Diversity and inclusion books by Irish authors

The pandemic proved to be an unexpected boost for Irish book sellers. Barry Walsh looks at some of the best diversity and inclusion titles by Irish writers.

According to The Irish Times more than 13m books, worth €161.5m, were sold in 2020 despite shops being closed for months.

This year Irish book sellers are said to be encouraged with books sales in 2021. Here are just a selection of the best books written by Irish authors for anyone interested in diversity and inclusion:

A Hug For Youby David King

Written by the father of the breakout star of the past year Adam King, A Hug For You is the next in the installment of Adam’s Virtual Hug, which appeared in 2020’s The Late Late Toy Show and was then seen in fundraising cards for Temple Street Hospital and even got a special mention by President Biden. Published by Penguin Books The book, according to The Irish Times “in the illustrated picture book David King will tell the story of his son’s infamous virtual hug, and it will be aimed at children and adults aged four and over.” The book recently won the An Post Irish Book Award in the The Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Junior) category and is nominated for the main award.

Break The Mouldby Sinead Burke, Illustrated by Natalie Byrne.

This is Sinead’s debut book where she tells her own story in a way that will be relatable to children and adults alike. It teaches the children to celebrate their differences and to be kind to those who may be different to you. It won the 2020 An Post Children’s Book of The Year and in the words of President Michael D Higgins it is “a very important book encouraging us all to celebrate the uniqueness and gift of our own and others’ differences, while recognising all of that which we share in common.”

Brilliant – by Roddy Doyle

As a co-creator of ‘Fighting Words’ which is a charity designed to get children from difficult backgrounds together, Roddy discovered that depression was still a taboo subject in Irish households. He wrote ‘Brilliant’ as a young adult book. According to Barnes and Noble: “Roddy Doyle, superb Irish writer for kids and teens, has written another great story for young readers. In Brilliant, unhappiness is spreading through the city of Dublin. Raymond and Gloria welcomed their uncle into their home when the economy tanked, putting him out of business, but watching their parents and uncle become more and more gloomy is getting to be more than they can take. So when they hear their grandma say that the Black Dog of depression has stolen Dublin’s funny bone, they decided to take matters into their own hands, and set out into the night to track the Black Dog down.”

Blazing a Trail: Irish Women Who Changed the World by Sarah Webb

This book is aimed at 10-to-18 year-old girls to get them interested in the world of STEM and education. It chronicles 28 Irish women and how they made a positive impact on the world. Ensuring nearly every county in Ireland to be included the book explains through excellent illustrations that Irish women have been behind some of the most impactful work in science and technology and that they can be seen as role models to the next generation.

Diary of a Young Naturalist – by Dara McAnulty

A native of County Down, Dara McAnulty became fascinated with nature from an early age. Dara openly discusses how his diagnosis of autism led him to become one of the most successful young writers in the UK and Ireland. According to Dara’s website the book “which won the 2020 Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing, and was longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize – the youngest ever author to do so. Dara then went on to win The Booksellers Association Books Are My Bag Readers Award for Non-fiction, the An Post Irish Book Awards Newcomer of the Year, and his last award (so far!) was the British Book Awards Narrative Non-fiction Book of the Year. An incredible, record-breaking achievement for a teenager yet to sit his A-levels.”

Don’t touch my hair – by Emma Dabiri

Born in Dublin, then moved to Atlanta Georgia and then to London, Emma Dabiri’s early life was diverse to say the least. Having become a respected academic and broadcaster Emma wrote the book and according to The Guardian: “She explores black hair history relating to her own Nigerian ancestry as well as in the US, the UK and other parts of Africa and Latin America. The way black people have been conditioned to think about their hair, as a tiresome, time-consuming burden, shifts under her pen.”

Exciting Times – by Naoise Dolan

Naoisa was diagnosed with autism at the relatively late age of 27. Her debut novel, Exciting Times is a story about a young woman from Dublin who moves to Hong Kong and falls for an English banker. Having been nominated for multiple awards, in 2021 it was announced the novel would be adapted for TV with Black Bear Pictures picking up the rights and Amazon Productions producing the series.

Fight or Flight – by Kieth Earls

Munster and Ireland rugby player Earls has played 95 times for Ireland becoming the nation’s second top try scorer of all time. Born in Moyross in Limerick, Keith opens up in his memoir, not only discussing his rugby playing career but he opens up about his off-field issues with his mental health. Keith was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and according to the Irish Independent “he writes about a troubled alter ego whom he calls ‘Hank’ — the name is borrowed from a persona in the Jim Carrey film Me, Myself & Irene. ‘It’s what they used to say to me at home …’ Hank, to Earls’ mind, is the part of him that’s prone to bouts of severe depression. It has been crippling at times — impacting on his sport and family life and general sense of self.”

Girls Can Play Sport Too (books 1 and 2) – by Jacqui Hurley

Book 1 was Jacqui’s debut book that chronicles the tales of Irish Sports Women. Working in RTE Jacqui saw first hand the huge difference in the amount of coverage given to male sports versus female sports. As part of the 20X20 campaign (that aimed to get a 20% increase in female sport participation and 20% increase in coverage in 2020) Jacqui wrote this book to serve as inspiration to 8-to-14 year-old girls and attract them to play sports more. The book was so successful that it was commissioned for a second book, chronicling the likes of more recent female sports heroes, telling the stories of Kellie Harrington, Katie Taylor and Rachel Blackmore.

