Overcoming adversity, a lives well-lived and true stories that shock and inspire – non-fiction allows us to live in another person’s brain for a while, learn their expertise, walk in their shoes or hear their side of the story.
Which is why they make a great gift tis Christmas! Check out our top picks for the best celeb biographies of the year, the feminist accounts that will inspire you and the incredible adventures that will have you glued to the page!
For those always up to date on celeb gossip
‘When Dreams Come True: The Heartbreak and Hope on My Journey to Motherhood’ by Rosanna Davison (Gill Books)
In early 2020, Rosanna Davison gave a raw and sincere account of the 14 miscarriages she had suffered before choosing to have a baby via gestational surrogate. Then, just weeks later, she discovered she was pregnant with identical twin boys, conceived naturally.
In this heartfelt and honest book, Rosanna reveals her difficult journey to motherhood and examines the stigma and silence that surrounds infertility. She reveals what it was like to find out she was expecting miracle twins just months after her daughter was born and describes how she and her husband have coped with the long and intense road to becoming parents of three children under two.
Shining a light on miscarriage and motherhood, Rosanna tells her story. Buy here
For the DIY queens
‘Décor Galore: The Essential Guide to Styling Your Home’ by Laura de Barra (Transworld Ireland)
Creative, stylish and incredibly practical, Laura will change how you view your space and open up a world of new possibilities.
With Gaff Goddess Laura de Barra proved she was the queen of She-IY, but that was just the beginning. In Décor Galore she takes us room by room with genius and stunning tips for how to revamp your home on any budget. Whether you want to maximise storage, create layered lighting, or install a new kitchen, Décor Galore has got you covered.
Gaff Goddess empowered you to pick up a drill and now Décor Galore will empower you to create the home you've always wanted. Buy here
For the sports fanatics
'Semple Stadium' by Liam Ó Donnchú (O’Brien Press)
‘The favoured ground for generations of hurlers; here, the sliotar bounces true, the crowds are close to the clashing ash, and reputations are created or shattered’.
This book is a celebration of the iconic GAA stadium, from its founding to the present day, packed with great match action, famous players, stories, and more.
This illustrated history of the stadium begins in 1884 when GAA was first founded in Thurles and chronicles the opening of Semple Stadium in 1910 right up to the present day, featuring all its great days: from the development of the stadium, major games that were played there, significant players and managers, broadcasting from the grounds, the work of the groundsmen, other events held at the stadium over the years, personal recollections and accounts of this place where legends are made. Buy here
For the literature lover
‘Best-Loved Bernard Shaw’ by Anthony Roche
A beautiful new hardback gift, a fascinating look at the life and works of George Bernard Shaw. An attractive and approachable selection of the work of George Bernard Shaw, one of the most remarkable writers of the 20th century.
Shaw contributed in a range of ways to both political and social writings as well as creating great works of literature. Shaw is one of only two people to have won both an Academy Award and a Nobel Prize for Literature. Starting from the most unpropitious of beginnings, his steely self-determination would ensure that he would become one of the greatest writers of all time. This book features selections and extracts from his plays, essays and personal letters. Buy here
For the culture vulture
‘Ah … That’s Gas! The ads, fads and mad moments that swept the Irish nation’ by Kunak McGann and Sarah Cassidy
From Angel Delight to Unnecessary Journeys, from Saipan to Beatbox. Who’s taking the horse to France? From iodine tablets to Hot Priest. From Maniac 2000 to Moone Boy to Moving Statues to Where’s Grandad? From Wagon Wheels to 10p bars that led to many, many Irish people having a mouthful of fillings! A hilarious new read, a great stocking filler! Buy here
For the myth and legend enthusiasts
‘Storyland: A New Mythology of Britain’ by Amy Jeffs (Quercus)
Soaked in mist and old magic, Storyland is a new illustrated mythology of Britain, set in its wildest landscapes and was listed as one of Waterstone’s books of the year.
It begins between the Creation and Noah's Flood, follows the footsteps of the earliest generation of giants from an age when the children of Cain and the progeny of fallen angels walked the earth, to the founding of Britain, England, Wales and Scotland, the birth of Christ, the wars between Britons, Saxons and Vikings, and closes with the arrival of the Normans.
These are retellings of medieval tales of legend, landscape and the yearning to belong, inhabited with characters now half-remembered: Brutus, Albina, Scota, Arthur and Bladud among them.. We visit beautiful, sacred places that include prehistoric monuments like Stonehenge and Wayland's Smithy, spanning the length of Britain from the archipelago of Orkney to as far south as Cornwall. In Storyland, Jeffs reimagines these myths of homeland, exile and migration, kinship, loyalty, betrayal, love and loss in a landscape brimming with wonder. Buy here.
For the adventurers
‘Shackleton’ by Ranulph Fiennes (Penguin)
To write about Hell, it helps if you have been there.
In 1915, Sir Ernest Shackleton's attempt to traverse the Antarctic was cut short when his ship, Endurance, became trapped in ice. The disaster left Shackleton and his men alone at the frozen South Pole, fighting for their lives.
