WSIRN Ep 120: Books that make you feel big things

Today’s guest Elizabeth Smith – she told me I could call her Liz – is an English Major living a unique life that will certainly inspire envy in a a lot of WSIRN listeners. She and her family homeschool, run a theatre company, tend a hobby farm, and herd sheep. I won’t share the juicy details now – it’s better when Liz tells it.

Today we’re chatting about the BEST way to experience Shakespeare, books for people who thrive on melancholy, and a very very specific subgenre that Liz just recently discovered. We also explore how to get more out of your local independent bookstores.

Let’s get to it!

What Should I Read Next #120: Books that make you feel big things with Elizabeth Smith

Connect with Elizabeth Smith: Blog | Instagram | Theatre Website | Theatre Facebook

Books mentioned in this episode:Some links are affiliate links. More details here.

• A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• The Complete Works of Shakespeare, by William Shakespeare (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• author James Herriot (try All Creatures Great and Small: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Wonder, by R.J. Palacio (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• The Worst Class Trip Ever, by Dave Barry (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• The Circle, by Dave Eggers (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Dune, by Frank Herbert (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (Amazon | Barnes and Noble IndieBound)
• Bleak House, by Charles Dickens (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkein (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkein (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
More Than You Know, by Beth Gutcheon (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
Father Melancholy’s Daughter, by Gail Godwin (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
Evensong, by Gail Godwin (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Grief Cottage, by Gail Godwin (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffeneger (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
 The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffeneger (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
 The Martian, by Andy Weir (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• The Book of Strange New Things, by Michel Faber (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• author Liane Moriarty (try Truly Madly Guilty: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• The Last Mrs. Parrish, by Liv Constantine (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education, by Susan Wise Bauer (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• To The Bright Edge of the World, by Eowyn Ivey (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
 The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
 The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Good Morning Midnight, by Lily Brooks Dalton (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
 I Am Pilgrim, by Terry Hayes (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• The Family Fang, by Kevin Wilson (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
• Longbourn, by Jo Baker (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
The Telling, by Jo Baker (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)

Also mentioned: 
Book Page magazine
The Indie Next e-newsletter
Riverstone Books in Pittsburgh, PA
Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, PA
White Whale Bookstore in Pittsburgh, PA
The Novel Neighbor in Webster Groves, MO
Nine Stories Booksellers in Pittsburgh, PA

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


Leave A Comment
  1. Brianna says:

    The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell is emotionally wrenching literary sci-fi at its finest. I think it would be right up Liz’s alley!

  2. Susan in TX says:

    I think Liz would enjoy Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart. I read it years ago for a book club – not to my taste, but I was reminded of it due to the ghost element.

  3. Christine says:

    Great episode! Liz was a wonderful guest. Also, I squealed when I heard the announcement of next week’s guests – LOVE the By the Book podcast soooo much! 🙂

  4. Colleen Wedler says:

    I was so excited to hear Liz mention White Whale Bookstore! I live 3 blocks from this wonderful store in the Bloomfield neighborhood in Pittsburgh. They run two awesome book clubs, one of which I have been going to for about a year and a half.

    • elizabeth says:

      Yay! Another Pittsburgh-er! If we didn’t live an hour’s drive away, I would be a book club member at the White Whale as well. And Bloomfield was a favorite nook of ours when we lived in the city – we frequented Tessaros and The Pleasure Bar for great food! ~liz

  5. Andrea Cavanaugh says:

    RE the survey — when I got partway through it, it said “Think of the podcast that made you respond to this survey” and then in parentheses it said “The Simple Show.” I was just curious if somehow the link you posted isn’t giving credit to your show? Just wanted to pass that on.

