8 books our team couldn’t wait to read next

Readers, it’s a BIG week over here with a book launch AND the 300th episode of What Should I Read Next. Our fabulous team of readers is celebrating in our favorite way: book recommendations! 

I’ve shared my WSIRN guest-inspired reads, and now it’s time to hear from the avid readers who keep things running behind the scenes. 

I love getting book recommendations from this incredible crew who bring you amazing book content, week in and week out. Today, our team members are sharing books they had to read after hearing about them on the podcast, along with why they picked them up.

Our team members’ reading tastes are all over the map (you should see the variety in our “book talk” channel on Slack!), so there’s a mix of mystery, science fiction, and even picture books on today’s list.

If one of today’s titles intrigues you, go ahead and download the corresponding What Should I Read Next episode wherever you get your podcasts for more book recs and readerly conversation.

WSIRN-inspired reads from a team of devoted bookworms

Still Life (Chief Inspector Gamache Mysteries, No. 1)

Still Life (Chief Inspector Gamache Mysteries, No. 1)

From Donna: Back in 2017 when I heard Episode 72: Embarrassing bookworm confessions with Madeleine Riley, Louise Penny wasn’t recommended as much as she is today. When I heard Madeleine say she loved the books in this series so much that she read twelve of them in six months, I knew I had to read the first one. Anne warns the listeners that the first three books are a little slow, but I was hooked immediately by Still Life, and now the Inspector Gamache series is my favorite of all time. Louise Penny writes the following in the acknowledgements in Kingdom of the Blind about her books: “They’re about kindness, acceptance. Gratitude. They’re not so much about death, as life. And the consequences of the choices we make.” That’s what sets these books apart from other mystery series for me. More info →
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Iron Lake (Cork O’Connor Book 1)

Iron Lake (Cork O’Connor Book 1)

From Will: I sat down with Anne in Episode 214: Deconstructing your best reading year yet to reflect on my reading life and get recommendations to keep the momentum going. Anne quickly mentioned, “I think you’d enjoy more William Kent Krueger,” and she was right. I have enjoyed more William Kent Krueger, and I’ve particularly loved the Cork O’Connor series. Cork is a sometimes down-on-his-luck detective exploring the boundary waters and navigating the tensions between a white community and an Anishinaabe reservation in Minnesota. There’s a lot of hunting, canoeing, and snow, but there’s also a good bit of philosophy, family, and religion. I’ve read about half of the 18 book series, and the familiarity of the characters and the little town helped me get back into the books when I was struggling to read last year. More info →
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Nothing to See Here

Nothing to See Here

From Brenna: I put Wilson’s 2019 release on my TBR after hearing Anne recommend it to Brian Eichenberger in Episode 201: The hidden value of a terrible reading experience and finally got around to reading it in June. I thought it would simply be a weird and fun "filler" read—but it delivered on a much deeper level, and I found myself resonating with Lillian, a woman who takes a secretive nanny job she’s completely unprepared for, as well as the fiery children in her care. Wilson nails the themes of childhood trauma and chosen families without heavy-handedness. The writing is smart and aerodynamic—I flew through this in 24 hours! Since finishing Nothing to See Here I’ve read two more of Wilson’s books, and am on my way to being a completist. More info →
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Magic for Liars

Magic for Liars

From Leigh: This recommendation came by way of Brenna, to Anne, to Kendra Adachi, and then to me when I listened to Episode 245: Finding the right mix for your reading life. It’s a murder mystery set at a magical high school! Of course I had to try it. I simultaneously wanted to protect private investigator Ivy’s sensitive heart while yelling at her to stop jumping to conclusions and focus on the case. And maybe deal with her drinking problem while she’s at it. I inhaled this story. With their fresh voice, snappy plot, and complex characterization, Sarah Gailey quickly became one of my go-to authors. More info →
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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers Book 1)

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers Book 1)

