WSIRN Ep 171: A podcaster, a barrister, and a joiner walk into a bookstore

Today we have a one of a kind episode for you: during my trip to Scotland’s national book town back in December, I sat down with Ruth Andersen, a brand-new bookseller in Wigtown.

We met Ruth when she came into The Open Book to say hello, and also to tell us that our Voltaire joke on the signboard was truly terrible. (She’s right, it was.) When I met Ruth I was so grateful I had decided to pack my recording equipment in my suitcase “just in case.”

I can’t wait for you to listen in and experience Ruth and her shop yourself—and you really do get to do both today. We recorded this episode in her shop, so you get to experience great book talk and great bookish atmosphere.

What Should I Read Next #171: A podcaster, a barrister, and a joiner walk into a bookstore with Ruth Andersen

Check out Well Read Books of Wigtown on Facebook.


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!

The Silence of the Girls, by Pat Barker
A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry
• The Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser
I Know This Much is True, by Wally Lamb
• She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb
• War Horse, by Michael Morpurgo
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë 
• The Idiot, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
• Unnatural Death: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery, by Dorothy L. Sayers
The Five Red Herrings: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery, by Dorothy L. Sayers
• A History of Scotland: Look Behind the Mist and Myth of Scottish History, Neil Oliver
The Scottish Nation: A History, 1700-2000, by T.M. DeVine
• Home Fire, by Kamila Shamsie
• Winter Solstice, by Rosamunde Pilcher
• Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry
• Hannah Coulter, by Wendell Berry
• What Are People For?, by Wendell Berry
• MacBeth, by Jo Nesbo
• Mystery in White: A Christmas Crime Story, by J. Farjeon

Also mentioned:

• Well-Read Books of Wigtown on Facebook
• Wigtown book festival
• Hay-on-Why book town


 What do YOU think Ruth would enjoy reading next? Tell us in the comments section!

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  1. Sue Aberbach says:

    I listened to episode 169, my first time on your podcast. The introduction sounded promising, but I was dismayed by the ads and product placement that took place so soon into the episode. Both products were for gender stereotyped items— hair dye and “blush pink” luggage. I was entirely turned off the podcast. I didn’t even hear of any specific book titles. Too bad you are so reliant on ad revenue that it supplants the content. I wa disappointed, and I feel I wasted my time giving this podcast a chance.

    • Allyson says:

      Really?!! Adds are necessary if we want to continue being able to listen to these podcasts without paying. Also, I’m sure the majority of listeners are women. There is absolutely nothing wrong with women enjoying our femininity. Men are not excluded, neither are you forced to buy hair dye or pink luggage. Relax!

    • Hilary says:

      I’m always curious what people expect when they listen to a podcast or read a blog. I think the ads are fine, relevant, and in a manageable quantity. TO each their own I suppose but I love this podcast and look forward to it every week.

    • Debi Morton says:

      Sue, I’m sorry you felt that way. I’ve listened to all 171 episodes of the podcast, and can tell you that you missed an excellent one. Also, if you had listened a bit longer, Anne explains in one brief ad how you are able to listen to the podcast ad-free by subscribing to a particular service. Sometimes, acting too hastily can defeat your purposes; it’s a lesson I’ve learned often over my 68 years. I do hope you’ll give Anne and the podcast another chance; I promise you won’t regret it.

    • Katie says:

      You really should give it another try. Anne is a gem and great at recommending books. If you want to listen to or read any kind of professionally produced and worthwhile content FOR FREE then you are just going to have to live with ads. And most of her listeners are women, I’m pretty sure. Advertisers wouldn’t pay to advertise to a market that isn’t their market.

    • Britany Arnold says:

      I think you are only hurting yourself by giving up on this so soon. As others have commented, you can fast forward or use a different podcast service. Anne has created a community here. You are not only missing out on the great interviews, but some new concepts and a whole great community here on the blog to connect with.

      Hands down, this is my very favorite podcast and the only blog I follow and can relate to most of the content that Anne and her team work so hard to put together.

    • Michael Snyder says:

      Dear Sue, I’m a male listener of this podcast which I find quite wonderful. It’s as much about the people reading the books as it is about book recommendations. You missed out.

  2. Wendy says:

    Such a delightful episode!
    Anne, do you know what Wendel Berry book Ruth was referring to when she mentioned hearing it at reading?
    Thank you –

  3. Melissa says:

    This was a fun episode. We need a Modern Mrs. Darcy literary trip! (And as for the ads, you can always fast forward if they bother you.)

