WSIRN Ep 54: What Should I LISTEN TO Next?

Your Tuesday book-matchmaking fix is here, dear listeners!

November truly is a month of extra special WSIRN episodes – last week, we had 5 days of episodes all about the joy of children’s literature (check it out, if you haven’t already!) and today we’re back to literary matchmaking, with listener Melodee Skiles here to representing all the avid audiobook lovers who want to know what to LISTEN to next! Melodee is a stay-at-home mom who owns an online literature tutorial business. Books are (clearly) her bag, and while she’s taking a short break from tutoring, she wants to revitalize her love of literature by reading outside the bounds of the texts she teaches at work. Like many of us, some of Melodee’s warmest memories are of her parents reading aloud to her, so today we’re delving into what her favorites have been, what her least favorites have been, and what brilliant audiobook discoveries are right around the corner. (Wink, wink.)


What Should I Read Next #54: What Should I LISTEN TO Next? with Melodee Skiles

I highly recommend Audible as an accessible, bountiful resource for audiobooks online. Right now, you can get your first audiobook FREE, along with a free 30-day trial. Go to to get your free download.

Books discussed in this episode: 

Some links are affiliate links. More details here.

The Winds of War, by Herman Wouk
The Martian, by Andy Weir
The Professor & The Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester
The Lake House, by Kate Morton
The Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton
Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
Three Sisters, Three Queens, by Philippa Gregory
Americanah, by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
You’ll Grow Out Of It, by Jessi Klein

Also mentioned in this episode:

15 audiobooks that enhance your listening experience
A trick to save big on audiobooks (this is the post where I explain how Whispersync deals work)
• Modern Mrs Darcy’s great kindle deals page

more posts you might enjoy


Leave A Comment
  1. mhelmer says:

    1st of all I was so excited to hear a fellow MONTANAN on the podcast! I think I listen to more books than I actually get to read physical. Some that I have LOVED (all historical fiction): The Girl FROM the Train, The Girl on the Train, The Kitchen House, Glory Over Everything.

  2. Carolyn F. says:

    If you don’t mind longer audio books I liked Life After Life by Kate Adkinson, 11/22/63 by Stephen King (not a horror story), and Outlander (I got 2 Outlander series books during the 2 for 1 credit sale on Audible). Also recommend The Likeness by Tana French and One in a Million Boy.

      • Donna says:

        which version did you listen to? Apparently there is now two unabridged versions of it on audible and I don’t know which one to get.

        • Renee says:

          I got it on CD at the library (before I discovered 1.5 speed), so I’m not 100% sure. The Craig Wasson one has a familiar sound….

          • Donna says:

            Thanks. BTW i just checked out both of them and the other one was 6 hours longer and in French. Oops, guess there was only one after all. I’m going to buy it with a credit now.

  3. kelly says:

    I just finished listening to Love Warrior. I am not sure if I would have enjoyed this book just reading it. However, there is something powerful hearing it read by the author. Also, based on your recommendation I read The Good Girl. I feel like audio is the only way to go with this book. The different readers make this audio book a unique and fun experience. I even found myself listening in bed when I would normally be reading a book just to find out what happened!

  4. Elizabeth Brink says:

    I just finished listening to Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. It’s very similar to Brown Girl Dreaming in that it’s based on the author’s own experience and is written in free verse. It’s not narrated by the author, but the narrator is excellent and the story is lovely. Highly recommend!

    I find audiobooks a good way to listen to classics that seem intimidating either because of the length or the complexity of the writing. Somehow audio can make them more accessible. This was the case for me with Anthony Trollope (a 19th century British writer). Simon Vance narrates many of Trollope’s novels, and I really liked his narration.

  5. Brenda says:

    Great episode! I am a huge fan of your podcast. I hope listeners know/remember that the library can be a great place to get audiobooks for free. I put a few of your suggested ones on hold. Thanks!

  6. Pamela Goetz says:

    I have listened to dozens of audiobooks. Great readers narrated The Help and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Fantastic audiobooks. Anything read by Joe Mantegna – I have primarily listened to Robert B. Parker books. Hilarious. Laura Bush read her audiobiography – a great listen.

