THERE’S NOTHING better than getting a few great book recommendations, right?
We chatted to some Irish authors, writers, comedians and playwrights to find out their favourite books of 2017.
Marian Keyes needs no introduction – her 15th (fifteenth!) novel, The Break, was released to great acclaim in September. Her favourite book of 2017 is the winner of this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction:
The Power by Naomi Alderman is the most exciting feminist book I’ve read in years. What she explores is revolutionary while also being a great oul’ read.
Sarah is one half of the duo that brought us the juggernaut that is Oh My God What A Complete Aisling, which as of this month is to become a trilogy.
Marian Keyes is one of my all-time favourite writers so it’s no surprise I couldn’t put down The Break. I love her uniquely Irish turn of phrase and that the female characters she creates are funny, flawed and relatable. Long may she reign as the queen of fiction.
Source: Gill Books
Emer (formerly of this parish) is the other half of that formidable duo, and dipped in to some classics this year:
This year I finally got around to reading The Handmaid’s Tale just before the TV show came along and I couldn’t put it down. I read it on holidays on a paradise beach and kept gasping and clutching at my craw. I also got around to reading Station Eleven which is a couple of years old but such a gripping read. I’m a sucker for a bit of post-apocalyptic fiction and this nearly had me searching for the iodine tablets.
In terms of more recent books I read and loved Marian Keyes’ The Break. One tiny seemingly insignificant line made me have a big cry on a plane, which I think is always the mark of a good book. What did we do to deserve Marian Keyes?
Darach is the author of Motherfoclóir, which sprang from the now-indispensable The Irish For Twitter account. Naturally, his books of the year include an Irish language pick:
I didn’t read as much as I’d like because of all the writing, but I did love the Oighear by Doireann Ní Ghríofa (which is in Irish), Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Griffin, and Red Dirt by EM Reapy.
This year, Alison wrote and starred in the uproarious Nowhere Fast, the Midlands-set RTÉ comedy that gave us a 3in1 proposal. Her stand up show, Alison Spittle: Worrier Princess, hits Vicar Street on January 13.
I loved Oh My God What A Complete Aisling. It’s a book that focuses on the wonderful minutiae of Irish life. Aisling as a character is so well thought out and considered that you don’t just say you know an Aisling, you love an Aisling as well.
Tara is an author and playwright who has become one of the leading voices in the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment. Her play on that subject, Not A Funny Word, is part of the Abbey Theatre’s programme for 2018.
Irish YA [young adult fiction] has been having a moment, and a YA writer who’s finally and deservedly having hers is Deirdre Sullivan. Tangleweed & Brine, her book of re-imagined fairytales, is stunning not only to read, but to look at and hold. I love it.
Source: Ryan Tubridy Show
Ryan writes children’s books we think? Only joking. Well, kind of. He is of course the presenter of the Late Late, as well as the author of this year’s Patrick and the President.
His pick is a novel based on the life of comedian Stan Laurel:
My favourite book of 2017 is He by John Connolly. It’s a beautiful reimagining of a story I knew nothing about.
Sarah’s first novel, Spare and Found Parts, was published in Ireland earlier this year – she also wrote the beautiful poem that accompanied the Repeal Project’s striking We Face This Land video.
I loved To Be A Machine by Mark O’Connell – a nonfiction that examines where humans and machines collide – it’s chilling, but also surprisingly funny and wry. Room Little Darker by June Caldwell completely reshuffled how I consider sentences work and what I expect from a short story from here on.
I loved The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan so much that I found it hard to bring myself to read the ending – I didn’t want to leave the world she’d built. The Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle, too, was a wild portrait of characters and place and witchery and secrets that gave the rare feeling of wanting to befriend the characters and live in their world.
The DailyEdge.ie team were also stuck into the books this year – here’s what they loved:
Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney was a lovely, refreshing read from an extremely promising young Irish writer. I read it on my holliers but wouldn’t recommend it as a beach read, however.
I also enjoyed the The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy because I love a self-help book under the guise of a memoir, and found myself extremely traumatised by the Gabriel Tallent’s My Absolute Darling. Truly a solid year for messing with my emotions.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. This book didn’t even come out in 2017, but it’s one of the nicest books I’ve read in a long time. It’s about a young Nigerian woman named Ifemelu moving to America to study and how she adjusts to American culture.Aside from books, one of the other things I’d consider to be a must-read is this amazing and really important piece by an 18-year-old member of the Irish travelling community, entitled ‘Dear settled people: we need to talk.’
I’m always a bit skeptical when people talk about not being able to put books down but I genuinely could not put Bonfire by Krysten Ritter down. Very enthralling and covers a lot of the perils surrounding technology, the right to privacy and sexual pressure in this day and age.
The Coroner’s Daughter by Andrew Hughes is a wonderfully rich story, complimented by this old-timey illustrated map of Dublin. A good strong female protagonist is also always appreciated!
I loved Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, which manages to be funny, thrilling, and heartbreaking all at once. I listened to the audiobook (Audible is my favourite discovery of 2017) and ended up going on very long walks just so I could sneak in another few chapters.
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson is an older book, but new to me – it’s a memoir that deals with love, family, gender and sexuality, and it’s so beautifully written. I find myself thinking about it all the time.
Here’s to another great year of books and reading!