WSIRN Ep 181: Taking your reading life from good to great

Today’s guest Holli Petersen has created a very special family book club that might inspire you to pick up the phone and call a bookish loved one as soon as the episode is over. She also totally hated one of my favorite titles for the first 100 pages, before a turn of events melted her heart… and I’ve mentioned this title DOZENS of times on the show. I’m really curious to know if you have any guesses right now on what that title might be!

Before we get to today’s episode, you should know – there’s a special Summer Reading episode coming, where I’ll get to share a ton of exciting Summer releases that you’ll want to get on the holds list for RIGHT NOW… I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it: what I love most about WSIRN is putting the right book in the hands of the right reader, so I want to recommend some of those Summer reads especially to YOU! Head over to our Patreon posts page to find out how to be part of our Summer Reading episode. (Don’t worry, this post is available to patrons and non-patrons alike.)

What Should I Read Next #181: Taking your reading life from good to great with Holli Petersen

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!

Glitter & Glue: A Memoir, by Kelly Corrigan
The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan
My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout
Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
The Shipping News, by Annie Proulx
The Call the Midwife series, by Jennifer Worth
The Rent Collector, by Camron Wright
A Light in Dark Places, by Jennifer Graves
Lily and the Octopus, by Steven Rowley
My Family and Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell
The Blue Castle, by L. M. Montgomery
A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn
Son, by Lois Lowry
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
Gathering Blue, by Lois Lowry
Daddy Long Legs, by Jean Webster
Big Sky, by Kate Atkinson
Transcription, by Kate Atkinson
Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good, by Kathleen Flinn

Also mentioned: 
WSIRN’s guest application page

What do YOU think Holli should read next? Let us know in the comments!


Leave A Comment
  1. Shona says:

    Given Holli’s love of animals and memoirs and sense of place I so recommend How to be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery!

    It’s such a quick read and so beautiful. And I just loved it so much! Also great for Shelf Sisters.

    • You know what’s crazy? I requested this book at my library a week or so ago and it came in today! I love bookish serendipity. I’ll definitely be reading this and sharing it with my sisters. Thank you, Shona!

      • Suzanne says:

        I second the recommendation of How to Be a Good Creature. I “read” the audiobook, which the author narrates. It was very moving. Another animal memoir I really loved is The Possibility Dogs: What I Learned from Second-Chance Rescues About Service, Hope, and Healing by Susannah Charleson. Her work with service dogs and rescues is very inspiring.

        • Thank you, Suzanne! I finished How to be a Good Creature yesterday and it was such a charming read. I haven’t heard of The Possibility Dogs, but I sure will add it to my TBR! Thank you!

  2. Jen W. says:

    Holli is my new favourite guest! I’m a fellow animal lover who will pick up a book just because there’s a dog or cat on the front of it without having any idea what it’s about (not always a great plan…) My Family and Other Animals was an assigned book in high school and I remember cracking up on a regular basis in the middle of “quiet reading time”. It’s definitely on my all time favorite list. I’m going to assume you’ve read “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein (also an all time favourite). “Love Saves the Day” by Gwen Cooper is also a sweet one. It’s told from the point of view of Prudence the cat and definitely captures those sassy cat vibes. Also the James Herriot series are classic for animal lovers. Thanks for another great episode!

    • Wow, Jen! Thank you! I’m so glad you can relate. 🙂

      I LOVE The Art of Racing in the Rain. It’s definitely on my all-time favorites list. I own the James Herriot series and always mean to get to them, but so far I’ve only ever read his children’s treasury, which is fantastic! I need to read his books ASAP!

      I’ve never heard of Love Saves the Day, so I’m so glad you recommended it. I’ve added it to my TBR list. Thank you!

      • Kelli Wetmore says:

        Oh my goodnesss Love Saves the Day gutted me but I couldn’t stop talking about how wonderful a read it was. A number of my friends and family members read it on my recommendation and they all loved it as much as I did. Fabulous book about family dynamics and the animals that make us feel whole again 🙂

      • Martha says:

        Holli, you will love the audio versions of James Herriot’s stories complete with lovely accents! When my children were young we played them on long drives and everyone thoroughly enjoyed them.

