St. Patrick’s Day has always been one of my favorite days of the year. I’m not sure why that is – I’m not Irish, I don’t like corn beef and cabbage…but I do love the leprechauns, rainbows, four-leaf clovers, and pots full of gold! 🍀🌈💰
As it turns out, some of my favorite books are written by Irish authors!
- John Boyne – I will read absolutely everything John Boyne writes! One of my all-time favorite books, The Heart’s Invisible Furies, is written by him and I highly recommend starting with it.
- The Heart’s Invisible Furies (2017) – As mentioned above, this is one of my all time favorite books. It’s the beautiful story of Ceril Avery. His biological mother put him up for adoption when he was just three days old, so from the very beginning, Avery searches for a place where he feels like he belongs. Complicating things, he knows from a very young age that he is gay. This is literally against the law in post-WWII Ireland. What follows are the tragedies and triumphs of a life, and it has a special place in my bookreader’s heart.
- A Ladder to the Sky (2018) – While not as good as The Heart’s Invisible Furies, A Ladder to the Sky is still quite exceptional. In this book, we’re introduced to a villain everyone loves to hate: Maurice Swift. Handsome, charming, and hungry for success, Swift is the ultimate con-artist. He doesn’t care who he hurts in the process; his only concern is for himself. Boyne’s masterful writing skills are on full display in this book as he creates a narcissistic character that fully engages his audience!
- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2006) – I read this book year’s ago and it wasn’t until a few months after finishing Heart’s that I realized it was the same author. Though very different than his later writing style, this is a story that’s hard to forget. Set in a WWII concentration camp, a young German boy (who is free) befriends a young Jewish boy (who is a prisoner in the camp). From there, their friendship blossoms and eventually concludes with a heart-breaking ending that I didn’t see coming.
- Emma Donoghue – Orginally from Dublin, Ireland, Donoghue entered my radar with the release of her award-winning book, Room.
- Room (2010) – For seven years, Ma has been held captive in a room and her son, Jack, has never known a world other than this room. Despite Ma’s efforts to create a life for Jack, he begins asking questions when he turns five. Ma explains to him that there is a whole world beyond the four walls he’s familiar with. She devises a plan to escape that rests entirely on Jack’s help and bravery. I always love a book with mother/child bonds and this book particulary stands out because of Ma’s fierce love for her son. By creating a fairly decent early childhood for Jack (all things considered), her resilience under the circumstances is admirable. Room was adapted into a feature film in 2015 and went on to win four Academy Awards.
- The Wonder (2016) – An English nurse, Lib Wright, is sent to Ireland in 1859 to observe what many are calling a miracle and a medical anomoly. Eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnoll has seemingly survived for months without eating any food. Is she doing it for religious reasons? Her parents certainly believe she can survive without food; therefore, sounding alarm bells to many outsiders. As journalists descend on the village and people flock there in hopes of experiencing Anna’s miraculous power for themselves, things start to spiral out of control. With a bit of psychological thriller vibes, this book definetly made for an interesting read!
- C.S. Lewis – Clive Staple Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1898. When his mother died in 1908, he was sent to England for school. So maybe technically more British than Irish, I’m still including him as an Irish author!
- The Chronicales of Narnia
- The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950) – I think most people have heard of Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia books, especially The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (even though it’s the second book in the collection). Narnia is an eternally frozen world centered around the common trope of good vs evil. I foun this book to be magical and unforgettable (Aslan!). (I wasn’t as enraptured by the first book in the series, The Magician’s Nephew, and stopped reading the series after The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.)
- The Chronicales of Narnia
- Sally Rooney – Born in Castlebar, Ireland, Rooney seems to be one of those devisive authors that you either love or hate.
- Normal People (2019) – This is actually Rooney’s sophomore novel, but the only book of hers I’ve read. I admit: I’m not the biggest fan of this book – though all the elements were there for a book I should love – something just didn’t work for me. Having said that, I think about it a lot (still after almost a year since reading it – and that really is a good sign of writing and plot development).
- Conversations With Friends (2017) – Rooney’s debut novel, but I haven’t read it and I’m not sure I will because of my opinion about Normal People.
- And here are a few Irish authors/books I haven’t read yet, but am looking forward to doing so soon:
- Anne Griffin (2019) – When All Is Said
- Emelie Pine (2019) – Notes to Self: Essays
- Sinéad Gleeson (2019) – Constellations
Who are some of your favorite Irish authors and what books would you recommend by them?