WSIRN Ep 125: Gateway books to hook a Netflix addict

Do you ever feel a little out of place in the world of online readers? Perhaps you’re more of a dabbler?  You might relate to today’s guest!

Dana Hartness is fascinated by “reading culture” but feels like she doesn’t belong because her interests are so far-flung, and most of the time she’d rather just curl up with Netflix. Today I’m trying to connect the dots between her three WILDLY different favorites, and recommend 3 books that will give Netflix a run for its money. 

This is a fun one. Let’s get to it!

In this episode, Dana mentions LOVING my daily Kindle Deal emails. You can sign up to get daily deals in your inbox here

What Should I Read Next #125: Gateway books to hook a Netflix addict with Dana Hartness

Connect with Dana Hartness and check out her adorable jewelry shop: Instagram | Shop


Books mentioned in this episode:
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If you’d like to support your local indie, check out

•  The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
•  The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
•  The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
•  All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
•  The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
•  Little Beach Street Bakery, by Jenny Colgan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
•  Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
•  Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour bookstore, by Robin Sloan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
•  The Queen of Hearts, by Kimmery Martin (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
•  Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight:  An African Childhood, by Alexandra Fuller (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
•  I Was Anastasia, by Ariel Lawhon (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
•  The Wife the Maid and the Mistress, by Ariel Lawhon (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
•  Flight of Dreams, by Ariel Lawhon(Amazon | Barnes and Noble

In this episode, Dana mentions LOVING my daily Kindle Deal emails. You can sign up to get daily deals in your inbox here

What would YOU recommend Dana read next? Tell us all about it in comments. 


Leave A Comment
  1. Heather Hale says:

    We have very similar reading likes. Some of your favorites are mine also. If you loved The Glass Castle: A Memoir, then you will probably be drawn into Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. This was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time!!

  2. Erika C says:

    Loved these recommendations! If you like Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, you will probably love Alexandra Fuller’s other books as well. More recently, Leaving Before the Rains Come, tells the story of her marriage to an American man and how her African childhood continues to follow her to her life in the states. All of her books have a lot of tragedy, but described in a way that ultimately makes you feel hopeful rather than depressed.

    • Deb Coco says:

      Totally agree with Erika C – all of Alexandra Fuller’s books are on my “favorites of all time” list — it is some of the most stunning and raw writing out there, combined with humor about family and relationships. I couldn’t put them down. Great episode today!

  3. Stacy says:

    I think she’d love As Bright As Heaven By Susan Meissner. There’s tragedy, yet the hopeful, redemptive note that she wants. It’s a page turner as well.

  4. Susan says:

    What a wonderful episode! I also loved the Glass Castle and so added all 3 Anne Bogel recommendations to my TBR! I was wondering, Dana, if you have read any books by Lisa See. My favorite by her is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – set in China and does not shy away from the gritty and the hard.

  5. Katie says:

    Anne, can you talk more about scanners and deep divers? I had never head those terms before, but I am definitely a scanner. I want to know about lots of things, and even though it’s fun, it can also be exhausting, especially when it comes to picking out what books I want to read.

    • Jana says:

      I think Anne may be referring to a book called “Refuse To Choose” by Barbara Sher, which goes into great depth on what it means to be a scanner. The book was so interesting that I returned the library copy and bought one so I could write in it.

  6. Julie says:

    Whoa you and I have such similar taste! I read Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight while pregnant and it was NOT the right time in my life for that book. I actually didn’t find there to be a hopeful enough tone in that one and put it down 3/4 of the way through. Just a little insight from my perspective. Have you read Circling the Sun by Paula McLain? She definitely set the scene, developed interesting characters, and the narrative moved along at a nice clip without feeling like a frivolous read. I am reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine right now and it strikes a great tragedy/hope balance. The tone is quirky but really enjoyable. How about Americanah by Adichie? I liked that one for learning about the perspective of immigrants and people of color. HAPPY READING!!

  7. Jessica says:

    I loved this episode and related to Dana in so many ways. You are not alone even among WSIRN listeners! I added so many new books to my TBR list. Thanks, Anne and Dana!

  8. Amy says:

    Again, another great episode!! ot Dana, you and I have very similar reading tastes so I am excited to try the recommendations as well!! I did want to say – Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour Book Store is probably not something I would normally like – however- I listened to it in Audio and the narrator is just incredible!!! He does an excellent job of pulling you right into the story (although I do agree the mystery does take forever to unravel)
    #myhusbandisreallycute (so is mine LOL – but no shame in watching some cute Drs too!!)

