Book Selections for Christmas
Marian is joined by Arts Editor wit hthe Sunday Business Post - Nadine O'Regan and Bob Johnson from Gutter Press Bookshops. They are also joined by Oliver Callan.
BIOGRAPHIES and MEMOIRS
- Princess Diarist - Carrie Fisher
When Carrie Fisher discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved - plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naivete, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Now her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a teenager with an all-consuming crush on her co-star, Harrison Ford. With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher's intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time - and what developed behind the scenes.
- Diary of a Bookseller - Shaun Bythell
Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown - Scotland's largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover's paradise? Well, almost ... In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.
- Blooming Marvellous - Zoe Devlin
"Whenever I see the first cowslips of the year, I imagine myself back in a field near Sandyford, County Dublin, in the mid 1950s" ... Zoe Devlin has viewed her whole life through green-tinted glasses, describing herself as an `unofficial ambassador for weeds, wasps and wagtails'. What began as a childhood delight in wildflowers grew into a hobby, then blossomed into an enduring passion. By turns witty, informative, dark and bizarre, Zoe opens our eyes to the beauty all around us, whatever the time of year. Her uplifting recollections will encourage readers to identify, understand and savour the plant life that so often goes unnoticed beneath our feet - she hopes, in this way, to help preserve it.
- Option B - Sheryl Sandberg
In Option B, Facebook executive and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg writes powerfully of her husbands sudden death.
- Rock Bottom – Michael Odell
In this memoir from Q contributor editor Michael Odell, he recounts his adventures with rock stars and his dawning realisation that perhaps there's more to life than hanging out in expensive hotels with jaded celebrities.
- I Found My Tribe - Ruth Fitzmaurice
Ruth Fitzmaurice tells her personal story of living with her late film-maker husband Simon as he battled motor neurone disease.
FICTION - SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS:
- Uncommon Type - Tom Hanks
A collection of seventeen wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor. Known for his honesty and sensitivity as an actor, Mr Hanks brings both those characteristics to his writing. Alternatingly whimsical, moving and occasionally melancholy, Uncommon Type is a book that will delight as well as surprise his millions of fans. It also establishes him as a welcome and wonderful new voice in contemporary fiction, a voice that perceptively delves beneath the surface of friendships, families, love and normal, everyday behaviour.
- The Gospel According to Blindboy Boatclub
Blindboy Boatclub of The Rubberbandits speaks more sense in a plastic bag than most of our celebrities do with their make-up on.
Histories is a hypnotic portrait of life in one hospital, over one week. In the corridors and consulting rooms, by the bedside, through the open curtain, we witness charged encounters within the emotional and physical world of medicine. Old insecurities surface as junior doctors try to save a man from dying; an enraged chaplain picks a fight with a consultant; a porter waxes lyrical on his invisibility.
It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things. And then there are two boys, Ellis and Michael, who are inseparable. And the boys become men, and then Annie walks into their lives, and it changes nothing and everything. Tin Man sees Sarah Winman follow the acclaimed success of When God Was A Rabbit and A Year Of Marvellous Ways with a love letter to human kindness and friendship, loss and living.
- La Belle Sauvage: Book of Dust 1 - Philip Pullman
Eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his daemon, Asta, live with his parents at the Trout Inn near Oxford. Across the River Thames (which Malcolm navigates often using his beloved canoe, a boat by the name of La Belle Sauvage) is the Godstow Priory where the nuns live. Malcolm learns they have a guest with them; a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua.
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman
It's a simple, but brilliant story about an English woman whose entire existence is deeply regimented, and has been so for years, from the Tesco pizza she heats on a Friday, to the two bottles of vodka she allows herself on the weekend.
- The Heart's Invisible Furies - John Boyne
Taking place over 70 years, the novel begins in West Cork with the story of Catherine Goggin, a 16-year-old expelled by the local priest in 1945 when her pregnancy is discovered.
Filled with sadnesses rather than smiles, it's a poignant book about a man named Victor Forde, who is estranged from his family and haunted by his past, nursing pints in a Dublin that has left him behind.
‘HIPSTER LIT FICTION’
- Conversations with Friends - Sally Rooney
It's the story of a group of friends, who start having affairs: think F Scott Fitzgerald mixed with Sheila Heti.
- When Light is like Water - Molly McCloskey
In this beautifully written second novel, McCloskey recounts the story of a 20-something American woman called Alice who arrives in Sligo in the late 1980s and falls in love with Eddie, a furniture salesman. They marry and buy a house -- but Alice finds herself wanting more -- which is when she embarks on an affair.
The LAPD is barely keeping up with the high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, the elderly are being mugged, children go missing. But word has spread: if you've got a case the police can't - or won't - touch, Isaiah Quintabe will help you out. They call him IQ. He's a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. His clients pay him whatever they can afford, a new set of tyres or some homemade muffins.
- The Good People - Hannah Kent
Hannah Kent explores a real-life story of a healer in 1820s Ireland, who is convinced she can help her rural community -- but, with her potions and superstitions, is she really harming them?
