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Best Irish Books

Discover the rich tapestry of Irish literature with this curated selection of the best Irish books, celebrated and frequently mentioned across distinguished literary platforms.

Recommendations from 12 articles, Barack Obama, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Pete Buttigieg and 17 others.
24 books on the list
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The Country Girls book cover
The Country Girls
Three Novels and an Epilogue
Edna O'Brien - 1987-05-01 (first published in 1986)
Goodreads Rating
Follow the journey of Caithleen "Kate" Brady and Bridget "Baba" Brennan as they attempt to escape the repressive atmosphere of their small Irish village in the post-World War II era. Kate is a hopeless romantic while Baba is a survivor. Their misadventures in Dublin are full of comical miscommunications, furtive liaisons, bad faith, bad luck, bad sex, and compromise. This omnibus edition includes The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue, chronicling the highs and lows of women's lives in remarkable prose that is both blunt and brutal, and whimsical and lyrical.
The Bee Sting book cover
The Bee Sting
Paul Murray - 2023-08-15
Goodreads Rating
Discover The Bee Sting, a hilarious, insightful, and thought-provoking masterpiece by renowned author Paul Murray. Enter the Barnes family's chaotic world as they navigate through financial struggles, personal crises, and the quest for goodness in a crumbling society. Dickie's once thriving business is on the verge of collapse, while Imelda resorts to selling her jewelry online. Cass, their brilliant daughter, turns to alcohol to cope with the pressure of exams, and young PJ is plotting his escape from it all. Journey with them as a twist of fate, a simple favor, or a bee under a wedding veil tips their lives off balance. Can one moment of misfortune alter their destinies? Is redemption still within reach? Find out in this must-read novel.
Gulliver's Travels book cover
Gulliver's Travels
Jonathan Swift - 2017-01-01 (first published in 1726)
Goodreads Rating
Satire at its finest. This timeless classic by a masterful author is still bringing laughs nearly 300 years later. With clever wit and boundless imagination, this book will captivate readers for generations to come.
Small Things Like These book cover
Small Things Like These
Claire Keegan - 2021-11-30
Goodreads Rating
In Small Things Like These, set in 1985 in a small Irish town, Bill Furlong, a family man and coal merchant, faces the busiest season of his life. However, a discovery during a delivery to a local convent forces him to confront his past and the controlling power of the church. This international bestseller is a moving tale of hope, heroism, and empathy, written by an acclaimed and iconic author.
Strumpet City book cover
Strumpet City
One City One Book edition
James Plunkett - 2006-02-21 (first published in 1969)
Goodreads Rating
Experience the stark contrasts of Dublin in 1913 with this powerful and vivid novel. Centring on the seminal Lockout of 20,000 workers, Strumpet City portrays the complexities of humanity through characters like the destitute Rashers Tierney and the upper-class Yearling and Bradshaws. Chosen as Dublin City Libraries' One City, One Book for 2013 and repeatedly hailed as one of the greatest Irish novels of all time, this book offers a social and historical writing experience akin to Chekhov and Tolstoy.
Normal People book cover
Normal People
A Novel
Sally Rooney - 2019-04-16 (first published in 2018)
Goodreads Rating
This captivating novel follows the story of two teenagers, Connell and Marianne, who form a deep connection despite their vastly different social statuses. After a year apart, the two find themselves drawn back together as they navigate their way through college and the complexities of their relationship. Sally Rooney’s insightful prose delves into themes of class, love, and the challenges of friendship and family ties.
The Picture of Dorian Gray book cover
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde - 2004-06-01 (first published in 1890)
Goodreads Rating
A Gothic and philosophical novel, this controversial book by Oscar Wilde explores the boundaries of morality and art. Originally censored before publication, the story of Dorian Gray offended British reviewers who accused Wilde of violating public morality laws. Despite the backlash, the author passionately defended his work and released a revised version with a preface that became a literary manifesto. With its unflinching examination of beauty, sin, and decadence, this classic continues to captivate readers today.
Recommended by
Jenn Im
The Silent People book cover
The Silent People
Walter Macken
Goodreads Rating
Experience the captivating tale of one family's journey through 300 years of Irish history in The Silent People. Set during the time of the Irish famine, this gripping novel delves into the political unrest and struggles faced by the people of Connacht. Join Dualta, a young educated man, as he navigates the harsh realities of tyrannical landlords and injustices. Alongside Seek the Fair Land and The Scorching Wind, this thought-provoking book examines the events that fueled Ireland's fight for freedom. Immerse yourself in this epic trilogy and discover the untold stories of The Silent People.
The Spinning Heart book cover
The Spinning Heart
A Novel
Donal Ryan - 2012-10-11
Goodreads Rating
Amidst Ireland's financial collapse, a town brims with dangerous tensions. Characters face an inner battle between public personas and personal desires, told through a chorus of unique voices. The Spinning Heart encapsulates contemporary Ireland with wit, vulnerability, and uncanny perception. Dark, sweet, and poignant, this novel captures small-town life with technical daring and evocative language reminiscent of Patrick McCabe and J.M. Synge.
The Princes of Ireland book cover
The Princes of Ireland
The Dublin Saga
Edward Rutherfurd - 2005-03-01 (first published in 2004)
Goodreads Rating
This captivating epic explores 11 centuries of Irish history through the interlocking stories of a memorable cast of characters. From the pagan tribal culture of ancient Ireland to Saint Patrick's mission, the Book of Kells, and England's first foothold in medieval Ireland, this book vividly portrays the major events that have shaped Irish history. Author Edward Rutherfurd brilliantly weaves impeccable historical research with stirring storytelling to capture the essence of Ireland and its people in a thrilling story steeped in tragedy and glory.
Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan
Kala by Colin Walsh
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
In the Woods by Tana French
The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Dubliners by James Joyce
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Actress by Anne Enright, Eva Bonné
My Hot Friend by Sophie White, Jacqueline Milne, Hachette Books Ireland
Poor by Katriona O'Sullivan
The Pull of the Stars / The Wonder / Room by Emma Donoghue
A Thread of Violence by Mark O'Connell
The Grass Ceiling by Eimear Ryan