WSIRN Ep 20: Southern classics, sweeping sagas, and spunky women with Sarah Russell Giglio

It’s Tuesday, which means a new episode of What Should I Read Next!

Today I’m talking with Sarah Russell Giglio. Sarah lives in Shreveport, Louisiana: she’s a newlywed who loves cooking and The Bachelor and Bachelorette, and by day she’s a criminal defense attorney. We talk about big fat books and a few Southern classics. 

What Should I Read Next #20: Southern classics, sweeping sagas, and spunky women with Sarah Russell Giglio

Books discussed in this episode: 

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Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
No Greatness Without Goodness by Randy Lewis
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Lethal Beauty (A Mia Quinn Mystery Book 3) by Lis Wiehl
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
Liar Temptress Soldier Spy by Karen Abbott
Five Days at Memorial by Sherri Fink


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  1. Laura says:

    So glad to hear from someone who hates As I Lay Dying! I suffered through that one years ago and cringe when I remember it. The Barn Burning short story was good though! Sarah, have you ever read All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg? It’s a memoir about growing up in the south, focused on his mother. It’s so good!

  2. Debora says:

    Five Days at Memorial is a beautifully written but harrowing account of what happened at Memorial Hospital in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. I was not able to read the many, many books that were published after Katrina, and this was the first one I chose to read. (We lost our home and relocated to higher ground.) The book made me angry, sad, confused by the actions of some, and proud of the actions of others. I also realized we can’t judge people in this situation. WeE do not know how we would react in a serious, life threatening crisis. The book is meticulously documented, and provides a much needed discussion of medical ethics. It was a page-turner! I highly recommend it.

  3. Cathy Hughes says:

    I remember reading Gone With The Wind in the 8th grade and feeling so accomplished. I haven’t read it again since then, but I have watched the movie multiple times. Now I’m going to put it back on my to read list.

    Also I was just excited to see that the Podbean app carries this podcast. That means I can catch up on the thirteen episodes I have missed while I walk to or from work.

  4. Kimi says:

    The Thorn Birds. Sigh. This podcast took me back to 8th grade when I fell in love with this story and then read the book about a million times. I’m not sure I’d love it as much now as I did then, but I think I still dream of moving to Australia and living on a sheep ranch to this day because of it.

    I’m not normally drawn to Civil War era books, but the recommended Liar Temptress Soldier Spy sounds very interesting. I’m a Native Atlantan so GWTW was read many times thru out my childhood, but I have to admit that books in dialect are generally just somewhere I can’t go at this point in life.

    And I hope I’m not the only listener who stops the podcast to give their own commentary. I’m hoping this is just an introvert trait 😉

  5. Allison S says:

    I have never read The Thorn Birds- oh my, how have I missed this one?! Going on the list now. 🙂 And speaking of sweeping sagas, I wanted to mention the book and series, In the Land of the Long White Cloud, also set in Australia. I loved the first book and can’t wait to read more in the series.

    • Laetitia says:

      In the Land of the Long White Cloud is actually set in New Zealand.
      The Maori name for New Zealand, Aotearoa, actually means the Land of the Long White Cloud. 🙂

  6. Danielle says:

    First off, I LOVE this podcast. It can be very daunting to try to choose books that are worth the time and effort you inevitably invest into them. I love getting to listen to what other people love and why; and I add at least one new book to my to be read list every episode.
    I really want to see picks from other Genres though. I’d love insight into Fantasy and Sci-Fi choices and the elements that cross over into more conventional fiction. I really want to hear from people with very different likes and dislikes from the guests so far. I can’t wait to hear what comes next.

  7. Melissa says:

    Definitely going to check out the Memorial book. What about Sara Donati or Diana Gabaldon for sweeping historical fiction? I love both authors even though there is a little too much romance for me. The stories are so incredible, though.

  8. Tracy says:

    The Thorn Birds is the first book I truly feel in love with. One of my all time favorites. The mini series was fabulous as well. The best book I ever read was East of Eden.

    Anne, can you do a blog on how you keep track of what you read and how your remember what they are about? I am astounded at your recall of so many books. I keep a list of what I read on my iPhone notes, but sometimes I barely remember what they were about.

  9. Judy King says:

    I’m just catching up with a few of the podcasts — and I do have a thought or two for Sarah…Colleen McCollough has a newer “epic” Australian book. Bittersweet was published in 2013 and is really the first of her books that I’ve liked as much as I did Thornbirds years ago. This is about about two sets of twins who are half sisters, but only one year apart. h girls finish their education together and all four go to the first ever nursing program — and that alone was interesting…the ways their lives twist, turn and change and how they end up so differently is fascinating. Also I wonder if Sarah has read attorney/journalist Robert Dugoni’s police procedural and legal thriller novels. While he has published five or six, he was on the NY Times bestseller’s list for over two years with two of the books. Not only that, he is a likable fascinating man, funny and entertaining. He came here to central Mexico to present at our local writers group’s conference several years ago.

  10. Mae says:

    As a fellow Southerner, I have always read and enjoyed “Southern” fiction without classifying it as such. One of my favorite authors who does Southern epics fabulously is Michael Malone. Handling Sin is my favorite, but there are so many more – The 4 Corners of the Sky, The Last Noel, Red Clay Blue Cadillac (short stories), and Uncivil Seasons (the first in a trilogy about 2 detectives). Ellen Gilchrist is another wonderful author – The Anna Papers is one of my favorites but she has written many novels and books of short stories. Both authors have a lovely sense of community and a wicked sense of humor that reminds me of the laughter-through-tears sentiment of Steel Magnolias.
    Anne, thank you so much for this podcast! It has been a timely reminder of why and how much I find joy in reading.

  11. susan hagen says:

    I would suggest A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
    and My Antonia. These books have strong heroines, characters you will love. Both books are extremely well written.

  12. Megan says:

    When I heard you recommend The Thorn Birds for someone who loved Gone w/the Wind, I half cringed/half laughed. I grew up knowing that my mom had named me after the main character in The Thorn Birds (based on the book then the film) and knew it was a sweeping love story but knew nothing else. Several years ago i finally read the book and discovered how controversial it really was! Who knew my “namesake” would be a dominant, priest – seducing harlot, and her love certainly a flawed priest. Needless to say, I didn’t find the story tragic or heartbreaking and didn’t feel for either character! Nevertheless, the book will be linked to my name and i have it on the shelf as a reminder and talking point. My mom has never lived down her naming me after Meggie since.

  13. Sheryl Esau says:

    I’m catching up on the podcasts that I missed and am excited to read Five Days at Memorial. I read the heartbreaking, but wonderful book called Zeitoun also about Katrina and found myself wishing it was fiction while knowing that it wasn’t. I still struggle that this could happen here in the United States, but worry that this could happen again.

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