Books Are My Bag, the annual celebration of books and bookshops, makes a welcome return this October, with bookshops across Ireland hosting special events, author visits, competitions, window displays and more on the first ever #BookshopDay on 8th October. The campaign aims to celebrate that nation's bookshops and the vital role they play in communities.

After years of decline, book sales continue to recover in Ireland, with Nielsen Bookscan showing big increases thus far in 2016 - the Irish Consumer Market has seen sales to September of €76.4m, up 20.3% on 2015, with the highest growth (24.5%) in the non-fiction category. 

The top five bestsellers in Ireland this year so far are Harry Potter and the Cursed Child with 56.3k copies sold to date, followed by Lean in 15 by fitness guru Joe Wicks (40.3k copies) and Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train (29.4k). A Pocket History of the 1916 Rising lands at fourth, with the film tie-in edition of Irish author Jojo Moyes' Me Before You closing out the top five.

To celebrate Bookshop Day, Irelandopedia illustrator Kathi “Fatti” Burke has designed a limited edition Irish Books Are My Bag tote bag, available at selected bookshops nationwide. “Bookshops have always been where I felt most at home,” says Kathi Burke. “Going into a new bookshop for the first time is the start of an adventure, and returning to your favourite is like coming home.” Award-winning designer Coralie Bickford-Smith has also designed a collectors' edition bag for 2016, along with a specially commissioned children's bag celebrating the 90th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh. 

“It’s so great to see that book sales in Ireland are doing well again, says Bob Johnston, owner of Dublin's Gutter Bookshop and Vice Chair of the Bookseller’s Association Irish Branch. "After all the doom and gloom of the past few years, it’s great to see that Irish people feel positive about buying books. Research shows that children who have access to books in their own homes go on to achieve higher academic results. The ‘Books Are My Bag’ campaign is a great reminder of what a wonderful resource for discovery and learning a local bookshop is."

The Books Are My Bag Readers Award shortlist has also been announced. This new book award invites the public to vote for their favourites on the 6 categories shortlisted by Bookstores - Fiction, Non-Fiction, Biography/Autobiography, Children’s and Breakthrough Author. Voting is now open in bookshops across the country and online here until 14 November

The Fiction category features The Green Road by Anne Enright, Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter, The Loney by Andrew Hurley, The Muse by Jessie Burton, This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell and The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon. Irish authors Patrick Ness (The Rest of Us Just Live Here) and Sarah Crossan (One) feature in the Children’s category, while Lisa McInerney (The Glorious Heresies) has been shortlisted for Breakthrough Author. 

The 2016 Books Are My Bag Readers Awards Shortlist, as voted for by bookshops:

Fiction

  • The Green Road by Anne Enright 
  • Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter 
  • The Loney by Andrew Hurley 
  • The Muse by Jessie Burton 
  • This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell
  • The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon 

Non-Fiction

  • Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig 
  • SPQR by Mary Beard 
  • Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane 
  • The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan 
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanthi 
  • It's All in Your Head by Suzanne O'Sullivan 

Biography & Autobiography

  • Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham 
  • The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink 
  • The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson 
  • At the Existentialist Café by Sarah Bakewell 
  • The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf 
  • Alive Alive Oh! by Diana Athill 

Children’s

  • One by Sarah Crossan
  • The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness 
  • Beetle Boy by MG Leonard
  • Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt
  • The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield 
  • The Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson 

Breakthrough Author

  • Abi Elphinstone (The Shadow Keeper)
  • Amy Liptrot (The Outrun
  • Andrew Michael Hurley (The Loney
  • Han Kang (The Vegetarian
  • Joanna Cannon (The Trouble with Goats and Sheep)
  • Kit de Waal (My Name is Leon
  • Lisa McInerney (The Glorious Heresies
  • Rowan Hisayo Buchanan (Harmless Like You

*Reading has always been cool. We knew that already.