WSIRN Ep 247: Finding the common thread in two friends’ wildly different TBRs

WSIRN Ep 247: Finding the common thread in two friends’ wildly different TBRs

Reading is my favorite introvert coping mechanism, but it’s also my favorite way to connect with other people. As a “social introvert,” I like to balance reading as a solitary act and reading in community with other bookworms. There’s a special kind of magic that happens when readers get together, and today’s episode is all about the joy of reading in relationships.

Today’s guests Emma Gorin and Dinah Fay have been friends since 9th grade—that’s over 20 years. They haven’t always kept in touch as much as they’d like to, but books have always given them an easy way to reconnect, even if their reading habits don’t exactly align. One loves poetry and one reads every rom-com she can get her hands on. One reads almost exclusively audiobooks while one reads mostly ebooks.

Emma and Dinah put in their submission to be on WSIRN with the explicit goal of connecting over a great read that they’ll both enjoy—which is a bit of a challenge because while they both love to read, their reading tastes are quite different. With two guests today we cover a lot of readerly ground, chatting about English class in the age of Covid-19, a book-gifting tradition, queer YA romances, and rich audiobook experiences. We also cover A LOT OF TITLES.

Let’s get to it!

Follow Emma on Instagram @Emma.g_sings123.


On September 1st we’re hosting a Fall Book Preview live for members of the What Should I Read Next patreon community. Parties like this are so much fun as Anne shares books she’s read and loved, ones she’s looking forward to, and some titles book world is abuzz about for the season to come. All in all we’ll preview 42 books so you can preorder some titles, place your library holds, and load up your TBR for the cooler nights to come.

Become a member today at patreon.com/whatshouldireadnext and mark your calendars for September 1st. It’s gonna be great. 

EMMA: I think we read the first book together, and then I think [LAUGHS] we didn’t read anything else together the rest of the year.

DINAH: Yeah, ‘cause I couldn’t get through the first book we picked and then … [EMMA LAUGHS] I think we gave up.

[CHEERFUL INTRO MUSIC]

ANNE: Hey readers, I’m Anne Bogel, and this is What Should I Read Next? Episode 247.

Welcome to the show that’s dedicated to answering the question that plagues every reader: What should I read next?

We don’t get bossy on this show: What we WILL do here is give you the information you need to choose your next read. Every week we’ll talk all things books and reading, and do a little literary matchmaking with one guest–or in today’s case, two guests...

But first I want to tell you about our Fall Book Preview. Readers, between the regular slate of new releases and the used-to-be-spring/summer titles whose releases were pushed back due to COVID, this fall is shaping up to be an amazing season for new books. And I’ve got an amazing opportunity for you to get in on the bookish excitement.

On September 1st I’m hosting a Fall Book Preview live for our “book lover” members of the What Should I Read Next patreon community. Parties like this are so much fun as I get to share books I've read and loved, books I can't wait to read, and some titles the book world is abuzz about for the season to come. All in all we’ll preview 42 books so you can preorder some titles, place your library holds, and load up your TBR for the cooler nights to come.

This year I’m thrilled that we’re putting something new in your hands; for the first time we're creating a Fall Book Preview magazine in conjunction with our online event. It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s PACKED with books.

Our Fall Book Preview event and magazine are exclusively for members of our Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club and our What Should I Read Next Patreon members at the Book Lover level. We’d love to have you join our podcast community as a supporting member: go to patreon.com/whatshouldireadnext and become a member today. While you’re there, explore the super-secret spreadsheet vault with ALL THE BOOKS I’ve recommended from each episode, check out our behind the scenes content, and download some of the over 60 bonus episodes waiting for you ready to listen to right now, including the new episode where I share my own mid-year book freak-out.

Become a member today at patreon.com/whatshouldireadnext and mark your calendars for September 1st. Readers, it’s gonna be great.

Around here we talk a lot around here about the balance between reading as a solitary act and reading as a bridge that connects us with other readers. Today’s guests Emma Gorin and Dinah Fay have been friends since 9th grade—that’s over 20 years. They haven’t always kept in great touch, but love that books have always given them an easy way to reconnect.

Emma and Dinah come to me today with the explicit goal of connecting over a great read that they’ll both enjoy—which for such long-term friends is a bit of a challenge because while they both love to read, their reading tastes, as you’ll hear, are quite different.

With two guests today we cover a lot—English class in the age of Covid-19, a book-gifting tradition, queer YA romances, and rich audiobook experiences. We also cover A LOT OF TITLES. Be sure to visit the show notes page to see the full list of books discussed today at whatshouldireadnextpodcast.com/247; we’ve got a transcript available there as well if that’s helpful to you.

Readers, let’s get to it.

Emma and Dinah, welcome to the show.

[00:03:25]

EMMA: Thank you so much.

DINAH: Thanks for having us.

ANNE: Oh, well it is our pleasure. Thanks for letting me crash the best friend party. [DINAH LAUGHS] Seriously, at What Should I Read Next HQ when we read your submission, we all went, aww. We love how you all have been bonding over books since the 9th grade. I’d loved to hear more about that.

EMMA: You know, we had class together. We didn’t really know each other yet. There was this girl in my science class and she was wearing this, like, pify sweatshirt about cat hair, like it was no outfit is complete without cat hair, and I was like, who is this person? I have to meet her. And then it quickly became apparent that we had a lot of the same interests including books and we found out that we both loved The Princess Bride, the book, in addition to the movie. That was one of the first books we ever bonded over.

ANNE: Now when you’re a freshman in high school, do you even remember now how that came up in conversation?

DINAH: I’m sure one of us made a super corny joke about it. [ANNE LAUGHS] But I would say there weren’t all that many people who shared all of our interests at our high school. So in retrospect, it’s unsurprising we found each other there.

ANNE: Have books been a part of your relationship from the beginning?

DINAH: Absolutely, and I think more importantly they’ve been something that has … We’ve - we’ve been friends for, what, Emma, going on 20 years now. Something like that. In a friendship that long, time’s when we were closer and time’s when we’ve drifted apart, and books I think have consistently been a bridge that we could use to start talking again when we have fallen out of touch and just snap back into the friendship we’ve always had.

EMMA: I would say that’s pretty true. I also think that like both of us, like independently from each other, we’re both such readers. Books have always been a huge part of my life. I know books have always been a part of Dinah’s life, and so it was just kinda natural that we would end up at different points in time having books be a central theme in our friendship.

[00:05:28]

ANNE: Okay. I’m not sure what to ask you exactly, but I’d loved to hear about Dinah’s birthday book mail tradition for you, Emma.

EMMA: I don’t even know when it started. It’s been going on for …

DINAH: It started when you were in Tampa.

EMMA: Did it really?! Has it been going on … I was going to say it’s been going on at least ten years. What … do you remember the first book you ever sent me?

