WSIRN Ep 146: Refugee camps, civil war, and the triumph of a library card

WSIRN Ep 146: Refugee camps, civil war, and the triumph of a library card

Happy Tuesday, readers!

Today on What Should I Read Next, I’m having an incredible conversation with Chatti Phal-Brown about how war, family, trauma, joy, and hope for the future have shaped her reading life. She requested I recommend a genre I’ve almost NEVER discussed on the show, and her least favorite book… well, it might surprise you, and her reasons provide a LOT of food for thought. I might have to re-read this hated book so I can see what she’s talking about.

I don't want anyone to miss today's episode because IT'S SO GOOD. But you should know it gets emotional at times, and Chatti speaks candidly about topics like genocide, sexual assault, and racism. If those topics might be triggering for you, please take care of yourself by listening with caution, or simply setting this episode aside and tuning in next week.

You can hear more from Chatti on her blog Chatti The Brave, follow her on Instagram, and browse her GORGEOUS handcrafted body products.

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

• Flowers in the Attic, by V. C. Andrews (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, by Eleanor Coerr (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
 Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• The Outsiders, by S. E. Hinton (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Wildwood, by Colin Meloy (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Everything Here is Beautiful, by Mira T. Lee (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• A Place For Us, by Fatima Farheen Mirza (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• When the Elephants Dance, by Tess Uriza Holthe (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• News of the World, by Paulette Jiles (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
 The Hello Goodbye Window, by Norton Juster (AmazonBarnes and Noble)

Also mentioned:
• Godless on Netflix
• Westworld on HBO

Thank you to today's sponsors:

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

110 comments | Comment

110 comments

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  1. Angie says:

    Hi!
    I really enjoyed today’s episode. Tuesday mornings are for listening to your podcast. 😄
    I wanted to suggest True Grit for Chatti as well since she was looking for westerns. Strong female main character and it’s a quick read.

    • Stacey says:

      I was just coming here to recommend True Grit! Another Western that I remember enjoying (though I don’t remember too much about it – I read it a long time ago!) was The Son by Philipp Meyer.

    • Chatti says:

      Thank you, Angie! I’m staring at True Grit right now. It’s pleading to me. Honestly, I didn’t even know what it was really about but I’m glad to know there’s a strong female character. That makes it even more exciting to read!

    • Meg Duffy says:

      I agree!! I really thought I was the only one who didn’t love it. I just can’t stand that book. I don’t understand why they book gets so much love! At least there are 3 of us in the world now.

    • I didn’t care for it either. It was my first Rainbow Rowell book and I was kinda thinking… really? This is what everyone is worked up about?

      Can I also add to the list of its injustices?

      When a character is plus-size, WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE THE ENTIRE TOPIC OF CONVERSATION?! Like can’t a character just be a size – any size – and that’s it? Does it have to be mentioned in every bit of description and in every bit of dialogue – both internal and external? Don’t we have enough of this already in our daily lives that we don’t need it shoved down our throat every other sentence? (Sorry, rant over.)

    • Chatti says:

      Jessica, I did so too for such a long time and even felt a little ashame that I hated this book (like, why was I out of the norm?!) but all we can do is be honest to our feelings, am I right?!

    • BarbN says:

      Me too. I read Fangirl first and loved it, and since Eleanor and Park got so much love, I thought it would be even better. It’s been long enough that I dont remember the details but I remember being really disappointed. All that build up and I just couldn’t bring myself to care.

  2. Anne Wilkinson says:

    I just had the most surreal experience! I was listening to the episode on my walk this morning. Just as I heard Anne say, “happy reading” I was opening the door of a Free Little Library in my neighborhood. I looked inside to see what treasures might be in there when I saw News of the World by Paulette Jiles tucked in the corner! So crazy! Obviously I took it home with me. I guess I know what I am going to be reading next.

    • Chatti says:

      I love when that happens. I actually found so many more Western books just by being on this podcast. I rather, they found me! Enjoy the book, it’s a quick read!

      • Chatti says:

        I meant to say, “I love when that happens. I actually found so many more Western books just by being on this podcast. Or rather, they found me! Enjoy the book, it’s a quick read!”

        Quick read but lots of great relationship building.