  7. laura duquette says:

    I love this episode. I have become a huge audio book fan through listening to this podcast. I tolerate a so-so book in print yet can’t handle that in an audio. It has to be perfect. I second “A Man Called Ove” as an audio! If you are not opposed to YA books, my all time favorite audio listen is “Wednesday Wars” (it is perfection!). I have recommended it to so many people (mostly the 13-18 year olds in my life) and they ALL love it- some even claim as their favorite book ever. “Invention of Wings” is another I highly recommend. “Twelve Years a Slave” was made wonderful through the narration of Louis Gossett, Jr.

  8. laura duquette says:

    I also meant to mention that audible has a great return policy. If I don’t like a book, I return it and get the credit back. I have never had a problem. It lessens the anxiety when choosing a book to know that you can listen to a chapter or 2 and then decide it is not for you.

  9. Sandra Mosolgo says:

    I listened to The Barchester Chronicles by Trollope & even though there were many, many discs, the time flew by. In light reading, I love the narrator for the FlaviavDeLuce books by Alan Bradley. She has a whiny,somewhat annoying voice that is perfect for the character.

  10. Jane Weichert says:

    I loved listening to One in a Million Boy. Sometimes when I read I’m inclined to skip over facts. There was something soothing listening to the records being read. My current audiobook is The Trespasser by Tana French. It makes such a difference hearing the narrator speaking in an Irish accent instead of reading it.

  11. Renee says:

    I really enjoyed Jane Steele (from the Summer Reading Guide) on audio. I tried to read it on paper and just couldn’t get into it, on audio I found it delightful!

  12. Holly Ferrero says:

    Audiobooks I love:
    I Am Pilgrim (long)
    Be Frank With Me
    Station Eleven
    Everyone Brave is Forgiven
    The Royal We
    Cormoran Stike Series
    Guernsey Literary & Potato Pie Peel Society
    All the Light We Cannot See
    We Were Liars
    Poisonwood Bible
    For younger audience but still great audiobooks:
    Harry Potter series
    Hunger Games
    The Willoughbys
    Mysterious Benedict Society series
    Flavia de Luce series
    Wonder (and the 3 short Wonder stories)

  13. Alicia says:

    I was so excited when I listened to this podcast on my way home today! My commute was just extended to an hour and a half each way, and I’ve been searching for good things to listen to in the car. My first audible book was the Philippa Gregory one mentioned in this episode, and I’ve been working my way through Serial, Undisclosed – and of course this podcast!! I’ve wanted to find some new audible books, but I never knew which books to pick to read in print vs listening to. I always felt like I was “cheating” on a good book by getting the audible version. This episode gave me a whole new perspective on picking out an Audio book, and I can’t wait to try out another one of your picks for Great listening in the car!

  14. Kim says:

    Loved the episode! I love love love audiobooks, because I enjoy stories being read aloud. I think you should add Ms. Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Watson), 11/22/63 (King), and An Ember in the Ashes (Tahir). All of these stories have wonderful narration, and really bring the stories to life! Happy Listening!!! **** I second Ready Player One and A Man Called Ove.

  15. Y.SCH says:

    Loved this episode. I wish there will be more like it in the future or maybe let us know more about great audiobooks, as we love them so much

  16. Gillian says:

    I abandoned The Secret Keeper on audio, but count it as one of my favorite books in the paper form. For whatever reason, apparently, Kate Morton isn’t a great choice for audiobooks, amazing and timeless as she is!

    • Melodee says:

      I’m relieved to hear I’m not the only one! She is such a great author, but I’m sticking with the paper copies from here on out.

  17. Michelle Luck says:

    I was so pleased to hear a Philippa Gregory recommendation. While I haven’t listened to her books on audio, I’ve read almost all of her Tudor Court type novels – there are quite a few. The Constant Princess was the first non-classic ‘adult’ book I fell in love with, and had me looking up all the plot points to find out what was ‘true’ and what was imagined – I loved the drama of it. I’m not as crazy about her ‘modern’ books, but I love her historical fiction, especially when you can read essentially the same event from different perspectives. They can get a little confusing with so many Marys, Elizabeths and Henrys to keep track of, but she usually includes family trees in the books if you have a paper copy, and it’s easy to look things up if you get lost. Any other Philippa Gregory fans? I think she’s a good option for the many Outlander fans out there.

