WSIRN Ep 139: Snooping other people’s bookshelves + the patron saint of WSIRN

This week I’m chatting with Eric Zimmer, host of the podcast The One You Feed on which he interviews thoughtful people – a lot of them are authors – who have big ideas about making a “conscious, creative effort toward a life worth living.” You’ll hear me on his show in the near future! To make sure you don’t miss it, sign up for our free weekly newsletter

One of Eric’s favorites that we talk about today is TOTALLY surprising (hint: it’s his favorite comic strip character) but as he explains, it fits beautifully into his bookshelf of introspective titles—and fits right in with some of my introspective favorites. It certainly filled MY heart with joy, and I think a lot of listeners will feel the same. 

We’re also discussing noir detective novels, embarrassing library visits, books for the meditative reader, and much much more.

What Should I Read Next #139: Snooping other people’s bookshelves + the patron saint of WSIRN with Eric Zimmer

Connect with Eric Zimmer: Podcast | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram 


Books mentioned in this episode:
Some links are affiliate links. More details here.
If you’d like to support your local indie, check out And by all means, go grab one of these from your local library! 

• The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Dao De Jing, by Lao Zi (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Brothers K, by David James Duncan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The River Why, by David James Duncan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything, by Anne Bogel (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love – Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits, by Judson Brewer (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Second Life of Nick Mason, by Steve Hamilton (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Author Raymond Chandler (try The Big Sleep: Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Author Michael Connelly (try Two Kinds of TruthAmazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Author Lawrence Block  (try In The Midst of DeathAmazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The First Rule of Ten, by Gay Hendricks (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
 Sunburn, by Laura Lippman (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Tenth of December, by George Saunders (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)

Also mentioned:

• The Book Loft in Columbus, OH
• Indie bookstore finder
• WSIRN Ep 121: “The Secret” to a great self-help book, feat. Kristen Meisner & Jolenta Greenberg of By The Book 

What do you think Eric should read next? Does a childhood favorite comic still warm your heart? Let us know in the comments!


Leave A Comment
  1. Sachi says:

    I had to stop in the middle of the episode, and vouch for Book Loft! It’s an ecclectic collection of used books featured in 32 rooms of an old home. I was surprised to hear that Eric wasn’t a big fan! If I lived closer to Columbus (I live near Akron/Cleveland) I would go more often, but I’ll just have to settle for my annual summer trip for now!

  2. Brenda says:

    I am also a fan of noir detective novels, and I really like the Lew Archer series by Ross MacDonald. The setting is also mid-20th-century Los Angeles, like Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe stories. But I think there is even more moral complexity in MacDonald’s stories. Most are now back “in print” as ebooks.

  3. Cindy Turcotte says:

    I’ve been steadily working my way through the podcast backlogs but today I listened to a new one. I had to comment because….Eric, you have an amazing voice. You should look into doing more with it. Is that weird? Sorry if it is. 🙂

  4. Hannah says:

    This episode gave me some great ideas for my husband’s reading list. I’m curious: which book is Eric reading about the “devious things that anyone did during WWII to help with the war”? I couldn’t seem to find it in the show notes, and I don’t think the author or name was mentioned. Thank you!

  5. Ellen says:

    What is the name of the book mentioned at the end of the podcast that is about England and WWII? I could not find it in show notes. Thank you.

  6. Karen Wehman says:

    Enjoyed hearing Eric interviewed. As he noted, he reads a lot of non-fiction for his podcast and keeps a list of titles on his website. I also think I have to thank Eric and his podcast for leading me indirectly to the Modern Mrs Darcy website and the WhatShouldIReadNext podcast. Both bring me a great deal of pleasure.

  7. Katie says:

    A fellow Columbus resident! I’m so happy! I do love Gramercy and The Book Loft. The best things about Gramercy, though, are that it’s within walking distance of my house, AND it’s right across the street from the library. My book buying increased significantly once I could return a library book I loved and immediately walk across the street to buy it. Whoops!

    • Amberly says:

      I came over to comment about The Book Loft and Gramercy, and am so jealous that you have Gramercy so close by! I rarely make it down to Bexley (I live closer to Worthington), but ended up there last weekend – and fell in LOVE. The collection there was so well-curated, and the town itself is just PRECIOUS. You’re living the dream!

  8. Kimberly says:

    “…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
    Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903
    in Letters to a Young Poet

    I found it interesting that you were saying “live your way into the answer” because I read this quote and “live the questions now” is what stuck with me. I didn’t even remember the rest of the quote because the idea of living in the questions so resonated.