  6. Marion says:

    I enjoyed this episode and glad that Liz has allowed herself to branch out and read some literary science-fiction and fantasy. Actually, Liz you have read The Book of Strange New Things and Station Eleven. Both are favorite reads. Also, you have The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. I hope you like that one. I enjoyed it.
    I have three recommendations for you. The first one is Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay. Kay writes beautifully written historical fantasy novels. He takes a period of history and adds what he calls a quarter-turn to the fantastic. A lot of his novels are interconnected and Children of Earth and Sky is a standalone novel and his most recent.
    Exit West by Moshin Hamid is my next recommendation. I just finished reading this one last week. Hamid writes an absorbing story of a young Middle Eastern couple trying to escape from a war-torn city. They are allowed to go through a magical door but quickly learn that life as refugees are not idyllic as they imagined. Hamid does an excellent job of making a huge topic like immigration and refugees down to a personal level. And he tells a good story.

    3)Downward to the Earth by Robert Silverberg is my final recommendation. A lot of science fiction (and fantasy) from a previous generation gets overlooked because it can seem dated to contemporary readers. However, I went back a couple years ago and discovered that Robert Silverberg in the late 1960s/early 1970s wrote some progressive and literary science fiction that would fit in with today’s readers. Downward to the Earth is my favorite of those novels. Silverberg wrote as a homage to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. It is broody, melancholic, but thought-provoking. Also, it’s a little over 200 pages but packs a lot in that size of a book. Hopefully you check out any of these recommendations. Great episode!

    • elizabeth says:

      Thank you for these thoughtful recommendations. I’m eager to check out Downward to the Earth and Children of the Earth. I did read Exit West this past year and enjoyed it and want to re-read it because I think I rushed reading it. I didn’t love it as much as all the literary blogs and reviewers, so I want to give it another go.
      Thanks so much for sharing your review blog!

      • Marion says:

        You are welcome, Liz. Hope you like those recommendations. Also, I read Exit West in 2 nights and I do not usually read books that fast. I like to take my time in reading a novel. But, I did like it though.

      • Marion says:

        Elizabeth, I’m currently reading Children of Earth and Sky. And 100 pages into the novel and it’s putting a huge smile on my face. Kay’s ability to interweave history and fantasy is special. I hope you get a chance to read it.

  7. Katie says:

    I have trouble with audio books too! I definitely lose concentration when I’m trying to do other things while listening. If I’m going to only listen, I’d rather just read the book. But I am trying to “learn” to listen to audio books at work. I have gotten better at listening to podcasts, even though I can tune those out and miss things too, but I’m not as worried about it. I downloaded the Libby app on my phone (by Overdrive) and have been trying some audio books at work that I check out from my library. I’m starting with typically easy reads that don’t require a lot of thought to get through. Yesterday afternoon I was enjoying B for Burglar by Sue Grafton, but did have to rewind quite frequently when I found I had completely tuned out for a minute.

  8. Deb Coco says:

    Great episode! I could totally relate on many levels – I have very similar taste in books and we too chose a similar upbringing with our 3 daughters; we raised them on a horse farm in Vermont (we had sheep as well for a very short time – gosh I’d have 100 horses to 10 sheep they are tough:) Our “big trip out” was to the famous Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, about 1/2 hour from our farm – so many great memories and it turned all 3 girls into incredible readers. A farm childhood is something your children will always treasure!
    In terms of book recommendations, if you’ve not read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, I HIGHLY recommend. I still think about it and read it over a decade ago — it has all the elements you seem to be attracted to in a book. Happy Reading!

    • elizabeth says:

      Thank you for your encouragement! I do remember reading The Thirteenth Tale over a decade ago when it came out but I don’t remember it – I’ll have to re-read!
      I’m scared of horses! We have a donkey who guards our sheep and she is very protective of them – sometimes even too protective and she brays and kicks. I know donkeys are different than horses, but they are large, powerful animals! ~liz

      • Deb Coco says:

        Many people are scared of horses, but they are gentle creatures! I think I could worm 10 horses in the time it took me to worm one sheep haha!
        And I totally forgot, but A Prayer for Owen Meany falls on my top ALL TIME favorites and my youngest daughter wrote one of her college essays about it as she adored it too. Very special book. You have great taste:)

        • elizabeth says:

          Wow – that would have been cool to write a college essay on that novel. I was encouraged to give it another read by another listener – I may just have to do that soon!