DINAH: Absolutely not. I have no idea. [ANNE LAUGHS]

EMMA: It was … I want to say it was By Nightfall Michael Cunningham. And I had kinda gotten into a reading slump. I hadn’t really been reading that much, and you sent it to me, and I just tore through it. I couldn’t believe it. It was so beautiful. And then I guess for the next few years, you sent me every time you published a new book, you would send it to me for my birthday. And then it’s kinda diverged into your favorite book of the past year or I don’t know, you can talk about because you’re the one picking them. [LAUGHS]

DINAH: Yeah, I don’t think it’s my favorite of the past year but it’s the one that I read that I thought Emma would get something out of this. I’ve had the pleasure of being able to go back to graduate school. I got my MFA a few years ago and had an opportunity to spend a lot more of my time reading. As an English teacher, there’s, like, there’s nothing better in the world than sharing the wealth when you’ve read some really great stuff.

ANNE: Nothing greater. I like the way you put that. Now one might assume that having bonded over books, you’ve said, going on for 20 years now, you must have similar tastes, and yet Emma made it very clear that would not be accurate.

DINAH: True. If only because I went to school for poetry and read a lot of poetry and I think that the fiction and the nonfiction that I read tends toward that kinda lyrical vein, and I don’t know if Emma has the same taste as that.

EMMA: It’s strange because every so often we’ll grab onto an author or a book that we have in common. Most recently we both really got into Sally Rooney. Dinah sent me her first book, Conversations with Friends, and then we both got into that, and then we both read Normal People together and liked it. But interestingly enough, I liked Conversations with Friends better and Dinah, didn’t you like Normal People better?

[00:07:40]

DINAH: Yeah.

EMMA: But we don’t always find a common ground in our books.

ANNE: That’s interesting. Okay, well, Emma, I don’t know if you remembered how you put it so I’ll read it to you. “Emma reads via audiobook, Dinah reads via her Kindle. Emma reads a lot of romance, Dinah a lot of science fiction. We both also read literary fiction, but even there our tastes don’t generally overlap.”

EMMA: That’s pretty true.

DINAH: We have a venn diagram, but it’s a skinny little silver. It’s a super rich little silver, but if you were to put our Goodreads side by side, you would not think these are two people who read together.

ANNE: Well something we’re always saying on the show is you can have a wonderful conversation about a book even if, and maybe especially if, one of you really, really disliked it.

DINAH: Absolutely. [ANNE LAUGHS]

EMMA: I don’t even think that [LAUGHS] I don’t even think that’s the problem. I just think generally we just don’t even pick up the same books unless we try to do it intentionally which we always say we’re going to do, and then don’t do. [LAUGHS]

I remember going into 2018, we decided we were going to do the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge, and I even mapped out, like, books for the year, and I think we read the first book together, and then I think we didn’t read anything else together [LAUGHS] the rest of the year.

DINAH: Yeah ‘cause I couldn’t get through the first book we picked. [EMMA LAUGHS] And then we gave up.

ANNE: What was it? Do you remember?

[00:09:04]

DINAH: It was Furiously Happy.

EMMA: No! We picked … We switched to Fredrik Backman’s book.

DINAH: Okay, I couldn’t finish either of those. [ANNE LAUGHS]

EMMA: But I was ugly crying at that one, about the old man, the grumpy old man. I forget the name of it. You talked about it on your podcast before.

ANNE: A Man Called Ove?

EMMA: Yes, that’s the one. And I really liked it, [LAUGHS] and Dinah really didn’t. That whole project of doing the reading challenge together kinda disintegrated. We came back together after we both read Heating and Cooling separately, independently from each other. [LAUGHS] And then abandoned the idea of trying to do a reading challenge together.

ANNE: Oh, wow. So I’m nervous. More nervous than I was before because of what you said is, you want to find more books to read together, and that’s what we’re going to try to do today.

DINAH: But I know it can be done. [ANNE LAUGHS] Because I send Emma books every year and she doesn’t read all of them or if she does, [EMMA LAUGHS] then she spares me her judgments on the ones that she doesn’t like. But every year there’s at least one that I send her and she reads.

ANNE: Oh, thank you for holding out that hope to me, Dinah. Today we’re going to get into the books we love eventually. I am really interested in hearing more about this super rich, but tiny sliver on the venn diagram and hopefully recommend three titles that you may have a shot at reading and enjoying next together. I’d loved to dive into your books if y’all are ready.

EMMA: Oh, sure.

DINAH: Yeah let’s do it.

***

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***

ANNE: Okay, so y’all know how this works. You’re going to each tell me three books you love, one book you don’t, and what you’ve been reading lately, and we’ll talk about what you may enjoy reading next together. Emma, let’s hear about your books first. First — where are you in the world and what do you do?

[00:11:59]

EMMA: Where am I in the world? Right now I’m in Silver Springs, Maryland. In general I am a trained singer and teach a lot of music lessons and musical theater type classes. Right now due to COVID-19, I’m not doing very much of anything. A lot of the work opportunities have been suspended for now. I’ve been doing a lot of contract work and right now, there’s just not a lot of contracts which means I have been spending a lot of time reading every available romance novel on Libby. [LAUGHS] But we’ll get to that more later. That’s the story.

[00:12:41]

ANNE: It’s a familiar one, sadly.

EMMA: It’s strange because, you know, having kinda pursued a field that was a long shot to begin with, it didn’t really ever occur to me that it would just evaporate and what had been my industry is now just a giant void. But there’s a lot of comradery in that because I know I’m not the only one experiencing it. I have a strong tribe of other kinda artist types that are experiencing it with me. I’m not alone, and we’re all kinda excited to see what unfolds.

ANNE: Ah, we’re cheering you on and we can’t wait for you to be back doing what you’re doing. In the meantime, thank goodness for Libby.

EMMA: [LAUGHS] Exactly.

ANNE: It’s a small consolation but we’ll take it. So, Emma, how did you choose your books today?

EMMA: Due to the nature of when I was doing all this contract work, I spent a lot of time in the car and because I was teaching a lot of music lessons and music classes, I had stopped listening to music in the car, and so there came audiobooks. I had never really listened to audiobooks or books on tape until about two or three years ago. And I wanted to read more and I was spending hours a day in the car and I thought this was a perfect opportunity to do that. And so I think one day I just Googled best audiobooks [LAUGHS] and kinda went from there. And so I picked the books today based on like some of my three favorite audiobooks I’ve listened to in the past few years.

ANNE: Is that your preferred means of reading right now?

EMMA: Well, no right now I’m tending to read more on my Kindle because I’m not going as many places. So I don’t have that much time.

ANNE: Yeah.

[00:14:26]

EMMA: I’m not spending that much time in the car. But I find that I can dive into maybe meatier books on audio whereas when I’m reading on Kindle I tend to be a bit lighter type books. Like I tried reading The Dutch House and I could not, I couldn't even get into it and then as soon as I put on Tom Hanks, I was sold. [LAUGHS] So.

