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Looking to buy books for Christmas gifts? Here's how to please every adult with Irish writing

Whether they’re an avid reader or an occasional reader, we’ve got you sorted.
Dec 5th 2018, 6:46 PM 17,872 18

IF YOU’RE LOOKING for a quality Christmas present, a book is always a great idea. But how to go about picking one?

We’ve put this list together – and broken it down according to the type of person you’re buying for. And the best bit? It’s all Irish writing.

The Bibliophile

This person wants something special from their books – they’re an avid reader, their bookshelves are crammed with tomes, and they particularly like a special edition.

  • Winter Papers

An annual Irish arts anthology that’s beautiful to look at and to read – crammed full of Irish writing and images, and edited by Kevin Barry and Olivia Smith. Website.

  • Stinging Fly Stories

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Impress your friend and get them excited about all the gems to be found in this collection of short stories from the Stinging Fly. They spot and nurture writers very early on in their careers, so who knows what future stars could be found in here. Website.

  • Nine Silences by Doireann Ní Ghríofa

For someone who REALLY would appreciate it. Poetry and art combine – for €550 – as Doireann Ní Ghríofa responds to art by Irish artist Alice Maher. The work is bound on handmade paper dating to 1974 and is presented in a transparent crimson slipcase, and there are just 50 copies of the standard edition. Very special (but if it’s not in your budget, a book of Ní Ghríofa’s poetry is always a treat). Website.

  • gorse No 10

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The tenth edition of gorse is described as a “limited edition, mixed-media book-in-a-box featuring specially-commissioned contemporary responses to ‘the readymade’ in literature from writers, poets, artists and translators based across Europe and North America.” Inside the box you’ll find beer mats with poems on them, newsprint obituaries, sticker sheets, business cards with short poems, and mail art and poetry. Buy it here.

The Sports Nut

For the person who would rather read nothing than read something that isn’t about sport.

  • The Fighter by Andy Lee and Niall Kelly

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Boxer Andy Lee tells his fascinating story in this book co-written with The42.ie deputy editor Niall Kelly. Nominated for an An Post Irish Book Award, it’s a fascinating look at the life of a talented and humble sportsman.

  • The Hurlers by Paul Rouse 

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For GAA fans, this book looks at the story of the first All-Ireland hurling championship, and also the making of the modern GAA. A neat combination of sports and history (and some fetching jerseys).

  • Driven by Rosemary Smith

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Rosemary Smith learned to drive at the age of 11, and went on to become a pioneering female motorsport driver. She tells her incredible story in this autobiography.

  • Behind The Lines by The42.ie writers

The men and women of The42.ie regularly pen incredible sports articles – here, they’ve compiled some of their strongest work for a lovely collection to dip into.

The ‘I should read more’ Reader

This is a great chance to get someone a book that everyone is talking about – because if they’re up on what’s currently hot in the books world, then that’s a way to encourage them to read even more. Plus, you’ll get to chat to them about these fantastic books too.

  • Normal People by Sally Rooney 

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This Booker Prize-nominated book is about first love, but it’s also about Ireland, the Celtic Tiger, abuse, violence, and finding yourself. There is always a lot to talk about after you read a Sally Rooney book – your friend will go for her debut, Conversations With Friends after this.

  • Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

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A good gripping crime novel will get anyone back into the reading game. This, by Liz Nugent, consistently has people running to Twitter to talk about how much they loved it. It won two awards at the Irish Book Awards.

  • Notes to Self by Emilie Pine

One of the year’s biggest unexpected hits, in this Pine lays bare her life in an intimate, honest and vulnerable way. A must-read.

  • Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling by Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght

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You’re nobody if you haven’t read one of the Aisling books – get your loved one started with the book that has been in the bestseller lists since it was published over a year ago. Then they can move on to the follow-up, Country Roads, Take Her Home.

The Experimental Reader

For your friend who wants something different – something challenging, something unusual, something head-turning – try these Irish books.

  • The Orchid and the Wasp by Caoilinn Hughes

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Hughes is such an interesting writer, taking very ‘normal’ ideas and spinning them into something exciting with her energetic prose.

  • A Brilliant Void

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A collection of Irish sci-fi, you say? From as far back as the 1960s? Yes, this is quite the fascinating read from the great Tramp Press

The Short-Story Addict

We all have a loved one who loves short stories – either because they live a busy life and need to read something quick and fast (but get something big out of it), or they adore short stories because they’re an incredible way of delving into a whole new world over just a few pages. 

  • Last Stories by William Trevor

This was the legendary William Trevor’s last book of stories – and they’re a delight. Moving, profound, and sensitive. Plus the jacket is just gorgeous.

  • This Hostel Life by Melatu Uche Okorie

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Melatu spent eight years in Direct Provision in Ireland, and this slim volume is not just a look at what life was like there, but also at what it’s like to experience casual racism in Ireland, and what it is to live in a culture that has ideas that oppress women. Buy here.

  • Caring for Japanese Arts at the Chester Beatty Library by Yoshiko Ushioda

This book, translated by Etsuko Kanamori and published by Dalkey Archive, is Ushioda’s depiction of travelling from Tokyo to Ireland in 1960 to join her husband who was at UCD. She goes from being a volunteer at the Chester Beatty to curator – quite the journey.

The Non-Fiction Nut

‘Why read about things that never happened when you can read about the highs and lows of real life?’ if this is a familiar refrain from a pal of yours, here are some brilliant non-fiction books.

  • The Shoemaker and his Daughter

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Conor O’Cleary writes about his wife, Zhanna, and her family’s story. They lived in the Soviet Union and so this book takes in over 80 years of Soviet history, through the real-life story of people who lived through it. 

  • The Cow Book by John Connell

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John Connell works on his family farm in Co Longford – but as he wrote for us, he never intended on working there at all. He came home to deal with depression and found solace in the farm.

  • Mind on Fire by Arnold Fanning 

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This incredibly honest book is difficult to read at times, as Fanning went through some shockingly difficult experiences as his mental health crumbled. But it’s also the story of a man who went through hell, and recovered.

What books would you suggest? Tell us in the comments.

Send a tip to the author

Aoife Barry

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