WSIRN Ep 62: What should ANNE read next?

Hello readers, it’s a very special Tuesday! We have officially reached What Should I Read Next’s Anniversary episode. It’s been a full year since Episode 1!

The first episode of What Should I Read Next aired on Tuesday, January 12, 2016. Our guest was Jamie Golden. Her favorites were Persuasion, Me Before You, and 11/22/63. She hated Go Set a Watchman, and *I* recommended The Man in the High Castle, A Man Called Ove, and Bel Canto. For the record, she enjoyed them all.

We have 61 (!!) episodes behind us now. We’ve talked all things books and reading in every one—what we love, and what we hate. In 52 of those episodes guests have told me 3 books they love, 1 book they hate, and what they’re reading now, and I’ve recommended what they should read next. I get great recommendations from this podcast—from the guests and from YOU, the listeners—every week. But as the host of this show, I’ve never sat in the hot seat myself. Until today.

For our anniversary, we’re doing this special episode of What Should Anne Should Read Next, so you can hear me talk a little more at length about what I love, and maybe what I hate, and why, and so we can share YOUR recommendations for my very own TBR.  

Books mentioned in this episode:

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Persuasion, by Jane Austen
Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes
11/22/63, by Stephen King
Go Set A Watchman, by Harper Lee
The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick
A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
• Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett
Gods in Alabama, by Joshilyn Jackson
• Still Life, by Louise Penny
• A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny
• Deep Work, by Cal Newport
• So Good They Can’t Ignore You, by Cal Newport
• Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
• Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
Love, Loss, and What We Ate, by Padma Lahkshmi
• Garden of Lamentations, by Deborah Crombie
• Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
• Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing
• Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles
• Divided Kingdom, by Rupert Thomson
• Picnic at Hanging Rock, by Joan Lindsay
• Underground Airlines, by Ben Winters
• Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
• Here if You Need Me, by Kate Braestrup
• On Living, by Kerry Egan
• Leaving Church, by Barbara Brown Taylor
• Eating My Words, by Mimi Sheraton
• Garlic & Sapphires, by Ruth Reichl
• The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, by Amy E. Reichert
• The Ice Princess, by Camilla Läckberg
• The Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries series, by Julia Spencer Fleming
• The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction, by Adam S. McHugh
• Submerged: Adventures of America’s Most Elite Underwater Archeology Team, by Daniel Lenihan
• Far Far Away, by Tom McNeal
• Come to the Edge, by Christina Haag
• We’re All In This Together, by Amy Jones
• As You Wish, by Carey Elwes
• The Darling Dahlias, by Susan Wittig Albert
• Hunting & Gathering, by Anna Gavaldi
• A Very Special Year, by Thomas Montasser
• The Bone Season, by Samantha Shannon
• Significant Objects, by Jason Grote
• Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns
Author Fannie Flagg
• Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg
• The Whole Town’s Talking, by Fannie Flagg

Also mentioned:

“As readers, we remain in the nursery stage so long as we cannot distinguish between Taste and Judgment, so long, that is, as the only possible verdicts we can pass on a book are two: this I like; this I don’t like.

For an adult reader, the possible verdicts are five: I can see this is good and I like it; I can see this is good but I don’t like it; I can see this is good and, though at present I don’t like it, I believe that with perseverance I shall come to like it; I can see that this is trash but I like it; I can see that this is trash and I don’t like it.”

–W. H. Auden, A Certain World: A Commonplace Book, The Complete Works of W. H. Auden, Volume VI: Prose: 1969-1973, Ed. Edward Mendelson (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015), 222.


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  1. Lynn Gilreath says:

    I loved this episode! I really enjoy Southern Fiction. God’s In Alabama is one of my favorites too. If you are going to read Fannie Flagg, I would recommend Welcome to The World Baby Girl. Very interesting twist in that novel, that I didn’t see coming.

  2. Amy says:

    Almost Innocent by Sheila Bosworth. Writer out of Louisiana. My mom and I both read this book years ago, and it has stuck with me for years! It’s based in Lousiana, a bit dark, and the writing is stunning!

  3. Tara says:

    Hello Anne, this is Tara, I am the one who recommended Fannie Flagg’s books. I started with Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven. I enjoyed it so much that I don’t remember the order that I read her other ones, I just ordered them all up from the library.

