WSIRN Made Me Do It

From the publisher: "Best-selling author Alexandre Dumas—who also wrote The Three Musketeers—tells this heartbreaking yet heroic tale of Edmond Dantes who takes revenge on the men responsible for his unjust fourteen-year imprisonment, keeping him from the woman he loved and the life he was supposed to live. The Count of Monte Cristo is a must-have for any home library or literary aficionado." The companion audiobook narrated by Bill Homewood has an impressive 4.7 rating! Meredith surprised me by raving about this on episode 11 of What Should I Read Next, because I'd always thought of it as a dry, dusty classic. Since then I've discovered lots of her fellow readers who adore it. They describe it as a darn good story, about a man thrown into prison for a crime he didn't commit and his quest for retribution.
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A rollicking, big-hearted, constantly surprising space opera set in a future that feels good. This friendly and soothing sci fi story features the patched-together ship Wayfarer and its motley crew, who take on a mission so lucrative they’ll be set for years, should they succeed, but so dangerous they might die trying. The mission drives the story, but is almost beside the point in a book widely beloved not for exciting intergalactic exploits but for its seamless worldbuilding and palpable feeling of love and community. Like so many great science fiction writers, Chambers builds her story on big themes—friendship and love, gender and politics, mortality and prejudice—making the story every bit as smart as it is kind. This book kicks off the Hugo Award-winning Wayfarers series; the whole series is inclusive, diverse, and barrels of fun.
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This was first put on my radar when Jennifer Weiner mentioned it as an all-time favorite in WSIRN Episode 234: The Recipe for a Delicious Summer Read. Fun and twisty, this 2002 novel is about an author behaving badly—which seems to be a common theme around here lately, as you'll see when you open up the 2021 Summer Reading Guide. Jen shared such an enticing synopsis on the podcast: "[It's about] a young man who is desperate to be a published author and his nerdy roommate who it turns out is secretly writing a book. Then the nerdy roommate dies in a tragic accident and what does the aspiring young writer do? Discover his work in progress, take it to a literary agent, publish it as his own, and everything is going great except then it turns out the roommate might not be as dead as we thought."
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Anne Helen Peterson recommended this 2003 National Book Award winner on an upcoming episode of What Should I Read Next, describing it as a story of longing (her favorite!) and impossible love. The story opens in 1947 with British War hero Aldred Leith arriving in Japan on official business: he's tasked with documenting the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing, and while on assignment falls in love with Helen Driscoll, a woman 15 years his junior, who is just 16 when they meet. While the story is compelling, what I really loved in this novel was Hazzard's introspective style and carefully crafted structure. I love discovering hidden backlist gems like these through WSIRN podcast guests, and I can’t wait for you to hear the episode.
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From the publisher: "Seneca wrote his 20-sections On the Shortness of Life in 49 CE, the year he returned to Rome from his exile in Corsica, as a moral essay addressed to his friend Paulinus."
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From the publisher: "A mesmerizing debut novel set in northern Texas about two sisters who discover an unsettling secret about their father, the head pastor of an evangelical megachurch, that upends their lives and community—a story of family, identity, and the delicate line between faith and deception. An intimate coming-of-age story and a modern woman’s read, God Spare the Girls lays bare the rabid love of sisterhood and asks what we owe our communities, our families, and ourselves."
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From the publisher: "This is a book about the incentives that shape us, and about how hard it is to see ourselves clearly through a culture that revolves around the self. In each essay, Tolentino writes about a cultural prism: the rise of the nightmare social internet; the advent of scamming as the definitive millennial ethos; the literary heroine’s journey from brave to blank to bitter; the punitive dream of optimization, which insists that everything, including our bodies, should become more efficient and beautiful until we die. Gleaming with Tolentino’s sense of humor and capacity to elucidate the impossibly complex in an instant, and marked by her desire to treat the reader with profound honesty, Trick Mirror is an instant classic of the worst decade yet."
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I revisited this modern classic for the first time in over a decade this month! I'm stunned once again by how modern Butler's 1993 dystopian novel feels today. This series—a planned trilogy that was never completed—is the most realist of Butler's fiction. The setting is California, 2026, where a Black teenager named Lauren struggles for survival in a world gone to pieces, ravaged by climate change and drug abuse of epidemic proportions. Despite the overwhelming and terrifying obstacles she faces, Lauren isn't ready to give up yet, and bands together with a group of fellow travelers to head north in search of rumored safety, with the hopes of founding a colony for her Earthseed religion. Utterly gripping, and a great introduction to Butler's work.
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