WSIRN Ep 301: Ask Anne Anything

WSIRN Ep 301: Ask Anne Anything

Readers, I hope you tuned in for our incredibly fun to create 300th episode (and if you haven’t yet, I hope you will!) As we continue to celebrate the many bookish conversations I’ve held over the years, our 301st episode brings more of your voices to the stage as I’m joined by my teammate Leigh Kramer in answering your questions!

This isn’t our first Ask Anne Anything episode—you can revisit some previous editions listed below, and we’ve also had periodic Ask Us Anything sessions with our Patreon community.

I always love hearing what you’re curious about, so answering your questions was a delight! We hope you enjoy our answers, and that they give you a little more insight into the world of WSIRN. Thank you so much to everyone who sent in a question!

Make sure you don’t miss out on the final stage of our 300th episode celebration. We’ll be hosting a special LIVE event for our Patreon community with interviews and conversations with three of WSIRN’s most recommended authors, and we’d love to have you join us. Learn more at our Patreon site.

You can listen to What Should I Read Next? on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred podcast app—or scroll down to press play and listen right in your web browser.

What Should I Read Next #301: Ask Anne Anything

LEIGH: Alright. We got a spicy question coming up. [LAUGHS]

ANNE: Ooh, I like spicy questions.

LEIGH: I'm excited.


ANNE: Hey readers. I’m Anne Bogel, and this is What Should I Read Next? Episode 301.

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.

Except for this week, when we’re sharing a special celebration edition of Ask Us Anything. We’re featuring your requests and questions today, and I’m sharing answers alongside our editor, social media manager, and returning What Should I Read Next guest, Leigh Kramer.

Today’s episode is part two of our three-part, 300th episode celebration! The final chapter in this particular trilogy takes place on October 7th on Patreon. This special LIVE event will include interviews and conversation with three of our most recommended and most read What Should I Read Next authors. If you’re not a member of our patreon community, we’d love to have you join us and tune in on October 7th. Learn more at

In our 300th episode we took a look back at where What Should I Read Next began, and I had the joy of sharing some of our team’s voices and contributions with all of you! But we know that the heart of this podcast community is you, our listeners, and we thought it would be fun to spend our 301st episode answering your bookish questions.

We’ve had fun with these mailbag episodes before here on the show. (We’ve also held periodic Ask Us Anything sessions over in our Patreon community.) It’s so much fun to hear what you’re curious about and I’m really looking forward to diving into your questions today. We hope you enjoy our answers, and that they give you a little more insight into the world of What Should I Read Next (and also into my sometimes strange reading habits). Thank you so much to everyone who sent in a question!

Let’s get to it.

Leigh, welcome back to the show.


LEIGH: I'm excited to be here.

ANNE: Well, I am really excited to talk books with you and behind-the-scenes which is something we do all the time, just usually on Voxer and not on What Should I Read Next.


ANNE: But I'm really excited to dig into the mailbag with you today. We have some great questions from our listeners and I'm always surprised what people want to know, but I'm excited to get to it, give them some answers.

LEIGH: It's going to be great. So let's get started with two questions from two different people.

ANNE: Ooh, a twofer.

LEIGH: So Heather asked how do you keep track of books to recommend? It seems like you have them all stored right at the top of your brain. And then related to that Barbara asked, how do you manage to remember the details of the books after you've read them? Do you take notes as you read? And if so, does this break into your reading momentum?


ANNE: Oh, those are good questions. First, I wish I had them all stored right at the top of my brain. [LEIGH LAUGHS] That would be so amazing. Every week before I sit down to talk books with a guest, the almost last thing I do before I say hello, before we hit record, is scan my list of recent reads, and then I go walk through my library and I look at all my bookshelves. I just want to remind my brain that these books exist because I'm definitely an out of sight, out of mind person. I need to see things in order for them to be real, and I don't record in my library room. I record in my office, where there's a ton of books, but they're behind me and always just out of sight when there's a title I desperately want to see. But often, especially if I just have no idea what direction our conversation is going to go with a guest, also scroll through the years of books that I've read, and it's not that I only recommend books that I have personally recorded in my reading journal and am intimately familiar with, but when you're talking about books on the fly that is so much easier to have that intimate, personal experience to draw from.

And for remembering the details, I happen to be very good at naturally, you know, shoe size, eye color, that kind of thing, very good naturally at remembering the way a book made me feel and remembering the heart of the story. Now characters, the specific years, the specific location, you may notice that often I'll describe books and not use character names and it's because I can't remember, [LEIGH LAUGHS] but I can remember exactly how they felt when their dog died, or their mom left, or they had that horrible fight with their partner.

