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Ask a Bookseller: Becky from Blackwell's Oxford

Bookshops are the very best places to go for book recommendations – and booksellers are the friendliest, most knowledgeable of readers!

Becky from Blackwell's in Oxford has joined us to answer your questions and share her favourite picks.

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Becky from Blackwell's Oxford

What makes Blackwell's Oxford a great place to visit?

"Blackwell's on Broad Street is a treasure-trove with four floors, including the expansive Norrington Room, brimming with academic and non-fiction texts. Nestled between Trinity College and the New Weston Library, Blackwell's is an Oxford landmark having existed in this spot for over 140 years. From the Café on the first floor you can look across to the Sheldonian whilst you peruse your latest purchase or why not take a trip to the second floor to wonder at our rare books collection. However, I think the best reason to visit is the expertise and passion provided by our booksellers who will endeavour to match you with your new favourite book." - Becky

Can you recommend a cosy, heart-warming book for when you're feeling overwhelmed with life and don't have the heart for anything too sad or dark? My favourite comfort reads are Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones and The Prince and The Dressmaker by Jen Wang. I've re-read them quite a few times and would love something new. – Bethany

Hi Bethany. I would recommend any book by Becky Chambers! Especially her latest novella A Psalm for the Wild-Built. Her stories are always tender and heart-warming and whilst they are speculative fiction, they are deeply rooted in the characters and their relationship with one another. Similarly In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan brought me a lot of joy and is a coming of age story about love and friendship set in a school for mythical creatures.

A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers

My 12-year-old boy was stuck on Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He loves Onjali Q. Rauf as they are stories about real world characters. Was going to look at Malorie Blackman – any other authors we should look at? Thank you. – Frances

Hi Frances. I would recommend Jason Reynolds' children's books such as Ghost or if he likes the illustrative style of Diary of a Wimpy Kid then go for Stuntboy: In the Meantime. I would also recommend Twitch by M.G. Leonard for a real word adventure and The Summer I Robbed A Bank by David Doherty for something a little bit wilder with lots of laughs.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

I am looking to start some reading in the fantasy genre but it is a little daunting and I was wondering where a good place to start is? – Sarah

Hi Sarah. I am so glad you have decided to embark upon some fantasy novels! V.E. Schwab is a great place to start and I would recommend A Darker Shade of Magic. I would also recommend Naomi Novik's Scholomance trilogy for a dark academia take on Harry Potter. Once you have found your feet do check out The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and The Priory of The Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon.

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab

I love Greek mythology and have really enjoyed reading new interpretations of different myths. What are the best books and retellings of other cultures' myths? – Anna

Hi Anna. I too am also a sucker for a myth retelling. American Gods by Neil Gaiman blends mythology from multiple cultures and is fantastic. I'd also recommend Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James which draws on African mythologies and is an epic fantasy with an ancient setting but modern themes. Finally, Daughter of The Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan is a gorgeous story inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess.

Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marion James

What would you recommend to someone who previously was reading pretty much just fantasy and sci-fi, but has recently been trying to expand into more general adult fiction. I have been especially enjoying magical realism and translated fiction, for example I have become a huge fan of Haruki Murakami. – Jessica

Hi Jessica. I have recently read and adored Klara and The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro and I think it walks the line of contemporary literary fiction and science-fiction beautifully. If you enjoy magical realism you will love The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern and another excellent piece of Japanese fiction is Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern


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