        • Jocelyn says:

          Holli, I think you should read The Penderwicks. It’s a middle-grade novel about a family of four sisters, each with very different personalities. The dog of the family, Hound Penderwick, is such a fun addition to the story. He’s practically one of the characters. The story is sweet and almost timeless, and it’s one of my favorites. I read the series for myself first, and now I’m reading it (and enjoying it) again out loud with my 6 and 12 year old girls. Try it!

  3. Laura says:

    You named so many of my top favorites- Call the Midwife, My Family and Other Animals (truly, one of the funniest books I’ve ever read), The Blue Castle, A Gentleman in Moscow. Have you read Peace like a River by Leif Enger? That’s another favorite.

  4. Kacie says:

    Don’t miss Daddy-Long-Legs! I devoured it in one short sitting while on vacation, and I love that I can link this wonderful book to that trip. I found out about this book because it was mentioned often in reviews for a contemporary update, but that updated book just wasn’t for me so it was an early DNF.

    And that’s good to know about A Gentleman in Moscow — I haven’t yet picked it up but I plan to.

    • Diane Goldman says:

      Anne and Holli,
      Daddy-Long-Legs was republished by Random House in 2011. Includes illustrations and a lovely introduction by Ann M. Martin. It is part of the Looking Glass Library. And wasn’t there a film with Audrey Hepburn? I found one of the Call the Midwife books and …Driving in the Rain at the local library. I love the tv series but this is volume 2, which focuses on the Workhouse. It’s too devastating for anything but skimming. I was a little too soft-hearted (or -headed) for the other book, too. Devoured it in sections while standing by the library shelves and couldn’t bear to read the final pages. That MIGHT be a recommendation. Listening to a Play-a-Way audio of Transcription during exercise time. Hope that one results in enjoyment without heartbreak. Thanks both for all the suggestions

      • Thank you, Diane!
        I know what you mean about the second book in the Call the Midwife series. I read it and was so sad. It was a departure from the first book, but I still found it fascinating, though absolutely heartbreaking. I have the third book but haven’t finished it yet. I’m hoping it’s more like the first!

  5. Amy Gilliam says:

    Stray kids and stray animals are such vulnerable mirror images of one another that I think an animal memoir worth mention is “My $60,000 dog: My Life With Animals” by Lauren Slater. The whole book isn’t terrific, but there’s a chapter about a raccoon that can stand alone as an essay. Skip everything else, just read the raccoon part, then feel so many feelings.

  6. Natalie says:

    I wish you would do transcripts for your WSIRN podcasts. I can read for hours but my mind just wanders when I try to listen to podcasts or audio books.

  7. Sandra Mosolgo says:

    These are labeled for juvenile readers but I have re-read as an adult & loved them, especially for animal lovers. Owls in the Family & The Dog who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat. Also, My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen.

  8. Nancy says:

    I would agree with the person who said you were her new favorite guest–you were such a delight to listen to! I have been on the fence about a couple of books mentioned in this episode and after your descriptions, I have the confidence to move forward with thank you. The one book I would throw into the ring here is Man in the Window by Jon Cohen–an author I discovered on the What Should I Read Next podcast. I loved his book, Harry’s Trees and his interview with Anne and then acquired Man in the Window on an e-book deal. There is something about this less recent book of Jon Cohen that has made me a huge fan. It’s HILARIOUS and very witty. Any chance you have a public Instagram wherein you share your book finds and reviews? If so, I would definitely be a fan. 🙂 Thanks again for all your great book ideas!

    • Nancy, you are too kind!! I hope you enjoy some of the books we discussed! 🙂

      I just got Harry’s Trees recently, but haven’t gotten to it yet. I’m adding these other mentions as I speak to my TBR!

      I have a personal Insta account – @holli_petersen. (It’s private but I’ll add you if you request.) I discuss books, family and, of course, my pup. My public insta is @shelfsisters. I really don’t have tons of content on there yet. It was just a way for me to track what I was reading with my sisters outside of my Goodreads account. Had no clue I’d get to talk to Anne one day when I started it! But, I’m going to try to add more bookish content there in the future!

  9. Ellen says:

    I loved this podcast – one of my very very favorites. I haven’t read The Blue Castle, but now I will be reading it for sure. I just finished Jane of Lantern Hill by L. M. Montgomery. It got off to a slow start for me, but I ended up loving it. I also loved the Emily series by the same author. I am also very interested in reading A Light in Dark Places. I listened to the Cold podcast and live in a nearby city to the author. Thanks to you and Anne for recommending the kind of books that I love to read.

