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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Mary O'Sullivan Email

The best five lifestyle books of the year

Along with Paul Smyth, Diarmuid Gavin has produced a really accessible guide to the gardening year

“January is a shitshow” are the rather bald opening words of Gardening Together (Gill Books) by Diarmuid Gavin and Paul Smyth, but they are right. It can be a miserable month. So use the time to plan what you intend to do with your garden over the next 12 months with the help of two gardening gurus who have it sussed. It all began with a socially distanced chat over the bonnet of Gavin’s car at a motorway service station at the start of the lockdown when they decided to do a weekly podcast on Instagram and gained so many fans they realised a joint book was the next step. A really accessible guide to the gardening year, this is fun, informative and beautifully photographed.

Julia Child was the adored Queen of Cuisine in America

If you would love to become a proficient cook, but don’t know where to start you could find inspiration in My Life in France (Duckworth), the memoir of Julia Child. The gangly, loud American woman went to live in Paris without knowing how to cook and became the adored Queen of Cuisine in America. This beautiful new edition which includes an introduction by food writer Olivia Potts recalls the three loves of Child’s life: her husband Paul, food and France.

Who knew that lighthouses are one of the loves of Britain’s Princess Anne’s life? In the first episode of this season of The Crown, we see her waxing lyrical about a Scottish beacon and indeed she’s visited several of our own. The Great Lighthouses of Ireland by David Hare (Gill) is a comprehensive guide to the 70-plus shards of light built on the most treacherous parts of our coastline. It’s not only geography and history, it’s also full of romance and scandal and social history and it’s stunningly illustrated.

More architectural history is explored in Rebecca Brownlie’s Abandoned Ireland (Merrion Press). While Brownlie’s photos of the buildings – thatched cottages, Georgian mansions, deserted schoolhouses – are stunning, the stories she tells are often heartbreaking, and many a salutary reminder of our not-too-distant past.

Edward Enninful is the first black gay editor of 'British Vogue'

Edward Enninful is the first black gay editor of British Vogue and in his memoir A Visible Man (Penguin Random House), there are many painful reminders of our past, specifically in relation to racism and homophobia. But it is also a joyful journey around the fashion world and how it is changing to reflect diversity.

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