WSIRN Ep 144: Wanna read more? Quit your job.

Today’s guest Travis Meserve made a seriously drastic lifestyle change that upped his reading game by a mile. (Can you guess?) We also tackle bookstore anxiety – like, where should you look in the store to look for your next read? How do you get past the nerves and talk to your friendly local bookseller? And is there a secret key to understanding the Bestsellers table up front? Readers, I am up to the challenge, and loved chatting with Travis at all this and more. Join us!


What Should I Read Next #144: Wanna read more? Quit your job. with Travis Meserve

You can read more about Travis Meserve’s reading life and world travels on his blog,


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 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, by Tim Farris (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• author Ryan Holiday (try The Daily Stoic: Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Anything is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Duck Season, by David McAninch (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Years of Lyndon Johnson series, by Robert A. Caro (start with The Path To Power: Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• the Travis McGee series, by John MacDonald (start with The Deep Blue Good-by: Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• East of Eden, by John Steinbeck (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Lord of the Flies, by William Golding (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• An Unkindness of Magicians, by Kat Howard (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Breaks of the Game, by David Halberstam (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
 City on Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Personal History, by Katharine Graham (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• My Life in France, by Julia Child (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
 The Glass Hotel, by Emily St. John Mandel (coming in 2019!)
• Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
 Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
 Calypso, by David Sedaris (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, by David Sedaris (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Theft by Finding, by David Sedaris (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)

Also mentioned:
• and the IndieNext list
• The Strand (NY)
• Bart’s Books (CA)
• Book People (TX)
• WSIRN Ep 128: When contemporary fiction feels like a crapshoot, with Tracie Haddock


What do YOU think Travis should read next? Let us know in the comments!


Leave A Comment
  1. Susan in TX says:

    Katherine Graham’s Personal History actually came out initially in the late 1990’s – won the Pulitzer in 1998 and was a Book of the Month Club selection in its day, so it should be fairly easy to find people to discuss it with (just pick some older people who might have read it before the movie came out 😉 ).

    Erik Larson might be a good author for you as well. Narrative nonfiction done extremely well.

    • Rachel says:

      I loved this book. It was empowering to me when I was finishing college to read a story about a this important woman’s life. Her life ended up traveling a completely different path than she thought it would was when she was 21. Twenty years later, this still resonates with me. Side note: Amazon tells me this book was the first book I ever bought there…

    • Jennifer O. says:

      I really enjoyed Katharine Graham’s memoir when I read it, maybe 10 years ago. It made me disappointed in The Post, because I knew more about what was going on with her and what she’d already achieved and overcome. Also, a few years ago the Graham family sold the Washington Post to Jeff Bezos of Amazon. I live in DC and it was a big deal here.

  2. Kelcey says:

    Andre Agassi’s Open and Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog. I’m not even particularly a sports fan, but these books were fantastic and sound like books Travis would enjoy.

    • Travis M. says:

      I actually just finished Shoe Dog this morning, great book! Not the typical business memoir. And I’d read Agassi’s Open in the past and enjoyed that one as well. 🙂

  3. Margaret says:

    Ooooh man! I read the title and thought maybe I had been interviewed for the podcast but didn’t know it somehow. I, too, quit my NYC corporate job to take a year “off” traveling and pursuing some creative projects over the past year. I’ve gotten so much from this sabbatical, but one of the best things I’ve gained has been a voracious reading habit that’s never been able to flourish in the past! I’ve listened to and read more than I ever thought possible – all through the library’s eLibrary, of course. I found WSIRN last fall and have devoured every single episode. I’ve started tracking my reading and seeking out better books (for me). I have always loved patronizing indie book shops on my travels, but now I don’t feel nearly as bad buying so many books from them – because I know they’ll get read! I think that even when I get a job and settle back into my “normal life,” my reading life will never be the same! Maybe I’ll still sign myself up to be a guest on WSIRN because my favorite books still haven’t been mentioned – but man, the interview would be so, so similar.

    • Anne says:

      What an amazing coincidence! Thanks for chiming in. That’s so interesting that even now that you’re back, the benefits to your reading life endure.

