Summer may be a wash-out so far, but it’s still the perfect season to curl up with a good book, whether you’re lucky enough to get away or not. Claire Coughlan took a peek into the suitcases of some well-known faces to discover their holiday reading
Various women I know have raved about Maria Semple’s Where’d you go, Bernadette (W&N €16.60). Semple is a TV comedy writer and has a brilliant way of presenting the juggle of women’s lives and mother/daughter relationships. I’ve just finished Hawthorn & Child (Granta, €18.60) by Irish writer Keith Ridgway, which is an exceptional book. he plays with form, creates humane characters and knows how to tell a story. I’ve long admired John Banville’s novels and have been saving his new one, Ancient Light (Viking, Penguin, €14.99) for my holidays. Ditto Laurent Binet’s Nazi story, HHhH (Harvill Secker, €21.70), set in World War Two Germany, is highly recommended.
Sinead Gleeson is a journalist, broadcaster and reporter for RTE’s ‘The Works’. she co-presents ‘The Anti Room’ podcast. she is editor of an anthology of short stories, ‘Silver Threads of Hope’, which will be published by New Island (€16.50) in September in aid of Console, the suicide support organisation.
Nicola Barker is one of the funniest and darkest English novelists around and I’ve been hugely looking forward to her latest, the Yips (Fourth Estate, €24.20) [which has since been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize], a great chunky doorstopper of a book that is set in the glamorous environs of Luton town. I’ve a feeling she’s going to have evil amounts of fun in this one, and so, too, will the lucky readers.
I’ve also been a fan of the American writer Denis Johnson for many a moon and I’m lucky enough to have an advance copy of his novella, Train Dreams (Picador, €9.70), which comes out in September. It captures all the strangenesses and visions of a life over the course of a long century in America’s interior north west, and nobody does weird and dark and bittersweet as well as Johnson does.
Kevin Barry is a novelist and short story writer. his latest book is a collection of stories, ‘Dark Lies the Island’ (Jonathan Cape, €16.60).
How to Be A Woman, Caitlin Moran (Ebury Press, €15.30) — Everything you ever Wanted To Know about Being a Feminist but were Afraid To ask should really be the unofficial title to this book. Caitlin Moran succeeds where so many fail in that she creates a dialogue about womanhood rather than forcing a prescriptive viewpoint. Laced with self-deprecating humour that makes you want to join her for a few pints down the pub, how To Be A Woman is ballsy, cringe-worthy, relatable and bittersweet. You’ll be a feminist before you know it.
Even though the languorous stretches of holiday time allow for a long novel. I remain fiercely loyal to the short-story format. one of my favourite compendiums is the Time Out Book of New York Short stories, edited by Nicholas Royle (Time Out Publishing, €8.90). Writers such as Joyce Carol Oates, Christopher Fowler and Liz Jensen are among 23 writers who interpret the character of the city, leaving an idiosyncratic trail of gesture, dialect and charm back to the place where everyone longs to return.
Annmarie O’Connor is a fashion writer, blogger, stylist and presenter.
Usually, I’m busy reading books for the Gutter Bookshop’s book clubs, but I’m off to Kerry for a week this month and looking forward to catching up on some of my own reading picks. Top of my pile is Tell the Wolves I’m Home (Macmillan, €16.60) by Carol Rifka Brunt, a stunning debut novel about a 14-year-old girl’s friendship with the gay lover of her recently deceased uncle. I’m also packing the Devil I Know (Faber & Faber, €16.60) by Irish writer Claire Kilroy; her unique and compelling literary take on the boom-and- bust years of the Celtic Tiger and, finally, I’ll be trying out the quirky European bestseller the Hundred-Year-Old Man who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (Hesperus Press, €11.45), which I’ve heard is both very funny and slightly odd.
Bob Johnston is the owner of the Gutter Bookshop in Dublin’s Temple Bar.
For anyone with an interest in American politics and history, American Caesars by Nigel Hamilton (Vintage, €15.30) is a must. Hamilton dissects the lives of the 12 American presidents from Roosevelt to George W Bush. It is written in a very engaging way and would be perfect for a deckchair on a sunny day.
No and me by Delphine de Vigan (Bloomsbury, €10.20) is a really charming and sweet novel about a quirky teenage girl called Lou who had an IQ of 160. Lou lives with her mother who barely speaks and a father who is desperately trying to keep the family together. one day, she meets no, a homeless girl a few years older than her and they develop a close friendship.
I’m currently reading the Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Walker Books, €12.75) to my children and I had forgotten how sad the story is. It’s full of loss and abandonment and yet also of hope and love and friendship.
Sinead Moriarty is a novelist. her latest book is ‘This Child of Mine’ (Penguin Ireland, €14.99).
