It's said that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day. Three new books can give you some background on the Emerald Isle.
I Never Knew That About the Irish (Thomas Dunne Books) by Christopher Winn is a charmingly written and illustrated short course on the people, places and history of Ireland, with the island's 32 counties serving as a framework.
Irish Poems (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets), edited by Matthew McGuire, collects traditional ballads like The Croppy Boy as well as works by giants such as W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney and other Irish poets, classic and contemporary.
Top 10 of Ireland: 250 Lists About the Emerald Isle (Hamlyn) by Eoghan Corry is just the thing for settling pub bets: all sorts of factoids about the island's history, arts, sports, politics and more, from Irish Nobel laureates to mentions of Ireland on The Simpsons.
Colette Bancroft, Times book editor