When a reader picks up a book, for a short 300 pages they can become part of a new culture, a new life, a new way of thinking. It’s one of the truly beautiful things in the world that through a really good book you can almost walk in another’s shoes. Novels in particularly can make you acquainted with a people, history, and culture in a way that is second only to buying a plane ticket. If you can’t afford to travel to the Emerald Isle this March do the next best thing and take a trip with these incredible books.
A Secret Map of Ireland by Rosita Boland
Part memoir, part travel guide, part insight into under-visited parts of Ireland, this book will make you laugh and help you to unidealized the country. Ireland is, and always has been, a rough country. This book brings this to light while preserving other, more quaint, qualities.
Strumpet City by Flinton O’Toole
The Dublin Lockout of 1913 was an industrial strike that lasted nearly six months. Workers demanded better working conditions and the right to unionize, and won. Strumpet City is an epic novel that follows twelve different people as their lives propel them towards the Dublin Lockout. The brilliance of the novel is being able to follow both the poor and the elite in their thoughts and worries.
The Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford
A literary crash corse in Irish history. It follows Ireland from its prehistory to the founding of the free Irish state in 1922. It’s a book well worth the read but you have to be committed. There are parts of this truly epic novel that drag, but there is no other single book that gives you such a broad historical, cultural and geological look at Ireland.
Good Behaviour by Molly Keane
Keane has the beautiful literary tendency to focus on the everyday life of the Irish person. This book is is like watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians if the Kardashians were a crumbling Anglo/Irish aristocratic family. It is quirky, fun, and definitely of the dark comedy genre. Warning, though, despite being hailed a modern classic it is one of the more difficult books on the list to find.
Skippy Dies: A Novel by Paul Murphy
One of the best books I read in 2013. Skippy Dies is the story of Skippy’s adventure at a boys school in Dublin. Part comedy, part tragedy it is a wildly entertaining read that I wasn’t able to put down. It’s a fun introduction into Irish literature if you’re looking for a a less intense read. Also check out Marian Keys if something fun is what you’re looking for.