I do take notes as I read, but not always. I mean sometimes I, like many of you, just want to sink into a good book and not feel like it's work or homework or something that I'm required to do, but something that I want to do because I love it and it's leisure, but on my Kindle, I highlight freely, and not just sentences I want to remember, but also things like the character names, so when I pull up my highlights later I can see like oh, Donna is Shirley's sister-in-law, and they got married in 1982, like I may highlight that specific stuff in the text.

And then when I'm reading in print, I do take notes, but I take them very differently. I dog ear freely. I know so many of you are cringing right now. [LEIGH LAUGHS] I underline and depending on what kind of story it is and what purpose I'm reading it for, I'll often make notes in the front of the book that track with the page number or I'll draw a little family tree or something like that.

I love reading on my Kindle now that I've learned how to highlight it and being able to scan my highlighted exports gives him a really nice snapshot of my reading experience and I value that. But I love reading in print, like a paperback or a hardcover because I can see very clearly where things happened on the page and about where they were in the book. So both are useful, but in different ways, but I don't find it breaks my reading momentum. I don't know if it's because I've been doing it for long enough that it just comes naturally, but I never want my annotation to get in the way of my reading experience. That's my goal.


LEIGH: Is the annotations something that you did, you know, before the blog and the podcast?

ANNE: I was always a big highlighter, like back in school, you know, like even in middle school I liked to mark up my books if that was allowed, but you know, I don't know if I did that like in my 20s. Probably 'cause I read so much from the library, and now I read a lot of books that are not from the library, and I just had to have this deal with myself. [LAUGHS] You are reading this for a purpose and it is okay to mark it up even if you do end up passing it on to a friend, or you do end up putting it in a little free library, like it's okay to use your book the way you want to, even if that means highlighting it. I mean, I love books, and I ... You know I have a ton of respect for literature, and yet a book is a tool, and when you're reading it, like if that's what it takes to get the most out of a story and to get what you need from the book, then you can mark that thing to pieces. It is fine.

LEIGH: Absolutely. And it's ...

ANNE: If it's yours. Don't do it to library books. You know I don't mean that, friends.

LEIGH: Well yeah. Don’t do it to library books. [LAUGHS] But it is neat when you, like at a used bookstore buying a book and seeing someone's notes or their highlights or underlines and kinda seeing what stood out to them, and also especially interesting if their note is something that you completely disagree with. If you just want to yell at them. [LAUGHS]

ANNE: I do love that. In our first house, we'd been there for years at this point. I think we're remodeling, and we found a box of books in the attic and it was so cool because whoever marked up those books. Well I know who it was. It was the owner of the house, and I knew that because we knew her name, of course, but her polio vaccination certificate, she'd used it as a bookmark in Wuthering Heights ...

LEIGH: Oh wow.

ANNE: And that was just so fun. She really liked to underline. You're getting a record of someone's solitary reading experience when you can see their notes. Now I'm not sure if I want to give little free library patrons a record of my reading experience, but I do it anyway. Oh well. If you're in Louisville, maybe you've gotten one of these oddities.


LEIGH: [LAUGHS] Alright, we've got a spicy question coming on. [LAUGHS]

ANNE: Ooh, I like spicy questions.

LEIGH: I'm excited about this one. Does What Should I Read Next get compensated to promote certain books? This is from Sandy on Patreon.

ANNE: No, we do not. Although do you ever stop to think like how much we could rake it in, Leigh?

LEIGH: Oh, yeah. [LAUGHS]

ANNE: I mean honestly. There is one exception. So every once in a while you will hear a podcast ad when a publisher is blanketing the landscape with marketing dollars for a new book, but these are so few and far between. I wish they'd send us more. Hey like, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, send us more, please. But it will be very clear that is an ad, but the books we discuss on the show, the books that I recommend, no, never ever. Not ever.

LEIGH: Next we have a question from Kristen and she asked do you know in advance the three books your guest loves, and the one they don't? Are the books you recommend determined before you record your interview?

ANNE: The answer here is yes and no. Everyone submits to be on the show. That's ... I'm referring to the form at Every guest puts three books they love and one book they don't. They don't always stick to it, so to the second half of Kristen's question, which is are the books you recommend determined before you record your interview? Uh, that would be so great. That would be so great. [LEIGH LAUGHS]

Um, I get nervous before every episode thinking like, I don't know where this is going to go and I'm always terrified that I'm going to sit down to record on a Tuesday morning and it's going to be the one day — it hasn't happened in 300 episodes — but this will be the one day, the first time where I'm just like I have absolutely no idea what you should read. I just ... I don't know. [LEIGH LAUGHS] And if I knew beforehand that wouldn't be an issue, but I don't know beforehand and that is the fun of it and also the [LAUGHS] pain. But hopefully only for me and never for you, dear listeners.


