I love swapping book recs, so I’m asking one person each month to pick five books from my Goodreads shelves that they would like to read and five books from their own shelves that they think I might enjoy.
I’m happy to welcome Katie Clapham (@storytellersinc), from Storytellers, Inc. bookshop, to Pretty Books for Shelf Swap!
5 BOOKS FROM STACEY’S SHELVES THAT KATIE WANTS TO READ
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Or Landlines. Or Eleanor and Park. I haven’t read any of them! I don’t even really know how it’s happened but she’s one of those authors that I didn’t read pre-buzz or even in the early buzz and then I completely missed the bandwagon and I never caught up. I’m also a tiny bit apprehensive because people raved about Dash and Lily in the same way and I did read that one and it left me cold and a bit annoyed. Anyway, I do still intend to read one of her books so maybe you can tell me which one I should go for. Fangirl might not be the best one to start with – I don’t like Harry Potter either… Shall I just let myself out?
Lockwood & Co. 2 and 3 by Jonathan Stroud
I’m terrible for reading one book of a series and then never going back to any of the sequels. I just hardly ever do it and I know for lots of readers it’s the later parts of series that really shine. There are just too many other books to read than go back to a world I’ve already explored! However, I really enjoyed the first Lockwood & Co. novel so I’d be willing to give this a try, but to this day I don’t think I’ve ever read a sequel that I’ve enjoyed as much as a first part. Could Lockwood change my mind?
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
This has been on one of my wishlists for ages. The true crime/journalistic form really intrigues me and although I’m not really sure what to expect, from what I’ve heard it’s as intense and gripping as any fiction. I remember being suitably creeped out by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Capote interviewing one of the murderers in the film, so I guess this is as much about Capote’s view and his writing as it is the grisly subject.
Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Lots of people have asked if I’ve read this and I haven’t. In fact, until I just read the synopsis on your Goodreads page (which by the way is the most unfathomable website ever and makes me feel 100 years old), I didn’t even know what it was about. But it’s set in a bookshop and that’s enough to get me through the door. Also, I love San Francisco. It sounds like it goes into a scavenger hunt…which just makes me think of Dash and Lily again, those pesky brats, but I’m going to get over that because it’s almost guaranteed to be nothing like that at all and we all need to move on sometimes.
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
My dad reckons this is one of the funniest books ever, and from the odd line or two he read aloud I feel sure he’s right. He just bought a beautiful Folio edition, so it might be time for a long-term loan. There are so many classic books I haven’t read, but then I’m sure it’s the same for everyone, so I don’t get too hung up about it. I told my university professor at my application interview that I hadn’t read very many classics at all, that I was excited to read them on his course, and that up to that point my favourite book was still Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging. His course was limited to 10 places only, and I got one of them so never let anyone make you feel guilty about having not read something important… you just haven’t got around to it yet!
5 BOOKS FROM KATIE’S SHELVES THAT STACEY SHOULD READ
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
It’s a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, which I know in theory sounds awful, but it’s Curtis Sittenfeld and one of the greatest stories of all time so I had high hopes and you’ll just have to trust me when I say it’s an absolute joy! It’s so smart and witty and with all the rush of love and excitement you get from the original – you know what’s coming, of course you do, but it still sweeps you along entirely. I couldn’t put it down.
Stacey says: I actually do want to read this! I’ve read Prep (which is due a re-read) and I’m intrigued by this… Maybe when it’s out in paperback!
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
One of my all-time favourites and one of the few books I re-read. It’s very short, which helps, and it never fails to absolutely chill me to the bone. If you’ve seen the film, discard that entirely from your mind because it really does not come close to that masterful little book. It starts on Christmas Eve, which is the perfect night to read it (you won’t sleep!) and it’s a real classic gothic ghost story, despite being written in the eighties. The west-end play is also very good – and truly terrifying – but I think the novel itself is perfect. Coincidentally, A Christmas Carol is another of favourite books – who’d have thought ‘Ghost Stories set at Christmas’ would be such a winning genre?
Stacey says: I have a soft spot for ghost stories and Christmas stories, so I might pick this up this year…
Nicholas by Goscinny & Sempé
Now this is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Nicholas is a school boy and each brief story tells of one of his little adventures, either at school with his playmates or at home with his parents. Really, not much happens at all in each story, the boys usually end up fighting with each other or Nicholas gets in trouble, but they are so hilariously written and the little illustrations are so wonderful, it’s just a brilliant book. It’s perfect to dip into when you just have a few minutes and need cheering up. I love Nicholas!
Stacey says: This sounds adorable! I love really old school stories.
Hostage Three by Nick Lake
I think Nick Lake is one of the best YA writers around, I look forward to a new novel of his with the same anticipation as a new Patrick Ness or Marcus Sedgwick. Hostage Three was one of the first books I gave to my Crossover book club (adults reading teen/YA) and they still talk about it four years later. It really defies expectations – and although the synopsis and cover was off-putting to a lot of readers, it was a huge hit across the group. It’s about a spoilt girl whose yacht gets taken by Somali pirates while she’s on holiday with her parents – but it’s also about hopes and dreams, storytelling, love, growing up and everything in between. It’s a brilliant holiday read, but it’s much more than a beach book.
Stacey says: I’m still yet to pick up a book by Nick Lake, but I have There Will Be Lies and Whisper to Me on my shelves.
This Is All by Aidan Chambers
I’m usually not a fan of huge tomes, but This Is All is really worth every moment. I only discovered Aidan Chambers a few years ago and I’ve only read this particular book once, but I was absolutely floored by it. I hope I can read it again one day, but it is a serious time investment (and it’s too heavy to hold in bed!) – this story of a young girl’s first love is such a beautifully written, touching story. I think about the characters so often, remembering little moments of the book almost as if they are my memories sometimes. It is quite incredible to think this sensitive, in-depth portrayal of a teenage girl came from a writer in his 70s. I thought his 2012 novel, Dying To Know You was also remarkable. I hope he writes something new soon.
Stacey says: Woah. 800 pages! It’s probably a bit too chunky for me, but I like the sound of the story being told from age 16 to 20.
Thank you for swapping shelves with me, Katie!
Which of these books sounds great to you?