WSIRN Ep 191: When a great book wrecks your reading life

WSIRN Ep 191: When a great book wrecks your reading life

Readers, have you ever finished a GREAT book, then realized it left behind a hole no other book will ever be able to fill?

Today’s guest is Andy Serrato, a reader who fell into the arms of a mega-popular series with a welcoming fandom and enough pages to smother yourself in… and ever since, she’s struggled to break her obsession and pick up new books in different genres.

Now, I’m all here for knowing what you love and reveling in it, but Andy truly wants to expand her reading life… so I’m doing my best to get to the core of what delights her about this series, and open a portal to other reading worlds that will be just as satisfying in new and exciting ways. 

Let’s get to it!

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 Outlander series, by Diana Gaboldon 
♥ The Red Queen series, by Victoria Aveyard
Every Day, by David Levithan
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë 
• The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
• The Song of Ice and Fire series, by George R. R. Martin
• The Into the Wilderness series, by Sara Donati
• The Passenger series, by Alexandra Bracken
• The Cormoran Strike series, by Robert Galbraith

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What do YOU think Andy should read next?
Has a book series ever totally sidetracked your reading life?

22 comments | Comment


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  1. LizC says:

    I’m not an Outlander reader, but I suspect that Andy might also enjoy Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches series – great world building, lots of historical details (Harkness is a history professor at USC) and some time traveling, fast-paced storytelling and engaging characters. I think I’ve read the first book at least once a year since 2012, it’s become a total comfort read for me!

  2. Carynne says:

    I am an Outlander fan and was also going to recommend Discovery of Witches! It is a different setting but also features a strong female character (with a scientist bent), immersive historical details, and an intense romance.

    Another series with a strong female scientist lead and historical romance elements is the Veronica Speedwell mysteries by Deanna Raybourn — the first one is A Curious Beginning.

    And for another atmospheric British Isles series, I just started Poldark by Winston Graham (the series that the BBC show is based on) and am really enjoying it! Slower and different in tone than Outlander but has a similar setting (18th C. Cornwall) and shares some themes about justice, strong independent leads, etc.

    • Mary Ellen Gordon says:

      I third the Discovery of Witches recommendation. It has that same compulsive quality as Outlander. I saw the TV series of the first book and immediately had to go and read the other two. And as soon as I thought of it listening to this podcast, I went to check when the next in that series is coming out, and was frustrated to see that there’s still no news on that!

    • Jane B says:

      Yes to the Poldark series. I’ve read all of them (11 or 12) and they are compelling and very cinematic – alternating the dramatic action with little comedy bits (Prudie! Jud!)

  3. Kate Myers says:

    Your comment on books “a little too long and a little too Russian” got me – My book I couldn’t get over for months last year was Anna K. Still haven’t read its equal in the last year. I may never. Isn’t it good to have books that are galaxies of their own?

  4. Lucinda says:

    Andy and Anne, I loved this episode. I know, I say that every time. Andy, I’m going to read The Fiery Cross this year too. I love the series too, but I find I need to take breaks in between because they are so dense and take the reader on a deep emotional ride.

    I’m not a book wizard like Anne, but I have a few suggestions based on your interview. I’ve only read one Octavia Butler book, The Parable of the Sower. It’s part of a sci-fi, dystopian series. I nearly put it down because it’s quite dark, but I’m glad I finished it because it ends on a hopeful note. And I’ve only read one Ursula Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness, but I plan to read more. This is a sci-fi book. And ambassador from a federation of planets goes on a first contact mission to a planet the federation hopes will join them. He makes friends with one official who then must protect him from assassination. I got so wrapped up in the characters from vastly different cultures and the way Le Guin describes the landscape. I felt like I was there on the wintery planet. I loved the way she developed the deep friendship between the two main characters.

    I’m also going to suggest the historical series by Octavia Randolph, the first book is The Circle of Ceridwen, who is the woman protagonist. It takes place in the late 800s, early 900s in England after the Danes have invaded and taken over the Northern part of the island. This series hooked me not only with the characters, but by the details of Medieval life, and the history of England before it became one country. I think there are six or seven books in the series. We’re waiting for the next book.

