Top Reads this Christmas SHARE Holding by Graham Norton Graham Norton’s debut fiction novel is set in Duneen, an Irish village with secrets to tell. Its residents include cast down policeman PJ who lives a lonely, uneventful life punctuated only by the next meal – until now; the beautiful and mysterious family of three spinster sisters each with their own secrets and sorrows; and of course, the town’s gossip who think she knows the answers. When a grim discovery is made on a building site up by the old school, it becomes the catalyst for long buried secrets and rivalries to come to light and this silent, once innocent and repressed-seeming town is revealed to have a much darker, hungrier undertow. Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad, Norton’s cutting wit breathes life into a host of loveable characters and explores the complexities and contradictions that make us human – with searing honesty. The Battle by Paul O’Connell There has never been a rugby player quite like Paul O’Connell. He is synonymous with passion, heart and determination but he is also the thinking man’s rugby player, a legendary student of the game. As the heartbeat of Munster, British and Irish Lions captain in 2009, and captain of the first Ireland team to defend a Six Nations championship, O’Connell has emerged as perhaps the most beloved of the golden generation of Irish rugby players. In an autobiography as intense as its author, he tells the story of his remarkable career. O’Connell explores the forces and struggles that turned him into the player and leader that he became. The Battle is a book for everyone who wants to understand the roots of achievement and the inner world of an elite sportsman. This revelatory autobiography of a rugby colossus will take its place alongside the very finest sports books of recent years. What Do You Think of That by Kieran Donaghy Even if you’re not into sports biographies there’s plenty of interest in this excellent book on one of GAA’s most instantly recognisable stars. The big full forward didn’t have the easiest of upbringings and particularly moving is his account of his troubled relationship with his estranged Tyrone father. There’s plenty of really good anecdotes from his battles on the field , how he overcome adversity and how he dealt with being the bete noire for so many of Kerry’s opponents. Donaghy emerges from his life story as a likeable and surprisingly sensitive soul and like any good biography this is a book that gives the reader much to reflect on, that you really don’t know the half of what is going on in people’s lives. Even if you have only a passing interest in the GAA, this is thoroughly recommended. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins Rachel Watson drinks, is heartbroken and unemployed. Her daily, soulless commute from suburbia to Euston only heightens the agony. She knows the train will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. The journey is repetitively taking her past the scene of her old life, a life now occupied by another woman. In her pain, Rachel builds a fantasy. She starts to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. But when that fantasy is shattered by her witness to something shocking that no-one should ever see, everything she knows has to change. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see and no longer will she just be The Girl on the Train. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen A revelatory memoir by a legendary rock star, Bruce Springsteen’s memoir has been dubbed the book of 2016. In 2009, Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl’s halftime show. The experience was so exhilarating that he decided to write about it and that’s how this extraordinary autobiography began. Over the past seven years, Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humour, and originality found in his songs. He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fuelled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as “The Big Bang”: seeing Elvis Presley’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. As he says himself: “Writing about yourself is a funny business…But in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind. In these pages, I’ve tried to do this.” Guinness World Records: 2017 The record-breaking record book is back with a fresh new design and 13 chapters containing thousands of new and updated records, awe-inspiring never-before-seen photographs and a bucketload of facts, stats, figures and trivia. Guinness World Records 2017 is bursting with all-new records on topics as diverse as black holes, domes, owls and killer plants. The answers to many questions and so much more are right inside. New in this year’s edition are exciting infographic features exploring the fascinating details on topics on animals, the human body, sports and explorations. And of course all your favourite record categories are updated for 2017, such as the world’s new tallest dog! Look out, too, for all-new Factographic features and a special chapter dedicated to helping you become a record breaker. Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook At the very centre of family life is the food and fun we share together daily. Our families are the most important people in our lives, so when it comes to mealtimes we want to give them the best we can. This new definitive collection gives you all the inspiration and help you need to make life in the kitchen easier and more enjoyable. The book also includes lots of tips on how to wean the family off processed food for meal and snack times, how to plan for large family gatherings, how to cut down on food waste and how to bake the perfect celebration cake. Neven’s insights from his sell-out Parent and Child Cookery Course at his cookery school in Blacklion, Co. Cavan, combined with his own experiences of being a dad to his four-year-old twins, result in 300 failsafe, tried and tested recipes that will be a godsend for busy parents everywhere. Thank Heaven for Neven as this definitive family cookbook will be a lifesaver in every family’s kitchen. The Midnight Gang by David Walliams Welcome to the Midnight Gang! Midnight is the time when all children are fast asleep, except of course for…the Midnight Gang. That is when their adventures are just beginning. When Tom gets hit on the head by a cricket ball, he finds himself at Lord Funt Hospital, and is greeted by a terrifying-looking porter. Things go from bad to worse when he meets the wicked matron in charge of the children’s ward. But Tom is about to embark on the most thrilling journey of a lifetime! The Midnight Gang tells an extraordinarily heart-warming and, of course, funny story of five children on a hospital ward – and on a quest for adventure! It is a story of friendship and magic – and of making dreams come true. Readers are set to be utterly spellbound by this heartfelt story that will bring magic to everyone’s Christmas. Double Down: Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney Everyone’s favourite, apathetic video-gaming hero goes entirely Hollywood in the much-anticipated eleventh book in the mighty Wimpy Kid saga, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down. This time, another of Greg’s well-intentioned – but surely doomed – schemes sees him go all Michael Bay as he sets about completing the one project that is guaranteed to bring him fame and fortune – directing his very own scary movie! However, for Greg nothing is ever simple and will he really be able to juggle the demands of big-time film making and surviving his mother’s Halloween party? What about everything else going on in his life? Can Greg… double down?? Save Save SHARE Technology picks: PRICEY OR PRICELESS There's nothing cheap about good technology and while pricey they are priceless Christmas song facts Find out how many copies of Bing Crosby's White Christmas has sold world-wide since 1942 Christmas Crackers We all love a wee cheesy Christmas cracker joke over dinner, it just wouldn't be the same without them!