WSIRN Ep 117: Literary fiction over US Weekly

WSIRN Ep 117: Literary fiction over US Weekly

Today’s guest Rachael Robinson lives in Southern California, but I met her for the very first time in my own kitchen. (You’ll have to listen to the episode to find out the why and how). Rachael describes herself as an “extreme” book lover who discovered her reading obsession when her son was born and Netflix just wasn’t cutting it for entertainment. Today we get to chat about Rachael’s best reading year ever, #BookClubProblems, last-minute cross-country bookish adventures, and so much more.But make sure to stick around for the end of the show, because as a special treat this time I got the chance to have a second conversation Rachael and see what she ACTUALLY thought of a book I recommended based on her loves and hates! Let’s get to it.

Connect with Rachael: Blog | Instagram | Goodreads 

Books mentioned in this episode:
Some links are affiliate links. More details here.
Beartown, by Fredrik Backman (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
The Deal of a Lifetime, by Fredrik Backman (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
Us Against You, by Fredrik Backman (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
The Stars are Fire, by Anita Shreve (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
84 Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
Anything is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
The Ninth Hour, by Alice McDermott (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, by Jon Ronson (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
This Must Be The Place, by Maggie O’Farrell (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
Instructions for a Heatwave, by Maggie Maggie O’Farrell (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, by Kathleen Rooney (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Rioz Zafon (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
Miller’s Valley, by Anna Quindlen (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
The Truth According to Us, by Annie Barrows (Amazon | Barnes and Noble IndieBound)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Annie Barrows (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)

Also mentioned:
The POPcast Live!, Louisville KY

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

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28 comments | Comment


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  1. Maudeen Wachsmith says:

    This was the best podcast in recent memory! I either have read or own all but three of the books mentioned so Rachael’s reading experience closely mirrors my own. I’d love to recommend one of favorite reads of all time (and incidentally was recommended to me by author Kristin Hannah about 20 years ago when we were in the same book group): Katherine by Anya Seton. It’s about royalty, albeit 14th C. Written over 50 years ago, it stands up to the test of time. I cried so hard when I read it, I woke up my husband who wondered what was wrong and when I thought of him he wondered why I was continuing to read it! Being an avid reader, I think he understood.

  2. Jane K says:

    Just happened on this author through my library book discussion group. Mr. Miller might be The One who brings me back to reading contemporary fiction! “Norwegian by Night” and “Girl in the Green Dress.” Looking forward to Derek B. Miller’s newest “American by Day” to be released April 2018.

  3. Melanie says:

    I really enjoyed this podcast because Rachael’s taste is similar to my own. I LOVED This Must be the Place; it made it onto my list of top three reads of 2017. I’d recommend A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler. If you can get past the terrible cover you’ll find a story about an ordinary family – there are ups and downs, so not unrealistically happy but not bleak either.

  4. Deb Coco says:

    Great episode and so timely as first, I recognize Rachael from the Bookstagram world AND just two days ago I posted a picture of The Angels Game by Zafon. My caption mentioned my dislike of his Shadow of the Wind and questioned what other readers thought of his other books (many people piped in, so clearly he is somewhat polarizing). I had to smile when it came up in this conversation!
    Really enjoyed hearing her infectious enthusiasm for reading!

  5. Sarah (SHU) says:

    OMG Anne, what amazing timing! I JUST finished The Shadow of the Wind, which was our book club pick, and LOOOOVED it, but hated it for the first 150 or so pages. In the end, it was my favorite of the month so far! I also have to say this has been my best reading month EVER – completed 8 books so far (and hey, there are still 2 more days 🙂 ), including some long ones like Bel Canto and The Shadow of the Wind. You and Laura are my inspirations! I know I won’t be able to sustain this pace once work resumes, but I think the momentum will carry me to literary places I’ve never been before nevertheless. Thank you for your amazing recs — I continue to be an avid WSIRN listener and now it’s more likely I’ll actually get through more of what you recommend!! (This is the Sarah you spoke with when you came our the Best of Both Worlds Podcast with Laura Vanderkam 🙂 .