ANNE: What’s different? Are you able to articulate that? Is it finding your way into the story?

EMMA: It … You know, I’m picky about narrators. I guess that’s from being a trained singer. Like they have to be an engaging performer of audiobooks but if they are, then it grabs me. But I don’t know if there's a formula to what grabs me. Maybe you’ll be able to figure out the formula when I get into my books. [LAUGHS]

ANNE: Well I can’t wait to hear what you picked. Emma, tell me about the first book you loved.

EMMA: The first book I love is Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. It was one of the first audiobooks that I would sit in my car in the driveway after I’d gotten home because I just didn’t want to stop listening to it. It was so engaging. The first half of the book is from the husband’s point of view, and then the second half is the wife’s point of view, and there were two different narrators which I thought was really interesting. And the twists at the end when you hear her side of the marriage, I just remember sitting in my car in the driveway, like, my mouth open, can’t believe what’s happening. Have to go inside. I can’t get out of the car. And I just remember being so drawn into that book.

ANNE: Did you realize it was told from two different perspectives when you began reading it?

EMMA: I don’t know if I had seen it on a list or when it came out, it was one of those books that was just kinda everywhere. Everybody was reading it. Everybody was talking about it. I don’t know if it was on a list for best audiobooks or whatever, but I just … I actually had no idea what it was about when I started listening to it. But then once it became clear it was theater and stuff that kinda parallels my own personal interests, I was like oh, I’ll just give it a try.

ANNE: I was just curious because I didn’t know anything about this book when I picked it up and was flabbergasted at part two when all of a sudden you start hearing, I think, Lotto goes first. Doesn’t he, the husband, tell his story first?

[00:16:56]

EMMA: He does. I had no idea it was coming.

ANNE: Yeah, I was flabbergasted. And listeners, if you don’t know this story, what happens is you hear the husband's perspective and then at the halfway point when the wife takes over the story and starts telling you 20 years worth of events from her perspective, he didn’t know as much as he thought he knew about his relationship. It was so interesting. It’s funny what we remember about books but I’d forgotten that it was set in the theater, and I love that you connected with it on that level too. Emma, what did you choose for your second favorite?

EMMA: Daisy Jones and The Six. I had heard about it on the podcast and then when I heard it was a full cast audio, I decided to listen to it. And I just tore through it. Absolutely loved it. The cast was brilliant. Whenever anybody’s like, yeah, you know, I started reading it and I didn’t know. And I’m like you gotta listen to it on audio! It’s a full cast audio! It’s amazing. There’s stars. It’s a masterpiece. You’ll love it. And I just can’t stop talking how much [LAUGHS] I recommend it to everybody basically on audio because it was so good.

ANNE: I read that in print before it came out and this is one of the books I’m thinking about rereading because I’ve heard so many readers echo what you said, that it’s just next level on audio.

EMMA: And it does really have some stars.

ANNE: Jennifer Beals and Benjamin Bratt, isn’t it?

EMMA: Yes. The format of the book is in an interview format, and so it’s interesting that every character being interviewed as a different voice. It just makes it really come to life. It’s really colorful that way. I kept waiting for them to play the music that the band played, and then I realized that it’s not real songs so I was never going to hear them. [LAUGHS] That was my only disappointing thing. I was like when are we going to hear that song that made them famous? Oh, right, that song doesn’t exist. So it’s never going to get played.

ANNE: It’s being adapted. I think for Netflix, though I’m not 100% sure about the platform. That was my first thought. Like pity the poor soul who has to write this music.

EMMA: Right.

[00:19:00]

ANNE: Like this world changing music that now, somebody has to write it now. But I’m so curious to see how they do it.

EMMA: Yeah. It reminds me a lot of like Almost Famous, kinda things I tend to like anyway, so I really enjoyed it.

ANNE: What did you choose for your final favorite, Emma?

EMMA: I chose Queenie. I have no idea how this book even came into my life. I was trying to remember why I picked it up, and I couldn’t. I listened to it and it was unbelievable. I think when books are set in another country and/or have dialects, sometimes it’s easier for me to get into the world of the book if I can hear a narrator because I can just hear what it’s supposed to sound like. It’s also kinda like how I love when authors narrate their own memoirs because I hear how they wanted it to sound if that makes any sense.

But I loved Queenie. Queenie’s about a 25 year old girl who just is trying to figure out her place in the world. She is having a breakup. She’s trying to figure out her place at this newspaper she works at. It’s funny. It’s also heartbreaking. She deals with a lot of grief. Deals with a lot of issues of race, sexuality, and I was just blown away by it.

ANNE: I have this book on my shelf. I’ve been thinking about reading it in print, but talk me into the audiobook version.

EMMA: Well Queenie has all these girlfriends that surround her when she’s in this breakup, and they try to lift her up, and what the narrator does so well is she takes on different voices and accents for all of Queenie’s girlfriends. A lot of the people in the book are Jamaican-British, and it’s a very particular accent that she does really well. And there’s some dialects and some slang that I wouldn’t have necessarily been able to access on my own, and so I thought she did a really good job of just making the story come to life.

ANNE: Well that sounds really good to me because I totally relate to what you said about loving a book where the audiobook done by a narrator who can accurately perform the accent and the culture you’re reading about. So, Emma, that’s a nice picture of books you loved. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reed, and Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams.

Dinah, I can’t wait to hear now what you chose for your favorites. First of all, could you tell us a little bit about where you are and what your life is like there?

[00:21:42]

DINAH: Well I am coming to you live from my bedroom in Brooklyn, NY, which is the same place I have been remote teaching from the past three months. I’m an English teacher at a public high school in Brooklyn, NY, and you know, normally, that would mean I would have my beloved classroom that’s just full of bookshelves of books that I get to share with kids, but recently it means I try to make a … I don’t know. Make reading seem really fun through a tiny box that other people will watch through their own tiny boxes.

ANNE: [LAUGHS] How’s that going?

DINAH: Man, it’s really hard. [LAUGHS] It’s really hard.

ANNE: Can you tell me a little bit about that?

DINAH: It’s really difficult because things that are important to me under normal circumstances, none of the regular rules apply. And I know that because it applies to my own reading life and so it must be applying to my kids, too. I found it very difficult to concentrate on the kind of books that I usually like to read, and I could imagine being a teenager who is not particularly fond of reading in the first place and then being asked to slog through a novel when there’s just so much on all of our minds. It seems impossible. So I’ve gone in a very different direction with what I’m recommending to my kids that feels important to read which is much more current events focused.

ANNE: I can only imagine how difficult that is. I’m just seeing it from the perspective of a parent and I really admire and appreciate all the teachers that are struggling to make the best of what is not an easy situation for anyone. What grades do you teach?

DINAH: 10th grade and 12th grade currently.

