WSIRN Ep 180: Rearranging your life to read 600 books a year

Today’s guest is reading speed-demon Liberty Hardy, professional book nerd and host of Book Riot’s All the Books podcast. Together we’re going deep into a book labyrinth, discussing truly committed bookworm questions like “how do you avoid back strain while reading for hours on end?”, “how do I smuggle 1000 books out of my house safely?” and “what does Kate Atkinson’s grocery list look like?” We’re even playing a Tom Stoppard-inspired literary game that miiiight destroy your TBR.

I think you’ll find Liberty just as delightful as I did, so what are we waiting for? Let’s get to it!

What Should I Read Next #180: Rearranging your life to read 600 books a year with Liberty Hardy

You can check out Liberty Hardy’s writing at Book Riot, follow her super-bookish and super-kitten-filled Instagram, and see what books she’s talking about on Twitter.

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!

• Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs, by Sally Mann
• Edgar P. Jones (try The Known World)
• Donna Tartt (try The Secret History)
• Megan Abbott (try You Will Know Me)
• Big Sky, by Kate Atkinson
Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
Passing, by Nella Larsen
• How to Catch a Mole: And Find Yourself in Nature, by Marc Hamer
• How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, by Jenny Odell
• How Not to Die Alone, by Richard Roper
• How Could She, by Lauren Mechling
• The Heart’s Invisible Furies, by John Boyne
• The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket, by John Boyne
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, by Tom Stoppard
The Last Romantics, by Tara Conklin
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, by Anissa Gray
An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
The Words Between Us, by Erin Bartels
• Shot in the Heart, by Mikal Gilmore
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.
The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity, by Nadine Burke Harris M.D.
To Night Owl, from Dogfish, by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer
Listen, Slowly, by Thanhha Lai
Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai
Going after Cacciato, by Tim O’Brien
Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War, by Karl Marlantes
Deep River, by Karl Marlantes
The Huntress, by Kate Quinn
Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal, by Ben Macintyre
Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History, by Ben Mezrich
A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, by Ben Macintyre
The Giant’s House: A Romance, by Elizabeth McCracken
The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller
The Painter, by Peter Heller
Celine, by Peter Heller
The River, by Peter Heller
Check, Please!, by Ngozi Ukazu
The Memory Police, by Yoko Ogawa

What backlist do you think Liberty should add to her towering TBR? Tell us in the comments section!

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  1. Meg says:

    I’d love to see transcripts for WSIRN as well! You did provide one a few weeks ago, but I haven’t seen any since then.

    It’s very difficult me to follow audio. I hardly ever finish listening to a podcast or an audiobook (I did enjoy your book “I’d Rather Be Reading” on audio – but I had to listen at 75% and still backtrack frequently).

  2. Susan in TX says:

    Love this episode! Liberty is one of those people I follow in the book world that I would love to meet one day. I go through seasons where I have to stop listening to All the Books, though — the sheer volume of the mental TBR added to the physical TBR in the house gets to be too much for me sometimes. That said, it is *seasons* – I always come back. 🙂 I loved the back and forth that y’all did recommending titles (good fodder for future Book Bracket pairings, should you ever do more, Anne!). I also loved that Liberty mentioned Sidney Sheldon – talk about blast from the past! I, too, was one of those readers who was reading things at too young of an age, and Sidney was definitely one of those authors from the late 70’s/early 80’s that I read. The other one, that I’d be curious if either of you has read because I’ve never come across anyone that has, is Thomas Thompson. He wrote Blood and Money (about a real life murder in Houston) and Serpentine (a book that I still think about 40 years later(!) and no doubt, wouldn’t be able to get through today – my ability to read true crime dwindled in the years after I became a mother, for better or worse.) Also, good to hear someone singing the praises of Elizabeth McCracken – she is a treasure! I have yet to see ANYone moderate a book discussion better than Elizabeth McCracken and I’ve been to a fair number of them. She also has one of the funniest Twitter accounts out there — I go to Twitter maybe once a week just to see what she’s been up to.
    Anytime I want to stop mid-exercise and start writing comments, it’s a good episode – I did finish my walk first, but only because I had to. 😉
    Happy reading!

  3. Jaime says:

    Oh my seriousness…I added 15 BOOKS to my TBR from this episode alone! Anne what are you doing to me!? This was a great episode!

  4. Deborah G Ball says:

    Since Liberty loves historical war writing, she Must read The Indianapolis which came out this winter. This is outside my usual genre but found it to be fascinating and enlightening about those young young men that fought for us in WWII. Also I love her name!!!!

    • Liberty says:

      I loved that book! I also highly recommend reading In Harm’s Way by Doug Stanton, which is an older account of the tragedy, but still fascinating. And thanks!

  5. Rachel says:

    I was SO excited to hear Check, Please! mentioned on the podcast this morning! It’s been one of my favorites ever since I started reading the web comics online and has some of the most memorable and lovable characters that I come back to over and over again. I’m so happy more people are reading it!