    • Ellen, thank you so much!! I have been a die-hard Anne of Green Gables fan all my life and I’ve always been afraid to try her other titles because I didn’t want a dud to taint my opinion. Reading Blue Castle opened me up to all the other great books by Montgomery! I just got the Emily series and I’m definitely adding Jane of Lantern Hill to my TBR.

      How crazy is that Cold podcast?! If you enjoyed the podcast, I bet you’ll like the book. There was some disturbing material, but with the focus of helping others get out of domestic violence situations. I found it to be a really nice complement to the podcast. Enjoy! 🙂

  10. Patrice Emenaker says:

    Daddy Long Legs was made into a delightful classic movie in the 50’s with Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron! A real treat, makes me want to read the book even more.

  11. Rebekah Patin says:

    I was so surprised to hear today’s guest share that she is from Beaumont Texas. Me Too, Holli! We are neighbors. It was an added bonus that the third book Anne Recommended Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good is my in real life book club selection that we will be discussing May 5th. Such a wonderful episode. Holli, I hope to encounter you in town one day, because in my world you are famous! Happy Reading!

    • Whhhaaaaaaaatttt?? You’re kidding! That is such a COINCIDENCE! I bet we’re at the same library all the time, too! 🙂 (I’m always at the library so maybe we’ll see each other there!)

  12. Fiona T says:

    You need to read Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog) it’s dry and funny plus the dog Montmorency has a key role. Not sure that Transcription will fit in with ones you will like. There’s a sad part about animals in it.

  13. S says:

    Definitely second Owls In The Family- it is a fantastic read! You might enjoy Hens Dancing – a fun, wry story about a frazzled mom and her adventures in the country as she raises her kids. I loved it so much I bought my own copy to re-read which is beyond rare for me. I don’t know if you like mysteries but A Borrowing of Bones was a great read for dog lovers. The main character is trying to rebuild her life while caring for her partners dog-the relationship is well done, along with the dog/man working partnership of another main character. The grandmother, who is a vet, also adds to the story. This is a series and I am very much looking forward to the next installment and hope you give it a try.

    I really enjoyed this episode – it’s wonderful to hear guests that are so relatable! Holli you could do your own shelf sisters or books involving animals podcast. You have encouraged me to try A Gentleman in Moscow which I had put off, even though I LOVED Rules of Civility, because I had heard it was slow.

    • Well, S, you have exploded my TBR list! If my husband complains about the book mail, I’m blaming you! 😉 I’ve never heard of Hens Dancing, but it sounds great. I LOVE a frazzled mom. (Relatable!) And, I love mysteries AND dog books so A Borrowing of Bones sounds perfect!

      I would love to have a bookish podcast someday. Maybe I’ll try to talk my sisters into it?? I’m so glad I’ve tapped into the animal lover/book lover market and found so many like-minded bookish friends.

      I hope you enjoy A Gentleman in Moscow as much as I did! I own Rules of Civility but I haven’t gotten to it yet. I hope it’s just as good.

  14. Valerie says:

    Holli, I love your description of book fomo! I have the exact same problem and never knew how to describe it or explain it. I get so excited about all the books out there sometimes it’s hard to focus on my current read. Let’s try to make 2019 a year of living in the present book! 🙂

  15. Stacy says:

    Great episode! As an animal lover, you may want to try the author Kristan Higgins… Very sweet rom-com type books, but always with a beloved canine companion!

  16. Anne-Grete says:

    Hi Holli, really loved the podcast! Your reading taste really sounds very close to mine, I loved Gentleman in Moscow and I agree with Anne’s suggestion to read Kate Atkinson, my favorite is Life after Life. I would also suggest to read Sarah Winman’s books: When God was a Rabbit, A Year of Marvellous Ways, also We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler was a good one and just an enjoyable funny, witty read Nora Ephrons Heartburn. Again really enjoyed the episode 🙂

    • I love all the bookish twins I’m finding AND the awesome recommendations. I had We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves on my TBR, but hadn’t heard of Sarah Winman. Thank you for sharing! The book descriptions sound wonderful. And, you’re right on the money because I LOVE Nora Ephron, with Heartburn being one of my all-time favorites!

