James Joyce (1882-1941) was an Irish author, part of the modernist avant-garde movement, and is regarded as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. His grand oeuvre, Ulysses, is notoriously hard to read, and yet those who have read it—often with the help of some sort of guide—say the payoff is “immense pleasure: no book gets closer to the ineffable experience of human play and tragedy.”
If you’re starting out on reading Joyce, his other works recommended on Five Books may be an easier starting point: his short story collection, Dubliners, or his first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. In addition to its literary merit, the novel is also an important insight into modern Irish history, according to historian Richard Bourke.
Books by James Joyce
Interviews where books by James Joyce were recommended
Tevye the Dairyman and Motl the Cantor’s Son
by Sholem Aleichem
The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories
by Bruno Schultz and Celina Wieniewska (translator)
by James Joyce
Mario and the Magician and Other Stories
by Thomas Mann
History: A Novel
by Elsa Morante and William Weaver (translator)
A “powerful and aggravating absence of consensus” came to define the Irish political experience, says the historian Richard Bourke. Here he picks the best books for gaining a range of perspectives on Irish history, singling out James Joyce as offering insight into the divergence of nationalist opinion.
If you’re stuck in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, it might be time to finally crack open that one long read you always meant to get around to, but slid down your list of books for whatever reason—not enough time, too many pages. Problem is, there are so many monster doorstoppers, and it can be hard to tell which are worth your time. The Five Books editors weigh in:
“That’s what writing is: a struggle with oneself.” Scottish poet Robin Robertson—author of the verse novel The Long Take, shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize—lists the five works that have most influenced his writing, from Ulysses to Heaney.
Is it possible to describe or study our inner experience, and – if so – how might one go about it? Charles Fernyhough, professor of psychology and author of The Voices Within chooses five of the best books that employ or examine streams of consciousness.
Journalist Robert McCrum spent two years selecting the best novels ever written in English. Here he narrows it down to just five: a perfect introduction to the best fiction the English language has to offer.