    And finally, I’m going to recommend The Cadfael series by Ellis Peters. There are 21 books in the series, but they are shorter than the Outlander books. They take place in England in the 12th century. Cadfael is an ex crusader turned Benedictine Monk who is the herbalist at his Abbey, but also best friend of the much younger Sheriff of Shropshire. Together they solve crimes. But the series is so much more than that. Each book gives historical information about the civil war between King Stephen and his cousin the Empress Maud. It’s also a fantastic study of human nature. I read the entire series at the end of last year, and am reading my favorites again this summer. I gave you a long list, but I hope you consider reading some of them. Whatever you choose, I’ll echo Anne and say, happy reading!

  5. Davina says:

    As a fellow Sassenach….Try out any book by Kate Morton….start with The Distant Hours or The House at Riverton. xo

  6. Ashley says:

    I’m wondering about Susanna Kearsley books. I read The Winter Sea and it sounds like it has similar themes to Outlander. It has historical romance that parallels one in present day an a small element of fantasy. Supposedly her other books are similar in themes so there would be a lot to check out.

    Also, I’ve heard good things about Ken Follett’s books as being good historical fiction.

  7. Deb says:

    First book I thought of was The Lost Queen by Signe Pike. Reminds me of a mix of Outlander and The Mists of Avolon. The narrator for the audio book is excellent. I loved this book and the next one comes out summer 2020. I also recommend a really fun, light sci-fi called The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. Very character driven and an easy read, perfect for summer.

  8. Keren F. says:

    So I’m not an Outlander reader, but if you like time travel and history and pretty fast-paced stories, I’d recommend any of the time-traveling historian books by Connie Willis. They are set in the near future where time travel has been discovered, but only historians utilize it to blend in and study the past. Each book has a different feel/theme, are set at various points in British history, and I absolutely adore them.
    The Doomsday Book (Medieval)
    To Say Nothing of the Dog (Victorian)
    Blackout/All Clear (WWII)
    I’ve listed them in order, but you don’t have to read them that way – it’s not a series so much as same universe (and some characters). But Blackout/All Clear are a duology and must be read together in order or nothing will make sense. 🙂

    • Libby says:

      Seconding Blackout and All Clear! I LOVED these books, and I think the time period difference will be enough to make them feel distinct from Outlander. I personally liked those better than the Doomsday Book, and haven’t read the Victorian Era one yet.

  9. Angela says:

    As a fellow Outlander fan (yes, I have read them all and have had the pleasure of hearing Diana Gabaldon speak at a book festival), I say read the Harry Potter. For historical fiction, I would definitely check out Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth series. For mystery, check out Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series. FYI – All three of those series need to be read in order to fully enjoy them.

  10. Erica says:

    Yes yes yes to A Discovery of Witches! I would also add Queen of the Tearling and that whole series, such wonderful for the character development and the dystopian setting (though you’re not sure at first quite how they’ve all gotten there). The Millennium Series (Girl with a Dragon Tattoo) since she likes mysteries and a world with a protagonist you can imagine. Speaking of which, my favorite escapist book ever is Shadow of the Wind. The author creates this world you fall into. Finally, my favorite trilogy is The Sevenwaters Trilogy. It has history, magic, a wonderful plot you fall into, and all of these characters that you are rooting for (or against).

  11. Libby says:

    My recommendation for Andy is The Way of Kings series by Brandon Sanderson. These are high fantasy, thousand page books. They have excellent character development and amazing world building, and even though only 3 of 10 are out right now, just that will keep you busy for a long time! If you’re looking for fantasy to pick up, I’d strongly recommend these before Game of Thrones, as I think Sanderson is a much better writer and the world building is more interesting than the medieval times GoT is set in. Sanderson is also a much more punctual writer than GRRM, so I feel confident this series is actually going to be finished within my lifetime! And the online community is so fun, especially because these works aren’t completed, so we talk about fan theories rather than fan griping for GoT.

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