The Reading of the Green Revisited

It’s been 4 years since my last blog post for St Patrick’s Day. Yes, kind of a long time, but such is life, as the Irish often say.

My personal copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses is still heavy and no longer a door stop, but it’s still taking up room on my bookshelves at home- mainly as a conversation piece. But on to less ponderous reads.

This time around I’ll skip the classic Irish writers and make it more modern. The Irish are great storytellers so are you ready to be totally entertained? Let’s start with some new books.

Anne Enright’s The Green Road, the 2015 Irish Novel of the Year, is a compelling and lyrical journey into the lives of the Madigan family as they grow up, move away and then reunite.

Cover of Beatlebone: A Novel

Beatlebone: A Novel by Kevin Barry is a fictional and sometimes grim, but also amusing account about a trip [in more ways than one] to a real island off the Irish coast owned by John Lennon. Yes, that John Lennon.

Have you seen Room, adapted from the novel by Emma Donoghue and nominated for 4 Academy Awards including a Best Actress Oscar for Brie Larson? Whether or not you’ve seen the film, you definitely need to read this book.

If you can’t resist an Irish tale of loss and grief and memories remembered, then John Banville’s beautifully written novel The Sea is just the ticket and you’ll immediately see why he won the Man Booker prize in 2005.

cover of Skippy Dies

Paul Murray’s Skippy Dies is a long book page wise but it’s so engaging that you won’t even notice. I’m not giving away the story but on page 5 – you already know this will happen – Skippy, a 14 year old Irish schoolboy, dies. Which, yes, is very tragic, but this sadness is overshadowed by a cast of totally hilarious characters and events.

Not in the mood for a long read? Then Colum McCann’s collection of four short stories, Thirteen Ways of Looking, is just perfect. Or check out Colin Barrett, winner of the Guardian First Book Award for his collection of stories about small town Irish life, Young Skins.

cover of In The Woods

Mysteries anyone? A must read is Tana French’s In the Woods, her first novel and the debut of Detective Rob Ryan who has his own secrets to keep. Or try three stories at once with Ken Bruen’s White Trilogy featuring two tough aging cops looking for their big bust.

If you long to be an expat then read this memoir by Niall Williams and Christine Breen as they exchange New York city life for a life on a rural Irish farm.

Looking for the newest in Irish literature? Then you’re in luck. Soon to be added to the Library’s collections: Edna O’Brien’s The Little Red Chairs, The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray, and Spill Simmer Falter Wither, a debut novel by Sara Baume –you might have heard her interview on NPR this morning.

cover of The Commitments

And when Irish eyes are smiling it’s because they just read another book by one of my favorites, Roddy Doyle.

It’s time to get your read on. Happy St Patrick’s Day!