  6. Katie says:

    Such a great conversation! I recently got some of John Boyne’s older books from the library after reading and loving The Heart’s Invisible Furies. I also enjoyed A Ladder to the Sky. He’s such a good writer and an amazing story teller.
    Looking forward to checking out some of the other books mentioned. Thanks!

  7. Jeanine says:

    I LOVED this episode! One the best so far, imo. I just added Liberty on IG because book nerds are my fav people 🙂
    I can’t even think of anything to recommend that you wouldn’t have already read, but I can say that I gave an internal squeal (I’m at work) when you said that The Heart’s Invisible Furies was your favorite book of 2017 because ME TOO! I loved it SO much that Cyril is at the top of my list for baby names if I ever have one haha!
    Also, definitely added Elizabeth McCracken to my list–I’ve never read anything by her, so I’m uber excited. Thanks for all the recommendations!

  8. Valerie S. says:

    This episode was one of your best ever! So enjoyable to listen in on the conversation between two masters of book recommendations. It was especially exciting to hear Anne mention The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels as I loved the author’s debut novel We Hope for Better Things.

  9. Jean says:

    This had to be my favorite podcast!!! I loved the format. I can’t believe how many books I want to read now !! My husband is a history book lover. Now I have more for him.
    Thank you for a great listen !

  10. Carol says:

    Loved this one! Liberty is fast reader and fast talker…I couldn’t keep up with all the great suggestions, but plan to listen again at a slower speed. So much enthusiasm. And that she’s from Maine (as am I) is another plus. Will follow her blog. I would love to make a living reading books! Thanks for a great program.

  11. Marie says:

    Liberty, as a professor teaching adult learners, I totally relate to your mission for recommending books to others. But I am absolutely in admiration for your speed reading – I am a slow reader.

    In terms of recommendations, I think of myself as a book scavenger and since you are looking for older titles, I wanted to share a favorite I found on the dollar rack at the famous “Strand” bookstore in NYC – “Where Do You Stop” by Eric Kraft. It deserves more exposure, as all of my book club loved it – and it was the rare pick that the husbands enjoyed too. It’s a quirky, charming first-person memoir of a boy growing up in the 1950s in a small town, discovering television as a new thing, and also learning about racial tolerance, quantum physics and the meaning of life.

    BTW, one of my friends discovered that Eric Kraft was actually a distant relative, and then ended getting sent and reading all his other titles. Apparently, all his books are about different people in the same family at different time periods.

  12. Rebecca says:

    Great episode! You mentioned another podcast or two that I hope to listen to but I can’t recall the names- help!
    Thank you!

  13. Amy N. says:

    My book world collide! I’m fortunate to have Liberty as my bibliologist from the Book Riot TBR service. Her picks have been perfect for me- my reading is very eclectic, but she gets it right each time. Backlist recommendation? A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle. My favorite childhood book.

  14. Anne Marie says:

    For those who are interested in The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk I recommend In An Unspoken Voice or Waking The Tiger, both by Peter Levine. For me he is even more captivating on this topic. Also a well respected clinician/scientist.

  15. I LOVED this episode! Please bring Liberty back again. I’ve followed her for years and just love her. So hearing 2 of my favorite book people banter back and forth was amazing. I just loved the rapid fire style of this show. When I was she was the guest this week I was thinking, ‘how could Anne recommend books to someone like Liberty who has read SO MUCH!’ My TBR also grew significantly!

  16. Britany Arnold says:

    This was SO much fun!! Two of my very favorite bookish friends come together to discuss books and reading.

  17. P Carr says:

    This was one of the best podcasts ever! So many interesting books to discover… and I loved the Rosenkrantz and Gilderstern book game! Thanks to you both.

  18. Samantha Lang says:

    I adore Liberty and thought this was a really fun episode. It’s so fun to hear Anne talk with someone who deals with books in a similar profession as herself. I admire someone like Liberty who can read a wide range of books and just be open to nearly anything!

  19. I am so glad I listened because I had absolutely forgotten I meant to read more Elizabeth McCracken at some point. Many, many years ago I listened to Niagara Falls All Over Again, and it’s still vivid in my brain. Thanks, Liberty!!

    If she hasn’t read it and likes middle grade, Alan Gratz’s Ban This Book has been a huge hit with me and my daughter. And it’s a book about books. 😍

  20. Hilary says:

    This was a fun episode. Somehow I missed listening to it (I think I was on vacation) when it came out so it was a nice treat to find an unlistened-to episode.
    The recommendation for “To Dogfish From Night Owl” was much appreciated. I brought it home from the library the next day and my 11 y.o. read it in two sittings. I didn’t even get it for her. I’m excited to read it next. It hits so many of the prompts for the POPSUGAR 2019 reading challenge.

  21. Sarah Olson says:

    I totally didn’t read Beartown for months because I knew once I read it, I wouldn’t get another Fredrik Backman for too long! I get it exactly. S

  22. Pat says:

    I just loved the back-and-forth format of this podcast. I have so many new entries on my TBR list! Thank you and I hope you do it again.

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