WSIRN Ep 63: Books so good you’ll forget you have a phone

WSIRN Ep 63: Books so good you’ll forget you have a phone

Hello readers, it's Tuesday again! That means a fresh episode of What Should I Read Next. 

Today I’m happy to welcome Elise Blaha Cripe on to the show, who you may know as the creative professional behind the Get to Work Book planner, her podcast Elise Gets Crafty, her blog, and her beautiful instagram account @elisejoy. Most importantly, Elise is one of those people who can’t NOT talk about books—who loves to be reading, and loves to share what she reads. Today we talk about Elise’s love of big, thick books, the three places she gets her book recommendations, and how the true sign of a great book is if it makes Elise forget she owns a phone.

Visit Elise at her website, and connect with her on Instagram & Goodreads.

Books mentioned in this episode:

Some links are affiliate links, which means at no extra cost to you, you support what we do here on What Should I Read Next. More details here.

• The Time Traveller’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
• Love Minus Eighty, by Will McIntosh
• Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch
• Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
• When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
Last Night In Montreal, by Emily St. John Mandel
• Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande
• Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
• The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
• The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green
• I Let You Go, by Clare Mackintosh
• You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott
• Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein
• The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell
• Cutting For Stone, by Abraham Verghese
• The Versions of Us, by Laura Barnett
• The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress, by Ariel Lawhon
• Every Anxious Wave, by Mo Daviau
• 11/22/63, by Stephen King

Also discussed: 

• Megan Abbot: "The 'Girl' In The Title: More Than A Marketing Trend" via NPR
• Cup of Jo on "When Breath Becomes Air"
• Books On The Nightstand podcast
• Sliding Doors (movie)

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44 comments

  1. Time travel is in my wheelhouse! All the books recommended are now on my TBR list and are ones I have never heard of. I loved Life After Life by Kate Atkinson as well. Different versions of a life over time if you haven’t read it.
    Thanks for the great episode.

  2. Kimberly Sherman says:

    Anne this was such an awesome episode! I can’t wait to read The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress and Code Name Verity. Thank you for all of the wonderful recommendations. You mentioned Booktopia — are there any other bookish events you would recommend for anyone who just loves good books?!?

  3. Kathleen says:

    Based on her love of Station Eleven, I have to recommend The Passage by Justin Cronin – it’s another one where you get both the fall of humanity and the story of what happens years later. I just read it this month and can’t stop thinking about it. Plus it’s the first in a trilogy, so if you like it, you get 2 more bonus books! 🙂

    • Renee says:

      I loved the Passage (the whole trilogy really). It’s good to hear it related to Station Eleven — I tried to read that, but then it got shunted to the bottom of the stack. I’ll have to pick it back up.

    • Teresa Weber says:

      I am with her. ☝️I just finished The Passage. I couldn’t put it down. I also loved The Stand by Stephen King. It is on my all time favorites list. I think you would enjoy it if you liked Station Eleven. It is a hefty book but so worth the effort.

  4. Ani says:

    I wouldn’t considered You Will Know Me as YA (but would highly encourage fans of YA or teens looking for something meatier to read it!). Hopefully Elise enjoyed it and I would love to hear what she thought.

    Though it wasn’t for me, Lilac Girls would be another book to look into if you’re a fan of The Nightingale.

    If you aren’t a fan of YA but want to read some FANTASTIC YA, I recommend Gayle Forman (If I Stay, Just One Day). Her YA novels are really moving and definitely feel authentic.

  5. Libby says:

    I got You Will Know Me in my book of the month club box, too! I can’t wait to crack into it.
    Every Anxious Wave sounds like a great book for my husband and I to get on Audible and listen to on our road trip next month. He loves time travel and I love a story about a regular Joe happening upon something life changing. 😀

  6. Renee says:

    I also adore the Time Traveller’s Wife and Dark Matter, and 11/22/63, so I’m so excited to add more time travel books (Actually, A Wrinkle in Time is my all time favorite, I guess I just love wormholes!). I loved the Passage as well, and the description of Love Minus 80 reminded me a little of Ready Player One, but it does have a bit of YAish romance… I also thought of Lilac Girls, or Mischling (though that’s a lot darker, I felt).

