WSIRN Ep 71: A super-elegant apocalypse with Knox McCoy

Another Tuesday morning, another new episode of What Should I Read Next!

Today’s guest is an early member of the WSIRN family. If you were a listener back at the very beginning of our show, you have Knox to thank for getting the first 11 episodes into your ears as our behind-the-scenes producer. You may ALSO know him as the cohost of The POPcast with Knox and Jamie, a personal favorite podcast of my own.In this episode Knox and I discuss star-studded audiobooks, how much nostalgia a book can take before it’s overkill, and more… while I tried to stay cool about my fear of getting RED lighted on a future episode of the POPcast. If you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, you’ll just have to hit that PLAY button. 😉


What Should I Read Next #71: A super-elegant apocalypse with Knox McCoy

Connect with Knox McCoy:
Website | Twitter | Instagram

Check out The POPcast with Knox and Jamie:
iTunes | WebsiteTwitter | Instagram | Facebook

Books mentioned in this episode:

Some links are affiliate links. More details here.

• We Are Not Prepared: A Gripping Domestic Drama, by Meg Little Reilly
• Author Rob Bell
The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
• Author Emily St. John Mandel
• Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel
• The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
• The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
• Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley
• Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
• Razor Girl, by Carl Hiaasen
• Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
• The Expats, by Chris Pavone
 The Accident, by Chris Pavone
• The Good Father, Noah Hawley
• The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

Also mentioned: 

• “The Gone Girl With The Dragon Tattoo On The Train”, by Emily St John Mandel via FiveThirtyEight
• Books on the Nightstand #374: Commercial vs. literary fiction
• I Don’t Even Own A Television podcast: Ready Player One
• Chris Pavone on Books On The Nightstand podcast

more posts you might enjoy


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  1. Ashley says:

    So excited to hear you recommend Lincoln in the Bardo! I absolutely loved it and find myself working through it in my mind. Quick unsolicited (!!!) tip – I read the book and listened to the audiobook. The cast is phenomenal in the audiobook, however, because of the unique way the book is formatted, I found the audiobook to be MUCH more enjoyable after reading the book on the page. Knowing the structure helped me follow the many voices more easily. It’s obviously a commitment to both read and listen to a book, but there’s so much in this one to try and follow and catch, it may be worth it for some… Also, Saunders plays the Reverend, which for diehard Saunders’ fans is a little slice of heaven.

    • Kaytee Cobb says:

      This is EXACTLY what I was going to say. The audiobook is a masterpiece, but I had to go pick up a physical copy of the book and page through it so I understood what was going on. I was way too confused otherwise (although now I’m glad I didn’t buy the Kindle version either!!!)

      • Christine says:

        Me too!It is such a unique way to tell a story, but I did need both the book and the audio to fully understand it.

    • Kaia Strand says:

      I second Ashley’s motion, but I wasn’t as generous/patient about the formatting and structure’s impact on the audio version. I could not follow the audio, which I pre-ordered on Audible, but thankfully, I was the first one to snatch up the library’s copy and started completely over. It was a book that, for me, required a lot of back and forth page turning. The only way I could have listened is with the book in hand. Maybe someday, as the book had to be returned, but not before I finished it. Very intriguing book. Odd, insightful and a bit of a grayish dream.

  2. Sara Kilpatrick says:

    So happy to hear Knox on the show! I absolutely love listening to him and Jamie on the Popcast, but books are my first love so it’s even better when my favorite podcasters talk books! 🙂

    I loved the discussion of Ready Player One. I didn’t hate the book like Knox did, but I wasn’t as impressed with all the nostalgia in the book as so many people were. I grew up in the 80’s, but I wasn’t into the same things as Ernest Cline apparently. I mean where were the my little ponies, popples, wuzzles, mario and donkey kong??

    I have no recommendations for Knox because I don’t read very much post-apocalyptic fiction (aside from things nearly everyone has read), but if Knox wants to branch out into historical fiction I’m your girl 🙂

  3. Ginger says:

    My itchy fingers just had to google, and Station Eleven IS becoming a movie! Oh I am so excited to see this “elegant apocalypse” (because that is the absolute perfect description for it, and also, maybe the phrase for my ideal genre).

