This summer I’m looking forward to reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, a Young Adult book about race in America.
I read a lot of YA fiction, and this is meant to be brilliant. I’m also looking forward to Roxane Gay’s Hunger, a memoir about weight and identity, and Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends, which people are raving about.
I love to read on holiday, and once read 14 books on a two week sun holiday, three of which were Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy. I’ll never forget feeling like I was in Dublin in scorching Greek heat.
I never jump a flight without some Buddhist perspectives — so this Summer it’s going to be Matthieu Ricard’s Enlightened Vagabond — The Life and Teachings of Patrul Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist monk from the 19th Century.
I took Allan Jenkins’ (the Editor of the Observer Food Monthly) Plot 29: A Memoir to the Lofoten Islands in June. What a courageous and haunting book. It’s not exactly poolside reading but its humanity and depth is powerful.
It’s a journal of a year in the life on Allan’s allotment in north London mixed with Allan’s search for his biological parents. For anyone who believes that gardening is therapy — this is a must read. I’m taking The President’s Gardens by Muhsin al Ramli to Mount Athos in Greece in September.
He’s a very perceptive Iraqi writer, hugely philosophical and one to be savoured slowly. And for laughs and sheer brilliance I am looking forward to reading Theft by Finding: Diaries Volume 1 by David Sedaris. The guy is a genius. Enough said.
Top of my to be read pile in sunny Portugal is Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Next is The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days by Juliet Conlin. Alfred is 80 and has only six days to live, but holds an astonishing family secret which he must share before he dies. I have been warned it will make me cry.
I remember one hot summer in my home town of Ennis, Co Clare, I had my first summer job. At lunchtime I went to Curran’s tea rooms and read To Kill a Mockingbird. For that hour, I wasn’t in Ennis at all, I was in Maycomb, Alabama.
Maybe it’s because as you get older you lose your ability to suspend your disbelief, but over the years I have found my tolerance for bad fiction has reached zero, so my reading is almost exclusively fiction free. That being said I’m going through a Robert Harris phase, having read Conclave and am finishing Archangel.
I chose most of my reading from book reviews and this summer’s list includes Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher De Hamel, where he examines and explains some of the world’s greatest manuscripts, including The Book of Kells.
I once read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol on a beach in Greece, quickly followed by The Valley of the Squinting Windows, by Brinsley McNamara. Together they were the perfect antidote to the sun.
On the hols I usually take five books. This year I’m taking two good thrillers, the new John Connolly Game of Ghosts and Denis Lehane’s Since We Fell. I’ll take two good music biogs, probably the Robbie Robertson (The Band), Paul Simon or Nina Simone and I’m on the lookout for a good political history or zeitgeistey state of the world read. All the major bases covered.
I’ll start with Elan Mastai’s All Our Wrong Todays, a time travel, “alternate present” love story or Lisa McInerney’s super Cork-based thriller The Blood Miracles.
Our two Rick O’Shea Book Club picks for July are great too but different — Sinead Crowley’s new crime novel One Bad Turn, and Mark O’Connell’s brilliant non-fiction To Be A Machine, all about people trying to gain immortality with brain uploading, cybernetics and more.
My older read this summer is going to be my beloved Day Of The Triffids by John Wyndham after my son bought me an original Penguin edition for my birthday.
Emma Donoghue’s Room has just opened at the Abbey Theatre, a book that had me so gripped on a recent trip to London, that I actually didn’t leave the hotel until I’d finished every last, mesmerising line.
So my big plan this summer is to get stuck into another book of hers, The Wonder, which is set in 19th century, post-Famine Ireland, and is about a young girl who’s not eating and yet thriving and the nurse who’s sent over from the UK to find out exactly what’s going on.
It sounds so completely different to Room, that it intrigued me. It’s Emma Donoghue, for God’s sake. What’s not to love?
I was recently down in a bookshop in Dingle and the person there was reading a book called A Little Life. It’s by Hanya Yanagihara, who’s this Japanese American author. And she said to me that it was so traumatising that she couldn’t put it down, so I had to have a go at it. It’s a massive book and I’m about four chapters in.
It’s about three lads who are all professionals and went to school together. And you’re finding out about their life and one of them has a bit of a history but I don’t know what it is yet. Anyway, it’s interesting for me that it’s written about men by a woman and I’m curious to see how she deals with it.
Last summer I read Emma Cline’s The Girls. It’s based on the Manson murders, I think. Anyway, it’s about this girl, impressionable girl, who comes from a wealthy family and is drawn into a cult.
But this Emma Cline is something else. I actually was underlining passages from the book because the descriptions were so good.
And she’s only young, in her twenties. I was blown away.