Fri. Mar 31st, 2023

Anne Bogel [00:00:00] Holly, I got to tell you, I’m taking notes and circling the ones that sound really interesting. I just circled them all.

[00:00:32] Hey readers, I’m Anne Bogel and this is What Should I Read Next? Welcome to the show that’s dedicated to answering the question that plagues every reader, What should I read next? We don’t get bossy on the show. What we will do here is give you the information you need to choose your next read. Every week we’ll talk all things books and reading and do a little literary matchmaking with one guest. Or in today’s case, with one host. And I’m so excited for that.

[00:00:48] Readers, we’re already counting down to our Summer Reading Guide Unboxing, and I know I’m not the only one who’s getting excited. Our 2023 guide is coming your way on May 18th. Save the date and make sure you’ve got space on your library holds list.

We always kick off summer reading season with our live unboxing events with our Book Club members and Patreon supporters. And we’d love to invite you to join us for that book party this year. If you’re not a member yet, check out our Book Club for classes, community, and great conversations like the chat we just had with author Brendan Slocumb in Episode 366, or become a patron.

Our Patreon community enjoys exclusive audio bonus episodes, peeks behind the scenes of our show, and more curated book recommendations, all while directly supporting the show with their monthly pledges. I’d be thrilled to welcome you to either bookish community and you’ll have full access to our Summer Reading Guide Unboxing and more this summer. Find out more at

[00:01:42] Readers, over the past 370 episodes, I’ve had so many amazing conversations with readers, authors, and book lovers, and I have added literally thousands of books to my personal reading list as a result of those discussions.

But here at What Should I Read Next? HQ, we realize that it has been ages since we last asked you for recommendations about what I should read next. In fact, the last time we did this was in Episode 62, all the way back in 2017. Readers, we were overdue.

So if you tuned in a few weeks ago in Episode 367, you heard me share about my reading life lately, including three books I’ve loved and one that didn’t work for me before asking for your recommendations. So many of you responded, and our team has had a blast pouring through your voicemails with your suggestions.

Today, I’m joined by our media production specialist, Holly Wielkoszewski, to hear your recommendations, talk about the books you all loved, and decide what I want to read next. Let’s get to it.

Holly, welcome to the show.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:02:44] Thanks, Anne. I’m excited to be here.

Anne Bogel [00:02:46] Oh, me too. We talk all the time. We talk all the time about the show and about the books we may or may not mutually enjoy reading. But we don’t usually have this conversation on the podcast, and I’m so excited to do so today.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:02:57] I know. It’s definitely a fun way to jump in and hear a little bit more about what you’re going to read next. I can’t wait.

Anne Bogel [00:03:03] Me too. First, we get to tell the listeners a little more about who they’re hearing from today. You’re representing our listeners really in this episode. Holly, you’ve been on our team for about a year and a half now. Would you tell everybody what it is you do around here?

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:03:17] Absolutely. So what I usually say about my work here at What Should I Read Next? is I help get the podcast from the recording into all the places that you then see it or listen to it on Tuesday mornings when it comes out. So that means I help with preparing for the guests, help with the blog posts that put together the show notes every week, make sure that you’ve got the links to all of the different books that are mentioned in every episode so it’s easy to add them to your library holds list and all the little tasks that make that happen every week.

I’m also involved in supporting our Patreon community and just kind of chipping in wherever we need a little bit of media production specialist support.

Anne Bogel [00:03:59] Holly, what kind of books would you say that you are especially drawn to as a reader?

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:04:03] Well, I read pretty broadly across a bunch of different genres, but I would say most of my favorites fall into either the fantasy or sci-fi genre or the adventure nonfiction space. I’m also a pretty big mystery reader. I’ve been on a bit of a mystery kick lately.

Anne Bogel [00:04:22] Holly, I really want to be able to tell our listeners about the really cool personal project that you are embarking on lately. And we gave our Modern Mrs. Darcy blog readers a little teaser when you shared a literary tourism post you put together after your trip to Aotearoa New Zealand back… was that in the fall?

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:04:41] It was. It was September of last year.

Anne Bogel [00:04:43] Okay. Tell us a little bit about what’s happening in your life.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:04:46] Well, I am joining everybody today from the island of Curacao, which no one has ever heard of if they are not regular travelers in the Caribbean. It’s part of the Netherlands Antilles down next to Aruba, which many people have heard of. And this is the first stage in a new lifestyle where we are doing the digital nomad thing.

My husband and I have started some long-term travel that is compatible with our ability to work online. And we are heading next, after this, to Japan and cannot wait. So I’m excited to scope out all of the bookstores in all of the places and share the great things I discover along the way.

