WSIRN Ep 34: Books that marry fiction and reality with Rose Booth

It’s Tuesday, which means a new episode of What Should I Read Next!

Our guest today is Rose Booth, a technology merchandising director and cinephile who sometimes “feels like she’s dating books.” Rose loves female protagonists who flout convention and books where reality meets fiction, but she’s also eager to fall in love with titles from one popular genre that she hasn’t had any luck with—yet.

What Should I Read Next #34: Books that marry fiction and reality with Rose Booth

You can catch up with Rose online at Rosie’s Reviews, Ruminations & Reflections, as well as her Twitter and Instagram. Plus, friend her on Goodreads to see if she ends up liking today’s recommendations!

Books discussed in this episode: 

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• Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Harry Potter audiobooks, by J. K. Rowling and narrated by Jim Dale
The Help by Kathrynn Stockett
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend
The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
• The Cormoran Strike series by J. K. Rowling, beginning with The Cuckoo’s Calling
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
The Time in Between by Maria Duenas
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Also mentioned in this episode:

• Pushing Daisies (TV show), also narrated by Jim Dale!
Book of the Month Club (get 30% off your first 3 months plus a free tote bag with the code 30TOTE)

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Leave A Comment
  1. Sara K says:

    Some of my favorite books are discussed on this episode! I second the recommendation for A Curious Beginning as well as Deanna Raybourn’s other books. And Outlander is an all-time favorite of mine. Anxiously awaiting book 9!

    Also, I think Rose mentioned she loved mysteries/cozy mysteries? I keep raving about the Amory Ames series by Ashley Weaver. There are two books out now with a third due out in October (I think). Amory Ames is a smart, witty character that you will just love.

    • Rose Booth says:

      Thanks for the affirmations! I’m currently reading A Curious Beginning and loving it. I’ll have to check out that cozy mystery. Right now, my two series are Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swenson series and The Darling Dahlias series by Susan Wittig Albert. I just realized the Dahlias hit my historical fiction sweet spot too! Thanks for listening!

      • Mary Alice says:

        I really like Susan Witting Albert. I have read the Beatrix Potter Cottage Mysteries twice now. And also like her lawyer turned herbalist series. I will have to try The Darling Dahlias now. Really enjoyed the podcast.

        • Karen says:

          I enjoy the China Bayles series (lawyer turned herbalist), too! I would second those. I have read the first 3 of the Beatrix Potter world mysteries. They are cute because it’s e animals that solve the mystery.

  2. I hope you love the Anne of Green Gables series! They are among my favorites! I’ll have to check out the Outlander series myself on audio. It was recommended to me because of a book I wrote, but after I heard about the sex elements I wasn’t interested. But with audio, I can just hit that forward 15 second button. 😉

    I love historical fiction too. I recently read a book called Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool ( ) and absolutely loved it! Like Harry Potter, it’s geared for kids, but because of the historical significance, it pulled me in.

    If you are trying to get into more fantasy but like history, I recommend the Alchemyst series by Michael Scott. ( ) He blends world history and mythology into a modern-day adventure. Reading it helped influence my second book (which also blends history and fantasy if you care to try that too 😉 ), The Stone of Kings. (

    • Rose Booth says:

      Thanks for the recommendations, Shea! I’m loving Anne of Green Gables and wonder where have I been my whole life that I’m just now reading them!?! Thanks for listening!

      • Mary says:

        Rose, I am on the other side of 65 and I have just read Anne of Green Gables. I am loving the series. They get better as they go, too!

    • Gina says:

      I love when I’m reading the comments and they so resonate with me. I loved Moom Over Manifest also and also skipped Outlander a free hearing about the racey parts – so many other books to read that I don’t need to have to skim over parts.
      Thanks for the other recommendations. I’m going to give them a try.

  3. Andrea says:

    The Time In Between has been on my TBR list for awhile. I might have to move it up now. And I am so glad to hear about Deanna Raybourn. It sounds similar to Gail Carriager’s work and I love her work!
    Thanks for all the good recommendations.

  4. Lisa K says:

    I was so surprised that Rose said that she loves films based on Jane Austen’s novels but that she can’t get into the books. I think that Austen’s novels read like screenplays and that she would be adapting her own books for the screen if she lived today. Especially with the 1995 film of Persuasion and that novel. They are like companion pieces for me: the film is an accurate adaptation of the book and keeps all of the wonderful dialogue.

    • Rose Booth says:

      Lisa, I find that odd about myself too. 🙂 Maybe it’s the older English style that I can’t get in to. Or maybe I’m too much of a cinephile. 😉 Thanks for listening!

