WSIRN Ep 200: The good, the bad, and the unread

Readers, each week for the past three and a half years I’ve talked to a reader (or sometimes two) and suggested three books that they should read next. This is What Should I Read Next’s 200th episode which means I’ve now recommended over 600 books on the show! 

Today’s milestone is the perfect opportunity to take a moment and look back, so my producer Brenna and I spent time catching up with past guests to see which recommendations landed, which flopped, and how they’re thinking differently about their reading lives post-WSIRN. It turns out the titles I picked weren’t always winners, but something changed by the time each conversation was over. Some guests approached their bookshelves with fresh eyes, some overcame their genre fears, and some realized that stepping out of their comfort zone just wasn’t what they were interested in — and finally felt at peace with the decision.

For the 200th time… let’s get to it!

What Should I Read Next #200: The good, the bad, and the unread

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!

Looking back on Adam Verner’s episode:
The Award, by Danielle Steele (or try the abridged version)
The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene
The Perfect Storm, by Sebastian Junger 
The Starbridge Series, by Susan Howatch
Fire, by Sebastian Junger
The River, by Peter Heller
Listen to Adam’s episode here.
Also mentioned: an interview with Danielle Steel via Glamour

Looking back on Ashley & Brent’s episode:
Unsheltered, by Barbara Kingsolver
Before the Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima, by Diana Preston
The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic — and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World, by Steven Johnson
The Mercury 13: The True Story of Thirteen Women and the Dream of Space Flight, by Martha Ackmann
Listen to Ashley & Brent’s episode here.

Looking back on Traci Thomas’ episode:
Miracle Creek, by Angie Kim
And the Sea Will Tell, by Vincent Bugliosi (unnamed in this episode)
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson
Listen to Traci’s episode here.
Also mentioned: Ashley’s podcast The Stacks

Looking back on Ashley Gossen’s episode:
A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
Harry’s Trees, by Jon Cohen
A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
The Overstory, by Richard Powers
 • The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring, by Richard Preston
Listen to Ashley’s episode here.
Also mentioned: Ashley’s Alpine Trails book club

Looking back on Phimy & Erika’s episode:
A Place For Us, by Fatima Farheen Mirza
Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata
Listen to Phimy & Erika’s episode here.
Also mentioned: Phimy & Erika’s Sister Insider book club

Looking back on Chelsey & Curtis’ episode:
The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
Gates of Fire, by Steven Pressfield
Montana 1948, by Larry Watson
Listen to Chelsey & Curtis’ episode here.
Also mentioned: Chelsey & Curtis’ podcast He Read She Read

Even more mentions:
• KidWeek on WSIRN
WSIRN’s Patreon community
The MMD Summer Reading Guide


Leave A Comment
    • Anne says:

      Thank you, Phimy! Sending lots of book love back your way from the Upper South, where I continue to dream of attending a Sister Insider meeting IN PERSON one day. 🙂

  1. Katie says:

    This was a fun episode to listen to! Congrats on 200! I have loved listening for almost 3 years. When I found your podcast I had to quickly binge all the back-list episodes to catch up and have been listening weekly since. My favorite find from your podcast so far has to be Louise Penny. I finally checked out those Inspector Gamache novels after you mentioned them for the fourth or fifth time. I am currently number 13 in line at the library for A Better Man. I think the two highly mentioned books I was excited to read that were kinda letdowns were Pachinko and The Time in Between. Pachinko started out great, but then just kinda fell off for me halfway through. I finished though! The Time in Between was another one that started off strong and then fell flat. It seemed like the first major chunk of the book was set up, and then when we finally got to the good stuff, it just wasn’t that exciting. Looking forward to more great book recommendations!

  2. A big Congratulations on your 200th episode! I continue to be amazed at your ability to create such a wonderful community of readers with such diverse backgrounds and reading styles. I also love your ‘no judgement’ mentality on what and how we all read.

