WSIRN Ep 193: Rolling the dice on your next read

WSIRN Ep 193: Rolling the dice on your next read

Readers before we get into today’s guest and the books she’s looking for I have an answer to a question I’ve been hearing a lot in the past year. Episode 175’s guest Michelle Wilson asked, blog commenters have asked, and I’ve heard it in real life. Readers are looking for books about women who aren’t in their 20s and 30s! But they don’t want quirky old ladies or magical grandmothers. Michelle and plenty of other readers want older protagonists who are real and relatable, whose fictional lives are similar to their own.

Since this topic keeps coming up I also wrote a blog post dedicated to stories that put older female protagonists front and center! Head on over if you need some seasoned female protagonists in your life.

Now for today’s guest…

Keren Form is a self-professed mega nerd who loves everything from LOTR, and board games, and epic science fiction. We’re having a great discussion today about what it really means to be a nerd, and how her wholehearted enthusiasm has sent her on many life-enriching adventures. Even if you hear “science fiction” or “fantasy” and think “nope, not for me,” I think you’ll find something to love in this episode — my recommendations could just as easily be recommendations of a history lover, or a crime drama fanatic, or a romance-loving YA fan. 

Let’s get to it!

Keren, a woman with long brunette hair and bangs, standing in front of a lush green park. Text reads "I don't think nerd-ism should be exclusionary. As long as you've got a huge interest, and really love boring people to death about it, then I think you're nerdy."

You can follow Keren’s travels and gaming enthusiasm on Instagram.

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 Indiebound.com. And by all means, go grab one of these from your local library!

• Thud!, by Terry Pratchett
• The Silmarillion, by J. R. R. Tolkein
Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
• To Say Nothing Of the Dog, by Connie Willis
Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell
• Wayward Son, by Rainbow Rowell
Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss
• The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss
• The Broken Earth Trilogy, by N. K. Jemisin 
• The City of Brass, by S. A. Chakraborty
• Recursion, by Blake Crouch
• A Curse So Dark and Lonely, by Brigid Kemmerer

Games mentioned: 
• Catan
• Ticket to Ride
• WereWords
• Camel Up!
• Bananagrams
• Zip–it
• Boggle

Also mentioned:
• Board Game Geek
• Mary Sue trope

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What do YOU think Keren should read next?

83 comments | Comment

83 comments

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  1. Kelsey Campbell says:

    Keren,
    Loved hearing your love for boardgames as well! I think there’s a definite link between loving books and loving games! Both are definitely story-driven and take you on a journey. Totally respect your opinion of “The Name of the Wind,” but I wanted to go to bat for it. I have eye-rolled at Kvothe’s arrogance at times and I really don’t like the girl who is his choice for a main love interest. However, I disagree about him always trying to pursue a romantic relationship with every girl. Auri, the girl who lives under the school, he simply befriends her even though he could take advantage of her. And Devi is a strong woman (and one of my favorite characters)who runs her own ruthless business so I can’t say that the book feels misogynistic (at least not to me). I totally understand why Kvothe isn’t a likable character to you … but I think that’s just because he IS a 14 year old boy who is full of pride and hormones. I don’t LOVE that part of the book, so I totally get where you’re coming from. But the reason I read TNW in less than 2 weeks was Rothfuss’ INCREDIBLE writing. I’ve never read anyone write about grief in such a compelling way. I would read on my lunch break and get choked up. Rothfuss can flat write! And that’s why I could get over the teenage angst. Also … isn’t this the great things about books? We can disagree on one book, but you and Anne gave me awesome recommendations, too! Totally following you on Insta now, Keren!

    • Keren says:

      This is what I love about readers too – not liking one particular book does not mean you don’t share common interests in others. I have so many friends that enjoyed these books which is why I read them in the first place! To be fair, I read Name of the Wind a number of years ago so I don’t 100% remember every detail, but now that you mention it, I do remember liking the library girl – I wanted more of her! 🙂

  2. Tiffany says:

    Thank you, Keren. I am not alone. I agree about the “The KingKiller Chronicle”. Kvothe was too much of an unreliable narrator for me. I need characters who are flawed. No disrespect to anyone who is enjoying this series. It’s just my opinion. Also, I had no idea that board games had such a subculture.

