Shuffling of the Shelves: April 2023 Part Two
By Hannah Moore, Melissa Tran, Lucy Shardlow and Mairead Zielinski
Find out what books are topping the charts this month as we return to work after a sun-filled Easter weekend.
Looking at the WHSmiths chart this month, we can see that crime thrillers are as popular as ever. Firstly, we have The Blackbird by Tim Weaver, which has climbed up to number eight in the Top 100 Chart. This book follows fan-favourite investigator David Raker as he looks into the mysterious disappearance of Cate and Aiden Gascoigne, whose “car plunges into a ravine and explodes” (Amazon). Weaver is a Sunday Times bestselling author, and this book has been chosen as a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for 2023. Next, we have Dark Rooms by Lynda La Plante, who is described as “the Queen of Crime Drama” (WHSmith). Dark Rooms is La Plante’s newest crime thriller and follows detective Jane Tennison as she discovers the dark secrets of the Lanark family after a body of a young girl is found on their land. Lastly, we have 1989 by bestselling author Val McDermid. This is the second book in her Allie Burns series and is set ten years after the first novel. Allie is no longer an investigative journalist, yet she is still willing to put her life on the line in order to discover the truth – especially when the crime involves society’s most vulnerable.
In response to its brand-new release, Jamie Oliver’s children’s book Billy and the Giant Adventure is number two on the Amazon Best Seller chart. Best known for his budget-friendly recipes, Jamie Oliver has concocted the perfect friendship story for his children’s fiction debut. Billy and his friends have always known that Waterfall Woods is out of bounds. But after the discovery of a secret passageway, Billy cannot resist the temptation to explore with all of his friends. A story full of magical battles, a long-lost city and one giant rescue mission, this adventure story will have children (and adults) gripped to the edge of their seats. At number three is detective novel The Daughter of Time, written by Josephine Tey – the last that she published in her lifetime. Set in 1951, Inspector Alan Grant becomes obsessed with unravelling one of the most enduring historical mysteries of all time. So, with the help of a young American scholar, Grant sets out to uncover the truth about whether Richard III really is the ogre of legend and Shakespeare’s play.
BookTok has seen a resurgence in popularity of Love in the Big City by Sang Young Park, following BookTokker and Bookstagramer Jack Edwards recommending this title. Edwards describes the book as one that “perfectly matches the vibe of Melodrama by Lorde” and records his thoughts while reading, showing highlighted extracts of the novel. Love in the Big City is a queer, coming-of-age story that shows the student lifestyle in Seoul and the ups and downs of being young people growing up in a city. This is Sang Young Park’s debut novel, which gained its popularity in Korea, before being translated into English by Anton Hur has been longlisted for the International Booker Prize 2022. Jack Edwards’ TikTok has seen lots of other BookTok creators document them reading the novel, creating slideshows of their favourite quotes and also likening the book to singer Lorde’s 2017 sophomore album Melodrama. Lorde is known for creating music with impactful lyrics about love, loss, friendship and the experience of getting older. If that sounds like it’s for you, then maybe join the trend and get reading Love in the Big City by Sang Young Park.
This month's book spotlight is on Romantic Comedy by bestselling author Curtis Sittenfeld. Romantic Comedy is Sittenfeld’s seventh book and is also the Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick for April. The story follows Sally, a sketch writer for a TV comedy show, who is growing increasingly frustrated with all the decidedly mediocre men around her ending up in relationships with gorgeous, successful women. But when sparks begin to fly between her and famous, attractive, guest-host Noah Brewster, she must face being on the flip side of these assumptions. Whilst Sally battles with her inner conflicts, her romance also traverses the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. Within the restraints of lockdown, Sally and Noah fall for each other through email exchange. Sittenfeld expertly crafts this epistolary love story, making it feel alive rather claustrophobic. Romantic Comedy is a sharp and funny examination of female desire that plays cleverly with tried and tested rom-com tropes, resulting in a complex, tender story that is far more than just a romance.