WSIRN Ep 109: Reading slumps are the worst

Today I had the pleasure of chatting with Annie Spence, whose name you might recognize because in a very recent episode, I recommended her book to another guest! Annie is the author of Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Hate in the Stacks, a collection of breakup notes and love letters to books she encounters in her day-to-day as a public librarian. If you are the kind of reader who always wanted to stick your nose in the back room where all the library magic happens, this episode is for you.

This week we’re learning all about how Annie became a public librarian, and we discuss the future of library fines, the difficulty of recommending books when you’re in a reading slump yourself, bizarre nonfiction, the indecision of Ray Bradbury, seasonal reading patterns, and much much more. Let’s get to it!

What Should I Read Next #109: Reading slumps are the worst with Annie Spence

Connect with Annie Spence: BlogTwitter | Book

Books mentioned in this episode:

Some links are affiliate links. More details here.

• 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 Noble IndieBound)
• Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury  (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Pictorial Anatomy of the Cat, by  Stephen G. Gilbert (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
Patrick Lose’s Whimsical Sweatshirts, by Patrick Lose (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffery Eugenides (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Middlesex, by Jeffery Eugenides (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
 The Marriage Plot, by Jeffery Eugenides (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Heartburn,by  Nora Ephron (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
 Battleborn, by Claire Vaye Watkins (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
 Gold Fame Citrus, by Claire Vaye Watkins (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning, by Claire Dederer (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7, by Joanna Faber (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Breathing Lessons, by Anne Tyler (Amazon | Barnes and Noble IndieBound)
 To the End of June, by Cris Beam (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Motherest, by Kristen Iskandrian (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Who Thought This was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House, by Alyssa Mastromonaco (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, by Anne Fadiman (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures, by Anne Fadiman (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, by Morgan Matson (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• The Disenchantments, by Nina LaCour (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Tell Me Three Things, by Julie Buxbaum (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• What to Say Next, by Julie Buxbaum (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)

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

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  1. Leslie says:

    I absolutely loved listening to you and Annie and I have to say, the 2 of you hit on 2 topics I wholeheartedly agree on. When I’m in a reading slump or coming off a heavy read, like Annie, I jump into YA as well. They’re fun, easy, and not so deep that I get bogged down with too many deep, confused thoughts. And as I listened to you talk to Annie, you made mention to how you often maybe don’t even specifically know what a book was about that you read or the characters names, but you remember the way the book made you feel. I often can’t remember much about a book and think maybe I’m not diving deep enough, but I always remember the way a book makes me feel. I make suggestions based on this. Thank you both for not making me feel alone in the reading world!

  2. Deb Coco says:

    Great episode! Just bought Annie’s book in Dallas over the weekend and it looks wonderful! Love “book about books” and this one has SO many, it will be fun to go back to over and over again.

  3. Gretchen S says:

    Annie might consider reading either of Elif Batuman’s books for very funny and very well written books. Batuman is a staff writer for the New Yorker, and her first book The Possessed is a memoir of sorts describing her years as a graduate student in Slavic studies. Her second book is The Idiot, a novel about a Harvard freshman who sounds very much like Batuman herself. Both books are full of quirky characters and may be dark enough to suit Annie but funny enough to save her from the slough of winter Despond.

  4. Kyla Pearlman says:

    1. And The Band Played On by Randy Shilts (the 800 page book about the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s) is great. Reading that book as a senior in college is why I studied public health in graduate school and am still in the public health field 15 years later.
    2. I hate parenting books too. BUT, one of the best books I’ve read all year is The Opposite of Spoiled by Ron Lieber. I got it from the library, and then bought my own copy because I loved it so much and plan to reference it for the next 16 years!

  5. Amy says:

    I was wondering what book Annie was referencing that was about the AIDS epidemic in New York? I am interested in reading that one and I don’t think it’s listed here. We have very similar tastes in books. Great episode!

  6. Siobhan says:

    Annie, I compulsively read parenting books, and agree that many of them are trite or only work for one “type” of kid (maybe my kids have the wrong nose shape…). But the one book whose ideas I have been successfully implementing for years in my family is Bruce Fieler’s The Secrets of Happy Families.

  7. Anne and Annie,
    I love listening to this podcast every week. In a way I feel like a reading novice because week after week you mention books I have never heard of. My TBR list is getting so long I’ll never complete it. It is comforting to have a long list, though, so that I have almost any kind of book for any mood I happen to be in. Thanks for finding such wonderful guests. I have been fascinated by each person’s reading life, and regular life too.

    Annie, my mother-in-law was a research librarian. She reads so many books a year that I feel like a slacker. It was fun hearing about your work and how you help people everyday. That must be extremely rewarding. I have no recommendations for you. I just wanted to tell you that I enjoyed your chat with Anne.

  8. Denise says:

    As a retired librarian, I loved this episode! What a wonderful fulfilling job!!

    My recommendation is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. It has themes of friendship, foster care and mental health. There is a tender side and a serious side and a funny side!
    Good winter reading. It won’t depress you!

  9. Iuliana says:

    Really enjoyed listening to this episode! One book Annie might consider (if she hasn’t read it yet) is Wild by Cheryl Strayed. When you were describing that you like books that are raw and honest, this definitely fits the bill as a memoir of the journey Cheryl took through the Pacific Crest Trail during a turning point in her life.

  10. Molly says:

    If Annie is looking for light, funny, well-written books I would recommend P.S. I Love You (it’s very different from the movie) and Love, Rosie. Both books are written by Cecelia Ahern. The first is not necessarily funny, but it is sweet. Love Rosie is hilarious and one of my favorites when I need a quick read.

  11. Amanda says:

    If she hasn’t read A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman I think it might be a good combination of dark/serious subject matter with a more light-hearted tone.

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