Dublin: 8 °C Sunday 25 October, 2020

6 books to read on your commute this coming October

From Lily Allen to Lynn Ruane, there are plenty of women writing brilliant books this Autumn.

1. Sweet Home by Wendy Erskine

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Wendy Erskine’s debut book Sweet Home is a collection of short stories, all of which are set in East Belfast. Each story looks at a different moment in the complicated lives of some very ordinary individuals.

The opening stories are as humorous as they are bleak – one tells the story of a woman who quits her job in a call-centre (where she had the option to work on a sex-line or pose as a Celtic mystic for callers) in order to set up a tropical-themed beauty salon. In the early days of running her business, she is faced with deciding whether or not she should pay insurance money to a local gang in order to protect the business she worked hard to build. 

As these are all short stories, this is an ideal read for anybody who is terrified by the idea of trying to commit to an entire chapter in one bus or train journey. 

2. This Hostel Life by Melatu Uche Okorie

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Twelve years after Nigerian-born Melatu Uche Okorie arrived to Ireland as an asylum seeker, she has released This Hostel Life. Melatu spent the first eight-and-a-half years of her life in Ireland living in a direct provision centre, and aims to give a voice to some of the 5,000 others currently in that position through the three fictional stories Okorie tells in This Hostel Life. 

In a recent review, The Stinging Fly said that the three stories in this book are starkly different but “united by themes of gossip, superstition and prejudice.”  

3. Normal People by Sally Rooney 

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If you have scrolled through Instagram or walked past any book shop in Ireland over the course of the last month, you have probably seen the cover of this book. There’s a lot of hype surrounding Sally Rooney’s second novel and it’s all justified.

Nominated for this year’s Man Booker Prize, Normal People follows two young adults named Connell and Marianne as they move from Mayo to Dublin in order to study at Trinity College, bringing their on-off romance along with them. It’s desperately sad, but not in a way that will make you cry in front of everyone on the bus. That said, it might make you cry in front of everyone on the bus anyway.

There are endless conversations to have about some of the issues touched upon in this novel and if you have been considering setting up a book club, this would be a perfect book to start with. 

4. People Like Me by Lynn Ruane 

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Senator Lynn Ruane’s fascinating new memoir looks at how she made it from her tough childhood in Tallaght to Seanad Éireann. When Lynn was 13, she saw one of her closest friends die after she was hit by a car and struggled to recover from the trauma.

In her early teens, she turned to drink, drugs and joyriding to cope with the immense stress and pressure she was under while growing up. When she was beginning to consider trying heroin, she found herself pregnant at the age of 15 with her daughter Jordanne.

People Like Me tells the story of how Lynn managed to turn things around in the hopes of providing a better life for her daughter, by getting back into education, working in addiction services, going to college and becoming involved in activism and politics. 

5. My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen 

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This year, Lily Allen returned to music after a four year break since her 2014 album Sheezus. Lily’s latest album, No Shame, looks at some of the most harrowing aspects of her personal life in the years that followed Sheezus with absolutely no discomfort or embarrassment, as the title suggests. 

Lily’s new book My Thoughts Exactly is in a similar vein. So far we know that it features a story about how she cheated on her husband with female escorts while she was suffering with depression, but recent reviews have said that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Times wrote, “In someone else’s hands, all this would make for a rollicking hedonistic pop romp. But the most shocking thing about her book is how unhappy Allen is.” 

6. The Importance of Being Aisling by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen

TheImportanceofBeaingAisling_FullCover.indd Source: Gill

You probably know the drill with this one, but the sequel to last year’s Oh My God What A Complete Aisling was just released on Friday. Things are looking up for Aisling, her pals and her mam, but some trouble in Dublin sends Aisling packing.

Yep, she’s moving back to Ballygobbard. She struggles to adjust back into her old life after living with Sadhbh and Elaine for so long, but gains some unexpected new confidence after she takes a girls’ trip to Vegas. 

As with OMGWACA, this is pure comfort reading and you’ll fly through it in a few bus journeys. 

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Kelly Earley

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