From Shannan: In Episode 268: Our team’s best books of the year, Brenna convinced me to pick up my first Becky Chambers novel, the first book of four in her Wayfarers Series. Brenna said, “Not only was it a beautiful story, but I came away feeling better and thinking about ways that I wanted to live my life better…” I generally read to learn new things and become a better person, so I was curious to find out whether a sci-fi/fantasy book could deliver that experience for me. Well, did it ever! Chambers is my newest favorite author. I will read anything that she writes. More info →
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The Other Black Girl

The Other Black Girl

From Ginger: Of course I was going to read this debut novel after Anne handpicked it for me as one of my WSIRN selections when I was a guest on Episode 283: Don't save the good stuff. But it got pushed right up to my priority TBR list when Shannan and Shawntaye recorded a Patreon bonus episode discussing it not long after. I knew I wanted to listen in on two good bookish friends in conversation about the book everyone was already talking about, but I needed to read it before listening to their insights. Sometimes you need a reason to push something from your someday list to your now-is-the-day list! I’m so glad bonus episode 112: Buddy reading The Other Black Girl with Shannan and Shawntaye provided that push for me. More info →
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Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World Book 1)

Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World Book 1)

From Holly: Anne recommended this to Elizabeth Cooper in Episode 244: You love to read—don't ruin it, and when she described it as an immersive, apocalyptic fantasy, I knew I needed to pick it up! I described this young adult novel to a friend as “Buffy meets Longmire meets The Hunger Games” and it's some of the most imaginative fantasy writing I've encountered in recent years. The main character, Maggie, is a monster hunter with special powers. When a young girl goes missing, she’s called upon to investigate, and you’re dropped right into the action with her. I was enraptured by the world-building and the Navajo mythologies that Roanhorse introduced, and I can't wait to read more in The Sixth World series. More info →
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Last Stop on Market Street

Last Stop on Market Street

From Chelsey: I’m always on the lookout for new picture books to share with my nephews. When I heard Anne recommend this title for Sara’s collection in Episode 260: A little free library with a life of its own, I knew I needed it for “Aunt Bookworm Reading Time.” The illustrations—and the message—in this Newbery, Caldecott, and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book are beautiful. It’s the story of a young boy named CJ and his grandma encountering a diverse group of passengers on a bus ride to their local soup kitchen. As they pass through the neighborhood, CJ has lots of questions for his grandma, and she answers them with honesty and care. More info →
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What book landed on your To Be Read list because of What Should I Read Next? We can’t wait to hear what you picked up!

P.S. Keep track of your reading life with my new reading journal, in bookstores near you! If you’d like a signed copy, place an order from my local indie Carmichael’s Bookstore and include a note in the order comments for personalization.

P.P.S. Hear our team recommend their best books of summer in Episode 291 and check out their recommendations for 18 backlist books your book club will want to talk about.

8 books we couldn't wait to read next


Leave A Comment
  1. Susan says:

    The pop up ads are really getting dense. There were eight just in this one post. I know it helps keep blogs viable but its getting to be a very frustrating distraction on an otherwise lovely blog.

  2. Tracie says:

    Louise Penny is definitely the biggest one for me. I hadn’t heard of her, but Anne kept recommending the Three Pines books. I started in February 2020 and read all of them by the time All the Devils are Here came out in September 2020. I just love all of the characters and the stories. I want to live in that area of southern Quebec and absolutely plan to visit when I can. I know Three Pines is fictional, but the actual area looks lovely! I have introduced several friends to the series, and they also read all of the books, so it’s fun to share that with them. I just got the newest book from the library and can’t wait to start!!!

    • Diane says:

      I started reading Penny when someone in my book club made it the months selection. I have to admit I was a bit snobbish about the selection and was I ever wrong. I loved it and since have read every one. Another lesson in prejudging. I love the audio and have a big crush on Gamache. I really dislike freezing weather but I would endure it to live in Three Pines with all the quirky characters

  3. dee driscole says:

    Love the suggestions from your staff. Consider doing this quarterly. I am curious to see who is closer to my reading preference

    Received my journal yesterday. It is beautiful. Thanks for not only developing it but having such a beautiful, quality product. Makes me smile.

