Hello friends, despite how dreadful I usually am at sticking to TBR’s, I’ve put together a few books I would like to read for this year’s Irish Readathon. I’ve gone for mostly recent releases this year and one classic. I have a few more books added to an Irish Readathon Goodreads Shelf that I might pick up and some books on reserve in the library that will hopefully come available in March.
I also have a YouTube playlist with videos from past Irish Readathons by myself, Aoife and Leanne so be sure to check that out here.
We are running a competition this year to win our group read The Henna Wars. You have three opportunities to enter; on my Instagram, Aoife’s YouTube and Leanne’s Twitter. Due to everything that’s going on the competition is open to residents of Ireland only.
We’re also running a 24hr Readathon in March that I completely forgot to mention in the video! The 24-hour readathon will run March 20th-21st and the goal is simply to read as much as possible in a 24hr period so you can pick the times you read and how much you want to read.
I have a Goodreads Shelf with some recommendations for the readathon if you need some more ideas.
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> Read a Green Book
The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen
The Last September is Elizabeth Bowen’s portrait of a young woman’s coming of age in a brutalized time and place, where the ordinariness of life floats like music over the impending doom of history.
In 1920, at their country home in County Cork, Sir Richard Naylor and his wife, Lady Myra, and their friends maintain a skeptical attitude toward the events going on around them, but behind the facade of tennis parties and army camp dances, all know that the end is approaching—the end of British rule in the south of Ireland and the demise of a way of life that had survived for centuries. Their niece, Lois Farquar, attempts to live her own life and gain her own freedoms from the very class that her elders are vainly defending. The Last September depicts the tensions between love and the longing for freedom, between tradition and the terrifying prospect of independence, both political and spiritual.
> Read a Non-Fiction Book
OK, Let’s Do Your Stupid Idea by Patrick Freyne
‘Funny, smart, soulful and sometimes devastating, this book shows life in all its shades. It made me laugh and cry.’ Emilie Pine, author of Notes to Self
‘Hilariously, painfully, Freynefully brilliant’Joseph O’Connor
Patrick Freyne has tried a lot of stupid ideas in his life. Now, in his scintillating debut, he is here to tell you about them: like the time (aged 5) he opened a gate and let a horse out of its field, just to see what would happen; or the time (aged 19) he jumped out of a plane for charity, even though he didn’t much care about the charity and was sure he’d end up dead; or the time (aged old enough to know better) he used a magazine as a funnel for fuel when the petrol cap on his band’s van broke.
He has also learned a few things: about the power of group song; about the beauty of physically caring for another human being; about childlessness; about losing friends far too young. Life as seen through the eyes of Patrick Freyne is stranger, funnier and a lot more interesting than life as we generally know it. Like David Sedaris or Nora Ephron, he creates an environment all his own – fundamentally comic, sometimes moving, always deeply humane. OK, Let’s Do Your Stupid Idea is a joyous reading experience from an instantly essential new writer.
> Read a ‘New to You’ Author
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
A stunning new departure for Maggie O’Farrell’s fiction, HAMNET is the heart-stopping story behind Shakespeare’s most famous play.
On a summer’s day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?
Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London. Neither parent knows that one of the children will not survive the week.
Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright. It is a story of the bond between twins, and of a marriage pushed to the brink by grief. It is also the story of a kestrel and its mistress; flea that boards a ship in Alexandria; and a glovemaker’s son who flouts convention in pursuit of the woman he loves. Above all, it is a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.
> Read a BIPOC/LGBTQIA Author or Book
Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri
rom Guardian contributor BBC race correspondent Emma Dabiri comes an essay collection exploring the ways in which black hair has been appropriated and stigmatized throughout history, with ruminations on body politics, race, pop culture, and Dabiri’s own journey to loving her hair.
Emma Dabiri can tell you the first time she chemically straightened her hair. She can describe the smell, the atmosphere of the salon, and her mix of emotions when she saw her normally kinky tresses fall down her shoulders. For as long as Emma can remember, her hair has been a source of insecurity, shame, and—from strangers and family alike—discrimination. And she is not alone.
Despite increasingly liberal world views, black hair continues to be erased, appropriated, and stigmatized to the point of taboo. Through her personal and historical journey, Dabiri gleans insights into the way racism is coded in society’s perception of black hair—and how it is often used as an avenue for discrimination. Dabiri takes us from pre-colonial Africa, through the Harlem Renaissance, and into today’s Natural Hair Movement, exploring everything from women’s solidarity and friendship, to the criminalization of dreadlocks, to the dubious provenance of Kim Kardashian’s braids.
Through the lens of hair texture, Dabiri leads us on a historical and cultural investigation of the global history of racism—and her own personal journey of self-love and finally, acceptance.
> Read a Book with Mythology/Folklore
Savage Her Reply by Deirdre Sullivan
A dark, feminist retelling of The Children of Lir by the author of the multi-award-winning Tangleweed and Brine. ‘No-one else writes like Deirdre Sullivan. She is lyrical, poetic and thoroughly intoxicating.’ Juno Dawson, author of Wonderland ‘Unsettling, haunting, and darkly lyrical, Savage Her Reply is a beautiful thing.’ Louise O’Neill, author of After The Silence A retelling of the favourite Irish fairytale The Children of Lir. Aífe marries Lir, a chieftain with four children by his previous wife. Jealous of his affection for his children, the witch Aífe turns them into swans for 900 years. Retold through the voice of Aífe, Savage Her Reply is unsettling and dark, feminist and fierce, yet nuanced in its exploration of the guilt of a complex character. A dark & witchy feminist retelling from the author of Tangleweed and Brine.
> BONUS: Read the Group Book – The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
Synopsis from Goodreads: Nishat doesn’t want to lose her family, but she also doesn’t want to hide who she is, and it only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life. Flávia is beautiful and charismatic, and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat decide to showcase their talent as henna artists. In a fight to prove who is the best, their lives become more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush, especially since Flávia seems to like her back.
As the competition heats up, Nishat has a decision to make: stay in the closet for her family, or put aside her differences with Flávia and give their relationship a chance.
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