  18. JoLyn says:

    Great episode. I have a few favorites on audiobook. “Little Princes” by Connor Grennan. I got that from a comment on another post. What a great listen. So so good. The Help, of course. A Man Called Ove–the narrator was spectacular.

  19. sharen says:

    Loved the following audio books because I felt that the narrator made the book so much better:
    Furiously Happy: A funny book about horrible things by Jenny Lawson. Laugh out loud funny in places.
    Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. Great narrator that makes smoothing past the french phrases easy. Murder mystery series but not too dark.
    Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley. Mystery series with young girl as heroine. Set in England post war. Narrator gets the characters, sings in places, and the attitude of the young girl perfectly.

  20. So true how the narrator can make or break a book! I LOVE Louise Penny, and have read the whole series except for #2, which my library doesn’t have. I decided to get it as an audio book and HATED the narrator. I couldn’t even get past the first chapter. I finally bought the book so I can find out what happened in it.

  21. Kitty Balay says:

    Oh my goodness, narrator Kevin Pariseau is my college friend! What a glorious review of his work & talent on my favorite podcast! Worlds collide!??

  22. Loved this episode. Melodee–we have EXACTLY the same taste in books and audio so maybe you will find some things here to love!
    Here is my list of the best books in audio form not in any particular order:
    1. Wicked
    2. The Invention of Wings
    3. The Help
    4. The Pilgrimage of Harold Frye,
    then its sister book
    5. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennesey (i love this book so much)
    6. The Signature of All Things
    7. On Agate Hill
    8. Talking It Over (Julian Barnes)
    9. I Don’t Know How She Does It
    10. Cry, the Beloved Country

  23. Jessica says:

    I’m a little late to the party, but I found Landline to fall into the category of a book I probably wouldn’t have liked in print, but was amazing in audio. I don’t like Rainbow Rowell books generally, so didn’t have high hopes, but it seemed to be written TO be read like a play – which it was. There were two narrators (I think – maybe more!) and it sounded like the best kind of audio drama or podcast, as opposed to a reading.

    If you do love Rainbow Rowell’s YA fiction, you might not like that this isn’t YA (I think a lot of people didn’t) but I recommend it!

  24. Kristy says:

    I am a huge fan of the audiobook life – my house and garden are in tip top condition and I can get to so many more books now. I often search Audible by narrator as a way to choose my next read. Bahni Turpin is a favourite, along with Cassandra Campbell and Mark Bramhall. I really appreciated the recommendations from this episode, thank you!

  25. Carolyn says:

    I just finished listening to Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. Peter Altschuler was the reader & added greatly to my enjoyment. I had read the book several years ago and decided to listen to it before a book club discussion just to refresh my memory. So glad I did!

  26. I am bummed now – I checked Audible for a few of the books I listened to and loved the narrators, and they have been re-recorded since I listened to them on CDs from the library. I used to listen to a lot of books before I had kids, when I had a commute. The one that I think is still the same is Niagara Falls All Over Again by Elizabeth McCracken.

  27. Susan says:

    I loved this episode (to be honest, I love ALL of the podcast episodes, and the longer the better – I love the book chatter!). When Melodee said she started buying Kindle books because they were cheap, but then stopped because she hates reading on her iPad, I thought to myself “This girl needs a Kindle Paperwhite!” So to ANYONE who gets distracted reading on a tablet (including a Kindle Fire!) because there’s email and the internet struggling for your attention, I would say that you need to put a Kindle Paperwhite on your Christmas list! It doesn’t tire your eyes like reading on a tablet does, and the backlight (that you can adjust) is the PERFECT thing for reading in bed while a spouse is sleeping! My husband can’t stand the light of my iPad while he’s trying to sleep (even if he’s turned away from it), but my Paperwhite? No problem! I probably read half and half paper books and Kindle books. I love that I can get books for cheap (thanks to Anne’s Kindle Deals, BookBub, and VesselProject!), and I can also borrow books from my library on the Kindle! We share our Kindle account with our grown children, and I manage it, and I put the book on whoever’s Kindle would most enjoy it (Kindle books can be read by multiple people at the same time even!). It’s a wonderful thing! We had the very first Kindle that came out in 2007 and have been hooked ever since! It really solves the problem of which books to take on when traveling! If you’re flying, taking a bag full of books is a real problem!!