ANNE: Tell me a little about what you enjoy teaching.

DINAH: The most bizarre thing is that we were just wrapping up The Handmaid’s Tale when the world fell apart. And so we were in the middle of this total nightmare dystopia, and just about to read the end part where you realize that things get better eventually. And then I didn’t see my students ever again. I really love that book and enjoy teaching it under normal circumstances, but I think will probably shelve it for a few years given the state of the world.

[00:23:45]

ANNE: I feel like we’ve been playing the “what dystopian novel am I in” game for too long, and how ironic that you were in the middle of one. Our school closed very abruptly. Was it like that as well?

DINAH: It was very abrupt, but it also happened in New York much later than in other places. So on one hand, it was abrupt and on the other hand, took a lot of organizing and lobby and coalition building to get the schools closed as quickly as they were.

ANNE: Yeah. Well, we are thinking about all the teachers and students right now.

DINAH: Hear, hear.

ANNE: I just can’t imagine what it’s like right now to have to prepare not only for a school year, but for many different ways that that school year could look. That must be really hard.

DINAH: I actually just submitted my grades this week for the current school year. So looking forward is a trip.

ANNE: I love that your students have someone who truly loves books teaching them literature. Dinah, how did you choose these books you chose for your favorites today?

DINAH: I went with books that I read in the past year or so, and ones that left me with a very strong feeling or that I think about often after reading them.

ANNE: Ooh, I like it. So tell me about book one.

DINAH: Exhalation by Ted Chiang. It’s a book of short stories. I believe it’s his most recent and they’re just fantastic. They’re so good.

ANNE: What is it about them for you?

DINAH: So he writes science fiction. I think that probably the story he’s most famous for is one that became the movie Arrival with Amy Adams, which is pretty typical of his work. It’s not science fiction that’s super thriller, plot driven, super high octane, but he just sorta drops you in these different worlds that are really fully realized and his writing is so beautiful.

[00:25:31]

ANNE: What led you to his work? Do you remember?

DINAH: I think I picked up a collection of his stories after seeing the movie Arrival and loving it. And I mean, there’s nothing better than consuming whatever piece of media it is and realizing oh, there’s much more from this person. This person who just made something great [ANNE LAUGHS] has also made all this other great stuff.

ANNE: Yeah. That is the laugh of recognition. I hear you. I’ve not read that story, but now I’m really interested. And what did you choose for your second book?

DINAH: The second book I chose was Women Talking by Miriam Toews, which I actually found in the comment section of your blog. I’m trying to remember what episode.

ANNE: I don’t know, but I’m glad you found it.

DINAH: Yeah. I think it was the episode about Canadian authors, maybe?

ANNE: She is a Canadian author. That would make sense.

DINAH: Yeah.

ANNE: We’ve had several episodes that have been focused on Canadian literature which has been wonderful.

DINAH: It was like a subcommand on a sub comment, so I’m thrilled that I found it because I think about this book absolutely all the time. It is set in a fictionalized mennonite community in Bolivia, which is like no combination of those words is anywhere near my experience and yet the story was so recognizable. The book starts in the wake of a community experiencing a series of traumas and the women in the community get together and kinda have to decide how they’re going to deal with everything that’s happening. And it’s just an incredible book.

ANNE: I read this book and I didn’t remember a bit about it being set in a Bolivia.

[00:27:02]

DINAH: Yeah, I don’t know - I don’t know if that comes up very much in the book, but I know it is based on a news clipping and that the real story happened in Bolivia.

ANNE: Yeah. I was horrified to find out that it was actually based on a true story. I didn’t know that when I picked it up. And I mean, not even from that long ago. It happened in the early 2000s. So tell me about your experience reading Women Talking.

DINAH: This book is so interesting because it comes from the perspective of the women in this community who do not know how to read or write English. And so the device that the author uses is bringing in kinda an outcast man from the community who is invited into their meetings that they have, which are otherwise only the women coming to talk about essentially like all of the women in this, many of the women in this community have been assaulted. And it turns out they’ve been assaulted by men in the community. And they have to decide are we going to stay here, or are we going to try to fix things? Or is there no future for us here? Are we going to go?

And so these layers, being in the room, watching these women trying to have this incredibly difficult conversation, seeing that the story of the man who is trying to faithfully record those conversations but his presence changes them. And I think especially something that happens over the course of a story because the women characters are organizing so much of their life around religious belief is that they start interpreting scriptures for themselves for the first time, which was so fascinating to follow along with.

ANNE: It has this subdued kind of power.

DINAH: I completely agree.

ANNE: I haven’t read anything else by Miriam Toews. Not yet. I’ve been meaning to for a long time, but have you? Are you familiar with her voice?

DINAH: I actually haven’t read anything else by her either. I think I started a book and it was the wrong book at that moment, and so I put it back down.

ANNE: Uh-huh. But she’s a prolific writer, so I hope that feels good to have many novels by a novelist you enjoyed to look forward to. Dinah, what did you choose to round out your favorites list?

[00:28:57]

DINAH: The third book on my favorites list is Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, which I know has been talked about many times on your show.

ANNE: It’s been mentioned, but no one has chosen this as a favorite before.

DINAH: Really?

ANNE: It’s all yours.

DINAH: Okay. Awesome. It’s narrated by a gay teenager in middle America who is, as in the beginning of the book, not out or only out to a few people and he has a tumblr and a crush and somebody reaching out to him who may also be like the other closeted person in his high school and his town. I’m not making it sound like a peppy, fun, teen romance, but it really is.

ANNE: The title makes it sound like a peppy, fun, teen romance.

DINAH: And I think it reads like one, which I think is why I loved it because there wasn’t such a thing as a peppy, queer teen romance when that was my main reading diet. And now there is, and I’m voraciously catching up on these experiences that I’m so overjoyed exist now.

ANNE: And what I love about an author like Becky Albertalli is she can write about these issues that really matter, that go to the core of what it means to be human, and yet it’s still so fun to read.

DINAH: I mean it’s about him wanting acceptance from his family, but it’s also just he has a crush and he has someone who is crushing on him and that is what the best teen romances are made of.

ANNE: And it sounds like that’s a genre you enjoy.

DINAH: Yeah, it’s a … I would say it’s kinda a limited genre but it’s one that I really try to keep up with because I also advise the queer straight alliance at the high school where I teach. I love being able to recommend these books and talk about these books with my students.

[00:30:41]

ANNE: That’s wonderful. They’re lucky to have you and to have an adult and a reader in their lives looking out for them in this way, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the process so much as well.

DINAH: It’s just like vicarious joy of getting to read these stories that are finally, finally in print.

ANNE: Okay, Dinah, stepping back and looking at your books, you loved Exhalation, the story collection by Ted Chiang, Women Talking by Miriam Toews, and Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Now, Emma, let’s talk about a book that wasn’t for you. What did you choose here?

