WSIRN Ep 135: When your reading life is nothing like people expect

Guest and author Jen Hatmaker is known for speaking publicly about a lot of things but reading isn’t one of them! At least, not the books she’s really reading on her own time—and today you’re going to hear how different those titles are from what you probably EXPECT her to enjoy reading.

Today Jen and I get to chat about about the intricacies of her home library, the book that gave her nightmares, the books she’s afraid to read on the bus, the finer points of humor writing, our foodie favorites, and more.

What Should I Read Next #135: When your reading life is nothing like people expect with Jen Hatmaker

Connect with Jen Hatmaker: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Podcast


Books mentioned in this episode:
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• The Nancy Drew series, by Carolyn Keene (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Author Anne Lamott (try Hallelujah Anyway: Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Calypso, by David Sedaris (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, by Gabrielle Hamilton (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley (start with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, by Austin Channing Brown (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• This Is How it Always Is, by Laurie Frankel (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Mudbound, by Hillary Jordan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See (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)
• Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Less, by Andrew Sean Greer (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
Rush, by Lisa Patton (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories, by David Lebovitz (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City, by David Lebovitz (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perlman (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Cookbook author Chrissy Teigen (try Cravings: Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Life, on the Line: A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat, by Grant Achatz (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)

Also mentioned:
Hello Stranger on the Street, Could You Please Tell Me How To Take Care of My Baby? via McSweeney’s
How To Write A Nicholas Sparks Movie, via Cracked

Readers, the new 2018 Summer Reading Guide is here! This is my personal, hand-curated collection of 25 of the season’s best reads. I’ve read and loved every one, and I tell you what you need to know so YOU can decide which books are right for your summer reading list. Don’t miss it.

What do YOU think Jen should read next next? Do you have a favorite title or genre you keep a secret? Let us know in the comments!


Leave A Comment
  1. Sarah B. says:

    I loved this episode! And just added 2 books to my library list, thank you!! When Jen said that she prefers for sadness to hit unexpectedly in books, it was a total forehead slap for me. That’s it! That is why I like SOME sad books but not most. I like for the sadness or grief to feel natural, not to be something I anticipate (a la Nicolas Sparks). Also, I found it so funny when Jen mentioned that she doesn’t listen to audiobooks. I listened to Jen’s most recent book, ‘Of Mess and Moxie’ on audio and Jen did something I’d never heard in another audiobooks– she went off script!! It was delightful as an audiobook reader/listener but hearing this insight into Jen’s reading life makes sense and makes me love her more. Thank you both for accompanying me on my morning run with such a great episode!

    • Tina Howell says:

      I loved the unexpected sadness too. Brit Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Bakman had me laughing so hard I had to pull over and then bawling completely unexpected horribly. I was searching for tissues all over my car, it was a wonder I did not get in a wreck.
      Thanks for a great episode.

  2. Susan says:

    What a delightful episode! I just listened to Jen Hatmaker on Typology and loved her so much and was excited to see that she was on What Should I Read Next. I loved her explanation about David Sedaris and his writing and why it is so good! I am a big fan as well. I also am in agreement about Nicholas Sparks – not a fan.

    Adding Kelly Corrigan to my TBR list right now!

  3. Kasey says:

    I loved hearing two of my favorite writers and podcasters together! I wondered if Jen had read Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson. Marcus was adopted from Ethiopia by a couple in a Sweden and went on to become a ?‍? chef. Jen, if you haven’t read this memoir, I think you’d love it!

  4. Tina Howell says:

    I’m so glad I’m not the only person that did not like The Lovely Bones! Very excited to add a bunch from this talk to my list. Thanks. Great episode.

    • Tina Howell says:

      I forgot to recommend, have you read The Lamb by Christopher Moore? That’s one for the, laugh so hard but don’t tell anyone you read list. And for the spontaneous sobbing that I didn’t know was coming list, Brit Marie Was Here. My favorite book this year.

  5. This episode resonated with my soul! FINALLY, a conversation about David Sedaris!!! I’m a Mormon and I LOVE David Sedaris. There, I said it!

    Also, the moment Jen mentioned Kelly Corrigan, I knew she was my gal. Kelly Corrigan couldn’t write a bad word (maybe an expletive, but not a bad word) if she tried. The Middle Place and Glitter & Glue are pretty much my all-time favorite books!

    In that vein, I’m wondering if Jen has read any Haven Kimmel? A Girl Named Zippy and She Got Up Off the Couch are in the same tent as Corrigan and Sedaris, in my opinion. Very fun, very honest and so decisively witty. Also, I’d recommend Rick Bragg for his equally observant, unvarnished look at life.

    • ** wee addendum: Should all the world decide to listen to this episode and then dive into the exhaustive David Sedaris anthology, might I please suggest you try him on audio. I’ve read his physical books but I MUCH prefer him on audio… I’m not usually an audiobook person but the great Mr. Sedaris PERFORMS his books. He doesn’t just read them.

    • Laura says:

      I love Rick Bragg! All Over But the Shoutin’ is one of my favorite books. Such tremendous writing with heart.

