Top 3 Sally Rooney Books to Read This Winter

Rooney studied at Trinity College Dublin where she graduated with a degree in American Literature in 2013 and was titled as winner of the Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the year award in 2017. The Irish author and screenwriter aged 31 is best known for her three published novels, Conversations with friends, Normal People and Beautiful World, Where Are You. Rooney focuses on writing about, “intimacy and the way we construct one another.” She contributed to the writing and production of the Hulu/BBC adaptation of Normal People which if you haven’t heard or seen the show, yet it is a must watch, and was executive producer of the adaptation of “Conversations with friends”.

With three of Rooney’s books being the next ‘it books’, these short descriptions below will make you want to read them too. Have a quick read and choose what book is best suited for you:  

Normal People

Normal People is a compulsive, heart wrenching, beautiful love story involving two extremely empathetic characters. Normal People has been raved about amongst the younger community, however this book appeals to readers across all genders and generations.

Marianne Sheridan and Connell Waldron meet as teenagers in Sligo, Ireland where they are both top students. They are set apart socially as Marianne is an outcast raised amongst material wealth and emotional distress by her widowed mother who accepts aggressive behaviour from men. In contrast, Connell has grown up in a middle-class part of town with his unwed mother who works as a cleaner for Marianne’s family.

The pair fall into an intense, complicated relationship that becomes repeatedly confusing due to secrecy, miscommunications, and anxiety regarding where they stand socially. The novel is set over four years where Rooney follows their relationship and lack of, over the course of their adult life. Be prepared to be taken on a rollercoaster of emotions!

Conversations with Friends

Salley Rooney’s 2017 novel, “Conversations with Friends” focuses on two college students and the extraordinary connection they form with a married couple. Frances is a twenty-one-year-old, college student who is navigating a series of relationships that force her own vulnerabilities for the first time. Frances is observant, sharp and can come across as cold, however she just struggles to express her emotions. Her ex-girlfriend and now best friend, Bobbi is self-assured, outspoken and compelling. The pair perform poetry together where Melissa, a successful journalist becomes intrigued in getting to know the pair. They spark a friendship and begin spending time together where Melissa introduces them to her husband, Nick. Frances and Nick meet and embark on an intensive affair where they fall in love with each other. The affair starts to create a drift between Bobbi and Frances which ultimately forces Frances to reconsider her sense of self.

Both “Normal People” and “Conversation with Friends” focus on romantic drama however more importantly explore how characters in both novels process their feelings. Rooney’s characters are constantly trying to analyse their own emotions, primarily as a form of self-protection. If her characters can understand their own emotions, they end up believing that they can avoid being hurt by their own emotions, however inevitably when they end up hurt the characters feel betrayed and upset.

Beautiful World, Where Are You

Rooney’s 2021 novel “Beautiful World Where Are You” features two best friends, Alice and Eileen who have grown apart in recent years. The character Alice is based of Rooney herself and is a famous novelist who has made waves with the release of her first two books. Her best friend, Eileen is a low-level editor at literacy magazine in Dublin. The pair remain in contact via email, where update each other on their lives. Alice leaves New York City and moves to the countryside of Ireland after suffering a mental breakdown. Here she meets Felix who she hardly knows but asks if he will go on a trip to Rome with her. On the contrary, Eileen has recently broken up with her long-term boyfriend and is now flirting with her crush from her early teenage years, Simon.

Love, highs, lows, passion, desire, and insecurities follows all four protagonists on this journey called life and follow just how they navigate through it.

All three novels are the perfect ‘cuddle up in bed on a cold day’ type of book. Rooney has a way of capturing the reader and creating intense emotional connections between the readers and her characters. Whether you have read them or are planning to discuss the characters and storylines with users on the Carry A Book App.

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Image Source: The Daily Californian