WSIRN Ep 82: Obsessive readers and bookish kindred spirit angels

WSIRN Ep 82: Obsessive readers and bookish kindred spirit angels

Today’s guest is Claire Diaz Ortiz, who was an absolute delight to talk to and SO HARD to recommend books to! That's because Claire has a Very Favorite Genre that makes her go "crazy with excitement"—and she's read pretty much every title that falls under it's umbrella. So when it came time to recommend what she should read next ... well, you see the problem. 

In this episode, Claire tells me what she means when she says she's an "obsessive reader," and how she can always spot fellow obsessive readers aka "bookish kindred spirit angels". We discuss the ways our personalities influence how we read. And of course we dive into Claire’s very favorite genre—the one that makes her heart sing—and I gotta tell you, I laughed out loud the first time she told me what it was.

Today’s episode was TOUGH for me, because Claire isn't kidding when she says she's read everything, but we made it through, and had a lot of fun—and a LOT of book talk—in the process.

Connect with Claire:

Website | Twitter | FacebookInstagram | LinkedIn

A few of Claire's books: 

• Design Your Day: Be More Productive, Set Better Goals, and Live Life On Purpose, by Claire Diaz-Ortiz
• Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time, by Claire Diaz-Ortiz
• Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption, by Claire Diaz-Ortiz
• Greater Expectations: Succeed (and Stay Sane) in an On-Demand, All-Access, Always-On Age, by Claire Diaz-Ortiz
 The Better Life: Small Things You Can Do Right Where You Are, by Claire Diaz-Ortiz

Connect with Anne:

Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | WSIRN Instagram

Books mentioned in this episode:

• Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, by Alexandra Fuller
• Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, Alexandra Fuller
• Leaving Before the Rains Come, Alexandra Fuller
• Euphoria, by Lily King
• The People in the Trees, by Hanya Yanagihara
• State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett
• Superbetter: The Power of Living Gamefully, by Jane McGonigal
• Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, by Amy Cuddy
• New Slow City: Living Simply in the World's Fastest City, by William Powers
• Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream, by William Powers
• Hamlet's BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age, by William Powers
• The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
• Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
• A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda, by Josh Ruxin
• What Falls from the Sky: How I Disconnected from the Internet and Reconnected with the God Who Made the Clouds, by Esther Emery
• The Need to Help: The Domestic Arts of International Humanitarianism, by Liisa H. Malkki
• At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe, by Tsh Oxenreider
• The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom
• Glory Over Everything, by Kathleen Grissom
• Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah
• Circling The Sun, by Paula McLain
• West With the Night, by Beryl Markham
• Who’s Your City: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life, by Richard Florida
• The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, by Gretchen Rubin
• The House in the Sky, by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett
• Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother and Daughter Journey to the Sacred Places of Greece, Turkey, and France, by Sue Monk Kidd
• The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd
• The Constant Gardener, by John le Carré
• In Other Words, by Jhumpa Lahiri
• Little Bee, by Chris Cleave
• Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds, by Kara Richardson Whitely

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What do YOU think Claire should read next? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Jennifer C-L says:

    Claire, you might enjoy Teacher by Sylvia Ashton-Warner an account of her time working with young Maori children in New Zealand earlier era. I loved New Slow City and 12×12!

  2. tdgl says:

    Just getting around to commenting on Tuesday’s show:
    1. You made me miss my exit. 🙂
    2. Thank you for defending “Everything I Never Told You,” one of my favorites. As you pointed out, it’s really not about what happened to Lydia. It’s about how people come to be the way they are, trying to stand out or trying to fit in.
    3. I never would have considered the Trevor Noah book. Now it’s on my library hold list (in audio).

  3. Jenny Warren says:

    Claire, have you read, “If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It Isn’t Big Enough” written by Kristine K. Stevens? I picked this up at the SCAD store in Savannah, GA. I loved the title❤️ I am really enjoying it!

  4. Gretchen says:

    A stranger in a strange land story with a reverse African twist is An African in Greenland by Tete-Michel Kpomassie, a Togolese man who dreamed of travelling to Greenland once he heard about it as a boy and wrote about his adventures.