  3. I’ve listened to every episode on WSIRN and this — by far — is my favorite! I was in tears along with Chatti and cannot imagine what her family has been through.
    There are two graphic novels that came to mind as she was talking:
    1. Maus – powerful tale of the Holocaust
    2. The Best We Could Do – a daughter reconciles her parents’ traumatic history of the Vietnam War with their current lives. Her story reminded me so much of Chatti’s. Though it might be too close for comfort…

    I also loved this episode because I, too, am a HUGE fan of Like Water for Chocolate. The copy I had featured these gorgeous lavender and navy embellishes that inspired the color palette of my future kitchen renovation!

    I wish I could find a novel that balanced the intrigue, complicated family relationships, forbidden/unrequited love and magical realism that ensnared me throughout that book. But, alas, no one has done it… though Gabriel Garcia Marquez has come close! I’ve heard Isabel Allende is also a master of this craft, but I haven’t tried her just yet.

    Happy reading, Chatti!

    • Also, I was curious… I would love to learn more about Cambodian history. Are there any good non-fiction books or memoirs about this time? I feel like I got 20 minutes – maybe – of this MAJOR global tragedy in my World History class in school.

      • Chatti says:

        Hi Hollie,

        One book that comes to mind is Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick. It’s told in the point of view of Arn Chorn-Pond, who is now a music advocate and founder of Cambodian Living Arts. My husband is a friend of his and said that while it was written by McCormick, you definitely heard Arn’s voice and can even picture his mannerisms. Arn’s story is also told in a PBS documentary called The Flute Player.

      • Ilse says:

        There’s a new memoir (in graphic novel format) called The Dead Eye and the Deep Blue Sea by Vannak Anan Prum about a Cambodian man who left his village to work in Thailand for a few months to support his family. He unwittingly got caught in forced labor for years, and survived because of his artistic ability.

          • Ilse says:

            I just finished reading The Dead Eye And The Deep Blue Sea and it was very moving. Not an easy read emotionally, but an important story to be shared. The author/illustrator was enslaved for almost 5 years. When he returned to his wife in Cambodia — she didn’t believe or recognize him. He drew the pictures in this book to explain what had happened to him. An incredible, true story of survival. Heartbreaking, eye-opening. Prum has incredible emotional and psychological strength, a true superhero. Highly recommend.

    • Chatti says:

      Thank you for the recommendations Holli. I’ll look them up at my library and put them on hold. I’m so happy to hear someone loves Like Water For Chocolate as much as me. You know the pomegranate dish that Tita made? I searched high and low for it till maybe 3 years ago I found it here in Denver and it was the best thing I ever tasted. But now the restaurant closed and the recipe is so complex! Happy reading to you too!

  4. Anna says:

    Great episode. I don’t know if Chatti has ever read the book called The Disappeared by Kim Echlin. It is a novel that centres around the Cambodian genocide experience. It’s a serious and somber book but I thought it was very thought provoking and I would imagine if it touched on her family history, it would be worth reading for her. Also, if we are talking about Westerns I would highly recommend a book called The Sone by Philip Meyer. It is historical fiction about how the state of Texas was formed. It is rather gritty at times but the writing was solid and the story was great.

    • Chatti says:

      I have The Son. It was mentioned in the Author’s note of News Of the World. I’m excited to get it to the top of my tbr.

      I haven’t read The Disappeared and I’ll check it out soon. Thank you so much for the recs!

  5. Any smalley says:

    I have a couple of suggestions for the Western category. All three of these don’t necessarily have cowboys but all are about he American West frontier in the mid to late 1800s.

    Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner – won the Pulitzer Prize

    These is My Words by Nancy Turner. Set in American Southwest

    One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

  6. Leslie says:

    I loved this episode! And it’s a good push to get me to read Lonesome Dove. My husband is obsessed with the miniseries and wants to name our future sons Augustus and Woodrow. Yikes! I told him before we got married that I just could not name children after miniseries characters, but that I would read the book to understand the characters from a literary perspective. I’ve had Lonesome Dove sitting around for a long time, waiting to be read. Part of me is afraid that I will read it, fall in love with the characters, and agree to those names!

    • Chatti says:

      I think those names are cute or can be middle names. Boy names are so hard to come up with. I have Lonesome Dove but have been intimidated to read it (it’s so thick!)

