Shelf Swap with Kara Rennie

Shelf Swap with Kara Rennie
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 Kara Rennie (@karajrennie), digital marketer for Books Are My Bag and The Booksellers Association, to Pretty Books for Shelf Swap!

5 BOOKS FROM STACEY’S SHELVES THAT KARA WANTS TO READ

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Stacey kindly gave me a copy of The Outsiders and I’m slightly ashamed of myself for not having picked it up before, given its cult classic status. The author Susan Eloise Hinton started writing this book when she was just 15 years old and to have such an impact on so many readers, I want to read this at some point during 2017 to see if it has an impact on me. It’s told in the first-person narrative which I tend to enjoy and is about two rival gangs, the Greasers and the Socs in 1960s Oklahoma. I have a feeling I will sort of love it … watch this space.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Another American classic I should have read. I hang my head in shame, readers (but I guess this is the point of the shelf swap?). In Stacey’s Goodreads review of this book she mentions the main character Francie Nolan and describes her as a ferocious-reader-Matilda-type and an inspiring writer – she sounds like my kind of person! It’s classed as young adult and the story is supposed to be simple but heart-warming and the kind of book that stays with you for a long time. By the looks of things – the masses of positive reviews and ratings, this book is very well-loved.

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
I’ve spotted this in Foyles, Charing Cross a number of times but I haven’t yet treated myself or my shelf to a copy (who even am I?). Maus depicts cartoonist Spiegelman interviewing his father about his experiences as a Polish Jew and survivor of the Holocaust, and is the only graphic novel to have won the Pulitzer Prize. I enjoy reading graphic novels with some of my favourites being Daniel Clowes’ Ghostworld, The Gigantic Beard that was Evil by Stephen Collins and Building Stories by Chris Ware (a real treat) and would love to read more.

Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
I know a few people that have read and loved this book and it always seems to have rave reviews online. Nothing to Envy tells the story of North Korea as a closed society from the lives of six North Koreans who defected to South Korea. Through interviews and the author’s own personal experiences, it’s revealed just what it’s like to live in such a repressive Orwellian world where residents do not even have access to the internet. This sounds like a tough book to read but I like to have a non-fiction book on the go and plan to pick this up in the not so distant future …

 A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell
I’ve had this book on my desk for a while now – I picked it up for a couple of reasons, one being that it’s from 4th Estate, a publisher of many great authors (Lena Dunham, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Hadley Freeman, Sali Hughes and Jeffrey Eugenides to name a few). The second, because of The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. The Virgin Suicides is one of my favourite books, if not my all-time favourite book, and the premise sounded similar. The book tells the story of three sisters who have decided to kill themselves, but this isn’t their choice alone – they are part of a long line of people who have done the same. I just want to find out why …

5 BOOKS FROM KARA’S SHELVES THAT STACEY SHOULD READ

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
I’ve raved about this book to Stacey before and I think most people; especially women would take something away from it – whether it’s inspiration or life-advice or comfort in knowing that someone at some point may have felt the same way as you. Wild tells the story of a 26-year-old Cheryl Strayed who after her mother’s death and her failed marriage feels like her life has fallen apart. To counteract her loss and grief, Strayed decides to pack her life into her backpack and trek the Pacific Crest Trail to try and come to terms with everything that has happened. I don’t think Stacey reads much non-fiction, particularly memoirs and I’d love to inspire her to pick them up more regularly, starting with this wonderful book.

Stacey says: I do want to read more non-fiction (and I have a few on my TBR). I’ve been unsure about Wild, but I’m willing to give it a shot!

Stína by Lani Yamamoto
Stacey loves cosiness and I feel that she would love Stína – a lovely little children’s book I picked up from Eymundsson bookshop in Iceland. Coincidentally this beautifully-illustrated book takes its title from the main character, a girl who lives in Iceland and is always freezing. Stína feels safe at home, wrapped up in sweaters and a gigantic duvet; she takes comfort in a quiet and simple life and makes a mean hot cocoa. A very sweet book.

Stacey says: I’m embracing all things hygge (all right, wrong country) and so this sounds perfect for me – it’s described as a delightful picture book for cold winter days!

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
This book won the Costa Book of the Year and for good reason, it’s absolutely stunning. The story is narrated by Matthew, a 19-year-old boy struggling with schizophrenia and desperately clinging on to the memory of his brother. The writing is very intelligent – it’s not written chronologically and the reader jumps between Matthew as a child and Matthew as a late teen and his descent into unbearable guilt and mental illness. Despite the tough subject matter this book is highly engaging and easy to read, I believe I read it in one sitting and have been meaning to re-read it for a while.

Stacey says: I have this on sitting on my Kindle, but I’ve never managed to get to it – I’ll push it up my TBR!

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell
To continue Stacey’s love of Denmark and the fact that she owns a copy of this book (thanks to me!), I think she would really enjoying reading about Danish traditions and what it’s really like to live in what is known as the happiest country in the world. When the author’s husband is offered a job in Denmark (at LEGO – could it BE *cue Chandler Bing* anymore Danish?), she decides to switch up her chaotic London life for a Scandinavian adventure. The idea of packing up one’s life and moving abroad can be appealing from time to time and being able to live through Helen Russell as she navigates just that is very enjoyable.

Stacey says: I’m actually planning to read this next month (well done, Kara) as I’m in the midst of planning another Scandinavian trip.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Although Stacey’s Classics Challenge is not officially a *thing* anymore (sad times), I thought I would throw in a classic (or what I believe will be a future classic) because The Secret History is just so good. Set in New England, The Secret History tells the story of a close-knit group of classics students who accept Richard, the narrator of the book, into their elite. Reflecting years later, Richard unfolds the events that had led to a murder within the group (this is not a spoiler) and readers are delved into the characters’ secretive and self-centred lives. The prose is absolutely gorgeous, the characters are completely fascinating and it’s a book I think should be read by everyone at least once.

Stacey says: I adore boarding school settings, so I definitely want to pick this up at some point.

Thank you for swapping shelves with me, Kara!

Which of these books sounds great to you?

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3 thoughts on “Shelf Swap with Kara Rennie

  1. I LOVED The Secret History!!! I actually visited and applied to the college that the book is based on (Bennington College in Vermont, where Tartt went), which made it even more fun to read. I definitely recommend it as well!

  2. I love love love The Outsiders! It was one of the first books that I read on my own, over and over again. The movie is good too.

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