  9. Linda says:

    Just finished a modern day mystery takes place on the streets of LA. Protagonist is trying to live a moral life, but also has trouble with the law, eel intentioned. I read mysteries all the time but. This was different and the main character inspiring. IQ by Joe Ide

  10. Lauren says:

    Oh, I was so happy to hear you recommend “The Lowland” at the end of the episode. Lahiri is one of my all-time favorite authors, and I’ve been reading her works (some more than once!) since “Interpreter of Maladies” was assigned in my college freshman English course 20 years ago! “The Lowland” is my favorite work of hers. Excellent choice, Anne; I hope Eric enjoys it!

  11. Amy Thompson says:

    I’ve never resonated with a guest’s reading loves so strongly. The Brother’s K has been my favorite book for almost 20 years. Duncan’s compilation of essays that you both referenced is called River Teeth. I carry a small copy of Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao Te Ching in the pocket of my car’s door. And I can’t believe it took so many episodes for someone to give “three book love” to Calvin and Hobbes. Added quickly to my wish list: Mitchell’s translation of Letters to a Young Poet, and Tenth of December. Eric, my recommendation for you is a beautiful illustrated poem in the form of a picture book. All the World, by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee.

  12. Cheryl says:

    Hearing Eric talk about his favorites and about his life, I almost wanted to yell at my phone: “Shantaram! You have to read Shantaram!” It’s a novel, roughly based on the life of the author, Gregory David Roberts, about an ex-heroine addict who escapes from prison in Australia and winds up in Bombay. This is Bombay in the 1980s: it’s very noir, and Lin, the main character, experiences the absolute best and worst of humanity, telling about his incredible adventures in love and friendship, as well as war and the criminal underworld, with such amazing philosophical insight into the human condition. Can’t recommend it enough. If you love it, its sequel, The Mountain Shadow, is equally, if not more, heavy on eastern philosophy, though not as good in plot, in my opinion. Still, it’s always fun to root for characters you’ve come to know and love, so I still enjoyed it on that level. Eric, you must read Shantaram!!

  13. Caitlin says:

    Recommendation: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. It’s a mystery with a twist and an ending that you can ponder over.

  14. Laurie says:

    I want to recommend the Cliff Janeway series about a police detective turned bookseller. There are five and they all provide wonderful insights into bookstores and the antiquarian book business. The author is John Dunning. They are delightful, and I have especially enjoyed them on audio.

  15. Tina Howell says:

    This was a great episode. I second the great voice. I would also like to know the title of the book on WWII. I wanted suggest a book for Eric, The Coronor’s Lunch (Dr. Siri Paiboun Mysteries) by Colin Cotterill. These are set in Laos and Dr. Siri is a very curious Coroner that what’s to find out how the bodies got to him. He is also disgruntled with the government and has some interesting friends.

  16. Lisamarie says:

    Hi Anne & Team MMD,

    Thanks for another great installment of WSIRN!

    The edition of Letters To A Young Poet linked is not the one recommended in the podcast. Would you link the specific edition, pretty please?

    Paper & Glam

  17. Dorothy says:

    I love this episode, and listening to the reasons Eric loves Calvin and Hobbes, and I thought about my 9 year old son. He loves reading Big Nate books, which remind me of Calvin and Hobbes, and I think that his reasons for reading and tastes might be similar to Eric’s. What kind of books would you recommend for a younger (strong) reader along these same lines? Thanks!

    • Anne says:

      I checked out a few Calvin and Hobbes collections from the library after this episode, and now all four of my kids (8-15) are reading them regularly. 🙂

  18. Katie C says:

    You both need to come to Chillicothe, Ohio and visit Wheatberry Books! It’s a lovely little shop in historic downtown that’s been open just under a year. She has GREAT taste and the selection is always wonderful. Anne, there’s a fantastic coffee shop right next door called Paper City Coffee so you can feed both of your travel needs. 🙂

  19. Katie says:

    I’m super late to listening to this episode (somehow I skipped it in iTunes) but I have to comment about seeing your library history! LFPL does have this option going back a few years—it’s easy to find in the app. It doesn’t include your ebooks though. Thought others might want to know!

  20. Anne-Grete says:

    Thanks for the great episode. Is it just me or it seems that the described book Sunburn doesn’t really match the description of the book. Seems like you described a different book? I may be mistaken ofcourse:) The detective story seemed enticing to me, that is why I was looking for it.

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