Comfort food, in media form

The last few weeks have been hard. I mean, obviously the last seven months have been hard, but the last few weeks have hit another downswing.

Cases here in Ireland are going exponentially back up, the government has thus far decided another full lockdown isn’t necessary despite the strong recommendations of the Emergency Health committee (citing mental health and unemployment as a reason despite having spent the last decade being criticised for underfunding mental health services, and the last few months claiming that unemployment support payments are too high), and with the weather changing to autumn (which in Ireland is aka winter lite aka endless rain), it’s hard to find things to get excited about after work when I know it’s going to be shit weather and I won’t even be able to go out for a walk and some fresh air.

When I start feeling like this, it’s nice to have some cosy, happy things to turn to. The media equivalent of comfort food, these are the things that have been making me feel good when everything else feels bad.

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What I read in September

September was a good reading month. Rainy evenings at home, a few long drives, and one last week of unemployment before I started a new job gave me ample opportunity to read some excellent books. I started the month finishing the last of the Women’s Prize winners (and a few 2020 shortlist titles) and finished it with a couple of powerful nonfiction reads. Here they are:

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The Women’s Prize for Fiction winners, ranked (10-1)

Last week I wrote about 14 of the 24 Women’s Prize for Fiction winners. Today the 25th winner is announced, I can’t wait! See HERE for details about the prize. And here is my top 10 ranking of previous winners.

Bonus: I’m not going to try to predict this year’s winner because I’ve only read three of the six shortlisted titles, but my favourite of the ones I’ve read is Dominicana by Angie Cruz (although Girl Women Other by Bernardine Evaristo and Weather by Jenny Offill were also both wonderful). I look forward to reading the other nominees soon.

Bonus #2: My favourite previously shortlisted nominees that didn’t win the big prize are Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Circe by Madeline Miller, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and one of my favourite books of all time, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. 

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The Women’s Prize for Fiction winners, ranked (24-11)

There are so many book awards out there, and they all have different characters. By this, I mean that there are some whose winners I generally find aren’t to my personal taste (the Booker), there are some whose winners are a real mixed bag (the Pulitzer), and there are some whose winners I, with only a few exceptions, absolutely love (the Women’s Prize). The Women’s Prize was formerly known as the Orange Prize, the Bailey’s Prize and, as the current name would suggest, it is awarded to a woman (for the best original full-length novel published in English in the UK).

I’ve read all of the 24 Women’s Prize winners and at least 20 other shortlisted titles, and there’s only one I can pick out as being a book I really didn’t enjoy (hint: it only made the Women’s Prize shortlist, but it did win the Booker a few years ago). Most of the winners I’ve liked, really liked, or absolutely loved, but there were some I loved more than others. In anticipation for the 25th award being announced next week, I’ve ranked all the winners and split it up into two posts. Catch my top 10 on the day of the prize announcement next Wednesday, and here are my choices for 24 to 11 (but even these books on the “bottom” half of the list are still well worth a read!).

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The Best Debuts I’ve read This Year

Every author has to start somewhere, but while some writers take a few books to find their stride, others manage to create incredible works straight out the gate. Or, perhaps, these authors haven’t even hit their peaks yet, and these debuts are that good but there’s something even more amazing to come. I can’t wait to find out. Here are five of the best debut novels I’ve read so far this year. 

Note: These are not all 2020 debuts, just my favourite first novels I’ve read so far in 2020.

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Old Friends

Yesterday I did something that, according to Goodreads, I haven’t done in at least four years. I re-read a book.

On Friday night, I finished the last of the books I had downloaded to my Kindle via Libby via my local library (The Year of Less by Cait Flanders) and so while I wait for my next hold to come in (will it be The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel or More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth? I can’t wait to find out), I turned to my bookshelf.

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