    You and your team did it again, Anne. This was another entertaining episode and recommendations. Thank you.

  3. Susan in TX says:

    Love that Anne recommended A Curse So Dark and Lonely. I’m one of those “not a fantasy/sci-fi fan” readers who devoured that book (and can’t wait for the sequel). It’s making me rethink how I describe myself as a reader. I’ve always been “eclectic,” but from my own reading stats, fantasy/sci-fi makes up only about 1% of the books I read. So, “a good story well told” will get me every time. 🙂

  4. Ashley says:

    Does anyone have a recommendation of what Terry Pratchett book to start with? I must be living under a rock not to have heard of him.

    • Keren says:

      My very first Terry Pratchett exposure was Good Omens which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman – I think it’s a great starting point (and a series on Amazon now!) to dive into his writing since the Discworld series is 40+ books.
      If you do want to start with Discworld, you do not have to read them in order! They are all set in the same universe but there are series’ of books within the series itself dealing with particular characters, as well as stand alone books, so you can hop around depending on what piques your interest! (Also I feel he doesn’t really hit his stride until 6 or so books in.) There are numerous lists and infographics online with peoples’ groupings by interest, characters, etc!
      My personal favorites center around the City Watch of Ankh Morpork and start with Guards Guards. My only caveat with the guards books is not to read Nightwatch out of order – it’s the only one where back history is really important 🙂
      Happy reading!

    • Katharine says:

      I’m suuuuuper late to the party (I’ve been catching up on older episodes of WSIRN that I missed over the summer), but I’d recommend starting with “Mort”. It’s the fourth book in the series, and the first of the “Death” stories, but it’s the first one where Pratchett’s got into his stride, IMO. Having said that, my favourites all fall between books 4 and 20, and there are 40-odd in the series, so we’re all going to like something different! Keren obviously loves “Thud”, and I didn’t really care for it one way or the other.

      “Good Omens” is also an excellent starting point – it’s co-written, but feels far more like Pratchett than Gaiman.

  5. Alyse B says:

    I think Keren would like Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett. The protagonist is a young female thief. The world building is really original as well.

  6. Brittany says:

    I was just in Italy – its pronounced “chink-qua-tear” and it means 5 villages 🙂 it’s gorgeous and the most amazing area.

  7. Rosie Marshall says:

    Sorry for what has turned out to be a bit of an essay! I am an escapist reader and love science fiction and fantasy, so today’s episode was a treat, thank you! Have added the recommendations to my TBR! LOTR is one of very few books that I have read multiple times and I find it the most comforting world to escape into (strangely, despite the orcs and goblins etc – possibly because there’s such a clear divide between good and evil?). I just wanted to say that Keren, I am totally with you about The Name of the Wind – I abandoned the set halfway through The Wise Man’s Fear (so my opinion is only based on the first 1.5books!). I found Kvothe very arrogant, smug and obnoxious, I just didn’t care what happened to him. I also found the books quite boring (which I know a lot of other people haven’t found). I felt a bit misled because the events covered by the blurb on The Name of the Wind actually apply (as I understand it) to all three of the books, not just the first. I didn’t feel that a great deal was actually happening considering the length of each book, and the mystery element unfortunately wasn’t enough to motivate me to read on. Ah it feels good to let that out!

