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Our Favourite Books by Irish Authors

From passionate love stories and gripping thrillers to wondrous fantastical adventures, see below for a list of our favourite books by Irish authors. It features brilliant writers like James Joyce, Iris Murdoch and C. S. Lewis.

1. Ulysses

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James Joyce | 1920

This engrossing novel consists of eighteen 'episodes', all set in Dublin across the course of a single day. Each chapter has a unique literary style, from internal monologue to first-person observation, and corresponds to a part of Homer's The Odyssey. One of its major characters is Stephen Dedalus, who, by the end of the book, finds he is no longer welcome to stay with his housemates, the reserved Haines and the egotistical Mulligan. The book explores a range of topics in a complex web of interactions and points of view, including personal attitudes and perspectives, political opinions and the human condition. It combines an intricate narrative with dramatic intensity and irony, making it one of the greatest novels of the 20th century.


2. How Many Miles to Babylon?

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Jennifer Johnston | 1974

This poignant novel chronicles the friendship between an Irish aristocrat, Alexander 'Alec' Moore, and a labourer, Jerry, who bond over a shared passion for horses. Alec's family disapprove of their friendship and forbid the two to meet, but they continue to convene in secret. Ultimately, the pair will find each other in the trenches of the First World War, divided not only by class, but by rank, too. Tragedy inevitably unfolds in this shocking, moving and impassioned story.


3. The Chronicles of Narnia

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C. S. Lewis | 1950-1956

Readers have been enchanted by these thrilling, action-packed stories for decades. Discover a magical land, inhabited by all sorts of peculiar creatures, as well as a witch who imposes an eternal winter. Be swept away by incredible quests, exhilarating battles and plenty of fantastical beasts, including centaurs, giants, fauns, and the wise, magnificent lion, Aslan.


4. Dracula

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Bram Stoker | 1897

Discover the horrifying tale of the vampire Count Dracula through the diaries, letters and records of those who were involved in the plot to thwart and destroy him. This enthralling story features supernatural forces, romances, adrenaline-fuelled twists and turns and themes of race, sexuality, science and superstition.


5. Room

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Emma Donoghue | 2010

Inspired by the shocking real-life case of the Fritzl family, this story is told from the perspective of 5-year-old Jack. He and his mother are locked in a room - and they don't have the key. Young Jack struggles to understand his mother's desperate attempts to escape, or what the world beyond the walls could possibly look like. This touching story explores the extraordinary bond of love and resilience between Jack and his mother, and the desire for - and price of - freedom.


6. The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Oscar Wilde | 1890

Mesmerised by his own superb portrait, Dorian Gray trades his soul for eternal youth and beauty. He is lured into a corrupt double life by Lord Henry Wotton, whose hedonistic lifestyle he is fascinated by. Dorian indulges his desires in secret whilst upholding a gentlemanly facade in polite society. But as his portrait ages and fades, it records every sin. This gripping novel caused a scandal upon its publication, labelled indecent and mawkish, but it is now considered a classic and an extraordinary work of imagination.


7. The Sea, The Sea

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Iris Murdoch | 1978

When Charles Arrowby leaves his glittering career in the London theatre behind, he moves to a remote house by the sea, hoping to escape his turbulent love affairs and write his memoirs in peace. However, he unexpectedly bumps into his childhood sweetheart, and becomes obsessed with the idea of destroying her marriage. But yet more blasts from the past will disrupt his seaside idyll and his strange obsessions. Charles's struggle to recognise his own selfishness and self-deception is at the heart of this fascinating and intense novel.


8. Gulliver's Travels

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Jonathan Swift | 1726

The island on which Lemuel Gulliver is shipwrecked turns out to be a bizarre but exciting place. Gulliver finds himself surrounded by six-inch-tall natives - the Lilliputians - but this is only the beginning of a series of wondrous discoveries. He will travel to far-off lands such as Brobdingnag, which is populated by a race of giants; Luggnagg, home to the immortal but eternally-ageing struldbrugs; and the Land of the Houyhnhnms, where a race of intelligent talking horses lives. Escape with Gulliver on his marvellous adventures in this hugely imaginative work of fiction.


9. Scarlet Feather

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Maeve Binchy | 2000

Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather set out to establish the best catering company in Dublin. They seem to have everything going for them: the perfect premises, lots of talent, a few useful contacts - but not everyone is so keen on 'Scarlet Feather'. Tom's parents are disappointed that he isn't supporting the family business, and as Cathy's husband becomes ever more distant and buried in work, his mother thinks Cathy should stay at home to take care of him. Tom's relationship with his girlfriend also becomes strained as she struggles to fulfil her dream of becoming a model. Amidst all this, Cathy and Tom must try to make their business a success, despite setbacks and disasters.


10. Days Without End

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Sebastian Barry | 2016

Set in the mid- 19th century, this compelling tale follows Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms, John Cole, as they go to fight in the Indian Wars and the Civil War. Both men find their days filled with both hardship and wonder - and when a young Indian girl crosses their path, they both sense the possibility of lasting happiness... as long as they can survive. This book was the winner of the Costa Novel Award 2016.