Readers, we wanted to celebrate this year’s 10th edition of the Summer Reading Guide with an extra special episode, so I invited a guest I’ve been meaning to have on the podcast for a long time. This episode has literally been years in the making, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Ginger Horton to the show.
Ginger is our Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club community manager, which means she gets to, in her own words, “hang out online and talk about books all day.” If you’re a book club member, you’ve seen Ginger on screen for our events, in the forums keeping conversation going, or in your inbox answering all of your questions.
Ginger is one of the most self-aware readers I know, which makes talking about books and reading with her such a joy! Today, we chat about how her role at Modern Mrs. Darcy has changed her reading life, how she tracks her reading in a totally unique way, and how she cleverly uses the summer reading guide to spread that summer reading feeling over the whole entire year.
For this celebratory episode, Ginger shares her three favorite backlist summer reading guide selections, and I recommend three books from this year’s summer reading guide that I think she’ll love. Of course we can’t help squeezing in extra book talk, as we often do, so listen in for a pile of backlist and brand new summer reading recommendations.
To learn more about what’s happening in book club this summer, check out this recent post and follow MMD Book Club on Instagram. We’d love to see you in our community! Join us at members.modernmrsdarcy.com.
ANNE: Hey readers. I’m Anne Bogel, and this is What Should I Read Next? Episode 283.
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 this 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.
Readers, the countdown is almost over! The 2021 Summer Reading Guide is coming your way May 24th.
Every year, I personally vet much-hyped new releases and unearth hidden gems to bring you the recommendations you need to get more out of your summer reading season.
This is our 10th annual Summer Reading Guide, and we are ready to celebrate! Everyone who is signed up for our email newsletter gets the guide when it comes out on May 24, but THIS WEEK—before the guide is officially released—we host a live “unboxing” for our What Should I Read Next patreon supporters.
In this ninety-minute live video session, I reveal every title in the guide and tell readers why I chose it. Unboxing is such a DELIGHT—it’s the best kind of book party—and this year we’re doing it twice to accommodate more readers live: at noon AND 7pm Eastern time on Thursday, May 20. Members get the guide just after Unboxing—which means they get it four days early. And in their members-only expanded edition, they get SIXTEEN bonus book recs, extra reading lists, and more bonuses that don’t appear in the basic guide.
To join us on May 20th, go to patreon.com/whatshouldireadnext now to get more info and sign up. And get ready for a bunch of summer reading bonus episodes coming your way on Patreon.
Get in on the action by becoming a member at patreon.com/whatshouldireadnext, P-A-T-R-E-O-N.com/whatshouldireadnext.
We wanted to celebrate this year’s 10th edition of the Summer Reading Guide with an extra special episode, so I invited a guest I’ve been eager to have on the podcast for a long time. This episode has literally been years in the making, readers—and I couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Ginger Horton to the show.
Ginger is our Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club community manager, which means she gets to, in her own words, “hang out online and talk about books all day.” If you’re a book club member, you’ve seen Ginger on screen for our events, in the forums enjoying bookish conversation, or in your inbox answering your questions.
Ginger is one of the most self-aware readers I know, which makes talking about books and reading such a joy! Today, we chat about how her role at Modern Mrs. Darcy has changed her reading life, how she tracks her reading in a unique way, and how she cleverly uses the summer reading guide to make that summer reading feeling last all year long.
For this celebratory episode, Ginger shares her three favorite backlist summer reading guide selections, and I recommend three books I think she’ll love from this year’s summer reading guide. Of course, we can’t help squeezing in extra book talk, as we often do, so listen in for a pile of both backlist and brand new summer reading recommendations.
Let’s get to it!
Ginger, welcome to the show.
GINGER: Thank you so much for having me. It has been a long time coming.
ANNE: Yes, I feel like this episode has been five years in the making, and I’m so excited we’re doing it today.
GINGER: You and I get to talk books a lot, but this is different.
ANNE: Also we’ve never done it in this context, and I know so many people were excited to see your name in their podcast app this morning.
GINGER: Well I’m glad to be here. I am a long time fan of the blog, the podcast, the book club, all long before I was a team member and have had the honor of listening to every single episode. Sometimes when our team members hear me say that I get a look sometimes. People are surprised [ANNE LAUGHS] but I’m not missing What Should I Read Next, so I have very little to do with that side of the work, but that doesn’t mean I can’t just sit and enjoy it every single week. So I look forward to Tuesdays.
ANNE: Well I’m so excited to put you on today, and this is a big year for us. This is our 10th annual summer reading guide and we wanted to have someone really special on and we thought nobody better than somebody who’s been involved in the preparation of this for years now and who readers really want to hear about how you read in the summertime, Ginger. Let’s be honest.
GINGER: I love summer reading. It’s my favorite. I’m not equivocal. Summer’s my favorite season period, and summer is my favorite reading season.
ANNE: Which is funny because you have an interesting history with summer reading.
GINGER: I do.
ANNE: We might get into that. [LAUGHS] Well you are a member of our team for Modern Mrs Darcy and What Should I Read Next. Will you tell everyone what you do?
