12 must read Irish books of 2023

You may have missed some of the most talked about books of 2023.

But worry not because we have handpicked 12 novels you simply cannot miss out on.

So take note, put the kettle on and cuddle up with a great book!

Strange Sally Diamond – Liz Nugent

Sally Diamond becomes the centre of an investigation after following her father’s instructions – putting him out with the rubbish when he died.

But she doesn’t understand why. As she begins to discover the horrors of her childhood, Sally steps into the world for the first time and learns about things outside her home.

But who is the man observing Sally from the other side of the world? And why does her neighbour seem to be obsessed with her?

The Wren, the Wren – Anne Enright

When Nell leaves home, she is eager to start a new life for herself. Her decision to leave home also gives her mother, Carmel, a chance to reevaluate her own life.

Both women have grown up in the shadow of Carmel’s father who was an incredible Irish poet.

With space between the three generations, turmoil begins to broil.

How to Build a Boat – Elaine Feeney

Set in the West of Ireland, this book follows 13-year-old Jamie who is trying to make sense of the world.

There are two things that Jamie wants more above anything else – to build a Perpetual Motion Machine, and to connect with his mother Noelle, who died when he was born.

Now in a new school, he finds two people who might just be able to help him.

Poor – Katriona O’Sullivan

As the middle of five kids growing up in dire poverty, the odds were low on Katriona O’Sullivan making anything of her life. When she became a mother at 15 and ended up homeless, what followed were five years of barely coping.

Poor is a powerful and moving memoir that tells Katriona’s story in a way that will move every reader.

Poor is not only Katriona’s story, but is also her impassioned argument for the importance of looking out for our kids’ futures. Of giving them hope, practical support and meaningful opportunities.

So Late in the Day – Claire Keegan

After an uneventful Friday at the Dublin office, Cathal faces into the long weekend and takes the bus home. On his way home he thinks about a woman named Sabine with whom he could have spent his life, if he had acted differently.

All evening, with only the television and a bottle of champagne for company, thoughts of this woman and others intrude — and the true significance of this particular date is revealed.

From one of the finest writers working today, Keegan’s new story asks if a lack of generosity might ruin what could be between men and women. Is it possible to love without sharing?

My Hot Friend – Sophie White

Lexi, Claire and Joanne all need new friends but that is easier said than done in your thirties.

They’re doing everything millennial women should be doing, having babies, in serious relationships and all that jazz but they’re longing for more.

When they bump into one another, they hatch a plan that may backfire in their face.

The Rachel Incident – Caroline O’Donoghue

When Rachel falls in love with her married professor, Dr Byrne, her best friend James helps her devise a plan to seduce him.

Over the course of the year, they’ll be forced to make decisions that they never thought they would have to.

Reflecting on her college years as an adult, Rachel understands why her time in college was referred to as The Rachel Incident.

Prophet Song – Paul Lynch

A book set in Ireland but not as we know it.

One evening Eilish Stack answers her front door to find the GNSB on her step. Two officers from Ireland’s newly formed secret police are here to interrogate her husband, a trade unionist.

Ireland’s government turning towards tyranny and when her husband disappears, Eilish finds herself caught within the nightmare logic of a society that is quickly unravelling.

The Bee Sting – Paul Murray

Pic: Penguin

The Barnes family has fallen into tough times after patriarch Dickie’s once-lucrative car business is going under. Each member of the family deals with it differently.

Dickie is building an apocalypse-proof bunker in the woods, his wife Imelda is selling her jewellery on eBay, their daughter Cass is drinking herself into oblivion rather than study for her final exams and their son PJ is planning to run away from home.

Can the family turn their luck back around or has their fate already been written?

The Couples – Lauren Mackenzie

It was only supposed to be a once-off. Three couples decide to engage in a couple swap for one night and one night only.

But the problem with promises is that they’re easily broken. And it’s easier to say something than follow through.

How will their life change after a night that none of them want to remember but can’t forget?

The Happy Couple – Naoise Dolan

Following her incredible debut, Naoise is back with another vicious look at relationships and life in your twenties.

We follow Luke and Celine, a couple who probably shouldn’t be together, as they prepare to tie the knot.

Along the way, we hear from exes, friends and siblings who all have their own very strong opinions on the upcoming nuptials.

Ordinary Human Failings – Megan Nolan

A poor Irish family is put under scrutiny when a young child goes missing in an English housing estate.

Over the course of the book, we learn what happened to the girl and why the family ended up across the pond.

A book that discusses class, shame and familial secrets.


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