Top 5 Sally Rooney Books (Ranked) For 2023
As an avid reader, I have always been interested in what other readers share and recommend as good reads, particularly on social media. Thanks to BookTok, I discovered Sally Rooney's incredible writing. She gained immense popularity, and that is when I knew I had to check out her book titles.
Sally Rooney's books are fictional and tell the stories of teenagers and young adults navigating life complexities. You will often find her playing with themes surrounding relationships, such as romantic affairs, friendships, mental health issues, and growing up which are all very relatable for many of us.
Who is Sally Rooney?
Sally Rooney is an Irish author and novelist. She was born on February 20, 1991, in Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland. She gained recognition in the literary world with her debut novel Conversations with Friends in 2017, which was followed by her second novel Normal People in 2018. Both novels have been critically acclaimed and have won numerous awards.
Rooney's writing has been praised for its sharpness, intelligence, and insight into the complexities of modern relationships. Her novels often deal with themes of love, class, politics, and the struggles of young people in contemporary society.
In addition to her novels, Rooney has also written essays and short stories. She has been named one of Forbes' 30 under 30 in the European Arts and Culture category in 2018 and was included on the 2019 Time 100 Next list.
I have read Sally’s books over the past year; the ones below are my favorite picks. Each book's rank is determined by both its overall popularity and the quality of its stories.
What Are the top Sally Rooney Books Ranked?
Conversations with Friends, by Sally Rooney (2017)
Conversations with Friends is a realistic comedy with the themes of friendship and adultery. It is the story of Frances, a young woman who makes dark observations and is coolheaded. She is vaguely pursuing a writing career as she takes on her studies in Dublin. Bobbi, her best friend, is beautiful but very self-possessed.
During one of the local poetry performances, the two meet Melissa, a renowned photographer, and they both get drawn to her world. But Frances is not impressed much by Melissa’s good-looking husband, Nick, and their highly sophisticated home.
However, it is rather amusing when Nick and Frances’ flirtation begins. But not for long. It starts to bring forth a weird and painful intimacy. Melissa and Bobbi’s budding friendship also causes Frances to feel alienated.
You will love how Sally has precisely written this book and its sly sense of humor. How she highlights and talks about youthly dangers, pleasure, and the messy corners and complications of female friendship is highly impressive as it is enlightening.
Normal People, by Sally Rooney (2020)
BookTok convinced me to get this read, and I was impressed. The book follows and details the transformative power of relationships by telling Marianne and Connell’s story. Their experiences began in their final high school year.
Marianne is reserved and quite shy. Connell, on the other hand, is popular and the star of the rugby team. Upon grabbing this book, you might think it is the typical cliche of how shy girls meet popular boys. However, I felt that it subverted those expectations as the story developed.
As teenagers, these two share intimate moments and wind up together at Trinity College.
Marianne and Connell face communication challenges that lead to problems as they date other people, and they are unable to express their true feelings for each other.
Normal People is a profoundly emotional and ideal read for millennials. It has deep insights into what it means to be young and in love in today’s world.
Beautiful World, Where are You, by Sally Rooney (2022)
This book is a dialectical and artistic love letter that, by extension, depicts the ways human beings relate. It combines Sally’s excellent character development with her witty writing style and mature economy of language.
You will follow through the story of four young characters, Alice, Eileen, Felix, and Simon. Alice, a writer, meets Felix, a warehouse employee, on a dating app and asks him to visit Rome with her. Meanwhile, Alice’s best friend, Eileen, is recovering from a recent breakup when she slips back to her old patterns and begins flirting with Simon, her childhood friend.
Life is catching up with the four. They desire to be with each other while still deluding each other. Their experiences intertwine as they try to figure out their life paths. They get together, break, and engage in sexual activity while worrying about sex and fearing for their friendships and the world. Could they be getting some light while building their way to dooming darkness? Are they witnessing something? Can they become believers in a beautiful world?
I loved how captivating this story was. Even though it seemed less relatable to me, it is an excellent read for young readers. Sally’s touching honesty and quiet writing brilliance pulls you delightfully and compulsively.
Normal People: The Scripts, by Sally Rooney (2021)
If you want to delve deeper into the Normal People series, you need this read. It features iconic behind-the-scenes photos of the series, which will make you want to check out the show if you haven’t already. Additionally, it has an introduction by the show’s director Lenny Abrahamson.
The Scripts goes further to show Rooney’s sensibility uniquely. The book touches on politics, class, and power dynamics with conversations you will love.
You get to engage further with Connell and Marianne’s story with a pictorial point of view. The book is precise, and Sally has meticulously captured how a generation brought up on social data behaves through thought and words. I particularly loved how Rooney provides a window for Connell and Marianne to be their true selves.
At its core, The Scripts is a fascinating masterpiece that depicts the type of millennial deadpan that seems to skewer personality and life.
Mr Salary, by Sally Rooney (2019)
You will enjoy this mini-book once you have read Normal People. The story is shorter, but the narrative is somewhat similar. The book follows the story of a frisson-filled relationship and inconvenient attractions of a young woman Sukie, to Nathan, an older man.
After losing her mother and dealing with a difficult father, she has no choice but to move in with Nathan, who is part of Sukie's extended family. Eventually, they find themselves on the verge of an inevitable connection.
Mr Salary will leave you enraged and yearning for more. You might even read it twice. Nothing is earth-shaking in the book, and it has no gimmicks, but it is utterly captivating for some reason. It must be Sally’s wit when it comes to fiction writing. Just like in her other books, she explores emotional baggage between the characters and creates an emotional pull about life experiences.
Inspiring Quotes from Shelly Rooney Books
No one can be independent of other people completely, so why not give up the attempt, she thought, go running in the other direction, depend on people for everything, allow them to depend on you, why not.
― Sally Rooney, Normal People
Gradually the waiting began to feel less like waiting and more like this was simply what life was: the distracting tasks undertaken while the thing you are waiting for continues not to happen.
― Sally Rooney, Conversations with Friends
And we hate people for making mistakes so much more than we love them for doing good that the
easiest way to live is to do nothing, say nothing, and love no one.
― Sally Rooney, Beautiful World, Where Are You
Sally's talent as a psychological portraitist is evident in the books mentioned above. Her writing isn't just about vocabulary or metaphors, but rather an orchestration of words that creates a delightful symphony, taking readers on an unforgettable journey with a beautiful crescendo. I highly recommend picking up any of her books and experiencing them for yourself.
If you are looking for more touching fiction books check out our women's reading list.
My profession is online marketing and development (10+ years experience), check my latest mobile app called Upcoming or my Chrome extensions for ChatGPT. But my real passion is reading books both fiction and non-fiction. I have several favorite authors like James Redfield or Daniel Keyes. If I read a book I always want to find the best part of it, every book has its unique value.