  17. Holli,
    I don’t know if you are into movie/TV/book connections like I am, but both Daddy Long Legs and My Family and Other Animals are available for viewing. Daddy Long Legs (1955) might be a stretch for you, it’s a musical with Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron. I’ve only seen it once but thought it was sweet.

    Gerald Durrell’s book has been turned into a PBS series. My husband and I have been enjoying it for three seasons now. The fourth will probably air this summer. It sounds like they’ve done a good job of translating the book to the small screen because the family members and the friends they make in Corfu are all a little wacky and they get into all kinds of adventures. Oh, and Leslie Caron is in this series as well. Now that you’ve mentioned how good the book is, I’ll have to put it on my TBR list of books I found by watching the movie or series.

    Given the books you discussed, I’m not sure I have a recommendation for you. However, I enjoyed your enthusiasm for reading and how it can transform your life. I read for that reason as well, though the genres I enjoy are slightly different than yours. Happy reading that thanks for sharing your fun analogies about reading.

      • Lucinda, thank you! I LOVE a book/movie combo. I often try to read the book first and then my hubby gets annoyed because I tell him all the ways the book was better. This recently happened with Beautiful Boy. We were both in tears and I interrupted the tender moment with a long diatribe about alllllll the things in the book that should have been in the movie! LOL!

        I knew about The Durrell’s in Corfu, but I was scared to watch it because I haven’t finished the book series. But, maybe I’ll tune in anyway and save my husband the frustration of hearing my monologue.

  18. Elizabeth says:


    Since you mentioned The Blue Castle, I wanted to tell you (and your sisters) about a fun read-along that’s just wrapping up on FB. The admin is a Rachel Macmillan, a Canadian author and literary kindred spirit. In turns out she grew up near the area where Blue Castle is set and has always loved the book. She (and some of the other contributors) have provided so much historical background, beautiful photos and lively discussion, it’s really enhanced my appreciation for the book. The first few weeks were spoiler free, but now that everyone has read the book, no topic is off limits. I think it’s a closed group but Rachel will happily let you in if you request to join. It might be fun for you to see some of her posts. Here’s the link:

    I also wanted to mention a couple of books for your book club. I recently read Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge, and it might be perfect for your sisters. I picked it up because I am a sucker for any Jane Austen retelling/spin-off/reinterpretation. But honestly this works great as a stand alone whether or not you’ve read the novel it was based on (Sense and Sensibility). It’s about three sisters who are forced by changing financial circumstances to move from the Pacific Northwest to Austin, TX. It’s totally G-rated, there’s a bit of a love story, along with some meddling but well meaning and lovable relatives, but it’s really about the relationships between the sisters, who are all very different. And did I mention there is a very important dog?

    The other book I thought of for you is Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay. I think really any of Reay’s books would check your sisters’ boxes, but I especially recommend this one, because it is about two sisters. Lizzy is single and has carved out a life for herself as a chef in NYC. Jane is married with two kids, living in Seattle and running her own small marketing business. When some things start to fall apart in Lizzy’s personal life around the same time Jane starts treatment for breast cancer, the two are forced together. Reay writes wonderful, complex characters and I think you will relate to both sisters in different ways. I love how she explores the older sister-younger sister dynamic and ultimately the deep bonds between sisters. I think it would give y’all a lot to talk about. It’s completely G rated but does deal with cancer if that’s a trigger for anyone in your tribe.

    • How cool does that reading group sound!? I’ll have to check it out! I’d love to see some of the pictures of the setting. One of my bucket list dream trips would be a bookish tour of Canada to see all the beautiful settings of my most beloved books.

      Thank you for the recommendations. I had Jane of Austin on my TBR, but hadn’t heard much buzz about it. Your description bumps it WAY up for me. Have you read Unmarriageable? I read that one this year and enjoyed it. I’m a sucker for an Austen retelling. 🙂

      Thank you for the hot tip about Katherine Reay. Sounds perfect!! So far, cancer hasn’t been a trigger. We’ve had some beloved family members suffer and even succumbed to the disease (like my sweet uncle that I mentioned), but I think if it’s handled with the respect it deserves, it will be okay.