    • Karen says:

      A great option here is the CraftLit podcast. You get 1-2 chapters a week. The podcast begins with crafting talk, but the time is given so you can fast forward to the Book Talk. (I started listening as a knitter.) The Book Talk addresses words, phrases, political influences, cultural references, etc. that make it hard for us to enjoy classics. (The political explanations for Gulliver’s Travels made the book come alive!) Then, the 1-2 chapters. Then, there’s often some “commentary” on the “flip side” or end. This includes things that would have given away plot elements.
      I have been able to “read” several classics via this formate that I had never made it through previously. Sense and Sensibility is one. Jane Eyre. Age of Innocence. Herland. Since I’m always behind, I can listen to more than one episode if I’m in the mood. But the shorter bits makes it easier to bite off!

  5. Shelby Rogers says:

    I loved this episode! It was great to hear from an everyday reader like myself. I would suggest taking more guests like this that you get through the submissions page on your website. 🙂

  6. Mary H says:

    Ann, I’ve never heard of The Time In Between….adding that one to my list.

    Like Rose, I too wish that fantasy appealed to me, but I remain a little puzzled over its popularity. I am, however, a big Susanna Kearsley fan. She introduces a small bit of magic in her works with great success imho. Rose, have you read The Winter Sea? One of my all-time faves.

    • Rose Booth says:

      Mary, I haven’t read The Winter Sea, but I’ll have to check it out. I’m glad i’m not the only person that isn’t gah-gah over fantasy. I wonder if the popularity has come with novice readers picking up books and finding them enjoyable. I applaud anything that gets people reading more! Thanks for listening!

    • Marilyn Bronson says:

      I so enjoyed listening to an everyday reader and want to encourage her to read Outlander. I am not a lover of fantasy at all, but loved Outlander aka Fifty Shades of Plaid:) The sex is certainly extensive but in context so not as disturbing as the gratuitous sex in many novels. I loved The Winter Sea mentioned by Mary H and will definitely be adding A Curious Beginning to my reading list. Thank you Ann, Tuesdays are now a favorite day of the week!

  7. Laura says:

    A few books that taught me about history but still made for good fiction were Orphan Train by Kline and Moloko’i by Brennert. The first is about kids who were sent to the Midwest by train after losing family and the second is about people with leprosy being sent to an island in Hawaii.

  8. Kim says:

    I can relate to loving fiction that deals with true stories and historical details! I too cannot get into fantasy or Jane Austen, at all.

    Have you read The Girls? It’s one of those books that the publisher pushed HARD this year, but I really liked it. It’s a bit dark and twisty but so fascinating, and its ties to the 1960s and the Manson girls might appeal to that desire for fiction to feel real.

    • Rose Booth says:

      Kim, I haven’t read The Girls, but seems like I’ve heard the title and the plot sounds intriguing! I enjoyed Gone Girl and other thrillers so that genre works for me where fantasy doesn’t 🙂 Thanks for listening!

  9. Kimi says:

    Is it just me, but I’ve been trying to listen thru my podcast app (IOS) and it says this episode is unavailable at this time? I was so sad!

        • Kimi says:

          Just finishing and I feel like I can identify so much with you, Rose!
          I had many of the same loves for the same reason, and I also had a hard time with A Casual Vacancy as well.
          Just beware with Outlander. It is a wonderful, beautiful story that I loved overall, but is actually the book I hate due to certain subject matter inclusion. I’m not one to avoid racy, but certain aspects of this story cross the line for me into subjects that I just cannot read or watch. Please beware that this goes beyond racy and into what I’d call human brutality, note that I didn’t say female.
          Other than that, some great reads I can’t wait to explore!

  10. Lydia says:

    I also love historical fiction (and nonfiction). I can’t stop recommending 11/22/63 by Stephen King and the Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Seriously, so good!

    • Rose Booth says:

      Lydia, I’ve wondered about 11/22/63 but haven’t heard any personal reviews. Now I’m intrigued to read it! A friend just finished The Nightingale and gave it high marks. I wasn’t too overjoyed about All the Light You Cannot See, so I was hesitant since those have some similarities, but I’ll check out The Nightingale eventually. Thanks for listening!

      • Aleisha Morgan says:

        When I listened to your podcast I got on to recommend The Nightingale. I tell everyone to read it! I loved it so so much. I started reading All The Light You Cannot See twice and I haven’t yet been able to finish it! I love historical fiction type books, especially ones set during WWII era. I think you will really love The Nightingale. There are two protagonists who are both women who defy social norms and it is just such an amazing story.