Their survival and escape is the most famous adventure in history. Shackleton is an engaging new account of the adventurer, his life and his incredible leadership under the most extreme of circumstances. Written by polar adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes who followed in Shackleton's footsteps, he brings his own unique insights to bear on these infamous expeditions. Buy here
‘Stories from the Sea: Legends, adventures and tragedies of Ireland's coast’ by Jo Kerrigan (O’Brien Press)
Ireland is an island nation, inextricably linked with and dependent upon the sea which surrounds us. From earliest times, ships from distant lands have brought goods, ideas, invaders, influencers. Our legends, and particularly the imramma or magical Otherworld voyage tales, show how deep our involvement with the ocean goes.
Jo Kerrigan has discovered and retold tales from all around the Irish coast of storms, shipwrecks, pirate attacks and smuggling, as well as shipping stories, both of long distance trading and the little boats which took supplies from major harbours to smaller communities.
The sea has an enduring fascination: let Jo's tales and Richard Mills' evocative photographs transport you to the coast to rediscover the tales gathered over the centuries by its communities. Buy here
For the feminist fanclub
‘My Body’ by Emily Ratajkowski (Metropolitan Books)
A deeply honest investigation of what it means to be a woman and a commodity from Emily Ratajkowski, the archetypal, multi-hyphenate celebrity of our time
Emily Ratajkowski is an acclaimed model and actress, an engaged political progressive, a formidable entrepreneur, a global social media phenomenon, and now, a writer. Rocketing to world fame at age twenty-one, Ratajkowski sparked both praise and furor with the provocative display of her body as an unapologetic statement of feminist empowerment. The subsequent evolution in her thinking about our culture’s commodification of women is the subject of this book.
My Body is a profoundly personal exploration of feminism, sexuality, and power, of men's treatment of women and women's rationalizations for accepting that treatment. Buy here
‘Irish Women’s Speeches’ by Sonja Tiernan (New Island)
Thirty-three inspiring speeches by women of Ireland from the nineteenth century to the present. Rallying cries for trade union action, denunciations of apartheid, calls for independence, unionism, peace and gender equality: Irish women have eloquently expressed their demands from platforms in America to podiums at the United Nations.
This anthology showcases the stirring contributions that Irish women have made both to modern Irish society and to global development.
‘Arm yourselves with weapons to fight your nation's cause. Arm your souls with noble and free ideas.’ – Countess Markievicz
‘There is no place in society for us, the ordinary "peasants" of Northern Ireland.’ – Bernadette Devlin
‘Travellers are not just statistics. We are people with faces, names and voices.’ – Nan Joyce Buy here
For the tech heads
‘The Disconnect’ by Roisin Kiberd (Serpent’s Tail)
We all live online now: the line between the internet and IRL has become porous to the point of being meaningless.
Roisin Kiberd knows this better than anyone. She has worked for tech startups and as the online voice of a cheese brand; she's witnessed the bloated excesses of tech conferences and explored the strangest communities on the web. She has traced the ripples these hidden worlds have sent through our culture and politics, and experienced the disorienting effects on her own life.
In these interlinked essays, she illuminates the subject with fierce clarity, revealing the ways we are more connected than ever before, and the disconnect this breeds. From the lure of the endless scroll, to the glamour of self-optimisation; from the cult of Energy Drinks to the nostalgic world of Vaporwave music; and from silicon town centres to dating tech bros, Kiberd explores the strange worlds, habits and people that have grown with the internet. Buy here.
For the Irish language lovers
‘Anseo’ by Úna-Minh Kavanagh (New Island)
In 2013, Úna-Minh Kavanagh, a young journalist and content creator, was racially abused and spat upon in Dublin’s city centre. Having dealt with racism throughout her young life, this proud Kerry woman had finally had enough. In the days that followed, she took to Twitter to call out the ‘land of a thousand welcomes’ for its naivety and cowardice in dealing with racism. The incident was widely shared in the media and her story went viral.
But Úna-Minh’s story actually begins in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 1991, when she was adopted at just three days old by a single woman from Kerry. Raised in a loving, Irish-speaking home by her mother and grandfather, Úna-Minh was instilled with an enduring sense of her multi-faceted Irish identity.
In her first book, she writes honestly and humorously about tackling racism, language elitism and online trolls and the joy of turning her love of the internet, video games and accessible Irish-language content into a healthy work/life balance. Anseo is the heartwarming story of a diverse and contemporary Irish life. Buy here.
For the fitness fanatics
‘Trisha’s-21 Day-Reset’ by Trisha Lewis (Gill Books)
Trisha Lewis is on a mission to change her life and shed 13 stone – and she’s over halfway there.
It hasn’t been easy. Failures, setbacks and curveballs have all been part of the journey, but Trisha wants to spread the message that weight loss doesn’t have to be about constant deprivation and self-punishment. Trisha’s 21-Day Reset helps you build the foundations of a resilient weight-loss plan, so that when you fall off the wagon you don’t have to beat yourself up – you simply reset.
It contains everything you need to get back on track, from how to get into a positive state of mind to how to balance your needs for sleep, hydration, exercise and nutrition. As a trained chef, Trisha believes in losing weight without losing flavour. The 21-Day Reset is packed with over 60 delicious, simple recipes with all the macros and calories counted, so you can follow a plan that suits your weight-loss goals or simply enjoy tasty, healthy food. Buy here