  19. Michelle says:

    What was the name of the funny book that you shared with your sisters and jump-started the sister’s book club?

  20. Marie says:

    Hello Holli – So fun to hear your interview! I think you will LOVE “Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl.” Heard it on audio, and it’s a wonderful memoir by woman scientist who fosters and raises an injured barn owl over 17 years.

    For your sisters, I would recommend “I Capture the Castle,” a British classic, of a dysfunctional (but charming) family living in a crumbling castle on the grounds of an estate – the dad is a once-successful but now failed writer, and the stepmother is a bohemian free spirit. They have no money, and really are living in ruins, but the tale is told through the eyes of one of the daughters and she is delighting.

    • Thank you for the recommendations, Marie! I’m add Wesley the Owl to my TBR right now! I LOVE a good audio book!! My sister tells me that My Family and Other Animals is also great on audio, though I haven’t tried that title out in the audio version just yet. 🙂

      I own I Capture the Castle, but haven’t cracked it open yet. It sounds WONDERFUL! I will definitely get to that one this year, maybe with my sisters reading along, too!

  21. Dawn F says:

    WOW! I couldn’t believe it when you recommended Daddy Long Legs! I read this book many times growing up – my mom had a copy. I now own this old beat up book – published in 1912! It was a gift to my mom from her grandmother back in the 30s or 40s. A treasure – and a good read.

  22. Holli, this was one of my favorite episodes. I loved hearing about your favorite books and about the ways books have connected you to your sisters.

    I would add Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner as a book with wonderful sense of place and quotidian life with family.

    For silly and quirky I would suggest Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

    • Thank you so much, Lucille! I picked Crossing to Safety up at a used library book sale a couple of years ago because I’ve heard Anne (and so many others) rave about it! It’s a lovely old copy with a great smell (I’m a closet book sniffer…)! I haven’t gotten to it yet, but I hope to read it over the summer.

      You are definitely speaking my language with Maria Semple. I LOVE her and really enjoyed Where’d You Go Bernadette, along with Today Will Be Different. If you like quirky reads like me, have you tried Rabbit Cake? I really liked that one.

  23. Evangelina says:

    The talk of hilarious memoirs reminded me of Jenny Lawson’s “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” which I’ve read twice and absolutely lost it at both times.

    • I love Jenny Lawson! I own (but haven’t read) Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. But, I have read and LOVE Furiously Happy. I also have anxiety and I really appreciate how Lawson flips something that is so soul-crushing into something truly hilarious! I like to read Furiously Happy whenever I’m feeling a little blue.

      My sisters would probably be shocked at some of her language, but I’m bawdy enough to appreciate a perfectly-timed curse word. 😉 I definitely need to read her other titles! Thank you!

  24. Mary says:

    I love Three Men in a Boat, too.
    Holli, you may want to try Bo Caldwell’s book, The Distant Land of My Father. A dog plays a supportive role in that.
    Have you read To Dance with the White Dog? There is a Hallmark movie version of that, too.
    I also loved Gentleman in Moscow. One of my favorites.

    • I just looked up The Distant Land of My Father and it sounds AMAZING. I love stories set in faraway places. And, what’s this about a dog, you say? 🙂

      Mary, you may be psychic because To Dance with the White Dog is one of my all-time favorite, life-changing books. It’s up there with Kelly Corrigan! AND, I didn’t know it was a Hallmark movie!! I don’t watch a lot of Hallmark shows/movies but if it’s anything like the book, I will love it. That book made me cry BIG tears. And, fun fact: When I gave my first sister the book My Family and Other Animals, I also gave her my copy of To Dance with the White Dog. I don’t think she’s read it yet, but I’m going to put some pressure on her. 🙂

      Thank you so much!

    • Hi, Kristen! You must amend this immediately! 🙂

      I recommend starting with The Middle Place. It’s her first book and, in my opinion, it set the framework for Glitter and Glue. She has a book that she wrote between those two titles called Lift. It’s a departure from her other books. It read more like a meditation than a memoir. I really loved it, as well, but it’s definitely not the same sort of book as The Middle Place or Glitter and Glue. So, start with those and if you like them then go back and read Lift and her newest book (also very good!) Tell Me More.

