In an occasional series, we’ll be catching up with various British authors and finding out about their books and their reading lives. This week, we hear from Cathy Rentzenbrink, whose latest book and first novel Everyone Is Still Alive has just come out.

You can buy it here whether you’re in the UK, the US, or anywhere else in the world, and it’s even signed!

Please tell us a bit about you and your latest book.

I’ve been trying to write a novel almost all of my life so am delighted to have finally managed it at the age of 48. It is called Everyone is Still Alive and is about a group of families living on the same street who are all juggling and struggling with the strains and stresses of modern life. I’m loving seeing the first responses from readers come in and especially happy when people say they are laughing on one page and crying on the next.

What’s the last book you fell in love with and haven’t stopped thinking about and recommending?

I’m a big fan of Colin Grant’s memoirs and have just finished his latest book Homecoming which is an oral history of people who came from the West Indies to England with huge hope and excitement and then were shocked by both the actual weather and the frostiness of their reception. It feels like an essential insight to a period of recent history and is full of kindness, humour and joy, too. The cover is a work of art.

What’s the last book you bought for someone else (and why)?

My husband hasn’t read fiction for years but reading my novel put him in the mood – hurray! – and he asked me to recommend him something. He fancied some historical fiction; high quality but not too difficult. I bought him March Violets which is the first of Philip Kerr’s Berlin Noir novels. I absolutely love that series about wise-cracking detective Bernie Gunther who is trying to navigate solving crimes in Berlin in the run up to the Second World War without getting himself killed by the increasingly powerful Nazis.

What’s the last book someone gave you? 

My friend Grace gave me Love in Colour by Bolu Babalola for my birthday and I loved it. It is short stories based on myths and fairy tales. Very clever and absorbing and a perfect birthday treat. I was enthralled from the very first paragraph which is about love and ends with this: ‘Love enriches the world we inhabit.’

What’s on your bedside table to read next? 

I’m completely obsessed by Persephone books who bring forgotten books back into print. I visited their new shop in Bath recently and bought a book written by the founder Nicola Beauman called A Very Great Profession: The Woman’s Novel from 1914 – 1939. I doubt there could be a book that is more up my street and I can’t wait to dive in.

If you’re an author who’d like to tell us about your Five Books, drop me a line at with the subject line FIVE BOOKS. Priority will be given to those from a BAME background.