Finding a book that fits your exact reading taste or mood is one of the best feelings for a book lover— second only to finding another book lover who has the same reading taste as you!
Now if only you could condense that feeling into a monthly book subscription…
One of our strengths at St Ives Bookseller is how different we all are, and whilst there are titles we all enjoy we each tend to stray into very different niches. The joy of this means that between us we can usually find the right book for almost any reader, but it’s particularly fun when we get to recommend within our wheelhouse and share the books that we are especially excited about. With all that in mind, we have joined with our sister shop in Falmouth to create Bookseller’s Bookshelf!
What it is:
Bookseller’s Bookshelf is a new subscription service that will allow you to sign up based on a particular bookseller’s ‘shelf’. Upon signing up you will be offered the choice of three titles for the first month (or we’ll pick randomly for you), and then it will be a monthly surprise. Sometimes these titles will be new releases, but often they will be older books that we want to give a chance to shine.
Each of us has spent some time considering how to define our individual reading tastes. Our personal categories have been curated to include the themes that we naturally gravitate towards and the stories that stick out as the epitome of our little niche. Hopefully you’ll find a bookish kindred spirit in one of us, and we can share our most-loved reads with you.
We’ll also be offering a Top Shelf Only option, which means we’ll randomly choose one of our books for you each month instead of sticking to the same bookseller’s shelf for the duration of your subscription. If you’d like a specific starting book from the options we’ve laid out in each category then just let us know – otherwise we’ll pick that randomly too!
How it works:
– Take a look at how we have each defined our personal bookshelves
– Choose the bookseller who’s taste most aligns with your reading preferences
– Pick your starting title (or we’ll choose for you)
– Choose your subscription length, payment, and postage options
– Prepare your TBR pile for some fabulous mystery books!
The Bookseller’s Bookshelves
Ron’s Bookshelf: Strands Of Truth Through Time
Most of my reading gravitates to non-fiction so it’s no surprise my fiction tastes lean that way too. I am of the generation to whom World War II doesn’t feel so far in the past and it is a major theme in a lot of the books I enjoy the most, although not solely this part of history. Each book takes a different person, event, or idea and writes the story in a new and interesting way so that no two books are the same.
Whilst I wouldn’t call my choices quite ‘faction’ I tend to look for books that provide a rich historical backstory and feel like stepping into another time without the text being too esoteric or dense to be enjoyable. A strong historical setting creates a backdrop for a moving story to be told, weaving strands of truth into the fiction. For a lot of us escapism is what we look for in reading and that’s certainly true for me but I always like them to still remain in the realms of possibility such as Murakami’s fish raining from the sky… this has actually happened!
Haruki Murakami’s work is often described as ‘easily accessible, yet profoundly complex’ and this is a theme that encapsulates the books I read well.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
The Romantic by William Boyd
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Alice’s Bookshelf: Myth, Magic & Ancient Worlds
I have always loved tales of myth and folklore – my dad read me Beowulf and Arthurian legends as bedtime stories and growing up in Cornwall with its own legends how could I not – so if there is magic, great storytelling and (usually) a clever, feisty heroine involved you’ll find me reading it!
These could be ‘fairytales for grown-ups’ with quests and adventures or retellings of ancient myths and characters. Some will have more or less of a fantasy/magical element but still have that escapist quality which could place you in the snowy wilds of Russia, the besieged city of Troy or onboard a middle-eastern pirate ship. There will be strong characters who find their own way out of a problem, sometimes just surviving the adventure will be the main plot or a romance might be sprinkled in too, because why not?
So think Greek, Russian, Norse, Celtic inspired tales filled with mermaids, demons, fairies, clairvoyants, gods and goddesses and great stories to escape into!
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
Georgia’s bookshelf: Haphazard & Eclectic
My reading can be a bit all over the place, but the one thing I (and everyone in the shop) can guarantee is that I’ll always have a fun fact ready from my latest non-fiction book! I love learning new things about obscure parts of history (especially medical history) or just deep dives into subjects that people are extremely passionate about.
The Facemaker by Lindsey Fitzharris
Humankind by Rutger Bregman
Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker
Julia’s bookshelf: More Than Just Gore
Psychological thrillers, crime, whatever you like to call them… They create an environment where you are left guessing at people’s actions and motives. This and how they deal with trauma makes you question your own self and how you would react. Sometimes scary, sometimes shocking but always exciting!