    I’m so honored to be a part of this episode and I couldn’t wait to tell you that after recording for this episode I read all of the books you recommended. I especially loved The Overstory like you knew I would! I captured all of your recommendations and my thoughts in a blog post here:

    Can’t wait for 200 more! 🙂

  3. Jill M says:

    Congratulations Anne!! I have listened and loved every episode! Finding my bookish twin was easy – Natalie from episode 173. We have so many bookish things in common including our love and re-reads of Beach Music. I read it every-other-year and love it more every time!
    Thank you for all the book love you share each week! Cheers and job well done!

  4. Jessie Weaver says:

    I feel like I’m in the minority now of people who have been on the show as I did read all three of your recommendations right away!

    I had to go back and read the comments on my episode. Now I have a few I need to bump up on my TBR! I did start reading Jewel by Bret Lott but didn’t make it very far into it before I got distracted by something else. And 2017 Jessie was very excited about Cold Sassy Tree! I need to find that one ASAP.

  5. Emily says:

    Congratulations on the 200th episode! Suggestion for Anne: I read The Warmth of Other Suns on kindle and it made it much less intimidating. And I loved it! Thanks for putting it in my path.

  6. Victoria says:

    It’s Fall and I’m haunted by the fact that I’m the book discussion leader for my October book club.
    My two 1800’s selections: Woman in White by Wilkie Collins vs Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Your thoughts are appreciated!
    Happy Fall Reading,

  7. Jane Weichert says:

    I have listened to every episode and look forward each week to the next one. My favorite book that I heard about from you was The One-in-a-million Boy. I never would have known about it otherwise and I loved that book. Thank you for a great podcast.

  8. Joan Carothers says:

    Congratulations on 200 awesome podcasts! I got hooked and had to go back and catch up. My family knows that on Tuesday they have to leave me alone until I’m done with the podcast! I have tried many books that you’ve talked about which has really broadened my reading life. You helped with recommendations for my daughter and she has continued to explore new books as well. Thanks for the fun podcast!

  9. Catherine says:

    My first Bookish twin was Dana Hartness (Ep.125). I listened to the podcast and I immediately read and LOVED Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight and then Cocktails Under the Tree of Forgetfulness. I read half of Queen of Hearts and stopped because I just didn’t care about the characters. I remember it was recommended partly because of the setting and the Dana having lived in Charlotte or something (which does not apply to me). The third book recommended to Dana (I Was Anastasia) is still on my list. Meanwhile, I loved the episode with Traci Thomas (despite having no interest in scary true crime) and so read the book about the assasination of MLK. I looooved that book. After reading it I went back and relistened to that episode because I thought it had been one of her favorites (it was actually one of Anne’s recommendations). Traci needs to read that book:-) THEN, I went to find more Traci on her podcast and found her interviews with Michael Cullen on her podcast (wow!) and his discussion of Anna Karenina pushed me to finally start listening to the audiobook I had purchased a few years ago when it was .99. The narration by Maggie Gyllenhaal is great. I don’t know if I love it as much as Michael Cullen but I am about 80%. So after Anna Karenina, The Warmth of Many Suns should seem quick:-) Love the podcast, Anne! Thank you!

  10. This was so fun to listen to, until I started remembering how anxious I was after recording episode 85. “Why did I compare Ostrava to Detroit? Why didn’t I just call it an industrial city and say it was the 3rd largest city in the country? Did I give a false title of a book?” I remember being so nervous before the episode came out and regretting not having a glass of wine to loosen up my tongue before talking to you! I can relate to what other guests have said about it changing their reading lives. I’ve jumped so much more into reading (I think I’m going to make it to 100 books read this year) and have even found a creative way to get my spouse reading: I check out audiobooks for him to listen to in the car. Also, I’ll follow-up my episode by saying that the friend who hated my favorite book (and vice versa) listened to the episode while giving me a running commentary via Messenger. No hard feelings came between us and we still happily fight over the few English books in our Czech used book stores. Cheers to the future episodes and guests! And thank you, Anne, for making folding laundry more interesting!

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