Home burning books Burning Books…on Paper— Sarah-Anne Buckley

Burning Books…on Paper— Sarah-Anne Buckley


In the companion series to our popular podcast, Burning Books, Sarah-Anne Buckley tells Ruth McKee which books she would save if her house was on fire. 

Dr. Sarah-Anne Buckley is co-author of the best-selling Old Ireland in Colour 2, out now with Merrion Press.

If your house was on fire, what books would you save from the flames?

A book from your early days?

I read as much as I could when I was younger, Enid Blyton is my earliest memory of reading a series on my own, torch on at night so I wouldn’t wake my sister (and I was meant to be asleep!).

But I also have lovely memories of going to the local library in Cobh and just thinking it was so amazing we could pick any 2 books from our section. Nothing was as good as Twas the Night Before Christmas being read to us on Christmas Eve. 

A book you return to over the years?

Are You Somebody, by Nuala O Faolain (New Island).

We have so many amazing Irish female authors, I have needed their humour, empathy and at times self-deprecation over the years. 

The right book at the right time?

As You Were, by Elaine Feeney (Harvill Secker).

As a woman in my 30s, with all the complications of life, family, being a woman and work, and add in a pandemic: necessary reading.

A book that had a big impression?

Flowers in the Attic, by Virginia Andrews (Harper Collins).

When I was 15, I also found Flowers in the Attic on a chair in an airport and I remember being so affected by it—I’ve never forgotten reading it. 

A book that makes you laugh? 

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson, and anything by Maeve Binchy or Roddy Doyle. 

A book you associate with a particular life event

I Found my Tribe, by Ruth Fitzmaurice (Vintage)

I have written about my experience of recurrent miscarriage in the past, but I remember reading I Found my Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice around that time and I had started sea swimming and it gave me comfort. 

Your own work that you would save or leave to burn

I would probably leave the current draft of an article I’m writing in the flames!

A book you are reading now

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones (Headline)

I just read Sally Rooney’s new novel and loved it. Am currently reading How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones.

You can save one non-book item: what is it? 

Item wise, it has to be the glasses as, the older I get, I’m pretty sure the books are pointless without them.

Previously on Burning Books…on Paper, poet Annemarie Ní Churreáin. Listen to our popular podcast Burning Books where our latest guest is highly acclaimed author Donal Ryan.