WSIRN Ep 159: How to cope with the longest book hangover ever

Readers, we have a great episode for you today! Shawntaye Hopkins discovered Jane Austen’s books for the first time as an adult – and after that initial discovery, she dove in DEEP. Today we’re talking about the magic of immersive literary events that celebrate the classics (not just Jane!) and how they’ve changed the way Shawntaye reads her most beloved books.

We’re also exploring her TEN YEARS of book journaling, the book she’s still hungover from, and my recommendations for her include a book you probably have never heard of.

What Should I Read Next #159: How to cope with the longest book hangover ever with Shawntaye Hopkins

Follow Shawntaye Hopkins’s reading life on Instagram, @shawntaye1.


Books mentioned in this episode:
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If you’d like to support your local indie, check out And by all means, go grab one of these from your local library!

• Persuasion, by Jane Austen (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Frankenstein, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• 1984, by George Orwell (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Author Wendell Berry (try Jayber Crow: AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Author Brene Brown (try Daring Greatly: AmazonBarnes and Noble)
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
Longbourn, by Jo Baker (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Pride, by Ibi Zoboi (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• The Mars Room, by Rachel Kushner (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Wicked, by Gregory Maguire (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Mr. Rochester, by Sarah Shoemaker (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• The Antelope Wife, by Louise Erdrich (AmazonBarnes and Noble)

Also mentioned:

• The Jane Austen Society of North America (find the nearest chapter here.)
• Plan ahead for the 2019 Jane Austen Festival in Louisville!
The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning


What do YOU think Shawntaye should read next? Is there a fancy literary event in your area we should know about? Tell all in the comments!


Leave A Comment
  1. EmJay Laird says:

    How interesting that you recommended Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder to Shawntaye, given that the idea for that novel has a mysterious connection to Elizabeth Gilbert. A chapter of Big Magic details how Gilbert and Patchett made this discovery.

    • Andrea says:

      TED, as in TED Talks, recently started a podcast and Elizabeth Gilbert was the first guest. She tells the story in her interview (the whole episode is wonderful and a boil down of Big Magic). It gave me goosebumps!

  2. LizC says:

    I really enjoyed the conversation with Shawntaye! I’ve got two recommendations, as I think we might have somewhat similar tastes.

    The first is an Austen adaptation she’ll probably want to AVOID! It’s a fairly new one called Mary B: An Untold Story of Pride and Prejudice, by Katharine J. Chen. I thought it sounded really promising, but ended up skipping through it, and when I got to the last chapter only the facts that it was a library book and I was sitting in a very quiet public space prevented me from chucking the thing across the room. All Austen’s beloved P&P characters deserved better than what Chen did to them. Nope.

    The second is a lighter, gentle P&P adaptation that fits in the sci-fi/fantasy/magical realism realm, called Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal. It’s delightful. I’ve also been hearing lots of good things about her newest alt-history series that starts with The Calculating Stars.

  3. Jenny says:

    More classical gems: “Far From the Madding Crowd” by Thomas Hardy and “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens. Another favorite: “Moonraker’s Bride” by Madeleine Brent. A suggestions for Fantastical Historical Fiction: “The Golem and the Jinni” by Helene Wecker. And finally, devastating yet beautiful: “A Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness. Enjoy!

  4. Lisa says:

    Since I had a similar dislike of the novel, Longbourn, I’d like to recommend an older Pride & Prejudice variation for Shawntaye — the Fitzwilliam Darcy: Gentleman series by Pamela Aidan. It’s still one of my favorite P&P variations. It follows the story closely, but tells it from Mr. Darcy’s view.

  5. Susan in TX says:

    Love this episode! Favorite Dickens is David Copperfield, and maybe my favorite classic written by a male is The Count of Monte Cristo — it weighs in around 1100-1200 pages, depending on your version (you absolutely want the unabridged). People complain about its slow start, but persevere for the first 100-150 pages and from there on, the pages start to fly by.

