WSIRN Ep 87: Popcorn books, page-turning thrills, and reader regret

WSIRN Ep 87: Popcorn books, page-turning thrills, and reader regret

Today I’m talking with Aaron White, a runner, content developer, INTJ, and married father of two who lives in Minnesota. His taste in books is broad, but he leans towards books with elements of the fantastical.

Aaron's lifetime favorite book will make some of you jump up and cheer, and maybe make some of you yell back at your podcast player (and not in a happy way). We also cover that AWFUL FEELING when you’ve read what feels like a bunch of underwhelming books in a row, and discuss how choosing to add a book to your personal, permanent collection is a Very Big Deal.

Connect with Anne:

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Books mentioned in this episode:

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• Author Bill Bryson
• Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen, by Christopher McDougall
• The Chronicles of Narnia series, by C.S. Lewis
• The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
• The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch
• Byzantium, by Stephen R. Lawhead
• Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
• Author John Grisham
• 11/22/63, by Stephen King
• Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood
• The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
• Stiletto, by Daniel O’Malley
• The Rook, by Daniel O’Malley
• And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
• Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie
• The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss
• Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin
• The Golem & The Jinni, by  Helene Wecker
• The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
• The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story, by Douglas Preston
• Author Lee Child
• The Ruins, by Scott Smith

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

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  1. Sean Durity says:

    This was the episode I have been waiting for – a fantasy fan with very similar interests to mine! I have been mining the comments here for new books on my TBR.
    As for suggestions, I would second the recommendation of Brandon Sanderson. He is ridiculously prolific right now, and I have enjoyed everything I have read by him. And there is the lure of the Cosmere – a deeper story linking (almost) all of his work. The Mistborn series is a good introduction: the first trilogy has some of the best premises in the genre with great action, characters, and a highly developed world and magic system. The second trilogy advances technology in that world and introduces some hilarious characters and dialog – a totally different tone.
    The Alcatraz vs books (5) are fun middle grades/YA but still display Sanderson’s mastery of building a deep, sophisticated world, but slowly revealing it as the stories unfold.
    A one book intro would be Warbreaker, a delightful world with some fascinating female characters and some gods who aren’t really cut out for the role…
    As a previous commenter mentioned, Stormlight Archive is a work in progress. Two out of ten books are out, with #3 due in the fall. So far it is the best of his work and stirs all those great feelings I enjoyed as a teen reading Tolkien, Eddings, Brooks, Weis/Hickman, Lewis.
    Sanderson has really bucked the (disturbing, IMO) trend toward dark, gritty fantasy and recovered the wonder and magic of new worlds. I had almost given up on the genre. Sanderson is even bold enough to explore ideas of philosophy and religion, which I really appreciate.

    • Sean Durity says:

      I forgot to mention that I, too, enjoyed many of Stephen Lawhead’s works, especially Byzantium. I loved the Celtic-themed Song of Albion trilogy and the Arthur/Pendragon series and the stand-alone Patrick. Lawhead is one of my early influences toward an interest in Celtic history, theology, and myth. My wife loved his most recent series – Bright Empires, which is more of a time-hopping, magical realism adventure (5 books). I read the first two and wandered off to something else.

      • Aaron White says:

        Sean, thanks for all the recommendations and confirmations of recommendations. I have several Sanderson books on my TBR, but just haven’t gotten to him yet.

        Your experience with Lawhead almost exactly mirrors mine. I found him through his Pendragon Cycle, but have gone on to digest everything, except for the entire Bright Empires series–which I own all of, but have only read the first two. At the time of reading, it didn’t grab me as much, so I’m giving it some space and planning to return later and plow through the whole thing.

  2. Becky Brady says:

    I strongly urge you to give Stephen King a chance. He is a great writer, and his books simply can’t be summarized as “horror”, just as some of your favorite books are much more than “fantasy”. I never thought I liked fantasy, but then fell in love with Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Good writing is good writing and a good story is a good story. Some of my favorite King books are Misery, Christine, The Stand, and Cujo. You will not be sorry!

  3. tdgl says:

    I literally said “YES!” out loud in my car when “Orxy and Crake” was the hated book. I don’t remember what they said on NPR about this book when it came out in 2004, but it made me go right out and buy it brand new (something I almost never do). I had read “The Handmaid’s Tale” in college, so I must have thought I would like this one too. Then I sat on it for nearly 10 years before I finally read it a couple of summers ago. It made me feel SO BAD when I was done. The only thing that made me feel worse was learning that it was the first in a trilogy! Another funny thing was that after ALL THIS TIME, my son just asked me if I knew this book because someone had recommended it to him. I told him to read “Station Eleven.” 🙂

  4. Michele says:

    The Golem and the Jinni – One of my very favorites. So glad to hear it mentioned on the podcast! I listened to the audiobook and loved the narration.

  5. Maggie Holmes says:

    I recommend two books. The first is a narrative nonfiction, The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. This is the story of the US crew that took part in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. You find yourself wanting to take up rowing or at least wanting to go build a boat. Beautiful language.
    The second is a fantasy book, Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay. The theme is revenge and the toll it takes on everyone involved. The book has stayed with me for years because it is one of the few books where you empathize with the villain as well as the victims. (Since you liked Lawhead, you might like Kay’s other more historical fantasies.)

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