It’s officially Irish Book Week (until Saturday November 2) when we celebrate local authors and the role bookshops play in the fabric of Irish life. For anyone remotely interested in books and Irish writing, why not visit the new MoLI (Museum of Literature Ireland). As well as the very first copy of Ulysses, there’s lots to engage even a casual reader (do listen to Anne Enright and others talking about their writing process). It’s in a beautiful setting on St Stephen’s Green, the staff are really passionate, and the café (run by Peaches and Domini Kemp) with courtyard garden is great too – good coffee is essential when you’re thinking about books.
Below, THE GLOSS team share their favourite books in celebration of Irish Book Week.
Sarah Halliwell, Beauty Editor
I’ve just finished Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad (published in 2016) and can’t get it out of my head – it’s searing, brutal and brilliant. A modern classic. I plan to read his book about New York next. Next on the towering pile of books by my bed is Rachel Cusk’s Coventry, as I’ve read everything of hers since The Temporary (1995), which was horribly accurate on the treadmill of temping in London; her image of Tube commuters nodding along with the movement of the train like rows of giant sunflowers always comes into my head when I’m on the London Underground.
Penny McCormick, Deputy Editor
I’ve been alternating murder mysteries with memoirs recently and have just finished Karen Perry’s psychological thriller Come A Little Closer and Alexandra Fuller’s Travel Light, Move Fast. The latter documents her father’s unexpected death while on holiday in Budapest, both the immediate aftermath – transporting his ashes back to Africa – and post- funeral family fallouts. Childhood memories are interspersed with lessons Fuller’s father taught her about survival, hence the title. Having lived in Africa for seven years, Fuller’s depiction of expat life and her eccentric, dysfunctional family resonated. Nothing can prepare for the unexpected ending though. Not having read any of her other “awful books” (as her family described them) I am keen to start Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight.
Síomha Connolly, Digital Editor
I waited patiently for Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments to arrive in September – and devoured it in two sittings once it did. There’s always a worry that sequels won’t live up to the first in the series, but The Testaments didn’t disappoint. It answers questions that lingered after The Handmaid’s Tale and it’s told from clever new perspectives without returning directly to Offred. It’s made me very excited to hear Margaret Atwood speak at the National Concert Hall this Saturday, November 2 as part of Irish Book Week. I also recently read Idaho by Emily Ruskovich who was featured in THE GLOSS when she won the International Dublin Literary Award earlier this year, and was captivated by her original prose. Ruskovich weaves two merging storylines as she tells the tale of a troubled family – the mother is imprisoned when in a sudden burst of anger she murders her young daughter, and the father struggles to move on with his life as he deals with the loss of his family as well as early-onset dementia, with his story told from the perspective of his new wife. A haunting but beautifully written debut.
Sophie Grenham, THE GLOSS contributor
As someone who reads a great many books annually for my Writer’s Block series, I often have a handful on the go at once. I’m about to head off on holiday, so my current list contains a mix of titles that I’ve looked forward to reading at my leisure. I’m traveling to my childhood home of Hong Kong, hence it seems fitting that I begin my 12-hour flight with an advance copy (out in April 2020) of debut author Naoise Dolan’s Exciting Times. Based on her impressions of the buzzing Chinese metropolis, where she worked as a teacher for a year, Dolan has crafted an intriguing love triangle that’s already sparked comparisons to the work of Sally Rooney. Also in my hand luggage is a copy of Irish singer-songwriter Andrea Corr’s memoir, Barefoot Pilgrimage. It’s a beautifully produced reflection on family, creativity, motherhood and of course, growing up with The Corrs. Readers can expect to enjoy photographs from the family album and some gorgeous original poems. Older entries from my wobbling To Be Read tower are works by two formidable cultural figures who are sadly no longer with us: rebel chef Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and the unforgettable AA Gill’s Previous Convictions. To round the journey off, I will enjoy Bridget Jones’s Baby: The Diaries by Helen Fielding, amid rumours they’re making another Bridget movie.