As one of Ireland's most prominent romance, Sinéad Moriarty's opinion is one we'll always listen to.
Her novels have sold over 700,000 copies in Ireland and the UK, she won the 2015 Irish Book Award for Popular Fiction and she's a hoot to follow on Instagram.
We recently caught up with Sinéad to see what she's reading at the minute – to separate the pageturners from the unreadables, so to speak.
Hello Sinéad, What have you been reading during lockdown?
I've actually read a lot during lockdown. I have found reading very soothing for the mind. I think the anxiety, in the beginning, was very high and I found disappearing into a book really comforting. Some cracking reads that I have read and highly recommend include:
- Love after Love by Ingrid Persaud
- We Begin and The End by Chris Whitaker
- The Butchers by Ruth Gilligan
- Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell
- House of Glass by Hadley Freeman
- Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
- Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
- The Redhead by the side of the Road by Anne Tyler
- How much of These Hills Is Gold by Pam Zhang
- Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
- and The Bird in the Bamboo Cage by Hazel Gaynor.
What do you look for in a book?
For me, a book needs to engage, entertain and inform. I want to be transported from my life into someone else's. I want to be engaged by the characters and the storyline. And I love when a book teaches me something. I don't mean that in an intense or weighty way, I mean it in the way that a book will teach you about another country or culture or something about medicine or police procedure or nature...
It can be anything really, but I do like when a book informs me in some way. I think that's why research is so important for writers. I love researching topics for my books because I learn so much along the way.
What are your favourite books of all time?
Four Letters of Love by Niall Williams, An Evil Cradling by Brian Keenan, The Dead School by Pat McCabe, The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth Winthrop and Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild.
Whose books are you excited to read next?
I read a season ahead for the Eason Must Reads so I have read some brilliant books that are coming out in the next few weeks. I think Love After Love and We Begin At The End are both going to be huge this summer.
They are beautiful stories about love, grief, family, regret, forgiveness... you will be able to disappear into them.
Do you have any advice to budding authors who have been writing during lockdown?
Yes, don't put too much pressure on yourself. You can't force it but try to get a routine going, even if it's just sitting down for one hour every morning.
You'd be amazed what comes out and even if you write nothing, your mind is working, and in that headspace where ideas can come.
And read, read lots. If your concentration is bad, as many people's is due to anxiety, try reading short stories. Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge books are wonderful. Or read children's books or old favourites. It's very soothing. I've just finished reading My Mum, Tracy Beaker by the fantastic children's author Jacqueline Wilson.