        I also wanted to recommend The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. That one is another fiction marries history book about WWII told from several prospectives; a holocaust survivor, a nazi SS guard, and the grandchild of the nazi survivor. It is obviously fiction, but has such a real feel to it. Gosh, I love it so much!

        I also wonder if you have read Life After Life, and if you have, what you thought about it? It fits into the category of books that you talked about on the show, but I didn’t enjoy it. I read the whole thing, hoping that it would get better or have a twist at the end, but I ended up being disappointed.

        • Rose Booth says:

          Aleisha, I’m so glad you mentioned The Nightingale from someone who didn’t get into All The Light We Cannot See! That helps encourage me even more to read The Nightingale. I’ll have to check out The Storyteller. I’ve not read any Jodi Picoult books. I haven’t read Life and Life, but interesting you stuck with it in hopes it would redeem itself. Thanks for listening!

  11. Ellen W says:

    A cozy mystery series I stumbled onto is Town in a … by B.B. Haywood which feature Candy Holliday who comes home from being a reporter in Boston to help run her family’s blueberry farm in small town Maine and accidently starts solving murders. There are six books in the series so far and a new one comes out every year.

  12. Susan Crane says:

    I would like to start by saying that I have really enjoyed your podcast. I have noticed, though, that your guests are almost exclusively Christian. I have no problem with a faith-based podcast, if that is your intent, but I was curious, and actually, interestingly enough, bonded over tgis issue with a stranger in a doctors waiting room the other day as we started discussing books and how we both love your podcast but felt excluded by the exclusively Christian focus. If it is a faith-based podcast would you ever consider having guests from other faiths? I think this might be a really dynamic contribution. I hope you understand this question comes from curiosity and not criticism in any way.

    • Sean Durity says:

      As a Christian, I have noticed that some guests seem to be serious about their faith. However, very few “Christian fiction” books are discussed at much length. (In fact, the aduio book narrator almost seemed apologetic for mentioning Stephen Lawhead’s _Hood_.) So, I don’t feel that the podcast is “exclusively” Christian at all.

      I suppose one could also complain that there aren’t more male guests and discussion of more male-oriented fiction. However, I find this a delightful podcast that has introduced me to several new books outside my normal genres. I do appreciate content warnings so that I don’t recommend anything to my wife that she would just throw in the trash.

    • Anne says:

      You bonded with a stranger in a waiting room about books and the podcast? That is fantastic!

      As far as faith is concerned: I let people say what they want to say about their books and why they read. Most of the time, faith doesn’t come up at all. If a person’s faith is especially important to their reading life, it’s more likely to come up (or at least that’s my hunch). As far as guests who mentioned their faith to me privately, or have written about it before in pieces I have read, I’ve had Mormons and atheists and agnostics and those who follow Judaism on the podcast, but you wouldn’t know it as a listener because they didn’t specifically mention it during our roughly 30 minute conversation.

      I just want you to know this is certainly a consideration in choosing guests, as it’s part of sharing the experiences of a wide variety of readers, and I am always open to suggestions for future guests so let me know who you’d like to hear from!

      • Mary says:

        I haven’t noticed a faith-based favoritism at all! I have not noticed a genre favoritism, either. You cover a broad span of reading selections. I applaud your interview format. 5 stars!

    • Gina says:

      I’m not trying to just start an argument but I don’t even feel like even if they are Christian, that the guests haven’t focused on Christan novels. I recall a couple of people saying they read them but not focused on those as their picks. It in no way feels faith based in my opinion. Anne doesn’t recommend Christian novels and as I said they are rarely mentioned.
      Love it the way it is Anne. Well done!!

    • Rose Booth says:

      Susan, thanks for listening! As a Christian, and also as someone who applied to be on the podcast, I would encourage those readers of different faiths to apply to be a guest. I could have spent a whole podcast on discussing books in the Christian genre – non-fiction – that have impacted my life, but I’d rather talk about what I read as a Christian that appeals to people of all faiths (and of no faith). I am just an ordinary listener who applied, and never thought I’d be asked, so I’d say encourage multi-faiths to apply as I’d love to hear from all readers!

  13. Katie Toffey says:

    I loved Harry Potter, also hated The Casual Vacancy and then really enjoyed the Robert Galbraith series – definitely give it a try. As for fantasy, I would try The Night Circus (wonderful audio narrated by Jim Dale) or A Discovery of Witches – both are beautifully written with wonderful love stories.

