WSIRN Ep 196: What the cool kids are reading

Today you’ll get to know Anudeep Reddy, a reader who grew up in a competitive school environment where engaging books were in short supply, so he had to get creative with his reading from a young age. He’s an imaginative reader who appreciates the escapist quality of a good novel, but has struggled lately to find books that call out for him to live between their pages. 

Fantastic escapist reading can be found in any genre, so today I’m recommending three books to Anudeep that you’d find on completely different bookstore shelves. We’re also exploring books that combine adventure and philosophy stories, streamlining reading decisions, and what it’s like to date a librarian (spoiler alert: books show up, out of nowhere. All the time. What a dream.) 

Let’s get to it! 

What Should I Read Next #196: What the cool kids are reading with Anudeep Reddy

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

Books mentioned in this episode:

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• Author P.G. Wodehouse (try The Best of Wodehouse)
• The Complete Calvin & Hobbes, by Bill Watterson
The Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling
• The Famous Five series, by Enid Blyton
• Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected, by Neil Gaiman
• The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost
• Exhalation, by Ted Chiang
• The Darkening Age, Catherine Nixey 
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 
Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch
• Wind, Sand, and Stars, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
• Plainsong, by Kent Haruf
• The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow
• Lock In, by John Scalzi

Also mentioned: 
• WSIRN Episode 139, w/ Eric Zimmer
• The book mural outside the Kansas City Public Library
• Episode 1 of 10 Things To Tell You podcast, “When do you read?
• National Geographic’s 100 greatest adventure books of all time

What do YOU think Anudeep should read next?


Leave A Comment
  1. Glenda says:

    Several authors/books were mentioned which I didn’t read until my 40’s: Harry Potter, Neil Gaiman’s books, and John Scalzi’s books. I didn’t discover sci-fi and fantasy until my early 40’s, at which time I jumped in with both feet.

    The 10,000 Doors of January sounds very interesting!

    Anudeep, Dark Matter didn’t do it for me, either. I wasn’t able to explain why nearly as well as you’ve done, but I did find myself nodding along with what you said.

    I agree with Anne’s recommendation of Lock In by John Scalzi — I thoroughly enjoyed it. My suggestion would be to NOT read anything about it beforehand, definitely avoid spoilers, but afterwards go back and watch a book-reading/signing with Mr. Scalzi. I also enjoy Mr. Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” series.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I don’t really have a recommendation (except maybe The Little Book by Selden Edwards?), just wanted to let you know how much I loved this episode! Thanks!!

  3. This was again, a fun episode.
    Anudeep, I’m not Anne, who is fantastic at being a book whisperer. Having written that, I recommend *The Invisible Library* the beginning of a series byGenevieve Cogman. I think it might be similar in someways to *The Ten Thousand Doors of January* in that the librarians in the secret library use doors to travel to different parallel worlds to retrieve important books. And in certain ways it reminds me of steam punk, because they have to adapt to different time periods and ways of doing things.

    The other book series I want to recommend is Khë by Alexes Razevich. When you read the first lines, you know you are in a different universe. The physiology of the characters, their social, religious structures are different than ours, and so are their reproductive processes.

    Thanks for sharing a great episode. The next time we go visit my husband’s family in Independence, we’ll have to take a trip the KC and browse the library.

  4. Dara says:

    Anne, we’re the same age! I read Harry Potter as an adult but I saw Romeo and Juliet my freshman year of college and I loved it! Also, I live in KC like your guest!

  5. Megan Nashel says:

    Oh I loved this episode!! Anudeep, I loved your question about how to actually read books while being so distracted by the digital things that surround us, and Anne, I really appreciated your tips! And so jealous you got to hear Neil Gaiman, so cool!! Anudeep, if you like historical fiction and love some Stephen king like me, his book 11-22-63 is one of my all time favorites that I learned about from this very podcast! It’s super suspenseful and made me want to read it all day long. It is one of the longest books I’ve ever read, but it goes by super quickly! Thanks for a great episode again!

    • Amy Hill says:

      Anudeep – I agree with Megan that it is a very difficult question about how to make more time for reading. In 2018 I read 5 books and in 2019 I am up to 47. No great trick but some things that helped: 1) Changed my bedtime routine to have electronics off 30 mins. before bed; 2) Deleted a couple of soul-sucking apps (Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast reference); 3)Network television series (plural) I always like (after the 1st season) get cancelled so I have stopped investing time in television. Books, they never get cancelled unless I choose to dump them after a couple of chapters; and 4)Always have a book with me (Serial App, a Library app or Kindle App, Kindle, or hard book).

  6. Hello – I highly recommend Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger – science (physics) is front and center – and the characters are relatable. I am not a physicist though so I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the science.

    • Libby says:

      Not a physicist, but I am a scientist who happened to attend a lecture by physicist who works on the LIGO project a week or two before reading this book, and can say that the book did a perfect job describing the phenomenon and the more human element around the detector. And it was a great book!

  7. Robin says:

    I would recommend Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire, by John August. It is the first in a trilogy, and the second is also out. It reminded me of HP with the young protagonist finding out about a magical world.