EMMA: I chose The Girls by Emma Cline.

ANNE: Tell me more about that.

EMMA: I am a notorious book quitter. Either if it’s not the right time for that book or if I really have started it and it’s just, I’m not into it. I often will just let the books expire if I have got them checked out from Libby. [LAUGHS] But for whatever reason because this book was talked about and it was on kinda subject matters that I’ve historically enjoyed that time period, I love that time period. I love stuff like hippies in San Francisco appeals to me. Basically I just wish I had been alive during that time. That’s no surprise to anyone that knows me. [LAUGHS]

And so I just was like ooh, there’s a book and it’s supposed to be really shocking and everyone’s talking about it. And so I listened to it. I was doing a lot of driving at that time, so I just kept listening to it, and I finished the whole thing because I just kept waiting. I just kept waiting for that thing to happen, you know? Whatever it was that everyone was loving about it, I just was waiting for it to happen and then the book ended. So.

DINAH: I started that one too, and put it down 20 pages in. [EMMA LAUGHS]

ANNE: Well I started that one and put it down because it realized, who do I think I am? I’m not sure that I can actually read this novel because it’s a story about a cult, and I can kinda be a sensitive soul, but Dinah, I don’t know why you put it down 20 pages in. What happened for you?

[00:32:48]

DINAH: I think I had a pretty similar feeling to Emma that it didn’t feel like there was much happening, and what was happening felt familiar. If you’ve done any sort of nerdy obsessive dive into cult world, which I imagine both of us have. [EMMA LAUGHS] And then I don’t know, the figure in that book is pretty familiar, and so it didn’t feel like there was something new and exciting there.

EMMA: If you are a sensitive soul, and you want to dip your toe into very not so shocking books about cults, you could probably [LAUGHS] revisit it and it’d be okay for you. [ANNE AND EMMA LAUGH] I’ve read books on your summer reading guide that I’ve felt were a lot more shocking and books that you’ve recommended that were a lot more shocking than The Girls. That’s just my own personal feeling. [LAUGHS]

ANNE: [SIGHS] Well, thank you for making me not feel like such a scaredy cat. [EMMA LAUGHS] Dinah, what book was not right for you?

DINAH: I wanna preface my pick by saying I’m a huge George Saunders fan, both his stories and him as a human being, by all accounts he’s just an awesome guy. But Lincoln in the Bardo is not for me.

ANNE: Tell me more.

DINAH: I want to come at this from the positive as is my training. But I feel like what is so wonderful about Saunders is the voice he is able to capture so quickly and completely in his stories and he makes a whole world out of his narrators. He does that in the space of a 20 or 30 page story. I think this is his first novel, so it was very exciting when he came out with a novel, but then I read it and I didn’t get more out of the novel than I did out of his stories, which is kinda frustrating.

I tried it on paper and I couldn’t get through it, and then I listened to the audio and did get through the whole thing and at the end just thought man, like, I wish I had read another 10 stories.

ANNE: Now I’m trying to think of my favorite George Saunders story. It’s about people being quietly awful at the workplace.

DINAH: Ah I think that describes several of them. Yeah.

[00:34:49]

ANNE: That’s the problem. That’s the problem. I would recognize it on sight, but now maybe I’ll have to go pick up my collection. Maybe it really isn’t indicative that this book has been loved and hated on this show. He does interesting things. Like this has been described as experimental. I feel pretentious throwing that word around, can you tell? I mean, this is a very unusual book I think you could call it experimental. Readers have loved it. They have hated it. They’ve just not quite gotten it, and he’s got to still be writing, right? isn’t it about time for a new George Saunders?

DINAH: It feels … I feel ready.

ANNE: I think we’re ready.

DINAH: Yeah.

ANNE: Lincoln in the Bardo came out in 2017. Okay, nerd alert. There was a crossword puzzle clue that I only knew because I read this book Lincoln in the Bardo, about one of Lincoln’s sons. The answer was Ted. But yeah this came out in 2017. So I’m, you know, George Saunders, we love you. We’d loved to read some more.

DINAH: Please. We’re hungry for it.

ANNE: [LAUGHS] Okay. So those are the books you didn’t like. Now let’s talk about what you’ve been reading lately. Emma, what have you been reading?

EMMA: Basically I just go on Libby and I set my search filters to available now, and then look at —

ANNE: That’s right, any available romance novel.

EMMA: But they have to be romcoms mostly and mostly they have hand drawn covers and sometimes they kinda deviate ... I’ve in the last couple of years, I’ve read a lot of Christina Lauren. I just read two since COVID, I read both of the Bromance ones that are out.

ANNE: By Lyssa Kay Adams?

[00:36:14]

EMMA: Yes. I read one and then discovered there was another one called Undercover Bromance that was really good. And literally just yesterday I finally read Aisha At Last and it was wonderful. That’s all I did yesterday was read that.

ANNE: And how was that?

EMMA: You know, I wanted to read it last year because it was on the summer reading guide picks but it had like the longest holds ever, and I was like I don’t like to do holds that are longer than a couple of weeks because I’m going to be over it by the time they come in. And it was available yesterday and it was amazing.

It had so many layers to it, actually these romcoms I read don’t have as many layers and intricate family histories and things like that. I liked that it was about a culture I’m not really familiar with, and yet kinda a little bit felt … It felt familiar at the same time, you know?

ANNE: Well I’m so glad it was available and that you had a wonderful reading experience. Dinah, what have you been reading?

DINAH: Right now I’m halfway through The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale.

ANNE: What inspired you to pick that up?

DINAH: Well I live in Brooklyn, and the summer of 2020 and there is a very lively and vital debate happening right now about the role of police in our community and imaging a future where our communities are safe in some way shape or form. And this book is just such a powerful and succinct articulation of what the problem is, and a different way we need to imagine approaching communal safety.

ANNE: Based on the way you've describing your life and your reading life, I’m imagining that it’s pretty familiar for you to be interested in a topic and issues to need to look to books to inform your understanding on those topics. Does that ring true?

DINAH: It does ring true. Although the reverse is also true. I also will sometimes happen upon a book that will lead me to a new topic for research and learning.

ANNE: Ooh, I like that it goes both ways. All right, Emma and Dinah, now that we’ve talked about your books I’m trying to identify … how did you put it? The super rich but small sliver of common interests on the venn diagram. Have you all thought about how to put that into words? About what kind of books lie in that liminal space?

[00:38:44]

DINAH: I mean, Sally Rooney, Michael Cunningham. What are their books, yeah?

ANNE: Emma, what did you find in Sally Rooney that really made those work for you? It’s especially interesting that you preferred a different title by Sally Rooney, each one of you.

EMMA: They were very realistic. They could happen to anyone, even though they’re in Ireland, which makes it fun for me ‘cause I like books set other places and in other circumstances than my own. But anyone could have had the experiences in either of those two books. And they were like pretty easy to read, too. Like they were easy to get through.