          • linda says:

            I loved A Prayer for Owen Meany! And I also love horses and have one, in fact. I find that there are few good fictional books about horses. Love Scorpio Races.

  9. I recommend Wool by Hugh Howey. You may have already read this one, but it’s one of my favorite Sci-Fi dystopian type books! It’s the first of a trilogy too, so there’s more to read if you like it! There’s also mention of Shakespeare’s plays, as they are a part of one of the main character’s history.

  10. Elizabeth Brink says:

    I’m so glad you mentioned Evensong! I read it for the first time last year and loved it. I have Father Melancholy’s Daughter on my list for this year. Thanks for being on the podcast. It was a lovely episode!

  11. For someone who doesn’t really like being scared, I feel like I have read a ton of ghost stories. Mostly on accident! If you’re looking for a great creepy read, Second Glance by Jodi Picoult, The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian (although the ending is a little whack-a-doodle), and A Bridge Across the Oceans by Susan Meissner are all ones that I’ve really liked and have good writing. (Meissner reads a little more on the chick lit side, IMO.)
    Great episode! And reread Owen Meany! It gets better every time. <3


    • elizabeth says:

      I think the best ghost stories aren’t scary – they’re eerie and creepy in a way that gives you shivers. That’s what Owen Meany did for me back in high school…so I’ll take your advice and re-read it! Thank you!

  12. Jennifer Rittall says:

    Mine and Elizabeth’s taste in books are very similar except for The Martian. Loved it ? I am currently reading The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. It’s set in 1985 and has a literary premise but has a bit of everything. Vampires, time travel, murder and intrigue. It is not in my usual wheelhouse but i am loving it.

  13. Liz, Wow, it’s so nice to hear someone who runs a theatre company in a small town that has lots of theatre. I teach theatre at a community college in southeastern Arizona and it’s a theatre wasteland unless you go to Tucson an hour and a half away. The campus I teach on does not have a good performance space. Which means, we’re doing Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure outside on the library steps at the end of April. I’m always trying new spaces around campus. I hope this one will work for future spring semester productions.

    Okay, I know you don’t like classics, but you might like Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. It’s an interesting ghost type story that takes place in a remote seaside mansion in England. I think the time period is the late 1930s or maybe 40s. Hitchcock’s movie version is really good too.

    • elizabeth says:

      Confession: I loved Rebecca! In fact, I loved it enough to want to read du Maurier’s other books. I guess I don’t hate all classics? 🙂
      We turned a ballroom into Freud’s office (Freud’s Last Session) and a pump house at a park for the Midsummer Night Dream’s play-within-the-play. You can totally made Measure for Measure work on the library steps. Sound lovely. Coming up with new spaces for shows is really fun and audiences really enjoy the non-convention. Most of our Shakespeare in the Park shows are promenade (audience walks to different locations within the park). They love being able to stretch their legs and move between scenes.

      • Liz, I’m with you about du Maurier. I want to read more of her work too.

        How fun having a traveling show. I did that once many years ago when we lived in Portland. It was a murder mystery on a riverboat on the Columbia. We will probably have a moving audience as well for Measure for Measure. I’m thinking of doing another Shakespeare, or maybe The Crucible during fall semester, though that one will have to be inside.

        Happy reading and working on your next show.

  14. Melinda says:

    I recommend My Real Children by Jo Walton. Also, if you are willing to give “literary fantasy” a try, Among Others, also by Jo Walton. (I love everything she’s written, but those two sound most up your alley.)

    You might also like the Ancillary trilogy by Ann Leckie. I’m not quite sure if you’ll consider it literary enough, but I recommend reading 50 pages or so of the first one, just to see.

    • elizabeth says:

      The Jo Walton books look really interesting. I’ll look for them soon! The Ancillary trilogy might be a little too sci-fi fantasy for me, but I’m going to look for the first one and give it at least 50 pages or more…just like you suggested. Thank you for the suggestions!