  9. Jill W. says:

    I haven’t even finished the episode yet, but I had to pop on to share some recommendations. I loved the Jenny Colgan books you discussed. If you want more carbs, cute boys and scenery, I’d recommend Barbara O’Neal’s books, specifically, How to Bake a Perfect Life (which is a much better book than that cheesy title suggests) and The Love Goddess’ Cooking School by Melissa Senate. For something with a little more weight to it but in a similar vein, I love, love, love The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher. It will break your heart and put it back together again.

    For books set in the South that grab you and keep you turning pages and that have darkness with hope, try anything by Joshilyn Jackson. I read one critics review (for Backseat Saints) that said, “Jackson writes like her hair is on fire”- I think that’s a great description of how much her books make you feel like you just have to see what happens next. The Almost Sisters is her latest and it’s great.

    I think Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi would be a good fit for you. In a way, it is a really deep dive into Ghana’s history and American history, but it is told in generational vignettes that I think would appeal to a skimmer. Although you are following a thread, you don’t stay with one character’s story too long.

    Finally, for a memoir that really pulls you in and does not shy away from the dark parts, I would recommend The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr. She really got the ball rolling on the genre of unflinching memoirs we see a lot of now.

  10. Kelsey says:

    Loved this episode- so many good titles! Dana mentioned looking for something tropical, and I would highly recommend Alan Brennert’s novels “Molokai” and “Honolulu”. Both are historical fiction set in Hawaii and I really, really enjoyed both. Jeannette Wall’s follow-up book (which is more of a prequel) “Half Broken Horses” is also very good. Just yesterday I finished Kathleen Grissom’s follow-up “Glory Over Everything” which I could not put down.

    • S says:

      I was going to suggest Half Broke Horses as well!

      I will Send Rain about the dust bowl is another suggestion and Eight Hundred Grapes too.

      Loved this episode! You are really hitting your rhythm lately on this podcast!

  11. Heather M says:

    Hello! While listening to this episode I thought “she needs to read The Sound of Gravel.” This book by Ruth Wariner is a memoir about her childhood in a polygamist Mormon family. I couldn’t put it down!

  12. Lindsay says:

    Playing off of the Jenny Colgan vibe and the compelling plot a la Netflix.. Highly reccommend Elin Hilderbrand’s Winter Street Series. They are set of 4 novels, set around the holidays & following a family that own a B&B in Nantucket. Lots of juicy drama, paired with holiday nostalgia and the great Nantucket sense of place that all of her novels have. I found these the old fashioned way: on the library shelf and flew through all four of them in a matter of weeks. All of the books end on a legitimate cliffhanger, so I’d recommend having all of them ready to go at once! Great to set aside for Christmastime. (Side note – the series was meant to be 3 books and only after it was finished did her publisher ask for a fourth. So the 4th is an afterthought and feels like it. I’d recommend you see the 4th book as an epilogue rather than a finale so you manage expectations accordingly!)).

  13. Terri says:

    1. I also immediately thought of “Educated.” Very readable.
    2. If you’re looking for a Charlotte connection, you might like “Lookaway, Lookaway” by Wilton Barnhardt. Takes a minute to get into it, but it’s very Charlotte-y.
    3. Just finished “How to Stop Time” by Matt Haig. The main character’s struggles lead to satisfiying self-discovery. Maybe my favorite of 2018 (so far).

  14. Wendy says:

    Loved this episode…Dana since you loved Kitchen House I think you would enjoy The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd!

    • Mary Ellen says:

      Me too, and an author that scratches a similar itch for me is Sarah-Kate Lynch.

      Her books are also set in nice places and have happy endings, and Dana was talking about books involving food, which a lot of hers do.

  15. Anna says:

    Great episode! I always recommend We Are All Shipwrecks by Kelly Grey Carlisle to anyone who loved The Glass Castle. It has been a little overlooked, in my opinion!

  16. Anne and Dana,
    What a fun episode. I love movies and if I like one based on a book, I’ll often go read it.

    After what you said, I have three suggestions for you. The first is a non-fiction book that reads like a novel. It’s The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe, by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. It takes place in Kabul beginning the day the Taliban arrive in Afghanistan and ends when they leave. The reader is immersed in the city and the people trying to survive, especially the protagonist and her family. I had a hard time putting the book down.

