WSIRN Ep 192: Wherever you read, I will follow

Readers, today we’re talking to the second mother-daughter duo in our show’s history, and I couldn’t be happier to welcome this Seattle pair to the show!

Rita and Xoe Amer have always bonded over books, since Xoe was young. She’s all grown up now, but the shared love of reading remains, and bonding over books is a key reason for their tight bond. Today we discuss their history together as readers and also writers, hidden gems from the past, and the great conversations that come from bad books.   

Let’s get to it!

What Should I Read Next #192: Wherever you read, I will follow with Rita and Xoe Amer

You can check out Rita and Xoe Amer’s mother-daughter podcast, Foibles, on their website or by searching “Foibles” on your favorite podcast app.

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

Books mentioned in this episode:

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• The Fire Cat, by Esther Averil
• The Cat with the Golden Fang, by Rita F. Amer
♥ The Protector of the Small series, by Tamorah Pierce
Lizard Telepathy, Fox Telepathy, by Yoshinori Henguchi
To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf 
• Lincoln’s Virtues: An Ethical Biography, by William Lee Miller
• The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell
An Infinity of Little Hours: Five Young Men and Their Trial of Faith in the Western World’s Most Austere Monastic Order, by Nancy Klein Maguire
Something Missing, by Matthew Dicks
Miss Hargreaves, by Frank Baur
The Magicians, by Lev Grossman
Flaubert’s Parrot, by Julian Barnes
• Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
• The Lives and Times of Archie and Mehitabel, by Don Marquis
• Transmetropolitan, by Warren Ellis
• Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs, by Beth Ann Fennelly
• Great With Child: Letters to a Young Mother, by Beth Ann Fennelly
• Kindred, by Octavia Butler
• The Third Man, by Graham Green
• The End of the Affair, by Graham Green
• The Power and the Glory, by Graham Green

Also mentioned:
• WSIRN Ep 111: A lifetime mother-daughter book club, w/ Emily & Daniela
• Central Cinema in Seattle, WA
• Chin Music Press in Seattle, WA
• Open Books: A Poetry Emporium in Seattle, WA

What do YOU think Rita and Xoe should read together next?

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  1. Laura says:

    What a fun episode. So excited about your Foibles podcast! I just listened to the Dorothy Sayers episode and it’s excellent ❤.

  2. Angela says:

    You had me at Pickles the Fire Cat. I had the book from childhood and read it repeatedly to both of my children as they were growing up. It is now packed away waiting for the next generation of our family.

    • Rita Amer says:

      Pickles is such a adorable character. And the artist captures the charm of the book. I’ll bet you can’t wait for the grandkids to be ready to love this classic. I know it would the second book I’d give them after Go, Dog, Go.


  3. Brigette Hill says:

    Rita, I think you would enjoy “Miss Buncle’s Book” by D.E. Stevenson. Written in the 1930’s the humor is still fresh today. The whimsy of this book also makes you reflect on art imitating life and life imitating art.

    • Rita Amer says:

      It is now on my TBR. I also have The Young Clementia by the same author on my library list. Have you read than one? Thanks for the recommendation!

  4. Abigail says:

    If you like the micro-memoir style, I highly recommend the novel Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offil. I think it’s beautifully done, funny, and memorable. It would be on my three favorites list.

  5. Amy says:

    I love that one of Rita’s favs was Something Missing by Matthew Dicks. I found that book on Book Bub and LOVED it and tell everyone to read it. Rita would probably enjoy some of this other books – especially Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend which is fantastic on audio.

  6. Rita Amer says:

    Hi Amy,

    My library does not have that one. I’ll take a look on Abe books and see if I can nab a copy.


  7. Tara says:

    I’ve been listening to Maid by Stephanie Land and I really like it for you because of what you said about your first two loves, the little everyday details. She cleans people’s houses for a living and I am so interested in the little details that she notices in their homes. It’s been fascinating.

    • Rita Amer says:

      Hi Tara,

      I do love those mundane details that add up to a special insight. Thanks for the recommendation. I hadn’t heard of this one.

  8. Rita and Zoe, I loved this episode. I love reading books with family members and then discussing them.
    I want to suggest an older book, *The Razor’s Edge* by W. Somerset Maugham. I loved the movie with Tyrone Power so much that I had to read the book. It’s a fantastic story in which Somerset Maugham makes himself a character. This story takes place right after WWI. Larry Darrell goes on a spiritual journey to discover why he survived the war.
    Another book I recommend is *Pope Joan* a historical novel that takes place in the early middle ages.
    Finally, if you’re going to read Octavia Butler, you might like *Parable of the Sower*. It’s dystopian fiction, which I found hard to stick with but in the end I liked it.

