Reads for every occasion.
THE DAYTIME READ
Before reading Irish writer Sophie White’s Recipes for a Nervous Breakdown (Gill Books, approx €24.99, out now), be warned: this is no ordinary debut. Her first book is a combination of accessible, clever recipes and a brilliantly witty memoir – this sets it apart from the hordes of healthy cookbooks we’ve seen on shelves over the past couple of years. It is, as she puts it, her “life on a plate” as she details her recovery process and love of food following a mental breakdown in her early twenties and sporadic episodes ever since. White is a natural writer, a sharer; her words sparkle with an honesty and dry wit as she takes the reader through her formative years trying to make it as a cook, forgoing her original path as a visual artist and finding her way back from a night (and a pill) that catapulted her into a serious breakdown. Through it all shines her love of food; food to bring you up, to get you through, and food that contains a lot of butter. This no-holds-barred account of a life truly lived will make you feel good and ensure you’re eating seriously tasty meals for months to come.
THE COMMUTING READ
The Glass Shore: Short Stories by Women Writers from the North of Ireland (New Island, approx €19.95, out now), edited by award-winning writer and critic Sinéad Gleeson, is a follow-on from last year’s The Long Gaze Back: An Anthology of Irish Women Writers, which sparked a discussion about the lack of appreciated female writers in the literary canon. It was soon decided that women writers from the North deserved their own anthology, and so this collection features writers emerging and established, alongside deceased luminaries, and the result is 25 stirring stories on everything from belonging to relationships, and life’s missed chances. It’s a mix of the old and the new; the past and the present, yet each tale offers something distinctly different and engaging. Read one at a time, and savor everything about this wonderful tome.
THE ALL-NIGHTER READ
It isn’t easy to tackle racism and prejudice with such an eloquent intelligence and empathy, but in Small Great Things (Hodder & Stoughton, approx €18, out November 22), author Jodi Picoult does exactly that. The daughter of a black maid in a privileged white household, nurse Ruth Jefferson is no stranger to prejudice, but when the parents of a newborn baby (and white supremacists) ban Ruth from touching their child, she experiences a new level of racism first-hand. She is then accused of a crime that leads to the death of the baby – but what really happened? This is one you won’t be able to put down.
THE BEDSIDE READ
Esteemed author Margaret Atwood returns with a read suitably different from her usual dystopian-centred universe. Hag-Seed (Penguin Random House, approx €16, out now), a modern retelling of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, centres on theatre director Felix, who, after a revered career marred by the tragic deaths of his wife and young daughter, is exiled to teaching in a prison after losing his job. His staging of The Tempest was to be the show of his life, so he begins to plot his revenge against those who wronged him. The project series, which sees Shakespeare’s works retold by today’s acclaimed and bestselling novelists for a modern audience, is all very Atwood; her unique take on vengeance, enchantment and second chances is sure to delight old and new fans alike.
This article originally appeared in the November issue of IMAGE magazine, on shelves nationwide now.