    Some books came to mind that I thought you might enjoy! You have probably already come across it, but one of my all time favourite sci-fi books is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, which has a ‘chosen one’ storyline. Although he doesn’t really ever fail as such, the main character does have to overcome a lot of strife and suffering, and he isn’t arrogant! I really cared for and rooted for him, and there is a fantastic twist. Also, if you enjoy it, there are an awful lot of related books about Ender and the other characters to delve into. I have also recently loved Children of Time (mentioned previously on the podcast!) and Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky (I believe this will become a trilogy) – the first is a bit of a slow burner, the second possibly faster moving. They both have storylines that take place at different points in time but are all linked together (possibly a little confusing at times but you might enjoy this!). I found after finishing each that I missed the world and the characters. Although the ideas are pretty out-there (space spiders and octopi are involved, as well as humans), he makes all the characters so incredibly real, it’s amazing world-building, and I thought both books were fascinating and beautiful. Also, if you enjoy Recursion by Blake Crouch (which I am excited to read as well!), you might well enjoy Dark Matter (which I read thanks to Anne, and absolutely loved it) – it’s about parallel universes and is thrilling (but does have bits that are quite sad and gritty). I thought I’d also mention my partner’s favourite book, Timeline by Michael Crichton, as it is about time travel and it sounds like there are some similarities to the storyline of Doomsday Book (?possibly). I am not a huge fan of MC’s writing style (the thing that stood out in my mind while reading it was that the characters kept licking their lips, which seemed odd!) but I did enjoy Timeline, it’s a bit of a romp.

    • Keren says:

      It sounds like we are pretty much on the same page about books here, LOL. I have read Enders Game(s) and also Timeline (which was a fun romp) but I have not read The Children of Time books which are now on my TBR list! They sound right up my alley, especially since you said you missed the world and the characters when you were done. This is such a recurring theme for me with my favorite books, so I look forward to reading! I’ll definitely also try Dark Matter if I like Recursion as much as I expect I will. Thank you!

      And always nice to meet another Tolkien fan! <3

  8. Sherry says:

    I am not a SciFi reader, but I am absolutely going to check out several of the titles in this episode. Karen, you also made me want to play board games! Great show!!

  9. Austin says:

    Hooray, another sci-fi/ fantasy lover! Such a fun episode.
    If you like fairytales, have you read any Naomi Novik? I read Uprooted this summer, and I have her 2018 Spinning Silver on my TBR list. I loved Uprooted and flew through it. It has wizards, magic, and a creepy creepy Wood — very atmospheric.

    • Keren says:

      Yes, OMG I loved both of those! Go read Spinning Silver!

      I really liked the Eastern European setting, especially Spinning Silver, since my great grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Russia/Poland. I feel it’s not often you get that setting in Fantasy literature. 🙂

  10. Wow this episode was fun to listen to mostly cause it contained more books to add to my list. Though i do seem to add a book every episode no matter who you talk to. I trying to think of a good book to recommend oh have you tried the miss peregrine home for peculiar children series. It more of fantasy then sci if but i on the second book and i am hooked. Also for some good reading anything by Elise Kova is good her air awakens series is really good.
    As far as terry pratchett go i just recently started working my way through the discworld novels and loved good omens long with the show. I am on book 8 for discworld picking them up either used or through the library.

    • Keren says:

      I have read Miss Peregrine – I love all the photos that are incorporated into the story! And adding Elise Kova to my TBR – thank you!

      Very cool that you’re working your way through Discworld – you have so much awesomeness to look forward to! Would love to hear which characters are your favorite mini story arcs. 🙂

  11. Erin in CA says:

    Keren & Anne — what a delightful episode! I really loved it. Keren, have you read Circe by Madeline Miller? I listened to it, and the narrator is so spellbinding! I think you might enjoy her take on a pretty minor Greek mythology character. I was so bummed when it ended.
    Any game recommendations for a family (teens ages 13 and 15) who LOVED HP: Hogwarts Battle? My daughter hates competitive games — they stress her out. So this one has been great for us (she does get stressed about defeating the enemies but it’s manageable). We enjoy Forbidden Island as well. If there are any others you think would work, I’d love to hear!

    • Keren says:

      Circe was sooooo good! As was her previous book Song of Achilles. I really hope she writes more in the Greek mythos – her writing and characterizations are spectacular.