  6. Ashley says:

    My BFF JEN!!!! Loved this episode. I became a fan of Jen after reading her book 7. I SO appreciate her voice in the Christian world. She didn’t mention this book in the podcast, but I think she might enjoy Hyperbole and a Half. I’m not typically into comics, but my book club read this a few years ago and we all laughed so hard we tinkled a little.

  7. Wendy says:

    Funny memoir for Jen from a Texas TV recap blogger/podcaster of our generation(so you know she won’t judge our love of football, Friends, and Netflix): Why I Hate Green Beans by Lincee Ray.

  8. Kelsey says:

    Another good one- Jen and I must have similar taste because there were a lot of titles mentioned that I’ve loved and would recommend! One aside (speaking of Netflix…): Grant Achatz/Alinea are featured on Season 2, episode 1 of Chef’s Table on Netflix. I highly recommend that series and especially that episode.

  9. Andrea Methvin says:

    Blue crystal Bic pens!!!!!!! I am not the only one! They really are the best. Keep your Parkers and Mont Blancs, just give me the Bic….

  10. Mary says:

    Nicholas Sparks’s books are not my first choices (I have only read one) but his memoir with his brother Micah “Three Weeks With My Brother” was quite good! A student of mine recommended it, over and over, until I finally read it and now it stays in my mind.

    • Jana says:

      That is the only Sparks book I have ever enjoyed! Excellent memoir. (But why did keep trying his fiction when it was clearly written by a formula that got up my nose?)

  11. Loved the episode – loved most of the books mentioned but got a few great suggestions. Jen Ithink you’d love The Outlander by Gil Adamson (Canadian author); The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell and the memoirs Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green thumb and an Open Heart by Carol Wall and Wondering Who You Are by Sonya Lea. Happy reading! And I too … lovelovelove Alan Bradley’s books – Flavia is one of the best series.

  12. Adrienne Hudson says:

    Great episode, and I laughed until I snorted at the phrase “Netflix adultery”! Haha! I don’t think I have any suggestions for Jen, but I’ve never read Kelly Corrigan, or David Sedaris, or the Flavia series, so I’ve added these to my TBR list. Thanks!

  13. Anki says:

    Jen, as you have stated you enjoy rereading and you also mentioned not having much experience with audiobooks, I highly recommend the Flavia de Luce books in audio. Jayne Entwistle is the narrator and she does an *amazing* job at giving Flavia (and everyone else in Bishop’s Lacey) a voice.

  14. Jana says:

    Jen, the best grown-up Nancy Drew books (mystery series based on one character) that have ever been written are the alphabet series by Sue Grafton. Her main character, Kinsey, is funny, smart, real, funny, authentic, endearing and funny. You can start with A is for Alibi and get all the way to Y (I don’t know if it has been written yet). The books began in the ’80s when Kinsey was about 32 years old, and by the end of the series, she might be 35. You will want to hang out with this chick! (Shoot, I want to BE her!)

  15. Tina Howell says:

    I have one more recommendation for after you read Born a Crime. Hum if You Don’t Know the Words. This was probably a little earlier in South Africa then Born a Crime, but very good.

    • Anne says:

      That’s a great recommendation! I’m so glad you mentioned it here—it deserves to be more widely known and read than it is.

  16. BarbN says:

    As a former Evangelical, I didn’t think I’d have much in common with Jen, but apparently we have almost exactly similar reading taste. And also the shared history of the dusty Baptist library– the Mandie books, and there was a girl detective named Joy(??). I think Nancy Drew might have been too secular for our church, but I read them at home. I don’t think I’ve ever read a food memoir, so that gives me a whole new genre to try. Thanks for the recommendations.

  17. Shannon Dunahoo says:

    I love food memoirs too! I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed reading Julia Child’s memoir- also The James Beard collection of his newspaper articles (includes recipes)- can’t remember the title. Anne, did you watch Chef’s Table? Season 2, episode 1 on Alinea- sooo good. AND Somebody Feed Phil (and his PBS basically season 1 entitled I’ll Have What Phil’s Having)- a comedy writer who travels and eats- and calls his parents in every episode- so great.

  18. Anna says:

    Great episode! I have two memoirs to recommend for Jen: We Are All Shipwrecks by Kelly Grey Carlisle and Pancakes in Paris by Craig Carlson. I think she would love each of them for different reasons 🙂

  19. Heather says:

    I just started to listen to the Flavia de Luce series on audio and I ADORE it. Thank you for exploding my TBR with this series!

  20. Patti Jankowski says:

    One of my favorite food-related memoirs is “Immoveable Feast – A Paris Christmas” by John Baxter. When Baxter marries a French woman and moves to Paris, he takes on the project of cooking a very traditional and special French Christmas dinner for his new extended family. This memoir is probably best enjoyed around the holidays, or maybe now if you want to mentally escape the summer heat!

  21. FINALLY! Flavia De Luce came up in the podcast. OH, how happy I am!
    For anyone who is interested, the audiobooks for the Flavia De Luce are so joyous that I cannot read them anymore, I have to listen to each one.

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