    • Lori says:

      I agree with this comment so much! I didn’t want to buy a kindle because I could read on my iPad, but I finally broke down and bought one. I’m so happy I did! It’s much easier on the eyes to read and I love taking a library with me whenever I travel. I still prefer reading physical books, but I travel so much, it’s so much easier with the Kindle Paperwhite.

    • Melodee says:

      I appreciate this glowing review! I have previously thought that if I did read ebooks it would have to be on a paperwhite because of the look of the page and the lighting. And all the “pros” you mention sound great…but my main issue with reading electronically is feeling disoriented. I love feeling in my hand how much of the book or chapter I have left, or flipping back a few chapters to check a detail (which doesn’t feel natural to me on a device). I have never been able to get used to thinking about reading progress in “percentages.” It must be just something about the way my brain is wired? Maybe I’ll have to convince my mom to loan me her paperwhite so I can read a book on it and see if I can get past my hangups. 🙂

      To be honest, I really miss the physical orientation of the book when I’m listening to audio books too, but a good narrator outweighs those drawbacks in a way ebooks don’t for me — at least not up to this point.

  28. Lori says:

    I just listened to the podcast over thanksgiving break and am so glad I did! I love audible and find that I listen to more than I physically read lately. And I don’t mind putting in the time on the longer books as long as the narrator is interesting. I just finished book 2 of the Discovery of Witches trilogy and so far they are great. A friend recommended them to me a long time ago but I didn’t think I would like them so I held off, but I’m glad I finally took the chance.

  29. Katie Toffey says:

    I am a huge fan of audio books. When my children were young we were always listening to books on our way to and from their school (we live in the country and spend lots of hours in the car). Our favorite series was Harry Potter – Jim Dale is the narrator and he is magnificent!!! For more Jim Dale – try The Night Circus. Here are some more of my favorite audio books:

    1. All of the Fredrik Backman books (A Man Called Ove) – the other 2 are equally as wonderful- My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry and Brit Marie Was Here
    2. Ordinary Grace
    3. The Boston Girl
    4. Angela’s Ashes
    5. Year of Yes
    6. We Never Asked For Wings
    7. Rules of Civility
    8. Call the Midwife
    9. One Plus One
    10. What Alice Forget

    I also agree with Ready Player One and All the Light We Cannot See

    Happy listening. Great episode.

  30. I’m really excited to check out The Professor and the Madman!!

    I also just wanted to pop in and say, I really love it when the show notes have the book titles in the order they are mentioned on the show, rather than alphabetical. It really helps me in remembering which ones I was interested in checking out! Thanks for going back to it!

    Your blog and podcast have really helped me to find my reading groove again, after having lost it for a bit. 🙂

  31. Diane says:

    Hi Anne and Melodee,
    I heard about The Alienist by Caleb Carr years ago and Because it is a long story (listened on cassette!) and I was a busy mom, I ended up getting the audio version from my library. It is an extremely compelling serial murder mystery based in truth during Teddy Roosevelt’s time. Seriously a great listen.
    I also tackled Anna Karenina on audio. With all the character and cultural-time period development required, it was a timesaver and a joy to listen to.
    Great podcast! Thanks

  32. Can anyone recommend any great non-fiction audible titles?
    I can’t listen to fiction but I love listening to non-fiction. And I’ll go first – I thoroughly recommend Stories I only tell my friends – Rob Lowe for a great audible experience.

    • Cassy says:

      When I listen to books, I lean towards non-fiction as well. Some that I’ve liked are ‘Year to Yes’ by Shona Rimes, ‘Lawrence in Arabia’ by Scott Anderson, ‘The Girls of Atomic City’ by Denise Kiernan, and ‘Boys Adrift’ by Leonard Sax.

