WSIRN Ep 126: Books that appeal to your head AND your heart

Today I’m chatting with Roxanne Coady, proprietor of RJ Julia bookstore in Madison, Connecticut and host of the Just The Right book podcast. Years ago, Roxanne did what many of my listeners have dreamed of doing – she left her old career behind, and started a bookstore.

Today, Roxanne and I explore how she found a calling that appealed to her heart rather than her head, emotionally resonant narratives, nonfiction that holds your hand through tough times, PLUS – I learned about the origin of book subscription boxes which trust me, you want to hear about.

Let’s get to it!

What Should I Read Next #126: Books that appeal to your head AND your heart with Roxanne Coady

Connect with Roxanne Coady: Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
Make sure to check out RJ Julia‘s Just The Right Book subscription service


Books mentioned in this episode:
Some links are affiliate links. More details here.
If you’d like to support your local indie, check out

• The Island, by Gustav Hurley (out of print) 
• Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by Michael Wolff (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• author Margaret Atwood (try Alias GraceAmazon | Barnes and Noble)
• White Houses, by Amy Bloom (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving, by Julia Samuel (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Perfect Nanny, by Leila Slimani (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Autumn, by Karl Ove Knausgaard (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Parking Lot Attendant, by Nafkote Tamirat (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
See What Can Be Done: Essays, Criticism, and Commentary, by Lorrie Moore (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Birds of America: Stories, by Lorrie Moore (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Who Will Run the Frog Hospital, by Lorrie Moore (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Educated, by Tara Westover (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• I Am I Am I Am, by Maggie O’Farrell (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Everything Here is Beautiful, by Mira T. Lee (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Tell Me More: Stories about the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say, by Kelly Corrigan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying, by Nina Riggs (Amazon | Barnes and Noble

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


Leave A Comment
  1. Leigh Kramer says:

    Roxanne, since you liked Grief Works, I’d suggest Kathryn Mannix’s The End In Mind. She’s a hospice doctor and shares a range of stories about patients and families before, during, and after death. I used to be a hospice social worker and child and teen bereavement specialist and I loved Alan Wolfelt’s books as a practitioner and as someone who was/is bereaved. He’s a bereavement expert and I cannot recommend his work highly enough! I also found Ruth Coughlin’s memoir Grieving to be quite moving. Just a few off the top of my head!

  2. This was an incredibly enjoyable podcast- I loved listening to Roxanne talk about books. If I were to give her some recommendations, I would say True Notebooks by Mark Salzman, The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel, and Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen.

  3. Mindy says:

    Roxane – I’m actually going to share a podcast suggestion. Your mention of learning how to interview made me think of the new-ish podcast The Turnaround with Jesse Thorn. Jesse talks with world-class interviewers to find out more about the art of interviewing. So far, episodes include discussions with Terry Gross, Ira Glass, Katie Couric, Larry King and several others. Check it out, think you would enjoy!

  4. s says:

    I LOVE Roxanne’s podcast, so thrilled to see my 2 favorite book podcasters come together in one episode!!! My favorite episode so far of Just the Right Book was when she interviewed the NY Times “book matchmaker”, and I thought wow Ann and that person should talk too.

    I have visited RJ Julia’s in Madison once and it was everything I imagined it would be. I hope to go back this summer and visit again. I am also fortunate to live an easy distance from her Wesleyan RJ Julia store but haven’t been since it first opened (before the grand opening and again afterwards) so a visit is LONG overdue!!

  5. Daija says:

    I listened to Julia Samuel‘s audiobook, and thought it was amazing.
    I also really liked Kerry Egan‘s On living, in which she shares insights from her work as a hospice chaplain (it’s not religious).

  6. Malissa says:

    I listened to this podcast on my hour drive to visit my mom this weekend. I smiled through the whole thing. What is better than two smart ladies talking about books! I am currently reading My Year With Eleanor and want to read White Houses. Today on the way to work I started listening to Roxanne’s podcast! Too bad my drive is only 15 minutes! 🙂 Thank you for everything both of you do!

  7. Johanna says:

    I loved this episode! However, I am left with the lingering question: what on earth was Anne GOING to recommend for the third book? She said she was torn between two, and the description of the first one intrigued me. Will I ever know???

  8. Jana says:

    Anne, what other book #3 were you going to recommend?

    Roxanne, why is your store called RJ Julia’s?

    This was a wonderful interview – I especially enjoyed it when Roxanne’s natural curiosity caused her to ask Anne questions. It is so satisfying to hear 2 people I admire and enjoy online converse with one another.

  9. Alisa says:

    I was so surprised and delighted when I started listening to this podcast…RL Julia is my all time favorite bookstore. My son was a student at the boarding school in town there, and I spent many a pleasant hour browsing the shelves and hanging out in the darling cafe (not to mention carting home plenty of purchases…always room in my suitcase for a couple more books!!).

  10. Judy says:

    Can you post more information about the book “The Island” by Gustav Hurley that is listed as the first title mentioned? Is it perhaps the book by Aldous Huxley? Just curious.
    I absolutely loved this podcast episode, btw. 🙂

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