    • Rose Booth says:

      Katie, I just heard Jim Dale narrated The Night Circus. I read that a few years ago, so I might have to listen to it now! I’ve heard of A Discovery of Witches, and now that you’ve said it has a love story, you’ve piqued my interest. Thanks for listening!

    • Caitlin Mallery says:

      I second The Night Circus. It has the right dose of fantasy and fiction, and the setting feels like historical fiction. On the whole fantasy subject, I love children’s/YA fantasy but don’t usually enjoy adult or teen(like Twilight) fantasy. It tends to feel a bit introspective and morose rather than a vivid and heroic. At least the ones I have tried.

  14. Kinsey O. says:

    When you mentioned fantasy series I immediately thought (and almost said aloud, alone in my car) that you should try The Chronicles of Narnia!

    • Rose Booth says:

      Kinsey, I’ve started Naria, but never go through it. I’ve heard I need to start with The Magician’s Nephew, so maybe I will at some point. Thanks for listening!

      • Kinsey O. says:

        The BBC has a great radio drama of the Narnia series, that you might enjoy. It took me a few tries to get through the books, as well, which was a surprise, because I do like fantasy. However, now I’m hooked and will listen to those radio dramas over and over!

  15. Tracy says:

    A historical fiction book that came to mind when Rose was discussing Enchanted Islands (which I’m going to buy after this message) was Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, as well as other books by Lisa See. I loved that book. Did not like Casual Vacancies either. Enjoyed the Cormorand Strike series, except the last one was just too unnecessarily gruesome. As for cosy mysteries I LOVE Her Royal Spyness series on audio. Kathryn Kellgren is on par with Jim Dale.

    • Rose Booth says:

      Thanks for all the recommendations, Tracy! If Snow Flower and the Secret Fan came to mind while discussing Enchanted Islands, that will have to go on my list! I’m being convinced by all the great listeners to give Cormoran Strike a chance, so I may do so. Thanks for listening!

  16. Ruth Heller says:

    Like Rose I haven’t read a lot of fantasy, but I enjoy historical fiction. Rose might enjoy two fantasies within historical settings: Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, and Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown.

    Both authors use themes of heroes’ quests and challenges that are true to classic fantasy writing, but the stories are set in alternate versions of nineteenth century Britain.

    Novik’s dialogue and characters are very well written. The relationship that develops between Captain Will Laurence and the dragon Temeraire will appeal to any adult who fondly remembers Charlotte’s Web!

    The audio versions of Sorcerer to the Crown and the Temeraire books are very engaging–
    definitely good first reads in this genre.

    • Rose Booth says:

      Ruth, I definitely am interested in the Temeriaire series…when you compare the relationship between the Captain and the dragon to Charlotte’s Web! That book will forever be near and dear to my heart. Thanks for listening!

  17. Sean Durity says:

    First a general comment on the podcast series: I have enjoyed listening to every episode. I think the formula is great and Anne does a great job of discerning each guest’s tastes in books. I really enjoy the episodes when we hear back about the recommendations. For me, I have read Peace Like a River (loved it!), All the Light We Cannot See (good except for the annoying sentence fragments throughout), Ready Player One (entertaining read, but a pretty bleak outlook and a protagonist I didn’t like very much), and Rebecca (almost done) as a result of the podcast.

    As for fantasy, I am a longtime reader of the genre, but picky. Lately the most popular ones are just too dark with no redeeming qualities. I abandon them quickly. I miss the days when I could enjoy a LONG series of great characters and challenges. One exception is the Mistborn books by Brandon Sanderson. In these books, he excels at the tricky art of building an interesting world and magic system, without losing the story in the process. A well-developed female protagonist gives these book a broader appeal, I think, than typical fantasy.

    • Rose Booth says:

      Sean! You have just hit the nail on the head of why I wasn’t over the moon for All the Light We Cannot See…sentence fragments! I’ll have to check out the Mistborn books. I love me a good female protagonist. 🙂 Thanks for listening!

  18. Carey says:

    Rose, I would like to recommend The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell for a taste of fantasy that *could* be based in reality if the technology was available. I’m not a a huge scifi/fantasy reader (although I loved The Martian) but I love watching scifi movies with my husband. If I were to sum up The Sparrow in a few words, it would be “Jesuits in space” but it is truly so much more. I stink at reviews, so your best bet would be to check it out on goodreads ?

  19. Kelly says:

    As I listened to the podcast, I bent my brain toward what would be a good foray into fantasy. I suggest Neil Gaiman’s NEVERWHERE: part fantasy, part horror, smartly paced, beautifully written.