  4. Kyla says:

    I loved how Knox was able to describe what he likes in a book – the voice, not too many characters or storylines, two things that don’t seem to go together. After listening to WSIRN for over a year, I’m getting better about noticing what I like or don’t like, but I’m still working on it. Regarding books mentioned: I hated Ready Player One. I’d heard so many good things about it that I read a full hundred pages before I put it down – much further than i normally would have. I have no problem with DNF! I don’t think I disliked it for the same reasons as Knox, but it was totally not my thing. Also, I’ve never read Carl Hiassen, but my husband loves him and has read everything he’s written. Happy reading!

    • Laura says:

      Yes! This has been one of my favorite things I’ve gleaned from the podcast- The diagnosis of a person’s reading style. It’s insightful when someone can describe their own taste so clearly. It’s helped me understand my own better. (Also, I didn’t care for RPO either! Stopped after 75 pages and then quit the audio too)

  5. Kyla says:

    PS: Has anyone else noticed how many “The So-and-so’s Wife” titles out there lately? So annoying. I refuse to read them!

  6. Courtney C says:

    I loved these recommendations for Knox. I just came across “Lincoln in the Bardo” and was intrigued by it, but didn’t purchase it — now that I’ve heard Anne’s take on it, I am adding it to my TBR list!

    I also wanted to chime in on Carl Hiaasen — he’s a fun author whose books I have enjoyed over the years. Once you read a couple of them, you’ll see that he sticks to a couple of central themes: Florida, quirky characters, wacky crimes, and lots of humor. I have found that I return to him every year or two when I am looking for something engaging and humorous. He has also written a few books for kids and teens. My kids really love “Flush”, “Scat”, “Chomp”, and “Hoot.” In these, he takes a lot of the same themes that he explores in his adult novels, but makes them appropriate for young readers — without talking down to them. These are really fun stories to listen to — our whole family likes to listen to them in the car on road trips. I hope you try out more from Hiaasen, Knox!

  7. Georgia says:

    I loved this episode! I have a rec for Knox…Until recently I’ve been a reluctant audiobook listener, but I would highly recommend Sleeping Giants. (Also seems like it might have story elements Knox would like.) It’s mostly in interview format and each character is very well portrayed by the readers. Happy reading (and listening!)

  8. Leigh Kramer says:

    Loved listening to this! I frequently disagree with Knox while listening to The Popcast but I was on board with his perspective throughout this episode, especially when he was talking about how it’s hard to give up on a book. Right there with you, good sir. I’m also thankful Knox didn’t like Ready Player One since everyone ganged up on me to read it after I was on WSIRN- still holding strong on not reading it.

    Since I know Knox loved The Passage and he loves books that keep him guessing, I’d suggest he try The Girl With All The Gifts. For a true mystery, Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike series and No One Knows by J.T. Ellison.

    • Jennifer N. says:

      I was going to recommend Girl With All the Gifts, too. That was one of my favorite books of 20163. For a bonus, he can watch the movie with Glenn Close that I thought was really well done (available for rent on Amazon.)

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Great episode and so excited to hear Lincoln in the Bardo discussed. I listened to it, and found it weird and brilliant. I am anxious to discuss with other readers/listeners. Hot tip: it needs your full attention, especially at the beginning when you are figuring out the structure. I started it on 1.25 speed at the dentist’s office and had to start over.

    On another note, I also loved The Secret History, and I think Knox might like The Likeness by Tana French. Those two reminded me of one another with their tight little mysterious worlds and an outsider coming in.

  10. Sarah says:

    Knox, I totally agree with your take on Ready Player One! On top of that, it drove me NUTS that he had so many thought-provoking themes that could have given a lot of depth to the story if he’d been willing to explore them, but instead he just skated right past them.

    I also have a recommendation for you. I think you’d probably enjoy Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy. I’m normally a one-book-a-week reader, but I blew through the entire trilogy in one week, it was that good. It’s about a boy who has been raised by a group of colonists in the future who have settled on a new planet. I know it sounds sci-fi, but it feels more dystopian, especially since the story starts 14ish years after they landed. It has tons of suspense and action but also plenty of depth, and it’s told really well. It’s not as elegant as Station Eleven;) but I still think you’d enjoy it.

