With retail reopen and a bookshop browse on the cards again, Books Editor Orna Mulcahy shares three GREAT READS to pick up now …
The other day I found a book wrapped in a Ziploc bag on my doorstep with a one-word message on a post it note attached. “Exhausting!” And a smiley face that made me smile. She didn’t like it so. It’s part of a new very haphazard book club, in which neighbours drop off books to each other and return them later with a comment or two. I wiped the book down and put it in a fresh plastic bag to pass on to the next house. That’s it now: no sitting around drinking wine, no admiring each other’s blow-dries and COS tops. Just the sanitised book and “Let me know what you think” texts.
While shops were shuttered, the business of books carried on through shops big and small posting books in careful wrapping, through Amazon of course, through people simply leaving boxes of books on their doorstep – like windfall apples, free for anyone to take. And through our own tetchy little doorstep bookclub – “What is this book supposed to be about!!”
I know an elderly lady who posts copies of Charlie Makesy’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse to congratulate friends for getting their vaccine, and another who regularly drops off a bestseller, a bag of peanuts and a cocktail in a jam jar to her 85-year-old neighbour. Who wouldn’t love that?
Nothing quite beats a browse in a bookshop though. My first stop when retail reopened was to go to a big bookshop and riffle through books to my heart’s content. You should try it too. If you need a shopping list, here are three books that are generating a lot of excitement in the book press and among readers: big gun author Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel since winning the Nobel prize for literature; the surprise, almost unknown winner of the 2020 Costa Book of the Year Award and an unusual cosy-fantastic novel that is currently riding high in the UK bestseller list. Set in very different locations, all are strong narratives about women in mind-boggling circumstances who long to be understood.
Nobel prize winner Katsuo Ishiguro’s latest novel Klara and the Sun, Faber & Faber, €16.99, has a robot heroine seeking love and understanding in a lonely world. Published in 2020, Monique Roffey’s The Mermaid of Black Conch, Peepal Tree Press, €11.99, could have dropped out of sight but instead it picked up the 2021 Costa Book of the Year award. Based on ancient Caribbean myths, it tells the story of a mermaid and a fisherman who fall in love, but returns to a central question about women’s deep-seated fears and even hatred of one another. Matt Haig’s best seller Midnight Library, Canongate, €9.49, allows unhappy Nora Seed to explore the lives she could have led through a series of magical books she picks up at a library like no other.
Main featured image: COTTONBRO
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