WSIRN Ep 156: Expert tips for a pretty, peaceful, practical bookshelf

Readers, clear your calendars — today’s episode might inspire you to rethink and rearrange your whole home library. My friend Myquillyn Smith, author of home decor books Cozy Minimalist Home and The Nesting Place, is joining me to chat about the revelation of ribbon on a bookshelf, spunky iconoclastic women in fiction, why she doesn’t have a library card, books that give you a kick in the pants… and what she does to dust jackets might horrify you, but you’ll be laughing all the way!

Before you click play — there’s a special episode coming your way that I want to tell you about. The holidays are fast approaching and as you know, books make the perfect gift, whether you’re shopping for friends, family, coworkers, or teachers…. But choosing WHICH book is the real dilemma. A special guest and I are coming to WSIRN to help you match YOUR loved one with the perfect readerly gift!

There are two ways to be matched with your perfect giftable book —

  1. You can record a message at telling me your relationship to this person, their favorite books, a book you know they don’t like, and any other little details you think are useful. Make sure to keep your message under 1 minute!
  2. You can also email [email protected], that’s our producer, with the same information – your relationship, their favorites, any dislikes you know about, and current reads.

Some of your messages will be selected for the upcoming holiday episode, and we’ll hook you up with the perfect bookish gifts!

Now on to Myquillyn…

What Should I Read Next #156: Expert tips for a pretty, peaceful, practical bookshelf with Myquillyn Smith

Visit Myquillyn Smith at her website, follow her gorgeous Instagram, and check out her books for more inspiration:

• Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff (Amazon | Barnes & Noble)
• The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful (Amazon | Barnes & Noble)


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!

Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff, by Myquillyn Smith (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, by Amy Cuddy (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Beartown, by Fredrik Backman (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, by Kathleen Rooney (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• The American Heiress, by Daisy Goodwin (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Victoria, by Daisy Goodwin (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• City Baker’s Guide to Country Living, by Louise Miller (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• The One in a Million Boy, by Monica Wood (AmazonBarnes and Noble)


What do YOU think Myquillyn should read next? Do you have any shelves organized in rainbow-etical order? Let us know in the comments!


Leave A Comment
  1. The Nester’s first book was one of my favourite non-fiction reads the year it released. 2015ish?

    I actually found that I learned a lot about life lessons rather than just house lessons, and I needed all that talk about imperfectionism (enneagram 1 here)

    Can’t wait to listen, and to read her latest book.

    • Sarah B. says:

      YES!! When she laughed about her ribbon depression joke I was so tickled! The best way to start my morning 🙂 LOVED these recs and already picked up Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk at my library.

  2. Lyndsey says:

    I LOVED hearing Myquillyn say she buys all of her books. I do too! I don’t use our library even though they truly are wonderful. Buying books is my favorite form of retail therapy.

  3. Rebekah says:

    I also greatly disliked A Gentleman in Moscow and I have always felt some reader shame about that because it is so beloved by so many. I was so refreshed that todays guest shared that opinion with me. I thought I was all alone.

  4. Allie Smith says:

    I really enjoyed this episode! I love Daisy Goodwin and devoured Victoria & The American Heiress. I also enjoyed Lillian Boxfish. I’ve added The City Baker to my list! Thanks ladies.

  5. Danielle says:

    Loved this episode! Would recommend This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel. Fast moving with a loveable family. I’ve added all of your recommendations to my list Anne! It’s rare that an episode resonates so much with me, but this one really was a home run for my tastes. Plus, I am anxiously awaiting Myquillyn’s new book in my mailbox tomorrow! 😀 eeekkk

  6. MISSY says:

    “It’s not Aqua because Aqua can be a bit harsh.” LOL-that struck me as so funny for some reason! I think Myquillyn is my reading twin-I agreed with all her opinions! I follow her on Instagram but she seems so serious on there-did not know she had such a great laugh! Fun episode for sure.

  7. Marla Jensen says:

    This might be a bit of a stretch but I think I’d recommend Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. It hits the Alaska, outdoorsy, family likes. The pace might be a bit slow but it might be worth a try.

      • YES YES!! This book, more than any other, created the BEST discussion in 5 years of book club selections for us. Wistful, thought-provoking and completely captivating sense of place, this was the book I was shouting when Myquillin was saying her selections.

  8. SoCalLynn says:

    OMG, I’m listening to the podcast and The Nester’s book was just delivered! What a great coincidence! Can’t wait to read Cozy Minimalist Home.

