WSIRN Ep 160: Books that capture the magic of everyday life

Have you ever read a book that made the world around you feel just a little bit… magical? That’s the experience I had with Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen — if that title rings a bell, it might be because I recommended it to Kari Sweeney in WSIRN Ep 153. Today I’m DELIGHTED to welcome author Jon Cohen on the show to chat about his unorthodox path to writing, the mighty bookworm women in his life, the magic of ordinary things, and what it was like to live with the school librarian as a child.
And readers, look forward to next week’s episode making your winter holidays so much more bookish. I’m sitting down with Ann Kingman, formerly of the much-beloved podcast Books On The Nightstand, to recommend books for YOUR loved ones this holiday season. We’ll be selecting the perfect literary gifts for picky dads, far-away friends, bookworm tweens, and that one relative everyone has who only reads doorstop biographies of long-dead historical figures. It is going to be SO MUCH FUN! Make sure you’re subscribed on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen, so you don’t miss a thing.


What Should I Read Next #160: Books that capture the magic of everyday life with Jon Cohen

You can check out everything Jon Cohen is up to on his website, and follow his writing on Goodreads.


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!

• Harry’s Trees, by Jon Cohen (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• author Alice Munro (try Runaway: AmazonBarnes and Noble)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life, by Anne Bogel (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• The One in a Million Boy, by Monica Wood (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage, by Dani Shapiro(AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love, by Dani Shapiro (AmazonBarnes and Noble)
• author David Foster Wallace (try Oblivion: AmazonBarnes and Noble)

Also mentioned:

• Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise


What do YOU think Jon should read next? Has a book made your life more magical? Tell us in the comments!


Leave A Comment
  1. Mimi Gregor says:

    As a Francophile, I have found reading Peter Mayle’s books on Provence magical; after reading him, I can almost delude myself into thinking that I’m living in a farmhouse in Menerbes instead of a ranch house in Delaware. Especially if I accompany it with a glass of rosé.

    • Jon Cohen says:

      Okay, here’s a fun, instant connection to your thoughts. A month ago, my wife and I went to Provence. We were curious to see if Provence looked like, well, Provence. And it does. Drove through Menerbes, and Gordes, and all those places. Kind of wondrous . . . before and especially after that glass of wine you allude to!

  2. Kari Sweeney says:

    Harry’s Trees was a fabulous recommendation Anne! I loved it so much that I bought several copies to give as gifts this holiday season!

    • Jon Cohen says:

      You can’t imagine how lovely that is to hear, Kari, thank you! And Harry’s Trees is a Christmas book, in its own way. After all, it does star a guy named Susquehanna Santa!

  3. MaryT says:

    Would Jon like “Echo” by Pam Munoz Ryan? It is a young reader’s book but I surely have enjoyed reading it in print and listening to it in Audible. I recommend it to him.

  4. Jessica Moore says:

    Can you give me the info for the Flex Company – the tampon replacement company that was advertised on this podcast? What was the discount code?

  5. Marie says:

    I just read Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt as I was listening and coincidentally, it seemed to evoke that very idea of magic in everyday life. I am a new listener and love your podcast!

  6. Judy Gibson says:

    I’d love to commend Jon on his work on the screenplay for Minority Report. When readers say “the book is always better than the movie” I say, except for the books of Philip K. Dick! His books are weird and almost impenetrable jumbles, yet the movies (most of them, not the one with Arnie on Mars) are among the best in science fiction. Minority Report for sure. How do the writers do it??? Good work, Jon!

    • Jon Cohen says:

      Boy, you really nailed it. I mean, right on the head. Except for the amazing, mind-bending conceits of Philip K Dick’s stories, there are no characters or world for a screenwriter to grab on to. To this day, I’m not sure what Minority Report is about, Dick’s version, I mean. But meagre story means as a screenwriter you get to make up all sorts of new story to fill in the narrative gaps. I know NOTHING about science fiction, rarely read it, so believe me, what you see is a miracle of luck (and great, great writing by the other screenwriter, Scott Frank). I did have fun making up the sci-fi gizmos. But it was a hair-tearing writing job!

  7. Susan Caponigro says:

    Well I just finished Harry’s Trees and throughly enjoyed being transported into the forest and this magical world. My Aunt Shirl & I have had many discussions about the magic of trees and nature. I will seek out the recommendations here and your other books. Thank you so much

  8. When I heard Jon say he appreciates when he finds beautiful lines from an author, I immediately thought of L.M. Montgomery. She also did the magic of everyday life particularly well. I feel like that quality in her characters was actually a part of herself that she infused in her work. The title character in Magic for Marigold is very much like Orianna in Harry’s Trees.

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