What Should I Read Next Episode 211: Good reads from the Great North

Today I’m having a delightful, deep conversation with guest Sarah Bessey about writing very personal nonfiction, and what might spur an author to write a book unlike anything they’ve written in the past. We also talk about why she can’t resist talking about reading.

Last week I talked a bit about how books can expand hearts and minds, and Sarah has so much to share with me about what books have shifted her perspectives for the better. We’re also touching on the books everyone is talking about in Canada!

Ready for some bookish introspection? Let’s get to it.

What Should I Read Next #211: Good reads from the Great North with Sarah Bessey

You can find Sarah Bessey online at sarahbessey.com, and @sarahbessey on Twitter and Instagram. To subscribe to her delightful newsletter, Field Notes, and get Sarah’s consistently incredible holiday gift guide, visit sarahbessey.substack.com.

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

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Books mentioned in this episode:

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Books mentioned:

● The Inspector Gamache series, by Louise Penny
Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner
Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry
Hannah Coulter, by Wendell Berry
● Author Margaret Atwood (try The Robber Bride)
The Boat People, by Sharon Bala
The Break, by Katherena Vermette
The Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline
Miracles and Other Reasonable Things: A Story of Unlearning and Relearning God, by Sarah Bessey
The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard
Scouting the Divine: Searching for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey, by Margaret Feinberg
A Circle of Quiet, by Madeleine L’Engle
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Persuasion, by Jane Austen
The Excellent Wife, by Martha Pearce
Jesus Feminist, by Sarah Bessey
Five Wives, by Joan Thomas
The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
I Bring the Voices of My People: A Womanist Vision for Racial Reconciliation, by Chanequa Walker-Barnes
Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God’s America, by Jeff Chu
City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett
Belong To Me, by Marisa De Los Santos
Love Walked In, by Marisa De Los Santos
I’ll Be Your Blue Sky, by Marisa De Los Santos
Hum If You Don’t Know the Words, by Bianca Murray
If You Want to Make God Laugh, by Bianca Murray
Euphoria, by Lily King
Writers and Lovers, by Lily King

Also mentioned: 
The Great British Bake-Off
● The Canada Reads program


What do YOU think Sarah should read next?


Leave A Comment
  1. Marie says:

    Eve Tushnet is an author you might like as you want to broaden your horizons. Her book “Amends” tells a story of unique individuals who find grace? redemption? through their participation in a reality-style tv show filming a twelve step program. This book isn’t easy to characterize but Tushnet’s voice is definitely worth paying attention to. And defintily will challenge your thinking, If that is what you want. 🙂

  2. Libby says:

    I think Sarah would love My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl! It’s a part cookbook, part memoir about the year after Gourmet Magazine closed. Reichl had been executive editor before the magazine very abruptly shut down during the Great Recession. It’s all about how she put herself back together and regained confidence after feeling like she’d failed hundreds of employees, the readers, and nearly 100 years of history of the magazine.

  3. Gaye says:

    I would love to recommend Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson. An epistolary novel with letters written by an English farmer’s wife and a Danish museum curator. I listened on audio but I know I will go back and read a physical copy to underline and drink up the descriptions of place. It is a fast read, thoughtful and so hopeful! Enjoy!!!

  4. Amanda Elliott says:

    I think Sarah may enjoy reading Sarah Addison Allen’s works… especially Garden Spells… definitely brought me a lot of joy!!

  5. Sherrie says:

    As a fellow Enneagram 9, I absolutely loved this episode. I felt such a kinship as I was listening. I have Sarah’s new book on my nightstand and will be putting at the top of my list! Thanks for another great episode!

  6. Katie says:

    I loved this episode but especially I LOVED the shout out to The Break by Katherena Vermette. This was a book everyone in my book club enjoyed and we still had a great discussion!! It would be so great if even more people read it. 🙂

  7. Susan says:

    What a wonderful episode! I enjoyed listening to Sarah Bessey. She is a thoughtful and delightful human.
    Also looking forward to delving into the Canada Reads program.
    Adding so many titles to my TBR!

  8. susan says:

    I also wondered if anyone could recommend an audiobook version of Persuasion by Jane Austen. I have never read it and looked it up on libro.fm and there are several audiobook versions.


  9. Leah Kirkpatrick says:

    Great episode! I love all of your favorites! I recommend Beneath the Scarlet Sky, Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan, Into the Silent Land by Martin Laird, Mr. Rochester by Shoemaker

  10. CYNDIE LAKE says:

    This was a great episode…but I am wondering if the sound skips for others while they were listening?! It was only a word each time but it was really odd as this has never happened before.

  11. Lauren D. says:

    This episode hit me in the gut! I have been thinking about writing in and asking Anne for more “joyful” reading suggestions as I, too, am drawn to the hard and heavy reads. It’s been wearing on me emotionally!

    I completely resonated with Sarah’s spiritual journey and just moved “Jesus Feminist” to the top of my TBR list. A book that I threw not into the road but directly into the trash can was Rosaria Butterfield’s “Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.” I felt it too fresh, like writing from the “open wound” that Sarah described. It seemed to me like evangelical Christian publishers were just far too eager to have a book in hand where a writer described her “conversion” from “gay” to “Christian” that their bar for quality of writing was far too low.

    Anyhow… regarding what Sarah might like to read next: maybe we should both revisit one of my all-time favorites, “The Trumpet of the Swan” by E.B. White. It’s light, hopeful, and HILARIOUS. What’s not to love?

  12. Libby Miner says:

    I threw out The Excellent Wife too! Ha ha ha! So funny. And absolutely loved Persuasion the first time I read it as well. Great episode!

  13. Alyssa Schoonover says:

    “Unearthed: Love, Acceptance, and Other Lessons from an Abandoned Garden”
    by Alexandra Risen is a gem of a Canadian memoir – written in narrative form. Risen unfolds memories from her childhood and the difficult past of her Ukrainian immigrant parents through the exploration and restoration of her very own secret garden hidden within the concrete jungle of Toronto. Each chapter is named after a particular garden plant to which Risen recalls her memories associated with that plant, and even includes a recipe at the end of each chapter, using the plant from that chapter! I can’t praise this book enough – check it out!

  14. Kari says:

    What a great episode, and I’d love to read Five Wives. It sounds like it’d be right up my alley. But I didn’t realized how difficult (and pricey) it would be to purchase a Canadian book from the US. Do Canadians have this issue with US-published books? Shipping almost doubles the price. Is there a trick to this that I don’t know about?

  15. Vicki says:

    I must have really missed something in City of Girls. I just had no patience for the main character at all. She annoyed me from start to finish. Was it just me?! I might have to try again. I usually align with Anne’s likes.

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