WSIRN Ep 127: Seeking professional help (for quitting books)

Happy Tuesday, readers!

Jordan Bradley gets great book recommendations from his beloved wife Raeleen and from his local library – but isn’t quite sure how to strike out on his own to find books that won’t let him down. In today’s episode, we’re talking history, politics, education, futuristic fiction, far-flung expeditions, and using all the intel we gather to chart a course toward his happy reading island.

Sound like an adventure you want to go on? Let’s get to it.

What Should I Read Next #127: Seeking professional help (for quitting books) with Jordan Bradley

Connect with Jordan Bradley on Instagram, take a peek at Jordan and Raeleen’s farm on Instagram, and check out their business


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

• The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• author Louise Penny (try Still Life: Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Room for Improvement: A Life in Sport, by John Casey (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing: Encounters with the Mysteries and Meanings of Language, by Daniel Tammet (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Scott Anderson (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• To the Bright Edge of the World, by Eowyn Ivey (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• the Ethan Gage series, by William Dietrich (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Some Rise By Sin, Philip Caputo (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Lockstep, by Karl Schroeder (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Walden, by Henry David Thoreau (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Tooth Book, by Dr. Seuss (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• In Other Words, by Jhumpa Lahiri (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Ruins, by Scott Smith (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Unquiet Dead, by Ausma Zehanat Khan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
• Walden on Wheels, by Ken Ilgunas (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Glass Palace, by Amitav Ghosh (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Moonlight Hotel, by (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Tribe, by Sebastian Junger (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Perfect Storm, by Sebastian Junger (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• War, by Sebastian Junger (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)

Readers, we’re starting to add events to the calendar for summer and fall 2018, and when we’re ready to go public our newsletter subscribers will be the first ones to know Make sure you’re on the list so YOU stay in the know:

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


Leave A Comment
  1. Katy Sammons says:

    Two words for Jordan: Candice Millard. Start with “Destiny of the Republic.” I cant believe I haven’t heard you recommended this author yet, Anne. Check her out! 🙂

    • Jordan Bradley says:

      That is a very good book. I’ve enjoyed all of McCullough’s books, with the exception of the one about the Panama Canal. I haven’t read it yet in the hopes I find buried treasure one day and can read it while cruising to the canal. Dream big, right?!

      • Mary says:

        Yes, dream big! You did an excellent job today on the show! I have added to my TBR because of your recommendations. First up: Lawrence of Arabia.
        The historical novel The Haj by Leon Uris was also interesting. It would be a good one to discuss, a good one to lead to further research to reaffirm facts.

        • Jordan Bradley says:

          Leon Uris! I read Exodus when I was in 7th grade and was fascinated, but I haven’t read anything else of his. I’ll definitely add this one – thanks.

  2. Hi, Jordan,
    Loved this episode! I also can’t quit books, which I consider a personality flaw of mine.
    I’m going to give you two obvious picks and two less-obvious picks.
    1. Killers of the Moon Flower. This is HOT right now and rightly so. It’s face-paced, narrative non-fiction, with plenty of mystery and politics mixed in. You’ll finish and say, “How did this get left out of the history books?!”
    2. Educated by Tara Westover. This is also big right now for good reason. This may be the memoir that gets you into memoirs. It’s about perseverance against incredible odds and using our greatest heartbreaks to propel us forward. Also, you’re pinging me as a Mormon (if so, me too) and this is told from an extremist Mormon living in the mountains of Idaho. The setting (and maybe even religion) are nearly “characters” in this story. I also found the religious aspects to be fascinating.
    3. Wait Til Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin. This is like a glimpse into childhood into the 40’s and 50’s. It’s another memoir, but so well done and informative. Also, it’s written by a historian you probably already know and love. (You do not have to be a baseball fan to appreciate this book.)
    4. My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. I’m reading this right now and the writing is amazing. This is ALSO a memoir (sorry for that!), but I think it might give you the “feels” you didn’t get from Walden. It is funny, introspective and not the least bit pompous. It’s not at all a long book, but you’ll want to linger over the descriptions. So well done!

    • Jordan Bradley says:

      A list! I love it.

      1. Killers of the Flower Moon is phenomenal. The reporting and write are both exceptional and I loved reading this book. And yes, it really challenges what we think of the basic narrative and interplay of Justice and American political development.
      2. Yes (didn’t realize I was pinging – haha) and that has been added to my TBR
      3. Her work is excellent and I love baseball. Added to TBR.
      4. Again, this sounds great and I’ve added it to my TBR. Apparently I’ve just been looking at the wrong memoirs because I’m looking forward to picking these up. Thanks!

      • I’m so glad to hear this! I hope you enjoy them! If you do end up liking memoirs there is a whole world of really great books in store for you.

        I thought all Mormons “ping?” You mentioned Boise St., then you said you and your wife met in Italy and spoke Italian… so I’m thinking missions? You lived in your car and camped (Eagle Scout?) when your house deal fell through, rather than go into debt for alternative housing (provident living!). 🙂 LOL, a lot of presumptions there, but it all added up to, “This dude is totally a Mormon!” 🙂 LOL

    • Rissie Lundberg says:

      Holli and Jordan, You’re Mormons? I am too, but I was unaware that we ping. 😉 … I just (5 minutes ago) checked out EDUCATED from the library and can hardly wait to get started!

