WSIRN Ep 60: The last page can make it or break it (with Melissa Joulwan)

WSIRN Ep 60: The last page can make it or break it (with Melissa Joulwan)

Hello readers, it's the first Tuesday of 2017! What better way to kick off the new year than a new episode of What Should I Read Next? 

We're in for a treat because today’s guest is Melissa Joulwan. If you already know Melissa, and I hope you do, it’s probably as the author of her popular cookbooks and Bogel Family favorites Well Fed, Well Fed 2, and Well Fed Weeknights.  But that’s just the beginning of her bio, which is one of the most interesting I’ve ever read. She’s a retired Roller Girl. Prague is her favorite city. Duran Duran is her favorite band. And her life is also made better by her husband Dave, sports movies, leopard print, lousy truck stop (decaf) coffee, bear crawl, and Jane Eyre.  

Mel calls reading a constant in her life, and her love for books and reading shines through this episode. I think you’re gonna love it.  

(And that photo up top? It's Melissa's Jane Eyre collection. Pre-move, she owned 19 copies. Kindred spirit, anyone?) 

Make sure to check out Mel's website, Well Fed: Ingredients For A Happy Life, read about her books down below, and connect with her on Twitter and Instagram

Mel's cookbooks: 

Well Fed
Well Fed 2
Well Fed Weeknights

Books mentioned in this episode:

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• Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
• The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, by Erik Larson
• Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson
• author Daniel Silva
• author Louise Penny
The Jack Reacher series, by Lee Child
• Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
• The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
• The Lost: The Search for Six of Six Million, by Daniel Mendelsohn
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
Lexicon, by Max Barry
• The Golem & the Jinni, by Helene Wecker
• Sleeping Giants, by Sylvain Neuvel
• The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Cogman
• author Neil Gaiman
• The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón



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  1. Margie says:

    Somehow I got out of order on listening, and I listened to the recommendation from episode 57 immediately before starting episode 60. When you were recommending the Olmsted book in episode 57, I was wondering how you could resist recommending “Devil in the White City” as a companion book because of the World’s Fair linkage. Was so glad to listen to this episode and hear it listed as a favorite.

  2. I am challenging myself to read 10 books I own in the first 3 months of 2017, and The Historian is at the top of my list. It’s been so long since I got it I didn’t even remember what it’s about, so I was excited to hear this recap. And now really excited to read it!

    • Laura says:

      I loved The Historian, I remember posting in the comments for another episode that the guest should read it, and I’m happy to see it on someone’s list!

  3. Jessica LaBello says:

    Mel has GOT TO READ “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” Novel by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. Nazis. Letter correspondence. New love, lost love. And book club. It’s got everything! I can’t remember how I stumbled upon it, but this book became one of my favorites.

  4. Molly says:

    If Mel loves reading about WWII and the Holocaust, I strongly suggest she read The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. I can’t remember how I stumbled upon this book, but I can’t stop thinking about it years after I first read it. It’s a unique look at the Holocaust that I hadn’t been aware of.

  5. Alisa Stanfield says:

    Loved this episode! Mel MUST read the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness!! These are literary “fantasy” books that are feel both modern and historical at the same time. Don’t let the premise of a witch and vampire falling in love scare you off. Harkness is a history professor at USC, and these books are filled with rich detail. They start in modern day times at Oxford University (so vividly described you’ll feel like your there), and then travel back in time to Elizabethan England, etc. The third and final novel is partially set in Prague!! and involves a golem!
    Start with book one A Discovery of Witches. These novels have everything Mel says she loves, and are extremely well written.

    • Alisa Stanfield says:

      Ugh, excuse the typos and misspellings above. Was so excited to write this I didn’t proofread before submitting.

  6. Cara Von Tress says:

    I was so excited to hear Mel speak about “The Lost.” I read it a couple of years ago, and it was incredibly fascinating/moving/thoughtful.

  7. Natalie Renick says:

    What was the version of Jane Eyre that Mel talked about? The version that had tons of footnotes? I’d love to read it.

  8. Laura says:

    This episode was EVERYTHING to me! Not only did it come out on my birthday but I connected with Melissa!

    My favorites are not her favorites but her favorites are also some of my beloved books and her “also” highly adored books are also some of my highly adored books!
    So of course, the books you recommended her go straight to mt TBR as if they had been recommended for me!

    I’ve been meaning to read Jane Eyre forever, its on my wish list at the library. I absolutely LOVED The Historian, so I’m wondering if Melissa has tried her other book The Swan Thieves, which is also on my TBR. She also mentioned Shadow of the Wind (love love love), Anne Frank (who doesn’t like this?) and The Book Thief (which I must say, I do remember enjoying immensely but having some trouble with the heavy use metaphors in this one.

    The Goldfinch is on my TBR and after listening to this episode I’m now probably gonna push it further and further back, as I’m very hesitant to read it now.

    Louise Penny is on my TBR, and now I feel I need to add Lee Child and Daniel Silva to my TBR as well.

  9. JoLene says:

    Loved this episode as I’ve been a fan of Melissa for a long time — we use her recipes on a regular basis.

    Thanks for the recommendation of Sleeping Giants. I just finished it — at about 1 am — it was a lot of fun in a creepy way.

    One recommendation that I would have would be the series by Alan Furst. You don’t have to read in order, but there are some re-occurring characters. The setting is Europe just prior to break out of WWII (some may go into the beginning of the war) and focus on the spies and resistance activities going on. They are very atomospheric and immersive reads.

  10. JoLene says:

    I thought of another book….the Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Revertez. It’s a mystery about books with a dual story line. I would also recommend The Eight by Katherine Neville.

  11. Diane says:

    Hi. Great podcast.
    On Mystery/Detective genre I just finished Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear. Just before WW1 in Britain. There are at least 5 books in the series. Extremely interesting and well-written.
    Enjoy Prague!

  12. Shelly says:

    I just discovered this amazing podcast through a recommendation from a member of my book club. I loved all the books in Mel’s favorites. I would recommend City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte. It takes place in Prague!It has time travel (of sorts), history, a mystery, and a supernatural slant. I’d also recommend The People of the Book. A book about a book that takes place across centuries and cultures.

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