Book Gift Guide: Irish Authors Part 1

Forgive me for going all out patriotic but well…with the quality of writing that was released by Irish authors this year, they really needed their own posts. You can find my first gift guide that focused on some amazing cookbooks here!

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I have read some of these books but the majority are going onto my wishlist and into the stockings of family and friends!

The Gospel According to Blindboy

The Gospel According to Blindboy is a collection of surreal parody and thought-provoking short stories. One half of the Rubberbandits, through various interviews and social media posts Blindboy has shown himself to be a critical thinker and a voice for the youth of Ireland, targeting mental health, the patriarchy and the hypocrisy of the status quo. Trust Ireland to need a young man with a plastic bag over his head to make a point! This book has garnered amazing reviews from some of the best authors Ireland has to offer, claiming it to be a wonderful yet twisted reflection of the Ireland of today. I’m definitely picking this up for my boyfriend, although I think it’s suitable for anyone who loves that macabre surrealism that Blindboy does so well.

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For fans of thrillers Cat Hogan has written There Was A Crooked Man is a wonderfully tense follow-up to her first novel They All Fall Down. It’s a wild ride into the mind of a psychopath running a vicious crime ring, who is hellbent on revenge, whatever the cost. Evocative writing brings you on a journey from the streets of Marrakesh to the winding alleys of Dublin, and keeps you reading until the very last page! My sister is going to love this duo of books, I think I’ll give to her on Christmas eve to keep her entertained until Santa comes!

The Woman at 72 Derry Lane

Reminiscent of Maeve Binchy this is a really heart-wrenching book examining relationships, friendships and how we can create jails for ourselves that are difficult to escape from without help. A seemingly crazy neighbour might be the friend that the narrator needs to help rescue her from her apparently wonderful life…The Woman at 72 Derry Lane is a wonderful tale that you won’t forget in a hurry. My partners mom is a huge Binchy fan so I’m looking forward to gifting her this!

The Heart's Invisible Furies

John Boyne is well-known for his heartfelt stories but this may be the most beautiful yet. An adopted man tries to figure out his place in the world; from Ireland in the 1940s to present day it we follow Cyril as he lives his extraordinarily ordinary life and all the trials and tribulations that come from not quite knowing where you fit in. Funny, sad and everything in between this novel is just sheer perfection. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is sure to find a way into the heart of whomever you gift this to this year.

Atlas of the Irish Revolution

This next one is a bit of a chunkster…weighing in at 5kg it’s a tome of epic proportions! The Atlas of the Irish Revolution is a non-fiction book chronicling Irish history in beautiful detail. It boasts of over 300 detailed maps and over 120 scholars have submitted work from a range of disciplines to give a well-rounded look at the formation of the Irish republic, from home rule in 1912 to the end of the civil war in 1923. This is a genuine showstopper of a gift, and the price is really reasonable considering the breath, scope and ample size of this book!

Oh My God What a Complete Aisling The Novel

If you’re after something quintessentially Irish then Oh My God What a Complete Aisling is the very thing. The tale of a culchie girl making her way through the big shmoke and all that being a sensible country girl in the city entails. Covering the essential long earrings and jersey combo (that can take you from work to a night out and inevitably coppers), and the worries about Daddy and the farm at home, it delves into the responses  you get when you dare to change your life and challenge everyones expectations. There are some really poignant scenes in this book that really hits home, you’ll be a mess of tears (deffo stock up on the tissues), there’s more where you’ll be laughing yourself silly and in the end you’ll find the bit of Aisling that’s inside us all. Getting this for several friends this Crimbo and I know they won’t be disappointed!

A Line Made By WalkingSara Baume is one of my favourite authors and her second book A Line Made By Walking totally lives up to the standard she set with Spill Simmer Falter Wither. Exploring the fragility of our existence and our grip on nature, art and the meaning of our lives through an unexpected medium: the photography of dead animals. Seeking internal peace means having to come face to face with our inner struggles and demons and in this story Frankie is no exception. If you have ever had feelings of depression, anxiety and just generally being overwhelmed in a world where you struggle to find a niche and a happy medium between everything that is expected of you…this is the book for you.

Life After Life

A memoir by an Irish man wrongfully convicted of an act of terrorism in 1970s London who spent 15 years behind bars in a horrific miscarriage of justice. Paddy Armstrongs Life after Life brings you into his world and the terrifying reality of having your freedom wrongfully denied to you and the hardships of living in the aftermath of such injustice. This is a traumatic but an utterly powerful read and I think many English and Irish people would get a lot out of this book.

In White Ink

A series of eleven short stories In White Ink centres around parenthood, marriage, sensuality, perversion and sexual violence. This book isn’t for everyone but for those that like dark and twisted tales this is the collection for you. There’s so many diverse characters and they all have a story to share that hits you hard and makes you really consider what matters in life.  I’ll pick two that illustrate the mix of stories on offer; one tale centres around a wife coming to terms with the signs that were apparent during their honeymoon about her husbands paedophilia, while another story focuses on a bereaved father at the wedding of his late daughters friend. (I told you they were hard hitters!)