  4. Kara says:

    I recently finished The Other Black Girl and loved it! I was really taken in by the evolution of the story from insights into a difficult work environment to full-on psychological thriller!

  5. Cara Davis says:

    I’ve add Three Pines to my “places I’d like to live after retirement” list thanks to you, Anne! The only downside is that the likelihood of me getting murdered there is quite high. I’ll risk it.

  6. Cyndi Moskal says:

    Half of my TBR comes from the What Should I Read Next? podcast but one of my absolute favorites I’ve read so far is Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen from Episode 160 (is that cheating because he was the guest?). I still remember listening while I was staining my deck and stopping to add the book to by Goodreads list. I fell in love with his characters, even the frustrating ones, and reading his backlist was one of my 2021 reading challenges.

  7. Tracie says:

    Another one is Addie Larue. I remember Anne saying “this isn’t out for a while, but…” and it sounded so good that I put it on my list to get when it came out.

    • Stephanie says:

      Just read Addie LaRue recently and loved it! I don’t normally pick up anything in the fantasy genre, but it was pretty light on the fantasy as it’s not like people are flying around on dragons or something. haha. Not sure whether I’ll pick up any of the author’s other work, but couldn’t put that one down!

  8. Karina says:

    I’m in the middle of Mexican Gothic after listening to an episode where the guest said this book was a bit too scary for her. I’m loving it so far!

  9. Emily B says:

    So many have already been added to and marked off of my TBR list because of an episode but one that I absolutely adored and can’t wait to reread as soon as the colder weather descends is Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. Heard about it on the episode with the Grandmother/Granddaughter duo about reading across generations. I think next go I’ll “read” it on audio.

    • Stephanie says:

      I felt the same. I was into the book until the end and then thought, what?! I was disappointed. Based on all the talk about it, maybe my expectations were too high. But I’m not sure I’d recommend it.

    • Brenna says:

      I did really enjoy Perfect Little World, it has that same theme of parenting children that aren’t yours, but this time the children are by and large happy (the adults are… not.) I still like Nothing To See Here best, but Perfect Little World was a nice way to spend a weekend and very thought provoking!

      CW: Perfect Little World does include some additional difficult topics, such as grooming / sexual abuse of a minor, self harm, and infidelity.

      • Adrienne says:

        Hi Brenna! My daughter had Kevin Wilson, author of Nothing to See Here, as her English Professor at Sewanee University a few years ago. She said he was a great professor, and has a very quirky and hilarious sense of humor… Small world!

  10. Laura says:

    I couldn’t list all of the fantastic books I’ve found from WSIRN. As in, probably hundreds! Thanks! I listened to the very first episode of the show while traveling in a town in Bavaria in January 2016- I heard about the podcast and knew I had to find a way to listen even though I didn’t have international cell phone plan. Have been listening ever since 😊

  11. Deepa R Nirmal says:

    Definitely more people need to read WKK’s Cork O’Connor books. Like Gamache, the character is growing older and his life is evolving. That makes it very interesting and relatable. The sense of place is remarkable. Even if you have never been to northern MN, these books will take you there.

    I loved Nothing to See Here! Such a quirky, memorable book.

  12. Dinah says:

    Kevin Wilson was recommended on WSIRN, and I’m so glad I followed up! I’ve read two of his books now and I absolutely love how he imagines a world only slightly different from this one. Nothing to See Here is so perfect on audiobook — the narrator should win an award for her performance.