LEIGH: I think that's kinda why the show is so much fun to listen to because you can be spontaneous and I feel like a lot of the best things in life have both excitement and terror attached to them, so.

ANNE: [LAUGHS] Well then we're doing it right.

LEIGH: [LAUGHS] Okay, this is a really interesting question from Emily. Have you ever had a guest who made an offensive request such as specifically wanting to avoid any books with LGBTQ+ representation, and if so, how did you handle it?

ANNE: Ooh. Spicy question. The short answer is not that I can think of, and I think the reason for that, because certainly we see a lot in our submissions, we get far more submissions from readers who would like to be on the show than we could ever possibly accommodate. Like I got five in my inbox this morning. So if a submission makes us feel like we're not going to be able to create an episode that is fun and useful and that lets us do our thing, then we're going to invite somebody else to be on the show, and here's what I mean by that.

We're trying to help people find books that they will really love reading, and that will teach them something about themselves and their reading life. We want to help them figure out who they are as a reader. What we are not wanting to do is recommend books according to a checklist. That doesn't leave any room for the discovery process, and I think that is where so much of the joy in the reading life and the show is, and I feel like everyone would be best served by having someone one who's exploring, because it's an exploratory show. And by approaching the show with that philosophy, we often naturally filter out people who are like I absolutely do not want to read a certain genre, a certain kind of representation, a certain, you know, certain kind of whatever.

I will say that we have had guests on who have brought some preconceived notions that have not maybe sounded welcoming and kind to certain genres, authors, etc., and when that happens, I feel like my job is to gently open the door to see things in a different way. Like we talked about the discovery process and like opening your eyes to possibilities and that is how I try to guide that conversation when that kind of thing does happen. Alright. Next, Leigh, we have a question for you from Julie. This may be more fun and complicated than Julie realizes, but the question is has your reading life changed since working at Modern Mrs Darcy and What Should I Read Next?

LEIGH: That is a complicated question. People may not realize that you and I have been friends for a long time. I mean, the blog had already started, that's how - how we found each other. We were internet friends for a while, and so we've always talked about books and traded book recommendations. That hasn't changed. I guess I am more mindful of stuff that might work well for the podcast or things that you would maybe enjoy reading with a mind of what could end up on the blog or the podcast. I feel like I'm a pretty open reader and I am willing to try a lot of different things and so that hasn't really, that hasn't changed.


ANNE: Which is why you're so well suited for the work you do.

LEIGH: Thank you. [LAUGHS] Okay, now we're back to you. So Casey wants to know what was the process of making your reading journal like?

ANNE: That's right. My new book is a book journal. It's called My Reading Life and it's out September 21st, so now it is on bookstore shelves and all the places on the internet, wherever you want to get it. It was a lot of fun because I was making a book journal for people to track their reading lives, but also, I was making a book journal with the hopes that people could use it as a delightful tool, that they would love to pick up and open, that would enhance their reading lives and make them think like I'm so ... This is the best money I've spent all year. This is doing such great things. I'm so glad I have this as a resource, so like no pressure, or anything, but also it made my head hurt so much, you all. [LEIGH LAUGHS]

So you will open this reading journal. Here I have mine right here. I'm opening it just straight down the middle, and it looks sooo ... I like to think attractive and elegant and straightforward, but I just did not realize when I signed on to this project several years ago how difficult it would be to get to this like simple, straightforward, ready-to-use spot because there's just so many, there's so many different things you could present a reader with to track, and too many aren't helpful. Too few aren't helpful. It has to be just right, and then there's so many. I mean, you create so many embedded assumptions for readers when you show them what they could write down, and I was overly mindful I think of that, and then of course, I brought my own strong feelings to the process, like you know that I have complicated feelings about star ratings.

LEIGH: Yes. You do. [LAUGHS]

ANNE: And so like just that little way of tracking them, 'cause I knew readers would want that, and I knew it would be valuable, and yet I'm cautious about the language used around star ratings and what it means exactly, and if you pick it up, you'll see how we'll handled it. There are three different factors that you rate by in the journal and just little things like that. There's so many individual factors that all took so much thought. It was hard, but I shouldn't have been surprised because I am forever quoting Wallace Stegner's fictional character, Larry Morgan who says hard writing makes for easy reading and I should've known [LEIGH LAUGHS] that like anything good that seems simple and as it should be, like a whole lot of work went into that, and yet somehow I thought it'd be easy to be like oh, sure, I know exactly how readers should check their reading. Let me show you. [LEIGH LAUGHS] No, it was, it was ... That is not how it went.


