Ciarán Hinds is a reader. Over the years, I’ve kept track of his books via the interviews he has given. He loves contemporary international fiction, especially by Irish authors, and short stories. He has good taste. I’ve never been disappointed by one of his recommendations. This is my “catalog” of his library–only counting his own film adaptations when there is evidence that he read the book. Each example comes with a citation of the interview in question. You can find many of these interviews on ciaranhinds.eu.
Atwood, Margaret. The Blind Assassin. “A World War II–era family drama turns into a story within a story, within a story — as well as a mystery, a thriller, and a tract on the politics of love, passion, and betrayal. It’s brilliantly written, sharp as a blade, and completely engrossing.” (6 Favorite Books list The Week, May 1, 2016)
Banville, John. The Eclipse, The Book of Evidence, The Sea.
-“Had you read The Sea before the film appeared on your radar?”
-Ciarán Hinds: “No, I hadn’t. I had read, I think, [John Banville’s] Eclipse, and I’d read The Book of Evidence, but I hadn’t read The Sea. So that’s what I did when Independent [production company] and Stephen Brown [director] got in touch with me. It was quite a while ago – 2009, I think. It took them that long to get the funding for it. They gave me an outline draft of the script and I decided I’d better read the book because there’s a lot of complexity in it.”
Barry, Sebastian. The Temporary Gentleman. (2014). May 15 BBC Ulster interview; audiobook reading. “Soul and sadness.” May 28 2021 The Stage interview: “I’ve gone very Irish in my exile and I’m reading a lot of Irish novelists [lists Sebastian Barry].”
Camus, Albert. L’Etranger (1942) “When I was young I read L’Etranger by Camus, and it made me aware of the strangeness of life.” (-“My Secret Life” The Independent 2010)
Chandler, Raymond. The Big Sleep (1939) The book is pictured in a photo of his dressing room for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. ciaranhinds.eu > theatre > Cat on a Hot Tin Roof > photos.
Doyle, Roddy. Two More Pints. “The author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and The Woman Who Walked into Doors imagines a concoction of conversations between two regulars in a Dublin bar. Each conversation has its own interior logic, which will leave you either bamboozled or snorting with joy. A little treasure that you can dip into from time to time to cheer you up.” (6 Favorite Books list The Week, May 1, 2016)
May 28 2021 The Stage interview: “I’ve gone very Irish in my exile and I’m reading a lot of Irish novelists…a bit of Roddy Doyle to cheer me up”
Enright, Anne. May 28, 2021 The Stage interview: “I’ve gone very Irish in my exile and I’m reading a lot of Irish novelists.. Anne Enright is brilliant.”
Friel, Brian. Essays, Diaries, Interviews. Edited by Christopher Murray (1999). When Mr. H. played Hugh in Friel’s play Translations at the National Theatre in London, I was able to chat with him for a few minutes. He pulled a book about Friel out of his bag. I think it was this one–a rare example of his nonfiction reading.
Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) “This book took me on an amazing mystery tour. I just remember an extraordinary array of characters in a place landlocked by jungle and that I didn’t know quite what was real and what was fantasy. He makes it seem like anything is possible.” (“My Six Best Books,” Express.co.uk, Jan 2010.)
Grahame, Kenneth. The Wind in the Willows (1908) “One from my childhood which remains very clear in my mind. Mole, Badger, Ratty and Toad are beautifully defined and very human – they all have their little peccadillos. I love the idea of four chums who, in the face of terrible odds, pull together and save the day, despite Toad being a complete plonker.” (“My Six Best Books,” Express.co.uk Jan 2010.)
Joyce, James. Dubliners (1914) “A deceptively simple but beautifully written collection of short stories depicting Irish middle-class life. The way people behave seems quite ordinary but slowly and delicately Joyce reveals everyone’s private anguish. It touches you to your core.” (“My Six Best Books,” Express.co.uk, Jan 2010.)
LaPlante, Lynda. Above Suspicion (2005)
TV.com: “This is the third Above Suspicion adaptation to make it to TV, but what first attracted you to the role?” Ciarán Hinds: “I haven’t done much television in recent years, but I was offered this role a couple of years back, and I was sent the book to read. I really liked it; it had a lot of energy, movement and I knew that I would get to work with the divine Kelly Reilly, and we’d worked together once before in the theatre.”
Martin, George R. R. Game of Thrones series. He has read a few of these in preparation for his role in the show.
McCann, Colum. Let the Great World Spin (2009)
-“What’s the last great book you read?”
-“Let the Great World Spin“
McGahern, John. May 28 2021 The Stage interview: “I’ve gone very Irish in my exile and I’m reading a lot of Irish novelists [lists McGahern].”