Anne Bogel [00:05:26] And you already know this, but let me say again for everybody, like, I’m just so excited to vicariously come along through your photos and your reports. I’m really excited that you are embarking on this great adventure, for what it does for your life, and also just thanks for letting me tag along virtually. From someone who has lived most of my life in one place working at a computer screen, you have a really cool professional background as well.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:05:49] Thank you. I kind of fell into it from the side because my husband was active duty military for the first 12 years or so of our marriage. So we moved around a lot just by default—military lifestyle. And I worked a bunch of different jobs that all kind of came back to this digital communications space. So it was a great opportunity to live a bunch of different places and accumulate a bunch of skills.

And then we got to a point where I was able to pivot because he was posted in the D.C. area. I had studied international relations as a college student, and so I actually got hired and worked as a diplomat for about six or seven years, got to spend some time overseas, got to travel some more in that space, and mostly worked on economic policy issues, which can sound dry if you’re not into that type of a thing. But if you like things like economic development and trade and you kind of geek out of that kind of stuff, it’s a lot of fun.

That’s a space where you and I have it in common. And that’s my obscure shelf, on my bookshelf is like trade policy and economic development, whereas yours is, you know, architecture and city design.

Anne Bogel [00:06:54] Now, obviously we need to hear one of those favorite titles.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:06:57] Definitely. Oh gosh, putting me on the spot. One that I actually thought was really useful and a good primer for folks, and I can’t remember the author, I’ll put it in the show notes, but it’s called The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy. It kind of takes you through where a product starts, to sourcing and factories and shipping and commerce and kind of breaks all those parts and pieces down. Again, it can sound sort of dry if you’re not curious about those types of things, but I thought it was a really interesting overview. So that’s one off the top of my head.

Anne Bogel [00:07:29] It sounds amazing. Thank you for sharing. I really appreciate you sharing that glimpse of your life then and now with our listeners, and I’m so glad you’re putting all your experience to work for What Should I Read Next?. So thank you.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:07:41] It’s a blast. I love being here.

Anne Bogel [00:07:44] I’m so excited to dig into our listener recommendations with you today. And we really wanted to do it now, not just because our team suddenly realized, wow, it has been a really long time, but also because summer reading season is on the horizon where I am reading so many new and forthcoming books and I need some backlist to bring balance to my life. And that’s what we anticipated.

And really I believe I’ve heard from you and Will did find that that’s what so many readers brought today, which is great. Plus in general, I always get amazing recommendations from our guests and our listeners. And putting the focus on you for a change is wonderful for all of us in so many ways.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:08:23] Anne, I think before we get started today, I know you went through your three books you love, one that didn’t work for you, and what you’ve been reading lately in Episode 367. But let’s revisit those quickly for anyone who’s tuning in today. Would you tell us a little bit about the three books that you shared for our listeners to send in their recommendations?

Anne Bogel [00:08:42] Yes, I will give you the fly-over version. If you want to hear the whole thing, it’s only seven or eight minutes long, go back to our episode that we did with Keren Form. That’s Episode 367. And you can hear the whole thing. It’s right at the beginning of the episode. But I chose books that really stood out as reading experiences and that I find myself coming back to. So if you’ve listened for a while, you’ve probably heard me talk about all of these at least once.

The first book I love is This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell, which I think it’s for a reason that we don’t ask our listeners, tell us your three most favorite books ever. These are three books you happen to love. You could love 300. But this might be my favorite book. It’s emotionally resonant literary fiction that just has so much sweep and not that much story. And I promised I was going to keep it short. So I’ll just say I love her style and I love this book especially.

Another book I love is Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones, literary fiction set in Atlanta. The wrenching, shocking, surprising, historically grounded story of two sisters. This is definitely a family drama. And I did those.

And finally I chose the French novel Painting Time by Maylis De Kerangal. I could have chosen any of her books. I loved them so much. This was the first one I read by her, and I think it was the most surprising, the most memorable for that reason.

What I really love is the way she looks at people at work. I’m not sure if she would say, “I write novels about people at work.” But she writes about people in interesting professions and that really stands out to me. But mostly I was just so struck by the style. It was unlike anything I’d ever had before. It’s very distinct, impressionistic. I just feel like I am right there voyeuristically following along with, in this case, this young woman who’s learning to paint. And I loved it. I’m talking about it because I loved it.

And the book I didn’t love…. and Holly, I have to tell you, I shared a picture of all the books on Instagram that I talked about in the intro to Keren’s episode, but I didn’t say which was which, and so many people said, “Oh, that picture! Anne, you have to read” the book that I go on to say was not right for me. And that is The Storyteller by Dave Grohl, which so many people loved.