LEIGH: But you feel good about how it came out in the end.

ANNE: Yes, and I'm so, I'm so excited that you all can go get this now, and I really tried to be judicious about not talking about it all the time when I was working on it, so I didn't wear you out, but it's here now and I'm pumped. I just want to see photographs of people using their journal. I cannot wait for that.

LEIGH: Yes, and please either tag Anne on Instagram @annebogel or you can tag @whatshouldireadnext 'cause we definitely want to see all of those.


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ANNE: Okay, now we got another spicy question.

LEIGH: [LAUGHS] I am really curious what you're going to say about this one. So Julia wants to know what do you think is the biggest mistake you've made with the show over the years?

ANNE: I remember having this moment very early on, not as early on as I would have liked to, that's probably important, and I wish I could remember what the exact circumstance was, but I remember talking to Will and being like this is what I want to do, like this is what I want to do that is different from what we're doing now, but I don't think I can do that, and he's like [LAUGHS] who do you think is going to tell you yes? Like it's your podcast. You do what you want.

Leigh, you're the enneagram queen, you know, I'm a nine. [LEIGH LAUGHS] Just a firstborn daughter who will do whatever you tell her to do you know diligently and with a smile [LEIGH LAUGHS] and to a T and I just realized I was waiting for some kind of permission to make decisions on my own show from authorities that didn't exist, I - I don't know.

Okay, this one is from you from Lindsay on Patreon. She says Leigh, I'd love to know more about your career path. What did you do prior to this job?

LEIGH: I was a medical social worker. I worked for hospice for several years, and then I also worked at a children's hospital in pediatric oncology and hematology, and there was a lot about being a social worker that I loved, but as you may imagine, it is very easy to get burned out. I will say it was more because of the bureaucracy of the systems that I was working in than the actual work with patients, so I took a break and I was a nanny for a few years, and then I decided I did not want to keep my license instated, so I transitioned into admin and turns out having skills in writing case notes for my patients actually same kind of skills you need in being admin and it's kinda grown from there.

ANNE: I mean, you know I want what's best for you in your personal and professional life, and I'm not sad that your path has led you to this place.

LEIGH: Right. [BOTH LAUGH] This is kinda a good segue. Stephanie says I've come to the conclusion that I want to work with books for my career in some capacity. How can someone who is in her 40s change to working with books when they have no experience other than having been reading their entire life?


ANNE: Well I mean that's not a bad start, Stephanie, let's just start there. Do I need to give a disclaimer, Leigh? Like I am not a career counselor in any way, shape, or form, but I do know some things and I hear some stories, especially from you all the listeners. First of all, let me start with a story from books. This is going to be a very bad paraphrase based on a very shaky [LAUGHS] memory of a career planning book I read back in college that used to be everywhere. I haven't seen it around in years. It's called What Color is Your Parachute? The basic advice given in this book is think about two things when you're looking for a job.

First, there is your skillset, like Leigh you were just saying that you have these admin skills, right. We could go into all kinds of glowing detail about what you do, but we're going to keep it simple for our purposes here, so you have these admin skills. Take these skills and then you move over to the second part of the What Color is Your Parachute equation which is the field in which you're going to put them to work. Like 'cause you happen to be working in the field of media, specifically on a books and reading, you know, podcast, blog, all the Modern Mrs Darcy/What Should I Read Next things, but you could also put those same skills to work in the field of insurance, or hardware, or theater, so the idea is you have your skills, and then you have the arena in which you work, so Stephanie, I don't know what skills you have, but you're eyeing part two of the equation, which is something to do with books and reading.

Now I've heard anecdotal stories from so many, like dozens of podcast listeners who say how the show has changed their life because they've struck up conversations with fellow readers and business owners, or they've reached out to their local bookstore when they found out that they were opening or expanding. They've gotten themselves a job in the field of books and reading because they were able to demonstrate like hey, I know my stuff, and I've never worked in this field before, but like I'm ready 'cause I've been reading and I've been thinking about it and I bet we could connect and do something together, so those have been really fun stories to hear. But Stephanie, I love the question, and I wish you well. Also I do want to say to so many listeners, you can love books and not make it your job, like there is no better than, worse than, it is definitely different. We are equal opportunity book lovers around here.