GINGER: I will. I am the book club community manager, which means all sorts of things. Basically that I get to hang out online and talk about books, so I know, right. Don’t hate me. It’s a dream… [ANNE LAUGHS] It’s a dream job. Really what that means on a daily basis is I am, I’m hanging out in our book club forums. I’m answering questions from our members when we do author chats or classes. I really love when I get to host member meet ups, which are small groups where we get to meet together on Zoom to talk about books and there’s always fun bookish chatter going on on the dashboard and on the forums. So I get to hangout all day in the book club. Who gets to go to book club every day? [ANNE LAUGHS] This girl.
ANNE: And you’ve been doing that since practically the beginning of book club. ‘Cause this is our five year anniversary coming up next month.
GINGER: That’s right. Almost. So I signed up … I mean, the minute the Modern Mrs Darcy blog announced there was going to be a book club, you know, I was just a reader of the blog. I was a fangirl long before I was a team member. I say that all the time. So I feel like I can really have no chill in the most complete way I know. I signed up for the book club the minute it was announced. That first summer we were on Facebook, which had its charms, but really wasn’t ideal. But we read five books together that summer. Oh my goodness. So many books, and talked about them with the authors and that was kinda the start of it. So after that summer when you guys started the actual member site and the book club online with our own dedicated space is when I came onboard the team and the rest is history.
ANNE: And the real quick way that happened, if it’s okay to share is, you sent me [GINGER LAUGHS] basically an application for a job you didn’t know exist…
ANNE: And I think we got on the phone, I think I said it’s uncanny [LAUGHS] how this is like the perfect resume for the position that you don’t know about.
GINGER: People ask me sometimes like how did that come about, and I am full of no tips at all other than you know, yeah, I applied for a job that didn’t really … Or it did exist in your mind, but I didn’t know that yet so it was just fate.
ANNE: It was meant to be. So I think you’ve established your bonafides as a super nerdy reader but I have been really impressed over the years with your history of using the guide like in a practical way, you know taking it to the library, but also in a really tactical way, ways I just hadn’t considered. Tell us a little more about that.
GINGER: Yes, so I don’t think these were, you know, original to me but we very quickly realized in the book club that people had such clever ways of using the guide. I’m a tactical girl. I still keep a paper calendar, a paper journal, that sorta thing and so I have always uploaded my happy little summer reading guide to one of the awesome stores and had them print usually a giant poster and also a printed booklet copy and so that hangs on my wall all year.
I do use the summer reading guide. It starts in the summer, but I use it all throughout the year because summer is my favorite season, I’m very happy to be reading. I’m very happy to be alive when it’s warm. I’m a little less happy about the state of things when it’s cold, so I really space out my summer reading. It stays with me all year. Mine from last year is still sitting on my coffee table right here, I’m looking at it right now, and in fact I just read in February a book that came up on my library holds list finally and it was the perfect time, a read meet cute in fact. It was just a light, fun read when it was sorta the rainy season and a little blah, and so yeah, I don’t cordoned off that summer fun to summer time with myself, but this is the time of year it kicks off.
ANNE: Now this is going to be your first summer reading season that you’re spending in a place that’s kinda what many of us think of as summery all year round. Is that going to change things?
GINGER: You know, I wonder if it will. So I have traditionally had a bit of a summer slump in fact because the days are long and languid and I like to read a little differently and we’ll get to that. I sometimes read fewer books in the summer because of the novelty of the warmth and I just wanna soak it in, and sometimes I just wanna sit outside and you know, soak in those sunshine rays.
But I live in Hawaii. This is my first summer living in Hawaii. We moved here at the very tail end of the summer. I have actually noticed my reading life has picked up when it typically starts to slump a little, so this will be an interesting experiment. I have no idea. I’ve been tracking my reading really steadily now for about nine years. This will be interesting. I have no idea how it will impact, but I have a feeling because I’m not ramping up, it might just stay consistent. I don’t know. Will report back.
ANNE: Do you even know how doing what you do for the Modern Mrs Darcy book club has changed your reading life?
GINGER: I do actually because I’ve been tracking it since before I came on, I know how many books I read per year-ish and I know how the ratings that I gave them from about – from about nine years ago was really when I started tracking every single book, giving it a rating, and then even about three years ago, tracking what I read on a daily basis. So I have quantifiable evidence.
It has impacted it in really strange ways. So I know we say that quantity isn’t everything, but I read about double the books now than I used to and so I think that tells me that I’m one of those readers that reads when I have good things in front of me which is so important. Some people find something to read no matter what. Clearly I read when there’s good stuff in front of me, and so I think there’s a term for that you’ve talked about supply side, demand side reader. So I’m doubling my reading life because I’m around readers, and there’s so many good things in front of me all the time.
That being said, one of our team members teases me because I’m a little harder on ratings now. I think when you’re reading double … [ANNE LAUGHS] My ratings have gotten worse. I don’t think that the books have gotten worse. I think that means you know, I think I can’t give every book five stars when you’re reading that many. You gotta I guess ration them out which now that I’m saying it doesn’t sound very generous, but I really need to see for myself what you know, what did you really like, and then what did you just like. It was okay. I get criticisms all the time for giving books three stars on Goodreads, but three stars means I liked it. So I go with that.