O’Connor, Joseph. Redemption Falls (2007). “This 1998 novel is a wonderfully imagined story set in a violent post–Civil War America peopled with extraordinary characters. It’s beautifully crafted, bleak, and operatic.” (6 Favorite Books list The Week, May 1, 2016)
“Set in the mountains of America’s North-West just after the civil war, this can be a very brutal book – it was a savage time. Everyone has a history and it’s not all good. Lost people are looking for salvation or a way forward, trying to rebuild their lives. Deftly written and brilliantly researched, it has a poetic soul.” (“My Six Best Books,” Express.co.uk, Jan 2010.)
Mr. H. is known to be a huge O’Connor fan and also performed The Thrill of it All as an audiobook.
May 28 2021 The Stage interview: “I’ve gone very Irish in my exile and I’m reading a lot of Irish novelists [lists Joseph O’Connor].”
Pennac, Daniel. The Fairy Gunmother (1987) “The first of an amazingly anarchic trilogy of thrillers about the chase to capture a murderer in a very multicultural area of Paris called Belleville. It’s riddled with eccentric characters, very inventive, poetic, suddenly very touching, then very funny… it has lots of colours. Liberating to read.” (“My Six Best Books,” Express.co.uk, Jan 2010.)
Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) “The Irish actor concedes that his co-star, Samantha Morton, has read Jane Eyre a couple of times. ‘She said I have to read it. I said, When I have time.’ But shortly after filming Ivanhoe for A&E, Hinds began work on Jane Eyre as Mr. Rochester. He did, though, read chapters around the scenes that had been adapted for the screenplay. He also read a novella about his character’s life in the West Indies before meeting Jane.” (“Eyre booking suits Ciarán Hinds” Daily News October 19, 1999.)
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997) He has seen the films, but only read one Harry Potter book. “I read the first one because I had a daughter who had not yet learnt to read. But she started asking me lots of why questions. So I gave up and said ‘you wait until you can read them for yourself’,” he confesses. (“Acting masterclass uses Hindsight,” Irishnews.com November 20, 2009)
Seth, Vikram. A Suitable Boy. “This book sat on my shelf for 20 years before I recently plucked up the courage to make inroads into its 1,400 pages. A few weeks later I was trying to ration my reading, as I never wanted it to end. Set a few years after India won independence from Britain, it is a most beautiful mosaic of interconnected families, Hindu and Muslim, arranged around the tale of a mother trying to find the right husband for her daughter. Fascinating, often very funny, and deeply touching.” (6 Favorite Books list The Week, May 1, 2016)
Shreve, Anita. The Last Time They Met. (2001) He mentions it in a Graham Norton audio interview. He probably also read The Weight of Water, having starred in the film adaptation. http://www.ciaranhinds.eu/sounds.htm
Trevor, William. Selected Stories. “I am entranced by these short stories and revisit them from time to time. Trevor never lays out where his stories are going — they are so deft and delicate that they just unfold, as he gently uncovers the wounded hearts of those who struggle with the shame and embarrassment of just being human.” (6 Favorite Books list The Week, May 1, 2016)
Unknown. Book about UFOs or aliens. “Hinds is mum on his own beliefs, but he tells us that the movie’s director [Race to Witch Mountain] is a UFO aficionado. ‘He did give me a book to read which was great. For him it’s about the sense that the possibilities are endless,’ the actor says.” “Ciarán speaks about Race to Witch Mountain,” http://www.ciaranhinds.eu/interviews.php
Updike, John. Brazil (1994) “I was consumed by this story about the remarkable journey of a boy and girl from opposite sides of the tracks whose desire for each other is enormous. They sacrifice so much for love and survive all kinds of harrowing events. Amazing.” (“My Six Best Books,” Express.co.uk, Jan 2010.)
Vargas Llosa, Mario. The Way to Paradise (2003). “Vargas Llosa’s 2003 novel — based, evidently, on highly meticulous research — connects Flora Tristán, an early-19th-century socialist writer and feminist, with her grandson, the great French post-impressionist Paul Gauguin. Two extraordinary people, two extraordinary lives.” (6 Favorite Books list The Week, May 1, 2016)
Williams, Tennessee. Unidentified short stories. “That’s why Tennessee Williams was a great writer. Poetically, dramatically, it was fantastic stuff. And with the landscape, the losers in life populating it. His short stories have got rhythm, something musical about them.” https://www.theatermania.com/new-york-city-theater/news/cat-on-a-hot-tin-roof-and-game-of-thrones-star-cia_64704.html