Memorial Day is upon us again and summer peeks over the horizon. What better way to pass a lazy summer’s day than reading a good book.

Here are our 'summer reads' suggestions.

“The Immortal Irishman”

by Timothy Egan

New York Times columnist Timothy Egan tells the incredible story of County Waterford native Thomas Francis Meagher, Irish patriot, soldier, revolutionary who was an Irish Colossus during the time of the American Civil War. He counted Abraham Lincoln among his admirers and visited him at the White House. He died at age 43 as governor of Montana in deeply suspicious circumstances.

He is arguably the greatest Irish-born person to ever hit America’s shores and Egan’s book does him credit.

Read more: New book proves who was the greatest Irishman in American history

“Ireland’s Exiled Children, America and the Easter Rising”

by Robert Schmuhl

The author, a professor at Notre Dame, has written a superb book with deep insight into the American and Irish American mind set before and after 1916. The chapter on the duplicity of President Woodrow Wilson is especially gripping. There is also a wonderful account of John Devoy, the Irish American who did more than anyone to make The Rising happen.

Read more: America’s role in the Easter Rising

“Where the Bodies Were Buried”

By T J English

If you read just one book about the Whitey Bulger case in Boston this should be the one. An inside look at how high up officials were aware of Whitey being out of control long before it became public knowledge.

English, an Irish American who has written extensively about the Irish mob, has an instinctive feel for his subject and nails the insane perversion of Irish Catholic culture in Boston that made Whitey possible.

For the first time you will understand what drove Whitey and why so many were invested in keeping him from being arrested and spilling the beans.

Read more: TJ English on the real story of the Irish mafia’s Whitey Bulger

“Little Red Chairs”

by Edna O’Brien

O'Brien's first novel in ten years and well worth waiting for. The story line involves a Balkan general coming to live in rural Ireland. The Guardian reviewer stated:

Edna O’Brien’s new novel, her first in a decade, has already been hailed as “her masterpiece” by that master-of-them-all Philip Roth. And he’s right. This is a spectacular piece of work, massive and ferocious and far-reaching, yet also at times excruciatingly, almost unbearably, intimate. Holding you in its clutches from first page to last, it dares to address some of the darkest moral questions of our times while never once losing sight of the sliver of humanity at their core.”

“Hope a Memoir of Survival”

By Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan

In 2013, Amanda Berry made headlines around the world when she fled a Cleveland home and called 911, saying: “Help me, I’m Amanda Berry. . . . I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for ten years.”

A horrifying story rapidly unfolded. Ariel Castro, a local school bus driver, had separately lured Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight to his home, where he kept them chained. In the decade that followed, the three were raped, psychologically abused, and threatened with death. Berry had a daughter—Jocelyn—by their captor. Berry and Dejesus tell their horrific, but lie-enhancing tale to Jordan and Sullivan.

"Hope" is a harrowing, yet inspiring chronicle of two women whose courage, ingenuity, and resourcefulness ultimately delivered them back to their lives and families. What could have been a profoundly depressing book in the skilled hands of Jordan and Sullivan becomes a strangely uplifting tale.


by Emma Donoghue

The Irish author’s 2010 book became an Oscar winning movie this year and it is not for the fainthearted. Donoghue came up with the idea for her novel after reading about the Josef Fritzl case in Austria where Fritzl kept a woman captive for 24 years.

In “Room” five-year-old Jack has been held captive since birth in the titular room, along with his mother who spends their tortured existence conceiving of ways to entertain and educate her son. The story is told from Jack's perspective.


by Colm Toibin

If, like many, you caught the movie but never read the book you are in for a treat. The characters are far less one dimensional and beautifully drawn by Colm Toibin, one of Ireland’s foremost fiction writers. Like Thomas Flanagan in “The Year of the French” who made you feel like you were alive in 1798,Toibin catapults us backwards in time to New York and rural Ireland in the drab fifties to the point where we inhabit the characters. Far better than the movie.

Read more: Book news on IrishCentral

“Easter 1916”

by Charles Townshend

Reviewer John Banville wrote in The Guardian, “Some may disagree, but it seems likely that Townshend's book will be the definitive account of what started as little more than an urban skirmish and in the end proved to be the first serious crack in the edifice of the British empire. The book is fantastically detailed yet wonderfully readable, especially the account of the week's fighting. The author has devoted his life to the study of Irish history and this huge work is the pinnacle of his labors.”

This is the one book about 1916 you should read if you have not yet done so..

“Behind The Mask”

By Patrick Treacy

In the summer of 2006 Michael Jackson arrived in remote Westmeath and spent six months living incognito among the Irish.

Among the Irish who befriended him was Dr. Patrick Tracey, a plastic surgeon who was called in to treat him.

While the Michael Jackson tale only makes up two chapters in the book, those two chapters are gripping and well told and worth the price of the book itself.

Read more: Confessions of Michael Jackson's Irish surgeon

Tracey knows that many who buy his autobiography "Behind The Mask," published in July 2015, will immediately skip ahead to the two chapters where he discusses his world famous celebrity client and friend.

They met in Ireland in 2006, when Treacy, a celebrity surgeon in his own right, appeared on the Ryan Tubridy show on RTÉ, Ireland's national broadcaster. After the show aired, Treacy discovered a young African-American woman waiting in the green room, who told him she represented a celebrity who would like to meet him.

“I had no idea who it would be,” explains Treacy. “We opened the clinic late at night to avoid the press but at this stage I didn't know who to expect. When he arrived he said, “Hello I'm Michael Jackson,” and then he added, “Thank you for the work you do for the poor in Africa.”

“The Boys in the Bunkhouse: Servitude and Salvation in the Heartland”

by Dan Barry

This nonfiction work about a very dark corner of the American employment landscape, is based on a series of New York Times stories by reporter Dan Barry.

Colum McCann, an award-winning author, says that Mr. Barry’s book, just out this month, “had to be written — the same way that 'Grapes of Wrath' had to be written.” Going further, McCann says. Barry is “the closest we have to a modern Steinbeck.”

The book is written about dozens of intellectually disabled men kept in virtual servitude in a squalid farmhouse in Iowa, where they got out of bed every day — decade after decade — and eviscerated turkeys for $65 a month. The local community accepted and befriended the men, known as “boys,” but failed to notice obvious signs of their neglect, exploitation and the abuse they had endured. No one said anything for 30 years

“13 Ways of Looking”

by Colum McCann

Ireland’s best storyteller and arguably America’s too is back in fine form with four novellas in one in his book of short stories.

The New York Times loved it remarking;

“The powerful title story loiters in the mind long after you’ve read it. Its own title comes from “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” Wallace Stevens’s lovely, opaque poem about the fluidity of time, the beauty of the quotidian in nature and the imprecision of perspective.

Each section begins with a stanza from the poem, some as spare as haiku. The protagonist is a judge, retired from Brooklyn Supreme Court, whose allusive, wandering mind we’re invited inside.”

Read more: Book news on IrishCentral