  4. Ashley Rae says:

    This might be my favorite episode yet! I love the number and variety of recommendations given. TBR explosions are my favorite 🙂

  5. Susan in TX says:

    Love this episode! Got to agree with Lynn and say start Fannie Flagg with Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! I wouldn’t start with her most recent, because many long time Flagg readers have said “it isn’t her best.” So, for a good first experience, I’d say wait on the first recent and go with a more representative work from her. I’ve read a bunch of Flagg, but have shied away from the most recent based on reviews from fellow readers. (Which means I’ll probably come across it on vacation several years from now, and randomly pick it up and read it then. 😉 )

  6. Jenny says:

    The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess, and a Family Secret By Catherine Bailey

    This book has strong narrative drive, a gripping mystery, and thoughtful examinations of the human psyche. Bailey, through meticulous research uncovers events previously lost to history. The choices and actions of the principals in this book linger long after you finish reading.

  7. Kimberly Bunyard says:

    I absolutely loved this episode! I keep thinking that my TBR list is long enough and this will be the year that I quit adding to it, but I now am so intrigued by so many of the choices.
    One thing I’d love for the upcoming year is teen boy/family friendly reads.
    I am a homeschooling parent who also works outside the home. I have kids from college to pre-school and we have a wide variety of literature we read as well as sci-fi/fantasy due to my obsessed husband. My teen son (14 yrs old) has read a lot, but I still struggle with good audiobooks that aren’t boring, but are still appropriate for all ages (or at least uses words mom already has in her vocabulary).

  8. Loved today’s episode, so much fun & so many great suggestions!
    My suggestion for you is, Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris. This is a story of 3 generations of women in a family, I believe, living on an Indian reservation. Each woman tells her story & the cause and effect becomes visible with each story.
    I read this novel for a book club, back in 1995 & it has stayed with me. I think Dorris had a great insight into women.
    I’d be curious to know if anyone else out there has read this 5 star novel.

  9. Sean Durity says:

    Somehow I feel a bit outside the target demographic, however I enjoyed this episode, as I have enjoyed all them so far. This is my one can’t-miss podcast.

    I added Picnic at Hanging Rock to my TBR list. Probably will add a few others, too. I appreciate the pointers to books and authors outside my (sometimes too tiny) wheelhouse of epic/classic fantasy. I like being a more well-rounded reader and writer (should I ever get back to that novel).

    Is Jan Karon (Mitford series) too familiar/well known to recommend? While I haven’t read them all, my wife loves them. No dead bodies, but the joys and quirkiness of small town life with characters who won’t let go.

  10. Julie says:

    So many great new books! I read Cold Sassy Tree quite a while ago and loved it. I think you will too. I actually thought of suggesting it when one of your favorites was southern fiction but assumed you must have already read it. Makes me want to re-read it! Great characters. Not just a mom book. Not that there is anything wrong with that?

    • Christine says:

      I also loved Cold Sassy Tree when I read it many years ago (I was probably in my 20’s at the time so it’s not a “mom” book). I’ve been meaning to reread it for a long time… maybe this year. I remember it as a coming of age book and also I remember it for the quirky townspeople. Not sure how well I remember it, but I definitely loved it. And I’m not a Southern girl so I wasn’t reading it as Southern fiction. I think you’d enjoy it!

    • Kathleen says:

      Anne, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on Cold Sassy Tree. You grow to love so many of the characters. I believe it is a true American classic.

  11. Kim says:

    I was so surprised to hear my suggestion on the podcast (Submerged)! In response to your question about this book being age appropriate for your son – yes, it should be….there are several occasions where the team is on body retrieval duty and while details are discussed it is always in a respectful manner – and it is always followed with a reminder of how very important it is to follow all dive safety rules.

    I hope this book makes its way onto several TBR lists…mine certainly is now longer thanks to the many wonderful suggestions:-)

    • Kerrie says:

      It made it onto my TBR list! I have already requested it from my library. Out of all the suggestions, I thought this one sounded the best. What an interesting concept for a book. Can’t wait to read it. And bonus- I think my 11 year old will enjoy it too!

    • S says:

      So many of the recommendations are going on my tbr list, but Submerged really hooked me and I also thought it might be good for one of my sons who is a very reluctant reader (astonishes me as well). I loved the story about how you came across it too!! Will go high on the tbr list as one to get my hands on soon!!

