WSIRN Ep 83: An epic birthday bookstore roadtrip

WSIRN Ep 83: An epic birthday bookstore roadtrip

If you’re a longtime listener, you’ve heard from today's guest Donna Hetchler before—she hopped on episode 64 and chatted with me about how she tracks what she reads, in our special episode devoted to how 15 WSIRN listeners track their books. As you’ll hear, Donna asked for my help with a little personal project she was putting together...

Today Donna and I dive into her plans for a very special trip she’s taking. It involves the road, a milestone birthday, and a whole bunch of independent bookstores. Donna’s bumped into a fair number of bookworm problems in the planning, and I think you’ll be commiserating with her as she tells you about them.

Donna also had a special request when it came to helping her choose what to read next. I was afraid choosing good books that met her criteria might be impossible, but we work it out—and I am very surprised by her reaction to some of my picks!

I can’t wait for you to hear from Donna for yourself, so let’s get started.

Check out Donna's blog, I Am Your Rabbit, where she chats about entertainment, personal finance, health, and wellness.

Connect with Anne:

Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | WSIRN Instagram

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.

• Nancy Drew series, by Carolyn Keene
• Author Agatha Christie
• Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver
The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
• Author Kate Atkinson
• Author Erik Larson
• Author Stephen King
• Emma, by Jane Austen
• Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen
• Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen
• Persuasion, by Jane Austen
• Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen
•  Jane Austen: The Complete Works (Penguin Classic Hardcovers)
• Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
• Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
• The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
• Charlotte Webb, by E.B. White
• The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
• The Lost Book of the Grail, by Charlie Lovett
• Author Ernest Hemingway
• Middlemarch, by George Eliot
• Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson
• A Room With a View, by E.M Forster
• The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien
How to Read Literature Like a Professor, by Thomas Foster
Going After Cacciato, by Tim O'Brien

Also mentioned:

• The Upstart Crow Coffeeshop & Bookstore
• The Book Loft bookstore 

Thanks to this week's sponsors:

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For a limited time, WSIRN listeners can visit and use the promo code READNEXT for a 30% discount and free shipping!


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What do YOU think Donna should read next? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Shayne Johnson says:

    I know I am commenting late, but are you planning on stopping at The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles? It is an epic bookstore in an amazing building with so many books – both new and used are mixed into the stacks. I have had a couple fun day trips to this store with my book loving teen.

      • Shayne Johnson says:

        Since it is on your list, I will mention one more thing: Be warned, they have no bathroom. You can hunt around the neighborhood for one but it does make things tricky.

  2. Tricia Culp says:

    Donna, I just loved this episode! I am a classics LOVER and loved hearing you guys chat about it. Have you read Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell? I discovered it last year, and I think it’s perfect for Jane Austen fans. Domestic/relationship drama, funny/quirky characters, and strong heroines.
    I wish you all the best with your epic road trip!!

    • Donna H. says:

      Thanks Tricia! I haven’t heard of Elizabeth Gaskell but the description sounds like it’s right up my alley, thanks for the recommendation.

  3. Cori says:

    Happy Birthday in advance, Donna!!! 🙂 Hope you have a great 50th birthday celebration and road trip!

    I read Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I enjoyed it and learned a lot. My daughter and I are classics-fans and read lots of 19th-century books when we were homeschooling. I second Tricia Culp’s recommendation of Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. I’ve read it twice and really liked it. Some of her other books are sadder (due to the social realism involved). She wrote about the effects of the Industrial Revolution on the poor in England. Talking about 19th-century classics, I also really liked Anne Bronte’s books, Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White; and Dumas’ The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask. Beyond the 19th-century, Daphne du Maurier’s books are captivating reads, too, especially, My Cousin Rachel. 🙂

    • Donna H. says:

      Thanks Cori, only a few more weeks before the road trip so I’m getting excited! Several recommended Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo but I hadn’t thought about the other two you mentioned. Lots of good stuff on your list and so many I haven’t read, thanks for all of the recommendations!

  4. Caryn Carson says:

    This is the first of your podcasts that I have read almost everything that you have Ann, with the exception of Going After Cacciato, which will be what I read next with my copy of How to Read Literature Like a Professor by my side. This is also my first comment, which I started writing within the first five minutes of the podcast, because I was so excited to talk about these authors.

    I’ve read all of Barbara Kingsolver’s works and while I love the Poisonwood Bible, I do think she has a better selection for your shelf. I am hard pressed to decide what is her best work of fiction, but when you mentioned Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and that you wanted something you could read over and over, I immediately new what you needed to add to your list. While Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is very good, it is a memoir specific to the project she set for herself that year. Unless you are interested in following in her footsteps, it’s not likely you will read it again. Her essays though are rich and rewarding and gain new meaning with each reading based on what kernel you need to glean from them at the time. Both collections are excellent, but I especially like High Tude in Tucson.

    I enjoyed your Jane Austen discussion. Like you Ann, I have read all her works. My second favorite happens to be Pride and Prejudice with Persuasion a close third. I also like Mansfield Park, so I have five that I reread.

    I laughed when you recommend The House of Mirth. I jotted it down as soon as Emma was mentioned. I wholeheartedly second this recommendation. Written right around a hundred years after and on a different continent than Emma, it offers an interesting contrast.

    I know that you were only asking for classics on this episode, but as soon as I heard your interest in epic novels, with complicated families, that include layers of class, social roles and religion, I had to know if you have any Lousie Erdrich on your list. If by chance you haven’t, I have this to say… If you like Barbara Kingsolver you will love Erdrich. Not only does she address the complexities of relationships, but her characters weave in and out of her books. A main character from one book, will walk through another from a different point in their history, providing an additional layer of insight into their character and motivations. The number of excellent works is deep, but one of her crowning achievements that is also definite reread is The Last Report on the Miracle at Little No Horse.

    Finally, while I know you were more interested in stories that addressed how war impacted families, I wanted to add a classic war story recommendation that addressed the complex impact of the war experience on the soldier as my outlier. There is a good chance you have read this too, but I decided to include it since it was such an important novel of the last century. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailor is about the Pacific Campaign during WWII. It is intense and doesn’t shy away from the brutality of war and also tackles all the significant questions of how and why we wage war, as well as the role and experience of the solder. It is of course an excellent companion to All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, who wrote about the effect of war on German soldiers after WWI.

    • Donna H. says:

      Wow-what a great set of recommendations-thank you Caryn! I haven’t read most of these (except for All Quiet on the Western Front) so I have noted them down for my trip. That’s really helpful on Kingsolver and I haven’t read her essays but could see that being more re-readable. I didn’t have Louise Erdich on my list but I do now 🙂 Thanks again.

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