One of the great pleasures of having other bookish friends is sharing book recommendations. Swapping books has been a huge part of Jenny’s and my friendship since we first met in college. I can’t tell you how many books and authors Jenny has brought to my attention, and I’ve pushed plenty into her path over the years.
When I noticed that several bloggers were trading book lists this year, I immediately thought of Jenny and how much fun we would have choosing books for each other to read this year. Jenny agreed, and we eagerly plunged into making our lists. We agreed to select five books, using each other’s TBR lists as inspiration, but not necessarily as a limitation. Sometime during the year, we will each make every effort to read and review the five books selected. So, without further ado, here are our picks:
Teresa’s Picks for Jenny
- The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
- Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
- On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
- The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
- Sea of Poppies by Amitov Ghosh
Jenny’s Picks for Teresa
- Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian
- To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
- Little, Big by John Crowley
- Amsterdam by Ian McEwan
- The World at Night by Alan Furst
Jenny: I knew — I knew — that there would be Hardy on your list for me. It feels like a Christmas present! Since I loved Far From the Madding Crowd, I’ve been longing to go back to your favorite author for seconds. And how funny that we both chose an Ian McEwan! But a couple of these are surprises, too: Sea of Poppies, for instance.
Just so you know, I dithered for a long time about choosing a couple of nonfiction books for this list. I had Song of the Dodo by David Quammen in the number five position for ages, and I also strongly considered The Great Game by Peter Hopkirk, especially since you’ve read The Game by Laurie King. But in the end, I went with all novels.
Teresa: Of course there had to be a Thomas Hardy! The question was just which one. I wavered between Return of the Native and Mayor of Casterbridge, but I think you’d be more likely to enjoy Native. And I think you’ll enjoy Sea of Poppies. I did waver between that and Small Island by Andrea Levy but went with the Ghosh because a multicultural sea-faring adventure seems like a Jenny book to me! And the sequel is being published later this year, so it’s a good time to give it a try.
I totally called it on the Connie Willis. I was already planning on reading To Say Nothing of the Dog this year, but I knew you’d put it on your list, just to make sure. Ditto on Master and Commander. The surprise for me is the Alan Furst. Because of your enthusiasm, I’ve had him on my radar for a while, but I hadn’t made any definite plans to read him. The Quammen and the Hopkirk would have been good options as well. But there’s always next year!
Jenny: Oh, yes, next year [maniacal laughter]! This year I chose almost all genre fiction, partly by chance (these are books I’ve been wanting you to read for a long time, as you know) and partly because that’s just fun. But next year, who knows? Well, I can’t wait to dig into these, and I also can’t wait to hear what you think of the ones I chose for you. We know each other pretty well, and I think we are both going to love what we have in store. Happy New Year, for both of us!