      • Melinda says:

        Also, I saw that they have announced the Nebula short list for 2018. (All the Birds in the Sky won the Nebula last year.) I’m not (yet) familiar enough with most of the nominees to see if any of them seem like good choices for you, but might be worth looking at the list.

  15. Suzanne says:

    This is my first time commenting but I felt like I had to! I think the Y: The Last Man Series would be right up your alley. It’s is both shakespearian and dystopian. The main character is Yorick, named for the character in Hamlet. I won’t give too much away but it has the literary sci-fi elements you talked about. You didn’t mention comics at all but I think you would really enjoy it!

    • elizabeth says:

      Thank you! I have read one graphic novel in my life – Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and really enjoyed that series. So I’d love to give dystopian graphic novel a try. My three sons love graphic novels (Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi is their favorite graphic novel series). Are the “Y: The Last Man Series” written fro adults, or would middle-school-aged boys enjoy them as well? Are they too mature for them, do you think? In the episode, I also mentioned that my oldest son (14) enjoys the Sabaa Tahir fantasy novels “Ember in the Ashes” and its sequel (the third in the trilogy out this summer). Those have death, a little romance, and slight language, so he’s mature to handle that, at least.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    I really enjoyed this, Liz! As I listened, I wondered if you’ve heard of the Poldark series by Winston Graham. You said you love thoughtful, reflective writing with melancholy tones and I think this series definitely fits that bill! It’s a family saga set in Cornwall, England in the late 1700s-early 1800s. There are actually 12 books in the series, but there’s no need to be intimidated by that — you could easily just try the first one or two and see what you think. Graham wrote them over the course of several decades and the series covers two generations, so there’s a lot of material to read with many good stopping points throughout. The characters and setting of this series are so richly drawn and developed and Graham’s narration is magnificent. I think it might be up your alley!

  17. Deborah says:

    I was practically shouting Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman the whole way through the podcast. It’s short, beautiful, magical ghost story, and though Gaiman is known as a fantasy author, I think of him more of a mythical, magical realist.
    The other book I kept thinking about (Station Eleven excepting) was The Night Circus, which again, you might be as likely to find on the literary fiction as fantasy shelves in a bookstore, but is I think is more accurately magical realism. There are some fantastical or magical elements introduced a world like our own.
    I loved both books, and I’m hard pressed to think of anyone I know who has read either who doesn’t feel the same.

    • elizabeth says:

      I have tried reading The Night Circus but couldn’t get into it. Perhaps I’ll give it another go. And reading a Neil Gaiman has intimidated me in the past (because of that opening scene in The Graveyard Book!), but Ocean at the End of the Lane has been on my TBR forever, so I’m going to bump it up to the top based on your suggestion. Thank you!

    • Jill W. says:

      Ooh, I second Ocean at The End of the Lane. And if ever you wanted to give contemporary audio books a try, Gaiman is the guy to try it with. He does his own audio and he is a superlative storyteller. Also, Stardust by NG is the best grown up fairy tale ever. The movie is almost as good as the book. And the special features, in which NG is walking around the set and talking about feeling bad that so many people having to do so much work just because he had an idea on afternoon how a flying pirate ship would be fun is delightful.

    • Marion says:

      I enjoyed The Ocean at the End of the Lane as well. Although, I must admit I’m not fond of the semantic distinction between fantasy and magical realism. I get it from a marketing purpose but both genres use elements of the fantastic to serve the story. You can make the argument that Gaiman writes in his novels with both of those elements.

  18. Ashley says:

    Have you tried The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey? I went into it with fairly low expectations as I read it immediately following Station Eleven, and while it’s not quite as amazing as Station Eleven, it’s really enjoyable and I definitely stayed up late finishing it! Exit West, another book mentioned in a comment above, was excellent as well. Finally, if you are in the mood for a book that will warm your heart and the characters are endearing, try Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron. The title was super off-putting and I almost didn’t try it out, but the audiobooks kept getting rave reviews and a friend pushed it and I LOVED them. The last book in the series comes out on March 1 and the audiobook narrator, Vikas Adam, is the best narrator I’ve ever heard. Give it a chance and you won’t regret it.

