Bestselling novelist Sinéad Moriarty and popular RTE broadcaster and Book Club curator Rick O’Shea have teamed up with Eason to share their Must Reads for Winter. Whether you’re looking for inspiration for the perfect gift, or are treating yourself to a page-turning new read, these great titles are the perfect books to sink into during the chilly months ahead! 

All Must Reads are available to order online and in-store. Also, be sure to check out our #EasonMustReads on our Eason social channels!

Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

‘Lessons In Chemistry’ by Bonnie Garmus really is a slice of magic. It has everything a truly brilliant book needs – characters you fall completely in love with, depth, heart, and humour. I have been pushing it into the hands of everyone since I read it. 

Elizabeth Zott is a feminist and a modern thinker as well as being an incredibly gifted chemist in 1960s America, but her male colleagues cannot get past the fact that she's a woman, and only interact with her to steal her ideas and her work. Her life takes a turn for the better when she meets Calvin Evans, another brilliant chemist, who sees all that she is capable of. Sadly, life is not kind to them, and Elizabeth ends up on her own with a young daughter that she never really wanted.  To make ends meet, she reluctantly ends up hosting a cooking show but uses her chemistry background to get her female viewers to question and challenge the limitations society places on them.

 Elizabeth Zott is just one of the many wonderful characters in a book which is positively brimming with them. You will fall in love with so many - not least of all Six-Thirty who has to be my favourite literary dog of all time.  A unique, warm, witty, and beautiful debut about motherhood, grief, loneliness, sexism and the power of being your authentic self. A must read.

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Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

You might remember Louise Kennedy from her fantastic debut, the acclaimed short story collection ‘The End of The World Is A Cul-De-Sac’. Now she’s back pretty much 12 months later with her utterly hypnotic new novel ‘Trespasses’. Set at the peak of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in 1975, it tells the story of Cushla, who is a young Catholic schoolteacher whose family own a bar in which she occasionally works. The community she lives in isn’t at the epicentre of the Troubles though, and the bar’s clientele includes a real mix of people from both sides of the community and even, occasionally, groups of British squaddies.

It’s here she meets Michael, a charming Protestant barrister. Middle-aged and married, he invites Cushla to an unusual group he is part of who are learning Irish in each other’s homes, and there something dangerous begins.

‘Trespasses’ is beautiful in language, has two unforgettable main characters, and a story that made me feel like I was watching ‘Brief Encounter’- one of my all-time favourite movies. It’s absolutely brilliant, and I urge you to read it.

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Duffy and Son by Damian Owens

Duffy and Son by Damian Owens

Eugene Duffy is turning 70; his son Jim is turning 40. They live together in relative harmony and spend their days running the family hardware shop. But Eugene worries about his son Jim, he wants him to live a full life and is determined to find him a wife. On his quest to find love for his son, Eugene begins to reflect on his own life. Has he lived a successful and joyful life? Was he an inspiration or a disappointment to his children? How would he be remembered?

‘Duffy and Son’ is full of wisdom, reflection and has a huge heart. It is also full of wit and humour and you will laugh out loud at some of the things Eugene says and the awkward situations he gets himself into. All in all, I absolutely loved this treasure of a novel -it reminded me a lot of ‘A Man Called Ove’, and it’s a gorgeous and tender story with a real feel-good message at its heart.

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Seven Steeples by Sara Baume

Seven Steeples by Sara Baume

Bell and Sigh are a couple who make the decision to opt out of the rat race and rent a house somewhere in the remote countryside near the sea. Neither go to work, they scrape by on little money living a simple life in a small, tottery house that slowly grinds down as dirt and dust gathers around them. They fix things as they go on, make the occasional trip to the local town for essentials, walk their dog, and lose touch with friends and family as they pass the seasons in the shadow of a mountain they one day promise they’ll climb.

I know this might not sound thrilling, it isn’t, instead it’s a gorgeously detail-strewn fable of two people just, well, living a simple life. I’ve long since been one of those people who has thought about escaping to a life like this, as usual Sara Baume evokes it poetically and beautifully. It’s also impossible to pin down, really, and if you’re like me, it will make you question the life you’re living in favour of a much simpler one.