ANNE: And Ginger, you’re saying that you’re reading twice as much even though you are on the record as being a slow reader. Isn’t that right?
GINGER: That’s true. I just read a lot of my day. So whereas some people might get through the same amount of books if they read an hour each night, I am reading a couple of hours a day easily. Part of that is because I really build that into my schedule and part of that is because I’m a bit of a slow reader, so I know if I want to read as much as I do I gotta read a lot. So when people say oh, you know, you read so many books, I’m slow at it. It takes a lot of my time and I plan for that. I wish that weren’t so, but it is.
ANNE: Well, and I really appreciate you saying that and want people to be able to hear it. I know that whenever we have someone on the show who identifies as a slow reader, and today it’s you, so thank you for shouting that out, we hear from so many people who say oh, thank goodness. I’m so relieved to hear that somebody who loves reading has that trait in common with me. So that’s great. You have many good books to choose from, and yes that is our previous guest, Laura Vanderkam who talked about how some people will only read when they’ve got a stack of good stuff in front of them, and when there’s not anything they’re excited to read, they’ll find something else to do with that time. But you mentioned that you’ve been tracking what you read on a daily basis, and I’m so curious about what that even looks like. How are you doing that?
GINGER: In fact there is a blog post on this. A few years ago I got one of those line a day journals, and what I do is not what I did or how I feel that day, I write all the books I read in the book. I’m a reckless book abandoner. I do not finish books I’m not enjoying, but sometimes I accidentally abandon books I was enjoying because the new and the shiny comes along. So I love keeping that. I’m also a multiple book at a time reader, so sometimes in a day, there’s only one book on that line a day journal. Sometimes there’s three. Sometimes there’s five or six. I have different reading zones in my day and so I don’t always get to those, depending on life, but it’s interesting to see what all I’ve read in a day, be that five pages, be that I finished the book I write it down if I’ve read it in a day.
And so what that allows me to do is see where there are big slumps, when there are days where there’s no reading. That’s rare, but it does happen, and it also allows me when the year comes back and I see oh I’m writing again in April, and you know what I was reading that book last year I was really enjoying on this day and I never finished that. [ANNE LAUGHS] It has made me finished books more times than I can count. I’m notorious for thinking I’ve read a book and then I’ll go find the bookmark, you know, fifty pages from the end. Why did I do that? It’s because the new and the shiny came along, and I thought in my head I had read it. But the facts don’t lie.
ANNE: Now I can see from where I’m sitting at my microphone, a really adorable Anthropologie sale purchase of Mr. Boddington’s five year line a day journal, and every time you tell me this, I keep thinking I’m going to pull it down [BOTH LAUGH] and actually use it. Maybe today I’ll do it.
GINGER: It’s fun to do each night. It’s a great way to end the evening, just right before I get into bed. It’s lovely. I mean what better than to think about all the books you’ve read that day.
ANNE: Just a little bit of peaceful readerly reflection. [GINGER AGREES] Well I’m really excited that we get to get into some of your favorite books today, but first I don’t want to gloss over the fact that while you haven’t been on What Should I Read Next until today, you were featured on the precursor to what became the podcast.
GINGER: Oh my goodness. Six or seven years ago, again, just a blog reader. A heavy blog reader, you know, when blogs were really, really in their hay day, and I think there’s been a resurgence, at least to my perspective.
ANNE: An industry person told me just last week that blogging is making a comeback and I don’t know what that means, but I’m curious.
GINGER: But I was a Modern Mrs Darcy reader, and you made a blog post called let’s do some literary matchmaking, and oh you better believe I was one of the very first comments on that post. There were I think hundreds of comments, correct me if I’m wrong, but I was right on up there and so because I was so early on, you did a few posts, follow up posts saying here are three books you love, one book you hate. Here’s some books for you, and so I was one of those very, very, very early on What Should I Read Next early edition experimentations. I was actually on the same blog post with Holland, who is, you know, famous from The Novel Neighbor at this point and I feel very honored to be in such good company.
ANNE: Another reader who later became a friend and has been on What Should I Read Next and you all love those episodes where she comes on to recommend books.
ANNE: I’m looking at this right now, Ginger, March 9th, 2014.
ANNE: And you chose The Time Traveler’s Wife, Atonement, and Into Thin Air as loves.
GINGER: I stand by those.
ANNE: Twilight was not for you.
GINGER: [LAUGHS] That one’s the one that’s a bit more dated. It was … It was in the readerly conscious right then. Of course it still is. People still love it, and I think there’s sequels now. That one I had to read for an in real life book club and I was a good sport. I was a big proponent of we’re a democracy in that book club and we all voted and we all read what everyone voted on, so I read that one, but it was just not for me.
ANNE: The last book you read was Quiet.
ANNE: My mainstream pick was Rules of Civility, eccentric, an offbeat selection, you know, maybe you’ll love it was Life after Life by Kate Atkinson. I chose a YA novel When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, and the memoir Touching the Void.
GINGER: And I have a report back on one of those.
ANNE: Let’s hear it.