  4. Debi Morton says:

    Anne and Ruth, I have listened to every episode, and I thought the one just a few weeks ago with James Mustich would be my favorite for a very long time. But you’ve already managed to surpass it! (Sorry, Jim!?) There are likely a number of reasons for this, top of which is that my husband and I lived for 3 years in Aberdeen, Scotland, so anything Scotland wins my heart from the outset. Also, I was introduced to Dorothy L. Sayers by a dear friend several years ago and have read and loved several of her books; I just started reading Wendell Berry last year beginning with Jayber Crow, and Hannah Coulter is waiting on my Kindle. Like you, Ruth, I read Rosamunde Pilcher’s Shell Seekers many years ago, and at your suggestion, Anne, I think Winter Solstice may have to go on my TBR.
    Many of the girlfriends I did life with in Aberdeen are now living near me here in Texas. I’m just about to email this episode to them. They will want to spend an hour in Wigtown with you, as well. In fact, it just may inspire us to plan a trip! You’ll know me, Ruth, because I’m just a couple of years younger than you, and my hair is about the same length and color.?

  5. Joy in Alabama says:

    My favorite episode so far!! Thank you for interviewing Ruth. I loved everything about it, including your recommendation for 2 of my favorite books (but I’m going to find the 3rd one soon)!

  6. JJ says:

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one it took several tries to get past 50 pages of something Russian! I must have started The Brothers Karamazov 10 times!!!

  7. Janet says:

    I loved this episode, and am down the rabbit hole of planning a trip to Wigtown for the festival! Btw it’s Hay-on-Wye (not Why).

  8. Neil Hobson says:

    Really enjoyed listening to episode 171: live from a real bookstore, what a great idea! A very interesting guest, one who obviously knows and loves her books. Even without seeing the photos of the bookshop, this would be one I would love to visit. I would love to hear more podcasts like this one “on location” in a great bookstore!

  9. Erika Claves says:

    Well, that was just a delight! Scotland was already high on my list of places to visit and now it has moved even closer to the top.

  10. Susan says:

    I have had Hannah Coulter on my TBR list for a very long time. After listening to this podcast I just moved it to the top! Looking forward to finally reading it.

  11. S says:

    Loved this episode – the podcast just gets better and better with such interesting guests! As usual, I am adding to my TBR as well as putting Wigtown on the top of my bucket list of places to visit! Just have to add, I may be in the minority but I love Maeve Binchey – her stories are full of wonderful characters, funny observations, and delightful family dramas. Give them a try although some are clearly better than others.

  12. Jenny says:

    Absolutely agree with your comments on Winter Solstice. I “accidentally” listened to this one on audio, meaning that I just randomly downloaded it from the library to listen to while I fell asleep. But it didn’t work, I didn’t want to fall asleep, I wanted to hear the story, and it was delightful. It’s going on my Winter Re-Reads list for next year.

    Also, just as a side note, a great “falling asleep” book I did find is “A Little History of the World,” by E.H. Gombrich, narrated by Ralph Cosham (one of the best narrators ever).

  13. Lauren says:

    This is such a wonderful episode – short listed to one of my favorites! Ruth, you are such a gem and a lovely example of being a lifelong learner, both as a reader and as a returning student to university. Thank you for sharing your reading life and wisdom with us!

  14. Mary Prather says:

    I enjoy each episode of What Should I Read Next?, but this one was particularly lovely. There was something so intimate about the conversation you had with Ruth, as if I were eavesdropping on a marvelously bookish conversation!

    I happened to be listening on my way to the library, and thought I would see if my local branch had any of the YA books by Michael Morpugo Ruth spoke of. As the book fates would have it, I found “Private Peaceful”, brought it home, and promptly finished it in one day. I remember now also reading “The Butterfly Lion” aloud to my children when they were younger and loving that one, as well.

    Thank you for such a beautiful episode, and for such a wonderful 24 hours of reading!

  15. Crystal says:

    What a great episode! I was so happy to hear Ruth recommend “Mystery in White” to you. I bought a copy last year in a thrift shop and loved it. It’s a fun locked room-type mystery. I’m adding Ruth’s two Scottish history books to my TBR pile. I recently discovered that I’m descended from Robert the Bruce (the 1st king of independent Scotland) so I’m looking forward to learning more about the country’s history.

  16. Joan Frazier says:

    I wondered why no mention was made of Alexander McCall Smith while you were in Scotland. I love his many series.

  17. Marissa G says:

    I was SO THRILLED when Ruth said she did not like Wuthering Heights!!! I only recently started listening to your podcast and was wondering and hoping someone would say Wuthering Heights was “not for them.” Cathy and Heathcliff are both such jerks I don’t understand why it’s considered such a great romance! Great episode. Thanks!

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