Here on the blog I recently answered a pile of frequently asked questions, and today I’m again tackling FAQs, this time for the podcast. We recently published our 200th episode of What Should I Read Next, and before long we’ll celebrate our four-year anniversary of making the show.
I hope this little Q-and-A satisfies your burning curiosity or just scratches that I-wonder-what-it’s-like-behind-the-scenes itch.
What inspired you to start this podcast?
The idea came from the literary matchmaking series that used to run on this blog. In that series, I asked readers to tell me three books they love, one book they don’t, and what they’re reading now, and I’d recommend three books they should read next.
I loved the series but found myself wanting to talk about their picks before I made any recommendations, and wishing there was an easy way for us to do that. I finally realized that a podcast was the perfect forum for the bookish conversations I’d been dreaming of.
How can I be a guest on the podcast?
We talk to a healthy mix of my reading pals, industry professionals, and what our listeners have come to call “regular readers”—people who don’t read professionally, who’ve never been on a podcast, but listen to the show and are eager to talk books with me for an hour to get their own literary diagnosis and personalized book picks.
We have a submission form so that anyone can apply at anytime. Click here to view that form, and maybe fill it out for yourself. (You will not receive an email to confirm.) We send invitations by email to guests we think would be a good fit for the show.
Please know that we receive far more submissions than we can accommodate on the show. I would dearly love to talk to every single reader, but this is a weekly show, not an hourly one!
What kind of guests are you looking for?
We choose our guests with the big picture in mind. There are so many ways to be a reader, and our goal is that over time, every person listening will hear someone on the show whose reading taste matches their own. We also aim to feature a wide variety of guests—we’re looking for people of different ages, geographical locations, backgrounds, educational experience, ethnicity, career, season of life …. you name it.
And of course: we want to feature a wide variety of books. The first thing we look at—the most important factor in the applications we review—is the books. We’re looking for titles we haven’t discussed on the show before, or contrarian takes on books I’m known to adore. (When we see someone hates Crossing to Safety or Station Eleven, we sit up an take notice because I know that’s a great conversation waiting to happen.)
We’re also looking for guests with thoughtful takes on the book they don’t like. Discussing a book that didn’t work for you—whether or not you are able to articulate why that is at the moment—provides key insight into who you are as a reader. But not if you tell us that you don’t like 50 Shades because it’s explicit, or a certain cookbook because you don’t like to cook. (Yes, this happens.)
How does Anne recommend books to her guests? How long does she have to research before making recommendations?
In each episode, a guest tells me three books they love, one book they don’t, and what they’re reading now, and then I recommend three books they should read next. We record the episode as one conversation. There is no break between segments.
Every single time I sit down to record, I’m nervous that I’ll draw a blank and won’t have any idea what to recommend. Thankfully that hasn’t happened yet, but knock on something quick because I’m recording a new episode today and I’m nervous, as always.
If you’d like to listen to me recommend books on the fly, check out one of the LIVE podcasts we’ve done: Ep 108: What Should I Read Next LIVE from Asheville and Ep 76: Book people are the best people (LIVE!).
I’m recording a new podcast episode live in Winston-Salem this month: check my events page for more details.
Where can I see you live?
Check my events page! This fall I’ll be in North Carolina, Cincinnati, Nashville, and Huntsville. We’re actively planning my Don’t Overthink It book tour for the spring, and dreaming and scheming about future What Should I Read Next live shows.
How can I stay up to date on live events and other podcast news?
Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter that we send out on Tuesdays. We do not send info about new episodes and special events out to blog subscribers, so make sure you’re on the WSIRN list if you want that news.)
We also have an all books, all the time Instagram account. Click here to follow What Should I Read Next on Instagram.
I’ve never listened to a podcast. How can I start?
It’s easier than ever to listen. You can:
- Listen right on the podcast site. Just hit the little triangle to play!
- Listen on Spotify. Search for “What Should I Read Next.”
- Ask your home speaker—like Alexa—to play What Should I Read Next.
- Listen on your phone. Every smart phone has a built in podcast player. Search “podcasts” to find the podcast player app and then search “What Should I Read Next.”
How can I get personalized book recommendations from Anne without coming on the show?
While I truly wish I could hook everyone up with books just right for them, there are not enough hours in the day. Responding to book recommendation requests would literally be my full time job—and then some.
But! Last year we started sharing reader recommendation requests on Instagram, so that our smart listeners can chime in with their recommendations for your To Be Read list.
Have a book request of your own? First, check the index to see if your request has been answered. We receive some requests over and over—books about Paris and London, road trip audiobooks, books about work/life balance: check the index!
Don’t see your specific question answered? Click here to submit your request.
And please, we beg you, do not use the #wsirnreaderrecs hashtag to simply share what you are reading; it dilutes its usefulness. Thank you!
What is the Patreon community?
This is our group of loyal listeners that gathers together for community, conversation, a regular dose of bookish enthusiasm, and fun extras like behind-the-scenes material, seasonal book previews, cut discussions and occasional bloopers, interactive activities, and all sorts of other fun stuff. Our patrons also financially contribute a small amount each month towards making the show(podcasting is expensive, y’all), and for that we are so very grateful.
Patreon is also the place where we deep-dive the creation process: in regular Ask Anne Anything chats, we often get into the nitty-gritty of what goes into making the show.
(Patreon is just a platform: their technology makes it super-simple to deliver bonus audio to our patrons.)
How does Anne choose the books for One Great Book?
One Great Book is my newer short-form podcast that we run in seasons.
The conversation on What Should I Read Next is driven by guests’ favorite and not-so-favorite books, but on One Great Book, I get to talk about my favorite books. In every episode—published on Fridays—I pull one standout selection off my personal bookshelves and tell you all about it in ten minutes or less.
That’s it, readers! I hope you enjoyed this look at your fellow reader’s burning questions. If you have any questions I didn’t answer, drop them in comments. Happy reading, and happy listening!