10 must-read books by Irish women

Here's our pick of the books we loved this year that will make an excellent gift for a friend, all written by talented, observant and clever Irish women

There are so many female Irish authors to rave about, no matter what style of writing you favour, from Eimear McBride, Emma Donoghue, Louise O'Neill, to the unfailingly heart-warming Maeve Binchy. But this year saw some fantastic releases that set the country talking and bookswapping, many from new faces on the literary scene, and some of course from long time favourites. When it comes to taking care of your Christmas shopping list, we advise putting your spend behind any one of these talented women.

1. FOR A BOOKWORM...

Conversations With Friends

Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber)

This novel started a seven way bidding war before being bought by Faber & Faber and was released in June to phenomenal success. This story follows two young friends navigating the unexpected complications of adulthood and the ambiguity of relationships in the 21st century. Cracks appear in Frances and Bobbi’s friendship when Frances embarks on an affair with a married man. This is Mayo-born Sally Rooney’s first novel and her insightful and thought-provoking novel has impressed critics, with Rooney being profiled in Vogue, The New Yorker and more. Buy it here.

2. FOR YOUR PAL THAT LOVES A SENSIBLE HEEL AND A COOR’S LIGHT…

Oh My God What A Complete Aisling!

Eimear McLysaght and Sarah Breen (Gill & Macmillan)

There’s no stopping the juggernaut success of this clever novel that makes you laugh out loud at every page. Inspired by the Facebook group of the same name, what McLysaght and Breen have created is an uproariously funny, familiar and loveable character you are rooting for from her first mention of the number of points in a bread roll (eight, and worth every single one). The book follows Aisling, a sensible country girl working in Dublin, as she adjusts to life after breaking up with her longterm boyfriend. Reading about how Aisling navigates new friends, a city break and family drama, her quirks and sensible observations are bound to ring a few bells as there is a bit of country mouse Aisling in all of us. Buy it here.

3. FOR THE FRIEND IN NEED OF SOME SELF CARE…

Owning It: Your Bullsh*t-Free Guide To Living With Anxiety

Caroline Foran (Hachette)

Caroline Foran shares the strategies she has adopted to help her cope with anxiety. Covering topics such as cognitive behavioural therapy, diet, acupuncture and medication, Caroline succinctly explains how different methods of dealing with anxiety can work, and her own journey in learning to live with and manage her anxiety. The tips in the book can be beneficial to people with all levels of anxiety, and the self care advice is something any person with a hectic lifestyle can learn from. Buy it here.

4. FOR YOUR FRIEND WHO HATES CHANGE...

Why Can’t Everything Just Stay The Same?

Stefanie Preissner (Hachette)

Stefanie Preissner, the writer of the hilarious RTÉ 2 series Can’t Cope Won’t Cope has written this funny, emotive and deeply personal book about her lifelong hatred of change. From hilarious childhood anecdotes, to the trauma of moving to Dublin from her home county of Cork, to breakups and more, Stefanie’s observations on and frustrations with everyday life will have you nodding, laughing and sometimes crying along. Buy it here

5. FOR YOUR WISECRACKING PAL...

The Break

Marian Keyes (Penguin)

In Marian Keyes' 13th novel, she looks at how relationships today are more complicated than ever, no matter what stage in life you're at. Amy can’t seem to catch a break. Her beloved second husband wants to take a break from their marriage to find himself, leaving her to be a single albeit married mother to three daughters. Her family is pulling her in all directions, while an ongoing flirtation with a handsome English journalist leads grows into an emotional affair that makes her question everything. Buy it here.

6. FOR THE TORTURED ARTIST IN YOUR LIFE…

A Line Made by Walking

Sara Baume (Tramp Press)

A woman isolates herself in the rural cottage belonging to her late grandmother, having walked away from her life in Dublin, in this beautifully written novel. Worried about by her mother, the woman starts to photograph the nature that surrounds her, in particular dead animals, trying to find meaning as she struggles with her identity as an artist. A story of how sadness and self-doubt can be consuming, the second novel by Sara Baume is as beautifully written as her debut Spill Simmer Falter Wither. Buy it here.

7. FOR THE PAL WHO LOVES DRAMA…

The Blood Miracles

Lisa McInerney (Hodder & Stoughton)

Lisa McInerney’s novels featuring drug dealer Ryan Cusack will suck you into the dark, dangerous world of drug dealing in Cork City. In Blood Miracles Ryan is still struggling to realise his place in the world, but his boss has no time for his identity crisis, as he wants Ryan to negotiate a new black market route from Italy to Ireland. His beloved girlfriend has written him off as a lost cause, even when he tries to go straight with a new venture. His boss’s ambitions rattle the city, and chaos surrounds Ryan once more. Buy it here.

8. FOR A FRIEND IN NEED OF INSPIRATION…

I Found My Tribe

Ruth Fitzmaurice (Chatto & Windus)

This is a moving account of how Ruth Fitzmaurice discovered the rejuvenating powers of sea swimming after her husband was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (sadly Ruth's husband Simon has passed away since the release of the book). Ruth and her friends have taken to swimming the sea in Greystones everyday all year round, embracing the chill and the fear that arrives every time they’re about to dive. It’s also a moving story of love and family and friendship, with poetic prose and a unique voice. Buy it here.

9. FOR THE PAL WHO LOVES A CRIME THRILLER...

One Bad Turn

Sinead Crowley (Quercus)

Fans of the genre will appreciate that this thriller has a real and capable heroine. Sergeant Claire Boyle’s trip to the GP with her baby daughter turns into a hostage situation only she can calm. It soon emerges that the hostage-taker, a woman named Eileen, knows the doctor Heather, and Claire must figure out what happened between these women as teenagers to cause this crisis years later. The clock is ticking, as it emerges Dr Heather’s 19-year-old daughter has also been kidnapped. Buy it here.

10. FOR YOUR NEWS-OBSESSED FRIEND...

In America: Tales From Trump Country

Caitriona Perry (Gill & Macmillan)

RTÉ’s Washington Correspondent (and soon-to-be Six One newsreader) Caitríona Perry’s first book explains why people voted for Trump. With her experience travelling from state-to-state, beyond what the tourists see, Caitríona met first-hand Republicans and also people experiencing genuine hardship who believed Trump was their only chance for change. It’s an eye-opening read that concisely demystifies the complex and baffling politics of America, no mean feat. Buy it here.

Inform | Inspire | Indulge