Roddy Doyle (Jonathan Cape, £9.99)

They say that every generation thinks it discovered sex. Which is, of course, nonsense in all sorts of ways. But every generation does get to discover middle age for itself, and – what’s more – get to redefine it in their own image. Roddy Doyle’s Charlie Savage is a 60-year-old Dubliner, like the author, and one senses they’ve got more than a little in common, belonging to a generation steeped in pop culture which never seriously envisioned growing old. In Charlie’s mind, his youth ended the day he waved goodbye to his 501s, and he’s proud as punch that his beloved wife is playing drums in a sexagenarian punk covers band. He’s not always harking back to how things were better in the past. He uses Facebook and binges on box sets. And diversity? Well, that’s just grand, although he’s still a bit shaky on how to approach the whole transgender thing.

Doyle has been writing column-length chunks from Charlie Savage’s life for the weekend supplement of the Irish Independent since early 2017, and this book gathers together a year’s worth. He has in the past explored the dark side of family life and what goes on behind closed doors, but his Charlie Savage columns are positive and celebratory, and Doyle himself is on sparkling, quick-witted form. Charlie is mostly happy with his lot. He adores his wife and loves being a father more than anything in the world, even if he’s not always clear on how many children he has and what their names are. (“How can I remember Lady Di’s favourite band but I can’t remember which of my children is married?”) As long as he gets to watch Match of the Day, have fun with his dogs and enjoy a pint with his mate Martin down the pub, he’s pretty contented.

The sweetest thing about Charlie, his defining act, actually comes right at the beginning of the book. His three-year-old grandson being (obviously) too young to get the tattoo he wants for his birthday, Charlie gets a Spongebob Squarepants tattoo on his chest, explaining to the boy that he’s “looking after” it until he’s older. It’s a weird thing to do, but, for a doting granddad, perhaps not beyond the realms of possibility. And that’s the case for most of his adventures, such as when his daughter decides that his well-honed ability to shout at the radio would make him a tremendous “influencer” on social media, or when his Facebook-hatched plan to meet up with an old flame is complicated by a drinking buddy who has decided that from now on he’s identifying as a woman.

A refreshingly positive take on middle age, it’s optimistic, warm-hearted, blokishly moving and written with master’s pin-sharp command of humour. These tales must have been a welcome weekly balm to the Irish Independent’s readers for the past two years, and it’s a pleasure to have them in a book that’s sure to be picked up and revisited time and time again.