GINGER: Okay! [LAUGHS] This actually should come later in the conversation when you would ask me what you’re reading lately. I was talking to a readerly friend yesterday and I was confessing that I was going to be on the podcast and confessing that I have been guilty up until lately in fact just last year we had a Modern Mrs Darcy book club retreat, and one of my good friends who I’ve met in real life, but from the book club, Amy, hi Amy, convinced me to stop saving the good stuff. I am guilty of sorta squirreling away books I’m confident will be for me for a rainy day. Like there’s not going to be an abundance of those the next rainy day.
I have been saving Life After Life, I powered through the other two and I bought Life After Life right away. It’s been sitting on my shelf all this time, and I was telling my friend yesterday I can’t believe that I haven’t even taken all the book recommendations Anne gave me. How … [LAUGHS] How ungrateful. I haven’t even read all the ones that she did recommend to me, and so I started it yesterday and I read about half in a day. And that’s not – that’s not a short book, so I can’t believe I was saving it and sometimes bookish deadlines are the way to go because I felt like man, I should start this right away. I’m going to get more books from Anne tomorrow. Sure enough.
ANNE: Well we’ve been talking about writing advice a lot in book club recently, and what you said puts me in mind of an Annie Dillard quote. So here you go. It’s supposed to be writing advice, but I think we can make it reading advice. “The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later. Something better.” Okay, I don’t know about something better because we’re talking about reading, not writing, [GINGER LAUGHS] but I think that’s for you.
GINGER: I agree. I have been trying for the last year or so not to save the good stuff, and it has served my reading life really, really well. I can say that much.
ANNE: Okay. So we can have faith in knowing that more good books are on their way to find us.
ANNE: Can we hear about some of those books? I’m so excited to hear what you chose today.
GINGER: Well the way I chose was actually so serendipitous because I am a maximalist and there is no way I could have possibly narrowed down my lifetime favorites. I hear people that pick recent favorites on the podcast, lifetime favorites. It’s a lot of pressure. Every time I’m listening I’m always fantasizing in my head and revising what my favorites would be, but I decided since we were talking in the space of the summer reading guide, you know what I’ll do? I will choose from the summer reading guide and not only that, narrowing my choices even more to books we have read in book club in the summer, which are traditionally chosen from the summer reading guide and some of my favorites of all time we’ve read.
In fact because of the musings on this we’re actually doing something this summer called backlist book club where of course we’ll read some of the new and shiny we’re really excited, but we’re going to read these three again together, revisit them and we have things like author chats already recorded so we’re going to watch those together and then get online and talk about them again. I’m really excited to revisit some of my all time favorites from the past five years, so that is how I narrowed my choices today and those are my three favorite books that I’m bringing today to the podcast.
ANNE: Well I can’t wait to hear more about them.
Readers, even though I knew the tulips in our yard were about to bloom in a few days, I couldn’t resist the fresh yellow bouquet as I passed them on my way to the grocery checkout line. Often, I’d talk myself out of an impractical purchase, but then I remembered my own motto to “buy the flowers” for a simple dose of joy, and I put them in my cart. It’s nice to treat yourself once in a while. But with ThirdLove’s perfectly fitted bras and quality loungewear, putting on your essentials feels like indulging yourself every day.
ThirdLove is changing the game when it comes to comfort and style for all of your everyday essentials. From loungewear and wireless styles, to their #1 rated 24/7 Classic T-Shirt bra, they’re creating the ultimate shopping experience.
There’s no need to go to the department store for your dreaded annual bra fitting. ThirdLove’s Fitting Room quiz focuses on size, breast shape, current fit issues and your personal style to deliver bras and underwear that are perfect for you.
Each year, I retake the quiz to make sure I’ve got the right fit and to see which new styles they recommend for my shape. I love my pima cotton t-shirt bra for spring and summer. It’s breathable, comfy, and looks great under any outfit.
I found my perfect fit and now I wear ThirdLove every day. Treat yourself with something that fits like it was made just for you with ThirdLove.
Go to ThirdLove.com/READNEXT now to get 20% off your first purchase.
That’s ThirdLove.com/READNEXT for 20% off today.
Hey readers, I’m not a home decor expert, but I do love finding things that make my house feel welcoming, warm, and a favorite place to be. Especially after spending so much time at home over the last year, I appreciate both the foundational pieces and small details that make this space special—like our Jenni Kayne alpaca basket weave throw or my current favorite Jenni Kayne hand-poured candle in the fresh spring Basil scent.
I love to find things for my home that are functional and beautiful. Whether draped across my lap or the back of an armchair, my basketweave blanket makes a statement and keeps me cozy. I have to say, it also looks good in our summer reading guide this year. Jenni Kayne’s handcrafted textiles are what every room needs for texture, color, and comfort—and adding a California-inspired candle creates an instant oasis.
Whether you’re restyling your tabletop, refreshing your bedroom, or embarking on a full-on remodel, home always starts with Jenni Kayne.
Find your forever pieces at jennikayne.com.
Get 15% off your first order when you use code READNEXT at checkout—and for a limited time that includes furniture, too.
That’s 15% off your first order J-E-N-N-I K-A-Y-N-E dot com, promo code READNEXT.
ANNE: I know you know how this works. You’re going to share those three books you love, one book you don’t, and we’ll talk real quick about what you’ve been reading lately and then I’m going to also enjoy the benefits of narrowing it down and recommend three titles I think you may enjoy from this year’s summer reading guide.
