Books — Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hessian

I love books. No surprise there. And some of my favorite conversations  are about books, and sharing the books I love with friends. So I thought I’d start sharing some of them here. I won’t be reviewing them (since I’m really not a qualified literary critic, and I feel one should be to properly review a book), but I will happily share some quotes. So, here we go, first up, Ronan Hession’s Leonard and Hungry Paul. 

“A disarming novel that asks a simple question: Can gentle people change the world?   In this charming and truly unique debut, popular Irish musician Ronan Hession tells the story of two single, thirty-something men who still live with their parents and who are . . . nice.”

Two friends in Ireland, Andrew Lane and Madeleine D’Arcy (Madeleine is an amazing writer, so you should definitely buy her new collection of short stories, LIBERTY TERRACE), recommended it to me. I am forever grateful.

The novel is a love song to the richness a quiet, gentle life can offer, and it’s often really funny. Two 30ish men, both kind, and more interested in board games and encyclopedias than social media and extreme sports. The book was, for me, about relationships and the power of self-containment, the joys of life lived deeply in the small things of life, away from the glare of the public, with all the drama and ego that involves.

No car chases. No murders. No divorces. No plagues. (Thank God!). And it is a testament to Hession’s talent that even without those things, I stayed up way past my bedtime turning pages.

I love this book. Some quotes:

“The thing is, as a child the world looked huge, intimidatingly so. School looked big. Adults looked big. The future looked big. But I am starting to feel that over time I have retreated into a smaller world. I see people rushing around and I wonder—where are they going to? Who are they meeting? Their lives are so full. I’ve been trying to remember if my life was ever like that.”

“Do you recall how to play this? I’m starting to remember why we haven’t taken this out in so long. I think the last time we tried this we gave up and ended up playing something less complicated like Risk, which is saying something.’ Hungry Paul lived on a knife edge between a passion for board games and an aversion to instruction booklets.”

“What matters is what a person is prepared to reveal to you in real time in the real world, when there is no soundtrack in the background and no games going on.”

“I think that I need to be a little immersive with regard to the cultural context for judo if I want to avoid getting beaten up by sixteen-year-old girls again next week. I think there was something important missing at my first lesson. I mean apart from things like balance and motor skills, I felt I was missing something of the essence of the judoka,’ said Hungry Paul.”

“This is my home. I live here. They are my family. I love them. I love you too…This isn’t a business relationship. It’s not a transaction. I spend my days with them. I am here whenever Mum wants a little company. I help her with stuff and we chat about this and that. I sit with Dad when he’s reading, and we watch TV together and talk about it afterwards. Nobody keeps count and nobody keeps score”.

It should be noted that we are never told why Hungry Paul is so named. One of life’s wee mysteries. I’m fine with that. Enjoy. And if you read it, leave a comment and let me know if you liked it.


  1. BuriedInPrint on October 29, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    I couldn’t help but want Leonard and Hungry Paul to play more board games.
    I know, I know. It would have been a more boring story if they had.
    Like writing a book about people who read a lot, I suppose?

    • Lauren B. Davis on October 29, 2021 at 6:05 pm

      More board games is never a bad idea!

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