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The Trial of Lotta Rae by Siobhan McGowan

The Trial of Lotta Rae by Siobhan McGowan

Set against the backdrop of the Suffragette movement, ‘The Trial of Lotta Rae’ is about a fifteen-year-old girl, Lotta, who is from a loving working-class family, but her life is suddenly upended one night when she is viciously attacked and raped by a wealthy gentleman. Lotta's father is beside himself and wants justice, so he encourages his daughter Lotta to testify in court against her attacker. But this is 20th century England where a gentleman’s word is worth a lot more than a working-class girl’s reputation. Things are made even worse for Lotta when at the trial she is represented by a corrupt barrister who deliberately fails to defend her properly.
Despite all this, Lotta remains steadfast throughout, and is a brilliantly feisty and resilient character, who picks herself up and decides to get her own justice. Her journey takes her from the streets of Spitalfields to a Soho brothel and into the heart of the Suffragette movement.

Weaving historical fact with an engaging and page turning plot, Siobhan McGowan leaves the reader wondering just what Lotta Rae will do next as she encounters each adversity and challenge that comes her way. The twists and turns throughout will keep you on your toes as you turn the next page eager to find out how she gets her revenge.

 The writing in ‘The Trial of Lotta Rae’ is so accomplished throughout that it’s hard to believe it’s a debut - it’s a truly cracking, engrossing and utterly engaging read which is packed with lots of twists and turns to keep you reading well after bedtime.

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The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Based on real events in sixteenth century France, ‘The Dance Tree’ is set against the backdrop of an outbreak of a plague which begins in Strasbourg in the Summer of 1518. However, this plague is not spread by breathing, coughing or germs, or in the way we might usually expect – it begins with a single woman dancing in the blazing heat in the centre of the city. Dancing non-stop.

Lisbet lives just outside the city with her husband and mother-in-law when the sister-in-law she has never met, Nethe, returns unexpectedly from six years in exile for a crime that no-one will speak of, not even Nethe herself. As the days pass and the woman dancing in the city becomes a group, then a crowd, the authorities start to panic. Gradually a sea of women form, and long hidden stories are unearthed.

‘The Dance Tree’ is a powerful story of what true love actually means - between both friends and spouses. It’s also a fascinating portrayal of the run up to an event of mass hysteria like the real one in the 1500s that inspires this story. Evocative and fantastic, I loved it.

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Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Inspired by true events, ‘Take My Hand’ tells the shocking story of two young African American girls, Erica, and India, who are from a poverty-stricken background and who suffer forced sterilisation in Alabama in the 1970s. Erica and India’s story is told by a young black nurse Civil Townsend who, appalled by what she witnesses, blows the whistle on the terrible wrong done to her patients.

 Civil is newly qualified as a nurse and hopes to help her patients at the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic to make their own choices for their lives and bodies. But when she discovers that her patients are innocent, 11- and 13-year-old sisters, she is shocked to learn that she is supposed to inject them with birth control. Neither of the Williams sisters has even kissed a boy, but they are poor and Black and for the US government that’s reason enough to have the girls on birth control.

Things go from bad to worse and Civil is forced to speak up. ‘Take My Hand’ is a deeply moving story and shines the spotlight on the terrible human rights violations afflicted on so many poor young girls and women who were so badly wronged by their state and government. It’s compelling, raw, disturbing, and is a tale that particularly resonates today, given the recent events in America.

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All Along The Echo by Danny Denton

All Along The Echo by Danny Denton

I loved Danny Denton’s first novel – ‘The Earlie King and The Kid In Yellow’, which was set in a semi-flooded post-apocalyptic Dublin. His latest novel moves to a more contemporary setting, and I’m delighted to report that I love it every bit as much as I did his first one. Tony Cooney is a call-in show presenter on a local radio station. When he gets the chance to travel around the country as part of a car competition, both he and his producer Lou get the chance to re-evaluate their struggling relationships with their respective partners.

‘All Along The Echo’ is all of this, but with a commentary from two strange disembodied voices every now and then (think Beckett or a radio play), who treat as if it’s just a story they like, maybe even something from the distant past or even another planet. It’s very different and original, and part of its journey throughout is figuring the story out for yourself as you read it – all in all, it’s a thoroughly entertaining read with great character, and as someone who works in that world for a living, it all felt very real to me.

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Sinéad & Rick's Must Reads - previous selection