Sheridan Le Fanu – The Cock And Anchor
Subtitled ‘a chronicle of old Dublin city’, gothic horror innovator Le Fanu's 1845 novel made an impact on both Joyce and Bram Stoker, evident in their great novels. Like all of the author's pieces, these are best read during late nights by low lamplight, as descriptions of Dublin Castle by night and other shady landmarks backdrop are still sinister enough to chill. And what's more, you can download it for free.
JP Donleavy – The Ginger Man
Once considered so raunchy it was banned both in Ireland and the USA, this novel from 1947 follows the hedonistic, hard-drinking life of an American student living in Dublin. The novel remains controversial for its portrayal of a truly dislikeable anti-hero, but even nay-sayers will admit that the glimpses of 40s Dublin seen through the narrative give a spirited, incisive account of the city at the time.
Roddy Doyle – Paddy Clarke Ha-Ha-Ha
You might think a strong grasp of English will get you through your time in Dublin, but in truth, Dubliners speak something of a different language here. Roddy Doyle is a master of the colourful Dublin dialect and has been showcasing our colloquialisms to the world since his 1987 debut, The Van. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha remains his masterwork though, a Booker Prize-winning coming-of-age saga filled with a particularly Irish brand of tragedy to complement its inherently Dublin sense of humour.