    The second book takes place in a small village in Greece. The title is, A Handful of Pebbles, by Sara Alexi. I just discovered it part of a series of books, but you can read this as a stand alone too. I loved the book because it was like being back in Greece, the descriptions of the countryside, the people and the food. It is about a middle aged woman attending her son’s wedding. While she’s there her life falls apart around her. There is a mystery surrounding her unhappy marriage, she finds love, and a new happier life is on the horizon at the end.

    The third book I want to recommend is Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, by Winifred Watson. The book was written in the 1940s but was made into an extremely fun movie in 2008 staring Frances McDormand and Amy Adams. Both versions are a romp surrounding Miss Pettigrew who is a 40ish gentlewoman who is down on her luck and going from job to job as a governess. She is sent to Miss Delysia Lafosse by her agency because they think she needs a governess, but when Delysia opens the door, Miss Pettigrew is thrust into a world totally foreign to her where she must rise to the occasion and help solve one crisis after another. Both the book and the movie take place within a 24 hour time period. They just make me feel good at the end.

    I hope you will consider my suggestions.

  17. Kate says:

    I haven’t gotten all the way through the episode yet, but my very first thought was that as a Bachelor fan, Dana should definitely check out the new book about the show, Bachelor Nation by LA Times writer Amy Kaufman. It’s a very interesting look at the culture around the show in addition to behind the scenes.

  18. Katherine says:

    Hey Dana and Anne! I loved listening to your episode! I was making a mental list of recommendations for you (books with a little history and at least a glimmer of hope), and I wondered if you have read “the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” or, as someone else mentioned, “Circling the Sun”? I also think you might like “Homegoing”, based on your fondness for the Kitchen House. Happy reading!

  19. Britany Arnold says:

    The whole time I listened to this episode, I kept hoping this recommendation would come up- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I think this one would check a lot of boxes for you Dana.

  20. Beth says:

    Great episode! Dana I think you should check out Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. It goes back and forth between Italy in the 1960s and Hollywood in the present day. I read this on vacation last year and enjoyed it. It totally made it made me want to go to Italy!

  21. Amy says:

    Great episode! I immediately thought of We Are All Shipwrecks by Kelly Carlisle as an additional recommendation. A very interesting and well written memoir that I was not able to put down once I started it. Based on other books you like, I think you will enjoy it!

  22. Terry says:

    This has been my favorite episode by far! I am not a type seven personality, but the types of books that Dana loves are surprisingly similar to mine! I have so many suggestions for Dana!
    Dana loved The Glass Castle. I would suggest Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls. When Jeanette wanted to write her mother’s story, her mother told her to write her grandmother’s story, instead. So, she did. I believe Jeanette’s grandmother could have been a type seven.
    Another book that I loved was a ‘memoir’ by Beryl Markham called West with the Night. This book is beautifully written! Beryl was English by birth raised in Kenya on a farm owned by her father. She was an aviator in Africa in the early days of aviation and she raced horses, both fields were ‘male only’ careers.
    In the field of historical fiction, I choose Daughters of Stone by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa. The story begins with story of slavery in Puerto Rico from the POV of a woman slave and continues to recent day from the POV of her descendants.
    I think she should try Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy. I think this is my favorite book by this author. All her books are about relationships, this one takes place in Greece.
    I love your show! So glad I found it!

  23. Donna H says:

    I second Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Absolutely fabulous if you loved Kitchen House and want to know the cultural history of African Americans.

  24. Elena says:

    Dana, It is so refreshing to know that I’m not the only bookish wannabe! I am a mamma of 5 boys, homeschooler, and creative. Sometimes I feel like if it wasn’t for audiobooks I’d be illiterate! Lynn Austin used to be my favorite and then I read everything she has written and found myself picking up and putting down books until we discovered middle grade novels. I’m so happy to have found WSIRN and have identified with many interviewees, and then not resonating with the book recs. Still digging in! Yet after months of not watching any TV, my husband and I dove head first into the Poldark BBC. So the guilt is real when the booklist is so long. My recommendation is The Keeper of The Bees, an ancient book by Gene Stratton-Porter. It is full of beautiful scenery and landscape descriptions, some goofiness, some love story, some tragedy and overcoming.

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