    • Rita Amer says:

      Hi Tara,
      The Razor’s Edge is definitely on my radar. I just recently read Of Human Bondage and really enjoyed it. Did you know that there is movie version of The Razor’s Edge starring Bill Murray?!

      Thanks for the other recommendations they are just the kinds of things that Xoe and I like to read!

    • Candy says:

      I learned about archy and mehitabel (lower case, of course) from my mom and even had an English professor who used their names occasionally in class. I have a copy of the lives and times on my shelf and bound and determined to reread it before summer’s end. Thank you for the reminder of this forgotten gem.

      • Rita Amer says:

        Hi Candy,
        Hooray! I think this book deserves to be remembered and enjoyed. So glad that you are going to excavate it from your shelves. Happy summer reading!

  9. Renea Mertens says:

    When I heard about your board game love, I instantly thought about the Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. It’s like the game of Clue, where there is a mystery to be solved and little hints along the way. Its very game like in nature and a book I always enjoy rereading for information I missed!

  10. Bonnie says:

    Thanks for this episode! I am a Seattle area mom to three girls (oldest is 15) and we have loved all the cat books by Ester Averill (Jenny Linsky!) and have that I Can Read Fire Cat book! Not sure my girls would ever be up for matching tattoos though…we have read the Little House series together (well, reading currently to the 6 year old), maybe Caroline Ingalls saying “Oh Charles” as a tattoo 😉 My 11 year old was between books so hooked her up with the Protector of the Small series and she is hooked.

  11. Janet Madsen says:

    PICKLES! I see I’m not the only one who was immediately taken in with the Pickles tattoos. I loved that book as a kid. I’ve been tempted to get a tattoo of the Edward Gorey cat with castanets. As a fellow Pacific Northwesterner (a little north in Vancouver, BC), I must visit that poetry bookstore the next time I am in Seattle. A sSuggestion for Rita as a reluctant poetry reader: Bronwen Wallace’s Common Magic. These poems are written like stories, and beautiful. We lost a great writer when she died. Her book of short stories, Something I’ve Been Meaning To Tell You, is great too.

  12. Dave Kalach says:

    I just finished Infinity of Little Hours which I heard recommended on this episode. I really enjoyed hearing what a monks life was like from those who experienced it. I have always been interested in books that delve into the spiritual. Thanks for the wonderful recommendation.

  13. BarbN says:

    I’ve been out of town which had the lovely side effect of meaning I had a backlog of WSIRN episodes to listen to when I got back. So I know i’m late but can’t help but hope Xoe sees this- for pulpy non-ironic romance, you can’t do any better than Betty Neels. She wrote from the 70s through her death in 2001, and I think her final total of novels was somewhere around 130. Her heroines are sweet, good hearted, hard working girls, but never pushovers. You definitely have to put up with some old fashioned no-harm-intended sexism, but they’re fun and they are the ultimate comfort read when you’ve had too much of jaded modern sensibilities. Start with Henrietta’s Own Castle or Tabitha in Moonlight or The Promise of Happiness or A gentle Awakening or or or. (There are admittedly a few I hated.). She’s had something of a resurgence recently so I think they’re all out on kindle now.

    • BarbN says:

      Ok after listening to the rest of the episode, she might have meant something different by “pulpy” than I thought – Betty is definitely not erotic. Oh well. Maybe someone else will appreciate the rec.

  14. Cindy says:

    Just finished Something’s Missing and really enjoyed it! Now have Heating and Cooling at the ready. Fun episode with lots of good suggestions—going to check out the monk book, too. How lucky you 2 are to have your own mother daughter book club!

  15. Esther Clark says:

    Loved this episode! A beautiful book that I think you would both love is Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis. Beautiful meditation on what it means to be human, and love, and create. Plus, it includes poetry from a dogs perspective.
    Also, Xoe, I couldn’t help but wonder as I was listening to you talk about your affection for romance novels if you are listening to Hot and Bothered, the new podcast hosted by Vanessa Zoltan of Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. Some very thoughtful discussions and part of the podcast walks you through writing a romance novel. I have greatly enjoyed the first couple episodes!

  16. Lynn Pugh says:

    This was SUCH a good interview. I loved how articulate she was about what she liked and why. I’m ready to add some books to my TBR.

  17. Shannon says:

    What a coincidence! We just named our son’s stuffed octopus Ocwavia Butler so I bought a copy of Kindred to read again. Then today I was listening to this epoisode and heard that book recommended!

  18. Cristina says:

    Thanks for sharing! There looks to be a typo on the author of Miss Hargreaves. I believe Frank Baker is the correct spelling.

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