    Thanks for another wonderful episode! They really brighten my Tuesday mornings 🙂

  7. Kim says:

    If you enjoy books like The Nightingale, you should definitely check out Lilac Girls. I listened to the audiobook version of Lilac Girls recently and it was amazing. I finished listening weeks ago and I just keep thinking about the story. 🙂

  8. Melanie says:

    I wonder with Elise would like What the Dog Saw. It’s an older time-travel book that’s technically sci-fi but totally accessible to non-sci-fi readers like myself. I read it years ago so I don’t remember all of the details, but I do remember it being full of witty humor and good writing.

  9. Rachel says:

    I enjoyed this episode so much. Station Eleven and The Nightingale were two of my favorite reads this year. The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson, is my recommendation for Elise, I actually liked this better than the Nightingale, it was full of likable characters and the story was well delivered, it had a satisfying ending.

  10. Anne says:

    I second the recommendation of The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. I listened to the audio version this past fall and Fiona Hardingham brought the story to life.

  11. Denise says:

    Loved this conversation! I’ve followed Elise on her blog and Instagram for years, and now I will be following you! Excited for my morning walks while I catch up on your podcast…yay books!

  12. Sarah says:

    This is probably my favorite episode ever! I think that Elise is my reading twin and I want to read all the books mentioned!

  13. Brandyn says:

    I really thought Anne’s YA rec was going to be “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng. That was a short dense novel that I did not think read like YA. The writing is beautiful, there’s a mystery, but mostly it’s a study of family relationships and communication (or lack there of).

  14. JoLene says:

    If you liked Dark Matter, I recommend A Thousand Pieces of You. It is marked as YA, but the main character home-schooled and interacts with grad students, so that aspect just made it feel like she was a “new adult” which I think is the new phrase.

    For time travel/thriller, I would recommend River of No Return.

  15. Rachel says:

    Hi, Anne!

    I also started Code Name Verity and had to put it down. Does it get any less dismal? Is the ending worth how it starts?

    Thanks! It was a great show this week.

    • Kathleen says:

      Because of the subject matter being WWII, I would say it is a truly heartbreaking story- there’s no way around that; but it’s so beautifully done that I find myself thinking about it often – I consider it one of the best books I read last year!

      • Rachel says:

        Does the constant hardship in the prison ever stop? I think I could get through the rest if I knew the greuling parts of the book weren’t going on for the whole thing.

  16. William Higgins says:

    Another great podcast that was obviously made just for me. The Time Traveler’s Wife is one of my all time favorites too and I already have Station Eleven on my table ready as my next read. Since I also have always enjoyed stories dealing with time travel or alternate lives, I’ll be checking out all three of your suggestions as well as Dark Matter. And so many good suggestions here in the comments! Thanks Anne and everybody. So glad I found you (I’ve been with you since episode 11).

  17. Sue Smith says:

    Hey Anne–
    I have a question/challenge for you…would you consider topical discussions for future podcast episodes? For example…I have a mother with Alzheimer’s Disease living in a wonderful dementia-care facility nearby me and my family (seven kids plus wonderful husband). My 2 sisters live far away, so I am immersed in having a front row seat to this devastating disease and visiting her, watching the disease progress, and going through the various stages of grief and loss. How that relates to books for me is that I’ve got 3 books I love for people who may also be in my shoes (fiction and non). And one book I {hate} don’t care for so much as it relates to Alzheimers. I’d love to challenge you to find me either a) books to escape or b) books (fiction and non-fiction) that deal with this topic in a way that helps me see things differently or that deals with a similar disease. I see this as like a biblio version of “fixer-upper”. You take the situation and fix me up with some great reads. Would you consider such a challenge? With love from a big fan in Des Moines!

  18. Another great episode. Darn, why are there so many good books! My stacks have quadrupled.

    I am reading The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian. It’s a great story told incredibly well.

