WSIRN Ep 178: The Next Right Thing for your reading life

Last Friday, my brand new podcast One Great Book premiered! One Great Book highlights books I love that you may have missed or forgotten about, but that you’ll be glad to discover—again, or for the first time.

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Now – on to today’s episode!

Decision-making is a HUGE part of what we do here on WSIRN. Podcaster and author Emily P. Freeman is an expert in the art of decision-making (she’s literally written the book on it), but when assigned school reading hijacked alllllll her personal reading time… deciding what to read next for pleasure got a little more complicated. That’s where I come in.

Today I’m helping Emily find her way back to confident personal reading decisions. Plus, we’re discussing what to do when you pick up the totally-wrong book by a totally-great author, biographical historical fiction, the first YA book ever written, and Emily’s newest book – releasing today! –  The Next Right Thing.

What Should I Read Next #178: The Next Right Thing for your reading life with Emily P. Freeman

You can follow Emily P. Freeman on Twitter and Instagram both @emilypfreeman. Make sure to check out Emily’s podcast The Next Right Thing, and her new book of the same name, which is out TODAY, APRIL 2. Find all the info you need on her website, where you can also sign up for email updates.

Click here to read the full episode transcription (opens in a new tab).

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 Next Right Thing, by Emily P. Freeman
The Starbridge series, by Susan Howitch
Recapturing the Wonder: Transcendent Faith in a Disenchanted World, by Mike Cosper
The Inspector Gamache series, by Louise Penny
The House at Riverton, by Kate Morton
The Distant Hours, by Kate Morton
America’s First Daughter, by Stephanie Dray
Learning to Walk in the Dark, by Barbara Brown Taylor
Ripper, by Isabel Allende
Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir, by Ruth Reichl
Marilla of Green Gables, by Sarah McCoy
American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt, by Stephanie Marie Thornton
The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith


What do you think Emily should read next? Let us know in the comments!


Leave A Comment
  1. Deborah Ball says:

    Loved todays piece!!!!This is so timely, and such a piece of chocolate for my spirit. I am deeply into The Library Book by Susan Orlean which is a must! However I will suggest The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris, although it is quite old but quite precious on your interior journey Emily! Blessings!

  2. Denise Talen says:

    Loved this episode. But Marilla lives in Prince Edward Island! She just travels to Nova Scotia, since it is not that far away and the abolitionist movement/underground railroad was really important there, more so than on PEI.

  3. Cassie says:

    I really like this episode. I think Emily would enjoy The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell. It’s full of family and neighborhood secrets, involves a murder (not too gruesome), and I really enjoyed it.

  4. Emily says:

    This episode was fantastic today! I could listen to you both talk for hours! And the books discussed are some of my favorites or if I haven’t read them I’m sure they will be. I am definitely going to read I Capture the Castle. I would recommend one of my absolute favorites, The Winter Sea by Susana Kearsley; mystery, history, romance and Scotland!

    • Pam says:

      I read I Capture the Castle two or three years ago, and loved it! A really interesting coming of age story. Not my favourite theme, but this was really well done.

  5. Kathy says:

    I think the Maisie Dobbs mystery series by Jacqueline Winspear would be a great fit for Emily. Smart, not gory or scary, mysteries set in the post World War I time period.

  6. Michelle Zhao says:

    Ann recommended the Starbridge series by Susan Howatch to a guest a few years ago during an episode of What Should I read next. Since then,I have read the all 6 books in the series and loved all of them. I am so glad to hear this series is mentioned again in this episode. I also enjoyed Howatch’s other historical novels – Sins of the fathers, The rich are different based on Julius Caesar, Cleopatra and Mark Anthony; and Penmaric which is based on Henry II and Eleanor of Acquitane and their many children.

    • Victoria says:

      I am absolutely with you Michelle, I have loved Susan Howatch books since i was a teenager and used to vacation in Cornwall – my copy of Penmarric is one of the first. I also have the whole Starbridge collection and it was great to hear them being talked about again!! I also remembered that Anne had talked about them before.

  7. Kate says:

    Another Starbridge series fan here. I read them in the mid 90s when I started going to an Episcopal church which (thankfully) turned out to be far more boring than the books!

    The only fun fiction I could read in grad school was children’s series books like Enid Blyton right before I went to sleep at night. My senior year of undergrad I discovered a shelf of Dick Francis papberbacks someone had donated to the college library and burned through many of those.

    • Victoria says:

      Kate, I think you and I might be the same person!! Loved Enid Blyton as a kid along with the Chalet School books and the St Clares and Mallory Towers series. Also a huge fan of horse racing and Dick Francis books!

    • Sue says:

      Kate, I’m so happy for you that you found the shelf of Dick Francis books!!! My whole family, father, mother and 5 kids, ALL read Dick Francis, every one.

  8. Grace says:

    I capture the castle is one of my my favourite books ever and I feel like people don’t talk about it enough so loved hearing about it this episode! This was a delightful listen

  9. Susan Cook says:

    I, too, am the mother of a fifteen year old, work full time and am completing graduate work. I have considered myself a slow reader, as well, until lately. As I look around at favorite booktubers and guests on this podcast, I have decided to give myself a break. I have a lot of things in my brain at this time in my life. Reading is slow work because I have to fight off distractions in my own thoughts. I think I will be a faster reader again when I have less to think about again….maybe retirement or as an empty nester or, for sure, after I complete my degree.

