WSIRN Ep 58: “You’ve hit your hold limit” and other disasters

Hello readers! Grab a blanket and snuggle up to today’s episode of What Should I Read Next.

Today’s guest is Jamie Durham, a full-time Christian missionary living in Tijuana, Mexico. Jamie and her well-traveled family of 5 have to cross an international border to get to a their nearest library! In this episode, we dive into how this unconventional setup changes the way Jamie approaches her to-be-read list, the dreaded “you have hit your hold limit” library message, reading difficult literature as a Highly Sensitive Person, and more!

What Should I Read Next #58: "You've hit your hold limit" and other disasters with Jamie Durham

You can follow along with Jamie’s family adventures on her family blog, and read her personal musings on The Anywhere Mom.

Books mentioned in this episode:

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• Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
• The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
• The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
• Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
• Author Jane Austen
• Author Leo Tolstoy
• Author Sarah Addison Allen
• Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel García Márquez
• Author Charles Dickens
• Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
• World Without End, by Ken Follett
The Century trilogy by Ken Follet
• Columbine, by Dave Cullen
• A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, by Sue Klebold
• Border Odyssey: Travels Along the US/Mexico Divide, by Charles D. Jr. Thompson
• The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
• The Awakening of Miss Prim, by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera
• The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
• The Gilded Years, by Karin Tanabe
• Winter Solstice, by Rosemunde Pilcher
• Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
• Girl Waits with Gun, Amy Stewart
• Lady Cop Makes Trouble, by Amy Stewart

 Also mentioned: 

Is that novel worth your time? Turn to page 69 to find out.
The 2017 Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge


Leave A Comment
  1. Michele Hellmann says:

    If she wants to ” hate Albert Einstein”, she should read The Other Einstein by Heather Terrell. It is out recently, though. Good book. Changed my opinion of Einstein.

  2. Liz says:

    I think I might be Jamie’s opposite in reader types (I spent so much of the podcast mentally saying, “But…but…?!” every time she mentioned a book/story aspect she dislikes), but I so appreciated and identified the discussion about The Goldfinch. It was like an epiphany – So THAT’S why I hated that book so much!

    • Jamie says:

      Haha! I definitely have specific likes and dislikes. One of them being…if you got yourself in this mess, don’t expect me to have compassion on you while you try and get out of it. Also, fist bump in solidarity for not liking the Goldfinch. It’s good to know we’re not alone in the world.

    • Jamie says:

      I loved The House on Mango Street when I read it back in high school. My English teacher had us each choose a chapter to read aloud to the class and do a dramatic interpretation of it. I still remember one classmate’s presentation of one of the chapters that had to do with a red balloon…she brought in an actual red balloon and had it floating in the middle of the classroom while she read the chapter.

  3. Jacelyn says:

    Great episode! I found Jamie’s mission and life to be very inspiring. I also liked her choices of books. Even though I have not read all of them she described them so well. I appreciated that.

    I loved that Jamie hated The Goldfinch. I read The Goldfinch once, but at 2 different times due to the length and library holds. I read about the first 400 pages when my baby was 4 months old and then the last almost 400 pages about 6 months later. Drug use is one of those triggers for me. I find drug use and reading about it very upsetting. So, that was a major problem for me. The main character’s choices also were a major problem for me. I kept thinking, “Just be honest, turn this thing around…” I liked the way Anne described the book in 3 parts. During the 3rd part I felt I was reading a different novel. It felt like a mass market paperback suspense novel I could find at the checkout of the local drug store. Am I alone in that? I know Anne is super nice and diplomatic regarding books that are not her favorites, but I LOVE to HATE The Goldfinch. Anyone up to hate Gone Girl, next? 🙂

    • Jamie says:

      Thanks for the kind words Jacelyn. It’s nice to know there are more of us out there that didn’t resonate with The Goldfinch. As for Gone Girl…I haven’t read it yet but have heard enough to know it might not be for me.

  4. Susan in TX says:

    As a fellow ISTJ, I feel validated that I didn’t even try The Goldfinch. 😉 I read The Secret History and did not love it — my interest was piqued with “campus novel, suspense…” but it just didn’t make me think (not that every book needs to make me think — I’m okay with pure entertainment, but this didn’t really have that either), and I couldn’t sympathize with the characters and their poor choices. Some of the books on Jamie’s “didn’t like list” on her blog could have been on my didn’t like list as well. I’ll just say I agree that Wolf Hall is well done historically, but Mantel’s writing took me a little while to get into, and her books might qualify for Anne’s 8 line edit rule. Enjoyed listening!

