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!)
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,, is imbued with his compassion and kindness.
by Lex Croucher, it’s like Bridgerton meets Gossip Girl through Jane Austen. It’s a total explosion.
The excellentby Caroline O’Donoghue is the perfect choice for any teenager with an interest in the occult.
If you have a romantic in the house,by Laura Wood will hit the spot – think Cinderella with a twist.
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 recommendby 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 isby Vera Kurian. This is a group of psychopaths receiving free education if they participate in a psychology study; it is impossible to pose.
I’m biased, I know, butby Richard Chambers is a must read. Gossip and moving in equal parts, it reads like a thriller.
is a superb collection of essays by Sophie White, dealing with addiction, motherhood and grief. I loved it.
by Shon Faye is a compelling analysis of the trans rights ‘debate’, and Emma Dabiri is an invigorating and lucid guide on how to dismantle racism.
I also really appreciatedby Kristen Richardson, which traces the history of beginner balls on both sides of the Atlantic.
Erin Kelly is a twisty psychological thriller set in a ballet company; shades of Black Swan.
by Catherine Ryan Howard has been a smash hit this year and for good reason – it’s exceptionally good.
Elizabeth Day was one of my favorite novels of 2021; I gasped out loud at the twist.
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.
These books will satisfy even the most picky of readers.
For fans of commercial fiction, theEmer McLysaght and Sarah Breen’s books are always popular with audiences.
The last opus of the series,, is wonderful.
If you are buying for literary fiction fans,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.
Yes, it deserves its own category.
by Lisa McInerney was an utterly brilliant end to a brilliant trilogy.
Deirdre Sullivan’s first collection of short stories,, recalled Angela Carter and Roald Dahl at their most macabre.
It was hard to believewas the debut of Fíona Scarlett. I can’t remember the last time a book made me cry so hard. Take handkerchiefs with you!
by Sarra Manning – a man, a woman, a rescue dog they agreed to share. Such a delight.
by Robinne Lee is about an older woman dating a Harry Styles-style pop star. It is very sexy and very pleasant.
by Tia Williams – about a love second chance for high school sweethearts – was irresistible, as was Mhairi McFarlane’s latest, Last Night.
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.
by Natasha Brown has been described as a modern day Mrs. Dalloway. It is a light book but which lingers afterwards.
I lovedby Torrey Peters, on the unlikely relationship between three women – transgender and cisgender – and what it takes to become a family.