WSIRN Ep 266: Ask Anne Anything: Re-reads, reviews, and recommendation regrets

WSIRN Ep 266: Ask Anne Anything: Re-reads, reviews, and recommendation regrets

Readers, it’s the 5th anniversary of What Should I Read Next! I’ve been reflecting on how much has—and hasn’t—changed since publishing our very first episode five years ago. The basic show format is exactly the same: every week, I ask one reader to share three books they love, one book they don’t, and then I recommend three books that I think they should read next. Our guest walks away with a full TBR list, and our listeners come away with insights into their own reading lives (and book recommendations, of course). 

Over the years, we’ve sprinkled in a few special mailbag episodes, and on Patreon we host a quarterly “Ask Anne Anything” live stream. We’re overdue for another Q and A style episode on the main feed, so today I’m answering a BUNCH of listener questions. 

We gathered questions from our Patreon community, our newsletter subscribers, and on our Instagram account. Thank you for submitting such thoughtful and fun questions! We received a LOT, and I did my best to answer as many as possible. I won’t get to every single question today, but you can find answers to frequently asked questions linked in the show notes below. 

Today’s episode starts with questions about my reading life and ends with a lightning round. In between, we’re talking about kids and reading, behind the scenes at WSIRN HQ, business and my work, and what it’s like to read for a living. 

I had a lot of fun answering your questions today, readers, and I’m looking forward to what’s in store for year six of WSIRN.

Let’s get to it.

Listen now: 

Books mentioned in this episode:

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Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
• Fredrik Backman (try A Man Called Ove)
• Stieg Larsson (try The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
The Neopolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante
The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design by Roman Mars & Kurt Kohlstedt
• Wendell Berry (try Jayber Crow)
Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life by Anne Bogel
I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel
Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
The Pelican Brief by John Grisham
Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
The Grief Recovery Handbook: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses by John W. James and Russell Friedman
• Ina Garten (try Modern Comfort Food)
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Wisdom from an Obsessive Home Cook by Deb Perelman
• Vivian Howard (try This Will Make It Taste Good: A New Path to Simple Cooking)
• Curtis Sittenfeld (try Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice)
• John Truby (try The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller)
Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process by John McPhee

Also mentioned:

Anne’s favorite audiobook narrators:
• Bahni Turpin (try Children of Blood and Bone)
• Scott Brick (try This Tender Land)
• Joshilyn Jackson (try Never Have I Ever)
• JD Jackson (try The Nickel Boys)
• Julia Whelan (try The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue)
• Emily Woo Zeller (try This Is How You Lose The Time War)
• Elizabeth Acevedo (try With the Fire on High)
• Robin Miles (try The City We Became)
• Adam Verner (featured in WSIRN Ep 31 and Ep 200)
10 favorite audiobook narrators (plus 30 excellent audiobooks they narrate)

Past What Should I Read Next episodes:
Ep 89: Ask Anne Anything
Ep 124: The challenge of making your reading life your own, w/ Sarah Mackenzie of Read Aloud Revival
Ep 149: Ask Anne Anything
Ep 254: A plethora of political(ish) book recs, w/ Sarah and Beth of Pantsuit Politics

Patreon bonus episodes:
Bonus 48: Bibliotherapy for the times we find ourselves in

Questions answered in MMD blog posts:
• What are your favorite re-reads? 10 of my favorite books to read over and over again
• Do you ever think a movie is better than the book? 8 movies that are better than their books
• I read everything by Louise Penny — what now? What to read next if you love Louise Penny
• What are your favorite indies? 7 favorite independent bookstores that are doing great things
• Do you have a favorite jigsaw puzzle? 16 jigsaw puzzles to brighten up your winter days
• What are your favorite cookbooks? 10 shelf-worthy cookbooks
• How should I decide whether to buy or borrow a book? Buy or Borrow? (Here’s How I Decide)
• How can I make more time to read? 7 simple ways to read more this year
• How do you feel about star ratings? Why I changed my mind about star ratings

MMD Book Club classes:
Book School (Abandoning books, tracking your reading, assessing your reading life, conquering your TBR, how to review, & more)
Back to Book School (Reading with a literary lens, story structure, what makes characters great, literature with lasting impact, & more)

Thanks to this week’s sponsors:

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6 comments | Comment

6 comments

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  1. Kacey says:

    Hello, Anne! I absolutely love your podcast and recently read your newest book. So enjoyable! May I offer you a small observation? As a listener, your voice is beautiful. I often cannot hear you, however. Your voice tends to drop to whisper or trail off at the end of your sentences. I do turn up the volume, but then most of your guests’ voices are booming so loud. It is a constant struggle with the volume button. I appreciate your podcast so much and just don’t want to miss a thing. Thanks for listening to a bit of respectful feedback.

  2. Aimee says:

    Hi Kacey – May I recognize you for a rarity these days – respectful, kind, civil, useful feedback – way to go! Podcasts have made me realize this past year something I had not paid much attention to which is inflection and other vocal qualities. I’ve noticed that many men go to this looowwww point and I find myself leaning forward in my car while driving as though that will help me hear them better! Also, with people recording in separate studios (read: pandemic), the quality of each of their audio can differ greatly which really affects the podcast. Anyway, let’s pray 2021 is full of civility and kindness.

  3. Amy says:

    Anne, I am currently reading a book that may be the perfect combination of both public health and city planning for you. The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson. It describes the London cholera epidemic in 1854 and how city structure and lack of planning created the opportunity for the epidemic. It then discusses infrastructure changes that the epidemic prompted. Despite a lot of science and sociology, the style is overall rather narrative. Perhaps one warning is necessary: as a physician I was not bothered by descriptions of cholera symptoms or the cesspool and sewer systems of London, but some may be. I hope you check it out! I was led to this book after reading a middle grade historical novel with my kids about the same topic: The Great Trouble by Deborah Hopkinson. It also was very good, certainly more accessible than the adult nonfiction option, but doesn’t include as much of the city planning info.
    Thank you so much for all that you do! My reading life has been encouraged and inspired by your work!

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