Share 13 Irish Writers to Read this St. Patrick’s Day

13 Irish Writers to Read this St. Patrick’s Day

Sarah Jane Abbott is an assistant editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.  She grew up having NANCY DREW books read to her by her father, and is now an avid reader of mystery, thriller, and horror, along with everything from literary fiction to poetry to personal essays.  She graduated from Bucknell University with a degree in English and a concentration in creative writing.  Sarah Jane is an advocate of quasi-destructive book love—her best-loved volumes are highlighted, scribbled in, dog-eared, and wavy from being dropped in the bath tub.  

St. Patrick’s Day is a time to honor Irish heritage and culture, whether that means attending a performance of Irish music or dancing, wearing green and searching for four-leafed shamrocks, or sampling some fine Irish whiskey. We at Off the Shelf will be taking the opportunity to revisit some incredible books by Irish authors, from enduring classics to powerful memoirs to contemporary novels that are taking the literary world by storm. So take your pick and spend this March 17th celebrating Ireland through the written word.


Angela's Ashes
by Frank McCourt
ANGELA’S ASHES is Frank McCourt’s Pulitzer Prize–winning memoir of his childhood in the slums of Limerick, Ireland, during the Depression era. Frank endures poverty, near-starvation, and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors—yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance, and remarkable forgiveness.
Angela's Ashes
Frank McCourt

"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood." So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank's mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy -- exasperating, irresponsible and beguiling-- does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father's tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies. Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank's survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig's head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors--yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness. Angela's Ashes, imbued on every page with Frank McCourt's astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic.

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The Dead
by James Joyce

This story about a married couple attending a Christmas-season party ends with a shocking confession. This admission showcases the power of Joyce’s greatest innovation: the epiphany, that moment when everything, for character and reader alike, suddenly becomes clear.

The Dead
James Joyce

This story about a married couple attending a Christmas-season party ends with a shocking confession. This admission showcases the power of Joyce’s greatest innovation: the epiphany, that moment when everything, for character and reader alike, suddenly becomes clear.

MENTIONED IN:

13 Irish Writers to Read this St. Patrick’s Day

By Sarah Jane Abbott | March 15, 2016

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In the Woods
by Tana French
As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, three children enter the woods and do not return. When the police arrive, they find only one, Rob Ryan. Twenty years later, Rob is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and finds himself investigating a twelve-year-old girl’s murder in the same woods.
In the Woods
Tana French

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Nora Webster
by Colm Tóibín
Set in Wexford, Ireland, NORA WEBSTER follows a fiercely compelling young widow navigating grief, fear, and longing, and ultimately finding her own voice. This one is for fans of BROOKLYN.
Nora Webster
Colm Tóibín

Set in the same village where Brooklyn begins, Colm Tóibín’s magnificent seventh novel introduces us to the formidable and deeply moving Nora Webster. Widowed at forty and with four children, Nora has lost the love of her life. Wounded but strong-willed, she is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her children. As she navigates the complexities of grief and loss, the novel shines with moments of courage, empathy, kindness, and hope.

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Dracula
by Bram Stoker
Young solicitor Jonathan Harker travels to the Carpathian Mountains to finalize the sale of an English abbey to Transylvanian noble Count Dracula. Little does he realize that Dracula is a centuries-old vampire who may have evil intentions for Jonathan’s beloved wife Mina.
Dracula
Bram Stoker

During a business visit to Count Dracula's castle in Transylvania, a young English solicitor finds himself at the center of a series of horrifying incidents. Jonathan Harker is attacked by three phantom women, observes the Count's transformation from human to bat form, and discovers puncture wounds on his own neck that seem to have been made by teeth. Harker returns home upon his escape from Dracula's grim fortress, but a friend's strange malady — involving sleepwalking, inexplicable blood loss, and mysterious throat wounds — initiates a frantic vampire hunt.

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TransAtlantic
by Colum McCann

A soaring novel that spans continents, leaps centuries, and unites a cast of deftly rendered characters, both real and imagined. This is the story of three iconic trans-Atlantic crossings, connected by a series of remarkable women whose personal stories are caught up in the swells of history.