  7. Amanda says:

    I suggest “Chocolat” by Joanne Harris. I’ve read that book 3 times and I love it. I think it may fit Chatti’s love for the food aspect in books.

  8. Sachi says:

    Just wanted to say that I loved this episode, and was happy to hear from another Asian reader/listener! I second the earlier comment about The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui. It’s a beautifully illustrated graphic memoir of a family’s refugee experience. (I actually had it on my list for Chatti before I got to the comments list)

    Also wanted to give a big, “THANK YOU” to Anne for offering a platform that features diverse readers with powerful experiences and unique perspective. It’s so important for these stories to be told, and I was thankful and honored to listen to Chatti’s comments today!

    • Chatti says:

      Thanks so much Sachi! I love that we can learn from others perspectives by talking about books. I have your episode bookmarked to reference back since there were so many great recommendations. I look forward to getting to know you more. Thanks for the recs!

  9. Helen says:

    I really enjoyed this episode.
    Thank you Chatti for bringing up the topic of subtle racism in literature. I think it will definitely help readers to see through a different lens and perspective.
    After 4 books, I had to abandon the much beloved Louise Penny books because I just couldn’t tolerate her depiction of the one African American character Myrna. Every characterization was “enormous” “gargantuan” “ginormous” and always wearing caftans. I appreciated that she was a highly educated character but after awhile the adjectives continued to push my buttons and actually felt quite lazy. So many people kept saying the writing would get stronger as the series moved along but I am not sure the viewpoint of the author would progress. It was disappointing because I definitely wanted to love this series.

    • Chatti says:

      I hear you Helen and thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on the Louis Penny books! I haven’t read any of her books but will do so with a discerning eye on the portrayal of Myrna.

    • Abby says:

      Ah! This is my pet peeve with Louise Penny as well. I love her books, but her descriptions of Myrna and the gay couple make me cringe.

      I had the same issue with The Great Alone. I loved so much about that book but there’s an African American woman that the author describes by her size (and too often, her color) EVERY time. I mean, in addition to her name being “Large Marge.” She’s a wonderful character and really important to the story, but the description is tedious at best and it really takes away from an otherwise great book.

  10. Susan says:

    I just want to echo many others and say how much I enjoyed this episode. Listened on my morning walk and was tearful as Chatti shared her story. I do not have any great book titles to offer but just wanted to share how thankful I am for diverse perspectives on WSIRN.

  11. Maudeen Wachsmith says:

    What a beautiful episode! Chatti was a great guest. I’d recommend The Spirit Catches you and you Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. The story of the clash between two cultures (Hmong and America) might be something Chatti could really identify with.

    • Chatti says:

      We were in refugee camps with Hmongs so I’m definitely interested in learning more. The only time in media I saw Hmongs were an episode in Grey’s Anatomy (I think) and that movie with Clint Eastwood. I appreciate you taking time to comment and give a rec!

  12. Kristi says:

    Chatti, I’d be curious to hear how you think Nicola Yoon’s The Sun Is Also A Star compares to Eleanor and Park. I really liked Yoon’a book but would like to hear if you think she does a better job of depicting the racism each character experiences in a responsible way. The teen protagonists are a Jamaican immigrant girl on the eve of deportation and a Korean American boy. I believe they are in New York City.

    • Chatti says:

      Hi Kristi!

      I actually have not read this YA but know bookstagrammers who loved it. Looks like another book on my library hold. Have you read it and if so, what were your thoughts?

    • Kristi Brokaw says:

      I read it several months ago and I thought it was completely adorable. I think she handles everything really well but with a light touch. But I would love to hear your thoughts if you read it. It was a super quick read.

      • Chatti says:

        I am downloading the audiobook on my phone now (thank you library!). I’m currently listening so will let you know what I think of it.

  13. Sara says:

    Hi Anne! Long-time listener, first time caller here. Love your show and guests, but your conversation with Chatti was the best yet. She was delightful and her story was so moving. It was definitely eye-opening to realize how little I know about the WWII in the South Pacific- time to change that! Thanks for sharing with all of us! P.S. I read Like Water for Chocolate for the first time last Year and loved it for the same reasons… I would also recommend Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic for another atmospheric story featuring sisters, romance and, of course, magic!