    Edith Pattou’s YA novel EAST is an absolutely lovely retelling of The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars fairy tale with a strong, smart female protagonist. Reading Robin McKinley’s BEAUTY (her first take on the Beauty and the Beast story) is like snuggling up with a warm quilt and a cup of tea.

    Terry Pratchett is wonderful, but the sheer number of volumes in his Discworld series can be daunting (I have a document dedicated to my suggested reading order). Still, he’s brilliant, and his characters are marvelously drawn. So: try HOGFATHER (there’s also a Sky TV adaptation that’s surprisingly excellent; I watch it every Christmas) and the first Tiffany Aching book, THE WEE FREE MEN.

    Someone further upthread suggested THE NIGHT CIRCUS; I second that.


    • Marné says:

      I really enjoyed this episode, and my list of holds at the library is a little out of control as a result 🙂
      I came to recommend Beauty, by Robin McKinley, and see that it’s already here, so I’ll just second that suggestion! I really love all her books, and I say that as a very particular fantasy reader. In a similar vein, I also really love The Goose Girl series by Shannon Hale. They are YA, but don’t let that deter you either. I would only add the caveat that you NOT listen to the audiobook for that one, I bought it when it was the Daily Deal on Audible, and I didn’t finish listening because I really hated the production. Luckily I had already read the book.
      Terry Pratchett is also a great recommendation, the Disc World series is a lot of fun. Mort was one of my particular favorites (Mort is apprenticed to Death, and isn’t so sure he wants the job).
      I’m almost a little bit jealous that you get to read Anne of Green Gables for the first time right now. That series is one of the few that I re-read from time to time. And add me to the list of those who didn’t care for The Casual Vacancy. I rarely don’t finish a book I start, but I put that one down and have no desire to pick it up again. I do love the Cormoran Strike series, I think J.K. Rowling’s strength is in her characters. I really like her characters.

        • Mary says:

          I feel the same way, Rose. Anne of Green Gables is new to me and I am in my 60s. I think this is what my great aunt would have enjoyed, I would have turned my nose up to it as a teenager in the 60s, and now I love and appreciate it. True story-telling! I enjoyed your interview. Your interview was excellent…you are very well spoken!

          • Rose Booth says:

            Thanks so much Mary! I so enjoyed being on the podcast! It’s nice that classics like Anne of Green Gables can make a bigger difference in our lives the older we are 🙂 Thanks for listening!

  20. Carol says:

    Thank you Anne & Rose! This was a great podcast and my TBR list grew more from this episode than any other single episode. I was wondering if Rose is really just saying she doesn’t like YA trilogies vs a broad fantasy aversion? So, maybe you are more open than you realize? Anne, great call on “The Curious Beginning” recommendation….I loved that book and I am waiting for her next release in the Veronica Speedwell series. I would agree with an earlier comment about Susannah Kearsley “The Winter Sea” it’s right up Rose’s alley! One more recommendation for the love of mysteries is one that Anne highly recommends frequently would be Louis Penny’s Inspector Gamache series beginning with “A Still Life”, great detail in scenery, food, characters and twists! Happy reading and it looks like your TBR has been growing through these comments as well as Anne’s recommendations!

    • Rose Booth says:

      Carol, thanks for your recommendations! As you can tell from the podcast, I’m not sure if I can put my finger on the issue. Maybe YA trilogies are more mainstream, but reading something, like Station Eleven, might help me pinpoint. Thanks for listening!

  21. Debi Morton says:

    First of all, I Love the podcast, and usually think you are spot on with your picks for your guests, Anne. However, I thought recommending the Outlander series to Rose was a miss, and I’m pretty sure she did, as well, as she didn’t sound very enthusiastic about it. To recommend a series of thousands of pages that at this point appears never ending in a genre that a reader doesn’t even find particularly appealing, just doesn’t sound like a wise thing to me. I’m not sure I would choose to start such a series in a genre I actually enjoy, much less one I don’t. However, your other two choices for Rose sounded great, and are both going on my TBR list, which of course, is the major drawback of listening to the show. That list is now huge! I also had to add Enchanted Islands from Rose’s favorites. Like I said…Love the podcast!

    • Rose Booth says:

      Debi, I will say I’ve had Outlander on my secondary list of “hmm TBR” for a while and although those long books are daunting, I will probably read them eventually, at least the first. Given the other two suggestions from Ann, I definitely will start with them…and have already started A Curious Beginning and am loving it! Thanks for listening!

