It’s that time of year again! Sleigh bells can be heard faintly ringing in the distance, turkeys are starting to look worried, and you’ve just remembered the presents! Well, no need to stress! We’ve got our finger on the pulse of best sellers this season, so we’ve put this list together for ye so you can see what’s currently flying off the shelves. Plus, these page-turners might just buy you some peace and quiet beside the fire this holiday season. The right book really is the very best idea for a great Christmas pressie!
Irish Sports Books
As a nation, we’ve always loved our sports and outdoor pursuits (weather permitting), and that’s certainly reflected in our list of most popular books. If you’re buying for fans of rugby, soccer, GAA, hiking, or swimming - we’ve got you covered.
Born to be a Footballer – Liam Brady
Liam Brady's memoir, "Born to be a Footballer," offers a captivating journey through his illustrious fifty-year career in football. Born into a footballing family in Dublin in 1956, Brady's potential was evident from a young age, leading to his recruitment by Arsenal at the tender age of fifteen. The book delves into his time with the club, where he played a pivotal role in the successful 1970s team before making a significant move to Juventus in 1980.
The narrative spans Brady's international career with the Republic of Ireland, earning 72 caps over 16 years and solidifying his status as one of the country's greatest footballers. His experiences in Italy with Sampdoria, Internazionale, and Ascoli, followed by a return to London with West Ham in 1987, add rich layers to the memoir. Beyond his playing days, Brady's managerial stints with Celtic, Brighton and Hove Albion, and his role as Head of Youth Development at Arsenal until 2013 further contribute to the diverse tapestry of his footballing life.
The memoir is not just a recounting of triumphs and challenges; it provides honest insights, amusing anecdotes, and recollections of extraordinary moments that shaped Brady's career. His dedication to honing his skills, as illustrated by his disciplined practice in a Dublin public park, reveals the behind-the-scenes efforts that fuelled his success.
Released in October 2023 by Eriu, "Born to be a Footballer" is more than a sports memoir. It's a story of passion, hard work, and the joy that Brady brought to fans worldwide with his majestic left foot. The book is not only for football enthusiasts but also for those who appreciate compelling life stories and the resilience required to achieve greatness.
Whether the recipient is an Arsenal supporter (and we’ll have more for them later), an admirer of Irish football, or simply a lover of captivating biographies, "Born to be a Footballer" is sure to be a cherished addition to their reading collection.
GAA Books For Christmas
The Grass Ceiling -Eimear Ryan
Eimear Ryan's "The Grass Ceiling" delves into the intricate intersection of gender and sport, offering a poignant exploration of what it means to be a female athlete in a predominantly male-dominated sporting world. The book raises thought-provoking questions about identity, status, competition, and self-expression, providing a sharp and nuanced perspective on the challenges faced by women in sports.
For Eimear Ryan, a camogie player, the unique aspect of her experience is navigating a sport that bears a different name for women than it does for men, despite sharing identical rules. The narrative goes beyond the field, delving into the complex dynamics of playing with boys for increased attention but feeling like an outsider, or choosing the company of girls and women and contending with smaller audiences, diminished status, and, for professionals, lower pay.
The Grass Ceiling is a memoir that goes beyond the confines of sport, exploring the personal struggles of being a girl or woman in a realm traditionally dominated by men. Ryan's storytelling is not just about the game but also delves into the challenges of feeling out of place in an all-female sporting environment, especially for those who may be shy, bookish, or not fitting the conventional mould.
This book is an ideal gift for those who appreciate insightful explorations of gender dynamics in sports and the broader societal implications. It caters to readers interested in women's experiences in traditionally male-dominated spaces, offering a heartfelt narrative that is both sharp and nuanced. As women's sport continues to gain recognition but remains on the journey towards equality, "The Grass Ceiling" provides a timely and relevant exploration of the issues affecting every girl and boy who embarks on the journey of sports participation.
This is the Life – Ciarán Murphy
Ciarán Murphy's debut book, "This is the Life" takes a distinctive angle on the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), Ireland's largest civil society organisation. Unlike many publications that spotlight star players and inter-county teams, Murphy's work delves into the heart of the GAA, offering insights into the lives of the families and communities that form the backbone of the organisation.
In this witty and thought-provoking exploration of the GAA, Murphy combines journalistic acumen with personal experience. Drawing from his roles at Second Captains and the Irish Times, along with his background as a seasoned Gaelic footballer, Murphy brings an unparalleled authenticity to the enduring aspects of the GAA world. The narrative takes a poignant look at the challenges faced by rural clubs losing players to urban areas, a theme Murphy navigates not only as a journalist but as someone who has undergone a similar transition.
The book intertwines engaging anecdotes, such as Murphy's solo encounter with Jedward on a plane while heading home for a club match, and delves into the intricacies of GAA life. Murphy fearlessly tackles subjects often skirted around, including the role of social class within the GAA, offering a thought-provoking and candid exploration of the sport's dynamics.
"This is the Life" makes for an excellent Christmas gift, especially for GAA enthusiasts, sports aficionados, and those intrigued by the cultural essence of Ireland.