      • Kim says:

        My son was not much of a reader, either…his favorite section of the library was the books on tape area (this was 15+ years ago so they really were cassette tapes:-) About 3 years ago he discovered Audible and now he is recommending books to me! So hang in there with your reluctant reader – you never know what title (or what type of media) will be the one that really opens the world of books to him:-)

  12. Angie says:

    I was driving to work this morning listening to your podcast and yelling,”No! Anne!! Start with Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven!!” It’s adorable with likeable characters that you’ll miss once you are finished.

  13. Brucie says:

    I am surprised you had not heard of Julia spencer Fleming ‘s series and I think you’d like it. I am currently obsessed with Louise penny ( on about book 8) and Fleming’ s have some of the same appeal. Although right now I think no one can compare to Louise penny! Another excellent “thinking” mystery series is Jacqueline winspear’s maisie Dobbs books–set in England, post ww1.

  14. Ronnica says:

    Such a great episode! Probably a record for the number of books I have to add to my TBR list from one episode. Was especially good to hear that Louise Penny’s books hit their stride at book 4…only read the first 2 and only found them okay, but will keep on.

  15. Mary says:

    My mom loved cold Sassy Tree but I had recommended it to her! She thought it was authentic of the time. If a mom recommends a book to you, it will usually be good because (1) moms know their children and (2) moms would not want their children to waste time on a so-so book.

  16. Regina K. says:

    Hi Anne, I’m delighted to hear that you speak German as well! I am a reader from Southwestern Germany and have been listening to your podcast while walking my dog over the course of the last year. Since I love contemporary American fiction I got so many great recommendations from you and your interview partners and have already read a couple of books I would probably not have stumbled upon otherwise, so thank you for that!
    If your SUB is not high enough already I have another novel to recommend for you: The Reader (Der Vorleser) by Bernhard Schlink. Do you know anything about it? 😉
    It is a gripping story about the love of books, an unlikely couple and how to deal with history and guilt. Since it was an Oprah’s Book Club pick as well I am sure there is a good translation available. You might of course just as well practice your German, it is only about 200 pages long.
    Keep up the great work!
    Viele Grüße aus Rottweil, Deutschland, von Regina

  17. I was so excited hearing about Far Far Away that I added it to my list to pick up at the library. Then I looked at my bookshelf…(insert sheepish grin) I owned a copy and didn’t know it! LOL I take that as a sign to read it next!
    Great episode as always!

  18. BJ says:

    I think this was my favorite episode of all. It has me checking my library this morning. I already put Hunting and Gathering and Come to the Edge on Hold. Surprisingly, to me, they also had the Camilla Lackberg books. I also want to read the Carey Elwes book, but I’ve never see the Princess Bride (gasp!), so I’ll need to watch that first. I’ve also been shopping in the Amazon Marketplace for used copies of books the library did not stock: Picnic at Hanging Rock, Eating My Words by Mimi Sheraton, A Very Special Year and Submerged. Thanks for fattening up my TBR list, Anne (didn’t really need it!) and for lightening my checkbook (didn’t really need it either!). Happy reading!

  19. Milka says:

    The book that is hanging out in my brain lately is “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben and Tim Flannery. It gave me new eyes – I am staring at every tree on the street wondering about its story! Learning about the social behavior of trees – communicating, learning, caring for each other – absolutely blew my mind over and over. I love books that give you a new perspective on things!

  20. Suzanne T says:

    I’m a big time lurker, but I HAD to offer a comment after this last podcast (which was wonderful!). I’ve read most of Fanny Flagg’s books and the one to begin with is definitely “The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion.” I listened to this one on an 8-hour drive and the time flew by! You’ll LOVE it! I read The Whole Town’s Talking and it wasn’t my favorite. I know you don’t know me, but trust me on this.

  21. Noel Young says:

    Whoa, I recently watched the movie version of “Picnic at Hanging Rock”. What a surprise to hear it mentioned here. I can confirm that it is a very interesting and mysterious story. I had noticed that it was based on a book, but I haven’t read it yet. I am curious to see how they compare.
    Anyway, it was a very enjoyable episode. And a few of the titles mentioned may have made it to my own TBR list.

  22. Annie says:

    Oh Anne, read Cold Sassy Tree!! I heard it recommended to you and definitely second that recommendation. The description may sound a bit boring but it is absolutely wonderful. I first read it when I was 18 years old and it was one of several books that made me fall in love with reading. Read it! It’s fantastic.