  22. Marie says:

    Another great podcast! Rose I felt the same way you did about The Casual Vacancy, and I couldn’t even finish it! It was an incredibly bleak outlook on human interaction. I wanted to get through to the end and allow it to redeem itself, but I just couldn’t. I still love JK Rowling though, and so I’m looking forward to starting The Cuckoo’s Calling.

    • Rose Booth says:

      Marie, thanks for affirming my dislike of The Casual Vacancy. I hope I confirmed your abandonment wasn’t a bad thing. 🙂 No redeeming qualities there. I’ve gotten lots of people urging me to read Cuckoo’s Calling, so that series will go on my TBR list. Thanks for listening!

  23. Brooke says:

    Hi Anne,
    I have read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, although I love all genres of fiction. I would like to recommend an author for Rose who I think builds a believable world and has strong female lead characters. The first book I would suggest is “Poison Study” by Maria Snyder, it’s the first in a trilogy and is an easily accessible way into the fantasy genre. This author has a large back catalogue, so if you like her writing, there’s a lot to choose from. The books are typically fairly quick to read as well! I am enjoying the podcast and the discussions about the books – have definitely added a few to my list and I’m currently halfway through “Fates and Furies”. I was intrigued by the love/hate divide over this book and at this stage I’m not exactly loving it, but determined to finish it!

  24. Debi Morton says:

    I have already made one comment, but I will make one more short one. Rose, I don’t enjoy or read fantasy. Now that said, I loved that Chronicles of Narnia, which I read only as an adult. However, the difference between you and me, Rose, is that I really don’t mind that I don’t like that genre. There is so much to read in the genres I enjoy, why try to force something just to say I read that it. You may find that it comes up now and then as you stay longer in your book club, as I have. I read them when they do, but it just confirms my knowledge that I do not like the genre.

    • Rose Booth says:

      Very good points, Debi! There are so many books in genres I love that if I never embrace Fantasy, it’s ok, but this experience was great to help me become more self aware of what *is* my genre. Oddly, I wouldn’t have said historical fiction, but it’s clear that’s one of my sweet spots! Thanks for listening!

  25. Grace says:

    I’m going to break from the group here – I actually loved The Casual Vacancy. It was a tough, tough read, but I was so very moved by the book. The character journey of Krystal Weedon was heartbreaking, and has definitely stayed with me eight months after reading it. It is indeed a bleak, dark book, but I think it had to be that bleak so that its message could come through. But all this to say that this is exactly why I love this podcast – so many differing opinions out there!!

    • Rose Booth says:

      Grace, you make a great point about Krystal’s life. I’ve blocked out a lot about that book because it wasn’t a favorite, but you mentioning that made the memory come back. I think books resonate when you identify with a character in the book, or empathize with a character. That may have been the key for you with Casual Vacancy. Thanks for listening!

  26. Tess says:

    The Time In Between has been adapted to a series and available on Netflix! I didn’t realize it was based on a book until after I binged through the series.

  27. Bailey says:

    Hi Rose, I listened to the podcast and am wondering if you’ve read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It’s a touch sci-fi without being far-fetched. In fact, it’s slightly spooky that the events in the book could happen! Also, the writing is excellent. Great podcast!

  28. Heidi says:

    I love the podcast, and definitely resonated a lot with this episode, except that I’ve come to really like (some) fantasy books in the past few years. I also adored The Help and Rebecca (which I read for the first time this month!), and the Anne of Green Gables series is one of my childhood favorites. As I was listening to the episode, two of my all-time favorite books kept coming to mind as something Rose might like: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and Drood by Dan Simmons.

    The Historian is historical fiction with a dash of fantasy (Dracula, but no one is falling in love with him!), and it has so many elements that I love – beautifully rendered settings, book nerdery (lots of libraries and old letters), and well-developed characters. Drood is based on the last, unfinished novel of Charles Dickens, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The story is narrated by Wilkie Collins (who wrote The Woman in White), who was a contemporary of Dickens. Collins was an opium addict, and using him as the narrator makes for such a fascinating read as the distinction between reality and opium-induced fantasy starts to blur more as the story progresses. They’re both pretty hefty books, but I absolutely loved them. So much so that I made my husband, who normally only reads horror novels, read both!

    • Rose Booth says:

      Heidi, I love both of those recommendations. They sound juicy! And though a “hefty” novel doesn’t always land at the top of my list, these sound like winners. Thanks for listening!

