WSIRN Ep 34: Books that marry fiction and reality with Rose Booth

WSIRN Ep 34: Books that marry fiction and reality with Rose Booth

It's Tuesday, which means a new episode of What Should I Read Next!

Our guest today is Rose Booth, a technology merchandising director and cinephile who sometimes "feels like she's dating books." Rose loves female protagonists who flout convention and books where reality meets fiction, but she's also eager to fall in love with titles from one popular genre that she hasn't had any luck with—yet.

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You can catch up with Rose online at Rosie's Reviews, Ruminations & Reflections, as well as her Twitter and Instagram. Plus, friend her on Goodreads to see if she ends up liking today's recommendations!

Books discussed in this episode: 

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• Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Harry Potter audiobooks, by J. K. Rowling and narrated by Jim Dale
The Help by Kathrynn Stockett
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend
The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
• The 
Cormoran Strike series by J. K. Rowling, beginning with The Cuckoo’s Calling 
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
The Time in Between by Maria Duenas
My Brilliant Friend by 
Elena Ferrante

Also mentioned in this episode:

• Pushing Daisies (TV show), also narrated by Jim Dale!
Book of the Month Club (get 30% off your first 3 months plus a free tote bag with the code 30TOTE)




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Do YOU have an idea for what Rose should read next? Tell us in comments!

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  1. Jolynne says:

    Fantasy option – N.K. Jemisin’s, The Fifth Season, Book #1 from the Broken Earth Series. The first African American woman to win a Hugo (2016 best novel). I am half way through the second book in the series The Obelisk Gate.

  2. I was kind of surprised by the recommendations on this episode, because I don’t really think of any of those as fantasy. But I read a lot from the genre, so maybe I’m biased. Like Anne, I think the best ideas for you will be books with a historical/cultural approach in a fantasy world. Some commenters have recommended A Discovery of Witches, which I would second. Also, you might want to try The Hobbit if you’ve never read it! Unlike the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which gets into magic and war and such, this reads more like a historical adventure story with fantasy races and creatures in place of real ones. Good luck!

  3. Beth says:

    If you want a fantasy series that can also capture your heart, try books by Melanie Rawn. They are older, so I am not sure how available they are, but they are worth looking for. They are different series, I loved the Dragon Prince series best. You won’t have to marry a werewolf, but you might fall in love with a dragon!

  4. Rachel says:

    I meant to comment a lot earlier, but it’s all the way into the beginning of September now so I’m not sure if Rose will even read this! I’m not much into fantasy myself but I accidently stumbled upon Melina Marchetta’s YA fantasy-ish series the “Lumatere Chronicles” and loved it. Not that I have more fantasy reading under my belt to compare these books to, but I’m fairly confident they offer something that most others in the genre don’t. This is fantasy that hasn’t been drowned in clunky, 1000-pages long world-building, this is a book about people. People whose country has been torn into pieces, people who’ve been exiled from their homeland, lost, damaged, and abused, but have never lost hope. It’s a story of a displaced, broken nation that fights to rebuild itself and it’s extraordinary. Anyways I was reminded of the books when I heard Rose say that she just couldn’t get into the genre and thought I’d recommend them.

  5. Evamarie says:

    I just finished reading The Time in Between by Maria Duenas and I felt like there was a huge plot hole near the end. Has anyone read it and want to discuss it with me? Convince me that it’s not a big deal? I loved reading this book, but it seemed like such a glaring omission and I want help to make it one of my most favorite books! Please?!

  6. Victoria says:

    I’m really late to post…because I only just found this awesome podcast and have been catching up with past episodes. I love the podcast and have already read The Forgotten Garden (Kate Morton) and am starting The Shoemaker’s Wife….
    I enjoyed Outlander, but gave up after book 4! Whilst I was listening to your suggestions I couldn’t stop thinking about another great historical and time travel book that I loved. It’s The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope – one of the few books that I kept hold of for a second reading. Highly recommended page turner and great history!
    Thanks also for the new ideas I’ve found on these comments – I now have such a long list of books to read!

  7. Casey says:

    I second the recommendation for N.K. Jemisin’s, The Fifth Season, because she is such an incredible writer. The book is set in a different world and there is some magic, but it’s not at all Harry Potter-ish or swords and sorcerers. There is a lot of exploration about the meaning of family. It’s beautiful.
    I also like Naomi Novik’s Uprooted for someone new to fantasy. It is set on the border of Poland and Russia and references Baba Yaga, so it has more of a folklore feel to it.
    And I cannot recommend fantasy without talking about Brandon Sanderson, especially to a person of faith. His novel The Way of Kings was the only book that nearly everyone in my very diverse sci-fi/fantasy book club rated 9 or 10 stars out of 10. Sanderson is a PROLIFIC writer and he’s hitting his stride here. It is intimidating at 1000 pages, but you could also start with Mistborn at a mere 500 pages. He has a way of weaving magic and theology and human relationships that just works.

    • Sean Durity says:

      I would second the recommendation of Brandon Sanderson for fantasy readers. He breaks the current popular mold of grim, gritty, dark fantasy. For me, it hearkens back to the fun, epic fantasy I read as teen. His worlds are interesting, different, and rich, including varieties of faith and religion. And there is a larger backstory connecting most of his worlds (the cosmere). Mistborn is a good place to start – even the premises are fascinating. However, there are already 5 Mistborn books (6th on the way.) I would suggest Warbreaker as a single volume start: well-drawn female leads, an interesting world that is not extremely vast, a mystery with twists, clever dialogue, and an intriguing magic system. I did love Way of Kings, though. I have the second book, and I am looking forward to diving in – just holding off a bit since I know book 3 is due out in November .

      • Casey says:

        Oh, interesting – I haven’t read Warbreaker! Sanderson has just written so many things that I haven’t gotten to them all yet. It amazes me how he thinks up so many different magic systems.
        The cool thing about Mistborn is that he was trying to write an Ocean’s Eleven-style caper set in a fantasy world, and I think he pulled it off. The second set of Mistoborn books (Wax and Wayne) are the funniest thing I’ve read of his (although I hear the Alcatraz books are pretty funny too). The Wax and Wayne books are in a Western setting, which is cool. Same world, but decades later than the original 3 Mistborn books, which were set in the “Industrial Revolution”.
        I forgot to mention Patrick Rothfuss, who is just an amazing storyteller. He’d better be, since he takes YEARS just to revise each of his books to perfection. Start with The Name of the Wind. This one seems like it might be Harry Potter-ish since it revolves around an orphan going to magic school, but the school is a University, and his exploits are much less innocent and silly.

          • Evamarie says:

            My husband read The Name of the Wind and really enjoyed it. He’s even really into the game Tak that originated from that book. I tried reading it and, like you, I couldn’t get into it. I think maybe there were just too many things or concepts introduced at the beginning with the idea that you’ll figure out what they are eventually. It left me feeling like I had no idea what was going on and not enough incentive to read long enough to figure it out.

  8. Casey says:

    Another good fantasy-for-people-who-don’t-think-they-like-fantasy might be Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. It’s actually the only book of his I’ve read, but it was gorgeous. I listened to the audiobook, which was an excellent choice. He narrates his own audiobooks and has the most delicious British voice.

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