Ten Books That Changed Me with Ellie O’Neill
Forever Judy Blume
This book was like contraband in our school library in primary, in fact all the Judy Blume books were. She addressed the things that us pre teens in eighties Ireland, in a convent school were starved for like boys, and puberty and you know sex. Judy, unbeknown to the nuns was giving us a healthy dose of sensible advice and in Forever *GULP* two teenagers have loving and consensual sex out of wedlock, definitely not the kind of sex the nuns wanted us to know about. They eventually got wind of it and it was whipped out of the library and our lives but the excitement and secrecy and wonder of the book stayed with me. Go Judy! Sixth class, 1989, in Our Lady of Mercy are forever indebted to her.
Are you there God it’s me Margaret Judy Blume
Another Judy book. I loved this one for all the same reasons as Forever. In Are you there….? Margaret gets her period, her first bra, likes boys and is confused about religion, I was Margaret with an Irish accent. She asked all the questions I was too terrified to ask. Reading this I remember feeling like I was part of a secret club, and that maybe eventually everything would be OK.
Me Talk Pretty David Sedaris
Oh David! I think this might be my desert island book, this or a pop up book that turns into a raft with a motor. This book is a collection of autobiographical essays about growing up in a large family, being gay and learning to speak French. He is a master of self deprecating humour. To call this book hilarious is an understatement, it is thigh slapping, tears rolling down cheeks brilliant. And it is also poignant, dark and insightful. He has written many books, but this was the first I found, and as with all love stories the first time, is the best.
Revolutionary Road Richard Yates
Nobody can write like Richard Yates. His language, his sentences, his characters, his plot lines are awe inspiring. I am completely intimidated by his writing brilliance. Revolutionary Road is about so much more than a marriage coming apart in post war America. It’s about two people who believe that they can be different and kick societal norms to the curb. But don’t we all believe we’re different? That’s what kills me about Yates writing, he speaks to me so clearly, I am present in every dark, flawed character he evokes. Scary hey? It’s a wonderfully, depressing, insightful novel that is beautifully written.
A Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood
From one depressing insightful novel to another, is it wine o’clock yet? A Handmaid’s Tale is an incredible book, one of the ultimate dystopian novels. It’s set in a near future where a fundamentalist Christian group have overthrown the US government, they quickly take away womens rights and reorganize a military society as inspired by the Old Testament. It is a chilling, convincing and terrifying book, and a reminder that modern society is a careful balance. Are you listening Mr Trump?
Reluctantly Charmed Ellie O’Neill (Hmmmm Hmmmm)
I know, I know it’s my own book, and surely I shouldn’t be allowed. But seriously, this was life changing for me. I wrote a book. Me? And then it turned into a book that people wanted to read, people who were not related to me (although I still suspect my mum bought the first thousand copies). It was a game changer.
11/22/63 Stephen King
I am a fan of ’what if’ books and for me this is the ultimate. What if you could go back in time and figure out who killed JFK? What would you do? With graphic storytelling and layers of complexity involved in writing historical fiction with a twist and the most delicate, gentle love story we learn that time travel is not straight forward and trying to ‘correct’ history can lead to disaster. I love this book.
Rachels Holiday Marian Keyes
All hail Marian! Funny, sad, absorbing, entertaining, un-put-downable, this is a knockout book, written in a wonderful, approachable style that appears effortless, as if the story just bubbles out of her. Fantastic writing.
1984 George Orwell
Oh no, what is it with all these dark dystopian books? But yes, it’s true. This was the first one I read as a mere teen and I could not believe it, my poor little brain was fried, and still is. This is one of those books that I can’t shake, the concept is mind blowing and sad and eerily possible especially with technology progressing as it is and the cyber spooks that surround us. Big Brother is watching me and so is my iphone, my lap top, my kettle and my neighbours dog.
Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell
I have read Gone with the Wind many times and many, many times I have shouted like an idiot at the pages, ‘No Scarlett, not Ashley, it’s Rhett, it’s Rhett.’ But it always ends the same and Scarlett O’Hara remains the human, ruthless, strong and flawed character that I love so much. This was Margaret Mitchells life work, her only book and I think that was a life well lived.
The Right Girl
Ellie O’Neill (published Simon and Schuster is released 1st February)
What do you do when your perfect life . . . isn’t?
Freya has the best life – she’s officially in love and her floristry business, Blooming Brilliant, is going from strength to strength.
Two years ago, it was a different story. She was barely employed as the worst waitress in the world, with no hope of a boyfriend, and no bank balance. But then she got BBest, a lifestyle app that knows you better than you know yourself. It changed everything. It streamlined her life, taking her likes and dislikes and skills and foibles, and gave her the best options so she doesn’t make mistakes anymore. Freya has never looked back – and neither has anyone else. Everyone loves BBest, it’s a game changer.
But if she’s so in love, why doesn’t it feel exactly right? And who is that mysterious man in her beloved grandfather’s bookshop with soulful eyes that leave her unstitched? All of a sudden Freya has so many questions – and no one seems to be able to answer them. She begins to wonder what she really agreed to when she let BBest into her life. Then her grandfather is arrested, and Freya is thrust into a world she could never have imagined in her shiny, successful existence.
When you have the perfect life, should you listen to your head or your heart?
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