LEIGH: I have two practical tips for Stephanie. So with the holidays coming up, I think a lot of bookstores will probably be hiring temporary help, so that might be an option of trying out bookselling because it is ... Working in retail is a very different experience. I actually had worked at a bookstore before and I loved a lot about it. You know, you don't get to sit around and read books when you're selling them [LAUGHS] but you do, there are options or opportunities to talk about books and to recommend books, but you may also wind up recommending books or selling books that you completely disagree with, and you know that is a part of working at a bookstore, but it's an opportunity to at least get more experience or just to see what that kinda space is like. Also consider volunteering at your library. There's ways of testing the waters and then seeing what experience you may want to gain from there, or you know, maybe you'll decide you’d just rather be a reader.


ANNE: Those are excellent tips. That's really good advice, Leigh.

LEIGH: So Julie from Patreon said I love the author's notes sections of physical books, but I listen to a lot of audiobooks and those notes do not seem to be included in most of those. Am I simply missing them? Is there anywhere I can go for the author's note besides buying or borrowing the physical copy?

ANNE: Oh, Julie. The bad news is yeah, those notes are rarely included in the audiobook. The acknowledgments too, and you all know that I love the acknowledgment sections. For those of you who don't know, the author's note is the story behind the story. It's the place where the author will often share what first caused them to become interested in that specific story, how they researched it, and also this is lots of fun for lots of readers, what is historically accurate and what is a product of the author's imagination. I'm talking about this like they're all historical fiction and they're not, but the overwhelming majority of historical novels do have author's notes for those reasons and I would hate for you to miss out.

Short of buying or borrowing the book, my advice would be to look on the author's blog because so often the story behind the story, the way they did their research, what was real and what was not, those things will be included on any kind of blog post the author's writing about the process, or when the book comes out with the exception of spoilers. You'll get spoilers in the author's notes, so before you get all excited and think oh I want to ... Anne was talking about author's notes, I want a taste of these and pull a book off your bookshelf and flip to the back and read the author's notes, know that often an author will say this is the exact thing I changed in the ending that is different from real life. Some authors will even warn you up front like hey, I appreciate you being here. Go read the book first because I'm about to give a whole lot of stuff away that you might rather find out as the narrative unfolds.

LEIGH: You did a patreon bonus along these lines didn't you?

ANNE: You're right I did do a patreon bonus episode about author's notes, what they are, what you can expect, and then I think I shared four or five historical novels with excellent author’s notes what those books were and what the author's notes went into. That was fun, and we just did that in maybe August.


LEIGH: Okay. Moving on. From Instagram we have a few questions. This is from @PamZolof, what book have you bought numerous times because you keep lending it out and it doesn't come back?

ANNE: Ooh, that's a fun question, Pam. It used to be Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman, the Confessions of a Common Reader essay collection. It got to the point where whenever I would buy that book or whenever I would stumble upon that book anywhere, like for a used bookstore for two bucks, I'd be like that's coming home with me. [BOTH LAUGH] I don't know who it's going home with, but today it's coming home with me. Yeah, it's been a long time since I've lent that out though. In fact I think I have several copies right now because I bought more than I need.

But I feel like just recently I've lent out The Chemistry of Calm a lot. This is a book that I had never heard of before Kristin was on our podcast way back in episode 93. It's called “Books to Help You Manage Anxiety,” and it was one of those, and a book brunch that will have you drooling. Oh, I forgot that we talked about the book brunch in that episode. That's so fun and now I want to go back and relisten to it immediately. [LEIGH LAUGHS] She shared a handful of books that had really equipped her to manage her own anxiety better and I bought all the books she recommended after that podcast because I was curious and hadn't heard of them. I blogged about it at some point, and so people I knew in my real life said hey, do you own those? Can I borrow them? And I've lent out a lot of copies of that book at this point.

LEIGH: Next we have another Instagram comment. This is from @JayReavisans how do you organize your goodreads TBR? Do you make shelves for genres, shelves for seasons for mood reading?

ANNE: Okay, there's a very interesting embedded assumption here that is completely false, and that is that I maintain my Goodreads TBR, let alone manage it. No, I don't make any shelves for anything. I mean, I do - I do these things, but I don't do them in goodreads.

LEIGH: There's so many different ways to use Goodreads or any kind of, you know, online book maintenance site. I have a lot of shelves for genres that I've read, but not for my TBR. That's just kinda ... There's too many books on there. But related to this one [LAUGHS] I'm really excited for some spiciness.


ANNE: Ooh, is it a spicy question?

LEIGH: This person is putting you on the spot and it's great. So Suzanna Kate says why are so many books that are listed in your Summer Reading Guide as totally I've read every word, still showing in your Goodreads account as currently reading? [BOTH LAUGH] I looked this up the other day. I can tell you exactly how many.

ANNE: Oh, really? So how many books am I currently reading? 'Cause I'm going to say like a 100, over under maybe twenty.