    • Chatti says:

      Hi Sara,

      Thank you for taking the time to listen and respond. I’m happy to hear you loved Like Water For Chocolate too. I’ve read Practical Magic and was very fond of it for all the reasons you mentioned above. I’m waiting for October to bring out The Rules of Magic. Have you read that one? Did you like it?

      • Sara says:

        So funny, I am waiting for October to read The Rules of Magic, too! Seasonal reading is so much more enjoyable… especially in SoCal where we don’t have true ‘seasons.’

  14. Amy says:

    Chatti, I loved this episode. Tears were streaming listening to you talk about your family’s story. Sounds like you should write a book! ;). Have you read The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey? So beautifully written and might hit your buttons for adventures out west (1920s Alaska) with a magical feel.

    • Chatti says:

      Amy, Thank you so much for listening. I have thought about writing a book or short story about my mom’s teen years but I’m not disciplined enough to actually do it.

      I read The Snow Child at the end of last year and it became one of my favorite reads of 2017. I want to read more books like that.

  15. Mary says:

    Chatti, I absolutely love your nickname and your actual name. To hear you pronounce it is beautiful. I am sorry for the terrible hardship your family and you have endured. You have certainly grown into a strong lady and loving mother and I commend you and your parents for that.
    I have three non-fiction books to suggest to you. All three deal with overcoming imprisonment by an adversarial and evil regime and becoming a strong, inspiring voice. These three actually read better than fiction! The first is “Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China” by Jung Chang. Chang is Chinese and grew up during WW2 and during Communist takeover. The second is “No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War” by Anita Lobel. Anita is a Polish Jew by ancestry and was a victim of Nazi Germany. The third is “The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom. Corrie ten Boom was Dutch and also a victim of WW2.

    • Chatti says:

      Hi Mary,

      Thank you! I’ve become fond of my nickname over the years that it’s become part of me.

      All three books sound intriguing! Boy, this list is getting long but I’m excited to be getting additional reading materials and connecting with people through books.

  16. Kathleen says:

    Chatti, I loved listening to your discussion with Anne – especially the story of your father and the library card. I love that you emphasize your parents’ strength and resiliency as you tell their story. I would like to recommend two books – The Rent Collector, by Camron Wright – a story of a Cambodian family who lives in a dump, making their living collecting salvage from the trash – they find dignity in the midst of mountains of trash. Also – The House on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford – a love story – between a Chinese American boy and a Japanese American girl – includes reflections on the interment of Japanese Americans during World War 2. Many blessings to you and your family.

  17. Chatti says:

    Hi Kathleen,

    Thank you. I have the last book you mentioned and I put it higher on my tbr. I have always been interested in the Japanese internment camps and experiences during that time. I did my junior project in AP History about it because it was literally mentioned in two sentences in our textbook and I wasn’t okay with that.

    Also, The Rent Collector is one I have never heard of but will be looking for at the library. I worked with street kids who collected trash to survive and I imagine it will be a bit heavy for me but worth reading.

    • Amy Smalley says:

      Another book that I liked even more than The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is When The Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka. It’s also about the Japanese Internment and is just simple and beautiful. Its a pretty short book or if you like to listen to audiobooks, it is a very nice listen.

    • Kathleen says:

      Chatti – maybe you should skip The Rent Collector – it was hard for me to read, even though the main characters were courageous and resilient. In these turbulent times I find that I have to make sure that I read for joy. Laurie Colwin’s books on Home Cooking delighted me and informed my sense of hospitality when I was a young mother and Thich Nhat Hanh’s writing helped me form a meditation practice years ago – to calm my worrying mind. I completely agree with Anne’s recommendation of Lonesome Dove, it is one of my all time favorite books. I wish you joy.

  18. Bonnie says:

    Loved hearing your story Chatti and your enthusiasm for books! I too have multiracial/multicultral children, their dad is Rwandese and I’m caucasian American. I could definitely relate to the challenge on how to tell children about the horrific historic events that have shaped the lives of their relatives. As well as a desire to have diverse children’s books in our house. A few of our favorites include: 1) Global Babies – this a sweet board book filled with pictures of babies all over the world 2) You were the First 3) Mama do you Love Me and Papa do you love me
    I know these don’t mirror your family, but can let your daughter see lots of different colors and cultures in the books she reads.

    • Chatti says:

      Someone told me about You Were The First! I think it was Breanna who works here. Lots of good recs for books.

