WSIRN Ep 104: Books that don’t hold anything back

WSIRN Ep 104: Books that don’t hold anything back

Today I’m chatting with Alexandra Rodriguez, an English teacher and grad student in the Indianapolis area whose reading life underwent a big change a few years ago. We explore how reading 150 books in a year represented a silver lining for her during a difficult time, and how a nudge from an old boss pointed her to take her literary life in a new direction. 

We also chat about her role in the Diverse Books Club, books that make you laugh and cry almost at the same time, light-hearted books that carry meaningful lessons, and authors that don’t hold anything back.   

Connect with Anne: Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | WSIRN Instagram   

Connect with Alexandra: Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram 

Books mentioned in this episode:

Some links are affiliate links. More details here.

•  El Deafo, by Cece Bell (Amazon | Barnes and NobleIndieBound)
•  Love and First Sight, by Josh Sundquist (Amazon | Barnes and NobleIndieBound)
•  Ginny Moon, by Benjamin Ludwig (Amazon | Barnes and NobleIndieBound)
•  Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury (Amazon | Barnes and NobleIndieBound)
•  The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood (Amazon | Barnes and NobleIndieBound)
•  Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things, by Jenny Lawson (Amazon | Barnes and NobleIndieBound)
•  Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir, by Jenny Lawson (Amazon | Barnes and NobleIndieBound)
•  Be Frank With Me, by Julia Claiborne Johnson (Amazon | Barnes and NobleIndieBound)
•  Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West, by Cormac McCarthy (Amazon | Barnes and NobleIndieBound)
•  Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian's Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life, by Annie Spence (Amazon | Barnes and NobleIndieBound)
•  Heating and Cooling, by Beth Ann Fennelly (Amazon | Barnes and NobleIndieBound)
•  Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe, by Melissa de la Cruz (Amazon | Barnes and NobleIndieBound)
• Something In Between, by Melissa de la Cruz (Amazon | Barnes and NobleIndieBound)

•  The Sun is Also A Star, by Nicola Yoon (Amazon | Barnes and NobleIndieBound)
The Improbability of Love, by Hannah Rothschild (Amazon | Barnes and Noble IndieBound)

•  Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green (Amazon | Barnes and NobleIndieBound)
•  Shades of Grey, by Jasper Fforde (Amazon | Barnes and NobleIndieBound)
•  Smoke, by Dan Vyleta (Amazon | Barnes and NobleIndieBound)

Also mentioned: 

• Diverse Book Club: Instagram | Goodreads
• WSIRN Ep 72: Embarrassing bookworm confessions (with Madeleine Riley)

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What do YOU think Alexandra should read next? Tell us all about it in comments. 

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17 comments

  1. Dawn says:

    I LOVED Shades of Grey! I don’t know how I found it but I’m so glad I did. The next in the series is supposed to be put next year. This was a great episode

  2. Heidi Benson says:

    Seriously ladies — when you form the “I read too many books at a time” support group, I will be a charter member (currently 10-70% through: 11 hard copy, 7 Kindle & 6 audiobooks). And I just got a new book I want to start… Save me!

    • Stacy says:

      I’m not really sure what a world where I only read one book at a time would look like. I love having so many different worlds going at once. Right now, I’m at various stages of 10 books which is becoming my norm. It used to be closer to 6 but there are just so many books that I want to read that it keeps inching up.

  3. Ginger says:

    I loved how Alexandra describes books. I can tell she’s a good English teacher, because she made me want to read everything she loved (even the ones I’d already read, to notice the things she did that I didn’t).

  4. Abby says:

    What was the book you said dovetailed with The Sun is Also a Star? I don’t see it on the list–it’s not Price & Prejudice and Mistletoe, right? I loved The Sun is Also a Star very much and I’d love to read more books with the topic of immigration woven in.

  5. Alexandra and Anne, I loved today’s podcast. You both sound like my mother-in-law who reads about 200 books a year. I’m not that fast. I love to savor a book, and though I might read a fiction and non-fiction book at the same time, I can’t read two novels at the same time. Or maybe, it’s that I don’t want to because I’m not a good multi-tasker. I want to devote my time to the books I read not only for myself, but for the author. I think they deserve that.

    Alexandra, since you are a leader of the Diverse Books Club, you might be interested in THE DRESSMAKER OF KHAIR KHANA by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, if you haven’t already read it. It was published in 2011 and is a biography of a brave woman and her sisters who live in a suburban section of Kabul, Afghanistan. It begins on the day the Taliban arrive and ends on the day they leave. These young women must find a way to make money and survive the occupation. I can’t stop taking about this book because, even though it’s a biography, it reads like a novel. I was drawn in from the first paragraph. I felt as if I was living with them, and I’m sure I would not have been as courageous as these women.

    Thanks for the great list of books to add to my already too long book list.

    • Adrienne Hudson says:

      Every few months I make a trip to our local used bookstore and pick out a selection for my Mom, who doesn’t get many chances to go book shopping or to the library. She sends the books back after she reads them with a post-it note in each one with her comments. I sent her “Dressmaker” last year and she sent it back with a note about how much she enjoyed it, so it’s in my TBR pile.

  6. Jill W. says:

    I love Jenny Lawson and wholeheartedly second Anne’s recommendation that you read David Sedaris. He’s brilliant. You might also like A Girl Called Zippy by Haven Kimmel.

    I think you would also probably enjoy The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher or Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos.

    • Deborah says:

      I was came to the comments to suggest A Girl Named Zippy too. It’s a poignant, awkward, beautifully observed and deeply funny memoir of small-town Midwestern childhood. I think it fits right in with Alexandra’s favorites.

  7. Sarah says:

    Hi Alexandra! I enjoyed your podcast episode. I was shocked to hear you have POTS. My stepmother was diagnosed with it and you are the only other person I have heard that has it. If you don’t mind, I would love to talk with you about what you are doing to manage it. My stepmother is basically bed ridden and tells us there is nothing to be done. Imagine my surprise at hearing you on the podcast talking about the things you are doing. I appreciate any info or insights you can give me. I’ll give you my email address if that would be better.

  8. I enjoyed your conversation. Anne, I thought you description of Heating and Cooling sounded a bit like a book I’m reading now: Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks. Quirky emotional stories. Fiction, not memoir.

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