  29. Nicole says:

    I don’t get into fantasy very much either and my brother loves it. I have trouble with the strange names and made up kingdoms, etc. Anyway, my brother recommended “The Name of the Wind” (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss. I actually really enjoyed this one! It is fantasy, but has a fairy tale feel to it (which I DO like) and the characters seemed more “real” to me. Maybe it would be a good one to try to check “fantasy” off your list.

    • Rose Booth says:

      Thanks, Nicole! I’ve heard of the Kingkiller Chronicles, so good to hear a summary of the context and how you like it. I’ll have to check it out! Thanks for listening!

  30. Anki says:

    I am a bit behind in my podcast listening, so I only just recently got to this episode. One thing I noticed is that of the three “fantasy” series mentioned by Rose, only Harry Potter really qualifies as straight-up fantasy. Twilight is nominally fantasy, I suppose, but if I were being asked to recommend fantasy novels to someone it would *not* be on my list because it is firmly in the paranormal romance category (a subgenre blending of fantasy and romance that really has taken on a life of its own). The Hunger Games is straight-up dystopian fiction, which is almost exclusively within the purview of science fiction, not fantasy. Additionally, all three series fall into the YA category (with early Harry Potter landing in middle grade), and that might be part of the disconnect Rose is experiencing. Looking for titles aimed at an older audience might provide better results.

    In reading through the comments, I can second the recommendations for a number of titles. The Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson is excellent. His other works are also excellent, though many of them trend…long, and may be daunting prospects (how do you feel about 1000+ page novels in ongoing series?). Robin McKinley’s Beauty was another mention that I absolutely adore and highly recommend.

    For other recommendations, the works of Patricia McKillip have a decidedly fairy tale feel to them, and her language is truly stunning. Lois McMaster Bujold wrote the Sharing Knife series (Beguilement, Legacy, Passage, and Horizon), which blends fantasy and western/frontier stories in a fascinating way. Actually, I pretty much love all of Lois McMaster Bujold’s works (she writes science fiction and fantasy both) and highly recommend her.

    I will have to ponder more, and if there are questions about particular titles I’ve mentioned I can definitely answer them!

    • Nicole says:

      I am intrigued by a few that you mention… is there a Patricia McKillip that you love? It looks like she has a lot and I’m not sure where to start. I’m not a huge fantasy person, but I do love fairy tales, so that appeals to me!

      • Anki says:

        I really enjoyed The Book of Atrix Wolfe and The Changeling Sea (those are my most recent reads of hers). I also remember quite enjoying The Riddle-Master of Hed (and sequels), but I read them probably about twenty years ago so my memories are a bit hazy (they are on my shelf of books to reread). For the most part, her books are standalone works so it doesn’t matter hugely the order in which you read them. I do have to be in the right mood for her books because, as I said previously, her writing is very rich and dense so I want to take my time and savor it.

        I recently picked up Dreams of Distant Shores, which is a collection of shorter works (as is Harrowing the Dragon). I haven’t read it yet, but it should be excellent.

  31. Jolynne says:

    Fantasy option – N.K. Jemisin’s, The Fifth Season, Book #1 from the Broken Earth Series. The first African American woman to win a Hugo (2016 best novel). I am half way through the second book in the series The Obelisk Gate.

  32. I was kind of surprised by the recommendations on this episode, because I don’t really think of any of those as fantasy. But I read a lot from the genre, so maybe I’m biased. Like Anne, I think the best ideas for you will be books with a historical/cultural approach in a fantasy world. Some commenters have recommended A Discovery of Witches, which I would second. Also, you might want to try The Hobbit if you’ve never read it! Unlike the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which gets into magic and war and such, this reads more like a historical adventure story with fantasy races and creatures in place of real ones. Good luck!

  33. Beth says:

    If you want a fantasy series that can also capture your heart, try books by Melanie Rawn. They are older, so I am not sure how available they are, but they are worth looking for. They are different series, I loved the Dragon Prince series best. You won’t have to marry a werewolf, but you might fall in love with a dragon!

  34. Rachel says:

    I meant to comment a lot earlier, but it’s all the way into the beginning of September now so I’m not sure if Rose will even read this! I’m not much into fantasy myself but I accidently stumbled upon Melina Marchetta’s YA fantasy-ish series the “Lumatere Chronicles” and loved it. Not that I have more fantasy reading under my belt to compare these books to, but I’m fairly confident they offer something that most others in the genre don’t. This is fantasy that hasn’t been drowned in clunky, 1000-pages long world-building, this is a book about people. People whose country has been torn into pieces, people who’ve been exiled from their homeland, lost, damaged, and abused, but have never lost hope. It’s a story of a displaced, broken nation that fights to rebuild itself and it’s extraordinary. Anyways I was reminded of the books when I heard Rose say that she just couldn’t get into the genre and thought I’d recommend them.