My inner teenage-reader is craving more in the wake of John Green’s the Fault in our Stars (Puffin, €16.60) and RJ Palacio’s wonder (Bodley Head, €16.60), two excellent teen novels from earlier this year, and I’m hoping that Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman’s beautifully illustrated break-up tome, Why we broke Up (Electric Monkey, €11.50) will fill that hankering. for the rest of the summer I’m re-reading Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series — ending with a bang in the last Guardian (Puffin, €16.60) — and having kept up with Artemis, Holly, Mulch and Butler I don’t want to miss a thing.
David Maybury is the editor of ‘Inis’, the children’s books magazine.
I won’t be taking holidays this year as I have a busy working summer here in Dublin in preparation for ANU’s next production, the Boys of Foley Street, which opens at the Dublin Theatre Festival in September. I have, however, downloaded some books to my iPad that I am really looking forward to reading this summer.
Ancient Light, by John Banville (Viking, Penguin, €14.99). As a fan of his writing I am always seduced by his prose and think that his use of metaphor is exquisite. I am excited about reading this book, written about an actor as he looks back on his life and career and mediates about love and loss.
I have started Broken Harbour, by Tana French (Hachette Ireland, €17.90). Set in a half-abandoned, half-built ghost estate outside Dublin, two children and their father are found murdered while their mother is seriously injured. Tana’s book tells the story of the police investigation that follows. I am now a few chapters in and am hooked; reading it at every opportunity and looking forward to a long train journey this week, which shall hopefully see me devour it in one sitting.
Louise Lowe is a director and writer for theatre. she is artistic director of ANU Productions.
I love to read for leisure, but often don’t have enough time to get to it. As a result there is always a small pile of books waiting for me to get to.
I have two weeks off at the end of the month and first on my list will be Joseph O’Connor’s Ghost Light (Vintage, €10.20). I started it a year ago, but one gorgeous chapter in, it disappeared; one of the kids had borrowed it and I only found it on their bookshelf a month ago. O’Connor is one of my favourite novelists; he is such a beautiful and lyrical writer.
If I get through that, then next will be the Sense of an ending (Vintage, €10.20), by Julian Barnes. I got it as a Christmas gift, and after all the hype and his Man Booker Prize win, I am eager to read it, though I hear it needs to be read twice to be fully appreciated.
Colm O’Gorman is the executive director of Amnesty International Ireland.
As soon as I heard that the Cold Eye of Heaven, by Christine Dwyer Hickey (Atlantic Books, €10.20), had won the Bord Gais Irish novel of the Year, it went straight into my suitcase. A story that winds back on itself decade by decade with effortless ingenuity, I’ve been recommending it to people ever since. definitely my book of the summer.
Anatomy of a Disappearance, by Hisham Matar (Penguin, €11.50), is a magnificently elegant novel, telling the story of a father and son living in privileged, nomadic exile from a country that is never named. I loved the way when God Was a Rabbit, by Sarah Winman (Headline Review, €10.20), was written. I loved the characters, who we are introduced to as children, and the sad and brave sense of life unfolding, as the narrator tells the story of what happens to them when they grow up.
Kathleen MacMahon’s debut novel, ‘This is how it Ends’ (Sphere €16.60), came out earlier this year.
I don’t tend to go on holidays to read — I go on holidays for food and culture! I tend to buy a lot of cookbooks on holiday. I would’ve bought Thomas Keller’s the French Laundry Cookbook (Workman Publishing, €50.95) from his restaurant in Napa, California, probably 8-10 years ago and it still sits in my kitchen and is one of the ones I’d refer to quite often. I go to Cornwall quite a bit and I always visit Rick Stein’s and pick up his cookbooks when I’m there.
Martin Shanahan is the owner of the award-winning Fishy Fishy Restaurant and Cafe in Kinsale, Co Cork. he co presents ‘Surf ‘n’ Turf’ on RTE one.
Karl Ove Knausgaard’s A Death in the Family (Harvill Secker, €22.90) bowled me over: it’s the first book of his six-volume memoir, My Struggle. the slow pace of disclosure makes this account of a Norwegian adolescence pulse with intensity. I’m now itching to read A Time to every Purpose Under Heaven (Portobello Books, €11.50), his 2008 novel, which brings Old Testament angels to Thirties Norway. I’m enjoying Kevin Barry’s collection of stories, Dark Lies the Island (Jonathan Cape, €16.60) — his savage ear for dialogue makes each story crackle. A year in Budapest left me with an appetite for Hungarian high seriousness. Even so, I’ll need a desert island to read Peter Nadas’s 1,100-page masterpiece, Parallel stories (Jonathan Cape, €44.65): this summer’s ambition.
Selina Guinness is the author of a memoir, ‘The Crocodile by the Door’ (Penguin Ireland, €21.60), which is out in September.