    • I did like the Goldfinch, but read The Secret History recently after starting it at least twice at other times and did not care for it. I was intrigued by the college setting but truly didn’t enjoy it. I thought it was too long. I know other readers who like it so much they reread it every year…I do not see the appeal.

      • Amanda S. says:

        I feel completely the same way, Tammy! I actually loved The Goldfinch and thought I would love Secret History even more, but the things Jamie and Anne were saying about Goldfinch’s unlikeable characters applied to TSH even more (they didn’t even have the excuse Theo did).

  5. Sarah M says:

    Jamie, you’re not the only one who travels internationally for library books-I do it, too, only from Canada into Blaine, WA, which is at the tippy-top of the West of WA! Of course, I use 2 library systems up here, too, but I can’t get many of my beloved American shows (which aren’t on Canadian netflix), some authors, and a lot of bloggers’ books, so I go down south to get them. Good thing I’ve made friends with those librarians! 🙂

    (I also loved Columbine, it was fantastic.)

        • Jamie says:

          I have a friend who lived in Asia for awhile and was able to keep her library account in the US active (free ebooks!)…until they asked her for an updated mailing address to confirm her residence in the States. She couldn’t figure out a way around that one!

          • Jaime says:

            Is your friend a missionary, too? Technically couldn’t you use your sending church/organization as a home address to get access to ebooks through that town’s library? I live in a small town and have a hunch our local librarian would be willing to do this but curious if that would work for others…

  6. Holly Ferrero says:

    So nice to hear from someone else who didn’t like the Goldfinch! I don’t think I even got to page 100. Blessings to you & your family on your work in MX.

    • Jamie says:

      Thank you Holly; that’s so sweet. I’m almost relieved to hear that I’m not the only one who didn’t like such a popular book. I wasn’t too sure how it was going to go over when I chose it as my ‘one book I hate.’ Glad I’m not alone. 🙂

  7. Jody says:

    Winter Solstice (and pretty much all of Rosamunde Pilcher’s books) is one of my all time favorites. I read it every Christmas. It was her last book and it made me sad that there would be no more. I hope you give it a try.

  8. Hillary says:

    I also hated The Goldfinch. I stopped halfway through the section in Vegas. But Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies are two of my favorites! And if you like her writing style, I recommend A Place of Greater Safety, which is about the French Revolution. It’s mammoth, but I loved it.

  9. Paige says:

    Hi Jaime! I grew up near Tacoma, WA and am now a pastor on the East Coast, so I felt quite a few parallels with your journey. You talked so quickly at some points in the interview, I could just feel your energy and passion for books! Thanks for sharing so many of your likes and comments. But I have to say that I loved The Goldfinch and I’m sorry you didn’t like it. For me, it was a book that I wanted to finish without interruption, so I set my kids up playing on their own so I could sink into the ending. I don’t think you should go back to The Goldfinch if you didn’t like it, but I felt the need to defend it! 🙂 I would love to hear if you’ve read The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel. It is complex, covers decades and various places, and has faith themes in it. I loved it but it’s really weird, and I haven’t heard much about it. I’m still thinking about it months after finishing it. Maybe your library could get that book for you? If you read it, let us know what you think!

    • Jamie says:

      I’ve been a fast talker (Seinfeld reference, anyone?) since junior high school…even when I think I’m talking slow, I’m really just talking normal. It’s something I’ve really tried to work on over the years but apparently I still have room for improvement. I hope you were able to keep up with me in the speedy parts…it’s true, I love books! I haven’ read that book by Martel but I will definitely look into it.

  10. Susan says:

    Love this episode! Love the shout out to San Diego Public Library’s hold services and the San Ysidro Branch Library. A tip for Jaime: If you travel west to Imperial Beach, the library there is part of the County Library System – you can request books there, too! And go a little further north to Chula Vista – that’s another library system where you can place more holds. Of course, it may be tough keeping track of which books belong to which library system, but it may take a while before you hit your hold limit!

    • Jamie says:

      Funny story about the County System – I was in Imperial Beach and remembered there was a library around there somewhere. I had some books to drop off so I called my hubby and he talked me through directions to get to the branch. I dropped my books off, let me kids play in the children’s lit area (which was great – colorful and interactive) and then headed to the checkout counter with a stack of books. Imagine my surprise when the librarian handed me back my card and said IT WOULDN’T WORK. I was shocked – I had no idea that there were more than one library system in San Diego! I did end up signing up for a card so I could check those books out and chuckled to myself as I watched one of the staff fish my books out the returns bin and hand them back to me. Whoops!

