28 books directly related to Dublin 📚

All 28 Dublin books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Dubliners

By James Joyce,

Book cover of Dubliners

Why this book?

Engaging stories about James Joyce as a young man. This is a perfect read for young aspiring authors for reasons of content and style. It is a classic, and deservedly so, and was my inspiration for writing fiction. As a young man I bubbled over with enthusiasm to write and express my creativity but to do so well needed focus and discipline. So did Joyce and I learned vicariously from him.


Civilised by Beasts: Animals and Urban Change in Nineteenth-Century Dublin

By Juliana Adelman,

Book cover of Civilised by Beasts: Animals and Urban Change in Nineteenth-Century Dublin

Why this book?

This is one of several excellent books that explores how nonhuman animals shaped cities (see also Andrew Robichaud’s Animal City, Frederick L. Brown’s The City is More Than Human, Dawn Day Biehler’s Pests in the City, and Hannah Velten’s Beastly London, for example). Cities are multispecies spaces and they have always been so, even as the history of a given city shifts and changes. When we walk through a city like Dublin today we may not immediately think about the many, many nonhuman animals who used to roam the same streets and pathways we walk on today. And yet, as Juliana Adelman explores in this book, there are hints and traces of this animal history if we know where to look.


Dublin Hanged: Crime, Law Enforcement and Punishment in Late Eighteenth-Century Dublin

By Brian Henry,

Book cover of Dublin Hanged: Crime, Law Enforcement and Punishment in Late Eighteenth-Century Dublin

Why this book?

In Dublin Hanged, Henry paints an evocative picture of the turn-of-the-eighteenth-century Irish capital collapsing under rising property crime, food shortages due to series of particularly inclement winters, and political unrest. He also vividly captures the events that led to the organisation of the first metropolitan uniformed police in the British Isles, which came to be widely unpopular. Henry shows, the organisation of the force was costly and in order to fund the new police, the household tax ‘skyrocketed’ virtually overnight. Henry’s analysis reveals there was a marked decline in the frequency of rape and violent assaults in the years following the introduction of the police in October 1786, indicating a degree of effectiveness of the new police despite the lack of its popularity.


Inspector Mallon: Buying Irish Patriotism for a Five-Pound Note

By Donal P. McCracken,

Book cover of Inspector Mallon: Buying Irish Patriotism for a Five-Pound Note

Why this book?

Inspector Mallon covers the latter decades of the nineteenth century in Dublin history, which were characterised by unrest, extremist violence, and police strikes. The late 1800s were also the service years of the celebrated Dublin Police detective John Mallon, ‘the Great Irish Detective’. The book explores the behind-the-scenes relationships between official Dublin and the force, and between the police and the political activists. McCracken examines the impact the Dublin detectives, known as G-men due to their work in the G Division, had on undermining the political threats and bringing known Fenians and members of the Invincibles, responsible for the horrific Phoenix Park murders, to trial.


The Carnival at Bray

By Jessie Ann Foley,

Book cover of The Carnival at Bray

Why this book?

Foley depicts a struggle of finding oneself and learning where one belongs, and holding onto the everchanging definition especially when the geography surrounding us suddenly changes. Maggie and her family migrate from Chicago to Ireland, leaving behind her favorite uncle, and musical influence, the wayward Kevin. Add to this the backdrop of the anticipation of attending a Nirvana concert and you have all the fixings for a well-rounded tale of love, loss, and living. Having had the pleasure of meeting Foley a time or two, I can attest that her sense of setting is as apparent in her identity as an Irish Chicago resident as ever, and this comes through in her characters, who illustrate the same.


Faithful Place

By Tana French,

Book cover of Faithful Place

Why this book?

All of Tana French’s books are characterized by intensity. Her protagonists have powerful backstories that generate the emotional drive to solve the mystery they face. In Faithful Place, set close to the present day, the protagonist Frank Mackey grew up working class in Dublin. Now he’s a detective, called home to Faithful Place when his family discovers a suitcase in an abandoned building—a suitcase that belonged to Frank’s girlfriend Rosie, who vanished years ago, the night she and Frank were to run away together to London. Frank always believed that Rosie abandoned him; but what if she was murdered? In solving this case, Frank must excavate his family’s history and his own emotionally wrenching past, which shapes both the mystery arc and the subplot of this book—Frank’s reconciliation with his ex-wife and his daughter. This book is poignant, painful, and suspenseful, with a powerful ending. 


Four Letters of Love

By Niall Williams,

Book cover of Four Letters of Love

Why this book?

This beautiful book is possibly the most important book of my writing career. I found it in a second-hand bookstore in Dublin on a rainy afternoon and, like the plot, I felt that my finding it was a stroke of providence. I was so moved by the story that I immediately signed up for a writing workshop with the author. That workshop was a defining moment in my life – after it, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Although this story is not directly about art, it shows how a man’s calling, his compulsion to paint, plays a key role in the lives and the destinies of others. The novel has a fairytale-like quality to it, a poetic timelessness that captures the essence of spirituality and love.