  9. Kelsey says:

    I loved this episode! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who not only hates dust jackets (I throw them away as soon as I buy a book), but also didn’t like/didn’t finish “A Gentleman in Moscow.” Can’t wait to read “Cozy Minimalist Home!”

  10. I’m so glad Anne recommended Louise Miller’s The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living. I read it earlier this winter when Atlanta was hit with snow, which never happens. It was the perfect cozy read! And Miller’s newest book The Late Bloomers’ Club was equally charming.

  11. Gena Prickette says:

    I don’t recommend Daisy Godwin’s Victoria book if you watched the PBS series. Its literally the same dialogue and sequence. I have Victoria: The Queen by Julia Baird on my TBR. That might be a better fit for her next Victoria binge!

    • Rachel Stefaniw says:

      I’m pretty sure the series is written/produced(?) by Daisy Goodwin and based on her book, so that is probably why! 🙂 I read the book before it became a series, but I agree that it is very much the same.

  12. Adrienne Hudson says:

    In defense of dust jackets…..! Last month I downloaded the Libib App (which I heard about here!) and I scanned all my books into my library listing. I love having a list of everybook I own in my phone, and it’s saved me from buying a few books I already have. But, without the dust jackets, I would have had to type in the author and title for every hardback by hand instead of scanning the code on the back of the dust jacket. So I’m just glad I kept the dust jackets on my books. *grin*

  13. I loved this episode. And I’m like you Myquillyn, I watch Masterpiece, or movies and then go read the book if it catches my imagination. Sadly, I didn’t get hooked enough on VICTORIA to go read books about her. Love the series, though. I’ll take a stab at a suggestion. I loved THE CIRCLE OF CERIDWEN series. It’s historical fiction about the Danes, (Vikings) in England in the late 800s, early 900s. I learned a lot about the Middle Ages from this series, and it has a female protagonist along with other interesting women characters.

    I also love that you decorate your house with books. I have random books laying around, but it’s because I don’t have enough bookshelves.

  14. Sue B says:

    Since she likes “spunky” characters I would recommend Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Loved Eleanor! And sorry she didn’t like A Gentleman…it was a fave of mine because I love well-drawn characters. Also, he reminded me of a grown-up “little princess.” …my fave children’s story!!!

  15. Sarah says:

    I selfishly don’t want to correct this because I would like to increase my chances that my submission will be selected…however I tired to copy and paste Brenna’s e-mail address from this post and my e-mail bounced back as undeliverable…then I noticed that it is missing an ‘n’ up above. Just FYI in case anyone tries to copy and paste it!

  16. Jenny says:

    I started reading “A Gentleman in Moscow” and I too couldn’t get into its pages. Feeling guilty after hearing so many shining reviews from friends, I tried the audio-book and LOVED IT!

    • Graceann says:

      I agree, Joan. Throwing dust jackets away made my heart hurt, too. Obviously, it’s not right or wrong, it’s just her. I, however, would not only never be able to find anything, but I often sell or trade books on, and tossing the dust jacket halves their value.

  17. Alyssa Stirling says:

    I loved “City Baker’s Guide”!! I’m reading a book similar to that right now called “Cafe by the Sea” by Jenny Colgan. It’s set in Scotland, so I love how I get immersed in the island culture and language. The story hooked me from the beginning!

  18. Sarah says:

    This episode made me laugh out loud in my office!
    Also, the thing about no dust jacket in her contract make me want to go buy her new book instead of getting it from the library like I did her first. I hate dust jackets too.

  19. Tracy D says:

    True confession: While I LOVED Rules of Civility, I too strongly disliked A Gebtleman in Moscow. I found her mutual dislike made me feel less ashamed of that fact!

  20. Lorraine says:

    I recommend To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey-Alaska setting, strong female protagonist who was ahead of her time-I loved it. I do enjoy a pretty dust jacket (the UK’s for Washington Black is amazing) but I also love what seems to be a current trend in cookbook and lifestyle books of no dust jacket but beautiful details like embossing and texture on the book itself. Anne’s new book, as well as Whiskey in a Teacup both come to mind. I also love removing a dust jacket and finding a beautiful surprise detail underneath-like a bookish Easter egg (see All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews for a perfect example).

  21. Rachel says:

    I have to recommend the Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn. Spunky female character and fast moving! I flew through these books, AND there is a nice tie-in with Queen Victoria, which it sounds like Myquillyn would like!

  22. Becky says:

    I was a little late listening to this episode but it is definitely one of my favorites. I love her laugh and that she cracks herself up so much.

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