WSIRN Ep 151: Knockout books for a recovering completionist

Today I’m having a delightful chat with Maria Ribas, a literary agent who represents the authors populating the “candy aisle” of the bookstore — gorgeous full-color cookbooks. So yes, she totally has it covered in the nonfiction and self-help department, but her fiction game could use a little freshening… and that’s where I come in.Whether you like exploring the stories behind a great recipe, letting a lush historical novel sweep you away, or pumping yourself up with a snarky self-help book, today’s episode will nourish your readerly soul. Let’s get to it.


What Should I Read Next #151: Knockout books for a recovering completionist with Maria Ribas
Connect with Maria Ribas: Blog | Twitter | 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 Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
Once Upon A Chef: The Cookbook, by Jen Segal (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• How to Get Sh*t Done, by Erin Falconer (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• The Barefoot Contessa cookbooks (try Cooking for Jeffrey: AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• cookbook author Marcella Hazan (try Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking: AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• author David Leibovitz (try L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home: AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Joy the Baker Over Easy: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Leisurely Days, by Joy Wilson (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Cook Like A Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks, by Ina Garten (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify, by Francine Jay (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondō (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, by Laurie Colwin (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
The Light Between Oceans, by M. L. Stedman (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
 Anything is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• The Dollhouse, by Fiona Davis (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• The Address, by Fiona Davis (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• The Masterpiece, by Fiona Davis (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Young Jane Young, by Gabrielle Zevin (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Alternate Side, by Anna Quindlen (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
 Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake: A Memoir of a Woman’s Life, by Anna Quindlen (AmazonBarnes and Noble)

Also mentioned:
• Deep thoughts by Jack Handey, via Saturday Night Live on NBC
The Barefoot Contessa’s frozen lime pie, via The Food Network
• Quote from Anna Quindlen: “I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.”


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

more posts you might enjoy


Leave A Comment
  1. Meghan says:

    I like the hearts next to some books! Could you also add symbols for the books you recommend, so that I can easily spot them afterwards? I often listen to your podcast while doing chores around the house and don’t always have a notepad handy to jot down the books you suggest.

  2. Stefanie says:

    I love Meghan’s suggestion about the hearts and adding symbols to the one’s you recommend!
    I wonder about “Kitchen’s of the Great Midwest” by J. Ryan Stradal for Maria – such a great foodie book!

  3. Stephanie says:

    I think that Maria should try The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson. Strong, witty and funny females abound plus the comic book aspect was so interesting!

    • Jill W. says:

      I second this one. Joshilyn Jackson’s protagonists have a lot in common with Maria Semple’s. I would also recommend Marisa de los Santos’ Love Walked In, Belong to Me, and I’ll Be Your Blue Sky.

  4. Caroline says:

    I’m professional in advertising but the world of publishing always intrigued me so I really appreciated this inside peek into Maria’s job. I also shared the podcast with my bookish niece who a HS senior and knows she wants to pursue a career in publishing. I felt the episode with the two libraries was also a great insight into interesting jobs. I love that this podcast not only has great book conversations but that they can be inspiring from a career standpoint. Thank you for having great guests and asking great questions, Anne!

  5. Kate says:

    What a fun discussion! I adore Laurie Colwin and hope Maria has read “More Home Cooking”–her Damp Gingerbread recipe is a favorite 🙂 For strong women in trying circumstances, check out “The Calculating Stars” by Mary Robinette Kowal and “An Extraordinary Union” by Alyssa Cole.

  6. Maria, What a wonderful episode. Thanks for sharing your insights about the publishing world.
    I was so happy when you mentioned Stephen Pressfield’s book, *The War of Art*. It’s one of my favorite books about the creative life. Have you read *Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: And What You Can Do About That* also by Pressfield? It’s my favorite book about writing. Like the first book, it’s short but chock full of tips for improving your writing.
    Since you like historical and fantasy, I’ll recommend the Temeraire series beginning with *His Majesties Dragon* by Naomi Novik. It takes place during the Napoleonic Wars, but dragons exist and become part of the air force for each country involved in the war. Eventually through the nine books Temeraire and Laurence travel to almost every continent on the planet. Each dragon has a distinct personality. Some of them like Temeraire are educated. I found it to be a captivating series.

  7. Sarah says:

    I wanted to suggest a fantasy option for Maria. I occasionally dip my toe into the fantasy water, but don’t always find what I’m looking for….however, I LOVED City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty. It’s the start of a trilogy, has a strong female protagonist, is beautifully written and is well reasearched and intelligent. Hope you have a chance to check it out!

  8. Amanda S. says:

    Maria might like “Convenience Store Woman.” I listened to it on audio and it was really great. I think just reading it would be a different experience.

    Great episode!

  9. Jana Botkin says:

    Maria, you did a wonderfully thorough job of explaining what you do and do not like in certain books. Thank you for telling us about Laurie Colwin; I’ve added her to my TBR. (I trust your opinion because I also don’t jump on brand new books but wait to see if they have staying power.)

    You might enjoy “Time and Again” by Jack Finney. This is a combination of historical fiction/fantasy, set in New York City. It was one that I could not stop reading and haven’t forgotten in 30 years.

  10. Lisamarie says:

    Preface: I am a WSIRN SUPERFAN! I’ve listened to every episode. Name a title, and I’ll tell you if it’s been on and if so, how many times.
    This episode is my all-time favorite! Potentially tied with Episode 8 ft. Preston Yancey. I’ve OD’d on all the contemporary fiction with the capital-I issues so this episode was a breath of fresh air. I’d love to hear from more guests with a lighter reading preferences like Maria.

    Thanks for all you do, Anne! I’ve sent many a reader your way and they always come back refreshed with a renewed passion for the reading life.

    P.S. Bring Preston back, pretty please!

  11. Amy Hanson says:

    Based on your conversation on the Pod Cast. I think she (and you) would enjoy “Dinner- A love Story” by Jenny Rosenstrach. This book certainly includes some recipes that I am anxious to try but the stories surrounding the recipes are what really draws the reader to “devour” this book! Happy reading and cooking.

  12. Tawny Moore says:

    Hello, I loved fiction when I was young as well and recently discovered Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and it has renewed my love of fantasy! The first in his series is The Eye of the World.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.