The Ginger Man

By J.P. Donleavy,

Book cover of The Ginger Man

Why this book?

In 1955, the only publisher who would touch The Ginger Man was the Olympia Press in Paris. Its bawdy prose and its highly original style made it an immediate classic. Donleavy took one of the experimental styles that Joyce used in Ulysses and turned it into this black humor novel following Sebastian Dangerfield, an American in Ireland, maneuvering his way through college, marriage, fatherhood, and friendships in a roguish, outlandish manner. Time magazine considered him “One of the most outrageous scoundrels in contemporary fiction.” Rarely have I finished reading a book and then picked it up to read again. Donleavy’s way of weaving words, his use of first and third person in the same paragraph, his telegraphic sentences, his ribald humor were so fresh and singular, as you follow Dangerfield from one mishap to the next, alarmed by his behavior, and yet rooting for him all the same. It was the sheer joy of the writing that inspired me to try my hand at a “Donleavyan” novel. He taught me that all rules were there to be broken.


St. Patrick's Gargoyle

By Katherine Kurtz,

Book cover of St. Patrick's Gargoyle

Why this book?

Wonderful, fast-paced urban fantasy set in Dublin, Ireland. Gargoyles are former avenging angels who now watch over churches – that hook was simply irresistible to me. When some artifacts go missing from his cathedral, it’s up to the gargoyle Padraig and an elderly Knight of Malta (whose modern-day steed is a Rolls Royce) to find the sinister culprit and set things aright. The charming descriptions of Dublin, along with the witty banter of the heroes and the interesting nuggets of Celtic lore made me wish Kurtz had written a whole series of Gargoyle books. Sadly, she did not. Trigger assurance: the religious aspects are carefully handled so as to enhance the atmosphere of the story, not to insult or preach. St. Patrick’s Gargoyle is 200 of the fastest pages I have ever read.


Beautiful World, Where Are You

By Sally Rooney,

Book cover of Beautiful World, Where Are You

Why this book?

This is the most recent novel to make my list. As much as I relished Rooney’s earlier work, her latest is heftier, for it grapples with the genuine planetary and personal crises faced by her generation. Her characters don’t shy away from speaking openly about love, sex, and relationships—or the perverse economic system that is rapidly bringing humanity to its knees with consumer-driven smiles painted on its faces. Neither do her characters hold back from earnest discussions of Marxism. The latter note is getting wide play culturally, particularly with millennials, but mainstream media has rarely picked up on the reverberations underfoot. Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You? is not so reticent—and more rewarding for its brazen honesty about the personal and the political.


Mistaken

By Neil Jordan,

Book cover of Mistaken

Why this book?

Mistaken is the tale of two boys (Kevin and Gerald) who are remarkably similar in appearance, though far from similar in affluence and background. The story is set in Dublin and told from the point of view of Kevin, now older and having just attended Gerald’s funeral. It slipstreams through past and present, and at nearly every corner it leaves Kevin questioning his own identity and memories, and wondering if perhaps the boys’ connection had even greater implications than he thought. In my book, there is a fictional novel within the novel, about twins who aren’t twins, and it is loosely inspired by the meeting of Kevin and Gerald in Mistaken.

Neil Jordan is an underrated talent, and his writing is superbly atmospheric here.


The Barrytown Trilogy: The Commitments; The Snapper; The Van

By Roddy Doyle,

Book cover of The Barrytown Trilogy: The Commitments; The Snapper; The Van

Why this book?

Here I am recommending three books in one, because I think they should be read one after the other in a single holiday week where the rain is pouring down outside and you can lock yourself away and completely disappear into Doyle’s working-class Dublin universe. If you do not fall in love with the Rabbite family in all their imperfections, then uplit is not for you. I guarantee that no bad vibes will penetrate your mind while you are reading the Barrytown trilogy.


The Dead

By James Joyce,

Book cover of The Dead

Why this book?

The story is a classic, of course, but what I find poignant is that famed director John Huston, adventurer and rabblerouser, chose this quiet story to adapt as his final film (The Dead), and did so, while dying, with the help of his son (screenplay) and daughter (leading role). It’s an extraordinarily faithful adaptation, even, and especially, in its slowness. (Each time I read the story, I wonder—even though I know the answer—Where is this going?

Joyce Carol Oates, less faithfully, reimagined the story in Marriages and Infidelities, keeping the title, but replacing Irish melancholy with American anxiety, while hewing—with Easter eggs along the way for careful readers—to its theme of intimacy and its limitations. All three versions are exquisitely sad and beautiful. 