  25. Katherine says:


    I really enjoyed your episode and I especially love your Shelf Sisters club. 🙂 My sister and I often pass books back and forth. We also share with our mom and our grandmas!
    “Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good” made me think of two other food memoirs that are fun- “My Berlin Kitchen” by Luisa Weiss and “The Sweet Life in Paris” by David Lebovitz.

    • Oh, thank you, Katherine! That is such a sweet image! I already had My Berlin Kitchen on my radar, but I’ve added The Sweet Life in Paris to my TBR! 🙂

      Fun tidbit: My mom instilled in all of us a love for reading, but she wasn’t much of a reader herself growing up. As she’s grown older and her life has slowed down some, she’s become a voracious reader! We’ve tried to get her to join our Shelf Sisters book club, but she says she’s too old to read books that she doesn’t want to read. (I guess she hasn’t been enthralled by all our titles! Hahaha!) But, after she listened to the podcast, she called me and said, “Send over Burnt Toast when you’re done with it. And, let me know if you won’t be done soon so I can just order it myself!” It made me laugh! She’s very excited to read that one! If she likes it, I’ll be sure to give her your suggestions for further reading.

      • Katherine says:

        My grandma was the same after she retired. She has her comfy couch and a big pile of books next to it all the time! She introduced me to Anne of Green Gables (favorite), but didn’t like Harry Potter when we handed it to her. haha!

  26. Hi Holli, fun episode! Since you love animals, I’m guessing you might have already read James Herriot’s memoirs of his life as a country vet in 1940’s England… and if not, I’d highly recommend them! The first is All Creatures Great & Small and is so full of humor and empathy for animals and people alike. Plus, if you listen on audio, you get the added joy of hearing fun accents!

    • Carrie, this is one of the great regrets of my life! I own these books and have even collected multiple pretty copies from used book sales. But, I haven’t read them!! I will repent immediately and get started! Thanks for the audio tip. I’m about to finish an audiobook and need a good one to follow it up. 🙂

  27. Britany Arnold says:

    Holli, Loved this episode!

    Have you read a Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman yet? There is a cat that is my favorite part of the book. This was a 5 star for me and I just adored Cat Annoyance. 🙂

  28. Angela says:

    Holli, you have to watch The Durrells in Corfu PBS series! I love it so much that I have been afraid to read the book.

    Some suggestion for your sisters and book club: The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, and any of the later books in the Anne of Green Gables series (they take place when Anne is in college so there is very slow, sweet romance).

    • Angela, how did you know that I binge watched three episodes of The Durrells in Corfu last night after my kids went to bed?! I loved it! Although I have to admit that the book, in my opinion, is even better! So, don’t hesitate to check it out if you think you might be interested!

      The books you mentioned are absolutely some of my favorites. I loved The Hiding Place and still remember all the BIG emotions I felt while reading it. I also LOVE A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I’ve read all the Anne of Green Gables books – multiple times. And, I’ve collected lots of copies of those books over the years from used book sales because I just can’t stand the thought of them being left behind. They’re all wonderful! You definitely have my taste pegged! Thank you so much!

  29. Stephanie B says:

    Hi Anne – I’m wondering if you can point me to the episode (or blog post) in which you talk more about the problems you’ve seen with the Goodreads star rating system? I really need to break my dependence on it. I was in my local indie bookstore recently, and every time I picked up a book that looked fantastic, I checked the goodreads rating and ultimately put it back on the shelf. But I’ve noticed that some of my favorite don’t have super high ratings, so I need to back off on that. Maybe I’ll make a rule that I leave my phone in my car when I’m shopping for books. I miss the surprise of finding a great novel that I know nothing about and having it be just wonderful.

    • Anne says:

      My goal is to give you the information you need to feel confident in your own judgment so you can leave your phone in your pocket at the bookstore! And aren’t some of the best books the ones that have a 2.8 rating but are perfect for YOU?

      Honestly, our patreon spreadsheet vault for subscribers is more accurate than my memory in pinpointing the specific episodes, and I know I’ve talked about this issue A TON, but I’m pretty sure I addressed it recently with Marines in episode 147 with Marines and Nicole. (“Ruining your childhood one book at a time.)

  30. Gina Keller says:

    Fun episode! Daddy Long Legs has a sequel that I like even better–so much that I reread it every few years.

