WSIRN Ep 8: the power of books, English major favorites, and what makes a great YA novel with Preston Yancey

It’s Tuesday, which means a new episode of What Should I Read Next!

Today I’m talking with blogger and author Preston Yancey. Preston is a writer, a baker, and is in the process of becoming an Anglican priest. To dispel any stereotypes you may have about that, he loves HBO, Tivo, good wine, and The Nanny Diaries.

What Should I Read Next #8: the power of books, English major favorites, and what makes a great YA novel with Preston Yancey

Preston and I have a great conversation about why he reads, what makes a good young adult novel, his hatred of a certain 18th century novelist, and of course, what he should read next.
Connect with Preston on his bloginstagram, and twitter. Check out Preston’s books Out of the House of Bread and Tables in the Wilderness.

Books discussed in this episode:

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• Paradise Lost by John Milton
• The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
• The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
• Life of Pi by Yann Martel
• Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
• The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
• The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
• The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
• The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
• Gossip Girl Series by Cecily von Ziegesar
• Little Children by Tom Perrotta
• A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
• Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
• Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
• Bleak House by Charles Dickens
• Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
• Angels in America by Tony Kushner
• The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
• Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
• I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
• Elegant Universe by Brian Green
• The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages by Beryl Smalley
• Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy
• Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
• Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

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Do YOU have an idea for what Preston should read next? Tell us in comments!


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  1. Missy G. says:

    Rules of Civility in audio is excellent. The narrator (same as Astonish Me) is perfect, and the prose comes through as lyrical and beautiful.

    Also, now I’m adding House of Mirth to my list of classics to read this year! I can count that one as a book published before I was born for the 2016 MMD Challenge.

    • Anne says:

      I just read The House of Mirth for the reading challenge too!

      And I’m glad to hear the audio is good on the Towles. Talking about that one makes me want to read it all over again. 🙂

  2. Mary Kate says:

    I’ll Give You The Sun was SO great. Just starting to read The Virgin Suicides after seeing the movie years ago (I know, I did it backwards)–so far I’m amazed by the prose. Thanks for this!

  3. liz n. says:

    I LOVED this podcast! My reading tastes are opposite to Preston’s (except for “A Christmas Carol,” I adore Dickens, word count and all, and my white-hot hatred of “The Devil Wears Prada” is well-documented in the blog comments here on MMD), but I completely get why he loves to read what he reads. It’s always a bit of a relief to discover that there are other readers whose tastes are all over the map. Mine always are.

    I think Preston will enjoy “The Elegant Universe.” Like all of Greene’s work, it’s a comfortable read: a non-scientific-type person can understand the mess of detail that is superstring theory, and a scientifically-minded person can’t really find fault with the way Greene tells the story (which is what he’s really doing: teaching by way of telling a story about a multi-dimensional universe).

    Smallery’s book is downright fascinating.

    And, Anne, I liked the way you conveyed the essence of “Cutting for Stone” without giving away a single spoiler, and you know which one in particular I’m talking about.

    • Anne says:

      I’m glad I didn’t ruin anything about Cutting for Stone! I’m glad you found a kindred spirit whose tastes are all over the map. And now you have me so curious about Greene.

  4. Jeannie says:

    Really good podcast: I had some definite “kindred spirit” moments while listening to this. When our book club recently celebrated our 20th anniversary and discussed our favourites, I realized (somewhat to my surprise, in fact!) that Life of Pi was the novel that had had the greatest impact on me. And House of Mirth is on my All-Time Top 5 Novels list: “tragic and gorgeously written” describes it well.

    My recommendation for him would be Sweetness in the Belly by (another Canadian writer) Camilla Gibb. It’s sumptuous, it’s romantic, and I loved how it conveyed the variety of ways Islam was conceptualized and lived out (or not) by the characters.

  5. Christine says:

    Loved this episode! One of my favorites (so far). You two had me laughing out loud, and your book discussion was wonderful. I too dislike Dickens (although, to be fair, I haven’t given it as much of a chance as he has). And now I really need to read Cutting for Stone and House of Mirth. Rules of Civility sounds great too. Now I need to go find something to take my mind off Thin Mints…:-)

  6. After just finishing Great Expectations for the first time and HATING it, I am secretly thrilled that he’s quite vocal about his dislike for Dickens. I assumed I’d be the only one who thought the story was boring and the characters uninspiring and not likable!

  7. Meghan says:

    Ok, this is officially hands-down my favorite episode so far! I somehow skipped it when it first came out. I’m hit or miss with Dickens — I adored A Tale of Two Cities, but l-o-a-t-h-e A Christmas Carol (Scrooged is about the only adaptation I can stomach). And Edith Wharton! I’d read several of hers, and stumbled across The Reef at the library a couple of years ago. It is magnificent, and kind of like a cross between House of Mirth and modern chick lit, if that’s fathomable. What a great discussion, and now I’m off to add The Rules of Civility to my Audible library.

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