Rugby Books For Christmas
Dr David Doolin's "A History of Rugby in Leinster" is a comprehensive exploration of the rich legacy and evolution of rugby in the province since its inception in 1879. Launched in collaboration with Leinster Rugby and Merrion Press, the book delves into the sport's growth and intertwines it with Irish history, showcasing how broader societal events have influenced and shaped the trajectory of Leinster rugby.
The narrative is formally launched by former Leinster captains Fiona Coghlan and Leo Cullen, adding a touch of authenticity to the storytelling. Dr Doolin, known for his diverse research and teaching record, including sports history, provides a unique perspective on the subject. The book captures the essence of Leinster Rugby, not just as a dominant sporting force but as a cultural phenomenon that reflects the complexities of politics and identity in Ireland.
This book is a treasure trove for rugby enthsiasts, especially those with a keen interest in the heritage of Leinster Rugby. From its foundation through the amateur era to the contemporary championships, the book meticulously traces the journey of this influential Irish sporting team. It explores the relationships between rugby, politics, and class, celebrating the victories and showcasing the profound influence Leinster Rugby has had on education, business, and politics in the province and beyond.
Books on the Outdoors
The Hike Life - Rozanna Purcell
Rozanna Purcell's "The Hike Life" invites readers to discover the breathtaking beauty of Ireland through 50 unforgettable hikes. As a passionate advocate for outdoor living, Roz shares her favourite trails, ranging from rugged mountains to tranquil forest paths and stunning coastal walks. The book not only provides practical advice, easy-to-follow route descriptions, and essential tips for a safe and enjoyable hiking experience but also features stunning photography that serves as an inspiration to embark on these scenic journeys.
Ideal for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, this book is a celebration of Ireland's dramatic landscapes, showcasing the diverse terrain the country has to offer. Roz Purcell, founder of The Hike Life community, brings her personal touch to each hike, sharing what she loves about them and why they hold significance for her. From the Coumshigaun Horseshoe Loop in Co. Waterford to Knocknarea in Co. Sligo, each hike is presented with step-by-step guides, difficulty levels, and insightful details to enhance the overall experience.
"The Hike Life" is not just a practical guide; it's a personal and heartfelt exploration of the transformative power of hiking. Roz Purcell, known for her work as a broadcaster, content creator, and author, infuses the book with her genuine passion for the outdoors. For Roz, hiking is not only a means of physical exercise but also a way to escape the modern world, recharge mentally, and connect with something greater. Sure ye have to buy into that!
How to Wild Swim – Ella Foote
Ella Foote's book, "How to Wild Swim," serves as the essential manual for every amateur wild swimmer embarking on aquatic adventures. Whether you aspire to explore secluded beaches, mountain lochs, enhance your open water confidence, refine your swimming technique, or prepare for a race or long-distance swim challenge, this guide provides the practical foundation to help you achieve your goals.
Wild swimming, celebrated for its holistic benefits, not only contributes to physical strength and health but also promotes happiness. The book emphasizes that expensive gear is optional, making it accessible to all. However, mastering the how-to aspects is crucial for a safe and enjoyable experience. Expert wild swimmer Ella Foote shares her insights, addressing frequently asked questions, ensuring that readers can navigate the waters with confidence, have fun, and rejuvenate in the process.
The book caters to a diverse range of goals, from short wild swims and weekend breaks to full-scale adventure swimming expeditions and off-grid holidays. Whether you are a novice or an experienced wild swimmer, "How to Wild Swim" is a fearless and comprehensive guide that immerses you in the wild, watery pages, making it an ideal Christmas gift. It is perfect for individuals seeking outdoor adventures, nature enthusiasts, fitness enthusiasts, or anyone intrigued by the liberating experience of wild swimming.
Revolution: The Rise of Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal – Charles Watts
We promised we’d have more to keep the Gooner in your life happy, and here it is. Charles Watts' "Revolution: The Rise of Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal" offers an in-depth exploration of the transformation that took place within Arsenal under the leadership of Mikel Arteta. Starting with the decline under Unai Emery, the book takes readers on a journey through Arteta's arrival, the challenges faced, and the remarkable ascent of Arsenal to becoming one of the most exciting and formidable teams in the league.
The narrative delves into Arteta's background, drawing parallels with revolutionary figures like Arsene Wenger, highlighting how Arteta's coaching philosophy and principles played a pivotal role in revitalizing the club. The book covers key aspects, including tactical innovations, in-game strategies, transfer insights, and the significant events of the 2022-23 season.
Charles Watts, an esteemed member of the Arsenal press pack and a passionate fan, provides an insider's perspective on Arteta's impact, offering keen insights into the manager's methods and the profound changes he brought to the club. The author's journalistic skills, combined with his firsthand experience, create a compelling account of Arsenal's resurgence under Arteta.
"Revolution" is an ideal Christmas gift for football enthusiasts, especially Arsenal fans, who will surely tell you they’re definitely going to win it this season!
After all that, if you’re still not sure what to get someone for Christmas, why not take a look at our Mystery Boxes? You name the genre, and we’ll send six new books or ten second-hand books to you, and we’ll even throw in a Chapters Bookmark!
All in all, everyone at Chapters wishes you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!