In the Woods

By Tana French,

Book cover of In the Woods

Why this book?

I inhaled this book. Yes, it’s a police procedural, and yes, there’s a murder. Maybe there are several, though the beauty of the novel is that this is not crystal clear. The absolute best part of this novel, and what I still remember years after reading it, is how real the characters are. Their emotions, their connections, and relationships are so vividly portrayed, that I wanted to alternately hug and scream at them. The narrator, a detective named Rob Ryan, is a walking, talking wound who somehow managed to become an adult after a devastating childhood event, and then become a police officer. This book is psychological suspense at its best. 


The Secret Place

By Tana French,

Book cover of The Secret Place

Why this book?

The Secret Place is actually an adult mystery, but keep reading to see why I think it works as YA too. Creepy atmosphere, slow build-up, which I love, set in Ireland, mostly in a boarding school. Full of secrets, complex relationships, and murder. Tana French is a genius and this book switches from YA to adult voice most of the suspects in this book are teens. My picture of these characters is so vivid, as with all of the characters in her books, I feel like they are in the same room with me. And some of them I don’t want in the same room as me! I love this book and have read it twice!


The Pull of the Stars

By Emma Donoghue,

Book cover of The Pull of the Stars

Why this book?

Dublin 1918, Nurse Julia Power works in an understaffed maternity hospital in the city centre at the time of the Spanish Flu. In the dark intensity of this ward, Julia battles the pandemic trying to save the lives of those women and babies under her care alongside a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney. There is inevitable loss, with the worlds of those left behind irrevocably changed. In this tender book that features a cameo appearance of one of Ireland’s greatest heroes, Doctor Kathleen Lynn, Donoghue produces a story that is both tragic and uplifting in a period of social and political upheaval during Ireland’s struggle for freedom.


The Giggler Treatment

By Roddy Doyle, Brian Ajhar (illustrator),

Book cover of The Giggler Treatment

Why this book?

This is a sentimental favourite. There is bathroom humour and funny furry “Gigglers” that protect children from mean adults. I read this book to my son on a plane from Dublin to Toronto after my mother died and he was hooked. I was hoarse after 4 hours but he wanted to finish it. It got very rude at the end (you have to read to find out) and I wanted to stop as we were close to other passengers and I was fading fast. I was talking him out of finishing when the passenger beside me piped up and said “you can’t stop now—what happens?" They added, “I never wanted children but seeing you with your son makes me think.” It’s a good read funny read and a moment I will always remember.


A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

By James Joyce,

Book cover of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Why this book?

It gives me goosebumps to remember reading this book, caressing each wondrous page before turning to the next. The innocent anguish and confusion of Joyce’s language captured Stephan Dedalus's tormented yet profoundly beautiful childhood so perfectly that it made me feel like the book had been written especially for me! Many passages were pure poetry, yet so earthy I could smell the streets and playgrounds of Dublin. This was unlike any of the novels we were reading in school and I made sure to lend it to as many friends as I could – I was that sure they’d love it too. 


Conversations with Friends

By Sally Rooney,

Book cover of Conversations with Friends

Why this book?

Of all the genres, I’m drawn most to contemporary realism and this book is a spectacular example. Despite the age gap between myself and the main character (Frances, aged 21) the writing is so astute, assured, and insightful that this book has no problem straddling the generations. Friendship definitions herein are not conventional which makes it infinitely interesting; the four main characters are a mix of best friends, exes, spouses, new friends, new flings, and new infatuations. Their daily concerns and communications are utterly contemporary, reflecting the seamless mish-mash of digital and in-person updates that sustain modern connections. Vulnerability is no one’s strong suit, so when these self-aware, funny and flawed pairs meet they burn brightly until they burn out. 


Skippy Dies

By Paul Murray,

Book cover of Skippy Dies

Why this book?

Skippy Dies is nearly 700 pages long, but I wished it had been longer, it was that fun to read. It’s both tragically sad and laugh-out-loud funny—a difficult feat for any writer to pull off, and Irish novelist Paul Murray does so brilliantly. I’m not giving away anything by saying that the protagonist dies—after all, he dies in the book’s title—but I won’t reveal how or the circumstances. Let’s just say that if you are a diminutive, shy, buck-toothed 14-year-old at an all-boys boarding school in Dublin and somehow manage to develop a crush on the girlfriend of an older, drug-dealing, violent bully…well, things can’t turn out good. The cast of characters—the teenagers, the teachers, the school principal—are wonderfully drawn. Murray’s dialogue captures the boasting machismo as well as the angsty insecurities of teenage boyhood. A real gem.


Rachel's Holiday

By Marian Keyes,

Book cover of Rachel's Holiday

Why this book?

