Thursday, July 11, 2019
  • IT’S Summer time again and invariably many of you will at least be thinking of taking a well-earned break.

A decent read makes for an excellent pursuit when it comes to chilling out so whether it’s Bali or Ballyduff, I’ve got a suggestion or two here which might steer readers in a well-leafed direction.

To kick off, I recall seeing a TV drama a while back featuring a private eye called Jackson Brodie. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this character was from a series of crime books by Kate Atkinson.  Brodie has appeared in four of Kate Atkinson’s novels – ‘Case Histories’, ‘One Good Turn’, ‘When Will There Be Good News?’ and ‘Started Early Took My Dog’.

And the good news for devotees of Mr Brodie’s capers is there’s a brand new novel called ‘Big Sky’.  The gist of the story, according to The Times, reveals: “Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village in North Yorkshire, in the occasional company of his recalcitrant teenage son Nathan and ageing Labrador Dido, both at the discretion of his former partner Julia. It’s a picturesque setting, but there’s something darker lurking behind the scenes.” On the TV, Brodie is brilliantly portrayed by Jason Isaacs the books are probably even better.

I’m always on the look-out for a good book with a musical slant to it so I was drawn to ‘Daisy Jones and the Six’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid Hutchinson.

The Irish Times review makes it pretty compelling and if you happen to be a Fleetwood Mac fan, this could be right up your street.

“When the beautiful singer-songwriter Daisy Jones gets together with an up and coming rock band called The Six in 1970s California, musical history is made. But while Daisy and the band’s front man Billy Dunne manage to create incredible music together, tensions start to mount. Inspired by the story of Fleetwood Mac, Daisy Jones and the Six is an oral history of a band that never existed, told through the voices of members, producers and friends.”

Perhaps ‘The Fire Starters’ by Jan Carson might turn a page or two for you. “Set over the course of a hot, strange Belfast summer, ‘The Fire Starters’ is the story of two fathers who are both, in very different ways, afraid of their children. There’s former loyalist paramilitary Sammy, whose son Mark plots chaos from his attic bedroom, and isolated doctor Jonathan, who fears that his baby daughter has inherited her strange mother’s uncanny powers. Meanwhile Belfast is going up in flames, inspired by a mysterious YouTuber. A perfect mix of dark humour, magic and social commentary.”

From my own shelves, I strongly recommend John Burke’s ‘Imagine Heaven’. Burke delves in to an area that surely intrigues all of us and examines the subject of life after death.

In particular, he documents more than 100 accounts of near death experiences. He has studied reports from doctors, college professors, bank presidents and even blind people and poses some extremely interesting questions.

The book is riveting and I couldn’t but be amazed at the overwhelming evidence pointing to a life beyond the five senses one we live in.

If you watched the SAS survival TV show, you’ll be familiar with one of the instructors, Ant Middleton. He has a book out called ‘First Man In’, an account of how he became an elite soldier and subsequently landed in prison after leaving the military.

He talks about his life and the lessons we can all learn from his experiences.  I’ve just started this and it’s proving to be a page turner.

I recently really enjoyed the Phil Collins autobiography ‘Not Dead Yet’ which was candid, honest and detailed.

The man was always part of my musical upbringing, particularly with Genesis and I rate him very highly as a drummer. The amount he packed in to his life is staggering and he certainly scaled the success mountain.

However, the cost was high; Collins’ relationships suffered hugely and he pulls no punches discussing what went wrong. It made for a wonderful read and I didn’t want this one to end.

Sport can’t be omitted and sometimes a good biography of a sporting hero is just the ticket so I’m recommending ‘My Turn’, the Johan Cruyff autobiography.

The late Dutch soccer genius excelled both as a player in the 1970s and a coach in the early 90s, has inspired millions the world over.

When he went in to coaching, Cruyff was responsible for shaping clubs like Barcelona and nurturing players such as current Man City boss, Pep Guardiola.

In the book, Pep says: “I knew nothing about football before knowing Cruyff.”  He had drama on and off the field and his story includes taking a stance on sponsorship, autocratic rule, bankruptcy and even a kidnap attempt. In many respects, they don’t come any greater than this Dutchman so check this out, you won’t be disappointed.

So that’s just a taste of the big book banquet that awaits you at your local book shop and don’t forget to check out the shelves of charity shops where there are great bargains to be had too. So if you are off on holidays, enjoy the break and happy reading!

Johan Cruyff’s autobiography, ‘My Turn’, comes highly recommended.

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