GINGER: I’m so excited.
ANNE: Alright, let’s do it. Are these in any particular order?
GINGER: They are in the order that we read them in book club. It feels the fairest and in fact the order is … I kinda like the order that we read them because I do think that these three happen to be representative of my reading life.
ANNE: Can’t wait to hear more! Okay. I want to ask but I think it will unfold as we dive in. Ginger, tell us about book one.
GINGER: So the first book I chose is Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave. If anyone has talked to me about books anytime in the last five years, you are probably not surprised to hear that Chris Cleave has become a favorite. I think I have gone on to read every single thing he’s written and I’m anxiously waiting more from him, but this book is set in World War II, not terribly unusual in the book world. I know there’s a lot of talk about oh there’s so many World War II books. I’m getting World War II book fatigue. This one was really set apart to me. The premise was at the very start we met a trio of friends. There’s Mary and there’s two friends of hers, two gentlemen who make different choices regarding the war that’s just been declared, and Mary makes a choice about how to be involved.
This one really stands out because of those characters. The writing is just so full of humor and heart and the humor is wry and just so appropriate for a war novel. As anyone who has been around the book club will know, I cannot stop talking about that author talk. Chris Cleave is my favorite author talk we have ever had. He was so charming and really added to the experience of the book.
So one of the things he told us about the novel when he was writing was that he wrote the book and then shuffled the scenes around because that is how war happens. That is how life happens. We don’t always get control about the order that things happen. He did other things like putting himself on jam rations. Really quite an involved writer in ways that I have never heard, so that actually added to my enjoyment of the book just hearing from him about how he did that, and I love to watch author talks. We have some on the stay on book tour from last spring, and of course we have a library on the book club site, and so that’s one of my favorite ways to revisit a book is to see what did the author have to say about the writing process? It really does add to my enjoyment of a novel, and I’ve taken that since and made that part of my reading life.
ANNE: He told us in 2016 that he was working on a sequel, and I think I’ve checked the internet once a month …
ANNE: Ever since then to say is it ready? Is it ready? Is it ready? Is it ready?
GINGER: I checked yesterday. I thought how great would that be if I could come up with some news?
ANNE: [LAUGHS] If you could manifest it into being.
GINGER: Right, there’s no news. I can’t make that happen. But Chris Cleave, you can. Please. We’re waiting for it.
ANNE: You know, I’m glad that you’re mentioning it now and I’m glad that we’ve been able to share it with so many readers over the years, but I’m not sure that I would have picked up that book because even back in 2016 that came in the mail from the publisher. I think it just came unsolicited. I don’t think I picked it up at an event or anything, and I was like eh, World War II. But something about it caught Will’s eye, and he picked it up and so he’d be [LAUGHS] he’d be reading it in bed at night like just laughing at the witty repertoire, and I remember Chris Cleave telling us in the chat we said the dialogue is so good. Is that realistic? How did you do it? And he said there was no Netflix back then, like conversation was entertainment, and I read my grandparent’s letters and they were funny! And it was really important to me to work that in. But Will said I think you’re going to like this, and I think you should read it, and I did and I’m so glad.
GINGER: Thank you, Will. I forgot about that origin story. I’m so glad he picked that up out of the piles and we’re all thankful.
ANNE: Always nice to remember where you get your really wonderful book recommendations. And if you live with the person, so much the better.
GINGER: [LAUGHS] Absolutely.
ANNE: Or work with them as the case may be. Okay. So that one was Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave. What comes next chronologically?
GINGER: So chronologically what comes next is Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin. This is a story, a modern day story about a young girl who is working for a congressman and gets herself into a situation. There’s also an early blog situation around that, so that was a delightful aspect for me. This has the honor of going with my favorite flight pairing ever, so we get asked all the time what’s a flight pairing?
ANNE: I made this up way, way back in like 2013 actually. I do not know that much about wine, which is probably the reason why I’m a sucker for a wine flight on a restaurant menu, and that’s where the term comes from. Where I live in Kentucky, you can also get a bourbon flight at many restaurants, or bars, but the idea is that by sipping several different wines back to back that are thoughtfully paired, you can get a better feel for a certain varietal or vintage, and when you compare the different flavors next to each other, you can appreciate the wines depth and breadth far better than you could with an individual glass.
In the same way, when you read books in these conscientious pairings, you can get a better feel for how a book handles a certain theme or topic or what kind of style they’re written in or how they handle a certain period in history. I mean, I’m a big nerd and I love it when books are in conversation with each other. So what was the flight pick for Young Jane Young? ‘Cause I honestly cannot remember right now.
GINGER: Oh, well … Oh good. Okay, so well I love this. This was a nonfiction flight pairing called So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.
ANNE: [GASPS] Oh! Yes! Okay. You said nonfiction, I knew it.