      For game recommendations – I have a few! For cooperative games – have you played the others by Matt Leacock? He also has Forbidden Island and Forbidden Sky. (He also did Pandemic – but I find that one super stressful even though it’s cooperative!) There are also two great card games I can recommend. The Game and Hanabi. Both are games where you are trying to cooperatively place cards in a particular order without verbally revealing anything about your hands to the other players. We’ve played both of these numerous times, and as an added benefit, they are compact and easy to take anywhere.

      I’m also going to recommend a couple of games that are competitive, but I find them lightly so. You are only really “competing” for spaces or resources so it’s not high stakes or mean spirited, and I find these so delightful otherwise that I never feel awful or like I wasted my time even if I lose 🙂
      Tokaido – travel through Edo era Japan and try to have the best vacation ever while meeting people, painting, gathering souvenirs. Also one of the prettiest games IMO.
      Zooloretto – make a zoo! Has cute baby animal tiles! You have your own zoo/player board and are just competing for tiles that work best in your zoo.
      Sanssouci – Design a garden for Sanssouci palace. You have your own player boards in this too so you are only competing for tiles that work best in your gardens.
      Let me know if you want any other suggestions! Happy gaming!

      • Erin in CA says:

        Thanks so much! I LOVE the sound of the travel/zoo/garden games and can’t wait to look them up. My daughter is very visual as well, so I think these will really appeal to her. I will be on the lookout for your podcast, What Should I Play Next? !!
        (Also, no I haven’t read Song of Achilles yet but it’s definitely on my list.)

        • Keren says:

          Glad to help! And for another pretty game – check out Kanagawa as well. Its theme is Japanese painting school in the 19th century. You can look these all up on boardgamegeek.com and see photos and descriptions. 🙂

      • Kate says:

        Tokaido is lovely, and the app is great too for people who want to try it out first. Barenpark is also fun and not super cutthroat–you’re collecting tiles Tetris style to build a theme park for bears.

  12. Keren and Anne,
    I loved this episode! You do with games what I have done with visual entertainment. While we were in England as part of our trip around the world 23 years ago, we went to Bath because I had seen *Persuasion* and wanted to visit even if only for a day. And we went to Greece because I have degrees in theatre and I wanted to see some of the amphitheaters there. You gave me permission to claim being a movie/theatre nerd. In fact that’s how I get book suggestions too. I also love fantasy and sometimes Sci-Fi so I’m adding books to me TBR.

    You didn’t mention having read any Ursula K. Le Guin. I’ve only read one so far, *The Left Hand of Darkness*, but I plan to read more of her work because that book was fantastic. I’ve also only read one of Octavia Butler’s books, *Parable of the Sower*, which is part of a series. It’s dystopian but has hope at the end of the first book. I may read the rest of that series, but I have to be in the mood for the dark themes. Thanks for the book suggestions and for a fun episode.

    • Keren says:

      Aw thank you so much! And I’m so glad I’m not the only one that bases my vacations on media. I went to the Lake District after reading about it in Pride and Prejudice – even though Lizzy never even made it there LOL. And 100% claim that nerd pride!

      I have read Ursula K. Le Guin, but so long ago I really feel like I need to revisit her books. And I really need to read Octavia Butler – you are not the first to rec her stuff. On the TBR pile!

  13. Taylor says:

    Keren,
    I LOVE that you picked Carry On! Also you explained it so well. I try explaining the whole “it’s a book from a book about a book” and get a lot of weird looks. I love reading but this book was the first time that I became obsessed with a book so I understand you completely on that and I only read it for the first time about a year ago. You have to listen to the audiobook! I promise you won’t regret it.

    • Keren says:

      Oh I am so happy there’s another Carry On obsessed person on here! It really is so so amazing – I rec it to everyone I think may enjoy it even a little LOL. And I have listened to the audiobook – he does a great job! I think the same narrator may be doing the sequel as well, so yay!