      • Susan says:

        OMG, yes, there are many library systems in the county of San Diego! You can get a card from the county, as well as the cities of: San Diego, Chula Vista, National City, Oceanside, Carlsbad and Escondido (and I probably missed one). It’s so easy to get them mixed up.
        Try to get a Chula Vista library card if you can. I seem to have better luck getting the popular books. Also – having access to the databases to each of the library systems (like Ancestry, Zinio magazines, and test prep courses) is invaluable for many!
        Full disclosure: I work for both Chula Vista and San Diego Public library systems. Fuller disclosure: I still turn in my book overdue.

        • Jamie says:

          Years ago, I live just blocks from a branch in National City (just in front of the big police station). I spent many Saturdays taking the short stroll to the library, wandering to my heart’s content, and coming home with as many books as I could carry.

          • Susan says:

            I used to work there, too! I hope you had that chance to see the brand new library (I guess it’s not brand new anymore; it’s probably about 10 years old) – it’s beautiful!

  11. Sue says:

    I agree with Jamie’s review of “The Goldfinch.” I read every agonizing page waiting to either like a character or see something redemptive happen. By the time I finished the book I wanted to throw it across the room (I didn’t, but only out of concern for my walls and lamps). The Goldfinch is one of my least favourite reads of all time.

    I am looking at my copy of World Without End on the bookshelf and thinking it’s time to read it again.

    Thanks for another great episode!

  12. Cami says:

    What was the name of book about community development that Jamie found at a thrift store? As a City Planner, that is one of my favorite subjects and I would love to find another good book from that discipline.

    • Jamie says:

      Cami – the book is called Christian Relief and Development: Developing Workers for Effective Ministry by Edgar J. Elliston. It might be a slightly different approach to community development than your focus, but I hope it’s a good resource for you.

      • Jamie says:

        Anne – I mentioned the title to the book in my comment above. It’s Christian Relief and Development: Developing Workers for Effective Ministry by Edgar J. Elliston. I actually didn’t mention the title in the podcast because I didn’t remember it at the time. 🙂

  13. Addie says:

    Jamie, you should most definitely read(if you haven’t)The Winds of War and its sequel War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk. WWII saga. I think if you like Follett you will love them.

    • Jamie says:

      I just heard about those books from a recent WSIRN episode and I had them on my TBR list before I was done listening. Looking forward to reading them and couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of them before!

  14. Andrea says:

    I am reading Winter Solstice now after loving The Shell Seekers last summer. I never thought I would like Rosamond Pilcher, but I was wrong! One of the readers on the summer MMD facebook group called the Shell Seekers “pure comfort reading” and that is exactly how I feel about these two books. I just checked out the first book of Follett’s Century trilogy Monday, after beING drawn to Winter of the World at the bookstore last week. I restrained myself from buying and decided to get look for the 1st book at the library. Can’t wait to start! I haven’t listebed to this episode yet, but now I am really looking forward to it!

    • Jamie says:

      Oh, I really hope you like Ken Follett’s trilogy. I think the first book is my favorite of the three, but maybe that’s just because I read it a few times while waiting for the second and third ones to come out. Haha!!

  15. Marion Hill says:

    I would like to recommend The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber. It is one of my favorite reads in the past few years. Since Jamie and her husband are missionaries, I believe this novel will be something of interest. However, it does have a science fiction theme. But, the marriage of Peter and Bea is what makes the book. Highly recommended.

    • Jamie says:

      Marion, I read The Book of Strange New Things earlier this year and OH MY GOSH. Wow. It has stuck with me like few books have. I’m not a fan of science fiction either and was so surprised that I liked it so much.

      • Marion says:

        Jamie, I’m so glad you read The Book of Strange New Things earlier in the year. I still think about that novel and I read over a year ago. I will have to go back and re-read it 2017. Here’s my review I posted from my website:

        I do have two more books to recommend if you have not read them. It is The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Both books are excellent and worth reading.

        • Jamie says:

          I tried reading Gilead years ago and couldn’t get into it. A friend recommended The Sparrow to me awhile ago and it’s finally on my TBR list at the library. Hesitant to read it, as I know a bit about the story arc, but feel like it could resonate with me like Strange New Things did. Thanks for the suggestions.

  16. Laura says:

    Such a fun episode! I loved listening in. Just as an aside, I’m on vacation in northern CA and stopped in at a bookstore today that is co-owned by Amy Stewart! Eureka Books. I picked up a signed copy of Girl Waits With Gun I love that authors are investing in indie bookstores!

  17. Mary says:

    I have American Women!
    I love the recommendations by both Ann and Jamie! Marching onward with reading!
    Jamie may enjoy reading Paulette Giles’s News of the World with the MMD Book Club next month.

