: graffiti by Sums at this year’s Bridge Jam street-art festival in Drogheda, Co Louth

You can coast through school on a diet of whatever you’re told and what your friends like, but college is different. Now you have to be a cultural (...)

Photograph: Julien Chatelin/Rex Features

On a cold recent day the ocean at Bridgehampton is vast and grey; the waves crash, as in James Salter’s story My L(...)