  23. Jenn says:

    I fussed around in my mind for a long time about what to recommend–and then I missed the deadline! My boys love listening to your podcast in the car (twins, age 9) and we discussed what I should recommend. Have you read The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey? A poignant tale of a couple who go to homestead in Alaska and their struggles with fertility and the harsh climate. It is based on a Russian folktale of a child built out of snow who comes alive. I loved the description of the land, the characters, and the magical quality of the tale. I also wondered if you have read the Sue Grafton “Alphabet” mysteries? Kinsey Millhone is such a great character; my dad and I have been reading them (in order!) and always like to guess the next title. I would also recommend Archer Mayor, who is a Vermont author and writes mystery/crime novels. He was recently on our local NPR station in an interview:
    Thank you so much for your wonderful website, podcast, and your sharing of book-love information. I look forward to you every week!

  24. Emily York says:

    Hi Anne! Love love love your podcast, blog, and all your recs. Every time I hear your show, I’m surprised no one has mentioned the Poldark series by Winston Graham. I had to order these from the UK (they were written in the 1960’s, I believe), but they are now showing up on bookshelves here in the US, due to the popularity of the show. While Graham is verbose (which I think is endearing about that generation of writers…right up there with Tolkien and CS Lewis’s series), the stories are engaging, and the BBC/PBS surprisingly follow closely along with Winston Graham’s engaging novels, set in the lovely town of Cornwall, England. Happy reading!

    • Victoria says:

      LOVE the Poldark books, I have all the books from when the original series aired on the BBC when I was a teenager. We also spent our holidays in Cornwall so I was familiar with the landscape and places the story was set.

  25. Tana Henry says:

    I’m late to the comment party because I’m catching up on podcasts. This was a great episode! And it’s so funny because my husband read Submerged and insisted I’d love it. I just finished it too, and sure enough it was great!

  26. Victoria says:

    The best part of listening to the podcast is the sheer breadth of books that you cover in each episode. This one in particular was a supernova of books! I find myself stepping more and more outside my book comfort zone to try out your recommendations. On that note I love Scandinavian crime and a new series has just been released over here by Ragnar Jonassen set in Iceland. It is a must for fans of Camilla Lackberg or Jo Nesbo

  27. Mary says:

    Hi Anne.
    I’m a new listener, and this was the first episode I heard. I am now overwhelmed by the number of books I just added to my TBR list and totally excited about all of the good books I will encounter. I had been reading a book a few weeks ago that I put aside bc I decided it wasn’t relevant to me and I wasn’t enjoying it; I feel completely vindicated because I have more time to read books that enthrall me (thanks to you both for reminding me of that)! I really LOVE you calling out good audiobooks; I feel like I am struggling to enjoy them because I get too distracted. I am so excited to listen to As You Wish though!
    I want to recommend Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures by Robert K Wittman & John Shiffman.
    I heard you on Pantsuit Politics a while back. I really enjoyed a recommendation from Beth on a different episode of their podcast, The Conservative Heart by Arthur Brooks.

    • Anne says:

      I thoroughly enjoyed Priceless! I think my husband heard about it on NPR, read it, and promptly recommended it to me. You nailed it. 🙂

      I love Pantsuit Politics, but I didn’t hear the episode where Beth recommended that book. I’ll try to track it down.

  28. Amy Thompson says:

    Please don’t pass by Here If You Need Me because of Kate Braestrup’s tragic (true) backstory. It’s part of what makes her so wise and compassionate. For me, her writing is like reading someone who embodies “presence”. Of course it’s scary to be reminded that we might lose our loved ones, but there is a lot of beauty and hope when we see how someone endures such a loss with incredible grace and resilience.

    • Jenn says:

      I would agree–she is an amazing person–very wise. She preached in Boston and I went to hear her and she is feisty and a great storyteller. The book is not so much about losing her husband, but carrying on his passions and finding immense satisfaction in one’s work. I have had all of her books highly recommended.

  29. Barbara Bocan says:

    Have you read “Snow Falling on Cedars or “East of the Mountains” both by David Guterson? Two of my all time favorites.

  30. Linda Wallace says:

    so the latest from new author Brian Wallace:

    Sweet Thieves available on
    Really awesome read about “stealing others’ pain as a ‘sweet thief'”. He also has a fantasy allegory trilogy called The Pouches of Salem trilogy:
    Pouches of Salem, The Fouling of Salem and Salem Unleashed.

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