  4. Andrea Methvin says:

    I’m with Travis…I didn’t like A Wrinkle in Time as a kid, and I didn’t like it any better as an adult. Glad there is someone else-I was beginning to think there was something wrong with me! For great books about France, you can never go wrong with Peter Mayle. My favorite is “A Year in Provence”.

  5. Michelle Wilson says:

    I’m so happy that Travis reminded me of the Travis McGee series. I’m on my second time through The Alphabet Mysteries (Kinsey Milhone is the PI. Written by Sue Grafton). Just have Y is for Yesterday left then no more Kinsey. I first read them in HS with my dad same with the Travis McGee books-glad to look up another old friend. I so enjoy mysteries set before computers and DNA usage.Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Sommer says:

    I think 11/22/63 would’ve a great fit for him! He loves history and writing that isn’t flowery, isn’t afraid of long books, and it would get him outside his usual genres without being too much outside his comfort zone. For what it’s worth, I haven’t met anyone who has read this book and didn’t love it!

  7. Judy says:

    Is a tone else having problems with this recording? I listen through Stitcher and it plays for about 11 minutes then stops. It sends a buffering error. I dob’t have problems with anything else. Just this episode.

  8. MISSY says:

    SO GLAD I’m not the only one who didn’t like A Wrinkle in Time. I never read it growing up, but read it about a month ago since all the hype with the movie. What a disappointment! (I also hated Gone With the Wind. When I say that here in Georgia people cringe.)

    • Daniella says:

      I gasped out loud (ugh so dramatic, but true) at the book he strongly disliked. I recently re-read it and loved it! Haha to each their own.

  9. I would second the Erik Larson recommendation. The Devil in the White City is one of my all-time favorites. Another Robert Caro, suggestion is The Power Broker which is about Robert Moses, the long-time civil engineer of New York City. It is a true, doorstop of a book and, like the Johnson series, spans the middle decades of the 20th Century, focusing on Travis’ home city. -Karen

    • Liz says:

      Travis, I second “Soul Librarian’s” pick of The Power Broker-Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert Caro. Just check out the reviews on Amazon. One of the best books I have read. But, it is a door stop of a book. I listened to it on Audible. [The audio book is 66 hours long…but only one credit in Audible. Listening to this book made me a daily walker!] I live in Oregon – and found reading about how New York city’s infrastructure was built to be mesmorizing. I also listened to the LBJ books – and loved every minute. Can’t wait for the last book to be published!

  10. Katy Sammons says:

    Great episode! Once again, I will recommend Candace Millard’s books. Start with “Destiny of the Republic” —about the Garfield assasination. Millard is a master of narrative nonfiction like Eric Larson.

  11. Becky says:

    Listening to Travis talk about having trouble talking to people in an independent bookstore reminded me of my summer vacation. We were in Skagway, AK, and we walked into Skaguay News Depot and Books. We were fortunate to walk in at a time when not many people were there. The lady there was a “real” local, and also very outgoing. She greeted us, and started asking us about where we were from, and what we were looking for. Listening to this podcast and all the wonderful stories about indie bookstores came to mind, so after looking for some gifts, I asked about local authors. Wow, she knew so many and recommended a half-dozen authors! Visiting SMALL bookstores makes it much easier to speak with employees.

  12. Kala says:

    I don’t have a specific book to recommend but I would recommend that Travis definitely expand his podcast listening. He will learn about new and old authors and he will be able to broaden his reading appetite. He’ll go into the bookstore recognizing titles that he wasn’t able to recognize before.

  13. Carol says:

    Great episode! I just requested The Path to Power from the library. I mentioned to Tracie Haddock ( another wonderful episode) the book “Letters to Jackie:Condolences from a Grieving Nation” by Ellen Fitzpatrick. I think Travis would really enjoy this book too. Wonderful letters from so many caring people who felt so sad for Mrs. Kennedy, family and nation.

  14. Kally Punger says:

    I think Travis would enjoy “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles and “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese. Also, there is an HBO version of “Olive Kitteridge” for him to watch if he enjoyed the book (as I did also). Thanks for another great episode!

  15. Travis, I’m so jealous. In 1996 my husband and I sold our house to fund a round the world trip, but we only got three months of travel. However, I am eternally grateful that we took that trip. Unfortunately e-readers weren’t invented yet, so I only took two books, Pride and Prejudice and Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love. I would have loved to have been able to take more books. Thanks for this fun episode.