GINGER: Yes. [LAUGHS] Yes. And so that’s one of the reasons I selected this one because I do love nonfiction reads. I read a lot of that, but it wasn’t reflected on my list here, so this was my sneaky way to basically get a two for one, but Young Jane Young was the modern story version of this girl who made some choices and got some consequences for those choices. Thrust into the public eye and repercussions of that throughout her life and so I really loved seeing that through her eyes, of course you want to smack yourself on the head on her behalf and also cry your eyes out on her behalf because there’s empathy, but there’s also you can … You can see as the observer where she went wrong and then also where circumstances just went wrong, and how would you react? So I really loved seeing these mistakes through her eyes and I loved this character. She was just a powerhouse.
Gabrielle Zevin is one of those authors that can write sorta anything. She also wrote The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, which is such a different book to me. It’s very cozy and there’s a dad/daughter relationship, and then she writes this … This spicy, you know, story with a young girl and ambition and I – I just loved Young Jane Young and the flight pairing with it. I think about this book, it’s very timely. Sadly it’s very timely even still now. I think about this book and So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed probably once a week at least. I’m on Twitter every single day and So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is especially very still relevant, much to my chagrin.
ANNE: So we’re going to continue the theme of I’m ready for a new book. I’m ready for a new book, Gabrielle Zevin.
GINGER: Me too.
ANNE: You keep saying that she is the protagonist. I know which generation you’re thinking of, but this is also a multigenerational story. I just remember loving the grandmother’s voice so much. She’s a Jewish grandmother who lives in South Florida. Sara Aeder, if you’re listening, pick up this book. We were talking about great Jewish character in fiction on an episode not that long ago with her. The intergenerational dynamics were really fun for me. I guess that’s something I really enjoy in fiction, and that was something that stuck with me.
GINGER: Yeah, no, it’s funny that you mentioned that because I had not forgotten about that. When I think of the story of course I’m obviously centering one of the generations. It’s probably because when I read it I was closest to her age. The young girl and the older lady were also just equally so well written and you know speaking of authors who can write the fire out of a book, the ability to do all three of those so well, they sounded like different voices but they sounded like themselves. Bravo, Gabrielle.
ANNE: I don’t want you to be apologetic about that because something I think is really telling is through a long lens, not having read a book in several years, what are the elements that stuck with you? I mean, I want to hear it.
GINGER: Good point.
ANNE: That was Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin with a little side mention of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. Well played, Ginger. What’s book three?
GINGER: This might be my favorite book we’ve ever read in book club. Stay With Me by Ayòbámi Adébáyò. She is an Nigerian author who we also talked with. This book gets the award for most literal jaw dropping moments ever. I’m not kidding when I say jaw drop. My jaw literally dropped two separate times reading this book, which is sorta rare. I’m a little bit of a low emoter when it comes to books and I write in my books. Those of you that know me know that I’m a huge fan of marginalia. We have a class on that in the book club. I write in my books, and I absolutely have out the side on two separate occasions jaw dropped in the margin of this book. [ANNE LAUGHS] I love when that happens. It’s rare for me and for someone to shock me not once, but then to twist it around twice.
This is the story of a two new young newlyweds. They decide on the kinda of life that they want and then she later finds out that their life and their marriage is nothing like they discussed and nothing like she thought it would be. So I loved these characters because the culture is nothing like my own. She’s writing as a Nigerian author from a place where polygamy is normative. That is nothing like my normal experience but again, to see a life through a character’s eyes and find out how they would make those choices and how she would’ve react when other people make choices for her. I loved that exploration.
ANNE: That was Stay With Me by Ayòbámi Adébáyò. Now, Ginger, you said each of these books represented a key component of your reading life. Would you walk us through that?
GINGER: As I was reflecting on this, which this is the beauty of being on a podcast like this. I knew I loved those books. I had never really put together how important a few key aspects were. So the setting is quite varied if you think about it. One takes place in England during World War II. It’s historical fiction. One takes place in rather modern day and in a rather familiar environment to me, politics, the DC area. And one takes place in Nigeria with a completely different culture, completely different life, and a marriage that would be foreign to me. So the settings are very, very different, but yet I got to see each of those characters through completely fresh eyes. None of these are anything like my experience, and so I think that’s something that is really emblematic in my reading life that I love to read and explore and if someone can introduce me to something that I probably will never go through, I hope I’ll never go through a world war. [LAUGHS] I hope I never go through a controversy to the level of Young Jane Young and I hope I never find anything jaw dropping in my real life, but I love reading about it.
ANNE: I’m making notes, which I know you would approve of.
GINGER: I do.
ANNE: Ginger, tell me about a book that wasn’t right for you, and how’d you choose this.
GINGER: Okay, so this was harder. I’ve got to be honest. I’m slant cheating a little bit because when I was trying to think of a book I’ve hated from the book club I could not think of anything. Of course I have my favorites, and then I have some, you know, the famous three stars, which I highlighted, [LAUGHS] but I could not think of one that I’ve hated and I think that’s really owing to the fact that even books that were so-so for me, once we went through the process of discussing them, have a real fond place in my heart because when you talk about books with other readers, you get to see the aspects that they enjoyed and what was special to them, so it was really hard for me to look at one and go yeah, that wasn’t for me.
So I’m cheating a little bit and picking a book that I did not read for book club, but I did find out about in the Modern Mrs Darcy space and it was just not for me. I feel strongly about very few books but when I do, I don’t mind saying yeah, I really didn’t like it. This book was very popular, so it is completely fine. My hatred of it was not hurting anybody. It was not what I wanted it to be. The premise often gets me in a novel, and it doesn’t always deliver. That book is Tangerine.