I didn’t dislike it, but it wasn’t what I hoped for. And I didn’t find it to be a satisfying reading experience to the point where if I had known that’s what it was going to be like, I have so much I could read, I would have skipped that one.

The stories were interesting, but they weren’t the stories I’d hoped for. I loved the behind-the-scenes, and it gave a little bit of that, but not quite as much as I had hoped. I had hoped for more from the writing style. I do love a good story. What I really love is a good story well-told, and the narrative here felt meandering. There were gaps.

He very clearly didn’t talk about some things that it seemed obviously he would talk about right then. I felt like the prose was so filled with clichés. And I really liked the guy reading the book. I thought Dave Grohl… We’d have a great conversation together but the book wasn’t the conversation I had hoped for.

I do love a good musical memoir and there are so many I’ve loved, but this was not one of them. And clearly tons of you loved it. But this show is about… Do I feel defensive, Holly? I might feel defensive. Oh-

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:11:56] That’s okay. It’s okay if it didn’t work for you, right? It’s what we always say.

Anne Bogel [00:12:00] This one didn’t work for me. And then at the time of recording, I had just finished Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel and was in the middle of and have since finished and really enjoyed Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn.

So that was my moment in time that we presented to our listeners as, you know, here’s a reader with this taste, what should she read next?

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:12:24] Okay, So we got all of these wonderful voicemails from a number of our listeners. We’re going to go through and let those play today so that you can hear each of these recommendations. And then we want to hear what you think about it.

Anne Bogel [00:12:37] Because I haven’t heard these yet. I’m excited to hear what’s coming my way and we’re going to find out.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:12:41] Will and I have had so much fun looking at them and chatting about them. I didn’t know that you hadn’t seen them yet, so I feel like… I’m just like rubbing my hands together here looking forward to see how this goes.

Anne Bogel [00:12:52] And I’m so excited to listen. So thank you so much to those of you who participated and sent in your recommendations. What a gift! And I hope the process really helps you think about your reading life as well. Okay, Holly, Let’s do it.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:13:08] Let’s do it. Let’s kick it off. Here is our first listener recommendation.

Jane [00:13:13] Hi Anne. This is Jane with a book recommendation for you. The book I think you should read next is called The Last Thing You Surrender by Leonard Pitts Jr. This book is a few years old and I don’t think I’ve heard anyone mention it on the podcast. It was recommended to me by my dad.

It is a book set in the Deep South, mostly in Mobile, Alabama, and it follows an intergenerational black family in the South from about the time of World War I through World War II in the Jim Crow South. There’s a lot of intergenerational family drama and charm, which I know it’s something you like. And it explores the experience of African-American soldiers during World War I and World War II and black and white relations in the South.

It’s beautifully written. You can picture everything that’s going on. There’s hard truths in there, but it’s beautiful, a very moving story, and one perspective that I really haven’t seen written about all that often. So I hope you get a chance to check it out. This has been so fun. Happy reading!

Anne Bogel [00:14:31] Jane, that sounds amazing. I love that you chose a title that’s a few years old because we said that this is a great time of year for me to be finding backlist, that it hasn’t been mentioned on the show. This isn’t a title I remember hearing about at all. The Last Thing You Surrender, it doesn’t sound familiar.

I love that you got this recommendation from your dad, and you are definitely correct in that intergenerational family story that is beautifully written sounds right up my alley. I look forward to checking that out.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:14:57] This one sounds so great. I love the idea about reading about the interwar period from a different perspective. I’m pretty sure I’ll be adding this one to my TBR also.

Anne Bogel [00:15:05] This could be dangerous, Holly.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:15:06] It’s going to be dangerous. Absolutely. No question. All right, Anne, here is our next recommendation. I’m particularly excited to see what you think about this one.

Barbara [00:15:16] Hi, my name is Barbara. I’m 76 years old. I’m calling from Pennsylvania and I’m a lifelong reader. The book that I highly recommend is Properties of Thirst by Marianne Wiggins. I read it last fall and it is now one of my top five best books ever.

It’s a sprawling, passionate, complex family saga, spans the second half of the 20th century. Some of the plot lines include Pearl Harbor, Japanese-American internment camps, the Los Angeles Water Corporation poachers, there’s music, recipes, and dogs. It’s funny, oh, but it’s tragic in places. And there were some pages when I could barely see the words through my tears, but I couldn’t look away.

If you read it, Anne, and I sincerely hope you do, please read Mary Lincoln’s life story. It’s astounding. Thank you to all of you and your staff for everything that you do for all of us.