  5. Shannon says:

    I loved this episode and reading through all the comments! I’ve been looking to diversify my reading, and my TBR just exploded! I tend to read about British ex-pats in a strange land and have a few recommendations for Claire. Penelope Lively’s Dancing Fish and Ammonites covers some of her childhood in Cairo, and I’ve heard good things about her other book Oleander, Jacaranda. Related to your interest in Beryl Markham, The Bolter by Frances Osborne takes place in Kenya. For my last recommendation, it covers a lot of British monarchy but also living in India as they transitioned to independence, Pamela Hicks: Daughter of Empire is an interesting look at India.

  6. BJ says:

    I really enjoyed this podcast. My favorite subgenres are foodie memoirs and memoirs of stranger in another land although I usually like France, Italy and Greece but I immediately googled the Josh Ruxin book and put it on my TBR list. Nothing could be better than a mix of my two favs. Also added the mother/daughter travel book by Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter.

  7. Brian says:

    First WSIRN podcast I’ve listened to, thanks to a recommendation from my sister. Was happy to hear Born a Crime discussed, which is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Even though I was looking forward to it, it easily exceeded my expectations (am now tempted to listen to the audio version that was mentioned). Since Noah’s childhood overlapped with South African apartheid, I also thought of The Bang Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War, by Greg Marinovich & Joao Silva. The authors are photo journalists who covered the final days of apartheid.

  8. Mary Holland says:

    Have you read Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube by Blair Braverman? It’s not exactly a travel memoir, but it’s about woman finding herself in a foreign land (the great white north) and the process of making it her own. It’s definitely a journey and reads a bit like a novel. I just finished it and have some mixed feelings, but I learned a lot about Norwegian men and a bit about dog sledding.

    Also, I love this podcast! I am a librarian that doesn’t read enough (don’t tell the others!) and can’t wait to hone some speed reading skills so I can check titles off the list (that is growing faster than ever).

  9. Jessica says:

    LOVED this episode.

    Claire– Have you read Love, Africa by Jeffrey Gettleman? He’s the NY Times Bureau Chief for East Africa (based in Nairobi). I haven’t read yet, but it’s a very new Mzungu in Africa book that you may not have heard of yet!

  10. Molly says:

    One book I thought of while listening to this episode is Jungleland by Christopher S. Stewart. It’s not set in Africa, but I think it would count as a travel memoir. It’s about a man’s journey into the Amazon exploring the river and the rain forest while also recounting a previous explorer’s attempt to do the same. Definitely a “stranger in a strange land” sort of book. I also second The Kitchen House. I started reading this not quite sure I liked where it was going, but it has become one of my top favorites.

  11. Karen Allen says:

    I haven’t finished listening to the episode yet, but was happy to hear Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight mentioned! I just finished it 4-5 days ago and enjoyed it a lot.
    There is an older series of books by Elizabeth Warnok Fernea – Guests of the Sheik (Iraqi village), one set in Egypt (I can’t find it in print anymore) and A Street in Marrahkesh: A personal view of urban women in Morocco – which are very good. The ease with which she became a participant of village life in Iraq vs. the long struggle to become a member of the community in Marrahkesh was fascinating.

  12. Claire says:

    I knew I was going to love this episode when I heard it was with someone called Claire who was an INFJ – a namesake who speaks my language! Loved hearing Claire gasp in shock when Anne nailed a book she hadn’t even heard of – with the amount of books that you’d already read, I was pretty shocked too! Goes to show that even for the most specific and avid readers, there are always new titles waiting to be discovered.

    I’m not a big reader of travel memoir but some of these books sound so interesting. My Amazon wish list is getting awfully expensive – roll on Christmas!

  13. Kate says:

    I’m surprised nobody has recommended Cutting for Stone by Abraham
    Verghese. It’s not nonfiction, and it’s not exactly a stranger in Africa, but it’s about illegitimate half-European twins being raised by Indian doctors in Ethiopia and embarking on medical careers there. It’s an amazing book.

  14. Sarah says:

    Listening to this episode, I wondered if you’ve considered historical travel memoirs? There are so many amazing one – a quirky one that immediately came to mind was Embassy to Constantinople: The Travels of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (memoir of an 18th century British ambassador’s wife on their posting to Constantinople).

  15. Lisa says:

    The Weight of Heaven By Thrity Umrigar just came up in my book bub email this morning. Anyone read it and if so what did you think?

  16. Celeste Huntington says:

    Fabulous episode! While listening to you all talk about non-fiction, I thought of a book for Claire by Maryanne Wolf – Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. Don’t be intimidated by Wolf, a cognitive neuroscientist. She has such a clear and boundless love of literature. It’s a book that I find myself coming back to think about constantly.

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