Embarking on a nostalgic journey, journalist, author and podcaster, Liadhan Hynes shares a profound revelation of the pivotal books that have left an indelible mark on her life. From the classic allure of "Wuthering Heights" to the unexpected inspiration found in "Sorry for Your Trouble", this literary exploration unveils the stories that shaped her perspectives and career, offering a glimpse into the profound influence of literature on one's personal and creative journey.

"Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte

We studied this for the Leaving Cert, and I loved it so much it made me realize I wanted to study English in college. I still have my copy from that time, covered in underlines and highlighter, and I remember one night staying up really late to read it and the Kate Bush song coming on the radio, and being completely lost in the story. I now realize of course that it is a totally toxic affair, but what an amazing story.

"Tender is the Night" by F.Scott Fitzgerald

I read "The Great Gatsby" when I was a teenager, and it really stayed with me; it’s one of those books I think stands up to regular rereads. I came back to it in college and then decided to do my dissertation (while studying English Literature) on Fitzgerald’s "Tender is the Night". I hadn’t really enjoyed the degree up until then, it had felt like a lot of introductory courses, without getting your teeth properly stuck into anything (not helped, admittedly, by the fact that I was really leaning into the arts student couple of hours a week schedule and doing  the bare minimum). This was the first time I began to feel like I was really getting the hang of what I was studying.

"Phoebe and the Hot Water Bottles" by Terry Furchgott and Linda Dawson

My aunt Veronica always gave me brilliant books when I was little, some of which I still have, including "Phoebe and the Hot Water Bottles". I read it to my daughter when she was very little, and now she’s learning to read she has started reading it herself, and it feels very special. As a single parent, I also like that this is a book about a single parent (it’s Phoebe and her Dad), but the point is never labored, it’s simply just her and her Dad, without that ever being explained. I think that kind of thing helps to normalize all different types of family situations, without being at all heavy-handed.

"The Bonfire of the Vanities" by Tom Wolfe

I was a teenager before Kindles were a thing, so half the time you just read whatever was on your parents’ shelves. Which meant lots of P.G. Wodehouse, "Rumpole of the Old Bailey", books about Watergate, random true crime novels, and the above "The Bonfire of the Vanities", which is one of my Dad’s, and my, favorite books.

"Sorry for Your Trouble" by Ann Marie Hourihane

When I began researching my second book "Courting", at the start, it took me a while to figure out just how I wanted to tell the stories, what the tone or the voice of the book would be like. I’ve only written two books, but I have found that this is an entirely unexpected part of the process, that you have to figure out what kind of book this is going to be, how it's going to work, what the voice will be; it's not just a  matter of sitting down and writing.

My first book, it was inspired by a column I had been writing for a year or so, so the voice was already pretty established. I found "Sorry for Your Trouble", and the fact that Ann Marie Hourihane is also a journalist, really helpful in working out the style of "Courting". And she’s an absolutely fascinating writer.

"Murder on the Orient Express" by Agatha Christie

This could be any Agatha Christie, but "Murder on the Orient Express" probably sums up the one-woman genre. When I was a teenager, every Christmas I would get a new Agatha Christie, and after guests had visited in the morning, I would spend a few hours reading it. I worked in retail as a teenager, so Christmas Day always felt like a little oasis of calm during a really hectic time, summed up by the few hours on the couch reading. I still remember feeling so gutted when I began the last Agatha Christie I hadn’t read, knowing I would never read one for the first time ever again.

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"Airhead" by Emily Maitlis

There was a time during lockdown when my boyfriend and I couldn’t see each other for over two months. He knows I’m a huge Emily Maitlis fan so suggested we both read this book and then we could chat about it. That quickly fell apart, I think because we were reading at different paces,  but it was a lovely idea and the book is a great read, and it reminds me of him.

* Liadhan Hynes is a journalist, host of the podcast "How to Fall Apart" and author of the novel "Courting" (2019) and was co-author of the biography "Perfectly Imperfect" by Ellen Keane.