Companions through the seasons

Staying In

Taking inspiration from other people’s choices

Book review
Brid Conroy

Short days and long nights are part of nature’s rhythm here on the island of Ireland. Though the approach can be somewhat dreaded as the summer drains from us, once here, there is a beauty in the darkness. And nearing the shortest day as we are, it is a time for reflection and the planting of seeds of inspiration for the year to come. Books of course feature wonderfully in my reflections; what books sold the best this year, what was important to our readers?

Children’s books
Children’s books remained as one of our top categories of sales in the year, which is so encouraging to see the engagement of our younger citizens in books of all sorts. Some of the main bestsellers top our charts too like Harriet Muncaster’s series featuring Isadora Moon, half vampire, half fairy, published by Oxford University Press, aimed at readers five to seven years of age.
The ‘Murder Most Unladylike’, series by Robin Stevens, published by Penguin Random House is a range of detective series featuring Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells, founders of the school’s detective club.
‘Bunny vs Monkey’ is a new comic strip series of books by Jamie Smart, published by David Fickling Books which has been extremely popular this year, featuring inventors, squirrels, action beavers and many more. Also, I am pleased that our sales of classics for children remaining popular, namely ‘Anne of Green Gables’, by Lucy Montgomery, and ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’, by Enid Blyton, one of my favourites too. ‘The Fairy Dogmother’ and ‘Peppa Pig’ were favourites amongst the under fours.
And lastly a great series, ‘Boys who Dare to be Different’, by Dan Brooks, published by Quercus, and ‘Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls’, by Elena Favilli, published by Rebel Girls inc, tell the stories of interesting, rebellious characters from history and current times, aimed at ages six and over.

Fiction
Fiction shares the top spot for category sales in the shop. This year, one my own favourites has topped the chart being ‘Lessons in Chemistry’ by Bonnie Gamus, published by Doubleday. It tells the story of a female chemist trying to make a name for herself, in the 1960s’ male-dominated world of chemistry. It’s funny and profound all at once, especially her beloved dog, also a character and strong voice in the book.
Still topping the charts is ‘Hamnet’, by Maggie O’Farrell, published by Headline and just an amazing book about the wife of Shakespeare. ‘The Mad Women’s Ball’, by Victoria Mas published by Transworld is also in our top three. Mas is a French author, whom we interviewed during Covid. The book tells tells the story behind an annual ball held in Le Salpetriere Asylum in Paris in the 1880s.

Nonfiction
Humanities, nature and environment were also top sellers for us. We have seen this category grow every year. ‘Great LGBTQ+ Speeches: Empowering Voices that Engage and Inspire’, by Tea Uglow, published by White Lion Publishing, is top of our charts, as has been ‘Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience’, by Brene Brown, published by Ebury Publishing.
‘A Little of History of Philosophy’, by Nigel Warburton, published by Yale University Press, is also a great seller. The author came to one of our bookshop’s monthly Philosopher’s Hat Club meetings. The book is a great overview of the evolution of philosophy as we know it today.
Surrounded by seashore as we are, it’s no surprise that the book ‘Why we Swim’, by Bonnie Sui, published by Ebury Publishing, is on the top spot of many people’s favourites, as is ‘Wild Shores’, by Richard Nairn, published by Gill Books.
We can but look forward to the year ahead and the many exciting books that will inform and engage us. What will you be reading first?

Bríd Conroy and her husband Neil Paul run Tertulia  – A Bookshop Like No Other at The Quay, Westport.