  33. Jennifer C says:

    For 2016, the audio book I enjoyed the most was “The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder” by Rebecca Wells. The setting is Louisiana, and this lyrical reading was captivating. I also enjoyed “Call the Midwife,” which I see has been previously recommended. “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult is read by three different voices which gives an impression of realism.

  34. Sam says:

    Try your library’s Overdrive collection for free audio books! It helps me save so much money, as I typically finish an audio book each week.

  35. Jo Skidmore says:

    Fredrick Backman – my ALL TIME FAVORITE! I loved A Man Called Ove audiobook! But actually, my favorite Backman audiobook is My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She Was Sorry. Brit-Marie was Here was also good, but, My Grandmother.. is still my favorite.

    If you like Frederick Backman listen to The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson. Swedish as well and just as charming as the Backman novels!

    FYI – They made a movie from A Man Called Ove. I was not totally impressed by the Ove movie, but the highest grossing Swedish movie is The Hundred Year Old Man… We’ll see how that measures up.

  36. Jo Skidmore says:

    Killed me that I missed this one on Audible Daily Deal since I’ve had my eye on this book forever. I listened to a sample and I thought I’m not going to do kindle + audio ready because I was not totally impressed by the narration – maybe I was wrong however, I’m hoping it ill show up on daily deals again soon.

    • Jo Skidmore says:

      Referencing • The Professor & The Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

  37. Mary says:

    Melodee, Little Ministers is next on my list. Is there an audible available? I bought a beautiful hardback but your mention of hearing the cadence of the speech being helpful intrigues me. I could not find one on Amazon. Thanks!

  38. Melodee says:

    Interesting, Jo! I didn’t know about this version — but please note that it is *extremely* abridged. Only 1 hour and 15 minutes for a 300+ page book. (I’ve read it aloud to others 3 times and I can vouch for it taking much longer than that. 🙂 Even listening to the sample I can tell they’ve condensed chapters significantly. However, it might do the trick as a supplement to give you a sense of the Scottish accents as you read the book, Mary!

  39. Jenna says:

    Aside from the convenience, I adore audiobooks for what the narrators add. Here of some of the audiobooks and their narrators (did not include authors) that I fell in love with because they are just sooo good:
    -Mitford Series, John McDonough
    -Outlander Series, Davina Porter
    -Harry Potter Series, Jim Dale
    -Fan Girl and Eleanor & Park, Rebecca Lowman
    -Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert (read by author)
    -On Writing, Stephen King (read by author)

  40. Leanne Hunt says:

    I recommend “Because we are: A novel of Haiti” by Ted Oswald and narrated by Bahni Turpin. The story is about a small girl who is smart and independent, and who must make her way in a country plagued by corruption, crime and earthquakes. The narrator is phenomenal and draws you into the story with her amazing portrayal of the two children at the centre of the tale, the wise old man in the hut, the gang lord and his bunch of cronies, and the ghost woman who appears now and then as a sort of mentor. It’s a long book, and the setting was completely new to me, but it made me care about Haiti and its people in a whole new way.
    Also of interest is the fact that Audible now has a return policy. If you don’t like a book enough to finish it, you can simply return it and get your money or your credit back. It makes buying an audio book less of a gamble and means you can keep only the books you love.

  41. Sara Bell says:

    Outlander! Outlander! A thousand times, Outlander!

    It checks all the blocks: a gifted narrator-Davina Porter-who conveys a vast cast of characters convincingly; a brilliant author in so many ways; character development that is unrivaled in any other book I’ve read (in an 8-book series); Scotland, historical fiction, sci-fi (if you can suspend logic for a delightful return on the investment), a beautiful romance that doesn’t rip too many bodices 😉 …

    The superlatives can go on and on. I’ve been a fan of this series since I stumbled across the first book in the early 90’s and fell in love with it all over again when I listened to it on Audible. The first two books are fantastic by themselves, but the real reward comes in books 5-8, in my opinion. I’ve read the books several times and listened to them more often than I’ve read them.

    If you aren’t intimidated by the “doorstop-sized” books, I love to recommend these to adventurous readers both in hard copy and on Audible.

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