I’m a writer, a reader and I work in New Ross Library. You might say that books are important to me, if you were understating the situation. Books are special, take us to strange, scary, romantic, magical, wonderful places, and are easy to wrap as gifts, which is why I’m recommending books this Christmas.
There are so many fabulous books to choose from this year, including from Irish authors. For example, Claire Keegan’s wonderful new book Small Things Like These, which is set in New Ross, or Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You? which has generated a lot of news of late. There’s psychologist and broadcaster Maureen Gaffney’s Your One Wild and Precious Life as well as the heart warming A Hug for You by Adam King. There are mouth-watering recipes in Neven Maguire’s Perfect Irish Christmas, and Aisling is back, this time with Aisling and the City from the writing partnership of Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen.
I could go on. And on. However, this Christmas, I want to focus on three titles (with a bit of cheating) in particular to suit general interest. Grab a hot chocolate from one of the lovely cafes in town (with marshmallows if you like, it’s been a tough year) and settle in.
Billy Connolly has been written about many times, but this year his book Windswept and Interesting tells the story of his fascinating life in his own words. Funny and wise, Billy tells it like it is in his own inimitable way; as always frank, bawdy, hilarious and at times, grimly real. This is one worth reading, and worth having in your collection. Even those who might not normally pick up a book in a moment of leisure won’t be able to resist the draw of one of the world’s greatest storytellers.
For kids, I have a triple recommendation list (this is the cheating bit; I was never good with numbers). Some children are avid readers but in a world of screens and gadgets, plus hurling, football, swimming and dance, it can be a rare sight to spot a child sitting with a book. On the other hand, the following three books seldom fail, including with reluctant readers. I’m talking about the ever-recognisable Guinness Book of Records 2022, Ripley’s Believe it Or Not 2022 and Weird But True, wacky and wild photos and facts from National Geographic Kids. These books are easy to dip into without the pressure of unbroken text and may help a child to discover that books can be fun! Besides, who doesn’t like a kid who can spout odd and sometimes gross facts while everyone is eating turkey and brussels sprouts?
Jenny Colgan hits the spot with a Christmas stand-alone novel about family, starting over and, of course, love! The Christmas Bookshop is a light read perfect for chilly days wrapped up by the fire for anyone who likes things cosy, festive, romantic, bookish and snowy! Set in Edinburgh, the story is about Carmen who takes over a failing bookshop and while turning it around, might just turn around her whole life with it.
That leads me rather neatly to a little reminder. Buy books this Christmas and buy them locally. New Ross has a lovely new book shop in Hubb16 in South Street and an equally charming shop of pre-loved books in The Book Shelter in John Street. Don’t forget, when you give someone a book, you are handing them a little piece of magic.
Happy Christmas to all!