Selection of books by Kildare authors available at local bookstores, photo taken at Barker & Jones, Naas
Are you on the last minute.com Christmas round up? Well, the gift of reading is a wonderful present, for young and old alike, so buy a book, and where possible, choose a local author.
I popped into Barker & Jones recently and asked one of the store managers to show me some books by local authors. Before you could say 'Happy Christmas!', he had an array of books before me - “Just a small selection here” said Jason “Lots more if you need them!”
I'm going to start with children's books, a selection featured above. One of the many joys in being a grandmother is choosing books for my grandson Jack who will be three in February next. We're going through the Gruffalo series and I'm all Baby Sharked out too! Jack pretty much loves anything written by the Gruffalo authors, they're beautifully illustrated with daft and engaging text.
Children love the familiarity of characters in books, using repetitive phrases or rhymes, hence the enduring popularity of Winnie the Pooh, Rupert Bear and the afore-mentioned Gruffalo series.
From Kildare author Emma Jane Leeson comes the latest in the Johnny Magory series: Johnny Magory and the Forest Fleadh Cheoil. Illustrated by Don Conroy, this is the fourth book in Emma Jane's collection. This book is just delightful and delicious to read!
Encompassing traditional Irish instruments and native wildlife, you will be teaching your child about our native animals and Irish music. Such an engaging interactive book, with a robin 'hidden' on each page – and there is some Irish to be learnt therein also. Clever, fun and a fun way to educate children on their Irish heritage and wildlife. Available in bookstores or directly from Emma Jane at www.JohnnyMagory.com
Next up is Pippy's First Adventure by Mary Grace of Naas. A familiar face at the Harbour View Hotel, Mary has written a book around a little bear called Pippy who coincidentally wears spectacles. So any child who is not content with wearing prescription glasses, maybe introducing Pippy might help. Pippy's adventures include very normal things most children do – Sunday lunch, playing in the garden, a visit to the woods coincidentally to Bluebells and Buskers near Rathangan, the zoo, bath-time and Pippy's first time on an airplane. It's so sweet and a great book for children developing their reading skills. You can read it to younger children but older children can also pick it up themselves and maybe identify with Kildare's latest adventurer.
Available at €8.95 in Barker & Jones or from firstname.lastname@example.org
I couldn't desist purchasing a couple of copies of Mouse's Night Before Christmas by Tracey Corderoy and Sarah Massins, I don't know if there is a Kildare connection but they're so cute and retail at €7.99 in Barker & Jones, Naas.
Over to adult books now and I'll start with Newbridge based author Orla McAlinden. Her first award winning book, the Accidental Wife didn't 'grab' me initially. Then I realised it was the underlying tension and violence that I, as a resident of the south, the Republic of Ireland have no comprehension of whatsoever. I know my history but I understand little of the complexities and hidden divides of today's Northern Ireland. I've kept it by the bedside and dip in and out regularly.
Last summer, one of my holiday reads was McAlinden's first novel, The Flight of the Wren. I had brought my usual thriller and 'girlie' read on holidays and the Wren tale was my third book.
I loved it; it's not for those of you who like your female heroines to come in a steely blue eyed and blonde haired format. Sally is a dubious heroine at best, she is simply a survivor of the Great Famine and her well-intended actions have negative repercussions for others. Everything about this book is unconventional, the central character herself, the plight her life takes, a love story that ensues and again, her actions throughout the book make her a dubious heroine. McAlinden's description of the conditions the female captives endure on the convict ship is all too realistic.
I swear I could feel the stench of body odours, of vomit and urine of the women trapped below; I could feel the sway and nausea of the convicts, and the stomach rumblings of real hunger. Not for those of you who like a cushy Mills & Boons tale but it was definitely a book I completed and enjoyed the author's different style and vivid prose.
Full of Grace is McAlinden's most recent work, and shortlisted for An Post Short Story of the Year. I'm dipping in and out of it, and maybe because I endured with the Accidental Wife, I'm not put off by the underlying tensions and relationships set within Northern Ireland. Available widely in bookstores across the county.
Lots and lots of history books available by Kildare authors. Anything by James Durney is reccommended and you can pick them up and delve into them without feeling you have to read from start to finish. There's a Reflections Recollections by Larry Breen on recent and not so recent events in Naas; a book by County Kildare Archaelogical Society for art and cultural buffs; Cuisle Chill Dara 'the Heartbeat of Kildare' by authors from Naas Writers' Group which includes short stories and poems on issues many of us can identify with.
Jamie Heaslip's All In with Matt Cooper is now €19.99 and in complete contrast there are the Aisling books now three in the series by authors Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen. These books are a great 'girlie giggle'. I can liken them to Bridget Jones books written with a hint of Marian Keyes style, a humorous reflection on the modern Irish woman and often, her dysfunctional family and relationships. Definitely a good stocking filler.
For those of you who do enjoy a romantic novel – I'd recommend Hazel Gaynor's book co written with Heather Mariah Webb. Meet Me in Monaco is based on the impending marriage of actress Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier of Monaco. It gives a good insight into the horrendous pressures and the insatiable hunger of the then press into the happenings of the Hollywood movie idol as she takes a completely different path in her life. I couldn't help but compare it to the frenzied paparazzi who followed the late Princess Diana to her death.
The royal romance is mirrored with a second couple, a hapless British photographer and a young French perfumer, each one struggling with their careers, finances and trying to balance family responsibilities. For the romantic, another recommended stocking filler.
Whatever your choice of books, from autobiographies to history or culture, kiddies' books, thrillers, fiction and non fiction, support your local bookstore. I love dropping into Barker & Jones, to Woodbine Books, Kilcullen and other Kildare bookstores. Wherever you're living, just go to your local bookstore and ask the staff on duty what niche books you seek, male or female recipient, adult or child and they'll have a selection of books before you blink!