  35. Evamarie says:

    I just finished reading The Time in Between by Maria Duenas and I felt like there was a huge plot hole near the end. Has anyone read it and want to discuss it with me? Convince me that it’s not a big deal? I loved reading this book, but it seemed like such a glaring omission and I want help to make it one of my most favorite books! Please?!

  36. Victoria says:

    I’m really late to post…because I only just found this awesome podcast and have been catching up with past episodes. I love the podcast and have already read The Forgotten Garden (Kate Morton) and am starting The Shoemaker’s Wife….
    I enjoyed Outlander, but gave up after book 4! Whilst I was listening to your suggestions I couldn’t stop thinking about another great historical and time travel book that I loved. It’s The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope – one of the few books that I kept hold of for a second reading. Highly recommended page turner and great history!
    Thanks also for the new ideas I’ve found on these comments – I now have such a long list of books to read!

  37. Casey says:

    I second the recommendation for N.K. Jemisin’s, The Fifth Season, because she is such an incredible writer. The book is set in a different world and there is some magic, but it’s not at all Harry Potter-ish or swords and sorcerers. There is a lot of exploration about the meaning of family. It’s beautiful.
    I also like Naomi Novik’s Uprooted for someone new to fantasy. It is set on the border of Poland and Russia and references Baba Yaga, so it has more of a folklore feel to it.
    And I cannot recommend fantasy without talking about Brandon Sanderson, especially to a person of faith. His novel The Way of Kings was the only book that nearly everyone in my very diverse sci-fi/fantasy book club rated 9 or 10 stars out of 10. Sanderson is a PROLIFIC writer and he’s hitting his stride here. It is intimidating at 1000 pages, but you could also start with Mistborn at a mere 500 pages. He has a way of weaving magic and theology and human relationships that just works.

    • Sean Durity says:

      I would second the recommendation of Brandon Sanderson for fantasy readers. He breaks the current popular mold of grim, gritty, dark fantasy. For me, it hearkens back to the fun, epic fantasy I read as teen. His worlds are interesting, different, and rich, including varieties of faith and religion. And there is a larger backstory connecting most of his worlds (the cosmere). Mistborn is a good place to start – even the premises are fascinating. However, there are already 5 Mistborn books (6th on the way.) I would suggest Warbreaker as a single volume start: well-drawn female leads, an interesting world that is not extremely vast, a mystery with twists, clever dialogue, and an intriguing magic system. I did love Way of Kings, though. I have the second book, and I am looking forward to diving in – just holding off a bit since I know book 3 is due out in November .

      • Casey says:

        Oh, interesting – I haven’t read Warbreaker! Sanderson has just written so many things that I haven’t gotten to them all yet. It amazes me how he thinks up so many different magic systems.
        The cool thing about Mistborn is that he was trying to write an Ocean’s Eleven-style caper set in a fantasy world, and I think he pulled it off. The second set of Mistoborn books (Wax and Wayne) are the funniest thing I’ve read of his (although I hear the Alcatraz books are pretty funny too). The Wax and Wayne books are in a Western setting, which is cool. Same world, but decades later than the original 3 Mistborn books, which were set in the “Industrial Revolution”.
        I forgot to mention Patrick Rothfuss, who is just an amazing storyteller. He’d better be, since he takes YEARS just to revise each of his books to perfection. Start with The Name of the Wind. This one seems like it might be Harry Potter-ish since it revolves around an orphan going to magic school, but the school is a University, and his exploits are much less innocent and silly.

          • Evamarie says:

            My husband read The Name of the Wind and really enjoyed it. He’s even really into the game Tak that originated from that book. I tried reading it and, like you, I couldn’t get into it. I think maybe there were just too many things or concepts introduced at the beginning with the idea that you’ll figure out what they are eventually. It left me feeling like I had no idea what was going on and not enough incentive to read long enough to figure it out.

  38. Casey says:

    Another good fantasy-for-people-who-don’t-think-they-like-fantasy might be Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. It’s actually the only book of his I’ve read, but it was gorgeous. I listened to the audiobook, which was an excellent choice. He narrates his own audiobooks and has the most delicious British voice.

  39. Diane Christine Matson says:

    If you liked “Rebecca,” you would probably like “Nine Coaches Waiting” by Mary Stewart. People need to know about this book!

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