Great Books by Irish Authors

Ireland has a rich literary heritage. T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and even Bram Stoker are only a few authors who stand out. Irish authors are still writing notable books. Whether your taste runs to mysteries, literary fiction, relationship fiction, young adult books or just something that makes you laugh, here are some great books by Irish authors that we recommend-


 In the Woods by Tana French is a dark psychological mystery. In the Woods won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards for best first novel. This novel is the start of the series, “The Dublin Murder Squad,” where detectives investigate tangled mysteries as well as their own tangled relationships and psyches. Available as a downloadable audiobook on Hoopla and Overdrive and as an eBook.

Himself by Jeff Kidd is an entertaining mystery with a dark sense of humor. When lovable car thief and Dublin charmer Mahony discovers that his mother may not have given him up, but that foul play may have led to her disappearance, he returns to the rural Irish Village where he was born to find out what really happened 26 years ago. While setting the town on its ear, he enlists the help of a brash anarchist and retired theater actress to solve this mystery.

Say Nothing by Patrick Radding Keefe describes itself as a true story of murder and memory in Northern Ireland. It documents the notorious abduction and murder of Jean McConville in 1972 Belfast, exploring how the case reflected the brutal conflicts of Northern Ireland and their ongoing repercussions. It was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Available as an eBook.

Literary Fiction

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue is the story of a woman hired to care for a small Irish village girl said to have miraculously survived on nothing but “manna from heaven” for months. The journalist and nurse veteran of Florence Nightingale’s Crimean campaign quickly finds herself fighting to save the child’s life. Available as a downloadable audiobook and an eBook.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. Forced to leave behind her family in Ireland to accept a job in 1950s America, bookkeeper Eilis Lacey unexpectedly falls in love with an Italian man with a big family, who she fears losing when tragic news arrives from home. Available as a downloadable audiobook. Be sure to check out the acclaimed movie based on the novel when you finish.

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann is set in 1974 Manhattan. A radical young Irish monk struggles with personal demons while making his home among Bronx prostitutes, a group of mothers share grief over their lost Vietnam soldier sons, and a young grandmother attempts to prove her worth. Winner of the National Book Award and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Available as a downloadable audiobook and an eBook.

Relationship Fiction

Normal People by Sally Rooney. The unconventional secret childhood bond between popular Connell and lonely, intensely private Marianne is tested by character reversals in their first year at a Dublin college that render Connell introspective and Marianne social, but self-destructive. Entertainment Weekly called this book one of the best ten novels of the decade. Available as a downloadable audiobook and an eBook.

Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy. Maeve Binchy has been a writing legend for decades. This novel finds Dr. Clara Casey given the difficult task of building an underfunded clinic in an Irish community caught between the past and present. Her task is complicated by her problematic personal life, her colorful and diverse staff, and the difficult patients they serve. Available in Large Print and as an eBook.

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes is a funny novel from an international bestselling author. Irish beautician Stella Sweeney falls ill, falls in love, then falls into a glamorous new life in New York City. When her dream life is threatened, will she rally to reclaim love and happiness? Available as an eBook.

Young Adult

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by James Boyne. Bored and lonely after his family moves from Berlin to a place called “Out-With” in 1942, Bruno, the son of a Nazi officer, befriends a boy in striped pajamas who lives behind a wire fence. Two young boys encounter the best and worst of humanity during the Holocaust in this powerful read that USA Today called “as memorable an introduction to the subject as The Diary of Anne Frank.” Available as a downloadable audiobook and an eBook.

Asking for It by Louise O’Neill. After beautiful eighteen-year-old Emma O’Donovan is found on her doorstep disheveled, bleeding, and disoriented, with no memory of the party she attended the night before, viral photographs from the party set off a criminal investigation that divides her quiet Irish town. Winner of a Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. Available as an eBook.

A Book to Make You Laugh

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray. After 14-year-old Skippy ends up dead on the floor of a local donut shop, a number of suspects emerge at Skippy’s school in Dublin. The suspects include Skippy’s drug-dealing rival in love; a ruthless smooth-talking headmaster; Skippy’s friend, who is determined to open a portal into another dimension; and more. Skippy Dies is a heartfelt, hilarious portrait of the pain, joy, and occasional beauty of adolescence.

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