    • elizabeth says:

      I haven’t heard of either The Girl with All the Gifts nor Nice Dragons Finish Last…I will add them to my growing list – The Girl with all the Gifts looks REALLY good!!

  19. Maria says:

    I have to say Elizabeth, you look exactly as I imagined you!

    Also, this episode had the most titles that I’ve not heard of. Normally, I’ve read a good few of the books mentioned in the podcast, not this episode. How very refreshing!

  20. Jill W. says:

    In terms of beautifully written dystopian sci-fi, I think you would like The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey and Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson and maybe Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie.

    One that maybe has less of a melancholy tone, but is no less gripping and is a real page turner is The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. If you like it, its a series.

  21. Jill W. says:

    Also, for beautiful melancholy contemporary fiction, it is hard to beat Haven Kimmel. The Solace of Leaving Early and The Used World are particularly good.

  22. Tara says:

    Really enjoyed your episode Liz! I LOVED Dark Matter and have been trying to find a book to give me all the seems feels. I think Random Acts of Heroic Love By Danny Scheinmann may be a great fit for you. It parallels two love stories, one Modern and one from WW1. There is a touch of physics and the result is a beautiful moving book.

    • elizabeth says:

      Thank you!!! Did you read Station Eleven (or “Good morning, Midnight” which Anne recommended to me)? Or The Circle by Dave Eggers? Those might be “up there” with Dark matter.
      Thanks for the Danny Scheinmann recommendation!

  23. Loni says:

    Have you read The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue? Your description of More Than You Know made me think of it. It has been awhile since I read it, but I remember loving the story.

  24. knowyourkids says:

    I loved today’s podcast; it was pretty inspirational for me as I am stuck in a reading and a work rut. I could see how Liz had found new meaning for reading by jumping into an unknown genre. I have decided to follow suit, so I added a few to my TBR list and bought one title on my kindle, Evensong. I hope I can be brave like Liz and follow my dream career, and organised chaos sounds terrific.

    • elizabeth says:

      Thank you! And I hope you enjoy Godwin’s Evensong. I read it on the heels of Father Melancholy’s Daughter and it just really moved me. What others have you added? I’m so eager to hear!!

  25. Margie Crawford says:

    Just had a chance to listen – great episode! Liz, I think you’d love The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick. Magical realism and ghosts, fate and connections over centuries, melancholy but also romantic without sappiness, plus Ireland. It’s literary and the structure is a bit unusual so give yourself a couple chapters to fall into it – then the writing is hypnotic. Hope you find a great next read!

    • elizabeth says:

      I’m really enjoying this book! Nearly finished…I’ll post a rating on Goodreads when I’m finished. Thank you, again, for the recommendation – it really does include everything – science, ghosts, a love story… 🙂

      • Margie Crawford says:

        I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! It’s a difficult book to summarize but I really loved the story and the writing style.

  26. Stacey says:

    You might like A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I love a lot of the sci fi books you’ve mentioned and this isn’t quite like any of those but I really liked it.

  27. Josefina says:

    Hello there, bookworms! I was just thinking about the book The Grown-Up, by Gillian Flynn (also known by her famous book Gone Girl), a ghost story, a bit creepy and that leaves you wondering…

  28. Sherrie says:

    I have a suggestion that would be for Liz’s boys (fantasy and some sci-fi and lots of historical fiction were my all time favorites growing up.) Anyhow. I would highly recommend The Rangers Apprentice and The Brotherband Chronicles by John Flanagan. Captivated myself and my brothers and later on my sister. We were tween/teens when we started and at this point, in spite of us ranging 19-26, we still can’t wait to get our hands on the next one. Also would recommend The Inheritance Trilogy by Christopher Paolini for the older boy. It’s a long read, but a good one. But also grittier. And The Binding of the Blade series, if one at all likes allegorical like Narnia but the depth and scope of Tolkien.

