WSIRN Episode 218: A WSIRN marriage story

Readers, it’s always fun to read through your guest applications. You fill our inbox with stories, goals, hilarity, and so much heart. One particularly memorable application didn’t come from today’s guest Anna Mittler — it came from one of her best friends, Charlotta, asking if we could make WSIRN a part of Anna’s upcoming bachelorette party. I don’t want to spoil the story before Anna has a chance to tell it herself, so I’ll just say that it took a full year to stitch the pieces together and get this episode to your ears, and I hope you love Anna’s story as much as we loved making it happen. 

Let’s get to it! 

What Should I Read Next #218: A WSIRN marriage story with Anna Mittler

You can follow Anna Mittler’s One-Book-Per-Country project on Instagram.

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:

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, by Dr. Sue Johnson EdD
The Real Thing: Lesson On Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook, by Ellen McCarthy
What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty
♥ author J. K. Rowling
The Casual Vacancy, by J. K. Rowling
The Harry Potter series, by  J. K. Rowling
Lethal White, by Robert Galbraith
♥ author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
● Author Charles Delint (try Moonheart)
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
Before We Visit the Goddess, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The Best Short Stories of O. Henry, by O. Henry
The Lottery and Other Stories, by Shirley Jackson
Educated, by Tara Westover
Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Transcription, by Kate Atkinson
When Will There Be Good News?, by Kate Atkinson
Spinning, by Tillie Walden
Blankets, by Craig Thompson
Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City, by Guy Delisle
The Dinner, by Herman Koch
Unsheltered, by Barbara Kingsolver
The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
Next Year in Havana, by Chanel Cleeton
When We Left Cuba, by Chanel Cleeton
The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
Eva Luna, by Isabel Allende
Delirium, by Lauren Restrepo
The Bedlam Stacks, by Natasha Pulley

Also mentioned: 

Patreon exclusive printable booklists
● Reese Witherspoon’s book club Hello Sunshine
● Anna’s one-book-per-country project on Instagram.
A Year of Reading the World by Ann Morgan
Strong Sense of Place by Mel Joulwan and Dave Humphreys
WSIRN Ep 60 w/ guest Mel Joulwan


What do YOU think Anna should read next?

more posts you might enjoy


Leave A Comment
  1. Erin Hanna says:

    Anna ought to check out Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies (Dominican Republic). It’s so good… and near Cuba!

  2. Suzanne says:

    As Anna’s choice for Peru, she could read Ann Patchett’s ‘Bel Canto’. While it’s not technically set in Peru, the real-life event that the book is based on took place in that country. (And it’s a good excuse to read a really amazing book, lol.)

    • Ashley says:

      I second this suggestion! I read this before/during a recent trip to NOLA and it was so fun. There’s also a statue of Ignatius J Reilly that you can go take a picture with…I may have done so while holding my book, which likely garnered some odd looks 🙂

      Can you recommend a Finland book, Anna? I used to live in Denmark, but haven’t made it to Finland yet, so might as well go by book first!

  3. Sue says:

    Oh, this episode was one of my favorites so far! Anna’s bachelorette party with a message from Anne, and books, books, books involved, was just great!
    I wanted to say that if she wants to do an obscure country, that the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by A. McCall Smith has a VERY strong sense of place! Botswana! I never thought twice about Botswana, maybe not even once, but now I have such an affectionate feeling for Botswana and it’s people. My mother wants to move there, she loves their kindness and “the old morality”. Don’t go in thinking this is serious detective fiction, this is about people and life.

    • Rachel says:

      I was just going to recommend the same thing! I love that series and just the gentle observation of everyday life in Botswana.

  4. Fiona says:

    Do you want a book in an unusual setting? There is a mystery called Island in the Clouds by Susan M Toy. It is set in Bequia. This is an island in the country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The author is Canadian, but the book does give a good feeling of what it would be like to live there.

  5. Megan says:

    Great episode! Congratulations on your marriage, Anna! Do you have any recommendations for books set in Finland? Or favourite Finnish authors?

    • Anna Mittler says:

      Thank you for so many good recommendations! Adding them to my challenge and TBR. What a lovely community we’ve got here 🙂

      As for books set in Finland, you can’t go wrong with Tove Jansson, who created the Moomins but was a writer, a painter, and an all-talented artist. She’s got a collection of stories called “A Winter Book” – perfect for the dark & snowy time of the year. Her “Summer Book” will take you to a cottage on a small island and convey what summers are like in Finland.

      For non-fiction, I enjoyed “The Almost Nearly Perfect People” by Michael Booth. He’s a British journalist who lived in Denmark when they were ranked as “the happiest country in the world”, which he found surprising. So he travelled all across the Nordics and writes about it in the book. I thought his take on Finland as an outside observer was spot-on. Plus, you’ll get to read about Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland and see the differences and similarities between these small nations.