ANNE: What do you think, Dinah?

DINAH: They really felt like they captured the internal life of a person of certain age right now. And there were some lines where I really reflected feelings that I had that I’ve never seen in print before. I remember - I can’t remember which of the books it’s from, but there’s a line about realizing at some point that the people you love may not be remarkable even though, like, they are remarkable to you because you love them but it’s possible that they’re not actually remarkable. It just rang so true ‘cause I think the people I love are the most incredible people, and it would have never occurred to me that perhaps they are just good regular people and I think it is so of a moment.

ANNE: Okay, I like the way that you both put that. When it comes to finding books that you’ll both enjoy, this seems like a silly question ‘cause you might be like, Anne, there’s like 240 but what are the big sticking points?

DINAH: Big sticking pints … Well I’m trying to think of other books that we’ve really disagreed on. The first one that comes to mind is A Man Called Ove, which to me read a little pap. I felt like I read this character many times before and it was just not interesting to me.

ANNE: I’m thinking you don’t like that sense of humor.

DINAH: Yeah, that wasn’t for me. But I know Emma loved that one.

[00:40:37]

EMMA: I did, but interestingly, to add to your collection of data, I was really upset when I read Beartown because I felt nobody had adequately trigger warned me in everything I had read, and so that’s just something to keep in mind.

ANNE: And Beartown was sensitive.

EMMA: I was like oh, it’s a book about hockey, but it’s not about hockey, you know. I was like what happened to the girl?

ANNE: Yeah.

DINAH: And then the obvious sticking point is that under normal circumstances, I do almost all of my reading on Kindle and Emma does almost all of her reading on audiobook. It may be the same books aren’t great in both formats that much of a time.

ANNE: That’s an interesting point because when Emma was describing her audiobooks, I thought, oh, wait, yeah, I’ve read that book but I want to listen to that. And I’ve read that book and want to listen to that. And I haven’t read that book but I have it in hardcover, but I want to listen to that too.

[SIGHS] So, you all have thought about this a lot. So you know a lot of things about your respective reading lives and where they do and don’t overlap. We haven’t directly addressed and I’m seeing in Emma’s books is that you’re good with the messy and the complicated, Emma, but also there’s an immediacy to the works you’ve chosen that you really enjoyed that I’m going to be looking for when we look at promising titles for you.

Oh and Dinah, choosing books for a MFA in poetry, which means you know how to use words. You can appreciate it when it’s done well and see it when it’s not. You love sci-fi, you love YA fiction, especially YA fiction with queer themes. Actually that’s not what you said. You love YA fiction with queer themes. Do you enjoy other kinds of YA fiction?

DINAH: I also read YA sci-fi, so those are my two YA genres.

ANNE: YA sci-fi. Like tell me about a favorite YA sci-fi novel.

DINAH: I mean, I enjoyed reading the Divergent series especially when my students read it now and we get to talk through the whole thing. It’s not YA, but I love to recommend Octavia Butler to my students. I would love to teach Kindred. I think it would be amazing. And I think - I think that is not easy but important and manageable.

[00:42:46]

ANNE: Kindred deals with some serious complicated issues and it feels so immediate. I mean that’s what she does so well. Emma, have you read that book?

EMMA: No. Is that one you gave me for my birthday that I never read?

DINAH: No, I think I gave you the Lilith Spur trilogy which is also incredible.

EMMA: [LAUGHS] Which I have also not read but it’s okay.

ANNE: [LAUGHS] Well I can see how right now if you’re going to Libby looking for every available romcom that now might not be the time, but when we talk about what you may enjoy reading next I’m thinking not just right now, although I’ve got an idea, but for the longer haul as well because, fingers crossed, that we will be in a better place before too long.

You are in good company when it comes to seeking out specific things in your bookstore right now because bibliotherapy is just the beginning to what we need, but it is real and finding the right book can really be a big comfort right now.

EMMA: I have aspirations [LAUGHS] towards navigating out of my comfort zone if that makes any sense. I feel like in the last few years I've really upped my volume of reading per year. And now that reading has become more of a habit whether it’s on audio or it’s on paper or on Kindle, like I now have reading into my routine. So it could be a moment to stretch me.

ANNE: Okay. I might take advantage of that.

***

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***

[00:46:43]

ANNE: I feel like there’s two ways I could go about this. And the path I’m going to take is maybe the less obvious one and recommend books that maybe you wouldn’t have considered reading together. But I’m hopeful that they won’t be a total lost for at least one of you. How does that sound? [ALL LAUGH] I’m just throwing darts at the wall here. We’ll see - we’ll see what we can make happen.

Okay. First I’m not going to bury the lead but I am thinking of a book coming out this summer by Melissa Bashardoust. I think of bookseller blurb on the jacket says “the queer YA fantasy you’ve been waiting for.” And Emma, I think this book has a lot to recommend to you too. I see a lot of similarities between the books that you really enjoy.

Bashardoust’s first book was Girls Made of Snow and Glass, it came out in 217 and I didn’t realize this at the time but that is a Snow White retelling. Her next one is new this summer and her inspiration this time was Persian and cho asturian mythology. She said that she had been wanting to write something related to Sleeping Beauty and was trying to figure out what world she wanted to set it in.

After playing around in contemporary settings, she realized that no, I think what I want to do is take the less obvious route. She read a little about Persian myth and the Shahnameh, which is a Persian epic about kings. Some real, some mythological, and so she started thinking about a Sleeping Beauty story set in ancient Persia might look like. And this is the result.

It’s called Girl, Serpent, Thorn, which if you did love Girls Made of Snow and Glass, you might have been following Bashardoust and looking forward to her new book and for a long time this was titled something else. The working title was She Was and She Was Not, which is really interesting considering her subject matter, and so over time as she wrote this, she found ways to weave Sleeping Beauty and other figures from this Persian myth into the story.

So I did feature this in the summer reading guide. If it sounds familiar, it might be because you saw it there. But the characters here are dangerous demons. A poisonous girl who’s been cursed. A kingdom under threat. And it’s all inspired by this ancient Persian story. There’s a cursed princess and she’s been living inside the family’s palace walls for 18 years, but because she’s literally poisonous to the touch because of this curse, she hasn’t touched anyone like for as long as she can remember. She has to wear gloves so she can’t touch anyone to harm them.

So what happens in this story is her twin brother is getting married and they are heirs to the kingdom so this is a huge deal. With this preparation happening, the palace guards capture a demon who this girl suspects may be able to tell her how she can break the curse and finally become free. But she thinks this demon is going to be all bad. She feels mysteriously drawn to it. And so she’s looking for excuses to get together and she starts to have an interest beyond just breaking her curse. The more answers she finds out about her family history, the more she wonders if she’s ever been told the truth at all. And so she sets off on the quest to find her freedom, which suddenly is not just about her but about the fate of her old kingdom as well.