Anne Bogel [00:16:35] Thanks for all you do, Holly. And thank you for a great rec, Barbara. This is another book that I do not know. And again, passionate, complex family saga with music, recipes, and dogs, funny and tragic, that sounds amazing. And I’m so intrigued by Barbara’s admonishment that I read the author’s life story as well. I’m imagining that must intersect with the book in some ways that are really interesting and I’m guessing make the story come to life. Thank you. That sounds incredible.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:17:03] It’s so fascinating. This one is on my Kindle because my local bookstore back in Colorado, the Bookworm of Edwards, picked it as their Best American Epic from 2022.

Anne Bogel [00:17:14] What?

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:17:14] So it’s been on my radar for a bit. And the author’s previous book, Evidence of Things Unseen, was actually a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. So I think this one has some serious chops, and of course, music, recipes, and dogs. I can’t…

Anne Bogel [00:17:29] Combined with Barbara’s top five books ever that she’s read, that’s persuasive.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:17:35] I agree. I’m here for it. Okay. Next, we have a recommendation from a former What Should I Read Next? guest.

Michelle Wilson [00:17:43] Hi, my name is Michelle Wilson and I think Anne should read The Spoon Stealer by Lesley Crewe. This book is my first five-star read of 2023. It is an epic story, a family saga, starts in Canada, goes to Great Britain, goes back to maybe Europe, the United States, has lots of kind of twists and turns and things are unexpected.

Just to start it off how delightful it was, Emmeline, who is the protagonist of the book, was the only girl in the family and she was born in the laundry basket while her mom was hanging clothes one summer day. So she’s really never fit in. She says her mom’s really never forgiven her for messing up that load of laundry.

There’s just so much happening in this book. And it wasn’t at all that World War II stuff that I’m kind of tired of. It was delightful, and there’s a couple of twists that I didn’t see coming up, stuff I never even really thought about, a lot of feminist stuff that must have happened in the 30s, in the 40s, some LGBTQ stuff. It was just so good. I want everyone to read it. That’s The Spoon Stealer by Lesley Crewe.

I might say of the three books that Anne liked, it kind of gave me some of the similar vibe of the Maggie O’Farrell. This is big, sweeping saga with a great big heart and really good writing.

Anne Bogel [00:19:23] Hi, Michelle. Oh, it’s so good to hear from you again. And this sounds incredible. Am I just going to keep saying amazing and incredible the whole time, Holly? Is that how this is going to go?

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:19:34] I mean, that’s okay.

Anne Bogel [00:19:37] That’s true. That is not a bad thing. Thank you so much for this rec. You’re using so many of the words that definitely catch my eye and ping my readerly radar that’s on the lookout for books I may enjoy reading next. Like, an epic story, family saga with lots of twists and turns. And I have to tell you, I laughed out loud when you said that the girl was born into a laundry basket and her mother never forgave her for ruining that load of laundry. Great big heart, Maggie O’Farrell vibes, I’m in.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:20:06] All right. We actually have a bonus recommendation from Michelle. She called in twice. So let’s hear what she has to say the second time around.

Michelle Wilson [00:20:14] Hello, this is Michelle Wilson again, and I’m kind of cheating because I just gave a recommendation but this is my second five-star read of the New Year and it is a recommendation from Strong Sense of Place, Mel Joulwan.

This is a novella and it’s compared favorably in the reviews to Virginia Woolf. It’s called Assembly and it’s by Natasha Brown. It’s a very slim book and almost knight-like, stiletto-like. The writing is so beautiful, crystal perfect, and just cut your heart right out.

It’s about a young black woman in London and about racism and about health. And this is all sort of stream of consciousness while she’s getting ready to go to her fiancé, maybe it’s her boyfriend, fiancé, some kind of family party that they have every summer. It’s kind of a big deal. She wasn’t raised that way at all.

That whole class thing that they have going on in the UK that isn’t the same kind of class, you know, we have here. It’s just amazing. It blew me away. I believe there’s a quote on the cover that says something about shakily as an adder, deadly as its bite. It was just amazing. The writing was like crystal and prose. It was amazing and I can’t recommend it enough. Thanks. Have a great day.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:21:46] Michelle, also a big fan of the word “amazing”. But again, we’re here for that.

Anne Bogel [00:21:52] Oh, Michelle, thanks for sneaking in another one. And high five to you for having two five-star rave about need-to-tell-everybody-about-it reads in 2023 so far. Okay. I can’t say every time I sit down and want to pick up a new book I want something to cut my heart right out, but there are moments for that. And if you can have all that big emotion and readerly impact in the slim package of a novella, I’m excited to give that a try. That sounds enticing.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:22:22] Absolutely. I love having a novella on hand when I need to shake things up a bit with a shorter read. I’ve never heard of this one and it sounds fascinating. Okay, let’s switch genres a little bit. Here is listener Sue.

