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Dublin: 16°C Tuesday 22 June 2021

Looking for good books to buy as Christmas presents? Here's some help

We have recommendations galore.

IF YOU’RE HEADING out to do some Christmas shopping this year, you’ll probably have some books on your list.

But it can be hard to know what’s good and what’s not, so we’ve put together a list of the year’s best books – many of which are Irish – to show you what’s out there.

Why not put your recommendations in the comments?


  • The Girls - Emma Cline

Inspired by the young girls who flocked to Charles Manson’s cult, this book is by a young author who really gets inside the skin of what it is to be a young girl.

  • Lying In Wait – Liz Nugent (Penguin Ireland)

For those who love suspense, crime, and an exploration of class in Ireland.

  • My Name is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout

Short but unforgettable, and almost painful to read in parts, this is one of the year’s best reads.

  • Miss Jane - Brad Watson

Inspired by the real-life story of Watson’s great-aunt, this brings us a young woman born with a disability in the early 19th century and shows us how she transcends the limits imposed by those around her to become her own person.

  • All We Shall Know - Donal Ryan

Ryan yet again proves he’s an Irish literary force with this, a sharp, moving and tough read about a woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant.

  • Winter Papers

A mixture of fiction, non-fiction, photography and poetry, this annual of Irish writing from Kevin Barry and Olivia Smith is a real treat.

  • The Glass Shore – Edited by Sinéad Gleeson

This follow-up to last year’s The Long Gaze Back is also a collection of stories by female writers – but this time, they’re from the North of Ireland. A great way to discover new – and old – writers..


  • Win or Learn – John Kavanagh

Conor McGregor’s coach writes about the journey to training one of the world’s most famous athletes.

  • Looking Back: The Changing Faces of Ireland – Eric Luke

Photography that will make you think about how Ireland has evolved over the years.

  • The Hurley Maker’s Son – Patrick Deeley

A memoir in which Deeley remembers his father, a hurley maker, through snatches of his childhood. For fans of John McGahern.

  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City – Mark Desmond

For those with an interest in American society and how the poor survive.

  • The Supreme Court – Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

A fascinating look at the cases that have gone through the Irish Supreme Court, and how they helped shape society here.

  • The Battle – Paul O’Connell

A look at what makes one of Ireland’s legendary rugby players do what he does.

Kids/Young Adult

  • Historopedia – Fatti and John Burke (Gill Books)

A gorgeous illustrated follow-up to Irelandopedia, which brings children on a journey through Irish history.

  • Pigín of Howth – Kathleen Watkins (Gill Books)

Watkins’ first book stemmed from stories she’d tell her grandchildren – now it’s a bestseller.

  • Knights of the Borrowed Dark – Dave Rudden (Puffin)

Rudden so impressed his publisher that he got a three-book deal for this series about a boy with special powers.

  • The Making of Mollie – Anna Carey (The O’Brien Press)

For budding young feminists, pick up this tale of a young girl inspired by her suffragette sister.

  • Needlework – Deirdre Sullivan (Little Island Books)

A dark YA novel about a young girl who lives a troubled life.

  • Spare and Found Parts – Sarah Maria Griffin

Though not widely available, Griffin’s follow-up to her non-fiction essay collection Not Lost is one for young – and old – adults who like their writers to have a vivid imagination.


  • The World of the Happy Pear - Stephen and David Flynn

One for the healthy eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the audience.

  • Super Food Family Classics – Jamie Oliver

You can’t go wrong with a Jamie Oliver book, and this one is specially geared towards families.

  • Recipes For A Nervous Breakdown – Sophie White

White combines memoir with recipes in this beautifully-designed book about food and family.

Read: 20 wonderfully Irish Christmas pressies for under €30>

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