  6. Max says:

    I would recommend “The English Patient” by Michael Ondaatje if she hasn’t read it already. I think it would be considered a modern classic and it has beautiful passages she will want to underline 🙂

  7. Lynda says:

    Persuasion is my favorite novel. When I read the book, it really spoke to me and stuck…. The letter from Captain Wentworth…”I can listen no longer in silence…” stopped me and I remember holding my breath as I read the letter…I still hold my breath everytime I read the passage.

  8. Kacie says:

    Ahh, the book hangover. What a phenomenon! I had that after I binged the Harry Potter series. My cure was some non-fiction and wandering aimlessly in the forest for a few days.

  9. Heather says:

    I’m not a big fantasy reader either but loved Tomorrow by Damian Dibben. When Anne mentioned The Antelope Wife I immediately thought of this book because it’s narrated by a dog. This is part fantasy, part historical fiction, and partly the story of the enduring love of man’s best friend.

  10. SandyL says:

    I recommend for fantasy The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss. It is about how the daughter of Dr. Jekyll met the daughter of Mr. Hyde and then…
    For fantasy I also recommend Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Spinning Silver.

  11. Shawntaye, Oh, I wish we lived closer so we could meet and talk classic books. I too read all of Jane Austen later in life. I’d seen the movies and miniseries, but when Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle came along, I decided I needed to read all of her work. I bought Pride and Prejudice in an airport as we were leaving on a trip around the world. That was 1996, and I’ve read all the books, and own several versions of many of the movies/miniseries. I love classic books more than the shiny and new ones.

    I could recommend a long list of classic authors from Wilkie Collins, to William Makepeace Thackeray, but if you want a long book to savor over the winter, I suggest Middlemarch by George Eliot. It takes a long time for Eliot to set up the relationships, but once that’s done, the stories of all the characters and how they intertwine and develop are luscious. Most of the characters who deserve to be happy find it in the end, though not all. And those who don’t deserve it come to sad ends. I loved this book

  12. Michelle Nail says:

    It sounds like Shawntaye and I have very similar taste in books so I’m going to recommend my favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy author. I love the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre but I also have to have really good writing along with it, and I find that Neal Stephenson’s books have a good combination of Sci-Fi themes and good plots and also very high quality writing. Plus they are all long, absorbing books!

    I would recommend the following three Neal Stephenson books:
    1. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland – fantastic time travel epic told from the perspective of multiple characters. I listened to the audio book and each character had a different narrator which really made the story come alive for me.
    2. Seveneves by Neal Stephenson – this one deals with outer space and space travel and has a gigantic twist in the middle that really threw me at first but I ended up loving.
    3. Reamde by Neal Stephenson (not a typo) – more of an adventure story than the previous two, it deals with the world of gaming and international espionage and it is a very fast read. This is over 1,000 pages and I still wanted more when it was over!

  13. Deborah says:

    Shawntaye seems like a reader after my own heart. I think I see a copy of Middlemarch pictured in the photo at the top of this post. That was the book I was thinking for that good, long winter book. I read it a few years ago in just that way, and I really savored it over the course of a few months. I’ll second someone else’s recommendation of David Copperfield, which was my last winter’s book, and add Vanity Fair and Tess of the D’urberbvilles as two of my all-time favorite classics.

    I have a weak spot for magical realism too, and wondered if reimaginings of Greek history/myth like the recent Circe by Madeline Miller or going back a bit, Mary Renault’s Greek novels (The King Must Die, The Bull from the Sea etc.) might be of interest to her.

  14. Shawntaye, When I made my previous comment, I had just returned home late from teaching my evening class. I forgot that you wanted some Sci-Fi suggestions. I discovered Ursula Le Guin last year. I’m ashamed to say I used to live in Portland, OR where she lived, had heard of her but never picked up one of her books. My introduction to her work was The Left Hand of Darkness. It takes place on an alien world where an ambassador from Earth has come to invite the planet they call Winter, to join a growing intergalactic civilization. I’m quoting from the Amazon description: “Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.” But it’s more than an intellectual story, it’s also deeply emotional. I’m planning on reading much more of Le Guin’s work. I hope you consider giving her work a try.