I Don’t Want To Talk About Home – by Suad Al Darra

Suad grew up in Saudi Arabia before moving to Syria for her education, until the Syrian civil war forced her and her family to leave home. In her new book I Don’t Want To Talk About Home is a memoir about the immigrants story, about her talking to a Dublin taxi driver who said “all Syrians are terrorists”, forcing her to act and how assimilating into a new society forces immigrants to leave some of themselves behind. The Irish Times says: ‘I Don’t Want to Talk About Home’ reframes the Syrian migrant narrative and forces us to re-examine how we perceive these stories. Though it is in part a book about fleeing a war, it is also a story of womanhood, of identity, and of complex relationships with religion and with family. Passionate, eye-opening and deeply moving, Suad Aldarra is an exciting new writer to watch” The book will be out in Spring 2022

Inclusive Intelligence: How to be a Role Model for Diversity and Inclusion in the WorkplacebyFurkan Karayel

CEO of DiverseIn.com Furkan is one of the leaders of Diversity and Inclusion in Ireland today and lecturers in the subject in IDAT. According to Goodreads “Would you like to build a happier workplace culture? Are you struggling to start your workplace diversity and inclusion journey? Would you like to take your leadership to the next level? This book will teach you how to use Inclusive Intelligence as a leader. You’ll learn the skills great leaders have in common, how they implement inclusion daily, and how they have become role models in their fields. Inclusive Intelligence is a journey. The sooner you start, the further you’ll go.”

Johnny Magory Series by Emma-Jane Leeson

Emma-Jane’s eight books are designed with a mission of getting the whole family back to nature to educate, create a sense of adventure, and have fun. The book series has been wildly successful with the company now employing two more people, and Emma-Jane who have taken part in programmes such as Enterprise Ireland New Frontiers, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine’s Acorns 5 and DCU Ryan Academy Female High Fliers. The series will now also be made into an animation.

Migration and The Making of Ireland – by Prof Bryan Fanning

Many of us are aware of the immgration of Irish people to countries around the world and the impact that Irish people made on the countries they made their home. Prof Fanning investigates the impact that people who have moved to Ireland have made throughout the last four centuries. According to one review ‘Migration and the Making of Ireland’ is a landmark contribution to our understanding of modern Ireland and will be essential reading for anybody seeking to understand the diversity of twenty-first century Irish society.”

Our Wild World: From the Birds and Bees to Our Boglands and the Ice Caps by Éanna Ní Lamhna

One of Ireland’s foremost authorities on wildlife and plant species Éanna expertly explains the different wildlife and according to her publisher O’Brien Press “Ireland’s favourite force of nature, Éanna Ní Lamhna, is on a mission to open our hearts and minds to our wonderful, wild world – to help us find the balance between our needs and the future of our precious planet.”

OvercomingWritten by Vicky Phelan

The reluctant celebrity Vicky came to national prominence after the Cervical Cancer check screening scandal in 2018. Vicky was told that she was cancer-free when in fact her cancer had gone undetected for several years. She refused to sign an NDA agreement with the HSE and took them to court. She received a settlement which was a precedent for many others to follow in her footsteps that were caught up in the scandal. The book chronicles Vicky’s life up to her diagnosis, the car accident that nearly ended her life, how the scandal came to light and her cancer journey since. The book was voted the An Post Irish Book of the Year 2019.

Embracing ChangeWritten by Dr Harry Barry

A GP Dr Barry has more than 40 years and is a expert in mental health illnesses such as major depression, anxiety disorders, addiction and suicide itself. In his ninth book Dr Barry explores how to Embrace Change in the era of Covid-19 and how it can impact on your mental wellbeing too.

When Dreams Come True The Heartbreak and Hope on My Journey to MotherhoodWritten by Roseanna Davidson

Author, model and former Miss World, Davidson opened up about her and her husband’s fertility journey, describing how she had 14 separate miscarriages, the questions from the media she would be asked about starting a family and how choosing suggaracy means that currently in Ireland she is not legally her daughters mother, but rather her guardian.

Unsettled – by Dr Rosaleen McDonagh

Playwright and member of the IHRE Dr McDonagh is a traveller woman herself and having worked in Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre for more than ten years Dr McDonagh has a unique insight into the Traveller community. As an Irish Traveller writing from a feminist perspective, McDonagh’s essays are rich and complex, raw and honest, and, above all else, uncompromising.”

Your One Wild and Precious Life – by Dr Maureen Gaffney 

According to her website “well known psychologist, writer, and broadcaster, she has worked with a wide range or organisations, including the Intel organisation, in both Ireland and in the US, Boston Scientific, Amazon, Google, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, as well as major professional service companies, and the educational sector in Australia. Her latest book explores the process of ageing and how you can embrace the process to develop a more well-rounded life.

Barry Walsh
Barry Walsh is a journalist specialising in business, diversity and inclusion and is also a content marketing specialist.

Recommended