Sue [00:22:35] Hey, this is Sue Baum [SP] from Lawrenceville, Georgia, and I wanted to talk to you about something you hadn’t read, which is hard. And I have two memoirs to suggest because I know you said you didn’t like Storyteller, but you did like Born to Run, which I love that book.

Two wonderful memoirs that I loved were Hello, Molly! by Molly Shannon. Her life story is so interesting. That’s what I love about memoir is you learn things about people you didn’t know. She survived that tragedy as a small child that really affected her whole life.

And the other one is All About Me! by Mel Brooks. I think Mel Brooks is an American treasure and a darling person. I did listen to that one and hear it in his voice where he actually breaks out in song sometimes. It’s fabulous. Thank you and happy reading.

Anne Bogel [00:23:24] Sue, thank you so much for these recommendations. I can tell that you are tracking with the books I shared and what I’m looking for. So thank you for that. I haven’t read these memoirs and I do enjoy a good celebrity memoir. I especially love them on audio.

And I’m realizing as you’re talking about Molly Shannon’s past, I don’t know anything about her before the Saturday Night Live era, and I don’t know a lot about that. So that sounds intriguing. But the one that really caught my attention was All About Me! by Mel Brooks, an American treasure. Made me giggle.

The real thing that appeals here is that my dad was a huge Mel Brooks fan. And I think this could be very nostalgic for me in that… I mean, he’d always say, like, “Isn’t this hysterical?” And I’d be like, “Oh, dad, yak, yak, yak.” And we’d laugh about our shared and not shared opinions of Mel Brooks. I think that could be a really fun, wistful listen, even if not for the ways that Sue anticipated. So thank you for that recommendation.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:24:21] I love the idea of listening to that one on audio. That actually reminded me a bit of our Patreon bonus where you talked about listening to As You Wish, which is the story behind the story of The Princess Bride. And fun fact, that book, As You Wish, was actually recommended by a listener back in Episode 62, the last time that we asked our listeners to recommend books to you, Anne. So it’s all come full circle. And I’m going to put All About Me on my audiobook list for sure.

Anne Bogel [00:24:49] It was recommended way back in Episode 62. I was so resistant to listening for that one for so long because, listeners learn from my mistakes, because even though so many people said, “Anne, I think you’d love this. Anne, this audiobook is so good,” it wasn’t “And everybody loves it, why shouldn’t you think?” It was a “I think you would love it for these specific reasons.” It just didn’t sound that good to me. But then I listened. And what did I think, Holly? I loved it. I thought it was great.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:25:13] We got there in the end. It’s okay. That’s all that matters. Sometimes it’s just not the right time. And then when it is, it totally pays off.

Anne Bogel [00:25:20] Sometimes your book recommendation is planting a seed that won’t come to fruition until Episode 371, apparently… or thereabouts.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:25:28] But it did come through. Okay, So next up, we’ve got a suggestion from another previous guest. I imagine it’s so much fun for these guests to be on the other side of the mic and recommending books to you. So let’s see what she says.

Rebecca [00:25:43] Hi, Anne, this is Rebecca from Episode 273, and Beverly, aka Grandmama and I just finished a book that we think you love. It’s Bluebird by Sharon Cameron. This is my favorite book that I read last year. So I bought it for Grandmama for Christmas, and she actually just emailed me today to tell me her thoughts.

Here’s what she said. She said, “The Bluebird, what an amazing book that was! It was a thriller, a sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat book, no language, only one scene of violence and a love story with no sex, that was so powerful you wanted to cry.

When I read about the author, I found out that the story was based on facts that really happened. Definitely my kind of book. If you haven’t read this book, I hope you can find the time to start it, because I believe once you start it, you won’t be able to put it down.” So those are Beverley’s rave reviews for Bluebird.

It is a World War II-ish story that jumps back and forth between the earliest years of World War II, a little bit before the war even, and years following the war, following a German girl whose father was one of the primary Nazi physicians who was conducting experiments on Jews in concentration camps. And of course, she doesn’t know this as the book opens, but she finds out about it. And after the war, she goes on the run and she goes on the run after him.

It is a spy thriller. There are secret identities. There are alternating points of view, which I know that you love. And it’s a young adult book, and like The Downstairs Girl, which she recommended to us in our episode, it doesn’t feel young. It doesn’t feel young adult. Beverly loves it, I loved it. I recommend it to all of my students who love historical fiction. And we hope that you will love it, too. Take care.