This book blew my mind when I first read it because I had no idea there could be such a thing as a hilarious novel about addiction. I will never forget this line she has in it about how recovery groups will be comprised of “middle-aged men in sweaters.” It was also the first time I realized that people in recovery outside of the US were just as hilarious as those here. The story is a fun sort of Bridget Jones romp if Bridget loved cocaine and men in leather pants but it’s the voice—self-deprecating, self-aware, and funny AF—that’s always stuck with me.


Fallen

By Lia Mills,

Book cover of Fallen

Why this book?

Set in the period 1914-1916, it follows the life of Kate Crilly, a young girl whose brother Liam has just been killed in the Great War. This loss binds Kate to Liam’s comrade in arms, Hubie Wilson. Meanwhile, the tensions of the Rising are at boiling point and Dublin is turning into a battleground as Kate doubles back and across the River Liffey checking on her family, her friends and her desperately ill sister. Mills excels at describing the nature of grief and how one lives with it, rather than dwelling on the immediate impact of the loss per se. Beautiful, limpid prose and imagery, really enjoyed.


The Republic: The Fight For Irish Independence

By Charles Townshend,

Book cover of The Republic: The Fight For Irish Independence

Why this book?

In January 1919 the newly elected Sinn Fein MPs in Ireland met in Dublin and set up Dail Eireann, the assembly of the self-proclaimed independent Irish republic. As the new government, they took control of the local authorities, the administration of justice, the tax system, and other aspects of government, and ruled Ireland as if it were totally independent of British rule. Charles Townshend tells the remarkable story of the early years of the Irish Republic, and how the parallel Sinn Fein state came to effectively run the new country.


The Bulkies: Police and Crime in Belfast, 1800-1865

By Brian Griffin,

Book cover of The Bulkies: Police and Crime in Belfast, 1800-1865

Why this book?

It is not widely known that, like Dublin, Derry and Belfast were policed by their own municipal forces. The Belfast Police was responsible for preserving peace and order in the parts of the city which paid their rates. It looked after lighting, paving, and scavenging. Following sectarian violence and alleged police partisanship peaking in the riots of 1864 and 1869, Derry and Belfast forces were deemed inadequate in the face of rising public distrust.  In contrast to the Royal Irish Constabulary or the Dublin Metropolitan Police, which were headed by Commissioners, the Belfast police were under a single authority, the police board, until 1844, and a police committee thereafter – whose members, as Griffin aptly shows, gave ample reason for ongoing allegations of partisanship and corruption.


Dracul

By Dacre Stoker, J.D. Barker,

Book cover of Dracul

Why this book?

I must admit this book appealed to me first because it was co-written by the great-grand-nephew of Bram Stoker. I also loved that a young Bram Stoker was a main character. I won’t offer any spoilers but it’s a fascinating tale about how Stoker was inspired to write his book, Dracula. If you’re looking for a horror tale, this book supplies plenty of terror and like most books that feature Dracula as a character, you will find yourself in locations all over Europe. This book offers yet another fine example of the enduring spell Count Dracula casts on our imaginations.


Schrodinger: Life and Thought

By Walter J. Moore,

Book cover of Schrodinger: Life and Thought

Why this book?

This biography brings fully to life the multi-faceted Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger. Although best known as the co-inventor of quantum mechanics, he later wrote a book called What is Life which inspired many physicists to apply their talents to biology. Moore gives a full account of Schrödinger’s upbringing, his education, his science, and his extensive philosophical writings. You can judge for yourself if Moore is persuasive when he argues that the erotic intensity of several of Schrödinger’s extramarital affairs helped fuel and found expression in some of his specific scientific achievements. 


A Long Long Way

By Sebastian Barry,

Book cover of A Long Long Way

Why this book?

I think Sebastian Barry is one of the greatest contemporary novelists whose prose unfailingly sings, pirouettes, and enriches. I would recommend all his novels, which take various members of the Dunne or McNulty families over time and place. This particular novel is set in the First World War and follows Willie Dunne as he leaves Dublin to fight for the British, only to find himself caught on the wrong side at the Easter uprising and having to face his own countrymen. It is a brilliant depiction of a young Irish tommy out of his depth in a brutal war, fighting on the side of a country for whom he has mixed loyalties, of the ambivalence and tension of the Irish war of independence, and those caught in its cross hairs.


The Commitments

By Roddy Doyle,

Book cover of The Commitments

Why this book?

In my opinion, few writers have expressed in words the sensation of what it's like to make and listen to music quite like Roddy Doyle has in The Commitments. The book abounds with youthful energy and humor. His nearly complete reliance on dialogue rather than description creates an immediacy that I've rarely experienced elsewhere. He eschews tired cliches in favor of presenting music-making as a craft that requires prodigious amounts of labor and a high tolerance for BS. This also happens to be the source material for one of the best band movies ever made.