This was sold again. The premise, the setting, always will hook me. This book was set two friends. It starts in a college space, which I’m always here for a good campus novel. They travel to Morocco. There’s possibly some shady husband action going on. Everything I thought I loved in a book, and I just could not care less about these characters. They weren’t really, really likeable, and they weren’t really, really unlikeable. I just didn’t care about the third of the way in. Now another reason that I’m cheating a little bit is that I don’t finish books that I don’t like, and so I got far enough into this one to be able to say confidently it wasn’t for me, but when I say i don’t like it, I never finish the book, so there’s my confession.
ANNE: That one was more atmosphere than plot if I remember correctly.
GINGER: I think you might be right. I don’t need it be a ton of plot. I’m very character driven, but I do need some, and there was just not a lot going on.
ANNE: I remember really liking the way she drew the atmosphere in Tangerine, and there’s a new one coming out from Christine Mangan this July. I think it’s called Palace of the Drowned, and actually I haven’t read it. It’s on my stack, but I was very curious to possibly pick it up for the summer reading guide because of a really interesting theme that began emerging was that I had this whole category of books that I knew I wanted to include that were literary mysteries, and usually when I say that I mean, mysteries written with a literary voice. But no, like these are like thrillers set in the world of publishing, and we had this really unusual theme going was that they all revolved around authors behaving badly, and they were all authors who had a successful first novel and were really struggling with their second.
And that’s what’s happening in Palace of the Drowned, this one coming out in June. It’s set in Venice. Supposed to be very atmospheric, and there’s an author whose debut was really successful but now she’s spent the rest of her career trying to prove she can do it again with the sophomore novel. And I thought oh, wouldn’t that be such a fun category, ‘cause I’m such a nerd, Ginger. Like a category of authors desperate to make good with their sophomore novel, but we had so many books already.
GINGER: Her writing was clearly fantastic. It just was not for me, and so I will absolutely give her a chance because I can see that really working. I read another book recently Who Is Maud Dixon? that would fit that description and that was everything I wanted Tangerine to be. I was deeply invested in these characters. It even took place in the same setting in Morocco.
ANNE: About an author trying to write a sophomore novel. [LAUGHS]
GINGER: Yes. Yes. Absolutely.
ANNE: Maud Dixon gave me major Tangerine vibes because they share that setting. That’s really interesting because Who is Maud Dixon? is about authors behaving badly, and yet characterization really matters to you, so you want characters you care about, but that doesn’t all mean that you need to like them. Or at least this is what I’m working out. Is that true?
GINGER: That is absolutely true. I not only do not need to love characters, I often love reading about really deeply unlikeable characters. There’s another book we read that very first summer at book club called The Nest. It got, you know, some mixed feelings in our book club because there’s not a likeable character in that bunch and I was here for it. I like reading about unlikeable characters. They’re so interesting. I don’t want these people as my friends, but my goodness, I want to read about them.
ANNE: You know, I say characters you care about. Maybe a better way to put that is interesting characters. Characters you want to read about. Ginger, what have you been reading lately?
GINGER: Yes, so as we already heard. Life After Life. I picked that up because I had this bookish deadline lingering in my mind that good stuff was coming, and I better read the good stuff I’ve been saving. So Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I read about 250 pages yesterday, so that’s the most immediate thing I’ve been picking up, but most immediately before that was Girl with the Louding Voice. This is such a good example of a book that could have been not for me because I picked it up at the wrong time.
I picked it up a couple months ago. I was just not into it, and again, it had all the elements of things that should have been for me, so I just put it down. Gave it one more chance because my bestie loved it. My mom actually loved it, and so I picked it back up and couldn’t put it down. It was just the right place, the right time, or the wrong place the wrong time, so I was so glad I had actually set it aside and had come back to it later because I read it and loved it.
Another Nigerian author and very good on audio. I listened to that, and listened to the dialogue which we’ve already talked about dialogue. It’s hard to do, but when it’s done well, it’s so charming. The voice of the character was so strong, and I just really fell in love with her. I kinda think of it as a Nigerian A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. There’s a young girl who wants something for her life and boy does she go out and get it.
ANNE: Now Ginger, on the cusp of a new season, what are you looking for in your reading life?
GINGER: So I am a bit of a different reader. I’ve already admitted to the fact that I sorta spread out the summer reading guide throughout the year. I don’t know if that would be impacted by my current climate, but I am often saving some of the light stuff for later in the year. What I’m really looking for in a summer reading book is something deep and chunky that I can sink into. I love reading long tomes in the summer months. I love reading nonfiction. Some of the books that a lot of the people think of the more serious books. I have been known, and have been a little bit embarrassed about this truth be told to read you know, Tolstoy on the beach because I don’t want to read Tolstoy in the winter when it’s snowing and cozy. I want to read the serious things when it’s bright and sunny outside, and then please give me all the light and fluffy in January.