  10. One of the things I loved about this episode is the beauty of your voices. They soothed me as I drove home late last night after teaching my acting class. Emily, since you like cozy mysteries, I actually don’t know what that means, and you talked about spirituality, you might enjoy the Cadfael and Grantchester series of books. Cadfael is a twelfth century Benedictine monk, who fought in the Crusades before becoming the herbalist for the Shrewsbury monastery. He helps solve crimes, but there are elements of spirituality as well. And you get historical events woven in to the stories. Grantchester takes place in the 1960s. Canon Sydney Chambers is a jazz loving, whiskey drinking priest and part-time crime solver. Again, spirituality is a huge part of Sydney’s life and crime solving. Thanks for this episode.

  11. JJ says:

    I feel like Emily might enjoy “My Dear Hamilton” by the same authors as “America’s First Daughter”. “The Midwife’s Revolt” by Jodi Daynard would also fit in nicely. I have been on an American history bender lately and really liked reading these alongside their respective presidential biographies (Jefferson for “First Daughter”, Hamilton for “My Dear” (not a president, but still), and Adams for “Midwife”). Wait—does this make a “book flight”!? 😉

  12. Elizabeth says:

    This was such a delightful episode! I just finished and loved Learning to Walk in the Dark. I listened to it on audio and Barbara Brown Taylor has a lovely voice. It reminded me a lot of Barbara Kingsolver’s voice.

  13. Suzanne says:

    I hope Emily will give Isabel Allende another chance, and I’m glad Anne recommended House of the Spirits. If that’s too intimidating OR if you want more, The Japanese Lover also has family, secrets, a house, and a tiny bit of magical realism. However, it’s about 120 pages shorter. 🙂

  14. Okay, I do agree that the first Anne book stands alone very well, but the next two at least are still awesome! Anne of the Island in particular is actually my favorite right up there with Anne of Green Gables. I’m still peeved that the ’80s screen adaptations left out everything from Anne of the Island, actually — I just adore seeing Anne living it up as a college student and enjoying cozy evenings at Patty’s Place with Stella and Priscilla and Philippa. I also will never understand why the miniseries traded the Roy Gardener storyline for Morgan Harris!

  15. Sue says:

    For a house, family and secrets, how about Frances Mayes’ Swan? With southern heat and live oaks and slow drawls. It was very good.
    People mentioned how soothing and beautiful your voices are, but oh my goodness, I thought my tablet was on overdrive, especially with Emily. She was talking so fast,I couldn’t keep up and actually felt overwhelmed and exhausted. It was staccato! And I’m a northerner that talks fast! Later it slowed down a little. I did enjoy what she had to say, and I’m not an Isabel Allende fan, either.

  16. Natalia says:

    Hi Anne, this was another great episode though I was shocked to hear that the book Emily hated was by Isabel Allende! I have not read Ripper but I really hope she’ll give The House of the Spirits a try as it is amazing. If she enjoys memoirs I highly recommend Allende’s Paula as well.

  17. Nicole says:

    I think Emily might like Becoming Mrs. Lewis. A fictionalized story of a real love story, friendship, spiritual journey, and a look at the heart of a writer, and a historical setting!

  18. Abigal M says:

    Wow, I’m really excited to learn Ruth Reichl has a new memoir out. I really enjoyed Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples, as well as her cookbook My Kitchen Year. Save me the Plums sounds very interesting, and in today’s rapidly changing world which can leave us out of a job and place quickly, very timely.

  19. Danielle Diehl says:

    So so happy to hear y’all discuss the Starbridge Series. My husband and I loved it so much we almost named our son Darrow 🙂 Did you read/love the last 3 as well? Wonder Worker, et al?

  20. Amberly Noble says:

    I’m a big Susan Howatch fan, too, and find it fascinating that her Starbridge series gets a lot of attention – but not the St. Benet’s trilogy! I might love the St. Benet’s trilogy better than the first series … but that might be because “The Wonder Worker” is one of my favorites of all time. “The Wonder Worker” is the first in the trilogy and focuses on Jonathan Darrow’s son Nicholas after he has gotten married and set up a ministry for himself. It introduces some new characters with alternating narrators, and revisits some that we know and love (or love to hate) from the original series. It also does a beautiful job of integrating spiritual healing with medicine and psychology, and throwing in some twists and turns along the way. It is SO well done!

  21. Stacy Bjurman says:

    Hi Anne, please let me recommend The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris. It’s non-fiction that reads like a novel. The story is fascinating and makes appreciate how far we’ve come in our medical and hygiene practices. This author would also be a great guest on your podcast. Thank you for your weekly podcast, I love listening every week 🙂

  22. Halle says:

    Catching up on podcasts and I’d recommend the Montmaray journals by Michelle Cooper. They’re young adult but they get better and better as the series goes along and is about a family from an impoverished royal family before and during WWII.

  23. Becca says:

    Anne, this is so random, but I am an expat in Austria and learning German. Of course, my favorite way to “study” is to read! I’ve read some Harry Potter and Anne Frank, but would love some recommendations from you if you have any that you enjoyed reading in German in college 🙂

    • Anne says:

      My favorite thing I read in German was Bridget Jones’s Diary! For my studies I read a lot of Bonhoeffer, Nietzsche, and other classic lit that was interesting but not what I would choose for pleasure reading.

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