16 brilliant Irish books to add to your reading list this autumn 9 months ago

16 brilliant Irish books to add to your reading list this autumn

It's been a great week for Irish books.

On Thursday evening, the shortlist for the An Post Irish Book Awards was announced.

And today [October 26] marks the start of Irish Book Week, a celebration of Irish published books, Irish authored books and Irish interest books - as well as the wonderful bookshops in which we buy them.

So, to mark this week, we've rounded up some brilliant Irish books to add to your reading list this year (the list could go on forever, if we're being totally honest).

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry 

It's late one night at the Spanish port of Algeciras and two fading Irish gangsters are waiting on the boat from Tangier. A lover has been lost, a daughter has gone missing, their world has come asunder - can it be put together again?

Night Boat to Tangier is a novel drenched in sex and death and narcotics, in sudden violence and old magic. But above all, it is a book obsessed with the mysteries of love. 

Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor

1878: The Lyceum Theatre, London. Three extraordinary people begin their life together, a life that will be full of drama, transformation, passionate and painful devotion to art and to one another. Henry Irving, the Chief, is the volcanic leading man and impresario; Ellen Terry is the most lauded and desired actress of her generation, outspoken and generous of heart; and ever following along behind them in the shadows is the unremarkable theatre manager, Bram Stoker. 

Fresh from life in Dublin as a clerk, Bram may seem the least colourful of the trio but he is wrestling with dark demons in a new city, in a new marriage, and with his own literary aspirations. As he walks the London streets at night, streets haunted by the Ripper and the gossip which swirls around his friend Oscar Wilde, he finds new inspiration. But the Chief is determined that nothing will get in the way of his manager’s devotion to the Lyceum and to himself. And both men are enchanted by the beauty and boldness of the elusive Ellen. 

The Narrow Land by Christine Dwyer Hickey

1950: late summer season on Cape Cod. Michael, a ten-year-old boy, is spending the summer with Richie and his glamorous but troubled mother. Left to their own devices, the boys meet a couple living nearby - the artists Jo and Edward Hopper - and an unlikely friendship is forged.

She, volatile, passionate and often irrational, suffers bouts of obsessive sexual jealousy. He, withdrawn and unwell, depressed by his inability to work, becomes besotted by Richie's frail and beautiful Aunt Katherine who has not long to live - an infatuation he shares with young Michael.

Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

It's been seven years since Holly Kennedy's husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life. And she’s so proud of all the ways that she has grown and evolved. 

But when a group inspired by Gerry's letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind.

When All is Said by Anne Griffin 

At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He's alone, as usual -though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.

Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories - of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice - the life of one man will be powerfully and poignantly laid bare.

Cruel Acts by Jane Casey

Leo Stone is a ruthless killer – or the victim of a miscarriage of justice. A year ago, he was convicted of the murder of two women and sentenced to life in prison. But now he’s free, and according to him, he's innocent.

DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent are determined to put Stone back behind bars where he belongs, but the more Maeve finds out, the less convinced she is of his guilt. Then another woman disappears in similar circumstances. Is there a copycat killer, or have they been wrong about Stone from the start?

Seven Letters by Sinéad Moriarty 

The story of Sarah, a young mum who, when she's almost four months pregnant with her long longed-for second child, collapses unexpectedly. With Sarah's future, and the future of her pregnancy, in their hands, her husband Adam and sister Mia disagree fiercely about her treatment. 

And her seven-year-old daughter, Izzy, thinks her mummy is sleeping - and that she'll wake up for her communion day. The once close family starts to fall apart, as they struggle to try and explain to her what they are finding near impossible to understand themselves.

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

Your phone rings. A stranger has kidnapped your child - and to free them, you must abduct someone else’s child. 

Your child will be released when your victim’s parents kidnap another child. If any of these things don’t happen, your child will be killed. You are now part of the Chain. 

Filter This by Sophie White

Ali Jones is hell-bent on achieving her #lifegoals: 10,000+ Instagram followers and a win at the upcoming Glossie Awards. When she inadvertently leads people to believe she's pregnant and immediately gains thousands of followers, she realises that riding the 'Mummy Influencer' wave could be her ticket to Insta-success. But then Tinder Sam, Ali's one-night-stand, resurfaces, determined to take his new role as baby daddy seriously.

Elsewhere on Insta, Ireland's biggest influencer (and Ali's idol) Shelly Devine has it all -- at least on screen. But beneath the immaculately curated feed, Shelly harbours a secret from her followers -- and her husband --- but who will be the first to discover what she's been hiding? As Ali's lies spiral out of control, and Shelly starts to take a hard look at her life choices, what will it take for them to realise what's truly important before they lose what matters most?