  31. Sarah says:

    I loved this episode, and especially liked Holli’s pick The Blue Castle! People love Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, but I think this book is overlooked. Quirky characters, redemption, love, character growth, nature, it’s such feel-good book. Nice to see it on the list and I’m looking forward to checking out the others.

    • Holli Petersen says:

      Thank you so much, Sarah!! I totally agree!! I’m excited to read more Montgomery this year!

  32. Since you love The Blue Castle – I think you will definitely also love Daddy Long Legs! Anne recommended The Blue Castle to me when I was on episode 118 and I loved it. When she recommended Daddy Long Legs to you, I squealed out loud…it was a favorite of mine when I was 11 or 12. Enjoy!!

  33. Tessa says:

    This was such a great episode! I’m excited to pick up some of Holli’s favorite books – but I’m especially dying to know what book Anne was talking about in her ad for Legacy Box! Does anyone have the name of it?

  34. Alice says:

    I had picked up a copy of A Gentleman from Moscow from the library and could not get it going, so I returned it and moved on. When you mentioned it again as a favorite and told your story of strongly disliking it at first, I was motivated to try it as an audio book and found it mesmerizing. Thanks for your high praises that made me give it another try. Just finished the 17 hour audio today and enjoyed his story immensely.

    • Alice, I’m late to the game here! I was looking back through the comments for some references on my TBR and saw your sweet note. I am SO glad you persevered and enjoyed the book as much as I did! Isn’t it so nice when that happens??

  35. Deborah Mundorff says:

    Holli was one of my favorite guests yet – I teared up listening to her talk about her family. I also laughed out loud.

    I have listened to two of Kathleen Flinn’s books, “The Kitchen Counter Cooking School”, and “The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry,” after hearing Anne’s recommendation on an earlier podcast. I absolutely loved her. An engaging and inspiring writer. I jumped in to recommend “A Man Called Ove,” as a great story of a wonderful character with a cool redemption twist. It seems I’m too late.

    • Deborah! I’m so sorry I’m late in responding!! Thank you for your kind words — so sweet! I’m so glad Kathleen has other great books in her repertoire! I still haven’t read Burnt Toast because my mom got first dibs. She LOVED it and is looking for more, so I will pass along your recommendations to her and save them for myself! I should finish Burnt Toast this month and I’m so looking forward to it. I already have it stacked on the top of my vacation pile!

  36. Christi says:

    I just listened to this episode and I had to comment about your thoughts on Gillian Flynn’s Sharper Objects. Holli, I laughed so hard when you said you wanted to throw that book across the room. I haven’t read that one, but I did read Gone Girl and that is exactly what I told my husband about that book while I was reading it. He laughs at me when I talk to my books at night. I finished it to see what happened, but I despised the characters. Maybe that was the point, but I mean I feel like there should be at least one character that is likeable in a book. After hearing your review of Sharper Objects, I have decided Gillian Flynn is not for me lol.

    I also love My Family and Other Animals and just recently read my first Kelly Corrigan book which I adored.
    One book I read to my son a few years back that has become a book close to my heart is Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry. If you like animal books, this is such a good one. I saw some others recommended Gary Paulsen’s books and I second his books Wood Song and Dog Song.
    Glad you were selected for the podcast! I really related to all your favorites which are all also favorites of mine. Going to read Blue Castle because I love Anne of Green Gables and Anne’s rec Daddy Long Legs sounds adorable.

    • Christi, please forgive me for responding to you so late! I was revisiting the comments for some updates to my TBR and just saw that I didn’t see yours!

      So, I remember loving Gone Girl. NOT because I liked any characters but because it was one of the rare mysteries/psychological thrillers that made me gasp in surprise. Looking back on it (I read it when it came out), I’m not so sure if I feel the same way. And, after Sharp Objects, I’d have to agree that Gillian Flynn is NOT for me. Which is totally okay when there’s so many other great mystery writers in the world, right?!

      Thank you so much for your recommendations. These weren’t titles on my radar, but they ARE now. I did read Gary Paulsen’s “My Life in Dog Years” and LOVED it so I’m excited to read more! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

      I’m reading Daddy-Long-Legs right now and I’m LOVING it. I hope you enjoy/enjoyed it, as well, along with Blue Castle!!

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