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!

When the Dust Settles by Lucy Easthope

When the Dust Settles by Lucy Easthope

Lucy Easthope lives with disaster every day. When a plane crashes, a bomb explodes, a city floods or a pandemic begins, she's the one the authorities call, and she is an expert in helping communities recover from disasters. Lucy’s role meant that she was already organising and planning for the panic and chaos that lay ahead months before we had even heard of Covid-19.

In this very moving and searingly honest memoir, she reveals what happens in the aftermath of disaster situations and explores how communities pick up and rebuild with strength and perseverance. Lucy was born and raised in Liverpool where the Hillsborough tragedy loomed large in her childhood and clearly that is where she saw the importance of helping people after a tragedy.

Prior to reading ‘When the Dust Settles’, I never even knew people like Lucy existed, and her book has taught me a lot not only about the importance of community and kindness to victims of disasters, but also about how the smallest things can matter so much when they’ve experienced such trauma. Her stories and experiences show us that humanity, hope and humour can be found in even the darkest situations. A totally fascinating and eye-opening read.

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The Colony by Audrey Magee

The Colony by Audrey Magee

Audrey Magee makes a very welcome return with her second fantastic novel after her hugely acclaimed debut ‘The Undertaking’ which was published way back in 2014.

A small Irish island in the late 1970s gets a regular visitor each summer in the form of a young Frenchman who has spent years studying the still surviving Irish language on the island, and the detrimental effect that the English language is having on it. One year, an English artist arrives too, to paint the local cliffs. Both men will go onto make an unimaginable impact on the island’s future.

‘The Colony’ is beautifully written- it’s also so delicate in the unpicking it does of colonialism, cultural appropriation, and the disappearing traditions of small island life - I’ll be surprised if it isn’t one of my Irish books of the year by the time we make it to December.

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Memphis by Tara Stringfellow

Memphis by Tara Stringfellow

Inspired by the author’s own family story, this incredible debut novel charts the lives of 3 generations of strong black women, as they each survive tragedy, violence, poverty, and abuse.

‘Memphis’ opens as one of the central characters Miriam is escaping a violent marriage with her two young daughters, Joan and Mya. She flees to the only place she can go and seeks refuge in her ancestral family home in Memphis, where her sister August now lives, with her own very damaged and dangerous son, Derek. Spanning a period of 70 years, the story moves back and forth in time to show us how the past always affects the present and how difficult it is to escape it. 

 ‘Memphis’ is populated with incredibly strong and resilient characters, and I fell in love with ten-year-old Joan who pours her rage and confusion into sketching portraits of the local women, whilst dreaming of escaping Memphis and becoming an artist. Whilst there are moments of real darkness throughout, this is also a novel full of warmth that ultimately celebrates the strength and resilience of black women, and the importance of family, friendship, and community. It’s a novel that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

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The Old Woman With The Knife by Gu Byeong-Mo

The Old Woman With The Knife by Gu Byeong-Mo

‘The Old Woman With the Knife’ is a hugely entertaining novel, and it filled that perfect thriller gap in my post-Christmas reading.

Hornclaw is a 65-year-old agency contract killer hoping for retirement in her little flat with her rescue dog. She’s spent the last few decades getting rid of whoever is in the file she’s handed – whether it’s businessmen, cheaters or lowlifes. She’s no 007, but she’s so far managing to make a living from killing until suddenly, on the verge of what she thinks will be her retirement, she makes a slip that could cause the end of her world as she knows it.

Utterly unique, it’s cracking fun, and really smart. It’s also a fascinating insight into what life might look and feel like as you reach that stage of being a woman in a country like South Korea, where there are still quite a few old-fashioned ideas about women’s place in society.   Part of a new wave of brilliant writing emerging from Korea, I devoured it in a couple of days. It gives the rest of 2022’s thrillers lots to live up to.

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Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu

Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu

‘Peach Blossom Spring’ follows three generations of a Chinese family on their search for a place to call home. Beginning in China in 1938 with the Japanese army approaching, Meilin and her four year old son, Renshu, are forced to flee their home. Relying on their wits and the kindness of strangers, they travel through a ravaged country, seeking refuge and safety. They manage to survive and as soon as he can, Renshu moves away to America.

Like so many immigrants, he is keen to shed his past and re-invents himself as Henry Dao. Even though his daughter, Lily, is desperate to understand her heritage, Henry refuses to talk about his childhood. Henry cannot shake the weight of a history that he still fears could drag his family down. But Lily is not to be deterred and she goes in search of her grandmother and her family’s story.

This is a beautiful book that taught me so much about the history of China, but also about the baggage that immigrants carry and the guilt they feel when they try to cut ties with their past and live a new life. Based on the experiences of the author’s own father, ‘Peach Blossom Spring’ will break your heart, and stick it back together again, and it’s also the perfect choice for a book club selection as there are just so many themes and talking points throughout.

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To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara

To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara

You might remember Hanya Yanagihara as the writer of the widely discussed and much-loved ‘A Little Life’, this time she returns with another huge feat of storytelling, but a very different one.

To Paradise is divided into three magnificent parts and is set in three distinct time zones, each of which imagine an 1890s alt-history, a 1990s AIDS crisis story, and a grim 2090s post-pandemics (plural) futuristic world. Each part is also predominately set in New York and features one house on Washington Square.

I’ve seen more than someone describe it as a symphony, and that’s not a bad analogy. Notes and themes (involving people, relationships and countries) start in the past and then get stronger or weaker and are added to in the later sections. Characters share names, lineage, interweave relationships, and force you to think about love, politics, progress, regress, myth, and science - all through just bloody great storytelling.

Yes it’s huge, but it’s also a great American novel. It's unmissable.

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The Dictator’s Wife by Freya Berry

The Dictator’s Wife by Freya Berry

People are saying this gripping thriller is based on Melania Trump, but for me, reading it brought more to mind the lives of Imelda Marcos or Elena Ceaușescu. It opens as Laura, a young lawyer, travels as part of a team to the country of her exiled parents, to defend Marija Popa, the wife of the dead dictator Constantin Popa, who is accused of being complicit in her husband’s horrific crimes.

Laura’s parents managed to escape the country years earlier, and are furious that their daughter is defending Popa’s wife, thereby putting a huge strain on their already fragile relationship. If you’ve ever wondered about how much the wives of dictators actually knew, then this book is for you. It’s very thought provoking, darkly thrilling and at times almost claustrophobic. I found myself holding my breath and racing through the final chapters to find out the truth.

It’s also so well written that I found myself liking Marija in the same way as all of those around her did, even though there was always the strong suspicion that she was an absolute monster. An utterly captivating exploration of absolute power and the guilt of complicity.

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The Love Songs Of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

The Love Songs Of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

I’ll start by saying that ‘The Love Songs Of W.E.B. Du Bois’ is the best novel I’ve read in terms of illuminating and shedding light upon both African-American lives, and also the impact of the arrival of the white man to ‘claim’ land for himself. In fact, it’s so good on its subject matter, that it’s better than any Non-Fiction I've ever read in terms of educating me about that key part of the American past.

The story takes the form of a sweeping history of a small group of characters and starts in one small town in the land that will eventually become Georgia. The narrative then cuts back and forth from the earlier time to a more modern setting of 1980s America where we meet Ailey Garfield and her sisters and family, as Ailey takes a journey back through her own family history and uncovers some hidden stories from her past.

Breathtakingly brilliant, assured and enormously readable. That it’s a debut makes it all the more impressive.

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Sinéad & Rick's Must Reads - previous selection