      • Rissie, I re-listened to your episode! Here’s the only pings I got – but, they’re slight, so I didn’t put them all together at first.
        1. The frequency you mention joy and your description of Scrooge being “repentant.”
        2. Your general book preferences – all good, wholesome-ish, happy. Definitely the “best books.”
        3. Your aversion to the porn chapter in Consider the Lobster. (Though who wouldn’t be grossed out… really…)
        4. Close family relationships – lots of mentions of sisters and brother-in-law.
        5. This one line, “I don’t drink wine.”
        But, again, these just skipped past my radar. It feels like cheating now that I know! 🙂
        Finally, I really thought that the book I’m reading now, “My Family and Other Animals” came from your episode of WSIRN. Now that I’ve relistened and didn’t hear the reference, I’m having an existential crisis wondering where in the world this book came from!

        • Rissie says:

          1. I *love* that you make lists.
          2. I want someone to write a book where you are the detective. Your ear for detail is perfect for a Father Brown type mystery.
          3. Did you listen to today’s episode? I think she pings Mormon as well. Thoughts?

          • Dear Rissie,
            Hahaha! Thank you for your sweet words!
            OMW (Oh, my word)! I’m like 99% convinced that this last guest IS ALSO A MORMON! When she said she loves genealogy I choked on my caffeine-free* Diet Coke! The repetition is uncanny and begs the following questions from one Mrs. Anne Bogel:
            1. Are you in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir?
            2. Is the “coffee” you drink really Postum?
            3. Are you headlining Time Out for Women?
            4. Are you an undercover Mormon?
            5. Are you an undercover Mormon-lover?
            6. And, if you answer yes to either 4. or 5., why have I, the unofficial president of the Mormons Love Anne Bogel Fan Club, not been invited on the show?

            Now, to find a polite way to ask Tracie about her religious preferences…

            *Actually QUITE caffeinated

  3. Fiona says:

    Jordan, you might enjoy books by Canadian author Stephen R Bown. He writes non-fiction history. My favourite was White Eskimo, but you might also enjoy The Last Viking, or Madness, Betrayal and the Lash.

    • Jordan Bradley says:

      Thanks Fiona – I had not heard of him before, but these books look like they’ll be right up my alley. I recently read Paul Watson’s Ice Ghosts (unjust summary: a couple British ships lost in the Arctic in 19th century, we couldn’t find them for ages, locals knew where they were at the whole time) would love to learn more about the Inuit people and culture.

  4. Helen G. says:

    I, too, thought of Educated by Tara Westover for you. Just finished it on audio and couldn’t “put it down”. Also, have you read The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah? The setting was a “character” in and of itself… heart wrenching, the story of the human journey toward life, love, family, survival, and resilience.

    • Jordan Bradley says:

      I’ve think I have heard of The Great Alone – I think Anne recommended it a month or so ago – but I wasn’t sure if it was for me or not and didn’t look it up. Having looked at it more now, I’ll give it a try though and get in the hold line. Thanks Helen.

  5. Kristin Fields says:

    Jordan, I am recommending my favorite book of all time: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.

    It ticks off several of your boxes: 1) subtitle
    2) place as an important element of the story
    3) a person overcoming severe odds, many times

    This is a biography of Louis Zamperini. He was an Olympic athlete, a World War II veteran, and overcame what we would now call PTSD and alcoholism through his experience meeting Billy Graham. It also reads like a novel. It is a substantial book, but don’t let that deter you. Thanks for all the recommendations through both you and Anne!

    • Jordan Bradley says:

      Unbroken has been on my TBR for a while now – Raelene keep telling me that it is great and I need to bump it up the list. I think I had just finished Boys in the Boat (fantastic) when she first recommended it and I wanted a change of pace so it got buried. I’ll bump it up the list – thanks Kristin.

  6. Andrea W says:

    I just finished, as in 5 minutes ago, The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers. It is the true story of a Yemeni
    American trying to resuscitate the coffee industry in Yemen while the country is descending into civil war. He starts out as a doorman and ends up a CEO. It is wonderful.

  7. Alice says:

    I enjoyed how Jordan spoke so eloquently about his favorites. I was nodding along with his description of To The Bright Edge of the World, one of my favorites of the year so far. I decided to put a hold on his third favorite, Exit West, at the library – and the book just won an award yesterday in Aspen(so I am adding this to my reading challenge checklist). Thanks for a great podcast. My reading life is so much more interesting with the 2018 challenge and the podcast as motivators!

  8. Deborah Lewis says:

    Here are my thoughts about novels Jordan might like:
    1. Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy: Wolf Hall, Bring up the Bodies, The Mirror and the Light
    2. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
    3. The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber

    I am definitely going to read The Glass Palace. Thank you for the recommendation, Ann. I really liked Ghosh’s Ibis Trilogy (although it took awhile to get through!).