    • Jamie says:

      Mary – I actually saw that News of the World was the book club pick and immediately put it on hold after I read more about the plot. Sounds like a read I would love. I’m not part of the MMD book club (maybe one day!) but will be reading and cheering from the outside. 🙂
      How are you liking American Woman? I really enjoyed the history and detailed stories of woman throughout the different eras of America’s past, even if parts of it came across as a little ‘preachy’ in regards to women’s rights.

      • Mary says:

        I haven’t read AW yet, but bought it because Bas Bleu highly recommended it! I was thrilled you mentioned it, so it is moving up in my TBR!
        Thank you from the heart for the good work you are doing.
        Really enjoyed this podcast.

  18. Shar says:

    Jamie, help. I can’t seem to find your list of book duds. I really loved Pillars of the Earth and I really hated Wild for the same reasons you hated The Goldfinch, so I would love to get my hands on your book duds.

  19. Ellen W says:

    Fellow ISTJ who also strongly disliked The Goldfinch. I stuck it out to the end but was also annoyed by the series of bad decisions he made; completely understood your reasoning.

    • Jamie says:

      Ellen – maybe we could launch an investigation of ISTJ’s who read (or tried to read) The Goldfinch and see what we find…and then we could alert the world that if you have our MB type to PUT THE BOOK DOWN AND WALK AWAY. Ha ha!

  20. Amy Thompson says:

    Based on your episode, I recommend Sara Zarr. How to Save a Life is my favorite, but I think you’d really enjoy all of her books. They are YA but are quite literary. Real issues and topics, handled with a warm and gentle touch, but not overly sentimental. Just good writing and good stories.

    • Jamie says:

      Amy – thanks for the author recommendation. I’ve tried YA in the past and it hasn’t quite rung true with me, but the way you describe Zarr’s approach to writing might really be a good fit for me.

  21. As a fellow INFP and HSP, Anne, here are my thoughts on Columbine: it was fascinating and I didn’t think anything triggered that gruesome note for me. Definitely the whole media aspect was so enlightening. I did read this and Chris Bohjalian’s The Guest Room at the same time and found I had a REALLY bad week struggling with depression! I think too many sensitive-topic books triggers that in me (something I deal with all the time but it does ebb and flow).

    I didn’t hate The Goldfinch, and I did read it all, but I didn’t like it. I have found I have to have at least one likable character to love a book, and there were none in that one!

  22. Jamie and Anne,
    I’m friends with Dave Cullen and have read his book several times. I didn’t want to because I’m a very tender soul (and fellow HSP), but when I found he had thanked me in the acknowledgements I felt I had to read it.

    I let Dave know you did this podcast, so maybe he’ll chime in.

    We met here in Littleton, CO during the Columbine events. (I was actually in Israel the day it happened but 49 kids from our church’s youth group were in the school that day. I arrived home a day or two after the tragedy.)

    As I recall Dave had finished his MFA in Boulder, CO and was watching the news at his home in downtown Denver. He was a reporter/writer for Salon website. He told me he turned on the TV and saw local newspeople, but thought he had the channel set to a national channel. That’s when he began to see the events unfolding.

    He called the people he worked for and asked if he should cover the story. That was back in the day when cell phones were new. I remember him telling me he used a payphone near the high school when he arrived. He stayed on the scene for days, and followed the story for ten years. He admits he suffered PTSD from all of this.

    You might remember people flooded the churches in the days and weeks following the attack. As a reporter Dave wanted to understand what was bringing comfort to some. We met one evening in a Bible study.

    Anne, I can understand your not wanting to read, but if you get a chance I hope you do. Many have compared Dave’s book to “In Cold Blood.” Dave won Barnes & Noble’s Discover award. He took a real life event and unfolded it like fiction.

    Yes, it was difficult at times, but it was also interesting. He writes about my hometown like he was an alien who just landed in Littleton. He described the people and the setting flawlessly.

    He shared many of the heroic actions. He described what the survivors and the community did with their pain. He uncovered the real story of Columbine even though the false narrative was set in the first few days. He got to know hundreds of the people involved. He also talked about the confusing events of those days and weeks, and explained what happens to people’s memories when they incur trauma.

    I thought Dave was the perfect person to write this book because of his own military experience, and his sensitive and inquisitive soul.

  23. Susan says:

    I hated The Goldfinch too! I had to force myself to read through the part where he lives in Vegas… then I just had to quit the rest of the book. I’m glad I’m not the only one that didn’t like this book!

  24. Keren Jackson says:

    I’m enjoying Doc and Epitaph by be Mary Doria Russell because I feel like I know more truthfully who Doc Holliday was and the truth behind the legends.

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