  15. Sarah Coleman says:

    Love the podcast, has fast become my favourite listen, and I am desperately i search of an Australian equivalent (being from Australia and Australian literature featuring highly in my reading ). Loved this episode and feel your guest may be my ‘book soul mate’ as her loves and not-loves are very much in sync with mine, which is quite rare. Will definitely be heading over to those recommended books I have not read yet!

  16. Gloria says:

    Shawntaye, you and I have similar book taste, like really similar! I found A Little Life a very rewarding read too – it really helped me see what life might be like for people who have been abused, which really helped me with a personal relationship. Along the same line is All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews, although not at all a read alike. And it has so much beautiful prose, there are quotes from this book I still go back to. I know you listen to the podcast and all the rest of my recommendations I’m pretty sure have been mentioned in previous episodes but I thought of them for you – A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Well that’s all I can remember from the titles that were swirling in my brain earlier today. I loved your descriptions of the literary events who’ve attended, they sound so fun! I need more book fun in my life – maybe its time to travel?!

  17. Pat says:

    Don’t forget to look into the biographies of some of these authors. It is interesting to see where they got their ideas from and how the circumstances of their surroundings influenced their work.

  18. Natalia says:

    Hi Anne, I’ve recently discovered your podcast and am happily playing catch up, but this last episode Iiterally made me squeal with happiness! I love hearing your book suggestions and playing along. After listening to Shawntaye talk about the types of books she likes and wanting a long book to enjoy I instantly thought of one of my faves, A Fine Balance. I was so happy to hear you thought it was a good match for her, too!

  19. Ruthie says:

    Shawntaye is a doll! Such a cute personality! Like others whose comments I read, I wish she lived near me so we could be friends! Somehow, Persuasion has never persuaded me, but on Shawntaye’s recommendation, I’m adding it to my TBR list. After hearing her describe her love of Jane Austen’s work, and the similar authors whose work she liked, I wanted to suggest those of George Eliot and maybe Thomas Hardy. Hardy can sometimes be depressing — especially Tess — so maybe save his work for a brooding mood. Far From the Madding Crowd is my favorite of Hardy’s, with The Mayor of Casterbridge the runner-up.

    • Elizabeth Brink says:

      I agree with the Anthony Trollope suggestion! They are very Jane Austen-esque. I like his Barsetshire Chronicles the best. They’re good on audio, too. I listened to Simon Vance read them, and he has a wonderful voice.

      I enjoyed this episode so much. I’m going to a Jane Austen tea on Saturday that is hosted by the local chapter of JASNA. I can’t wait!

  20. Charla says:

    I am so glad that you recommended A Fine Balance. I read that book more than 10 years ago and still think about it. I don’t see it very often on recommended reading lists and I think everyone should read it! 🙂

  21. Allyson Wieland says:

    Loved this episode.
    Shawntaye, I wish I lived in Kentucky and could go with you to book festivals and Regency dances. Sounds like so much fun.

    • Sally says:

      I agree! I’m 64 years old, and you have such a kind personality that I think you would be okay with taking someone of even my age. Persuasion is going to be my next book!

  22. Shawntaye, So happy to hear ya’ll talking about one of my all time favorite events! I am so glad that you loved the Jane Austen Festival! I have been scheduling myself to work in Louisville every July since 2013 just to be in town for it. 🙂 I am one of those ladies wearing Regency attire every day since my second festival. This year was my first Regency Ball (smart phone in my reticule and all! Ha!). I worked the Tea Room on Saturday. Were you with one of the JA Book Clubs that had Tea at the festival? Since you have already discovered my favorite Gaskell novel “North and South”, I would recommend her “Wives and Daughters.” My favorite Dickens is “Bleak House.” Then there is “The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Baroness Orczy. Happy reading! Say Hello to Amanda from me! See you in Louisville 2019!

  23. Halle says:

    I am very late to the party, but am catching up on the podcast and wanted to throw out a few recommendations of my own since I think we have very similar bookish tastes, Shawntaye. Here are some I’ve read and loved: A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer, and Cutting for stone by Abraham Verghese. Happy Reading!

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