      I think I’ll look for books on how to explain cruel world events to kids and also books on generational trauma. I’m not looking forward to this talk, it actually makes me nervous so I need to prepare.

  19. I loved this episode!! And I loved News of the World. Definitely a must read. My daughter loved all the original creepy versions of the fairy tales as a child. We lived in the fairy tale section of the library so I loved that! I haven’t read it yet but America is Not the Heart was highly recommended by people I trust- about the experience of Philippine immigrants. Happy reading!

    • Chatti says:

      Oh America is Not The Heart! I’ve heard many great things about this one.

      Your daughter sounds super cool. Let her know I said that. 🙌🏼

    • Chatti says:

      Yes! I have this book. I’ll have to return to it. I read maybe two chapters but was at a sensitive place at the time and couldn’t process grief or suicide even in book from. Thanks for reminding me to pick it up again, Sumiko!

  20. Em says:

    Chatti, I think you would like These is My Words by Nancy Turner. I was skeptical because the title makes my teeth hurt, but it’s a story about a woman on the American frontier. Strong girl-turned-woman as a protagonist, Western or at least Western-adjacent genre, and compelling story. And if you like it, its the first in a series. I listened to the audiobook.

    • Chatti says:

      MMMMM…I’m so happy I have this book and I heard many great things about it. Now I can’t decide which one to pick up first. I’m usually a one book plus one audio person. Sounds like the audio would be very good.

    • Chatti says:

      I think I might too. it was on my wishlist. just haven’t picked it up yet. will check out The Bear and the Nightingale at the library.

  21. Kitty says:

    First off I really loved this episode! Chatti was so articulate and expressive. I would recommend a book I just read, She Weeps Each Time You’re Born by Quan Barry. It takes place during multiple conflicts in Vietnam. It is told in multiple points of view, in different time periods, and has strong elements of magic realism.

  22. Mary says:

    Chatti, you might enjoy the Willa Cather Great Plains trilogy that starts with “O Pioneers” and ends with “My Ántonia.” It is not necessarily cowboyish but it is a sweeping depiction about settling the Great Plains of America, frontier life and the huge role immigrants played. I have not read the middle book of the trilogy so I need to do a re-read!

  23. Elham says:

    I loved this episode so much! I have so many books to recommend for Chatti, but I’m going to limit myself to 2: The Boat People by Sharon Bala (an incredible moving story of Tamil refugees coming to Canada) and The Englishman’s Boy by Guy Vanderhaeghe (an epic western/golden age of Hollywood story). I hope you give them a try!

    • Chatti says:

      No Arkham don’t limit yourself! I have a list now but always ALWAYS need more books.

      The Boat People sounds super familiar. I’m in bed now but I think it might be in my office. I’ll check in the morning.

      I’m so happy you recommended the second book. Haven’t read it but another sub genre I love is old Hollywood so this seems to kill two birds with one stone! Thank you for the recs!

  24. BarbN says:

    We spent a wonderful ten days in Battambang last year and I loved Cambodia and the people we met there. Before we went, a number of people recommended Vaddey Ratner, a Cambodian American author who has written two novels about the psychological and emotional aftermath of the killing fields (In the Shadow of the Banyan Tree and Music of the Ghosts), with some characters having vivid flashbacks to their ordeal. I read the descriptions and was scared off by the pain and horror of the topic- I’m afraid I’m not a very brave reader. But they are very highly reviewed and I thought I would pass along the names in case Chatti is interested. Lovely and moving episode, Anne and Chatti, beautifully done. I can’t imagine anyone listening was dry-eyed. Thank you for sharing your story, Chatti.

    • Chatti says:

      Hi! I have the first book but haven’t read it yet. I did try to read Music of The Ghosts but found it a bit overwritten/lyrical for what I needed at the time. I am going to read In the Shadow of the Banyan first and then try Music of the Ghosts again. The cover art for the paperback is so beautiful. Thank you for listening Barb. In Battambang, one of my favorite thing was the circus. Did you manage to go?

  25. Britany says:

    Another book that’s been on my TBR, but I haven’t gotten to it yet is “Inside Out & Back Again” by Thanhha Lai takes place in Vietnam and told in prose geared towards middle grade. Think this might be a good one for you Chatti. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

  26. Jenni says:

    Thank you Anne for the warning about this episode! I will listen on another day when I’m in the right mindset. Love the podcast!

