Candide by Voltaire

Penguin Popular Classic, 2001 (first published 1759)

‘It is demonstrable’, Pangloss would say, ‘that things cannot be other than they are. For, since everything is made for a purpose, everything must be for the best possible purpose. Noses, you observe, were made to support spectacles: consequently, we have spectacles. Legs, it is plain, were created to wear breeches, and are supplied with them. Stone was made to be quarried, and built into castles: that is why his lordship has such a fine castle – for the greatest baron in the province must also of necessity be the best housed. Pigs were made to be eaten: so we eat pork all the year round. It follows that those who say that everything is good are talking foolishly: what they should say is that everything is for the best.

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Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling

Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling – The Novel by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen

Gill Books, 2017

I was not in the mood to be sharing the lift with happy partygoers. Probably going to spend the night off their heads on bang-bangs or yippers or whatever keeps them up until 11 a.m. the next morning talking shite. I heard some of Majella’s neighbours one time I stayed over, talking absolute nonsense in their garden at six in the morning about giant squirrels. You wouldn’t catch me at that.

Cover of Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen

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Stay With Me

Stay With Me by Ayòbámi Adébáyò

Canongate, 2017

I turned to look Akin in the eyes, hoping that somehow he was not part of the ambush. His gaze held mine in a silent plea. My already-stiff smile slipped. Rage closed its flaming hands around my heart. There was a pounding in my head, right between my eyes.

Cover of Stay With Me by Adebayo Ayobami

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Wonder by RJ Palacio

Corgi (Penguin Random House), 2014

I know I’m not an ordinary ten-year-old kid. I mean, sure, I do ordinary things. I eat ice cream. I ride my bike. I play ball. I have an XBox. Stuff like that makes me ordinary I guess. And I feel ordinary. Inside. But I know ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. I know ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go.

Cover of Wonder by RJ Palacio: an illustration of a young boy with one eye and no other facial features.

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A Little Life

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Picador, 2016

He won’t know it then, but years later, he will be grateful that Malcolm has prepared for his future, even when he hadn’t wanted to … that Malcolm won the fight about the grab bars around the toilet. He’ll feel a sort of bitter wonderment that yet another person in his life – Andy, Willem, Richard, and now Malcolm – had foreseen his future, and knew how inevitable it was.

Cover of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

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