      So super excited for Wayward Son! <3

    • Adrienne says:

      I love your choices so much! I’m currently reading Willis’s Blackout, and listening to City of Brass. Both are fabulous.

      Okay, recs:

      Ann Leckie – the Ancillary Series is amazing. I haven’t read The Raven Tower yet, but it’s on my TBR.

      Megan Whalen Turner’s The King’s Thief series. It’s set in a fictional Greece, vaguely Middle-Ages, and features a brilliant and snarky protagonist.

      If you haven’t read The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal, it’s this year’s Hugo winner, and it’s dynamite. It’s an alternate history of the space race, with a woman who is a “calculator” and a slow-building apocalypse…

      And then Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein. YA and WWII and such a great female friendship.

  14. 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!

  15. Kate says:

    Yay, a board gamer and a fan of Doomsday Book! One of my favorite doorstop books of all time, I recommend it frequently to people who liked Outlander and keep an extra copy to pass along. I haven’t read Patrick Rothfuss, but had a similar issue regarding female characters with the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher.
    I’ve been hesitant to dip into Terry Pratchett because relentless silliness wears on me pretty quickly–I liked Good Omens but had to read it in spurts. The witches are intriguing though… would Equal Rites be a good place to start?
    Have you read Seanan McGuire? Her Wayward Children series of novellas is really good, and I enjoyed her “mermaid” novel Into the Drowning Deep (written as Mira Grant), which had a Michael Crichton science-gone-wrong vibe.

    • Keren says:

      I get where you’re coming from on the Pratchett silliness – I feel as Discworld progresses, he leaves behind most of the the punning and kooky lunacy for a more ‘funny because it’s true’ feel, and they have more of a parody of history/culture/life vibe. If you find the witches intriguing, I would start with Witches Abroad – this one begins to get more in depth in it’s insights into human nature that accompany the fun and funny story. You can always go back and read the earlier ones if you want -no big deal. And Granny Weatherwax is my 2nd favorite Discworld character after Vimes! The Tiffany Aching books are also really good – she’s a teenaged witch but definitely not in the Sabrina way 🙂

      And I am excited to check out Seanan McGuire – I’ve never read her stuff. Thank you!

  16. Erin says:

    Based on the books mentioned, I recommend Nick Harkaway and Daniel O’Malley. For fairytales, I’ve really liked Vassa in the Night and Deathless.

    • Keren says:

      Thank you! My friend who is pretty much my book-taste twin has marked both Harkaway and O’Malley as want to read on Goodreads – so I think you’re probably spot on with these recs! 🙂

  17. Sue S says:

    Karen & Anne,
    What a great discussion, I enjoyed it so much even though this isnt my usual reading genre. But I was wearing my socks with Keith Haring dancing hearts 😉

    Karen, Have you read Louise Erdrich? Painted Drum and Antelope Wife draw on magical worlds. I just read that she recently re-wrote Antelope Wife book to be Antelope Woman so I will do a reread on that one myself. Also Salman Rushdie, The Moor’s Last Sigh – read the product description on Amazon I cant do it justice – that book was another world for me, and funny too.

    Please recommend games – for 2 or 3 adults. Non competitive euro style suits me, I didnt know about these. Something with art, museums or travel. And what is the game about making clothing/fashion you mentioned?
    Thanks!

    • Keren says:

      These are great recommendations – thank you! Now as for games…
      Kanagawa- as I recommended somewhere else in this thread – Japanese painting school! It’s so pretty!
      Musee – a small set collection card game where you’re trying to curate your art museum to get points.
      Thebes: The Tomb Raiders – Every player is an archaeologist going around the globe trying to gather the most treasures. This is a card game version of the full board game called Thebes. They’re both good, but this one may be a bit more accessible.
      Bob Ross: The Art of Chill – You’re gathering the needed paint and brush cards to paint paintings and achieve maximum chill points. It’s very evocative of actually watching Bob Ross!
      For a 2-player game (which doesn’t fit your themes, but 2 player games are fun and this one is very visually pleasing!) you can try Patchwork which is a great little tile-laying game where players are trying to make the best quilt. It’s easy to learn but fun and puzzle-y.

