WSIRN Ep 85: When your best friend hates your favorite book (and you hate hers)

WSIRN Ep 85: When your best friend hates your favorite book (and you hate hers)

WSIRN is going international once again! Today I’m talking to Charity Dušíková, an Iowa native who—as you’ll hear—is now a permanent resident in a small town in the Czech Republic*. We talk about how she ended up making her big move, what convinced her to stay, and the impact that big life change has had on her reading life. We discuss navigating difficult bookish situations, like what to do when you HATE your best friend’s favorite book. And of course we dive into Charity’s favorites.

On that note, a funny thing happened to ME when I just listened through this episode before sharing it with you. Recently, I was inspired to finally pull an old book off my shelf, one that I’ve been meaning to read for ages. One night I needed a new book to read, and I saw it on my shelf, and thought, You know, I’ve had this on my mind lately, I’m going to start it now—and I did. But I didn’t realize until my listen-through that the REASON it was on my mind? Was because Charity named it as one of her favorites. You’ll hear all about it—it’s the memoir she chooses as the second of her three favorite books.

Let’s dive into this episode!

What Should I Read Next #85: When your best friend hates your favorite book (and you hate hers) with Charity Dušíková

Connect with Charity Dušíková on her blog

Connect with Anne:

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*Charity asked to add the following footnote: “Ostrava is an industrial city with a history of mining and with a steel industry.  Though the mining has ceased, the steel industry is still at work (hence the connection to Detroit).  My dear Ostrova has much more to offer than just mining and steel!”

Books mentioned in this episode:

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• Life and Death in Shanghai, by Cheng Nien
• Author W.E.B. Du Bois
• The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
• Author Maeve Binchey
• Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger
• Author James Herriot
• When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
Delights & Shadows, by Ted Kooser
• My Name Is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok
• The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion
• A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
• Prince Caspian, by C.S. Lewis
• One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, by Ann Voskamp
• UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, by Dr. Michele Borba
Mistress Bradstreet: The Untold Life of America’s First Poet, Charlotte Gordon
• Author Agatha Christie
• The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera
• Hourglass: Time, Memory, and Marriage, by Dani Shapiro
• Crossing To Safety, by Wallace Stegner
• The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
• Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
• The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje
• The Crosswicks Journals series, by Madeleine L’Engle
• Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, by Madeleine L’Engle
• A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

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14 comments | Comment


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  1. Kirsten says:

    Thrilled that Kooser’s book is a favorite! I love his writing. (I grew up in Nebraska, now living in Illinois). Hope you enjoy his writing, Anne.

  2. Susan says:

    Good episode! I also really liked the The Year of Magical Thinking (loved the Emily Post part as well) and did not really enjoy Confederacy of Dunces. I just put Peace Like a River on hold at the library. I would recommend Abigail Thomas’ 3 memoirs — I maybe oddly read them in reverse order because I just happened to pick up her last one up the library first — What Comes Next and How to Like It, and then her second book was available before her first. They are sort of poetic, short, simple snippets of her life. It is somewhat in the vein of The Year of Magical Thinking because they are both how people think and the knowledge and information they bring into a situation and how they weave that into the situation they are in as they process and make sense of it. I think her second book, Three Dog Life, is maybe her most popular, but I am partial to her third, but maybe only because I read it first.

    I also really liked Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. It is about his experience in the Holocaust and how it related to his psychological research into the search for meaning in one’s life. Very moving and interesting and again someone weaving their life experience into a situation and how they process it. A Holocaust memoir with a completely different feel is But You Did Not Come Back by Marceline Loridan-Ivens — it is a short book, and it is a hard book to read, but it feels poetic, and it stayed with me after I read it.

  3. Mary says:

    Though I have not read it, I wonder if Charity might enjoy the memoir by Madeleine Albright, “Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937–1948?” Albright was born in Czechoslovakia and describes her early years there. She went on to become the United States Secretary of State, and the first woman to hold that position, at that! Though I do not agree with all of her politics, her life story appears to be quite fascinating.

    Another memoir is “A Romantic Education” by Patricia Hampl. Hampl grew up in the Mid-West (similarity!) and traveled to Prague to connect with her heritage.

    Charity, have you read “O Pioneers!” and “My Antonia” by Willa Cather?

    • Charity Dušíková says:

      I LOVE Willa Cather and was on a bit of a reading binge of her work this spring. Thanks for the recommendations; they’re definitely going on my TBR list.

  4. Jamie says:

    Charity has a very soothing voice to listen to. It made for an ever more wonderful listening experience than usual! Since she mentioned Peace Like a River (or was it the poet that was her second favorite?) being one of her favorites partly because it made her feel like she was coming home, I thought she might enjoy reading An American Childhood by Annie Dillard. It is a beautifully but simply written memoir of growing up in Pittsburg in the 1950s. Many of the passages seemed to take thoughts out of my own childhood and put them in writing on the page, even though I grew up in a different time and place than Dillard. She captures childhood and the transition into early adolescence very well. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  5. tdgl says:

    I **SO** agree about A Conferacy of Dunces. Someone told me many years ago that it was just the most hilarious book, and it was so interesting how it ended up getting published. I couldn’t wait to read it, and then I hated it. Couldn’t get past the first few pages. Couldn’t figure out what I wasn’t getting. Now, many years later, I decided to give it a try in audio. Still didn’t like it, but I will say that the narrator does a really good job with Ignatius and many of the other characters. The way he shouted “Oh-my-GOD” was just how I imagine he would sound. But all in all, I still don’t get it.

  6. ImLisaAnn says:

    From listening to your choices, I think you might really enjoy “The Heart” by Maylis de Kerangal. It’s originally in French, translated into English. It was absolute POETRY. There is some action in the book, though that isn’t the point. I read, re-read, and re-re-read sentences just to hear how they sounded and to marvel at the word choice (all the more impressive given that it was translated into another language and it was still so shockingly beautiful). The book does center around grief, as the parents of a 19 year old boy come to terms with his dead and decide to donate his organs (hence the title) so I would give that trigger warning–it is along the same lines as The Year of Magical Thinking in that regard. If you’re in a place where you can read about the death of a child, then I cannot recommend this book highly enough for how beautiful it is.

  7. Sarah M says:

    I’m late to the game on this episode, but so many fun connections here–I’m from Lincoln, NE and was an English major where Ted Kooser works. His poetry is some of my favorite, too (and I love poetry) and he is rumored to have said something to the effect of ‘if my secretary doesn’t get it, the poem isn’t done’, to show the accessibility (he used to work at an insurance agency).
    Also, Madeline L’Engle is one of my all-time favorites, too, and I have literally been reading one of her Crosswicks Journals per year just to SAVOR them over years. I have two left. I can’t *wait* to see the new Wrinkle in Time movie with an all-star cast.

  8. Christina Fridrick says:

    Hi Charity,
    I enjoyed hearing your story of how you got to Czech Republic. My husband’s grandfather came from CZ and it is a country we have been privileged to visit several times. I am interested in learning more about the organization that you volunteered with to teach english when you were younger. Are you able to share the name of the organization? Thank you.

    • Charity Dusikova says:

      Hello Christina, as a teenager, I volunteered with my church in partnership with another church in the CZ. Our churches knew each other through some Reach Global missionaries. Reach Global, Josiah Venture, and Young Life are all active in the CZ. After university I did a Fulbright (as an ETA) for one year.

  9. I wonder if Kyrie, by Ellen Bryant Voigt might be a wonderful find for Charity? It is a collection of poems, accessible, direct, and beautiful, that tells a story of a town that gets hit by the flu and WWI together. It is incredibly thought-provoking, but lovely…

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