  8. Marie says:

    Hi Anudeep – my husband’s family came from South India (Telugu speakers) so. really enjoyed your interview. My suggestion is about audio books, as Anne mentioned it’s a great way to read more and you can download them from your library. To start, I would suggest the Harry Potter series, read by Jim Dale. He brings the characters to life and it’s a whole new experience. I am now listening to The Night Circus, also read by him and it’s fantastic. BTW, I’m also a fan of the Little Prince, it is a hidden gem.

  9. Karen Jeske says:

    Anudeep, I would recommend two of Ken Grimwood’s books: Replay and Elise. The former is a “re-live your life” story and Elise is an immortality story. They are fun and easy with interesting cultural history and touchstones, but both are also emotional and thought-provoking. After all, it’s very human to ask “what would I do differently if I could do it all again” or “what would I do if I knew I would never die.” Replay was written years before the movie, Groundhog Day came out and Elise was years ahead of the current vampire craze, but both still entertain.

  10. Tara says:

    Hello, I think you should read I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier because it’s short, can be read in one sitting, it packs a punch, and it’s a classic. I read it myself a few years ago ans immediately wished I had read it with my bookclub because I wanted to talk about it so much!

  11. Maureen says:

    Anudeep, I loved your casting of the Dark Matter movie. 😆 And now I really want a literary adaptation starring Dwayne Johnson AND Benedict Cumberbatch- Hollywood, make it happen!

  12. Amy Hill says:

    Anudeep –
    You are probably all about the adult books and classics but if you still want to adventure into youth or young adult I think you will find some more books that bring about wonder. I few of the series that I didn’t read until I was an adult. I was not a very good reader when I was younger. Also, I have 2 sons and I wanted to be reading what they were reading. This actually lead to the entire family (including extended grandparents, aunts and cousins) reading the same books. So here are a few recommendations: The Fablehaven Series by Brandon Mull, Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan (include all the way to the Apollo series), The Beyonders Series by Brandon Mull, Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, The Spiderwick Chronicles by Toni DeTerlizzi & Holly Black, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series by Michael Scott, Mirror World Series by Cornelia Funke, Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke, Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, Children of the Green Knowe Series by L.M. Boston, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. Some adult books I’ve enjoyed are Good Omens by Neil Gaiman, The Discovery of Witches Triology by Deborah Harkness (siblings & mom enjoyed also), Dracula by Bram Stoker (quick read). I’m assuming you have already read the Chronicles of Narnia series (C.S. Lewis) and the Fellowship of the Ring (J.R.R. Tolkein) series because you read Game of Thrones. Happy reading!

  13. Mary Duncklee says:

    On the episode, Anne mentioned another podcast – something with a 10 in it. I listen in the car so couldn’t write it down. Does anyone know the full title?

  14. Sara Fairchild says:

    I loved this episode! Anudeep was so honest and interesting. I just wanted to suggest John Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War”, that also can social commentary symbolism and military sci fi. I didn’t know I liked such a thing until I listened to WSIRN #100, and a interview with Andy Weir (“The Martian”). Also, two short classics: “O Pioneers” by Willa Cather is fast moving and descriptive about the first citizens of the West. And also “88 Charing Cross Road”, very witty- both can be read in a day.

  15. Keren says:

    Anudeep – this was a great episode and I was extra excited to hear from another P.G. Wodehouse fan! I especially love the Blandings Castle series, though Jeeves and Wooster are classic!

    I don’t have a book recommendation, but I’ll live up to my nerd rep and suggest a Little Prince board game which is great fun to play and has adorable art like the book. It’s called Little Prince: Make Me a Planet, and each player is trying to build the best (most points) planet from the tiles in the game. It’s for all ages and highly re-playable! There’s also Little Prince: Rising to the Stars, but I don’t like that one as much 🙂

  16. Heather says:

    Listening to Anudeep was like hearing my husband describe his childhood! He grew up in Bangalore, not too far from Hyderabad, attended Catholic school in English, and was an avid reader, too. And he’s a big Potter fan! It’s hard to understate how massive HP is to all the Indian English readers I’ve met. It’s still my husband’s go-to comfort read on holidays!
    For a whole world to fall into like HP, though very different, the closest I’ve come to that is with The Expanse series by James s.a. Corey. It’s also a really good tv show! There is a lot of depth and surprising richness to this hard sci fi series which is getting on to it’s 8th book now. Def read them in order.
    A few other random authors Anudeep might like that are more like HP include Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series based on Arthurian legends. The amazing and prolific Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci books are most HP like, but I also loved A Tale of Time City, The Ogre Downstairs and Deep Secret, which is a more adult story. (Gaiman loves Wynne Jones too, if that rec helps!)

  17. Jill W. says:

    I am late to the party on this one, but if you like sci-fi/fantasy that drops you in the deep end and assumes you know what they are talking about and you figure it out as you go along, then I highly recommend William Gibson’s books- Neuromancer, Mona Lisa Overdrive, etc. They are very engrossing.

  18. John Cunningham says:

    My recommendations:
    Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
    The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
    The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold

  19. David Krohse says:

    Hi Anudeep,

    Enjoyed your chat.

    There’s a fantasy series that my entire family (mom, older brother, younger sister) all enjoyed that could be a fun read. It’s the Xanth series by Piers Anthony. He creates a vivid world and drops puns throughout. It is lighthearted and engaging. Recommending it makes me want to reread them after many years.

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