      I believe the game I was referring to with the fashion was Rococo, where the players are all trying to make the best dresses for a party at Versailles. It’s a brain-burner of a game but I love it!
      While these games are not directly competitive in the mean spirited way we all think of with competition, you’re still competing with other players for resources, spots on a board, etc. But I never find them disheartening to play – as it’s more about figuring out how to maximize what you have as opposed to taking away from anyone else.

      Happy gaming – and I’ve got more recs where that came from!

    • Marion says:

      Hello Sue S. I just got a copy of Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich for our local library sale here in San Antonio. I’m looking forward to checking it out.

  18. Sue S says:

    Sorry Keren, I now see that auto correct changed the spelling of your name! You must get that all the time Grrrrr

  19. Kim says:

    Hi Keren,
    I loved the episode! While I don’t have any books to suggest, I loved hearing you were a game enthusiast and wanted to suggest you check out Blood on the Clocktower if you haven’t already. My family and I played it at PAX South earlier this year and kept going back to sign up and play again and again. It is a bluffing game for large groups (5 to 20 players) on opposing teams of Good and Evil, overseen by a Storyteller player who conducts the action and makes crucial decisions. The final version of the game isn’t available for purchase yet, but there are free scripts and tools online.

    I hadn’t heard of some of the games you mentioned to the person who asked for recommendations,so I definitely want to check those out. Thanks!

    • Keren says:

      Ooh that sounds fun! I am terrible at bluffing games – I feel I’m spending the whole time trying not to crack up, but with the right group of people they are so so much fun. I will definitely check it out. Thank you!

  20. Brandon Harbeke says:

    I really enjoyed this episode, and I will throw a few possibilities out there for you, Keren.

    The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
    The Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn
    The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
    Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire by Susan Tan

    The first two are well-written sci-fi stories with intriguing concepts. The second pair feature some great younger characters who are true to the ages they are and are fun to spend time with.

    • Keren says:

      Thanks for the recs! I read the Chronicles of Prydain ages ago and loved them! And The Three Body Problem is in my TBR. 🙂 I really like Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars novels, so I’m interested to try out his regular sci-fi works.

  21. Marion says:

    This was such a fun episode. I enjoyed Keren’s enthusiasm for her nerdiness (I know that is not a word. LOL!) I read a lot of fantasy as well. I have a few recommendations for Keren. I’m a huge fan of Guy Gavriel Kay. I believe he is one of the best fantasy writers working today and I have read 5 of his novels over the past two years. My favorites are Children of Earth and Sky and A Brightness Long Ago. Kay writes historical fantasy that are full of culture. Definitely worth checking out.

    Also, I will recommend Charles de Lint’s Memory & Dream. I just re-read this novel for the second time recently and it was just as good as when I read it 25 years ago. It’s the story of an artist whose has the ability to bring her artwork to life. The novel covers two timelines (early 1970s and early 1990s) and they intersect by the end of the novel to show how this artist gained her ability to bring paintings to life and the consequences of it.

    Lastly, I love board games and have never heard of Eurogame Board Games. I love to learn more about Eurogame and what are the best games should I start with?

    • Keren says:

      Thank you so much for the recommendations! I feel Guy Gavriel Kay is one of those authors I’ve always seen on friend’s shelves that I always meant to get to but didn’t. Maybe now’s the time! LOL

      For board games, it’s so hard to recommend one to start with – it’s almost like asking to recommend a book, any book to start with 😉 But, if you let me know some things you enjoy (a particular place, time period, hobby) or any kind of game you’ve liked or disliked in the past I’m sure I can come up with some!

      And if nerdiness is not an actual word – it 100% should be. I certainly use it a lot! 😀

  22. Wendy Derechin says:

    Hi Karen – have you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor? If not, I think it’s perfect for you based on your reading tastes. It’s incredible and I highly recommend it! Also, can you please recommend a board game that I can play with my young adult daughter and/or son? We haven’t played board games in years and you have inspired me to change that immediately and maybe even become a board game geek! thank you!