Anne Bogel [00:27:40] Hi, Rebecca and Beverly. Oh, it’s so good to hear from you all. And do you know that when I’m out in the world and get to talk to What Should I Read Next? listeners, so many of them say, “How are Rebecca and Beverly? I need to know they’re doing okay. I hope they’re reading something amazing.” So it’s so good to hear from you all.

And Bluebird sounds so good. Like what a strong recommendation from you both and so many of the people in your life as well. A spy thriller that kept you on the edge of your seat with a love story rolled in, so powerful you wanted to cry, yes, I would like to read this, please.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:28:12] I agree. I’m here for this one. And readers, if you hadn’t heard that episode of Beverly and Rebecca, that was in Episode 273. Well, make sure that link’s in the show notes for you, too. It’s a lovely conversation.

Anne Bogel [00:28:25] Holly, I got to tell you, I’m taking notes and circling the ones that sound really interesting. I just circled them all.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:28:32] Well, you know, we do these and TBRs throw, and that’s just one of the difficulties of living this bookish life is you just get a lot of books on our TBR.

Anne Bogel [00:28:41] It would be terrible not to have books on your horizon that you were excited about reading. That won’t be a problem.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:28:46] Hazard of the bookish life. Okay, well, don’t put that pencil down yet because the next reader has three recommendations that she thinks you would enjoy.

Anne Bogel [00:28:56] I’m ready.

Eileen [00:28:57] Hi, this is Eileen Sullivan from Hopkinton, Massachusetts. I have three books for Anne. Number one is Still Life by Sarah Winman, published in 2021, all about farm family, the love story to Florence. Beautiful, beautiful imagery. Post-World War II saga. Excellent.

Second book is This is Happiness by Niall Williams. Takes place in rural Ireland in the 1950s. Again, beautifully written story, very quiet story, character development is fantastic, and again, the imagery is beautiful.

And third is Wish You Well by David Baldacci who normally writes mysteries. This one was not a mystery. It takes place in the Appalachian Mountains of western Virginia back in the 1940s. Again, it’s a family saga with a great-grandmother taking care of her suddenly nearly orphaned great-grandchildren. And just beautifully written love story to the mountains.

I figured, Anne, since you’re from Kentucky, you would enjoy this. That’s what I got for you, Anne. So good luck, and I hope you enjoy your reading. Happy reading! Bye.

Anne Bogel [00:30:09] Eileen, this sounds so good. And thank you, you didn’t know you were doing this, but thank you for having mercy on me, because I have read and enjoyed Still Life by Sarah Winman already. And you’re right, I did enjoy things like the beautiful imagery and the portrait of families coming together in interesting ways. It’s so much a redemption story, and it took me places I didn’t expect and had comical elements as well as big feelings.

The one I’m most intrigued by, although I got to tell you, Wish You Well by David Baldacci sounds intriguing because yes, I am not in Appalachia, but I do love good Appalachian fiction and a great-grandmother looking out for her family because I’m already characterizing her in my head. She is tough as nails, suffers no fools, and is going to protect this little baby girl with her life who might not be a baby girl, but she still thinks of her that way. I’m certain it’s what grandmother does.

But This is Happiness by Niall Williams sounds so intriguing because last year I just read Four Letters of Love by him. That was my first experience with Niall Williams. I’ve never read him before. And I really enjoyed it. He writes very much with the tone of writers I love, like maybe Kent Haruf. But I hadn’t thought to go seek out his next works. And I’m glad that you put them on my radar.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:31:19] I’ve had Still Life on my shelf since Christmas 2021. I’m a little embarrassed that I got it as a gift and I haven’t read it yet, so this might help me push it up my list and take that a little bit sooner. This is so much fun.

Anne Bogel [00:31:32] It’s a beautiful book and it’s ready and waiting for you when you’re ready for it, Holly.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:31:35] Ready for it. It’s going to be great. Okay. We have a few more recommendations to share. Up next, we’ve got a call from Alice.

Alice [00:31:44] Hi, Anne. This is Alice, and I think that you should read Clear Light of Day by Anita Desai. This is a novel about adult siblings, the roles they play, and the way they interact with each other. And the way the family history unfolds as the novel moves forward is just so beautifully and perfectly done, as we learn what’s brought each member of the family to where they presently are.

It’s set in Old Delhi I believe just after the separation of India and Pakistan. And the separation is part of their history. Since it is in the neighborhood that they live in, they’ve kind of been directly affected. The family’s story, the thing that I love about it so much is that it feels very close. Reading it was a little bit more like remembering than reading, not because my family’s anything like this one, but just because of the way it’s written, Anita Desai just lets you in very closely.