Emma, you said that you like novels with depth that feel layered. And there are layers here, and I hope for different reasons you’ll both enjoy digging into them. I have not heard this audiobook narration, but I am hopeful because first of all, the narration for Bashardoust’s first book was fantastic. And that book sold really well. Her publisher wants the new one to do well. They clearly have audiobook fans. They care. They’re invested in having this be good and popular.

It’s also narrated by an actor Nikki Massoud, who is known for her work on Homeland, and most recently on Emergence and Love in New York. So she has not narrated an audiobook before, but she is not unfamiliar to the stage. So I am hopeful that she is going to deliver on the story. Cause It’s such a great story and I think surely they have found someone to do it justice.

That was Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa by Bashardoust. How does that sound?

[00:50:52]

DINAH: I think you’re really onto something. We have both enjoyed fairytale adaptations in the past. I know I loved the Snow Queen. I think, Emma, you loved that one too, right?

EMMA: Yes.

DINAH: It sounds incredible. I can’t wait to read it.

ANNE: I am glad to hear that. How do you feel about a thriller?

DINAH: Gosh, enthusiastically optimistic.

ANNE: [LAUGHS] What about you, Emma?

EMMA: I occasionally will read a thriller. I read The Silent Patient last year and really liked it. I don’t grab them often but I could be swayed.

ANNE: All right. Here’s why we’re going with this one. First of all, I don’t think you would have picked it up otherwise. Second of all, I think it has things and it might appeal to both of you. So we may have some overlap in a place where we usually don’t. This book is by seasoned romance novelist Alyssa Cole. It comes out this September It’s called When No One Is Watching. Emma, have you read Alyssa Cole before?

EMMA: I don’t think so.

ANNE: She is prolific. So some series you may have heard of or romance readers may have heard of by her are The Loyal League and The Reluctant Royals, which one is historical fiction set in the Civil War era. Her others are contemporary royal romances. They’re a lot of fun. Readers who read her regularly know that she writes open door romance, meaning these are pretty spicy.

Oh, I should also tell you that I have not read any of it, but she also writes some sci-fi romance. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought of reading sci-fi romance, Dinah. But this is something that interests Alyssa Cole. She has a new one coming out this September and it’s called When No One Is Watching. This is her first thriller. The publisher describes it as Rear Window meets Get Out, I totally get the Rear Window portion of that, having read it. I still haven’t psyched myself up to watch Get Out, but this will never be mistaken for romcom. So that’s not what we’re talking about here. But it does have romantic relationships elements in it that are familiar to you, Emma, and I think might be fun.

This story is set in Brooklyn and it’s a thriller. That’s the point. This isn’t a thinly veiled message, but she’s taking on the issue of gentrification and she’s doing it in a really interesting way. This story centers a 30 year old Black woman who’s Brooklyn born and raised. She’s just been through an awful breakup and come to move back home and when she gets home, she’s really disappointed to see how the neighborhood that she’s grown up in, that her mom has lived in her entire life, is changing rapidly. The old buildings are turning over to become condos. The old residents that she’s known forever, who watched her grow up, are selling out and they’re not just moving, it seems like they’re disappearing and she can’t find them again.

The book has a really immediate feel to it. The first line is, “History is wild.” Although there is an expletive in there. [EMMA LAUGHS] So in part of the book, Sydney, that’s the protagonist, is digging into her neighbor’s history. She’s always been familiar with it, but she’s learning more and more and the reason is she’s just horrified at these home tours celebrating the white tenants who lived a few decades ago in the neighborhood are being celebrated on these home tours, and their homes are being showed off that they used to live in. And she’s like um, hello, don’t you know the history around here? It’s really important. It matters. And the woman leading the tour that’s Sydney’s one and complains, start your own tour, and she’s like you know what? I’ll do that.

So as a result she starts digging into the history and she acquires a sidekick to dig into the history with her who happens to be a very attractive white guy named Theo who also doesn’t have a job right now and decides sure, I’ll help out my sexy neighbor. And he just wants to spend some time with her, but is really surprised at what he finds out. And what they find out together is that all these old Black residents beloved by the community for so long, like pillars in their neighborhood, that are selling out to condo developers and disappearing, they’re not just choosing to leave. Something really sinister is going on. Through her protagonist, Alyssa Cole is going to get to the bottom of it.

That’s When No Is Watching. It comes out this September. How does it sound to you?

[00:54:53]

DINAH: I’m a sucker for a New York story, so you got me.

ANNE: I should have just stopped at Brooklyn.

[00:54:58]

EMMA: [LAUGHS] It sounds like a good pick for both of us for different reasons.

ANNE: I have not read the audiobook. It is going to be narrated by Susan Dalian and Jay Aaseng. I do know that Alyssa Cole’s audiobooks consistently get freaking amazing reviews on audible. Consistently great. People love her in that format. And for her to step out into a new genre, I would expect no less. So I am cautiously optimistic.

EMMA: Sounds fascinating.

DINAH: Yeah, sounds good.

ANNE: Given the time, can we do a book that’s not amiable on audiobook?

EMMA: Yes.

ANNE: Okay, Emma, I like that you’re the one who answered. [EMMA LAUGHS] I was asking you. Based on what you said about both loving books that are realistic, Dinah, you said what you really loved about Sally Rooney is that she captured the internal life of a person certain age right now. If I can go to a person at a certain age and a certain place, a certain experience right now, the book I really love for you is Disoriental by Négar Djavadi. Is this one you’re familiar with?

EMMA: No.

ANNE: Okay. I actually thought this was a memoir for a long time. The voice was so authentic to me and the story. This is a book in translation, so all you reading challenge participants, this was translated from the original French by Tina Kover. It just came out as a Europa edition in the United States just in the last year or two.

This is a really interesting book. Our narrator is narrating this story from Paris but she grew up in Iran. So we have a family saga, a coming of age story. But it’s intermixed with a lot of Iranian history. In the book, our protagonist’s parents, her name is Kimia, her parents were dissidents. Her father was a journalist and he got in trouble for reporting by the Iranian government. And so her family immigrated from Iran to France when she was just ten years old, and they landed in Europe.

And her voice is so interesting. It’s almost as if she gets lost in her memories as she tells you what happened then and then she comes awake to her present and tells you where she is now, or she’ll say things like oh, you’re a reader. Don’t let me get ahead of myself. You’re probably jumping to conclusions. Hang on. Hang on. And that’s just kinda a fun voice.

So this tracks her coming of age in Europe but with her Iranian family history being ever present. And much of the narrative here is centering on her slow realization that she loves women, which is like tomboy is a concept that is just not known. It doesn’t compute in her home country, and that’s something she explores at length.

