Summer – in all its infinite variety – is upon us. And with that comes the anticipated holiday away, lazy days and indulgent reading material that we save for this time of year. People want different things from their summer reads though when it comes to holidays; it boils down to one core element: story. Your holiday book has to entertain, absorb and perhaps offer something of a guilty pleasure too. Many avid fiction-lovers opt for a lighter read when they’re abroad and this week’s list is compiled of exactly that, straight from the hearts and minds of some of our most beloved Irish authors. The books aren’t new, but what they are is worth reading again.
Sushi For Beginners by Marian Keyes
My introduction to Marian Keyes and the book I always go back to. This is one of her most underrated works; Keyes’ writing sparkles with wit and as she writes of the nervous breakdown that awaits one of her three main characters. The lives of Clodagh, beautiful and bored of her family life, Lisa struggling to launch a new Irish magazine and “weirdly normal” Ashling all intertwine, and Keyes’ distinct voice means that even in the darkest of times, the reader laughs and feels uplifted. This is a “comfort” read in the best sense of the word.
Foreign Affairs by Patricia Scanlan
The ideal book for your holiday suitcase, this 900+ book tells the story of Brenda, Jennifer, Paula and Rachel from young children to adulthood and all the moments in between. Scanlan’s strength has always been her characters; they are so relatable; so vividly written they jump off the page. The plot is fairly standard but what makes the book work is the different characters each at a crossroad in their lives, so distinct from one another. And the fluidity of means writing means that you never feel like the story becomes laborious to read. This is one for those long summer nights and is still my favourite Scanlan novel.
The Blue Hour by Kate Thompson
Romantic reads are a guilty pleasure of mine in the summer months, and for quite some time, Thompson was the only author I shared this secret with. The Irish actress-turned-author penned the beautifully written The Blue Hour years ago, the story of a trendy copywriter who leaves her busy Dublin life for the tranquil Saint-Géyroux and attempts to re-evaluate her life and place in the world. It’s unashamedly romantic, but never cheesy, and so it is the perfect getaway read.
Room By Emma Donoghue
By now you will have seen the movie that was the talk of Tinseltown last year, and it all stemmed from the excellent source material. Seemingly inspired by Josef Fritzl’s incarceration of his daughter Elisabeth, it’s easy to start the novel with weary eyes, but Donoghue’s gift for balancing the horror with uplifting moments of tenderness and joy will enthral you. The first half of the story takes place entirely within the 12-foot-square room in which a young woman has spent her last seven years since being abducted aged 19. Raped repeatedly, she now has a five-year-old boy, Jack, and it is with his voice that Donoghue tells their story. And what a voice it is. The bond between mother and child and the power of the love they share never lessons even when they face the outside world with its new challenges. You won’t be able to put this one down. Watch the film, but read the book first.