LEIGH: You have 85 as currently reading.

ANNE: [LAUGHS] Okay, I am not currently reading 85 books. I can tell you that and I'm trying to think the last time I even added one to my currently reading shelf 'cause I know it's ridiculous. That might be auto set on Kindle where I have to toggle it off or it'll automatically show what I'm reading.

LEIGH: Oh, yeah.

ANNE: But uh, yeah, Suzanna Kate, that is the answer. It's because my Goodreads does not [LAUGHS] remotely accurately reflect actually what is happening in my reading life, and part of that is priorities, like it's not important to me that it be accurate, but part of that is if I'm reading something I really like it, then the next thing I'm going to be doing is like rubbing my hands together looking for the right reader to recommend it too, or saying how much I loved it in a quick lit post on Modern Mrs Darcy, so I don't want to give it all away in advanced, but then I never catch it up. Clearly, I never catch it up. [LEIGH LAUGHS]

Actually I talk more about Goodreads and how I use it back in episode 242, it's called "Sharing Good Reads With Good Friends," and we have two VPs from Goodreads Danny and Suzanne on that episode. That was well over a year ago and back then you can hear me confess how many currently reading titles I had at the time and why I don't necessarily update that real time. Plus, they have lots of advice for using the platform if that floats your boat.

LEIGH: Next we have another Patreon question from Anne. Fellow Anne with an E, actually.

ANNE: Oh, I was just going to ask! Hi Anne with an E!


LEIGH: [LAUGHS] Of the books you have read recently what is a surprise favorite book, genre, or topics you weren't sure about that you ended up loving and how did it end up on your TBR list in the first place?

ANNE: Ooh. That's a good question. My first impulse is Crow Lake by Mary Lawson, but you heard Will talk about that on our fairly recent teen reads episode and I know I already shared that in quick lit, and then I read her newer book A Town Called Solace which I loved, and those ended up on my TBR because of my husband thought he hasn't read A Town Called Solace yet. In fact, he finished a book last night and he's going to be looking for something today, and I think I'm going to make a push for that one because I think he's going to really like it. But you all already knew about that so I feel like that doesn't really count. I mean, I did love the laundry book, Laundry Love by Patric Richardson way more than I ever dreamed, but just recently I was in a funk.

I have all these fall reads that I am excited to read in theory coming out. They're all so long though. [BOTH LAUGH] I have so many 500 page books that I just am feeling resistant to picking up by authors that I'm really excited to read in theory but just when I was looking for a new book to read I just didn't care, but my 11 year old is plowing through some great books recently and he just finished one of the Vanderbeekers books and he's like I think you should read this 'cause it's really good and I think you're going to like it, and I said you know, that's a middle grade, was not what I was looking for at this moment of time, but why not? I mean, I read it in a couple hours and it was delightful, and it was charming.

LEIGH: Anya wants to know how you choose between buying physical books, ebooks and audiobooks.

ANNE: Whatever is easy and available, honestly. Much of my reading is predetermined. Choice factor is removed just because of the format it is available to me. For example, like I was just talking about the books that I want to read, but I'm not reading that are coming out this fall. Several of those I only have as e-galleys, so if I'm going to read them, I'm going to be reading them on my Kindle. Some books I have, like right now I'm finishing the new Liane Moriarty. I only have that as an audiobook, so I'm listening to it as an audiobook, but you know even if I had it for Kindle I know that I love listening to Australian authors on audiobook because I do not have an Australian accent and it is novel [LEIGH LAUGHS] and fun and just it's something different in my ears. Sense of place, all that.

Between buying physical books, ebooks, and audiobooks. Sometimes it just depends on the kind of staying power I think a book might have in my life. Maybe that's not a fair way to put it exactly, but here's a specific example I was thinking of, like I did read the new Mary Lawson. I did love it, but I wanted to read it on vacation and I counted on being able to buy it at the bookstore at the beach and they didn't have it because it was longlisted for The Booker, so all of a sudden it wasn't available anywhere and I didn't want to buy the ebook because I didn't want to own the ebook. I wanted to have the reading experience, and I wanted the hardcover 'cause I wanted it to go on my shelf and I knew which books it would play nicely with, even though I was going to shelf it alphabetically, so that doesn't even make sense. [LEIGH LAUGHS]

I suspected I would want the physical copy because if I really love a book, I want to have ... I almost said the hardcover. I don't care about that necessarily. I want to have the paper book. So I ended up borrowing it from the library 'cause I didn't want to purchase the ebook. Now if all I want is the reading experience and it's not one I necessarily think I’m going to return to over and over, the ebook is just fine. And sometimes I'll get the audiobook also if I do think a book would be particularly excellent on audio, so basically usually luckily it's chosen for me because I don't have a lot of clear parameters, but a book I expect to revisit is a book that I'm going to want in my library where I can see it with my eyeballs.