    Ann, I think you should read Educated next! I think you said 2 episodes ago you hadn’t and you sounded ambivalent. I listened on Audible and the narrator is good and the story compelling!

    • Jordan Bradley says:

      Hello Deborah – 2 and 3 were in my TBR, but I’ll bump them up. Mantel’s books look very interesting. I usually avoid historical fiction from this period as I read a lot of theory from the period and have studied the history, so I tend to see the liberties taken more than the story on the page. However, in researching Mantel’s first Cromwell book further, I was intrigued by a couple comments I saw juxtaposing this book with Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons (a play about Sir Thomas More which I really enjoyed and think about often – “what are the words?” such a great scene!), as well as the numerous awards it has won. I’ll step out on a limb and give the first one a read – thank you very much.

      P.S. Do you ladies realize how many audible ads for Educated I am getting now? Haha, that one is definitely moving up the list due to popular demand.

      • Deborah Lewis says:

        I hope you enjoy Wolf Hall. I only knew the briefest bits of the history but was completely engaged in the storytelling and strong sense of place.

      • Tracie Haddock says:

        Ok, just as a public service to you, because your TBR list is growing a mile a minute, I will say that I started Mantel’s book Wolf Hall, and it was excellent right off the bat. But right about that time PBS debuted a miniseries adaptation of Wolf Hall, starring the incomparable Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, so I set the book aside for the show and did not regret it. It is breathtakingly good! So maybe that will take one book off your TBR, or maybe you can watch and read?

  9. Bookishlee says:

    You might enjoy historical fiction by Edward Rutherford. What he does is focus on a single place, and traces it throughout history. Each one is like a bunch of novellas, or short stories, in one huge sequential book. The characters and stories are compelling, and I learned a lot of history in a relatively painless way. I’ve only read _Sarum_ and _New York_, but they were both excellent, and I plan to read more.

  10. Ginger says:

    I love books where place is a character. I feel this is a distinctive (though not exclusive) hallmark of American Southern writing.

    The Little Way of Ruthie Leming by Rod Dreher has one of the strongest grasps on place I’ve ever read, and is a beautiful story of family besides. The subtitle is ‘A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life.’ Bonus: memoir.

    • Jordan Bradley says:

      Apparently I need to be reading more memoirs. I’m interested to see what this book has to say about community. Thanks Ginger.

  11. Kathy says:

    I’d like to recommend Graham Greene. He was a journalist and traveled extensively as well as an author of fiction. His novels have a fantastic sense of place, and the themes of moral and political questions are examined through close study of a few individuals. I’d start with his most famous work: The Power and the Glory.

    • Jordan Bradley says:

      Ha! I’ve always liked the quote about Italy having tyrants and war and the Renaissance and Switzerland having peace and the cuckoo clock, but I didn’t know who said it until I was looking up Greene on Goodreads. I’m adding him to my TBR, and I think I’ll start with The Third Man so I can finally see the context of that quote. Thanks Kathy.

  12. Denise Brown says:

    I thought this episode was so interesting! Right off the bat, I began saying outloud, “Wendell Berry’s Hannah Coulter!”
    I don’t know if you’ve read any of Berry’s work but he writes excellent non-fiction too. But Hannah Coulter is a great place to start. Happy Reading!

    • Jordan Bradley says:

      I have no excuse for having not yet read Berry – The Unsettling of America and Bringing it to the Table have been on my TBR for ages. I definitely need to fix that, and I’ll add Hannah Coulter too. Thanks Denise.

  13. Kristi says:

    Jordan, I know these two books have been on the podcast before, but I can’t help but wonder if you have read Beartown by Fredrick Backman or 11/22/63 by Steven King? Beartown is a great example of the place being almost another character in the story without sacrificing character development or plot. And 11/22/63 kept me turning pages until late into the night and I thought his characters were stunning.

    Thanks for the Lawrence In Arabia recommendation. I went into a WW1 deep dive a couple of years ago and anything in that area still piques my interest. Great episode!

    • Jordan Bradley says:

      We bought Beartown last year and I was about to start it when a bunch of holds came in from the library. I definitely want to get to it though – a Man Called Ove was phenomenal. I want to be like Ove when I grow up.

      11/22/63 has also been on my TBR for a while – I think I’ll move it to my audio list so I can get to it sooner. Thanks Kristi!

  14. Johanna wilbur says:

    Jordan – you should check out Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekback. It’s set in 18th century Swedish Lapland and it’s setting is so gorgeous and present as a character. The writing is superb.

  15. Jana says:

    Have you read “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett? I loved it about 25 years ago – epic tale (900 pages or so?) of a cathedral builder in 12th century Europe. A cautionary note: I listened to it on audio 15 years ago while driving and had a near fatal car wreck. I still wonder if I pulled out in front of that other car because I was listening so intently. . .

  16. Kellie says:

    Jordan, the entire episode I was thinking of “A Soldier of the Great War” by Mark Helprin. I came to mind for several reasons. First, it’s long! It’s set in Italy and Is beautiful. The setting definitely is a character all on its own. It’s epic! With in-depth character analysis. ENjoy!

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