  6. Ann says:

    I loved this episode! You have some great friends that would throw you such an amazing bachelorette weekend. 🙂 I too am working on my masters and like you said I like to read lighter books while in school. I would like to recommend a couple of books. The first one is a manga/graphic novel series called Bakuman by Tsugumi Ohba illustrated by Takeshi Obata. This is a great read for when you are in school as it is light and takes place in Japan (if you haven’t read any books from that country yet). The second book is for your country challenge, for Africa, called Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. I also think it is amazing you are reading books from each country. You just inspired me to do the same to diversify my reading some more.

    • Ann says:

      Sorry! I just looked up the specific country in Africa for Things Fall Apart…Nigeria…You already have that country covered! Obviously I don’t recommend books for a living! haha! 🙂

      • Anna Mittler says:

        Things Fall Apart has been on my TBR for a while now. Bumping it up now! I’m not giving up on Nigerian authors any time soon 😉 The challenge is a multi-year project and I’m sneaking in “other” books too.

        Thanks for the recommendations – it’s good to hear that you’ve managed to keep reading for fun while studying!

  7. Sandra says:

    I’m doing a similar challenge to Anna’s One Book Per Country Project. A few I can recommend for South America include Cantoras (Uruguay), It Would be Night in Caracas (Venezuela), Fruit of the Drunken Tree (Colombia), Of Love and Shadows (Chile).

  8. Morgan says:

    Anna should definitely check out for her country challenge! I’ve been doing the same thing and there are TONS of great books by country! 💙

  9. Michelle Wilson says:

    A suggestion for Afghanistan: The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi. It is a beautiful, heart wrenching story. To date, it is my favorite book in translation. For Albania, Broken April by Ismail Kadare (also in translation)

  10. Sheila DelCharco says:

    Congratulations on your marriage! I was going to make some recommendations on what to see/do in the Florida Keys but it sounds like you already went on your trip (if you spent New Year’s in Cuba) so I’ll give you some book ideas instead. If you like to read Middle Grade, you can get a lot of ideas for your country challenge from the level F of Sonlight (a literature-based homeschool curriculum.: Here’s a link: (click on “What’s Included” to get the list of books with short descriptions.) I really enjoy reading Middle Grade plus it’s a good way to add to your “books read” list quickly 🙂

  11. Calidaho says:

    I am also not usually a fan of a book of short stories (I’ll read them in the New Yorker and whatnot but not a whole book!) However, I enjoyed Corina and Sabrina by Kali Fajardo-Astine. There is some subtle overlap in characters but mostly, the collection of short stories feel cohesive because they are set in the same Denver community. And, it’s just great story telling!

  12. Cathy Hildreth says:

    For a fantastic read set in Ethiopia, try “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese! I read it several years ago but I couldn’t put it down and remember weeping at the end.

  13. Camille Wilson says:

    As much as I love books, I love resources that help readers enrich their reading such as the link for A Year of Reading the World.

  14. Cindy Patterson says:

    Just the night before listening to this episode I had decided that I want to read books from around the world. I had just read Island of Sea Women by Lisa See. Realized I did not know anything about Korea. Now reading Pachinko by Min Jen Lee. Now I am following Anna on instagram. Funny how things just randomly c
    come together

  15. Elizabeth Lloyd says:

    I loved this episode and wish you well for your marriage Anna.
    If you are looking for a book set in India, can I please recommend ‘Q & A’ by Vikas Swarup? This is the book that the movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ was based on but the book is a lot more compelling than the movie. Its an adventure story with some memorable characters so it is strong on plot and characters.
    I am so pleased you enjoyed ‘What Alice Forgot’ by Liane Moriarty. It is one of my favourite books by this author however I am Australian so I could be biased. Happy reading 🙂

  16. Angela in NC says:

    Great episode! I also track the books I read by country and am slowly hoping to read a book set in every country. Some of my favorites for more obscure countries: Mountains Beyond Mountains – Kidder (Haiti), Memoirs of a Geisha – Golden (Japan), Pachinko – Lee (Korea and Japan), Little Princes – Grennan (Nepal), and Turn Right at Machu Picchu – Adams (Peru). For the Pacific island nations, check out Troost’s hilarious memoirs of his time living there in The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Getting Stoned with Savages, and Headhunters on My Doorstep.

  17. Anne-Grete says:

    Loved this episode so much! Being from neighboring country, Estonia, I loved it that it was someone from Finland on the show. Also I really agree with Anna’s book taste, I enjoy similar books! Really love J.K.Rowling books and Kate Atkinson is my big favorite, especially Life after Life. I love the challenge too, but I wanted to share some of my favorites, as you might like some too. Sarah Winman books, Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, Jhumpa Lahiri books, Donna Tartt books, A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen many more 🙂

  18. Laura Wilson says:

    Wonderful episode. I had been thinking about my own geographic travels through books recently, maybe because I have read some interesting books related to various parts of the world. Here are some thoughts:
    – Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue. It is about Cameroonian immigrants to NYC, but does beautifully describe the town of Lembe, Cameroon as part of the story. Great book all around (on audio)
    – An Unnecessary Woman by R Alameddine about Beirut, Lebanon
    – Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement about Mexico
    – Euphoria by Lily King about New Guinea
    – Girl at War by Sara Novic about Croatia
    Happy reading and happy travels!

