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

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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    The Chronicles of Narnia have enchanted millions of readers over the last fifty years and the magical events described in C.S. Lewis's immortal prose have left many a lasting memory for adults and children alike. All seven Chronicles are bound together in this new paperback edition (rebranded with HarperCollins logo). The Chronicles of Narnia have enchanted millions of readers over the last fifty years and the magical events described in C.S. Lewis's immortal prose have left many a lasting memory. For here is a world where a witch decrees eternal winter; where there are more talking animals than people; and where battles are fought by Centaurs, Giants and Fauns.
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    WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY JOHN BURNSIDE. When Charles Arrowby retires from his glittering career in the London theatre, he buys a remote house on the rocks by the sea. He hopes to escape from his tumultuous love affairs but unexpectedly bumps into his childhood sweetheart and sets his heart on destroying her marriage. His equilibrium is further disturbed when his friends all decide to come and keep him company and Charles finds his seaside idyll severely threatened by his obsessions.
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    Ulysses, one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, has had a profound influence on modern fiction. In a series of episodes covering the course of a single day, 16 June 1904, the novel traces the movements of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus through the streets of Dublin. Each episode has its own literary style, and the epic journey of Odysseus is only one of many correspondencies that add layers of meaning to the text. Ulysses has been the subject of controversy since copies of the first English edition were burned by the New York Post Office Authorities. Today critical interest centres on the authority of the text, and this edition, complete with an invaluable Introduction, notes, and appendices, republishes for the first time, without interference, the original 1922 text.
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    Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life; indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his decadence. The novel was a success de scandale and the book was later used as evidence against Wilde at the Old Bailey in 1895. It has lost none of its power to fascinate and disturb.
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    'it was butcher work...the horrid screeching as the stake drove home; the plunging of writhing form, and lips of bloody foam' Bram Stoker's 1897 Gothic shocker introduced Count Dracula to the world, an ancient creature bent on bringing his contagion to London, the very heart of the British Empire. Only a handful of men and women stand between Dracula and his long-cherished goal, but they are vulnerable and weak against the cunning and supernatural powers of the Count and his legions. As the horrifying story unfolds in the diaries and letters of young Jonathan Harker, Lucy, Mina, and Dr Seward, Dracula will be victorious unless his nemesis Professor Van Helsing can persuade them that monsters still lurk in the era of electric light. The most famous of all vampire stories, Dracula is a mirror of its age, its underlying themes of race, religion, science, superstition, and sexuality never far from the surface. A compelling read, rattling along at break-neck speed, it is a modern classic. This new edition includes Stoker's companion piece, 'Dracula's Guest'.
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    Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather have decided to create the best catering company in Dublin. They have the perfect premises, heaps of talent, and even a few contacts - but not everyone seems as pleased by the idea of 'Scarlet Feather' as they are. Tom's parents are disappointed that he has turned his back on the family business. Cathy's husband buries himself in work, becoming ever more distant, whilst his mother thinks Cathy should stay at home to look after him. And Tom's relationship with his beautiful, ambitious girlfriend becomes fraught as she struggles to realise her dream of becoming a model. As Cathy and Tom strive to maintain their emotional ties amidst catering triumphs and disasters they are supported - and undermined - by an enchanting cast of classic Binchy characters.
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    An Orange Prize- and Man Booker-shortlisted novel from Emma Donoghue, the film adaptation of Room has won so many awards and its star Brie Larson deservedly won an Oscar. Now, for a fabulous Book People price, you can discover or re-read this incredible novel.

    Described as 'A triumph' by the Daily Telegraph, the book tells the story from the point of view of 5-year-old Jack. He lives with his Ma in a single, locked room and neither of them have the key... they're prisoners but when they escape, Jack gets to see the real world for the first time - and it's a scary, overwhelming and mainly positive experience.

    Beautifully written and guaranteed to appeal to fans of The Lovely Bones, this paperback edition comes with a film-themed jacket.
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    Shipwrecked on an unknown island, Lemuel Gulliver wakes to find himself surrounded by its six-inch-tall natives, the Lilliputians. But this is only the first in a long line of wonderful discoveries, as his adventures take him to other far-off lands such as Brobdingnag, populated by a race of giants, Luggnagg, home to the eternally ageingStruldbrugs, and the country of the Houyhnhnms, a race of benevolent talking horses.
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    The classic World War One novel, available as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Alec and Jerry shouldn't have been friends: Alec's life was one of privilege, while Jerry's was one of toil. But this hardly mattered to two young men whose shared love of horses brought them together and whose whole lives lay ahead of them. When war breaks out in 1914, both Jerry and Alec sign up - yet for quite different reasons. On the fields of Flanders they find themselves standing together, but once again divided: as officer and enlisted man. And it is there, surrounded by mud and chaos and death, that one of them makes a fateful decision whose consequences will test their friendship and loyalty to breaking point.
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    Winner of the Costa Book of the Year 2016 and the Costa Novel Award 2016, The Secret Scripture author Sebastian Barry's Days Without End is set in the mid-19th century and follows Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms John Cole as they sign up for the US army and go on to fight in the Indian wars and the Civil War.

    Despite the horrors and hardships, both men find their days filled with wonder. A young Indian girl crosses their path and both men sense the possibility of lasting happiness - as long as they can survive.

    Spanning from the West to Tennessee, this an intensely poignant look at two men and the fates they were dealt during some of America's most fateful periods.