    • elizabeth says:

      Thank you so much for the suggestions for them. I’m always looking for the next book that will suck them into reading! :-). My oldest is actually on Book 2 right now fo the Rangers Apprentice (he got the first book for christmas), so I am glad to hear that it continues to be a good series. I’ll keep the other suggestions on my library hold list as well – thanks, again!!

  29. virag says:

    I loved The Golem and the Jinni. It has that haunting, brooding, supernatural feel to it Liz seems to like. I actually listened to it, the narration by George Guidall all was superb!

  30. Sharen says:

    Sorry if these are repeats but listening late and only managed to scroll through part of the comments –
    1: agree The Sparrow by MARY Doroa Russell is great.
    2: The Humans by Matt Haig is a wonderful read I often think of. Space, love and family.
    3: The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Fabre is based in space where Earth has a colony and the locals want to know more about religion so a minister travels there. Beautiful book.

    • elizabeth says:

      Thank you! The Book of Strange New Things was my “gateway” book into Sci-Fi – absolutely loved it!
      I haven’t heard of the Humans, so I’ve added it to my TBR – thanks!!

  31. Kelly says:

    It was so great hearing from someone else near Pittsburgh, I live about 45 min East of the city. But…I had never heard of any of the three bookstores mentioned! I am beyond excited to get to these bookstores immediately! I have been to Mystery Lovers a bunch of times, the only one I had heard of.

  32. Heather Groves-Edwards says:

    How exciting to hear Liz on the podcast!! (I am a few weeks behind in my listening). Her theatre does their summer Shakespeare productions in the park behind my house!!
    As always, a great podcast!

    • elizabeth says:

      Oh my goodness! I hope to meet you at the park this summer (first weekend in August – still deciding on the show). 🙂 Truly fun to find other WSIRN listeners in the Butler area!

  33. Kassie Joslin says:

    Loved the episode! I feel big things about Station 11, and was so glad to hear about the book which may be similar to it. Moving it to the top of my TBR.
    I feel that the classics are too important and too special to miss reading! Dickens (especially Bleak House) is some of the worst when it comes to difficult classics, language-wise. I wondered if she’d read Frankenstein, the ultimate in science fiction and melancholy. Also Jane Eyre, which has a mystery component and is quite gloomy as well (but with a great ending). Those two might make her change her mind on the classics, assuming she didn’t already read them in college. Or perhaps give them another try. 🙂

    • elizabeth says:

      I mentioned in the episode that I really love the Bronte sisters – Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre are two of my favorite classics. Also, another listener commented about Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca which I also enjoyed. And I did love Frankenstein. I get really bogged down in the heavier language. I wish we haven’t simplified the English language so much over the past few hundred years! So there are certainly some classics that I do like, but I always go for a contemporary novel over a classic.
      Good Morning, Midnight (the book Anne recommended after Station Eleven) was just beautiful. I hope you love it!

  34. Samantha says:

    I definitely want to second or third the suggestion of Among Others by Jo Walton. It’s only slightly fantasy, but the main character is constantly reading sci-fi books, so it would be a great way to add even more books to your list. And there’s definitely a ghostly element to it. What a great episode!

  35. Carol says:

    Have you read Woman in White by Wilkie Collins? I read it a long time ago and loved it so much… thought of it when you were talking ghost stories! Also Ursula LeGuin is a sci-fi author I am reading right now (The Left Hand of Darkness). In addition to other novels she also wrote some YA books and following her recent death a non-fiction book of essays was published. I cannot wait to read Father Melancholy, having heard your description! It sounds perfect for my book club!

  36. elizabeth says:

    If anyone is still reading these comments, I just finished The Sparrow and am sitting in my chair not wanting to move…just wanting to sit with Emilio and Anne and George and Askama for a while before moving into another fictional world that whisks me away. It was an incredible read. Thank you for recommending it, all! Has anyone read the sequel, Children of God?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.