- House of Names - Colm Toibin
A modern retelling of Greek tragedy, casting an eye over the descendents of Zeus: figures including Clytemnestra, her children Orestes and Electra, and her husband Agamemnon.
- Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling - by Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght
Want to know who Aisling is? Think Bridget Jones for the Irish market.
The Break kicks off when our heroine discovers that her husband wants to remove himself from her life for a while -- just to have the titular 'break'.
NON-FICTION: LIFESTYLE, CULTURE, SELF-IMPROVEMENT
Winter Pages - edited by Kevin Barry
Winter Papers is an annual anthology for the arts, featuring works by Dorothy Cross, Eimear McBride, Megan Nolan, Donal Dineen and Barry himself.
Write to the Point: How to Be Clear, Correct and Persuasive on the Page by Sam Leith
Sam Leith's book is a great guide for those who want to sharpen their skills and put themselves at an advantage.
- The Frustrated Commuter's Companion - Jonathan Swan
Commuting is hell -- this is your survival guide! Delays, price rises, leaves on the line, rail replacement bus services, snowflakes, sunshine, rain, the list of excuses is endless. Forget enjoyment, commuting is about survival. This is your guide to getting to work and back again with your sanity intact. Packed with quizzes (what kind of commuter are you?), trivia (the dirtiest seats on the Underground), tips and techniques (seat etiquette, armpit dodging), a commuter's lexicon (Comfort paradox, Seat remorse), complaint letter templates and more, this is everything you need to channel your fury and make the best of the journey to work.
- Be a Unicorn: and Live Life on the Bright Side - Sarah Ford
Escape the real world and enter into the magical realm of unicorns with this little book of positivity. Illustrated with adorable, adorkable unicorns, each spread comes with a funny or inspiring quote reminding you to follow your dreams, and always think unicorn. Perfect for giving an inspiring boost to your day, or as a cheering gift for a friend who needs a little more unicorn in their life, this is a cute and covetable little book that is bound to spread smiles wherever it goes.
OUTSIDE THE BOX
The Novel Cure: An A to Z of Literary Remedies - Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkin
When read at the right moment, a novel can change your life. Bibliotherapists Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin know the power of a good book, and have been prescribing each other literary remedies for all life's aches and pains for decades. Together, they've compiled a medical handbook with a difference: a dictionary of literary cures for any malaise you can imagine. Whether it's struggling to find a good cup of tea (Douglas Adams, two sugars) or being in need of a good cry (Thomas Hardy, plus tissues), as well as cures for all kinds of reading ailments - from being a compulsive book buyer to a tendency to give up halfway through a novel - Ella and Susan have the tonic for all ailments, great or small. Written with authority, passion and wit, The Novel Cure is an enchanting reminder of the power and pleasure of forgetting your troubles in a good book.
- The Secret Life of Cows - Rosamund Young
A lovely, thoughtful little book about the intelligence of cows. Cows are as varied as people. They can be highly intelligent or slow to understand, vain, considerate, proud, shy or inventive. Although much of a cow's day is spent eating, they always find time for extra-curricular activities such as babysitting, playing hide and seek, blackberry-picking or fighting a tree. This is an affectionate record of a hitherto secret world.
- Turtles All the Way Down - John Green
John Green became world famous for this book The Fault in Our Stars and here he returns with a novel that delves deep into anxiety, OCD, philosophy and the tension that comes with modern living.
- Making Things Right: a Master Carpenter at Work - Ole Thorstensen
Thorstensen tells the story of a loft renovation, delivering details from his near-30 years as a Norwegian carpenter that will be illuminating for the humble home-owner.
- Motherfocloir - Darach O'Seaghdha
An enjoyable look at the Irish language, which explains what Irish words literally mean.
- To Be a Machine - Mark O'Connell
In To Be A Machine, Irish author Mark O’Connell traces his journey into a surreal cult society of men who believe we will one day gain immortality and merge our minds with machines.
OLIVER CALLAN’S BOOKS FOR XMAS
Book: La Belle Sauvage
Author: Philip Pullman
Genre: literary young adult
Oliver says: The first book of his new trilogy ‘The Book of Dust’. Prequel to his massive ‘Dark Materials’ fantasy trilogy
Book: Magpie Murders
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Genre: Crime fiction/thriller
Oliver says: Clever whodunnit within a whodunnit. Set in an English village.
Book: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Author: Yuvel Noah Harari
Oliver says: It came out last year but it's fantastic and fascinating summary of how humanity got to here, the destruction of our world and some fascinating predictions about our a-mortal future
Author: Roddy Doyle
Genre: short fiction novel
Oliver says: Victor is the 54 year old narrator who has suffered institutional abuse but lots of the ‘Two Pints’ banter and a controversial twist
Book: The North Water
Author: Ian McGuire
Genre: Historical fiction
Oliver says: Incredible detail about a Yorkshire whaling ship on its way to Arctic circle in late 1850s. Won lots of awards