Shelf Swap with Katie Clapham from Storytellers, Inc.

Shelf Swap with Katie Clapham from Storytellers, Inc.
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?

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?

Shelf Swap with Louise Corcoran

Shelf Swap with Louise Corcoran
I love swapping book recommendations, so I’m asking one person each month to pick five books from my Goodreads shelves that they want to read and five books from their own shelves that they think I might like to read.

I’m happy to welcome Louise Corcoran (@thisandyou), London Area Sales Manager for Bounce Sales & Marketing (she helps get lovely publishers’ books into bookshops) and former bookseller, to Pretty Books for Shelf Swap!

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

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
I don’t know how this one has managed to pass me by, as it mixes many of the key ingredients that attract me to a book – magical realism, roundly-portrayed female protagonists, and alternative histories. This book comes highly recommended by many people whose book recs I trust, so I’m excited to finally read it.

The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Friendships, romance, non-linear timeframes – this book has many of the themes that I like to read in and around, particularly in the summer. I’ve had a proof copy of this sat on my shelves for a little while now, and will be reading it very soon as part of a long distance book club with a friend.

The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold and Emily Gravett
Illustrated books for older children are a growing section of the industry, and having read Patrick Ness and Jim Kay’s A Monster Calls, David Almond’s collaborations with Dave McKean, & Sally Gardner and David Roberts’ Tinder, I’m eager to read The Imaginary. Mixing humour and horror, and illustrated throughout by Emily Gravett, this sounds right up my street.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas by Various
On Stacey’s wishlist shelf, this is another book whose release I’m eagerly awaiting. It features short stories on the themes of home and Christmas from some of the most prominent writers in UKYA, including Non Pratt, Juno Dawson and Lisa Williamson. Having read a couple of the stories already as I work for the company who distribute this book to bookshops, I can’t wait to read the rest.

Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield
Another that’s been sitting on my shelves for a little while, I’m mentally preparing myself to read this as everyone I know that’s read it has emphasised the emotional punch it packs.

5 BOOKS FROM LOUISE’S SHELVES THAT STACEY SHOULD READ

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
I know Stacey loved Sarah Dessen’s Saint Anything when she read it last summer, so I’m recommending my favourite of her back catalogue. While this does follow the author’s traditional story arc, this book’s themes of music and friendship are two that I think will appeal to Stacey, and it also touches on some deeper issues around relationships and alcohol.

Stacey says: I definitely want to read more Sarah Dessen after reading Saint Anything! Debbie loaned me The Truth About Forever, but Just Listen sounds fun too. 

Vivian Versus The Apocalypse by Katie Coyle
Katie Coyle’s Vivian Apple books are incredibly underrated, in my opinion. Following the titular character after a modern day ‘rapture’, this book expertly weaves an engaging narrative with discussions of feminism, religion and capitalism. It also features a brilliantly depicted female friendship, something that I’m always looking for in the books I read.

Stacey says: I’ve wanted to read this ever since the cover reveal – the contemporary twist on apocalyptic fiction intrigues me.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
As Stacey also loved Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road, I’m recommending another Australian YA: Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon. Written in a dual narrative, this book is set over the course of one day and follows four teens as they come to terms with leaving school and everything that means. Poetic, heartwarming and uplifting, this is the kind of book that inspires you to get up and create.

Stacey says: I’ve had this book for so long that I had forgotten what it was about!

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
As someone working within the publishing industry, I think that Stacey will enjoy Afterworlds, a book with two narratives; one featuring a young author immediately pre-publication, and the other the fictional world that she has created. Blending the real world with the paranormal, this is an excellent coming of age story.

Stacey says: I’m definitely interested in the publishing aspect of this novel, plus it’s been years since I read Scott’s Uglies series.

Middlemarch by George Eliot 
While Middlemarch can seem slightly intimidating given its size, it’s definitely a book that I would recommend to Stacey for the Classics Challenge. While set in the industrial revolution, the insights provided by George Eliot feel more than appropriate to the world we live in today, and the prose that they are delivered in is beautiful.

Stacey says: This has been recommended to me quite a few times in my life! It definitely is intimidating, but I’ll give it a shot at some point. 

Thank you, Louise, for swapping shelves with me!

Which of these books would you read?