Tana French

The mystery author picks three favorites.

Irish author Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad Series has captivated readers with grim plot twists that overlay timeless themes of family and loss. In her new mystery, Broken Harbor, a detective must solve a triple homicide set against the backdrop of Ireland’s recent economic turmoil. This week, French points us to three favorites that have stuck with her, even if she didn’t understand them completely when she first read them.

Books by Tana French

National Velvet

By Enid Bagnold

“Velvet is fourteen, shy, and passionate about horses; she knows her stubborn piebald is something special, and she’s determined to give him the chance to do what he’s capable of doing. I first read it when I was seven, and even then, I could feel that the writing was something special, subtle and intricate and perfectly pitched. What I missed, though, is that it isn’t a children’s book at all. It’s a book about how deeply mysterious we human beings are, not only to the people we’re closest to, but even to ourselves; about how much is waiting inside us for its moment, and the breathtaking wonder of seizing that moment when it comes; about the glory that’s within ordinary things, as well as extraordinary ones.”

Under Milk Wood

By Dylan Thomas

“For its sheer beauty. It’s a radio play about one day in the life of a small Welsh village, it’s dreamy and funny and sharp and wistful and haunting and evocative, and it holds some of the most beautiful lines ever written in the English language. ‘One voice of all he remembers most dearly as his dream buckets down. Lazy early Rosie with the flaxen thatch, whom he shared with Tom-Fred the donkeyman and many another seaman, clearly and near to him speaks from the bedroom of her dust…’ If I ever write something as perfect as that, I’ll die happy.”

The Once and Future King

By T. H. White

“This is the King Arthur book that ruined all other King Arthur books for me forever. I was ten when I read it; probably I got about half of it, but this is the book that gave me my first inkling of how complex and how mysterious adult life and love can be, and my first inkling of how beautifully and breathtakingly words can capture all that complexity. The epic sweep of the book gives it the momentum and power of Greek tragedy, and the writing is poetry.”