WSIRN Ep 56: There’s nothing like a bookstore at the holidays

Hello readers, it’s Tuesday once more and time for a special seasonal episode of What Should I Read Next!

This is a WSIRN first— a repeat guest, and I couldn’t think of anybody I’d rather bring back on. Today I’m chatting with bookstore owner Holland Saltsman about everything you didn’t know you wanted to know about opening an independent bookstore, how to support indies this holiday season, the best three books we each read this year, and our favorite books and bookish gifts for this holiday season and all year ’round. I hope you enjoy this episode and get a ton of great holiday gift ideas for the readers in your life.

If you want to find EVEN MORE great new gift-worthy titles, check out the Fall Releases episode of WSIRN in which Holland and I gushed about all the new treasures that hit bookshelves recently. And don’t miss the full MMD 2016 Gift Guide for Book Lovers.

What Should I Read Next #56: There's nothing like a bookstore at the holidays
Be sure to check out The Novel Neighbor website, and follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.

This week we’re linking titles via You’ll be able to input your zip code and find a local bookshop to explore and support with your gift-giving!

Titles discussed in this episode:
The One-In-A-Million Boy, by Monica Wood
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, by Phaedra Patrick
News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
•  The Sparrow, by Maria Doria Russel
Everyone Brave is Forgiven, by Chris Cleave
The Muse, by Jessie Burton
Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, by Josh Funk
Tequila Mockingbird, by Tim Federle
Gone With The Gin, by Tim Federle
Hickory Daiquiri Dock, by Tim Federle
• Other-Wordly: Words Both Strange & Lovely from Around the World, by Yee-Lum Mak
The Emotionary, by Eden Sher

Gifts and resources mentioned in this episode:
Pins & jewelry made from books, by Yes & Yes designs
• “Quitter strip” spoon bookmarks from Stamp & Soul
Literary candles from Frostbeard Studio. (To get the special Novel Neighbor candle, contact the store directly and they’ll take care of you.)
Book darts
• Personal library kit from Knock Knock
• A Novel Journal
Moleskine notebooks
Leucchtturm notebooks
• “Notes for my future therapist” and “Totally legitimate feelings” notebooks by Emily McDowell Studio
• A Novel Subscription, The Novel Neighbor’s new book subscription service
• Book of the Month club
• The Puffin in Bloom Collection
The Drop Caps Collection
• Check out this post for beautiful copies of classic children’s books and this post for gorgeous editions of Anne of Green Gables.

Articles mentioned: 

• The 24 Best Fiction Books of 2016, via Buzzfeed
• The Washington Post on Indie Bookstores

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Leave A Comment
  1. Megan says:

    I missed where The Muse was mentioned, anyone catch what they were discussing right before? It’s on my Kindle and I’m trying to decide if I should move it to the next possible read! Thanks!

  2. Sandra Mosolgo says:

    I was enthralled with News of the World. Captain Kidd was inside my head & I was sorry to finish the book and bid farewell to this delightful gentleman and his young fellow traveler. Also enjoyed One in a Million Boy and Vinegar Girl.

  3. I loved this episode! I was lucky enough to work in a small independent book store,The Canterbury Bookstore, which was on the Upper East Side of NYC for many years, closed in the 1990’s, during the summer when I was in college (1981) and during my Christmas vacation so I can appreciate the craziness of the Christmas season in retail. The walls were lined with stacks of pre-wrapped copies of the books that were big that year with an unwrapped one on the top of the stack so you knew what they were so customers could grab and go which they did. The was a large group of regular customers, some celebrities, and we did a lot of orders over the phone for mailing-no computers or internet. It was a small store and it was busting at the seams that month but so much great energy. I remember having very sore feet from being on the all day. Great training for a future nurse!

    I haven’t figured out which three are my favorites for 2016 and will likely have a hard time narrowing them down since I am over 100 for the year thanks in large part to this podcast but I loved When We Were the Kennedys which I read after The One in a Million Boy which I also loved. The Underground Railroad was another favorite and Travels with Charley by Steinbeck which while it is not new, felt very relevant to our times. Thanks for a great year of podcasts and book recommendations! ???

  4. Kristin says:

    I loved this episode. I worked in an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon (not Powell’s) for 12 years and it changed my life as a person and a reader. Working over the holiday season was one of my favorite parts. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a gift wrapper when I grew up, and at the bookstore we wrapped books for free. I always joked with the shoppers that my dream had come true.
    When I think of my three favorites of 2016, do they have to be published in 2016? I would say:
    1. This Must be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell
    2. The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood
    3. Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead
    These are not my favorites of all time, and as I look at my list of books read, I feel a little disappointed by 2016. I’m in graduate school and working full time so I’ve been reading a lot of young adult books – all my brain has room for. That list would be:
    1. Tell me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
    2. Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
    3. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

  5. Becky says:

    I love the book charms you can find on Etsy that look like miniature versions of my favorite books. They would make great stocking stuffers and never fail to start a conversation. My three favorites I read this year: Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, and The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (I think…I’m reading it now, and loving it!).

  6. Sarah says:

    I would love the link to the Washington Post article on what it’s like to run an Indie bookstore. I really loved this episode – I’ve listened to it three times so far. 😛 I’ve had a longtime dream to open a bookstore! If I ever do, I’m totally looking Holland up for advice. You can tell she has what it takes to make a successful bookstore!

  7. Sue says:

    I think this is one of my favourite episodes. You and Holland were having such fun and it was fun to be in on the conversation. Thanks!

  8. Michelle Wilson says:

    Thank you, Anne. I really enjoy these podcasts even if it blows up my TBR list! Double thank you for the discount to the Sock Club! Got a 12 month subscription for my BF and I think it will be a hit!

  9. Rachel says:

    I really loved this episode – so fun! Since hearing you mention The Novel Neighbor a few months ago, I’ve been several times (I live in St. Louis) and LOVE it! My husband and I did a big batch of Christmas shopping there last week and found some really great and unique things. I’m always trying to find excuses to go back!

  10. Kristen Knox says:

    I never pull together my list of favorites for the year until the last day of December just in case I read something stunning right at the very end. And that’s always my hope, of course!

    I perked up when Holland said that no one had The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper on their list and wanted to share with her the Women’s National Book Association list of Great Group Reads for 2016-2017 because Arthur Pepper is on that. (In the spirit of full disclosure I co-manage the panel the determines the list.) This list is a fantastic resource for independent bookstores and the website that lists it ( has information for book sellers about each of the books on the list and good resources including a free, downloadable marketing toolkit. I know I’ve learned about a lot of fantastic books I never would have if not for the list each year and I hope that either Holland or your readers/listeners find it interesting and useful.

    Also, I’ll be at Winter Institute in Mpls. if Holland plans on going this year and I’d be happy to chat with her about this or any other bookish thing. I do love bookstore owners. 🙂

  11. Greg says:

    I really enjoyed this episode. I picked up two gifts for my wife (Nancy Drew pin at Made from Books and a re-purposed spoon bookmark with “Fell Asleep Here”) , and visited my local independent bookstore (The Curious Iguana) for the first time and bought “The Drunken Botanist” by Amy Stewart for me. I did not even know that the store was there. I looked it up figuring we had to have at least one in the area. Thank you both so much.

  12. Susan Bellisario says:

    Ok! I know you did this episode a while ago but you all talked about a game where everyone brings a book and then you use the book in the game and I think my book club would love it! Can you tell me the name?

    • Anne says:

      Is it Bring Your Own Book? The Novel Neighbor would know for sure; you could ring them up and order the game from them over the phone, whatever the game happens to be. 🙂

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