What should I recommend?

In my bookshop, we have a special bay that’s just for staff picks. At the moment it’s full of a selection of ‘summer reads’ recommended by everybody who works there, but usually it belongs to one person only. We get it for a month each, on rotation.

The other day, my manager informed me that my number had come up and the bay would be MINE for the month of October. I need to choose twenty-one titles that I think people would like to read, and write enthusiastic shelftalkers for each of them. So I made a list of titles I wanted to share with people…and then I discovered that it consisted of about fifteen SFF titles, a couple of lit fic titles of the kind that make you wonder what exactly it is about them that makes them not SFF, a couple of travel books, and The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon (for which I have already written a killer shelftalker, incidentally). And I started thinking that maybe I should try reading outside my comfort zone a little bit before October comes.

So, I thought I’d ask for some help! If you’ve read anything unusual and interesting recently and thought to yourself ‘more people should read this book – if only it could be recommended in some prominent place in a very good station bookshop, or something’, now’s your chance to make it happen. Leave a comment below, message me, tweet at me, get in touch on facebook or whatever – just let me know the title and I’ll do the rest. I’ll let you know if your recommendation ends up going in my bay!

I can’t handle reading books that are intended to scare me (i.e. anything you might find in the Horror section), or books where spousal bereavement or terminal illnesses are a major part of the plot – otherwise I’m open to pretty much anything. Translated books are, as always, especially welcome.


Edit: thanks for the suggestions so far! Here’s what I’ve put on my Staff Picks reading list since this post went up:

The Guest by Hwang Sok-yong, River of Fire by O Chonghui, Black Flower by Kim Young-ha – recommended by @londonkoreanist (one of these three, at least! Black Flower seems the most appealing right now, but I’ll see which I can get hold of!)
Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb, translated by Len Rix – recommended by Ginny (looks great – also, I’ve never read a full-length work translated from Hungarian, only short stories)
Is That a Fish in Your Ear by David Bellos and Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine – recommended by Dan (I read so little non-fiction, it’s a bit embarrassing)
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, recommended by David (I’m one of those people who has read Slaughterhouse 5 but nothing else by Vonnegut)
The Year of the Hare, by Arto Paasilinna and The Spectre of Alexander Wolf, by Gaito Gazdanov, tr from Russian by Bryan Karetnyk – recommended by Ani, below!
– I also really want to have if on a winter’s night a traveller, but somebody else had it in their bay just a couple of months ago! Good taste, colleague.

Thanks, everybody! I really appreciate your input 🙂

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7 Responses to What should I recommend?

  1. Russian Magic Tales, edited by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler!

    • Lydia says:

      Ooh, tempting. I’ve already got a fairy-tale collection on my list (Angela Carter’s Virago Book of Fairy Tales, but this is going on my personal reading list anyway – I don’t know many Russian fairy-tales, and this looks like a collection with a difference. Thanks for the recommendation!

      • Anne Marie says:

        Another favourite is The Year of the Hare, by Arto Paasilinna. It’s a translation of a translation, though – from Finnish via French. For animal lovers, it is a must read!

  2. Anne Marie says:

    And how could I forget – recently published by Pushkin Press: The Spectre of Alexander Wolf, by Gaito Gazdanov, tr from Russian by Bryan Karetnyk. Gazdanov is one of the Russian emigre writers who has recently been rediscovered. The Spectre of Alexander Wolf is a gripping psychological novel.

  3. Kerry says:

    My Favourite Ever Book Of All Time is Tam Lin by Pamela Dean, although helpfully I’m not sure whether it’s still in print or not. It was out for a bit, then back in, so I hope it’s still properly in.

    • Lydia says:

      Hmm. I checked on our database and it looks as if it’s not currently distributed in the UK, which means I can’t have it as a Staff Pick 😦 I’ll look out for it for myself though – I’m always interested in fairy-tale-inspired stories, and it being your Favourite Ever Book Of All Time is quite an endorsement!

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