  27. Debbie says:

    I would like to recommend Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai – a National Book Award winner about a young girl who comes to U.S. with her family when Saigon falls during Vietnam Nam war.

    • Chatti says:

      Thank you, Debbie! I cried reading this book thinking of my older sister and brother’s experiences the first few years in the US.

  28. Dee says:

    I listen weekly, but this is the first time I’ve posted to say how much I loved the guest. Chatti was so effervescent! I loved listening to the two of you. She was so honest about her and her family’s experiences. Great books, too!

  29. Anne with an E says:

    I wanted to recommend a few lighter books that involve magical realism as related to food. One of my all time favorites is Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen and there’s also Chocolat by Joanne Harris and The Biscuit Witch series by Deborah Smith. Looks like you have a new pile of books to read!

  30. Chatti, I’m a few weeks late, but I loved this episode. When you said you wanted to try reading some Westerns, I thought you might want to try Louis L’Amour. No one ever mentions him on this podcast, but I think his books are terrific. They are short, but packed with so many deep emotions, and, of course, great descriptions of the land. Oh, and there is action too. I love his male characters. They are usually quiet, confident in their skills, honorable, and honest. L’Amour’s writing is spare. He uses only a sentence or two to describe a place or the character’s inner states. And not all his books are Westerns. *The Walking Drum* takes place in the Middle Ages and is about trade from China to Europe. *Last of the Breed* takes place during the Cold War. A Native American pilot gets shot down over Russia and is sent to Siberia. What they don’t know, when he escapes, is that he has survival skills. He evades them and makes it across Siberia to Alaska. I hope you’ll give his books a try.

      • Abby, The first thing I read was the story, “The Gift of Cochise”, which L’Amour turned into the novel *Hondo*. The move and book came out at the same time. I liked it because it takes place in Southern Arizona where I live. Other’s I’ve read, seen and loved, are *Conagher*, *The Quick and the Dead*, *Crossfire Trail*, and any of the Sackett series. That should get you started. He’s written lots of books. I have a shelf and half of his work and I don’t think I own them all. Happy reading.

    • Chatti says:

      Thanks for the recommendation Lucinda. I haven’t heard of this author but I’kk start looking for him in the used book store. Happy reading!

  31. Abby says:

    I really enjoyed this episode. Chatti, thank you for sharing your experiences. It brought me to tears. As far as Westerns go, Lonesome Dove is a classic. It’s actually one of my favorite books of all time!

    • Chatti says:

      Thank you Abby.

      It seems like Lonesome Dove is the book people most often recommend. And I have it but am a bit intimidated by the size. Are any of the others in the series worth reading?

  32. Nikki says:

    I listened to this episode on the way to Circle this morning (I’m way behind because I took a while off podcasts for three audiobooks). In Circle, we were asked to comment on what we noticed on the way in today. I noticed how many books Chatti and I had in common, as most of the books mentioned I adore or are in my TBR list – some after the episode, others before. I find it interesting how books can and often do bring people together and I’m so grateful to Anne for what she does, and to all of her guests, especially Chatti, who share their experiences and favorite titles with listeners.

  33. Tiffany Lord says:

    I absolutely love the episodes about immigrants’ experience or countries we hear less from. I am heartbroken to know of these tragedies that Chatti went through and I am so grateful for the vulnerability so we can keep these stories and the pain so our children can learn from the hardships that have been faced by others. I didn’t want to get out of my car because she had me captivated!

  34. Katherine says:

    Hi Chatti,
    I loved your episode! The Ray Bradbury story made me emotional.
    Here are a couple middle-grad books featuring biracial characters for when your daughter’s a bit older…

    “The Whole Story of Half a Girl” by Veera Hiranandani. The protagonist (like the author) has one Jewish American parent and one Indian parent. It hits a lot of the same beats as “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret” but addresses situations more specific to her race, like not knowing whether she should with the white kids or the black kids at school. She also watches a parent grapple with depression, which felt unusual for a middle-grade read.

    “Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood” by Varsha Bajaj. This one’s much lighter, but a lot of fun. Abby lives with her white American mom and finds out that her biological father is a huge Bollywood star in India. Most of the book is her having adventures in India getting to know him.

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