    • Keren says:

      I have read that – it was so good!
      For board games, what games have you and your kids played that you’ve enjoyed (or not)? Do they have any particular interests? Let me know and I’ll think of some suggestions!

      • Wendy says:

        Thanks, Keren. We’ve played the basics = scrabble, trivia pursuit, monopoly, clue, and various card games. I would say scrabble and clue are top favorites out of those. Also, we love Harry Potter and those sort of worlds, doing jigsaw puzzles and going to the movies. I hope that helps. We are open to anything you suggest. Thanks again –

          • Keren says:

            My top 5 faves… it’s so hard! As with books, this changes constantly – but here’s what comes to mind today 🙂
            Thurn and Taxis – build post offices in 16th century Germany!
            Tokaido – traveling thru Edo era Japan
            Vienna – be a bon vivant enjoying a carriage trip to Vienna
            Targi – fantastic 2 player game about the Tuareg tribe traders
            Castles of Burgundy – Build up your own little princedom in medieval France

            All of this is, of course, subject to change based on mood, day of the week, time I have to play, etc. LOL

        • Keren says:

          Ok cool – here’s some picks that I think would be a fun start:
          Ticket to Ride – Build trains across the USA! It’s fun & easy to learn. And if you like it – there are lots of versions set in other countries too!
          Kingdomino – A pretty quick tile-laying game where you compete to get the tiles to make the best kingdom. Fast and light and re-playable!
          Codenames – A really fun guessing card game. You can play this with all ages and pretty much as many people as you want.

          Honorable mentions for other good family games – Pandemic (cooperatively save the world from disease), Takenoko (pandas and gardens) and Carcassonne (Medieval France tile-laying game).

          There’s also a Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle game. I’ve never played it, but it has decent ratings on boardgamegeek.com and I have heard good things.

          I hope you love these – happy gaming!

  23. Marita Crozier says:

    I really enjoyed this episode! This is not my usual genre, but listening to Keren made me excited to delve into some of the titles she mentioned. One book that I have read (actually I’ve read it many times) that I think you might enjoy is “Illusion,” by Paula Volsky. It’s fantasy, but based on the French Revolution. My family also loves board games and I can’t wait to try some of your recommendations. Great episode!

  24. Katie says:

    This was such an excellent episode! Keren, do you read any books to immerse yourself in a board game world? My family plays lots of games, we do play some popular ones like Carcassone, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Pandemic and Forbidden Island and Desert. I would love it if you had ideas about books that put a reader into these worlds. When I try to act the part of these games with my kids and husband it falls flat… but I love the idea of making things more immersive. I’d love to know if you’ve read anything that reminded you of the games! Thanks and again, great podcast!!

    • Keren says:

      That’s so funny you should mention this – I’ve been reading City of Brass on Anne’s recommendation, and I just told my husband that it had put me in the mood to play Sultaniya and Istanbul (both really awesome games)!

      Pandemic has definitely put me in the mood to re-read the Doomsday Book (coincidentally enough) because I think it may have been the first place I saw the word Pandemic! Also Stephen King’s The Stand and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. And pretty much anytime I read anything set in Medieval France I think Carcassonne 🙂

      When we play, I also always try to get into the game theme, even if it’s just being super goofy and anthropomorphizing the playing pieces and giving them names. It makes it that much more fun!

  25. Sara Gentry says:

    I loved the Doomsday Book. I have never heard anyone else talk about it, so when I heard it as one of the favorites, I yelled out, “I know that book!” to the confusion of the rest of my family. I bought the book on a whim while browsing through the bookstore when I was in high school. I am not generally a sci-fi fan, but the historical era and time travel appealed to me. Based on my experience, I would definitely recommend it to readers who don’t normally gravitate to sci-fi, but would like to give the genre a try.