I love them, they are perfect for the dark nights and snuggling up safely under a blanket.
Choose your first book from:
A Gift for Dying by MJ Arlidge
Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer
Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay
Eloise’s bookshelf: Travel The World & Shatter Your Heart
I grew up abroad surrounded by friends from all over the world, and with them came stories and experiences rich in history and culture which took me far beyond my own family’s heritage. It was a joy, and I now realise a privilege too, to have such a broad exposure to the world. Since moving back to the UK I continue to seek out stories from anywhere that isn’t here; I love learning about the world and history we aren’t taught in school or in the news. Often this history is challenging, thought-provoking and comes with big emotions.
There’s no pretending the books I read are light-hearted or ‘nice’ but they also aren’t bleak, they are honest and searching, dappled with love and life. If you want a book that really makes you think and feel deeply – that is also likely to rip your heart out and shatter you, then my bookshelf is for you.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Maisie’s bookshelf: Spirited & Immersive Tales
In the immortal words of my longtime love Jo March: I like good strong words that mean something.
I love a novel that masterfully weaves a complex narrative, shifting smoothly from one chapter to the next crafting a world that feels three-dimensional and believable. I like to see multifaceted protagonists with strong motivations who deal with interesting conflicts, make mistakes and grow from them. (And let’s be honest – to make it onto my shelf they’re usually feisty women who do the absolute most, and then let themselves cry about it.)
I’m a bit of a genre-hopper, so whilst there’s definitely a strong fantasy pull with most of the books I adore (I’ll read anything if there’s a dragon in it) I’m not totally averse to reality. This leads me to enjoying contemporary stories with a twist, fiery reimaginings of historical tales, and vividly crafted universes of magic both free and forbidden.
If magical prose and colourful characters sound like your thing, then come and explore with me!
Circe by Madeline Miller
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Rebecca’s bookshelf: Reflective Perspectives
It’s difficult to define the books I would put on my ‘favourite’ bookshelf shelfie, but I have found that they all happen to be by women authors and they all happen to be American. The action tends to revolve around the characters and their relationships to each other. I like simple stories that have been told well, sometimes short and concise like Elizabeth Strout or sprawling epics like Barbara Kingsolver.
Family life, comic and/or tragic, is the primary theme. Since I also have a hankering for a good crime novel, a book with a sudden twist or unexpected turn also grabs me, as well as a tragedy that can sometimes be hard in topic but beautifully written. The characters can be complicated, and not always admirable but usually one can find something in them that is reflected in ourselves.
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Kayleigh’s bookshelf: No Plot Just Vibes
I’m just going to say it – I love odd books. Anything remotely strange, twisted & modern, I’m there. My bookshelf is the epitome of ‘no plot, just vibes’: I love reading spirals of feminist rage, dysfunctional relationships and all-around sad girl strangeness.
I am definitely also into translated fiction and I like to broaden my horizons and find new perspectives. If you fancy something strange and wonderfully weird, then you’ve come to the right place!
My Year of Rest & Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Pisces by Melissa Broder
Megan’s bookshelf: Cosy Seasonal Romance
If a book can make me feel as warm as a cup of coffee from Luke’s Diner (if you know, you know) then it’s going straight onto my bookshelf. Bonus points if there’s some slow-burn romance, glorious female friendships, and a cat of some description.
My reading tastes are wholeheartedly influenced by the vibes of the season: I am a sucker for a summery romance that you can pair with an aperol spritz and a day at the beach, but will also happily grab a cosy witchy novel and retreat to my bed with a blanket and a pumpkin spice scented candle on a rainy afternoon.
If your go-to book themes are sunshiney love, whimsical witchy romance, and small town cosiness, we might just be bookish soulmates!
The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
Top Shelf Only: The best of the bunch
Can’t decide? Sign up for our Top Shelf Only subscription – each month, you’ll receive a title randomly selected from one of our bookseller shelf options for an ever-changing supply of fantastic books.
If you’d like to opt for a specific first book from the options we’ve already laid out then let us know, otherwise we’ll choose that for you randomly too! Equally, let us know if there’s a particular title/niche you don’t want to receive.