Alright, next we have a question from our patron Brigid. Hi Brigid. She would love to hear some specific romance titles that you and I both read and enjoyed. Basically she's asking for the center of a Venn Diagram of our favorite romance books. Okay. So Leigh, you just recommended one to me that I really enjoyed. That would be my place to start. Perfect On Paper by Sofie Gonzales. I hardly ever read YA romance.


LEIGH: Yeah, Perfect On Paper was such a good book. I love it so much. A Venn Diagram of our favorites?

ANNE: That's a really skinny slice.

LEIGH: Yeah. I mean part of it is because I'm a big romance reader, so I just read way more of the genre than you do, and I also read just about every subgenre of romance and I think you are more contemporary and like a little bit of historical. I don't think you've read any paranormal.

ANNE: Not on purpose.



ANNE: No, I kid, I kid. That's exactly the kind of thing that if I were the guest or if a guest had said that, I would be like well let's re-examine how good, and you know, what it takes and what it means and why you might benefit.

LEIGH: I feel like I recommended a lot of the romance to that ends up on the blog or the podcast which is kinda fun, so like Lucy Parker's series, Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series, Kate Clayborn's books.

ANNE: [GASPS] Oh, she's right at the center of our Venn Diagram. I mean, I like all the ones you recommended, but I love Kate Clayborn, and I can't wait for her to come out with a new book.

LEIGH: Oh my gosh, yes, I am super excited about that one. Yeah, I think that I tend to read more broadly in romance, and I would say that I prefer angstier romances and you kinda stick more to the light and upbeat stuff, which I will read but it's not bread and butter.

ANNE: That being said, Kate Clayborn always makes me cry.

LEIGH: I feel like her books are a good balance of like she makes you laugh, and she makes you cry.

ANNE: Mmhmm.

LEIGH: Although I think the last couple of hers, like I actually like sobbed, so.

ANNE: You may not know it, but that actually leads right into the next question.

LEIGH: Okay, so for the romance genre, do you have a favorite trope such as friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, fake relationship? Oh, that is from @Momma.Wife.Cassie on Instagram.

ANNE: I feel like this year I read a whole lot of fake relationship books. Maybe not this year. Recently I've read a lot of those, but my favorite is enemies to lovers and I wasn't able to articulate why until Amber Burns just talked about it on a recent episode. It was 296 called "Backlist and Brunch," but she was pointing out that with an enemies to lovers trope you have the opportunity for so much humor and I love my books to be funny. It's fine if they make me cry, but I love good humor in a romance novel.

LEIGH: That makes sense.


ANNE: You know, come to think of it, fake relationship, or forced together, those also have plenty of opportunities for humor.

LEIGH: See, this is so illustrative of our differences because when I'm thinking of enemies to lovers I'm like I want people to really want to kill each other. [ANNE LAUGHS] And like how are they going to get around that? [LAUGHS] I'm not looking for the humor in that. One of my favorite niche tropes is only one bed. It is such a romance thing, but you know, you're in a snowstorm and you get to the hotel. There's only one room left and there's only one bed in that room and then like what happens, like do they sleep in the same bed? Does someone sleep on the floor? It's such a delight and always feels like a really nice nod from the author to the reader, like a little wink. We know what you like.

ANNE: [LAUGHS] It's good to feel seen.

LEIGH: Alright, here is another person who is taking it to a spicy level. Ellen on Patreon, what's the most recent book you quit?

ANNE: Ooh.

LEIGH: Putting you on the spot. [LAUGHS]

ANNE: The most recent book I wish I quit? That was a lot more recent. It was Jacket Weather by Mike Decapite. So this book is coming out in October. It's not a debut. I thought the voice in this book was really well done and it was not for me. It felt like a grownup contemporary Holden Caulfield, so very much right for a certain kind of reader.

LEIGH: Ooh. [LAUGHS] Mmhmm.

ANNE: That reader is not me. I mean, tons of readers are going to love it and the thing that really pushed me to pick it up is that I think the cover blurb is from someone at my local indie who's just a huge Mike Decapite fan. I hope I'm saying his name correctly. I always tell guests to say it with confidence and it'll be fine. [LEIGH LAUGHS] So it was that, it wasn't a personal recommendation to me, but it felt like a close recommendation. Does my taste overlap this reader's? No, it does not. Does his taste overlap plenty of other readers? Yes, and I hope those people find this book because they are going to enjoy it.

