Book Swap: 2013 Edition

In 2011, Teresa and I started what’s turned into one of our favorite annual traditions: giving each other five book recommendations to read during the coming year. Some of them have been books we’ve been badgering the other person to read for years; some of them have been blue-sky recommendations that we just know the other person will love. And so far, we’ve had remarkable success: every single book has been a minor or major hit. (We do have the advantage of a twenty-plus year book-loving friendship, but still, that’s a pretty good batting average.) With no more than a drum roll, here are our choices for this year!

Jenny’s Picks for Teresa:

1. The Bird in the Tree by Elizabeth Goudge

2. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

3. Song of the Dodo by David Quammen

4. Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin

5. It by Stephen King

Teresa’s Picks for Jenny

1. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

2. The Book of Night Women by Marlon James

3. A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin

4. The Children’s Book by AS Byatt

5. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Teresa: Ha! I totally knew there’d be some Nabokov on your list for me. It was just a question of which one. And I had a feeling about Elizabeth Goudge, as well as It. I took a couple of Goudge books out of the library last year but never did read them, and I had every intention of reading It last year but didn’t get to it. I’ve been wanting to try Laurie Colwin—Another Marvelous Thing is on my shelf—and I’ve wanted to read more David Quammen since enjoying Monster of God several years ago. This looks like a great list, and I’m looking forward to them all!

Jenny: After seeing The End of the Affair hit your all-time best list for this year, I had a feeling it would make your list for me, too. I can’t wait to read it and discuss it with you — I love Graham Greene. And I was like you with The Children’s Book last year — I had every intention of reading it, but I didn’t quite get to it. Now I will! The one surprise for me is Life of Pi. That’s been hovering on the edge of my radar ever since it came out, but I don’t even really know much about it, and I certainly didn’t know you were a fan. Now that I do, I’m excited to read it, and all the rest of them. Let the turning of pages begin!

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19 Responses to Book Swap: 2013 Edition

  1. Teresa says:

    The Life of Pi is probably the riskiest one on this list. I read it when it came out and liked the story a lot but was conflicted about aspects of it—and I’ve gone back and forth about it ever since. The release of the movie reminded me of how good it was. Overall, it’s a fun read, and an interesting one, and I can’t wait to know what you think.

    • Jenny says:

      I’m looking forward to it. Seeing the trailer for the movie told me that I know absolutely nothing about the book. I think I thought it was something about mathematics. :)

  2. Laurie C says:

    Interesting and varied lists! I love Laurie Colwin but it’s been so long since I read her books. I’m almost afraid to reread them because I loved them so much.

    • Jenny says:

      Don’t be afraid! I felt the same way, but I recently re-read Family Happiness (my favorite of hers) and it was just as wonderful as I’d remembered. They hold up wonderfully to re-reading. She remains one of my favorite novelists.

  3. Danielle says:

    I love this idea–it sounds like fun and a nice way of reading something you might not otherwise, but might very well love in the end! Happy reading!

    • Jenny says:

      It can be risky, because I give Teresa books I love so much, and what if she doesn’t like them? But by this time, I trust her absolutely. If she thinks I’m going to like something, I’m definitely going to like it.

  4. Alex says:

    I’m not so sure about Teresa’s task but Jenny, I really envy you having the Greene and the Byatt to read for the first time. I shall be fascinated to see what you make of them.

    • Jenny says:

      I’m completely confident I’m going to love them. They’re both authors I’ve loved for years, and these are books I’ve wanted to read. I’m so pleased Teresa is giving me the needed nudge to get there.

  5. Simon T says:

    I do love seeing these lists! This is the first one, I think, where I’ve read nothing at all that’s been suggested. Sorry if I’ve missed it, but did you do a round-up of how last year’s list was received?

    • Jenny says:

      I don’t think we exactly did a roundup, but we did respond to each of the books as we read them. I think Teresa really liked all of hers with the possible exception of A Girl of the Limberlost (Stratton-Porter remains a favorite of mine, and I was very surprised at the strong negative reaction to her in the comments, but no author can be for everyone!) and I loved all five of mine, especially the Flannery O’Connor.

      • Teresa says:

        I liked all of mine quite a lot. It took me a while to warm up to The Girl of the Limberlost–I think it’s better to read for the first time when you’re young–but it won me over in the end.

  6. Pingback: Blog Posting Wordpress Book Swap: 2013 Edition | Shelf Love | Blog Posting Wordpress

  7. Kristen M. says:

    I’ve only read one of these (Life of Pi) so I’ll be waiting for your reviews. Although, I will hopefully also get to The Children’s Book this year. It’s starting to collect dust on my shelf!

    • Jenny says:

      I’m really looking forward to that one! I actually had it planned for December of 2012, but I did not get a single book read that I planned for December. Just too busy. Fresh start in 2013!

  8. Ooh, Ira Levin. I loved that one – addictively chilling. The book swap is a great idea, and a lovely demonstration of what is obviously a long and (importantly!) trusting reading friendship. Good luck, and Happy New Year to you both!

  9. What a fun idea! I have a friend whose taste I can usually guess. Maybe I can get her do to a swap with me. :)

  10. Iris says:

    I read Life of Pi when I was much younger (both in years and in reading taste). I remember loving it then, but I cannot quite decide what I would think about it nowadays. I fear I might not be as impressed. And because of that fear I have decided not to return to it for now, because I like the memory of loving it so much back then.

    I have the Children’s Book on my list for Long-Awaited Reads Month and I hope to read The Book of NIght Women this year as well.

    I hope both of you enjoy your lists!

  11. boardinginmyforties says:

    Jenny wants Teresa to read It? I can’t wait to hear Teresa’s thoughts. Be ready to be afraid, very afraid, of clowns from now on ! ;)

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