    I’ll just throw this series of books out there as a suggestion, The Cadfael Mystery series. It takes place in the twelfth century in Western England. Cadfael is a Welsh monk, who was once a crusader. He’s the herbalist at the monastery, and also happens to solve murders. There are about twenty books in the series. I’ll also suggest J.A. Jance. I’ve only read a few of her books. The Joanna Brady series takes place in my home county in Arizona, but she also has a series that take place in Seattle.

    At some point you might want to visit Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon. I used to live there and it’s a world famous bookstore. The primary location takes up an entire city block and two or three floors.

    Have fun reading!

  16. Dr. Roxanne Hecht says:

    It’s about time someone acknowledged the superb writing of Robert Caro. I’ve devoured all of the LBJ series as soon as the books were released. This series defines true historical narrative. I think Travis would enjoy Lonesome Dove. While fictional and long, it conveys much about culture and difficulties of the frontier in the 1800’s. Larry McMurtry is also an outstanding writer, and provides a picturesque narrative.
    I haven’t heard you mention anything about the PBS Great American Read series/project. It would certainly encourage more reading, especially of the classics.

  17. Jená Burges says:

    The disparaging mention of A Wrinkle in Time brought back a vivid memory: 1991, in a tiny house we’d just moved into, reading the that book to my three kids, ages 9, 10 (both boys), and 12 (girl) in the room they were all temporarily sharing now after they’d had rooms of their own. As I began reading the climax (spoiler alert!) where Meg steadfastly declares her love for her little brother no matter what, I started weeping. When they wanted to know why, I couldn’t explain that Meg’s unconditional love, under the very worst of circumstances, was exactly what I deeply wanted them to have for one another — but I think they knew. That memory chokes me up every. single. time. So I’d have to disagree about the book’s having held up over the years.

  18. Tracie Haddock says:

    Travis, I am out here! I was just listening to your episode about 6 days later than I usually do, and then I heard my name mentioned, and about knocked over my phone, ha! I literally just paused the episode to run to my computer and comment. Those Robert Caro books about Lyndon Johnson sound absolutely mesmerizing. I will be reading those for sure, as soon as I finish Hamilton by Ron Chernow (I am typically at least two years behind the trends, better late than never, right?). Thank you for the recommendation and the shout out–I love book people, and I LOVE this podcast!

  19. Ginger Mallard says:

    Travis mentioned that he doesn’t care for overly-done, wordy prose, and that made me think of Night by Elie Wiesel and When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka. These are both pretty short reads; in Night (non-fiction), Wiesel talks about his experiences as a boy in a Jewish concentration camp, and Emperor (fiction) is a story about a family in a Japanese internment camp. At first, I was really surprised by how spare, even emotionless, the writing was in both of these until I realized that perhaps emotion was a luxury and a drain on energy that these people simply couldn’t afford. Thinking about it from this perspective made these already poignant stories even more so. I know this isn’t quite the direction Travis was looking to go in, but they are what sprang to mind while I was listening, so I thought I’d throw them out there. ?

  20. Lauren McHugh says:

    The whole time I was hoping Anne would bring up Ken Follett, but since she didn’t- I will! A lot of his books are high quality (and long at 1000+ pages), but the Kingsbridge series blows my mind every time. It sounds so boring, book 1 (Pillars of the Earth) is about the building of a cathedral in the 12th century. But it is about the relationship between the church and the village. Terrible villains, graphic scenes (think game of thrones), but so well written that you feel like you are watching a movie about history. The following books are about the same town hundreds of years later. I’m about to read book 3!

  21. Michelle Nail says:

    For Travis I would recommend a book I just finished, New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson. It is a little bit science fiction, a little bit New York City history and part adventure story with a healthy side dose of climate science and economic theory. It’s a big book told from several different intertwining perspectives and is a fast read without sacrificing good writing and style.

  22. Christina says:

    I was really relieved to hear his thoughts on A Wrinkle in Time. I read it as my “Classic I’ve been meaning to read” this year…and I did not enjoy it. I had to slog through, and mercifully, it was short. I totally agree with his analysis that the plot and characters were really basic and not developed, but I thought I was totally alone in that conclusion! 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.