    Here’s the synopses from Amazon: When Annalee Ahlberg goes missing, her children fear the worst. Annalee is a sleepwalker whose affliction manifests in ways both bizarre and devastating. Once, she merely destroyed the hydrangeas in front of her Vermont home. More terrifying was the night her older daughter, Lianna, pulled her back from the precipice of the Gale River bridge. The morning of Annalee’s disappearance, a search party combs the nearby woods. Annalee’s husband, Warren, flies home from a business trip. Lianna is questioned by a young, hazel-eyed detective. And her little sister, Paige, takes to swimming the Gale to look for clues. When the police discover a small swatch of fabric, a nightshirt, ripped and hanging from a tree branch, it seems certain Annalee is dead, but Gavin Rikert, the hazel-eyed detective, continues to call, continues to stop by the Ahlbergs’ Victorian home. As Lianna peels back the layers of mystery surrounding Annalee’s disappearance, she finds herself drawn to Gavin, but she must ask herself: Why does the detective know so much about her mother? Why did Annalee leave her bed only when her father was away? And if she really died while sleepwalking, where was the body?
    Conjuring the strange and mysterious world of parasomnia, a place somewhere between dreaming and wakefulness, The Sleepwalker is a masterful novel from one of our most treasured storytellers.

  19. Paige says:

    Terrific episode! It’s nice to hear Elise on the podcast after following her work online. For the genre of multiple life paths for the same character, check out My Real Children by Jo Walton. I haven’t heard much discussion about that book, but I enjoyed it. It explores two possible lives/universes for the same character in a well-written story.

  20. tdgl says:

    This episode (and I’ve listened to ALL of them) was the most like me! With every favorite Elise listed, I would shout out “Me too!” Station Eleven was my all-time favorite book of the year unTIL I read Dark Matter, which I have just recommended to yet another unsuspecting friend the night before listening to this podcast.

    I loved The Time Traveler’s Wife, not so much for the time travel as such but because I’m fascinated with the concept of getting to have more time with the people we’ve lost (even if it’s a repeat). But I also loved 11/22/63, where there’s an actual factor of CHANGING the past. The whole notion that “life turns on a dime” has stuck with me and pops back in my head frequently since reading that book.

    I love the whole “sliding doors” concept and will seek out The Versions of Us. Another title in that genre is Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

    Finally, if you love all the books I love, then I’ll also recommend The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. I can’t remember what caused me to pick it up in the first place, but I was drawn in by the notion that the women hold the stories, and what a tale!

  21. Leah says:

    A YA book that I love is Counting by 7s! It’s so good and I wish I could read it for the first time again. I feel that way about Station Eleven too!

  22. Elly says:

    This is the first time I’ve ever heard you recommend a book that I’ve read before, Anne! I’ve actually only recently read “Every Anxious Wave” and I did not enjoy it! I think it is supposed to be quick and fun but I just couldn’t get past the plot holes. I’m so sad!

  23. Kelsi says:

    I just emerged from three years of law school, the bar exam and becoming a practicing attorney. Prior to that I used to read 80-100 books per year, and then maybe 3 a year during that 3.5 year period of crazy. Reading on top of my assigned reading the past three years was unheard of. However, now that I’m done, I am pouring through book! I am so glad I discovered this blog and podcast. My TBR list is a mile long, but I’m always looking for well-thought out recommendations and MMD is exceeding my expectations and making my book loving soul so incredibly happy. Thank you!

    Oh – The Nightingale (Because that’s what’s up next for me!)

    • Anne says:

      Holy goodness, Kelsi, you’ve had a big three years! Congrats on making it through, and I’m hoping you are thoroughly enjoying sinking back into the (recreational) reading life.

  24. Chloe says:

    As a person who is technically still a young adult and a big young adult reader, I don’t like John Green either. I know freshmen in college that don’t even speak the way they do in John Green’s books.

  25. Rebecca Osborn says:

    Ohmygosh time travelling and historical fiction the ONLY answer can be Black Out and All Clear by Connie Willis. Oxford time travelling historians who are researching the Blitz, but there’s a hiccup …

  26. Sherrie says:

    This was such a fun episode! Every time I listen, it’s so dangerous because I get excited about all the books you’re talking about and my TBR just doesn’t stop growing! I have so many friends that hated The Time Traveler’s Wife, but it’s one of my favorites too. Can’t wait to read many of the great books talked about on this episode 🙂

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