  13. Tracey says:

    Books I wouldn’t have read without WSIRN:
    -How to Fail at Flirting – really liked this!
    -The Other Black Girl – enjoyed, not sure about the ending though
    -This Tender Land – wasn’t for me but don’t regret reading it
    -The River -read aloud with my partner and really enjoyed
    -This is How You Lose the Time War – hated it 😆
    -Good Talk – loved it
    -This Close to Ok – didn’t really enjoy
    -Year of Wonders – hated
    -Invisible Life of Addie Larue – liked it
    -84 Charing Cross Road – LOVED this one
    Books I bumped up my TBR because of WSIRN:
    -Nothing to See Here – SO good!
    -Homegoing – loved it!
    -Bel Canto – liked it
    There are actually many more but I don’t want to bore everyone haha! After looking at this, I’m concluding that I should definitely pay attention to ones on my TBR already that come highly recommended on the show but also that I could be more discerning when adding new ones to my already giant TBR. But ultimately I don’t regret reading any of it and WSIRN has made a massive difference in my reading life!! Thank you!!!

  14. Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions – wanted to love it but thought it was just OK.
    The Garden of Small Beginnings – loved it.
    The Downstairs Girl – loved it.
    The Bookish Life of Nina Hill – pretty good.
    The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell – loved it.
    Malibu Rising – very good.
    Midnight Library – very good.
    (The pop-ups are worse on my phone.)

  15. Debra says:

    I agree. So many of my TBR books have come from Anne and WSIRN. It feels like the majority of my reading life since I joined the Book Club too. Ones that stand out for me are Hamnet (I doubt I would have picked this one up without your recommendation) which I loved and my husband sent off to England to get me a hardback with the English cover. Louise Penny’s books for sure. I devoured them all and am waiting impatiently for my library hold on the newest. And the audio of Daisy Jones and the Six which I LOVED!

    Thank you Anne for keeping our reading lists full!

  16. Ann says:

    I really want to like Louise Penny, bc I hear so many great reviews. But I’d gotten Still Life (figured I’d start at the beginning) & it was a DNF for me. It wasn’t bad, just kinda slow & did not grab me. Maybe I’ll try it again at some point, but I have so many books to read! My library is funny. Sometimes wait lists can be slow as molasses & then Bam 💥 books come pouring in at once.

    Wanted to read Nothing To See Here, but read a review that said the language was pretty bad??

    Currently reading Matrix by Lauren Goff. It is different.

    The Sparkle paper towel ad was the biggest nuisance on here. And why is my typing off????

    • Stephanie says:

      Regarding Still Life – when I read it, I remember having trouble keeping the characters straight and also found it a bit slow. I think Anne and others have mentioned that the first few books are on the slow side. But then they pick up, and in addition to individual cases for each book, there’s another plot that plays out over the course of several of the books. Once I got to book 4 or 5 I was so hooked and the characters became like friends that I’d miss when I wasn’t reading. So maybe give it another shot. But hey, if it’s not for you, it’s not for you! So many great books out there – you shouldn’t waste time on something that’s not enjoyable to you. At least that’s how I feel about reading these days. I rarely DNF, but don’t have a problem stopping if I really don’t like it and sending it back to the library!

  17. Susan says:

    I’m bumping up Nothing to see here on my TBR list!

    I also loved Harry’s Trees. I suggested my library purchase it and they did. Our library is small😃

  18. Sharyn Meade says:

    The Other Black Girl was a complete waste of time. It is disjointed, takes forever (at least 300 pages) to get to the point, and then rushes to a finish that leaves too many unexplained loose ends. There is plenty of extraneous info in those run-on chapters that end up having nothing to do with anything in the “plot.” For a book that deals with the world of editing, this one was clearly lacing of that component. Please stop raving about and recommending this book. It is awful.

  19. Marjie says:

    Here are three wonderful books that are now favorites, and which I never would’ve picked up if not for WSIRN:

    The dean’s watch / Elizabeth Goudge
    Parnassus on wheels / Christopher Morley
    In the heart of the sea / Nathaniel Philbrick

  20. Lindsay says:

    Two of my newest favorites came from recommendations on WSIRN: 84, Charing Cross Road and Parnassus on Wheels. I guess I just love books about books. Also, I jumped down a rabbit hole and learned that Marks & Co Booksellers closed and is now… a McDonald’s. Waaah. Thank you, Anne, and team for all you do!

