We could have put all of Colm Toibin’s work on this list, but we couldn’t go past Brooklyn. This is a sublime Trans-Atlantic coming of age story, where Eilis experiences life in America in the 1950s, but then must decide if she will go back to Ireland. Beautifully written, this book is a perfect example why Colm is one of Ireland’s greatest living writers.
Again, we could have put many of her books on this list, but for Maeve Binchy we go with Circle of Friends, the story of Benny, Eve, Nan and Jack and the true meaning of friendship. Reading Maeve Binchy is like getting a great big warm hug, so read her when you’re in need of one.
If you’re in the mood for poetry, you really can’t go past W.B.Yeats. One of Ireland’s greatest literary figures, Selected Poems is a great way to get to know his work. From the political ‘Easter 1916’ to the apocalyptic ‘The Second Coming’, this work encompasses the poet’s interest in Irish folklore and national identity.
Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O’Neill is a delightful novel. Upon getting a rather odd inheritance of letters for her birthday, Kate soon enters the world of the long-forgotten fairies of Irish Folklore. This is what happens when modern life combines with a little bit of magic.
Sebastian Barry has been shortlisted twice for the Booker prize, and it’s no wonder. Days Without End (also winner of the Costa Award) is him at his best. His latest story is set in mid 19th century America, an intensely poignant story of two men and the lives they are dealt. A masterpiece.
Did you know C.S.Lewis, author of the amazing Chronicles of Narnia series including The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, was born in Northern Ireland? He spent his childhood immersed in Irish mythology and literature, which perhaps influenced some of his fantastical writing. This series is one that’s definitely not just for children.
Another author from Northern Ireland, Maggie O’Farrell is a particular favourite of the Better Reading team. Here we choose the novel that launched her literary career, After You’d Gone. This is a love story, and also a story of how our choices can reverberate through the generations, slowly drawing us closer to a dark secret at a family’s heart.
The latest novel by Cecelia Ahern is thoughtful and deeply moving love story. A woman is discovered in the south west of Ireland, mostly cut off from the world; and she has an extraordinary talent that will earn her the nickname Lyrebird. This is the story of the wild that exists in all of us and the quiet that lies underneath the world’s noise.
Room by Emma Donoghue is quite simply, one of the most original modern classics. Now a major motion picture, this is the story of Jack, Ma and Room – a boy and his mother trapped in a room that Jack thinks is the whole world. If you haven’t read this, go out and do so immediately.
The phenomenon worldwide bestseller, we had to include Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes on this list. This is a sad, funny, bittersweet memoir of growing up in Ireland in the 40s. This is a story of courage and survival against apparently overwhelming odds.
Famous for his plays, Oscar Wilde’s novel is also pretty brilliant. The Picture of Dorian Gray is the story of a man who makes a devilish pact to never grow old. This is a beautifully decadent tale of the destructive allure of perpetual youth.
And last (but certainly not least), we have Marian Keyes. Again, we could have gone with any of her books here, but we’ve decided to go with Watermelon. This is the story of twenty nine year old Clare, whose husband chooses to tell her he’s leaving her while she’s in the recovery room. Just after she’s given birth to their newborn daughter. She goes home to Dublin and to her family, where she gets better. A LOT better. This is the first story of the five Walsh sisters, and each one is equally hilarious. A treat.