It’s also worth mentioning that neurodiversity is an important part of the dynamic at work in this family. I really hope you give this a try. I can’t imagine you not loving it. Thanks a lot. Bye-bye.

Anne Bogel [00:32:49] Alice can’t imagine me not loving it. Well, that sounds like a strong recommendation. Adult siblings, a family story. I’m especially intrigued by what Alice said about how it’s more like remembering than reading. And I haven’t read this author before, so I’m excited to meet somebody new.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:33:07] Excellent. Okay, so our next listener also has three recommendations for you, and these are kind of all over the place. I’m really excited to see what you think.

Anne Bogel [00:33:15] Oh, that’s fun.

Alison [00:33:17] Hello, this is Alison Vierling [SP] from Hickory, North Carolina, and I feel like Anne is my book twin. So this is a difficult assignment since I get so many of the books that I read from her recommendations. But here is a try. I don’t think I have heard her speak about these books.

The first is The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. It has a little bit of a magical aspect to it, a long scope and a climate change theme that I really enjoyed. And the characters developed over time had me fully engrossed.

The second book is Things in Jars by Jess Kidd. This is a little bit lighter fare with a mystery, but also an excellently paced book with tons of character development and super entertaining as well.

My third book is quite an old book but one of my all-time favorites, Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier that tells the story of one boy through pre, during, and post-Civil War Appalachia. Again, the storytelling is wonderfully paced with amazing character development. I look forward to hearing everybody’s recommendations for Anne, thank you for this opportunity.

Anne Bogel [00:34:31] Alison, hi book twin. These are so fun. And you’re right, I haven’t read any of these. I think Seth Haines gushed about The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell Episode 5 of What Should I Read Next?. That was now over seven years ago. But I’ve never read it myself. But a book that kept you fully engrossed, especially one of that length and that literary caliber, I am definitely intrigued.

Things in Jars, I’m not sure if I’m embarrassed or delighted to say has been on my bookshelf for several years now and I keep looking at it. But a mystery with great pacing that you found thoroughly entertaining sounds definitely worth picking up.

And Thirteen Moons is one that I don’t even recognize the title of, but I think you have my number and I’m excited to explore that more.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:35:14] Yeah, I have read Cold Mountain. I think a lot of people have read Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. But I had not heard of Thirteen Moons either, so I’m excited to check that one out. Lovely. On to our next recommendation. Let’s hear what they have to say.

London [00:35:28] Hi, my name is London, and I’d like to recommend to Anne an author that I’ve never heard mentioned on the show before. That is Alice McDermott. She writes really quiet, character-driven novels, kind of like Maggie O’Farrell or Elizabeth Strout.

There are two books of hers that I think would be good for Anne to start with if she hasn’t read her before. One is called Someone, which is a very short novel that tells the story of Marie, an Irish-American woman living in Brooklyn after World War I.

The other is called Charming Billy, and it won the National Book Award. It’s about friends who gather in a Bronx bar to remember friend Billy who just passed away.

Those novels are just really exquisitely written. McDermott plays around with time in a way that reminds me of This Must Be the Place. And I think Anne would enjoy both novels.

Anne Bogel [00:36:18] London, these sounds so good. Exquisitely written, plays with time, yes, those are descriptors that are definitely snagging me. I think I would start with Charming Billy before moving on to Someone. Thank you for the recommendation.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:36:32] Okay. And are you up for a lightning round? We’ve got three more quick recommendations from a few of our listeners that they love to share with you.

Anne Bogel [00:36:40] Yes, let’s do it!

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:36:41] Let’s do it! All right, here we go.

Christian [00:36:43] Hi. My name is Christian, and I was thinking that you had just finished reading Bring Up the Bodies, and so the next obvious choice would be The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel. I think that would be a great book. Bring Up the Bodies was a good bridge from Wolf Hall to the third volume, and I think that you will enjoy the big ending as Cromwell meets his final end. So that would be an excellent choice.

Anne Bogel [00:37:08] I like it. I have to admit I need the nudge there because I’m intimidated by the length of this one, but I do know how it’s going to end. And that symmetry to end the trilogy feels fitting.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:37:19] Absolutely. Okay, next one.

Laura [00:37:22] Hey, this is Laura. I think Anne should read Small Pleasures by Claire Chambers, about a woman named Jean who lives in 1957 London with her mother. And it’s about family and love, and there’s a really good mystery. I think that’s what Anne should be next.

Anne Bogel [00:37:42] Laura, family, love 1957 London, that sounds great. Like, take me there.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:37:47] Okay. And our last recommendation today before we put you on the hot seat to decide which one you’re going to read next, let’s listen in.

Anne Bogel [00:37:55] It’s only fair, but oh.

