Top 5 Books for Summer, recommended by Aisling series authors Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen

Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen are the bestselling authors of the Aisling book series,  which follows the adventures of Aisling, a country girl who moves to the big city. The 5th book in the series, Aisling Ever After, will be published in August 2023 and is available to pre-order now.
Here, Emer and Sarah pick their favourite suitcase-friendly reads for summer.

The Rachel Incident
Caroline O’Donohue

The mark of a great book is one where you’re rooting for each character, even the ones you don’t really like. In The Rachel Incident, Caroline O’Donohue has created complex characters with humour and tact. It brings us back to recession-era Cork and the friendship between two twenty-something booksellers who are obsessed with each other, and someone else. It’s a deeply comforting read, yet it will keep you guessing and gasping the whole way through. If you’re going for an O’ Donohue double bill, Scenes of a Graphic Nature is also well worth your time.

Nothing But Blue Sky
Kathleen McMahon

Recently a friend thanked me (Emer) for recommending this book to her and I felt so thrilled that my nagging had paid off. Nothing But Blue Sky is a beautiful novel about grief and eulogising and how the protagonist, a widower, works to recover from the death of his wife who says “taught me the habit of happiness. Before I met her, it never even occurred to me to pursue it”. People throw around “I couldn’t put it down” an awful lot, but it was true in this case. 

Small Things Like These
Claire Keegan

Soon to be a movie produced by and starring Cillian Murphy, Small Things is set in New Ross in the bitterly cold winter of 1985. When Bill Furlong, a fuel merchant and father of five daughters, is on his rounds, he makes an uncomfortable discovery at the local convent school where unmarried mothers are sent to atone for their sins. This finding forces Furling to confront his own past and his family history. A moving story and flawless writing combine to make it a must-read.

A Heart That Works
Rob Delaney

If you’ve seen Catastrophe you probably know Rob Delaney, who not only starred in the hit black comedy, but was also the co-writer, alongside Sharon Horgan. But what nobody knew was that in 2018, Delaney’s baby son, Henry, was diagnosed with brain cancer and eventually died aged just two-and-a-half. This book is, of course, heart-wrenching, but the way Delaney describes grief and love and the partnership he has with his wife Leah filled me with so much hope that at times I didn’t quite know what I (Sarah) was crying over. All proceeds are being donated to children’s charities.

Rachel’s Holiday
Marian Keyes

Rachel Walsh’s holiday involves a flight, but it’s not to Tenerife or Sicily or the Algarve. Instead, she’s going to rehab back home in Ireland, basically forced by friends and family to confront the dependency on alcohol and drugs she’s developed in her years living in London. Rachel’s expecting a spa-like facility full of celebrities and mud masks but gets quite the land when faced with group therapy, a roommate, and harsh reality. If you’ve read it before, Marian Keyes’ brilliant and funny book is worth a revisit. If you’ve never picked it up this is your sign, especially since there’s now a sequel.