TransAtlantic
Colum McCann

A soaring novel that spans continents, leaps centuries, and unites a cast of deftly rendered characters, both real and imagined. This is the story of three iconic trans-Atlantic crossings, connected by a series of remarkable women whose personal stories are caught up in the swells of history.

MENTIONED IN:

13 Irish Writers to Read this St. Patrick’s Day

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Love and Summer
by William Trevor

Ellie, a shy orphan girl married to a man whose life has been blighted by an unspeakable tragedy, lives a quiet life in an Irish village until she meets a young photographer preparing to leave Ireland and his past forever. The chance intersection of these two lost souls sets in motion a haunting love story about the choices of the heart.

Love and Summer
William Trevor

Ellie, a shy orphan girl married to a man whose life has been blighted by an unspeakable tragedy, lives a quiet life in an Irish village until she meets a young photographer preparing to leave Ireland and his past forever. The chance intersection of these two lost souls sets in motion a haunting love story about the choices of the heart.

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13 Irish Writers to Read this St. Patrick’s Day

By Sarah Jane Abbott | March 15, 2016

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
by C. S. Lewis
This classic fantasy tale follows four adventurous siblings who step through a wardrobe door and into Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
C. S. Lewis

Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie walk through the back of a mink enshrouded wardrobe into the magical realm of Narnia. Years pass, worlds collide, lessons are learned, a certain badger rises to greatness, Aslan roars and this is one of the best books about taking a leap into time a kid could read.

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The Wolf in Winter
by John Connolly

The community of Prosperous, Maine, has always thrived when others have suffered—its future is secure and it shuns outsiders. But the death of a homeless man and the disappearance of his daughter draw private investigator Charlie Parker, who will encounter a most vicious opponent.

The Wolf in Winter
John Connolly

The community of Prosperous, Maine, has always thrived when others have suffered—its future is secure and it shuns outsiders. But the death of a homeless man and the disappearance of his daughter draw private investigator Charlie Parker, who will encounter a most vicious opponent.

MENTIONED IN:

13 Irish Writers to Read this St. Patrick’s Day

By Sarah Jane Abbott | March 15, 2016

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A Week in Winter
by Maeve Binchy

Stoneybridge is a small town on the west coast of Ireland where all the families know each other. Resident Chicky Starr decides to take an old, decaying mansion and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea. The resulting unlikely group shares their secrets and even sees their dreams come true.

A Week in Winter
Maeve Binchy

Stoneybridge is a small town on the west coast of Ireland where all the families know each other. Resident Chicky Starr decides to take an old, decaying mansion and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea. The resulting unlikely group shares their secrets and even sees their dreams come true.

MENTIONED IN:

13 Irish Writers to Read this St. Patrick’s Day

By Sarah Jane Abbott | March 15, 2016

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The Long-Winded Lady
by Maeve Brennan
From 1954 to 1981, Maeve Brennan wrote for The New Yorker’s “Talk of the Town” section under the pen name “The Long-Winded Lady.” These are her unforgettable sketches—prose snapshots of life in small restaurants, cheap hotels, and the crowded streets of Times Square—form a timeless, bittersweet tribute to New York City.
The Long-Winded Lady
Maeve Brennan

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Are You Somebody?
by Nuala O'Faolain
One of nine children born into a penniless North Dublin family, Nuala O’Faolain was saved from a harrowing childhood by her love of books and reading. She ultimately became one of Ireland's best-known columnists and ARE YOU SOMEBODY? distills her experiences into a wisdom that can only come from an obstinate refusal to shrink from life.
Are You Somebody?
Nuala O'Faolain

Are You Somebody is a moving and fascinating portrait of both Ireland and one of its most popular and respected commentators. This gem of honesty and insight had its first life as the introduction to a collection of Nuala O'Faolain's Irish Times columns that became a number-one bestseller in Ireland. It now stands alone. Ireland has fallen in love with this memoir of an Irish woman of letters, and now this country will too.

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Room
by Emma Donoghue
A tale at once shocking, riveting, and exhilarating, the titular room is the only home Jack has ever known, but to Ma it’s the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space.
Room
Emma Donoghue

Adapting a child narrator for the screen could make a screenwriter’s life hell—but the author herself penned the script in this case, so there’s hope that the book’s celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child will have the adaptation it deserves.

Release date: Fall 2015

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