  11. It was fun to see this different side of Knox! Here are my suggestions for him:
    – if he can deal with YA romance, Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
    – and something by Chris Bohjalian – maybe Miswives or Before You Know Kindness.

  12. Carol O'Brien says:

    Was so glad to hear you recommend Lincoln in the Bardo. It was just chosen for our book club for April and I resisted. I had read Tenth of December, my first experience of George Saunders, and couldn’t finish it, thought his writing was too bizarre. A friend shared a copy on Audible but again I was having a hard time following what Saunders was doing. I liked the parts that featured Lincoln but I was thinking the rest was too weird. So I read some reviews, which I don’t like to do before I finish a book, and that got me interested enough, that I bought the book. I then started over, reading the book while I listened to the audio. Once I understood the structure and what he was doing, I thought it was brilliant. The text helped me follow it more easily and the audio was a joy, giving me a much fuller appreciation of the characters and dialogue than I think I would have achieved on my own. The device of meeting all sorts of people in the Bardo was ingenious in that he could show us so many aspects of the human condition. And his language is gorgeous, mirrors beautifully the language of the historical references from the time. I loved this book and have a newfound admiration for George Saunders. I hope Knox will feel the same.

  13. I was out walking my dog this morning here in Littleton, CO. Snow still covers the foothills but the sun was coming out strong.

    This episode made me giddy for several reasons.
    1. Ann, you and Knox had great synchronicity. I feel feel the bookish vibe between you two.
    2. Just this morning I was in a Facebook conversation with someone who had mentioned Beauty and the Beast. Here’s my comment: I’m not in the loop. They redid Beauty and the Beast? Like in cartoon style? Like when my kids were younger….that Beauty and the Beast?
    Her response: Your ability to remain under the radar on such things astounds me. It is not an animated/cartoon style remake. Emma Watson, you probably know her from ‘Harry Pott…’oh, never mind. 🙂 Anyway, Ms. Watson plays Belle and “Matthew Crawley” (did you ever watch Downton Abby?) is the Beast. There’s also Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson and Ian McKellen and one of my favorites, Kevin Klein. It’s a fabulous film.

    So clearly even though I watch political news all day long, read 60 books a year, and listen to 10 podcasts, I’m in deep need of knowledge of pop culture. I’ve never heard of your podcast Knox but I added it to my playlist.

    3. I hated The Road. All that darkness and what was the point? 🙂 I also didn’t get the point of La La Land although I appreciated the talent and creativity.

    4. I recently applied to be on Ann’s podcast and told her of my dilemma: My husband and I are trying to find a good book to share via audio for our trip to Mexico in a few weeks. He reads almost nothing but computer programming books. As a counselor, I read nothing but selfhelp and memoir. He’s read two books in our 30 years of marriage: Carl Hiassen’s Sick Puppy and John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief. We have listened to two audio book together and loved them both (Unbroken and The Telling Room). I was pretending I was Ann trying to figure out what my hubby likes and he said, “quirky characters.”

    Thanks for this fun discussion.

    • Lorraine says:

      I loved this episode as well. Another vote for LITB and the suggestion to do both print and audio, with print first (or at least start the print to get a feel for the structure). I saw GS a few weeks ago and he read part of the book with several others onstage-it was fantastic.
      Lucille, I think you and your husband would enjoy the audio of The Boys in the Boat. Edward Hermann (Grandpa Gilmore!) does the narration and it wonderful (as you know; he narrates Unbroken as well).
      Seabiscuit would be another that I think would be an enjoyable audio for the two you. Have a great trip!

  14. Laura says:

    Knox might be the guest who’s tastes are most similar to my own! I think Knox would like The Nix by Nathan Hill and maybe he would also try A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. The Secret History is my second favorite book and The Nix is my favorite. I also loved Before the Fall. I’m reading A Little Life now because I was recommended it because of The Secret History.

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