15 Must-Reads For Fans of Sally Rooney's Normal People
Sally Rooney's 2018 novel Normal People is a beautifully written story of two young people in Ireland from different backgrounds who fall in and out of love over the course of a few years and find themselves in the process. The book, which now has a TV adaptation streaming on Hulu, follows Marianne and Connell from their final year of high school and into university. It's a heartbreakingly real look at first love, class disparity, staying true to yourself, and following your heart.
If you've already devoured Normal People and are looking to add something similar to your TBR list, we found a few books that feature some of the same themes of romance and issues with class, as well as stories from other Irish writers. Scroll through to find 15 books to pick up next.
Ask Again, Yes
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane is a love story at its core and spans generations. Two cops live next door to each other, but it's their children who grow up together and grow in love together. Over the course of their years growing into adulthood, Kate and Peter learn from their past and let it shape their future.
Little Fires Everywhere
Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere features a clear class disparity between the Richardson family and the Warren family in Ohio in the '90s. Though similar to the inequality of class in Normal People, Ng's novel focuses far less on being a love story and more on familial relationships and betrayal.
A Love Story For Bewildered Girls
In A Love Story For Bewildered Girls, Emma Morgan weaves together the love stories of three different women: Grace, Annie, and Violet. All their stories look a little different, but in the end, it's about love and friendship and how they come together in life.
David Nicholls's One Day follows Emma and Dexter through their lives as they come together every year on the same day for several years. It's a quiet book with little action and instead focuses on each character's life over the course of their years and watches them push and pull each other apart and together.
The Dutch House
Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House by Ann Patchett tells the heartbreaking story of brother and sister Danny and Maeve. The two are kicked out of their house by their stepmother and forced to return to the lower class they grew up in. Over the years they rely on each other and never quite get away from the past they thought they left behind.
An American Marriage
Tayari Jones's writing in An American Marriage is as stunning as Sally Rooney's. In this book, Celestial and Roy think they're headed for the fairy-tale life they always imagined, but when Roy ends up in prison unexpectedly, everything changes. Celestial seeks comfort in Roy's friend Andre, which proves to be a challenge when Roy gets out of prison.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
Eleanor in Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is quirky, to say the least. She thinks she has everything she needs and wants, and then she meets Raymond. Her path to love is unconventional, but in her journey, she learns a lot about herself that changes her mind about everything.
In Five Years
When Dannie wakes up one morning five years in the future, nothing looks like what she expected. She's thrown back to current time but spends the next five years figuring out if what she saw was real and what she could or should do to affect it. In Rebecca Serle's In Five Years, Dannie deals with love, hope, and figuring out her destiny.
The Course of Love
What's so beautiful about Alain de Botton's The Course of Love is that it's not your typical romance story. In this book, you'll see what happens after the happily ever after, a piece of the love story you don't often get to see. It's a hard and true look at what it takes to keep love going, but it will give you hope for your own love story.
The Secret History
Donna Tartt's thriller The Secret History from the 1990s features young adults, and though it's a dark story not having to do with romance at all, it still tackles what young 20-somethings with with as far as friendship, insecurity, and betrayal. Tartt's compelling writing will feel similar to Rooney's way with words.
In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah, Ifemelu and Obinze grapple with class inequality when they leave their African home for a new life. The two also put their love to the test when they're separated and forced to fight through years without each other.
Elif Batuman's The Idiot deals less with romance and class disparity than Normal People, but where it is like Sally Rooney's novel is the story itself and how it flows. The way Batuman moves the main character, Selin, through the book is quiet and calculated. The story focuses on Selin's journey to find herself — and yes, love as well — throughout her university years.
Daisy Jones & The Six
Taylor Jenkins Reid's Daisy Jones & The Six has more than one love story weaving throughout. Over the course of a few decades, you see various members of the band Daisy Jones & The Six fall in and out of love and ultimately learn Daisy's own love story that takes years to come to fruition.
Show Them a Good Time
Nicole Flattery's Show Them a Good Time is a collection of short stories, but Sally Rooney fans will feel at home reading them. An Irish author herself, Flattery writes a variety of tales of women placed in specific boxes and how they relied on their own feminine wiles to get themselves out. It's a darkly funny book about women for women.
Conversations With Friends
Sally Rooney's first novel, Conversations With Friends, has the same beautiful prose as Normal People. This story focuses on college student Frances, who falls in love with her friend Bobbi but can't resist the flirtations of an older man. She finds herself spiraling a bit and losing touch in all of her closest relationships. With her vulnerability at the forefront, she has to figure out what to do next.