Shelf Swap with Katherine Webber


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 Katherine Webber, author of Wing Jones, to Pretty Books for Shelf Swap!

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

Who Runs the World by Virginia Bergin
Okay, full confession, I went off of some of Stacey’s wishlist shelves for this because I’d read quite a lot of what she’d read. I am SO excited for this feminist dystopia by Virginia Bergin. I hugely enjoyed The Rain and I’ve been waiting for this book ever since I heard about the premise.

Release by Patrick Ness
New Patrick Ness. OF COURSE I WANT IT. And has there *ever* been a better pitch than Forever meets Mrs Dalloway?

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
*hides head in shame* I can’t believe I’ve never read this! It seems like everyone absolutely loves it. I feel like it is a big hole in my classic kid lit knowledge!

Invictus by Ryan Graudin
I’ve absolutely loved everything I’ve read by Ryan Graudin but I think this might be my most favourite yet just based on the premise. Time travel romance adventure? Yes, please!
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
I hadn’t heard of this one but it sounds absolutely lovely. It says it is for fans of Wonder, The Curious Incident o the Dog in the Night-Time, and Walk Two Moons – all books I really love. And I love the whole concept of a book about a boy recording things on earth to send to space for other life forms to learn about humans. It sounds charming and smart and sweet, all things I love in MG.


5 BOOKS FROM KATIE’S SHELVES THAT STACEY SHOULD READ

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamara Pierce 
I actually found this surprisingly tricky because I think that Stacey and I have similar taste – so I knew she would have already read lots of my favourites and visa versa! Although I strongly disagree with her rating of A Wrinkle In Time, one of my childhood favourites. Another childhood favourite is the Alanna books by Tamara Pierce. I love the whole quartet, but of course she’d have to start with The First Adventure. This book inspired me to be a feminist from a really young age. Alanna is a complex, interesting character and I’ve always admired her. And I’m still madly in love with George Cooper *swoons*.

Stacey says: I think this is where mine and Katie’s tastes diverge – she loves fantasy and I really struggle with it! However, I am intrigued by feminist characters… 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
This was a recent read for me and I ADORED it. Definitely one of my favourite contemporaries (although it is technically set in the 80s…) I know Stacey loves wonderful contemporary books, and I think she’ll love this. It’s beautiful and raw and funny and heartbreaking and life affirming.

Stacey says: I removed this from my Goodreads wishlist recently because I figured I was never going to get round to it, but it’s one I’ve always heard such wonderful things about. *puts back on wishlist*

Ash by Malinda Lo
This is a jewel of a book. I know Stacey usually reads contemporary, but I think she’ll enjoy this Cinderella retelling. It is such a fresh take on Cinderella, and the fairy tale tropes, that anyone who is familiar with the classic fairy tales can enjoy it. I love everything Malinda Lo writes, but this was the first thing I read by her so I always try to recommend it.

Stacey says: Ah, I usually avoid fairytale retellings *hides from Katie*. I asked my housemate Charlie whether she’d read it and she loved it too. Maybe I can be convinced? Maybe…

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
I loved The Graces and I can’t wait for Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, and both of those books have shades of The Secret History in them. It’s been years since I’ve read it, but I think I’m due a reread. The Secret History is technically adult, but in a lot of ways it feels like a YA coming-of-age/thriller. I’m really curious to see what Stacey thinks of it!

Stacey says: I have a copy of The Secret History! I cannot believe I haven’t read yet as it’s super popular. Boarding school + mystery = sold.

Bel Canto by Anne Patchett
This is one of my all-time favourite books. I can still vividly remember exactly where I was when I read it, and how I felt when I finished it. It is a book I push on everyone. It is one of those books that is so vivid and real, you feel like you are reading about something that really did happen instead of fiction. I think Stacey will appreciate the complex and changing relationships between the characters, and the humour woven throughout the drama. The writing is also impeccable and each sentence is a joy to read.

Stacey says: I’ve never read anything by Anne Patchett before but this one is on the Rory Gilmore Reading List…!

Thank you, Katie, for swapping shelves with me!

Which of these books sounds great to you?

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?