  26. enjoyed this episode! am now following keren on instagram to get game ideas! I would recommend trying Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy. I found it a fairy tale for adults that read like a historical fiction. It’s also an adventure story with a very strong female hero.

  27. Laura Salles Schwartz says:

    Hi Keren, I’m so happy for your episode because with similar tastes I was able to add some unheard of books to my TBR!

    I respect your opinion of the Kingkiller Chronicle, although I did like it! It took me a bit to get into it, and I liked it less midway through the second book (I’ll still finish the series), but there are many high points to keep me reading!

    I second the recommendation for Megan Whalen Turner’s “The Queen’s Thief”.
    For my own recommendation, I’ll add Robin Hobb’s Assassin Saga (there are several trilogies, I’d start with “Assassin’s Apprentice”); and Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials”.

    • Laura Salles Schwartz says:

      And if you want to read more Sci-Fi have you tried “Foundation” by Isaac Azimov? It can be a bit heavy to read, but it’s for sure a classic! For an easier read in the Sci-Fi genre, I highly recommend Hugh Howey’s Silo books (Wool, Shift, and Dust).

      • Keren says:

        OMG the Silo books are some of my absolute favorites! I feel not enough people have read them and I also try to rec them whenever I can!

  28. Denise says:

    Keren, Good to hear someone finally mention “Doomsday Book”; one of my favorite reads (and author). Another Willis book I love is “Lincoln’s Dreams”; it’s one of those books that I think about at odd moments years after I read it.

    • Keren says:

      Wow I read Lincoln’s Dreams so long ago! I remember liking it but not much beyond that. Maybe I need to pick it up again 🙂

  29. Loved this episode and was yelling “yes!” as Keren enumerated all of her issues with The Name of the Wind (which, along with The Fault in our Stars, is one of my least favorite books). I picked up Doomsday Book on Keren’s recommendation and am immensely grateful this book is now in my life. Connie Willis is a genius. Thank you!

    • Keren says:

      Everything in this post makes me so happy 🙂 If you liked Doomsday, definitely check out ‘To Say Nothing of the Dog’ as well!

  30. Jessica says:

    I highly recommend The List Of My Desires by Gregoire Delacourt! It’s about a woman in her 40’s whose life changes forever, and has to make some important life decisions; either stay as she is in her own perfect life, or go through with the change…

  31. Emily says:

    Hi Keren, The Doomsday Book is also a favorite of mine. Connie Willis has a great short story collection of Christmas stories that I try to reread every December called Christmas Miracle. It was recently republished with some new stories but I can’t remember the name. I didn’t read all the comments so I don’t know if anyone suggested Ann Leckie’s Ancillary series? They are wonderful. I loved hearing someone else on the show who enjoys sci-fi.

  32. Heidi says:

    I just listened to this episode, and while I never comment on them, I had to jump over and say: finally some Connie Willis love! I’ve read Blackout/All Clear and Doomsday Book, both twice, and I’m itching to read them again. I also love Crosstalk. Her pacing and running jokes are so fun – I’m always a little breathless when a character is trying to avoid talking to one person while simultaneously trying to find someone else. And her explorations of friendship, love, commitment and rescue are really lovely. Anne, you’ve got to try her out!
    Also – three cheers for the Discworld! I highly recommend the audiobooks read by Stephen Briggs. He worked closely with TP and understands how to communicate irony and satire with pauses in a way I always miss when I’m reading the paper version.

  33. Katharine says:

    I just listened to this episode, and I had to:

    (a) say how thrilled I am that someone who loves Pratchett could spread the word about his genius to the world;

    (b) Recommend Jodi Taylor’s St Mary’s series, starting with “Just One Damned Thing After Another” – it sounds such a similar premise to the Connie Willis book (which I’ve now added to my TBR list). It’s about a group of university professors who travel back in time to collect info and data about past events. Of course, they aren’t supposed to change anything, BUT…. well, that always works out well, doesn’t it? 🙂

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