Mary [00:37:57] Hi, this is Mary from Wisconsin. I think the next book that Anne should read is Vesper Flights by Helen MacDonald. It’s a 2020 release. I listen to it on audio and it’s an excellent recording with the author reading. It’s an essay collection of nature, nature essays in disparate forms and it’s just beautiful.

Anne Bogel [00:38:17] Mary, I have had this book downloaded ready to play. I’ve looked at it so many times and I just never feel like I’m in the mood. Okay, so I feel like what you’re saying back to your phone right now is just give it a try, Anne. That’s what I’m thinking, Mary. You can write in and tell me if I’m wrong. So thank you for the encouragement to give it a try because it sounds like you think it’s going to hug me once I jump in.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:38:39] All right. Anne, so we talked about a whole bunch of books today. I know I added a bunch to my TBR and library holds list, but I’m excited to hear from you. Which of these titles stood out to you and what do you think is the book you might read next?

Anne Bogel [00:38:52] I’m sorry, did you miss the part about me circling every one? Oh, how do people choose?

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:38:58] It’s tough. I don’t know. I think you could probably talk about a couple. That’d be allowed. You can make the rules after all.

Anne Bogel [00:39:06] Okay. Holly, this is so hard in a really glorious way because all these books sound so good. Thank you all so much for calling in with your suggestions. And to those of you who called in and we didn’t have air time for everyone, thank you so much for taking the time and thinking about what a reader may enjoy reading next.

Okay, I have to look at all my circle titles. They’re so many. This is not going to do y’alls recommendations justice because there’s too many. But I’m really intrigued by Barbara’s suggestion, Properties of Thirst. One of her top five books ever. You saw it in your bookstore and had nice things to say about it, Holly. Passionate, complex family saga with music, recipes, and dogs, I’m going to try that.

Michelle’s The Spoon Stealer. Her first five-star read of the year with Maggie O’Farrell vibes, great big heart, a family saga with twists and turns, and a mom who’s mad about her daughter ruining a load of laundry, I’m so curious to find out what that’s about.

All About Me by Mel Brooks. Because of that connection to my dad, I’m inclined to give that a try. I mean, how could I not read Rebecca and Beverly’s Bluebird ardent recommendation?

Niall Williams’ This is Happiness sounds so good.

Charming Billy by Alice McDermott, she’s one of those authors that I feel like I should give a try because she’s probably in my wheelhouse, but I’ll never know until I actually read her.

And then we know that Vesper Flights is already downloaded on my app.

How many am I supposed to choose? Because I think that might be seven. Let’s just call it, all those sound good.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:40:37] We can multitask. We can read multiple books at the same time. That’s okay.

Anne Bogel [00:40:40] That is okay.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:40:42] I think the good thing is all of these are captured for our listeners as well. And you’ll have a handy list that you can come right back to in our show notes. Whenever you finish up with one of these, the rest will be right there waiting for you. So you’ve got good recommendations to take for quite a while now.

Anne Bogel [00:40:56] I do. Thank you so much to all of you. And Holly, thank you for coming on this adventure with all of us today.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:41:03] Oh, it was a treat. So much fun. I think we’ll have to have some book talk about Properties of Thirst here pretty soon.

Anne Bogel [00:41:09] Holly, what do you think you’re going to read next?

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:41:11] Oh, gosh.

Anne Bogel [00:41:12] I know you added quite a few to your TBR as well.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:41:14] I did. So I think Properties of Thirst is high up there as well. Again, it’s been just waiting for me. And then, you know, Things in Jars that Alison recommended, that’s been lingering on my library holds list also for at least a year. So I think it’s time to give that one the attention that it probably deserves. So I’m gonna start-

Anne Bogel [00:41:33] It might be time. Sometimes the universe reminds you how much you want to read that and suggests gently or aggressively that now is the time. Maybe now’s the time, Holly.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:41:42] I think now is the time. I can’t wait.

Anne Bogel [00:41:45] Ooh, thanks so much for talking books with me today.

Holly Wielkoszewski [00:41:47] Thanks so much. This was great.

Anne Bogel [00:41:53] Hey, readers, I hope you enjoyed our discussion today and maybe heard a book or two that you would love to read next too. If you have a recommendation for what I should read, I still want to know. Please tell me, please tell all of us by leaving a comment at That’s also where you will find the full list of titles you all recommended to me today.

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Thanks to the people who make this show happen. What Should I Read Next? is created each week by Will Bogel, Holly Wielkoszewski, and Studio D Podcast Production. Readers, that’s it for this episode. Thanks so much for listening. And as Rainer Maria Rilke said, “Ah! how good it is to be among people who are reading.” Happy reading, everyone.

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