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on the shelf

All the books you need to read this year

Books, books, books. And more books.

WHETHER YOU’RE HEADING away some time over the next month or two, or spending the long weekend at home, you might be looking for a new read to occupy you.

But which books are winning awards, getting good reviews, and ready to be picked up off the shelves (or ordered to your Kindle)?

We sort through the piles to help you choose your next read.

The award winners

International IMPAC Dublin literary award Lord Mayor of Dublin Christie Burke presents Juan Gabriel Vasquez winner of the International IMPAC Dublin literary award Niall Carson Niall Carson

Only want to read award-winners? Here are some recent ones (with links to the other nominees):

IMPAC award

  • The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez.

Ticks all the boxes if you want a fairly thrilling and absorbing read about conflict in Colombia and its impact on a young man’s life. (Read our interview with him here)

Booker Prize

The winner will be announced in September, but there’s time to:

Frank O’Connor short story award

  • Young Skins by Colin Barrett

This collection by young Mayo man Barrett is mainly set in the fictional Co Mayo town of Glanbeigh. Looking for stories about young people in modern rural Ireland? Here you go.

Irish Book Awards

Harding provides an interesting take on Irish life; Boyce won the newcomer award; and Phillips will provide you with a crime fix.

Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction

A much-talked about debut.

The tomes

Pulitzers-Arts Donna Tartt in New York AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Want to get stuck into a weighty book? Try these for size. The Kills is a ‘multimedia novel’ with audio and video content too.

The short story collections

Stuck for time, or love little nuggets of fiction that you can devour quickly? (Lydia Davis provides the tiniest morsels)

The Irish writers

louise o'neill Louise O'Neill Louise O'Neill

The young bloods always have something great up their sleeve. We’re particularly looking forward to getting stuck into these.

  • Here Are The Young Men by Rob Doyle. (This book has been picked up by Harry Potter’s publishers. Drugs and drink fuel a post-school summer)
  • Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill. (Think Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, with a post-millennial twist)
  • Dubliners 100 edited by Thomas Morris. (A selection of Irish authors re-imagine the classic Joyce collection)
  • Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent. (Multiple narrators tell a story of deception and abuse)
  • The Closet of Savage Mementos by Nuala Ní Chonchúir. (Inspired by her own unexpected pregnancy, set in Ireland and Scotland, and receiving rave reviews)

The sports books

3dBookCover1 David Epstein David Epstein

  • Danish Dynamite by Ben Smyth. (About the beloved Denmark team of the 80s)
  • Fear and Loathing in La Liga by Sid Lowe. (About the Barca v Real Madrid rivalry)
  • Wheelmen by Reed Albergotti. (Lance Armstrong and doping)
  • The Sports Gene by David Epstein (Are you born a great athlete, or do you become one?)
  • The Race to Truth by Emma O’Reilly. (Written by the Irish woman who blew the whistle on Lance Armstrong)

The classics

Looking for classics? Here are some that have been talked about this year.

  • Dubliners by James Joyce (It celebrates its centenary this year)
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (who sadly died earlier this year)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (who sadly also passed away this year)
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (Irish actor Chris O’Dowd is performing in a Broadway adaptation of this novella)

The good reviews and best sellers

Books of various genres getting all the good reviews this summer:

Our staff recommend

We write for a living, ergo we love reading too.

Here are some of our team’s favourite reads. While the above books are generally from 2013 – 2014, these are from a range of years.


  • Fintan O’Toole: Fields of Fire by Damien Lawlor
  • Michael Freeman: Two collections of fantastic journalism / personal essays: Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan and Magic Hours by Tom Bissell.
  • Jennifer Wade: Flight by Oona Frawley is a beautifully written book with poignant insights into identity, belonging and contemporary Ireland. Extra points for being published by excellent new independent Irish publisher, Tramp Press.
  • Aoife Barry: The amazingly weird and wonderful short story collection Tenth of December by George Saunders, or A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor. She died 50 years ago this year and her dark Southern Gothic stories are chillingly good.
  • Paul Hosford: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt was stunning. As was this by The Masked Man, but that’s about wrestling. I also really enjoyed Flashboys by Michael Lewis and Double Down by Mark Halperin.
  • Susan Daly:  What is the What by Dave Eggers. It’s based on the life Sudanese refugee called Valentino Achak Deng who somehow survived what became a death march for thousands of other children trying to escape a bloody civil war and genocide. The story is powerful enough but Eggers’s incredible talent elevates it to something that gets under your skin, into your brain, pierces your heart. You will never watch news bulletins about international humanitarian crises in the same way again once you have read this book.

What books would you recommend? Tell us in the comments.

Most of these books can be bought online in physical/ebook format, or in your local book store. Where links are provided, they are to the online stores of the publishers of the book, or to sites with more information.

Read: 27 sports books to spend your Christmas vouchers on>

Read: Conor McGregor is going to write a book about his life ‘in and out of the Octagon’>

Read: New Amazon service offers unlimited e-book access>

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