Got no social life and even less cash? Steven Balbirnie and Paul Fennessy rate the best that the library has to offer.

Only a Game? The Diary of a Professional Footballer

Only a Game is undoubtedly a good book which could even be considered a great one. It is a diary which was written with the intention of capturing the gritty essence of life as a professional footballer in the lower leagues. Eamon Dunphy subsequently encapsulates the highs and lows which most footballers experience, while chronicling his time spent at Millwall FC during the 1973/74 season.

The fact that events are written about in their immediate aftermath makes for compelling reading, bringing a sense of clarity, detail and (most importantly) impulsiveness to Dunphy’s entertaining mixture of hilarious anecdotes, self-deprecating match reports and intriguing personal insights – narrative attributes which would be nigh on impossible to adequately replicate were he to recall everything in hindsight.

Those familiar with Dunphy’s invariably provocative football punditry for RTÉ will surely allow themselves a wry smile upon reading the many opinions he elicits, as Only a Game reveals a man possessing of a flair for making outlandish statements, albeit in an incredibly articulate (at least for a humble footballer) fashion.

Therefore, although his football-related assessments are often fanciful in the extreme (for example, at the beginning of the season he is adamant that Millwall will gain promotion, only for the side to struggle badly), the mixture of passion, honesty and wit which imbues Dunphy’s writing has consolidated Only a Game’s reputation as one of the best books on sport ever written.

– Paul Fennessy

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror

Vampires have exploded in popularity in recent years and whether you love or hate the current direction they are taking, it is worth watching the original vampire film, Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror.

Directed by FW Murnau, this black-and-white silent film was released in Germany in 1922, but its influence has endured to the present day. Nosferatu is a loose adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which almost led to the film’s destruction when the author’s widow sued for copyright infringement. Thankfully, copies of this film survived. Otherwise, we would have lost one of the finest examples of early cinema.

The film’s plot is centred on an estate agent called Hutter, as he assists a Transylvanian by the name of Count Orlok in his efforts to relocate him to Hutter’s hometown. Hutter soon discovers however, that there is more to the Count than meets the eye.

Despite the lack of sound and the limitations on special effects, Nosferatu is a competent horror film, which is genuinely creepy. The sinister atmosphere of the film is largely due to an excellent performance by Max Schreck as Count Orlok. The portrayal of the Count as a repugnant monster is a welcome contrast to the overly romanticised vampires of today.

– Steven Balbirnie