Books

20 Books To Read If You Love Sally Rooney

Can’t get enough of the beloved Irish writer? Try these authors next.

'Topics of Conversation,' 'Ghost Forest,' 'Such a Fun Age,' and 'Three Rooms' are great books to rea...
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With the 2018 release of her beloved sophomore novel, Normal People — followed by its critically acclaimed TV adaption in 2020 — Sally Rooney swiftly became a household name. Now, fans can pick up her third book, Beautiful World, Where Are You, which just launched simultaneously in the United States, Ireland, and the UK. But if you’re planning on devouring the author’s much-anticipated new release, and are already dreading the long wait for more Rooney, don’t fret: There are plenty of great books to read if you like Sally Rooney.

Born in County Mayo, Ireland in 1991, Rooney has made a name for herself as one of the most prominent and promising millennial authors of literary fiction. Her debut, 2017’s Conversations with Friends, garnered awards nominations and won the 2017 Sunday Times/Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award. Normal People earned Rooney nominations for both the 2018 Man Booker and the 2019 Women’s Prize. But as decorated as she is, she’s not the only author publishing thoughtful fiction about millennials’ lives. Below, 20 of the best (and most recent) books for readers who love Sally Rooney.

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1

Acts of Desperation

Irish author Megan Nolan’s electric debut probes the gray area between affection and obsession. The young, unnamed narrator relishes her romance with a charismatic writer, but when he abruptly calls it off, she finds herself suddenly unmoored — and willing to do anything to get him back.

2

Binary Star

A brief novel that’s sure to stay with you, Binary Star centers on a young professor whose life revolves around her long-distance romance with her boyfriend — a relationship complicated by the fact that he has alcohol-use disorder and she lives with an eating disorder.

3

Boy Parts

Eliza Clark’s debut novel follows Irina, an ex-bartender whose life is a blur of sex and substance use. When she’s offered a gallery exhibition, she seizes the chance to turn her passion for pornographic photography into a career.

4

Days of Distraction

Dissatisfied with her Silicon Valley-based writing job and longing for new vistas, Days of Distraction’s narrator follows her boyfriend, J, to the opposite coast when he’s accepted to grad school. But what begins as a means to leave California and secure her relationship with J turns into a journey of self-discovery.

5

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead

Gilda was just looking for free therapy when she visited a nearby Catholic church, but after the priest mistook her for a job applicant, she found herself unexpectedly employed. But when an email from one of her late predecessor’s friends lands in her inbox, Gilda finds herself masquerading as the former receptionist.

6

Ghost Forest

The unnamed protagonist of Pik-Shuen Fung’s Ghost Forest ruminates on family, grief, and distance in the wake of her father’s passing. He stayed behind in Hong Kong to work, when she, her mother, and her grandmother immigrated to Canada in the 1990s. Now he’s gone, and she must lean on her family for support.

7

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982

A sensation upon its 2016 publication in South Korea, Cho Nam-joo’s novel is a must-read for any Rooney fan. Focusing in on one woman’s life, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 delivers a captivating exploration of mental illness.

8

Luster

In Raven Leilani’s Luster, a messy 20-something living in Brooklyn gets herself hopelessly entangled in one family’s relationships. After she strikes up a romance with Eric, a man in an open marriage, Edie is drawn into the lives of his wife and child, at the wife’s request... but is she only there because she and her lover’s daughter are both Black?

9

Magma

From Icelandic author Þóra Hjörleifsdóttir comes Magma: the gripping story of one woman’s experiences in an increasingly abusive relationship.

10

Milk Fed

From the author of The Pisces and Superdoom comes this erotic comedy about a non-practicing Jewish woman living with an eating disorder. When her therapist suggests she break off contact with her mother for a brief period, she finds herself falling into a strangely compulsive relationship with her froyo-slinging Orthodox Jewish peer.

11

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Ottessa Moshfegh might just be the queen of messy female characters, which means that any and all of her books are perfect reads for Rooney fans. In My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Moshfegh focuses on an heiress and Ivy League grad who decides to withdraw from the world after a series of losses and toxic relationships.

12

Open Water

If you’re looking for a book as heartbreaking as Normal People, look no further than Caleb Azumah Nelson’s Open Water. In this lauded 2021 release, a pair of Black British creatives see their relationship strained by pressures of toxic masculinity and institutional racism.

13

Palm Beach

Mary Adkins’ Palm Beach centers on a 30-something married couple who pull up stakes and relocate with their newborn son to South Florida, where they become increasingly, uncomfortably close to a billionaire VC and his wife.

14

The Paper Palace

A longstanding vacation tradition is soured by infidelity in Miranda Cowley Heller’s The Paper Palace. While on a summer getaway with their families, Elle and Jonas cheat on their spouses with one another, leading 50-year-old Elle to question what she really wants out of life.

15

The Portrait

Ilaria Bernardini’s critically acclaimed 2020 release centers on Valeria, a famous writer who is torn between her wish to keep her longtime affair with a married business mogul under wraps, and her desire to be by his side in the wake of his coma-inducing stroke.

16

The Portrait of a Mirror

Blending the story of Narcissus with shades of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, A. Natasha Joukovsky spins a riveting tale about two well-to-do couples whose lives and relationships are enmeshed — both online and in real life — in The Portrait of a Mirror.

17

Seven Days in June

A pair of ex-lovers re-stage their brief teenage love affair in Tia Williams’ tender romance. Erotic novelist Eva and lit-fic author Shane had something, once — something their friends know nothing about. Now, as they find themselves caught up in another one-week fling, Eva is determined to get some answers from Shane about what transpired between them 15 years

18

Such a Fun Age

When a security guard accuses a 25-year-old Black babysitter of kidnapping her 2-year-old white charge, the toddler’s mother goes on the attack, determined to get justice for her employee. But Emira isn’t sure she wants — or needs — Alix’s help, and the two women will soon learn more than they ever imagined about each other.

19

Three Rooms

In this strikingly observant take on A Room of One’s Own, Jo Hamya explores millennial women’s living conditions, both real and ideal, as she follows her young protagonist through three very different living arrangements.

20

Topics of Conversation

Rooney fans shouldn’t sleep on Miranda Popkey’s Topics of Conversation, which drew comparisons to Normal People upon its release in 2020. Comprised of conversations between different groups of women, this novel-in-stories exposes the raw truths of our contemporary lives.