    • Lauren says:

      I’m looking forward to listening to this episode! I’m also looking for a new gray sofa, so if that is your sofa in the pic – can you tell me the brand and model and if you give it a thumbs up or down? (Or point me to where I can find that information)
      Thanks in advance!

  6. Stephanie says:

    Rachael, have you heard of the historical fiction author Tracy Chevalier? Her most famous work is probably Girl with a Pearl Earing. She writes beautifully and I always feel transported to the time and events thru her vivid details. Her recent book, At the Edge of the Orchard was completely amazing and I gave it 5 stars… I’m stingy with my stars too!

  7. Annie says:

    I loved this episode! Rachael’s love of reading is infectious. Her instagram is gorgeous! Along the lines of historical fiction (super old by the way!) please be sure to check out Sena Jeter Naslund, particularly Ahab’s Wife. I think she is amazing.
    Happy Wednesday!

  8. Jana says:

    Great interview! I immediately reserved 3 of the books at the library, because Rachael has similar tastes to me and explained herself so clearly on the Goodreads rating system.

    Rachael, if Kate Morton rings your bell, then give Susan Meissner a try. She also does the back and forth very well. You might also enjoy The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.

  9. Jane says:

    Loved this episode! And now I have a new bookish Instagram account to follow, such a beautiful account by the way! Like you Rachael, I went to Shakespeare and Co when I was in Paris and felt I had to buy a book there. I purchased “The Paris Wife” and got the stamp on my book as well :). (I also couldn’t resist buying a book bag too). Just last week I was doing a major declutter of my books, which I have to do constantly as we live in a small apartment. On many previous declutters I couldn’t bring myself to donate “The Paris Wife” because of the special stamp on the inside. BUT I knew I wouldn’t read the book again (and that is usually reason enough to donate), so I finally parted with it. I donated it to our local library and I just hope that when someone picks it up and sees the stamp inside that it will bring them an extra little bit of joy!

    • Britany Arnold says:

      I Went to Shakesphere & Co and my pick was Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast (felt appropriate for the place!). I also picked up a book bag and got my stamp and plenty of bookmarks 😉

  10. Sandra Mosolgo says:

    Rachael didn’t mention mysteries but I was recently obsessed with The Dry by Jane Harper, heard about on Modern Mrs. Darcy. It has family dynamics, goes back and forth in time and depicts a vivid sense of place. I also loved Charing Cross Road.

  11. Rachael, I am listening to this episode right now, and I LOVE how you just gush about the books. I feel like I am the same way when I talk to people about books. I am checking out your blog and following you right now. I can’t wait to read some of your reviews.

  12. Michelle says:

    Loved this episode. Appreciate all the recommendations, but I am a HUGE fan of Maggie O’Farrell, and I feel like The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox is a better entre to her books than This Must be the Place.

  13. Dovilé says:

    I would like to download the podcast but it doesn’t seem to be possible to do so off the site. Or perhaps I don’t know how to do it. Stitcher doesn’t work very well on my phone… could somebody help me please? Thanks!

    • Anne says:

      To download off the site, scroll down in the post to the podcast player. (That’s the long rectangular box with the What Should I Read Next logo on the left, a few inches above the comments section.) Click the button to the right of the title that looks like a down arrow pointing into a sideways bracket. The file should download to your computer. Hope that helps!

  14. Eleanor Winslow says:

    I listened to this podcast a few days ago and the styles were so much like I enjoy I took some of her favorites list and checked them out at my library. I LOVED 84 Charing Cross Road. I had never heard of this book but I just sat and read it in one sitting. It was so wonderfully written. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Halle says:

    I’m catching up on podcasts and like many of the other commenters, I loved this episode and felt my reading tastes match Rachael’s quite a bit. I’d recommend Amor Towles’ books A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility, if you haven’t read them yet. And since you mentioned you like royalty, I want to suggest The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. It’s a fun take on the Prince William and Kate Middleton relationship.

  16. Daniela says:

    Hello! I recent found your podcast and am listening to older entries. You talk about a previous podcast with Fredrik Backmam. Can you tell me what episode that was? I searched for it and am having a hard time. Any help?

    Thank you! I’m so enjoying your podcast.

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