Literary matchmaking

Answering the dreaded question "what do I read next?" by matching readers with the right books, one week at a time.

Answering the dreaded question "what do I read next?" by matching readers with the right books, one week at a time.

The details on this ongoing project, and the factors I’m taking to heart.

Readers told me 3 books they loved, 1 book they hated, and what they’re reading right now. In turn, I’m choosing 1 mainstream pick, 1 eccentric pick, and 1 YA/memoir/nonfiction pick for each reader. (Or more, if I can’t help myself.)

This week we’re choosing books for Sarah, Jenna, and Caitlin.


Love: Pride & Prejudice, Nine Coaches Waiting, The Secret Garden
Hate: The Casual Vacancy
Recently: True Grit (Portis)

Doc: A Novel

My picks: 

Classic: Wives and Daughters (free for Kindle)
Historical Fiction: Doc: A Novel
More modern: Winter’s Bone
Memoir: A Jane Austen Education

Sarah loves both refined classics (P&P) and classics with murder plots—that’s quite a spread! I chose accordingly.

For Jane Austen fans, Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters is a sure thing, and A Jane Austen Education is a good bet. The modern novel Winter’s Bone explores many of the same themes as True Grit andNine Coaches Waiting. 

Doc: A Novel is the latest from Mary Doria Russell (author of The Sparrow), and it tells the story of Doc Holliday, who gained notoriety—along with Wyatt Earp— for his involvement in the shootout at the O.K. Corral. Readers, take note: it’s definitely more True Grit than P&P.  


Love: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a DayThe Homeschool ExperimentThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Meh: Any book about coming of age, sisters becoming friends, children dying/being hurt, or illness. I feel like I have read all of those stories over and over. I am always looking for a fresh plot line.
Last Read: Princess Academy (loved!)

Parnassus on Wheels

My picks: 

Mainstream: What Alice Forgot
Eccentric: Parnassus on Wheels

Nonfiction: Unbroken and The Boys in the Boat
Kid Lit: The Search for Delicious

Let’s start with two must-reads for Miss Pettigrew fans: What Alice Forgot and Parnassus on Wheels. One is old, one is new, both are utterly charming. Because of Guernsey, I’m recommending Unbroken and The Boys in the Boattwo real-life adventure stories from the same era.

The fairy tale-ish The Search for Delicious has the feel of Jenna’s picks, doesn’t break her “meh” rules, and is fun for all ages.


Love: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Help, The Hunger Games, Jane Austen
Hate: The Tenth of December, The Tiger’s Wife
Recently: Caleb’s Crossing, The Language of Flowers

The Invention of Wings

My picks: 

Mainstream: The Invention of Wings
Offbeat: The Power of One
YA: The Age of Miracles

The Invention of Wings is a must-read for fans of The Help and To Kill a Mockingbird. Like Lauren’s other loves,

How did I do? What books would YOU recommend to these readers? 

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  1. I get Jenna’s “hates,” although ruling out coming of age is knocking away half of literature. Heh. I really appreciate it, though, when it feels like an author has a unique voice and plot. Some of my favorites for these have been Life of Pi, Water for Elephants, The Night Circus, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

    Anne, Can we talk about The Sparrow? I read it a year ago and I’m STILL not sure what I think about it! But I think about it often, which I think means it’s a great book.

    • I’ll talk about The Sparrow anytime you want. 🙂 It remains in my Top 5 of favorite novels though I’ve had as many friend hate it who’ve loved it. I did really like Doc too and am consistently impressed how Mary Doria Russell delves into different genres.

    • Anne says:

      Give me a week or two: it’s sitting on my nightstand RIGHT NOW. The description always makes me think of Bel Canto—have you read that one?

      • Huh. I guess I had never read what Bel Canto was actually about, although I keep kicking myself to read one of Patchett’s novels. I loved Truth & Beauty. In a way, it might have traces of The Sparrow. Sparrow was pretty sci-fi for me, but it’s more about faith, sex, and linguistics than anything else. It wasn’t an easy read for me, but like I said I keep coming back to it and recommending it to people, so I think it’s probably an important book. My best friend is an English professor with a specialty in rhetoric, so she teaches it and told me I should read it.

        • Anne says:

          Every time I resolve to finally read Truth and Beauty, somebody talks me out of it. Or more like, somebody tells me just enough to let me talk myself out of it, again. Sigh.

  2. Amy Rogers says:

    My favorite book of all time is Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, also Jane Eyre.
    Least favorite book was The Catcher in the Rye and The Road. Reading right now To kill a Mockingbird, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats and The Fault in our Stars.

  3. Julie R says:

    FYI, Parnassus on Wheels is available for free electronically from Project Gutenberg.

    I really love this blog series. I have discovered several new favorite books by just reading it. So far my most favorite are The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Rosie Project.

  4. I obviously read all of your posts because you have my blogging heart, but I love this series in particular. I have been reading each one anxiously waiting my turn, and here it is! I learned about Miss Pettigrew from you, so you have my whole shabang, complete, entire, trust!

    Thank you 🙂

  5. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the recommendations! I have read Wives & Daughters, but have not heard of or read the other three. I’ve marked them in my Good Reads to check out as soon as I clear out my current nightstand stack. I’m not sure on one of them, but we’ll see. 🙂

  6. Kathryn says:

    I so enjoy reading this blog and have come across so many books I’ve not heard of before. This Sunday feature is one I look forward to each week. I am amazed at the choices to consider and add many of them to my Goodreads account each week. Thank you for such an informative and well written blog!!

  7. Stephanie says:

    I think I would have gone “The Kitchen House” over “The Invention of Wings”…although, I really enjoy “The Invention of Wings”, AT ALL…so there’s that. Love reading your recs & your blog!

  8. Cari says:

    I need to know who I bribe to get on this. I am THE WORST about picking books to read. So you know what I do? I just don’t read. I know. Shun me now. BUT PICK BOOKS FOR ME BEFORE YOU DO!

    • Anne says:

      Just go to the 5-book summer reading guide! Seriously, they’re crowd-pleasers.

      (Are you on goodreads? I love their “compare books” feature. It can really help me overcome decision paralysis.)

  9. Jen says:

    I love the Shannon Hale books, Fablehaven, Murder She Meowed, Mercedes Lackey, One for the Money.

    Hated : the Hobbit, Flowers in the Attic

    Last book I read: Blood Red (Mercedes Lackey)

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