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A fictional biography of Stan Laurel of Laurel & Hardy fame, He recreates Hollywood of old and the entirety of Laurels life. It’s totally engrossing, looking at the various loves, losses, comedy career and iconic partnership, all served up in short easy to read chapters (some more like flash fiction). John Connolly has done his research and really brings you on a journey to the dizzying heights of fame and the quick descent into obscurity, through the great joys and the hardship and pain that people experience throughout life. This book would make a wonderful gift for the person you don’t know what to get as it’s a wholly unexpected ride from beginning to end,

 

Let me know if you’re planning on picking any of these books up and if you’ve already enjoyed (or hated!) any on this list!

 

 

*cliffs of moher creative commons image courtesy of Malte Baumann

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Book Gift Guide: Cookbooks

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I love to cook, so it seemed just right to start off this book guide with some of my top picks to give as gifts! Now there is a slight bias, as I am a vegetarian of many years, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me once you see the absolutely beautiful recipes inside each of these books! I’m also going to include honorable mentions, as some books I had loaned to my mom and sister for christmas dinner ideas!

The World of the Happy Pear

The World of the Happy Pear is the second vegetarian cookbook by the Flynn twins, they’re two of the most enthusiastic and cheerful people on the planet (I’m not joking, check out their youtube channel and instagram for proof!)  and they share some of the most popular recipes from their award winning cafe! They cover hearty soups, chillis, beautiful desserts and lively salads, you really cannot go wrong giving this is a gift. Their first book simply titled The Happy Pear is a kitchen staple at my house, even the pickiest of eaters can find something they’ll enjoy!

Soup for Every Day

Calling all soup lovers! This is such an interesting cookbook, it’s a real chunkster with 365 recipes for soup between the covers! It has a really interesting mix of traditional, exotic and experimental soups. A Soup For Every Day is a great investment for someone who really likes to make simple but hearty meals, and it has a great mix between meat and veggie based (and some surprisingly chocolate based!) soups.

If someone you know has a slow cooker/crock pot but they’re not quite sure what to cook with it, this is the book for them! I picked up The Slow Cooker Solution in a small local newsagents with a tiny rack of books, and online I could only find it second hand, but it’s very cheap and a wonderful stocking filler for someone who needs some slow cooker inspiration! It’s heavily meat based, (but as usual it’s easy to veggie up a meat recipe) and has a good few slow cooker desserts, which are really fun to try!

Everyday Super Food

Jamie Oliver is a household name, and with several tv shows, worldwide health initives and a multitude of cookbooks it’s not hard to understand! Everyday Superfood isn’t his most recent (that would be 5-ingredient meals) but it’s one of my favourites. It’s got some really delicious recipes for smoothies and some really interesting dinner ideas. I would suggest this as a good all rounder for someone who is interested in eating better but doesn’t want to take the plunge into a huge lifestyle change like vegetarianism or veganism.

VeganomiconIsa Chandre Moskowitz is a legend in the vegan cooking world, she is the brain behind ppk (post punk kitchen) and has released so many AMAZING vegan cookbooks. this one is the biggest and best investment for any vegan looking to expand their cooking repertoire. Veganomicon has the most amazing pie recipes, dessert recipes, cheese sauces, beautiful hearty curries and ways of spicing up the simple potato that will blow your tastebuds! Non-vegans will get just as much out of this book as vegans and vegetarians, as it’s just so chockablock with beautiful and tasty food ideas, they definitely won’t miss the meat!

A Modern Way to Eat

A Modern Way To Eat is quite simply stunning. Simple but intriguing recipes with fruit and veg, it’s really surprising how much variety you can achieve with simple core ingredients! This was Anna Jones first cookbook and I honestly use this every week, the recipes are simple yet really tasty and she always has great substitution advice. If your giftee already has this cookbook her other books A Modern Way To Cook and The Modern Cooks Year are both equally as stunning!

My honorable mentions go to:

Thug Kitchen

The Thug Kitchen isn’t afraid to tell it like it is, with a mouth like a sailor and a kick-ass attitude, they really want you to eat some f**king vegetables, and to make them delicious while you do it! Their dumpling and chickpea stew is absolutly DIVINE and I highly highly recommend it to one and all!

Recipes for a Nervous Breakdown

Sophie Whites Recipes for a Nervous Breakdown is part autobiography and part cookbook and it really explores how food and eating well helps put us back together. I haven’t cooked anything from this yet, but I can tell you that everything looks phenomenal!

I hope you were inspired by this group of exciting cookbooks, please let me know what your favourite cookbooks have been and help me explore some more of the world of food! 🙂

Christmas!

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Midnight October 31st the bell tolls to signify both the end of Halloween and the beginning of the festive period! I am a winter fanatic and a massive fan of giving gifts to friends and family. Honestly, giving someone a gift that I have chosen and seeing if they actually like it is one of my favourite things to do, it’s so satisfying to know that you’ve absolutely nailed a present!

I’ve decided that this year I’ll try to merge my two favourite pastimes together and make some blog posts about books I think would be fantastic presents.
Stay tuned for a the next few blogs to be a series of bookish gift guides (for others…and yourself!), and if that’s not your bag, tune in next week when I’ve more reviews of books I’ve read recently, and gearing up to restart my small (facebook based) online bookclub in the holidays and 2018. 🙂

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Til then; stay reading and stay happy,

Lany

 

 

 

 
Creative commons photo credits in order of appearance:
congerdesign
Daria Shevtsova