The opening of non-essential retail last Monday the 17th of May provided a sense of relief for many. Queues began early in the morning and snaked along streets and around corners as eager consumers braved the elements in search of some long awaited retail therapy. While many waited in line for big retailers such as Penneys, Brown Thomas and Zara, a dedicated few waited in line for bookshops to reopen.
It was possible to buy books during lockdown online and in some supermarkets but nothing beats the quiet murmur and distinctive smell of independent bookshops. For many people summer doesn’t begin until a few books have been bought to pass a lunch break or a summer evening.
There are a number of new releases and classics that can provide the perfect distraction from reality.
“Snowflake” is the much anticipated debut novel by Louse Nealon. Set between a dairy farm in Kildare and Trinity College this coming of age story tackles issues such as mental health, class and tradition. This book is a beautiful read, with complex characters that develop with the ebbs and flow of the plot. The story line highlights the often dark life of rural Ireland while highlighting the mythical beauty that co-exists. Snowflake is a quick read simply because you will not be able to put it down.
The easiest way to get into summer reading is to pick some book from the charts “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig has been widely recommended. Haig is an author that has written extensively on the topic of mental health; “The Midnight Library” explores this topic in the form of fiction. This book has been at the top of the best seller list for a number of weeks now and may become the book of the summer.
Summer is known as the time to read fiction but a well chosen memoir can lead to the discovery of a whole new world of material. Barack Obama’s memoir “A Promised Land” was published just after the 2020 US presidential election. This is just the first volume of this long awaited reflection on his years in the White House. The book consists of over 700 pages and goes into detail of many of the events that shaped his campaign and presidency. It is a monstrous task but the dedicated reader will be rewarded with new insights and perspectives.
Another memoir that has been widely anticipated is that of Sinead O’ Connor, “Rememberings” is due to be published on the 1st of June. The book details stories of O'Connor's childhood career in the music industry and her spiritual journey. The sneak previews of this book and the publicity have created a buzz around the book and many fans will be eager to pick up this book and find out more about the music legend.
Summer is also a great time to catch up on classics you always wanted to read, whether it's George Orwell’s “1984” or Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights” now if you chance to check them off your list but maybe avoid what you studied for your Leaving Cert.
An end of summer treat may come in the form of Sally Rooney’s latest book “Beautiful World, Where Are You” which is due to be published in Ireland in September. Since the series adaptation of her first novel Normal People Rooney's writing has gained many fans around the world and her second novel is now being adapted for the screen. The next publication will undoubtedly fly off the shelves; in fact this writer already has it pre-ordered!
As college readings, assignments and schoolwork fade into the background and the possibility of reading in the sunshine becomes more of a possibility. We are all more likely to turn our attention back to reading, make sure to support your local bookshop and chat to the lovely booksellers across the country.