  19. Rachel says:

    Anna, absolutely loved your episode! Here are some books that I enjoyed that perhaps fit your project:
    South Africa: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. It’s his memoir about growing up in apartheid South Africa as a “colored” child. Although it’s non-fiction, he’s such an engaging writer and there are so many beautiful reflections on what was his normal. The last chapter about his mother was astonishing.
    Italy: Donna Leon’s Brunetti mysteries have such a strong sense of place. They are set in Venice and every mystery is uniquely Venetian, even to the point where you used to be able to visit the same places the characters went (sadly, most of the local places have closed).
    Spain: Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones is a gorgeous, sweeping epic set in Middle Ages Barcelona. It made me want to visit Barcelona again and see the places for myself!
    Regional China: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See is a really interesting look into a minority population in China and the Pu’er tea trade that changed everything.
    Bougainville Island: Not quite its own country yet (it’s connected to Papua New Guinea and had a referendum in December where 98% voted for independence) but Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones is set there. It intertwines Charles Dickens with the brutality of an uprising and was very memorable but has a really rough ending.
    Greece: If you haven’t read Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey, I highly recommend it. She’s the first female scholar to translate it into English and it was the first time I read it and understood what was happening.
    Pakistan: The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani is set when British independence means India and Pakistan are broken up based on religion. The book is through the eyes of a child and highlighted an area of history I wasn’t aware of.
    Iran: Persepolis the graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi is so endearing and heartbreaking. The movie she made out of the novels is also really moving. I’ll never be able to hear the song “Eye of the Tiger” without thinking of her.

  20. Kathryn Barker says:

    I just listened to this episode on my way home from work. Loved it. I have a suggestion for a book set in another county by a foreign author. I really loved “The Storyteller” by Pierre Jarawan. The story is about a man who is troubled by his father’s disappearance which occurred when he was a child. The main character leaves Germany, where he has grown up, and goes on a journey to Beirut in search of his father. He has little to go on other than one photo and the stories that his father told him when he was a child. This is a beautifully written book with a compelling story. The author, Pierre Jarawan is the son of a Lebanese father and a German mother. He moved to Germany with his family at the age of three. This book was a best seller in Germany and received rave reviews in Europe. It is well worth a look.

  21. Terry says:

    My recommendation is for a book set in Puerto Rico, Daughters of the Stone by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa. It is a beautiful story of grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and granddaughters through a line of five generations. Each of these women is head strong, but also heart strong. Their stories are so beautifully written, you can tell that the author loves each of these women very much.

  22. Kari says:

    An older (published in 2003), but good book that will take you Afghanistan is Kite Runner. It was popular when it came out, so you may have read it, but thought I’d throw that out there for your read around the world.

  23. Kelly Cass says:

    Some books for your country challenge
    Afghanistan – The Dressmaker of Khair Khana
    France – The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
    A memoir for Poland – In My Hands by Irene Opdyke
    The island of St. John – Winter in Paradise by Elin Hildenbrand
    Dominican Republic – In the Time of the Butterflies
    Sierra Leone – A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
    Some YA for Germany – A night Divided by Jennifer Neilsen
    Beirut Lebanon – An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
    I hoep some of that is helpful!

  24. Martha says:

    Hi Anna,

    I loved hearing about your challenge and can’t wait for updates! A few recommendations:

    Zimbabwe (with a bit of Mozambique/Malawi/Zambia) – “Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight” by Alexandra Fuller (Memoir)

    Haiti (with a bit of Cuba and NOLA) – “Island Beneath the Sea” by Isabel Allende

    Australia – “The Lucky Gallah” by Tracey Sorensen

    Turkey – “Madonna in a Fur Coat” by Sabahattin Ali
    Best of luck and happy reading!

  25. Francisca Prieto says:

    I totally related to this episode because Americanah and Educated are both on my top recommendation list (as well as the first 3 Harry Potters).
    So I have a couple of suggestion for you:
    – Junot Díaz (dominican-emmigrated to american when he was 5 or so) This is How You lose Her or The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Pulitzer).
    – Jhumpa Lahiri (indian), The Lowland
    – since I am Portuguese, instead of going to the obvious Saramago, you should try “The Return” from Dulce Maria Cardoso.
    – Born a Crime (for South Africa – this one is mandatory) – Trevor Noah
    Hope I was helpfull.

  26. Lezel says:

    I’m a bit late to the party, but I would like to recommend The Raibow Troops by Andrea Hirata. It is by an Indonesian author and based in Indonesia. My book club just finished this and it is a lovely book about the power of friendships and the importance of education. Funny, poignant and sad at times. Highly recommended!

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