  21. Donna says:

    Into the Drowning Deep!!! When I heard this book described on the show as having mermaids, but not nice ones, I knew it was for me. And I loved it! Another series that I picked up from the show was The Sleeping Giants trilogy (or Robot Aliens, as I call it). I am not much of a science fiction reader, but those books have been some of my favorite finds from the podcast. Thanks!

  22. Gina says:

    I would never have found The Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers and have loved these books on audio. I also discovered the Veronica Speedwell series through this forum and it is also great on audio. Most of my books come to me through MMD and it has been a wonderful enhancement to my reading life!

  23. Oh, I love this! I’ve picked up a lot of books on the basis of a WSIRN recommendation (and One Great Book, too!). The first one that springs to mind is Rules Of Civility by Amor Towles. Is there a list anywhere of all the books recommended on WSIRN? That would be a fabulous resource!

  24. Amy Thompson says:

    I had become convinced that I’d already read all the good books in the world before I discovered WSIRN five or so years ago. I’m so grateful for all the recs. Many, many 4 and 5 stars reads, and also many DNFs. Here are a few books and authors I’ve liked best:
    The Widows of Malabar Hill (and the rest of this series)
    The Lost City of the Monkey God
    The Alice Network
    Joshilyn Jackson (several)
    The Dry
    Gilly Macmillan (several)
    Dreamland Burning
    Bear Town
    This Is How it Always Is
    Nobody Likes a Goblin (great picture book for all ages)
    Being Mortal
    And lots of webs cast through WSIRN that led to many other great reads. (People I follow on Goodreads, etc.)

  25. Hally F. says:

    Anne, your podcasts, blog, and books have COMPLETELY changed my reading life. You have my DREAM job!!! I was a voracious reader before I discovered you through a book club several years ago, but now I have increased my reading DRAMATICALLY! I now average at least 10 books a month—I always have an audiobook, an ebook, and a paper copy going all at the same time. And I became a Patron this year, as well! I can’t thank you and your team enough for all you do. 🥰

    I was wondering—is there a place on your site where we can plug in a book title &/or author and any of the podcasts where you have mentioned both or either will come up? I have often finished a book and then wondered if you had ever discussed it on one of your episodes—I have listened to all of your One Great Book episodes and MANY of your WSIRN podcasts, but not all. I listen to them as soon as they come out every Tuesday, I keep up with the Patreon bonuses that come out every Friday, AND have gone back to start WSIRN from the beginning! In addition to the book logs I have kept since the early 90s (yup—the early 90s!!!), I also keep a log of what WSIRN episodes I have listened to, what date I listened to them, and whether I read all the comments or not!

    • Kate says:

      I, too, get almost all of the books on my TBR from WSIRN. My two absolute favorites are Crossing to Safety and Dearly Beloved. I’ve recommended them to many people and love them so much. They evoke a kind of quiet strength that is such a comfort to me.

    • Fonda Goode says:

      Hally, You can type the title of the book in the search bar. It will take you to a list of books. If you choose your book and scroll to the bottom, you can see the blog posts where the book was mentioned. I’m not sure about the podcast though. Hope this helps.

  26. Kelly B says:

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned it yet, but this story can be found on Amazon Prime. Nathaniel Parker (from the Inspector Lynley Mysteries) plays the lead character in the 2013 movie adaptation. I’m looking forward to listening to the book on Audible.

    • Kelly B says:

      I forgot to include the name of the book I was referring to above. It’s Still Life by Louise Penny. I enjoyed the movie. Now I am looking forward to listening to the book.

  27. Brittany M says:

    I also have so many books that I have discovered through WSIRN and the blog! Some of my favorites have been Sarah Addison Allen and Louise Penny (I still am slowly reading through the Gamache series as I like to savor them!).
    My most recent ‘change my life’ though has been the Murderbot series! I listened to all the Novellas while home sick this past winter and was just so blown away by how much I love Murderbot!

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