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The essential guide to the bestselling author’s Christmas books

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As a kid, books were one of my favorite things to receive as a Christmas present.

After eating our turkey and ham in Clonakilty, my family drove Over Home, to my grandparents’ farm in Aherla.

The fire was blazing in the living room, my grandfather sucking on Lemons candy while watching the movie RTÉ had chosen as a festive offering, and I would lie down on the carpet, turning the pages of my new book with sticky fingers at the Clementine.

I am always grateful to my mother for the time and care she devoted to choosing these novels; there is no better gift you can give a child.

Scratch that off – there is no better gift you can give someone than a book that will capture their imagination.

This is why, once again, I offer you a guide to buying books.

(The usual disclaimer applies – I only recommend books I’ve read this year, so if you’re looking for the memoir of your favorite sports star, I’m probably not your wife!)

Intermediate level (8-12 years old)

Julia and the shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston is a triumph – beautiful, true, immersive.

If your child is older in this age group, anything written by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald is a winner. His latest book, All The Money In The World, is imbued with his compassion and kindness.

Caroline O’Donoghue: YA fiction hits the mark for fans of tarot and the occult

Young adult

Reputation by Lex Croucher, it’s like Bridgerton meets Gossip Girl through Jane Austen. It’s a total explosion.

The excellent All our hidden gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue is the perfect choice for any teenager with an interest in the occult.

If you have a romantic in the house, A single thread of moonlight by Laura Wood will hit the spot – think Cinderella with a twist.

Astonished by Jessie Burton would make a wonderful gift. The writing is beautiful, the story heartbreaking relevance and the illustrations are sublime.

For older teens I would recommend Snowflake by Louise Nealon. The plot of a young woman moving to Dublin to study English at Trinity might sound like Sally Rooney, but Nealon is her own writer.

Another novel set in college is I never saw myself coming by Vera Kurian. This is a group of psychopaths receiving free education if they participate in a psychology study; it is impossible to pose.

Emma Dabiri: wrote the book on how to dismantle racism
Emma Dabiri: wrote the book on how to dismantle racism

Non-fiction

I’m biased, I know, but A state of emergency: the story of the Covid crisis in Ireland by Richard Chambers is a must read. Gossip and moving in equal parts, it reads like a thriller.

Corpsing: My Body and Other Horror Shows is a superb collection of essays by Sophie White, dealing with addiction, motherhood and grief. I loved it.

The transgender issue by Shon Faye is a compelling analysis of the trans rights ‘debate’, and What white people can do next Emma Dabiri is an invigorating and lucid guide on how to dismantle racism.

I also really appreciated The season by Kristen Richardson, which traces the history of beginner balls on both sides of the Atlantic.

Crime / Thrillers

Watch her fall Erin Kelly is a twisty psychological thriller set in a ballet company; shades of Black Swan.

56 days by Catherine Ryan Howard has been a smash hit this year and for good reason – it’s exceptionally good.

Magpie Elizabeth Day was one of my favorite novels of 2021; I gasped out loud at the twist.

Girl A Abigail Dean talks about “the girl who ran away” from her parents’ House of Horrors. It’s a captivating and nuanced look at trauma and what we do to survive.

The Aislings, Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen: Bringing Everyone's Favorite Country Girl to Life
The Aislings, Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen: Bringing Everyone’s Favorite Country Girl to Life

Sure Winners

These books will satisfy even the most picky of readers.

For fans of commercial fiction, the Aisling Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen’s books are always popular with audiences.

The last opus of the series, Aisling and the city, is wonderful.

If you are buying for literary fiction fans, Sorrow and happiness by Meg Mason is a knockout. An unnamed mental illness and a troubled marriage are both rendered by Mason with devastating honesty and a laughing wit.

Tall Irish Women

Yes, it deserves its own category.

The rules of the Apocalypse by Lisa McInerney was an utterly brilliant end to a brilliant trilogy.

Deirdre Sullivan’s first collection of short stories, I want to know that everything will be alright, recalled Angela Carter and Roald Dahl at their most macabre.

It was hard to believe Boys don’t cry was the debut of Fíona Scarlett. I can’t remember the last time a book made me cry so hard. Take handkerchiefs with you!

Romance

Save me by Sarra Manning – a man, a woman, a rescue dog they agreed to share. Such a delight.

The idea of ​​you by Robinne Lee is about an older woman dating a Harry Styles-style pop star. It is very sexy and very pleasant.

Seven days in June by Tia Williams – about a love second chance for high school sweethearts – was irresistible, as was Mhairi McFarlane’s latest, Last Night.

Literary fiction

Chandelier by Raven Leilani is about a black woman in her early 20s who gets involved with a middle-aged white man in an open marriage. It’s a searing look at race, capitalism, and gender.

Assembly by Natasha Brown has been described as a modern day Mrs. Dalloway. It is a light book but which lingers afterwards.

I loved Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters, on the unlikely relationship between three women – transgender and cisgender – and what it takes to become a family.