LEIGH: Yeah, I bet there are people listening right now that are already putting it on their TBR. So.


ANNE: Happens every week when somebody shares a book that wasn't right for them.

LEIGH: Stephanie wants to know what is a new or an emerging publishing industry trend that you're excited about?

ANNE: Oh. We were talking about embedded assumptions and that there are any emerging publishing industry trends to be excited about right now 'cause it kinda feels like a horror escape.


ANNE: It's the second pandemic holiday season, and just a lot of booksellers are really, really anxious about all the things going on. Supply chain issues and labor issues and shipping issues. Oh, you know what, there's an ongoing paper shortage and novellas are a trend. Are those two things connected?

LEIGH: Oh, that is an interesting question.

ANNE: That's a terrible joke. I think that's just coincidence.

LEIGH: No, but like I mean, you never know.

ANNE: [LAUGHS] That's true you never know.

LEIGH: If authors or agents or editors are aware of the paper shortage I don't know, aware of like the costs associated with all of that, they may be encouraging, if not novellas, shorter books. Who knows.

ANNE: I will say that even if I'm not necessarily excited about some of these trends, I'm always fascinated by them, like I love to see where things are going in the industry. Sometimes in a what will happen next and sometimes in a ugh, can't look away kinda way. I think there is one trend that I am cautiously excited about and that is that more and more previously standalone authors are starting to write series. I'm intrigued by the direction they could go.

LEIGH: I will be keeping an eye out of those announcement deals then. You heard it here first readers.

ANNE: [LAUGHS] And the supply chain, so we are ... I would say we are on the cusp of the holiday season, but no we are full-fledged there right now. We've had a lot of local businesses close here in Louisville just in the past couple months saying we can't do the winter again with Covid, so and especially good time to support your local indies. Put in those pre-orders. Buy holiday books now insofar as you're able. It really does make a concrete difference in the lives of the booksellers, local businesses, the authors, the publishers that you love and support and want to be around in the future. You know, so still doing their thing in the book world. It's kinda a somber note to end on. Leigh, is there a publishing industry trend you're excited about?


LEIGH: I'm excited about books that are coming out in general. I'm so behind on everything, but you know being a reader is like drinking from a fire hose and we will never catch up, and I have just made peace with that.

ANNE: Readers, we are having conversations about what that means for What Should I Read Next in 2022 and beyond, so on that intriguing note, these have been such great questions. Thank you so much to all our listeners and all the readers who put in questions that we could talk about today. We appreciate it so much. And Leigh, thank you for being the voice of the people and joining me [LEIGH LAUGHS] for this mailbag episode.

LEIGH: It was a lot of fun. Thanks for having me.


ANNE: Hey readers, I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. Visit our website at to find the full list of titles we talked about today.

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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:

•Wallace Stegner (try Crossing to Safety)
My Reading Life
What Color Is Your Parachute? 2021: Your Guide to a Lifetime of Meaningful Work and Career Success by Richard N. Bolles and Katharine Brooks
Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
The Chemistry of Calm by Henry Emmons MD
Laundry Love, by Patric Richardson and Karin B. Miller
A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson
Crow Lake by Mary Lawson
•The Vanderbeekers (Try #1 The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street) by Karina Yan Glaser 
Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty (audio)
Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales
•Lucy Parker (Try #1 ACT Like It
•Reluctant Royals series (Try #1 A Princess in Theory) by Alyssa Cole 
•Kate Clayborn (Try Love at First)
Jacket Weather by Mike Decapite
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel

Also mentioned:

What Should I Read Next Guest Submission Form
Patreon Community Bonus Episode 110 on Author’s Notes
WSIRN Ep 93 Books to help you manage anxiety + a book brunch that will have you drooling
WSIRN Ep 242: Sharing Good Reads with good friends
WSIRN Ep 296: Backlist and brunch
WSIRN Ep 149: Ask Anne Anything
WSIRN Ep 266: Ask Anne Anything: Re-reads, reviews, and recommendation regrets

Thanks to this week’s sponsors:

Ritual’s Essential for Women 18+ Multivitamin is formulated to support brain, bone, and blood health, and provide antioxidant support. Right now Ritual is offering my listeners 10% off your first three months. Visit and turn healthy habits into a Ritual.

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  1. Christine says:

    I got your reading journal last week and starting Oct. 1st, I am going to use it to help me (hopefully) reach my goal of 100 books in one year! Thanks, Anne, for all you do to support my reading life 🙂

  2. Susan says:

    Thanks for sharing the transcript. I read it this morning while my family was still asleep. The question about audio books missing the afterword helped me with creating an assignment for my history students who are in the process of writing a research paper.

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