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Irish Book Awards: Shortlist Highlights

The shortlists for the An Post Irish Book Awards have just been announced. And the great news is – there’s something for everyone! Whether you love curling up with a good crime novel, can’t resist a compelling non-fiction read or would love to try some exciting new things in the kitchen, we’ve got you covered. Here’s some highlights from this year’s 18 incredible categories.  

Crime Fiction Book of the Year

You can’t go wrong with a well-written whodunnit, and luckily, the six shortlisted crime fiction books are all excellent. When we spoke to Jane Casey earlier this year, she was setting her Maeve Kerrigan series aside (for now) to work on her first standalone adult fiction, The Killing Kind. In this tense thriller, we meet a barrister who gradually comes to believes a man she defended for stalking is now out to get her. April in Spain meanwhile is as steeped in haunting prose as we’ve come to expect from iconic Wexford author, John Banville. In the evocative Basque Country, we meet Irish State Pathologist Quirke, who’s sure he recognises a young woman at the bar. But wasn’t she murdered years ago? Cork author Catherine Ryan Howard’s 56 Days is one of the first ‘Covid crimes’ we’ve come across! At the beginning of lockdown in Dublin, Ciara and Oliver meet, and quickly move in together. 56 days later, a decomposing body is found in his apartment... 

Also shortlisted:
Andrea Mara All Her Fault
Sam BlakeThe Dark Room
Steve CavanaghThe Devil’s Advocate

Cookbook of the Year

As evenings get colder and darker, it’s the perfect opportunity to warm up by learning some hearty new recipes! Gina and Karol Daly shot to fame on Instagram, having shared some of the delicious meals that helped them collectively shed over ten stone. A successful cookbook followed, and now they’re back with a follow-up, The Daly Dish Rides Again. Veteran foodie Donal Skehan’s tenth cookbook also receives a nomination. Everyday Cook is perfect for those with busy schedules, who still want a delicious dinner. You’ll find easy favourites, one-pot meals and recipes to batch cook in his latest outing. Finally, in 21 Day Reset, trained chef Trisha Lewis believes in ‘losing weight without losing flavour’. The book, which contains over 60 recipes, is all about ‘resetting’ if you fall of the wagon, rather than beating yourself up. 

Also shortlisted:
Darina AllenHow to Cook
Neven MaguireLearn to Cook with Neven
Rachel AllenSoup Broth Bread

Non-Fiction Book of the Year

Perhaps you’re more of a non-fiction fan, specifically, Irish history and politics. Journalist Fintan O’Toole’s, We Don’t Know Ourselves is a fascinating analysis of modern Ireland, from 1958 (the year the author was born) until present day. Virgin Media News Correspondent Richard Chambers also has a shortlisted book; A State of Emergency, which takes a look at Ireland’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Journalist and documentary maker Susan McKay returns to the fore too, with a follow-up to her 2000 book, Northern Protestants: An Unsettled People. In Northern Protestants: On Shifting Ground, McKay interviews a whole host of politicians, former paramilitaries, survivors, religious leaders and community workers about the legacy of The Troubles, Brexit, the possibility of a United Ireland, and much more.  

Also shortlisted:
Diarmaid Ferriter - Between Two Hells
Brian O’Donovan - Four Years in the Cauldron
Derek Scally - The Best Catholics in the World

Lifestyle Book of the Year

If you prefer your non-fiction lighter, there’s plenty more on offer in the New Lifestyle Book of the Year category. Laura de Barra follows up the amazingly titled Gaff Goddess with new release, D├ęcor Galore. Packed full of tips and hacks to help you revamp your home on any budget, it’s a must for anyone with an interest in DIY. Music fans won’t want to miss Kodaline singer Steve Garrigan’s honest and touching memoir, High Hopes – Making Music, Losing My Way, Learning to Live. In it, he shares the highs (performing to sell-out shows), the lows (anxiety, depression and panic attacks), and how he’s learned the power of being vulnerable. In a similar vein, health and performance coach Gerry Hussey shares advice on how to live your best life, in Awaken Your Power Within. Offering guidance on everything from letting go of fear and breaking bad habits to opening up to a deeper level of consciousness, Gerry’s book is perfect for anyone with deeper questions about the mind and soul. 

Also shortlisted: 
Michael Harding and Jacob Stack - A Cloud Where the Birds Rise
Dermot Whelan - Mindfull
Ray Goggins - Ranger 22: Lessons From The Front 


Those are just some of the category highlights from this year’s An Post Irish Book Awards shortlist. Discover the full shortlist and vote for your favourite books. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback! What were your favourite Irish books this year, and which ones are you looking forward to reading? Share your thoughts with us online, using #ReadersWanted. 

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