I might be wrong. It’s been a long time since I’ve interacted with 10th graders about their reading level. I don’t see this being a book that would be easily accessible to a 10th grader, but I might be wrong, and Dinah, I’m certainly interested in hearing. But I do think about your students there. The voice is so interesting and the sophisticated layering of her very personal story upon all kinds of very real political and cultural events I think could be really interesting to both of you.

And then the style. For someone who pays attention to words and word usage, Djavadi is a screenwriter and her style is very cinematic and with a combination of politics and personal history and then these almost legends about her uncles. She has stories about every uncle she calls Uncles #1, Uncle #2, Uncle #3, I think this could be a winner for both of you. What do you think?

[00:58:21]

DINAH: Sounds incredible.

EMMA: It sounds good. My hesitation was it sounds a little challenging. [LAUGHS] Sometimes I find books in translation are challenging for me. It’s just my own - my own readerly limitations.

ANNE: If that’s a concern, it’s not one I would recommend picking up when you’re already nodding off to go to sleep. I hope if you did branch out that you would find the challenge rewarding. But Emma, I have one just for you, and maybe it’ll sound interesting to you as well, Dinah, but this is squarely in Emma’s wheelhouse.

After just loving all the romcoms, including Aisha At Last, if you haven’t read Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev or the previous book Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors, I think it might be really fun for you. It is a loose retelling of a literary classic. That’s Jane Austen’s Persuasion, but our protagonist is a Bay Area Chef who is so desperate to save her family’s failing restaurant that she agrees to go on a reality TV show. And of course, you know, her first love is there and sparks fly all over again and then. I mean there’s some heavy stuff there and some family trauma, and it’s not all like cupcakes and unicorns, but there’s a lot of fun in the pages of this book. Second chance’s true love. I mean, come on.

[00:59:33]

EMMA: I like that. You don’t know this, but I really like Jane Austen retellings and books about Jane Austen lovers.

ANNE: I am happy to hear that. Okay, so of the books we talked about today, we talked about Girl, Serpent, Thorn, by Melissa Bashardoust, When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole, Disoriental by Négar Djavadi, and finally we slid in Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev. All right, Emma and Dinah, any chance of those sliding in to the little sliver of space in the venn diagram?

DINAH: I think Girl, Serpent, Thorn might be the special, special book.

EMMA: I think they all have potential to find the little sliver of the venn diagram. It’s just we have to choose which one we’re going to read first.

ANNE: Well I can’t wait to hear what you read next, and what you both think. And remember you don’t have to love it to report back and have a good conversation about books.

DINAH: We know that one very well. [LAUGHS]

ANNE: Emma and Dinah, thank you so much for talking books with me today. This has been a pleasure.

DINAH: Thank you so much, Anne.

EMMA: Thank you so much for having us.

[CHEERFUL OUTRO MUSIC]

ANNE: Hey readers, I hope you enjoyed my discussion with Emma and Dinah, and I’d love to hear what YOU think they should read next. That page is at whatshouldireadnextpodcast.com/247 and it’s where you’ll find the full list of titles we talked about today.

Readers, in addition to the podcast, each week we send a newsletter email where we share links to all things books and reading in the same format as the show. Things I love, one thing I don’t, and many of your favorite section, what I’m reading now.

Subscribe to our newsletter at whatshouldireadnextpodcast.com/newsletter to get an added dose of readerly delight.

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If you enjoy this podcast, we would love if you would share it with a friend, leave a review on Apple Podcasts, or check out my books. Don’t Overthink It is my newest release, which is oddly prescient for these times we’re in now, or my book for book lovers, I’d Rather Be Reading: the delights and dilemmas of the reading life. Pick up a copy for yourself or a friend, we hope you’ll love it, and know that I appreciate it.

Thanks to the people who make this show happen! What Should I Read Next is produced by Brenna Frederick, with sound design by Kellen Pechacek.

Readers, that’s it for this episode. Thanks so much for listening.

And as Rainer Maria Rilke said, “ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.” Happy reading, everyone.

Books mentioned in this episode:

Some links are affiliate links. More details here.

• The Princess Bride by William Goldman
• By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham
• Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
• Normal People by Sally Rooney
• A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
• Heating and Cooling: 52 Micro Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reed
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
• The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Exhalation by Ted Chiang
Women Talking by Miriam Toews
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
The Girls by Emma Cline
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
• Author Christina Lauren
• The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
• Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams
• Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
• The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale
• Divergent by Veronica Roth
• Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
• The Lilith’s Brood trilogy by Octavia E. Butler
• Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
• Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
• The Loyal League series by Alyssa Cole
• The Reluctant Royals series by Alyssa Cole
• When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
• Disoriental by Négar Djavadi
• Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev
• Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev

Also mentioned: 
• Modern Mrs Darcy 2020 Reading Challenge
• Libby

Thanks to this week’s sponsors:

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What do YOU think Emma and Dinah should read next?
Let us know in the comments!

14 comments | Comment

14 comments

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  1. Elizabeth Barnhill says:

    I enjoyed this episode! The book I thought of was The Comeback that was just recently released. It is Daisy Jones and the six meets the me too movement. Highly entertaining and very timely.

  2. Rebecca says:

    I think you’d also love Sofia Khan is Not Obliged – it reminded me of Ayesha at Last, and I adored both of these novels. The book takes place in London and has heart, warmth and romance with an eye towards issues of race in the UK. There are definitely nods to Jane Austen but it’s totally contemporary. Some of why you liked Queenie also shows up in Sofia Khan. Bonus is there is a sequel – which I haven’t read yet but a pleasure to look forward to!

  3. Marie says:

    For Emma – since she said she is interested in “hippies” (just didn’t like The Girls), I would highly recommend Home Baked by Alia Volz – it’s her memoir about growing up with parents who ran a highly lucrative/illegal pot brownie business in San Francisco in the 1970s/80s. I listened to it on audio -it’s read by the author, and found it at turns to be funny, crazy, warm and touching. Plus, a real roller coaster of San Francisco history including the gay rights movement and the onset of AIDS (when the pot brownies became palliative).

  4. Paula Deen says:

    You really are an intelligent person, your wordings kept me reading your whole post, I am trying my level best, one day i will become a blogger like you… Cheers!

  5. Patricia says:

    Miriam Toews! Try “All My Puny Sorrows” – she has a talent for injecting subtle humor into VERY intense situations.

  6. Meghan says:

    I haven’t even finished listening to the episode but Dinah if you like YA sci-fi I highly recommend Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. The Illuminae Files and The Aurora Cycle by these two authors are absolutely fantastic!

  7. Listened to this episode on my way to work last week and was completely intrigued by the description of the Audio version of Daisy Jones and the Six. When I got to work, before I left my car, I had downloaded the audio and could not wait to start
    it. It was awesome. This was the first full cast audio I have experienced and it made the book come alive. I may have driven the long way or washed a few extra dishes just so I could continue listening. This is not a book that I could relate to en even a small way, but loved it. Thank you for the recommendation- it was a winner!!

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