Once, Twice, Three Times an Aisling by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen

Aisling is thirty, flirty and frazzled. But - just when she should finally be feeling all grown-up - she's floundering. Because when you're recovering from a broken heart as well as struggling to keep your café as sizzling as your award-winning sausages, it's hard to feel you've really made it as an adult.

Which is just the moment for the unexpected to strike and complicate everything. Now is not the time for a delicious new man to show up, her best friend to demand the hen do of the century and a surprise celebrity appearance.  But Aisling, never one to worry about having too much on her plate, rolls up her sleeves: she's got this - until she discovers that being a proper grown-up means you can't do everything. Sometimes you will let someone down.

My Crazy World by Christy Dignam with Damian Corless

Growing up in Finglas, Dublin, there was only one thing Christy Dignam ever wanted to do – and that was sing. By the early 1980s, he had formed the band Aslan, part of a new wave of acts coming out of Ireland. Repeatedly chewed up and spat out in the feeding frenzy to sign 'the next U2', they stuck to their principles. developed a loyal following, and their first album Feel No Shame went to No 1 in their home country, showcased by the song ‘This Is’, which Christy proudly acknowledges has become 'part of Ireland's DNA'.

But just as America seemed ready to fall for Aslan, Dignam was battling with heroin addiction, perhaps caused by having been sexually abused as a child, and so he was kicked out of the band. In 1993, after five years in the wilderness, he rejoined Aslan, leading the outfit to a triumphant second coming, despite struggling with further drug problems and serious illness. In this compelling memoir, Dignam looks back over his long career, vividly bringing to life the good times and the bad, but always remembering that at the heart of it all are his songs and his family.

Overcoming by Vicky Phelan with Naomi Linehan

In her memoir Overcoming, Vicky shares her remarkable personal story, from a life-threatening accident in early adulthood through to motherhood, a battle with depression, her devastating later discovery that her cancer had returned in shocking circumstances - and the ensuing detective-like scrutiny of events that led the charge for her history-making legal action.

An inspiring story of rare resilience and power, Overcoming is an account of how one woman can move mountains - even when she is fighting for her own life - and of finding happiness and strength in the toughest of times.

Barefoot Pilgrimage by Andrea Corr 

Andrea Corr’s Barefoot Pilgrimage is a compelling and honest memoir. In part, an exercise in coming to terms with and making sense of life and mortality following the loss of a beloved father; in part, a reflection on an unlikely journey with her siblings through the music industry; in part, a meditation on family, on music, and on creativity; and, in part, a shout-out for love and for hope.

Illustrated with personal photographs and with original poems interspersed throughout the text, this is a very personal – at times very funny, at times deeply moving – book from an iconic figure in popular music.

Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff 

Raised by her mother and Maeve on Slanbeg, an island off the west coast of Ireland, Orpen has a childhood of love and stories by the fireside. But the stories grow darker, and the training begins. Ireland has been devoured by a ravening menace known as the skrake, and though Slanbeg is safe for now, the women must always be ready to run, or to fight.

When Maeve is bitten, Orpen is faced with a dilemma: kill Maeve before her transformation is complete, or try to get help. So Orpen sets off, with Maeve in a wheelbarrow and her dog at her side, in the hope of finding other survivors, and a cure. It is a journey that will test Orpen to her limits, on which she will learn who she really is, who she really loves, and how to imagine a future in a world that ended before she was born.

The Hiding Game by Louise Phillips

Abby Jones, a young nanny from the town of Corham -which is just south-east of Boston - is on trial, accused of fatally harming an infant in her care.

Defence attorney Heather Baxter, who is from the same small town, sets out to prove her innocence. She knows the case isn't as clear-cut as the Assistant District Attorney claims - and the stakes only get higher, with the media attention focused squarely on the trial and Corham. As Heather digs into Abby's case, the shadows of her own past - and those surrounding the unsolved murder of her mother Elizabeth 25 years earlier - begin to surface.

Show Them a Good Time by Nicole Flattery 

An urgent and unforgettable collection of stories, Show Them a Good Time explores types - men and women, their assigned roles and meanings - in modern society.

A young, broke Irish woman narrates her relationship with a successful comedian in New York; two hapless university students take to the stage in a bid to assert their autonomy; a school teacher makes her way through a series of dead-end dates, gamely searching for love or distraction as the world teeters towards ruin.


A good book can do just about anything; from taking you on a wild and fantastical adventure to making you feel like an all-knowing super sleuth (if you figure out the killer twist).

But what's good to read? Each week, #Bookmarked will help you out - with an insight into the best novels hitting shelves right now and other faves that everyone needs to read at least once in their lives.