Some of my favorite summer reading guide picks of all time, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, was on a really early summer reading guide and that taught me some things. I’m not sure if most people would consider that a summer book but clearly you did and it was right for me as a reader. Bel Canto, The Almost Sisters … You’re never alone in the reading life and so I wonder if there are others are like me.
ANNE: Oh, it’s never just you, and I think I have good stuff for you.
GINGER: I’m so excited. It’s so fun to talk about books. I actually forgot until just now, oh yay. I get three now. [BOTH LAUGHS] This was fun. Now’s the real treat.
Readers, I’ve been dreaming of a beach vacation for months. Nothing feels more refreshing than putting my toes in the sand and finishing a book in one sitting. My family prefers a road trip over air travel, and packing the van with room for books, suitcases, and snacks can be a challenge. Thanks to my Away suitcase, I can fit everything I need in one place, plus its sleek shape makes packing tons of stuff in our trunk way easier.
Whether it’s a trip to the corner store, a weekend away or an extended stay with friends and family, we’re all navigating the current reality of travel. But no matter your destination or style, Away’s suitcases, bags, and accessories all come in a variety of colors, sizes, and materials to suit your needs and inspire your future travels.
Away products are designed to last a lifetime: If any part of your suitcase breaks, Away’s standout customer service team will arrange to have it fixed or replaced.
Every suitcase comes with an interior organization system that includes a built-in compression pad to help you pack more in, and a hidden (and removable) laundry bag that separates your dirty clothes.
With a 100-day trial and free shipping and returns, Away makes it easy to fall in love with your new suitcase.
Start your 100-day trial and shop the entire Away lineup of travel essentials, including their best-selling suitcases, at AwayTravel.com/readnext20.
ANNE: Here is what we are looking for. Based on the books you love, which were Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, Stay With Me by Ayòbámi Adébáyò, and Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin. And so we are looking for books that take you to different settings that allow you to read and explore and introduce you to something wholly different. You don’t mind going along. You love nonfiction. We want interesting characters. Maybe not likeable characters, but interesting characters where even if you’re not necessarily rooting for them, you want to find out what happens next and you want it to be good. Whether that means you know, they go down in flames or they find some redemption someplace like you want it to be interesting until the end. And we’re going to choose from our summer reading guide titles.
Well first of all let me say there’s all kinds of good stuff for you in the summer reading guide because even though we do work together, you are not intimately involved in the creation of the guide and I really like that because I get to hear your true reaction [LAUGHS] as you see it for the first time and see the titles and we get to hear what catches your eye.
GINGER: I’m not going to say I haven’t peeked at that document a time or two, but I really do try to keep out of it as much as possible [ANNE LAUGHS] because I want my reactions in the unboxing to be fairly genuine and I also want to hear from my own reading life. We do two recordings of that, and the first time I’m usually focused on a lot of the technical aspects, but the second time I can usually end up hearing in your own words what I’m excited about reading and that’s when I really start adding all those books to my library holds list in my mind at least if not [LAUGHS] if not in actuality. Oh yeah, that book sounds like that’s for me. That book sounds like that’s for me. But I’m excited to get a few little peeks right now.
ANNE: There are 30 titles in the main guide. There’s 45 in the expanded guide. There’s a lot to choose from here, and I have to tell you and the other nonfiction lovers for summer, there’s ample nonfiction in this year’s guide, so there’s nonfiction titles woven throughout, but there’s a dedicated category in the expanded guide called “You Didn’t Know You Wanted to Know,” and we have books about various nonfictions disciplines. Some are straight nonfiction, some are more reporting. Some are history. There’s actually a novel in that category that I’m thinking about recommending to you today actually. But that’s going to be fun for the nonfiction lovers. And there’s some serious stuff as well, and I think — I’m thinking of starting with a lengthy historical novel set in a period that I didn’t think I cared about, but the author made me care.
GINGER: That sounds excellent.
ANNE: When I say puritans, what’s your emotional reaction?
GINGER: Interesting. Okay, that is not at all what I would have thought, but I am here for that. So I came from a baptist tradition and we’ve got a lot of common with those puritans, so I think I would love to read more about them.
ANNE: I think it’s wonderful that you are starting from that point. I did not care about the puritans. I’m like 1662? Who cares? But I took a chance on it because sometimes it’s my job to, and I loved this book. I could not put it down. I think it could be right for you. So this is Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian, and this is new. It’s just out May 4th. This does require a few content warnings. Nothing is graphic, but the stakes are perilous and there is an abusive relationship at the heart of it.
So the setting is Boston, 1662. This is, if you don’t remember from your high school English days when you were reading The Crucible, this is the time when it was perilous [LAUGHS] to be female basically because accusations of witchcraft were flying and that is the tone that permeates this entire book. In fact the very first sentence is “It was always possible that the Devil,” — capital D — “was present.” Like that was ever in people’s minds, and there’s little mentions throughout what you know what’s happening in Salem. You heard about that thing in Hartford. Like you know what’s happening, but it couldn’t come to Boston, could it? Yes, it could.
There’s this woman. Her name is Mary Deerfield. She’s 24. She hasn’t been married for terribly long. She’s from a wealthy well-to-do family. Her parents are merchants. I just said she’d not been married too long ago. Her husband was married once before. This is her second marriage, and she is unable to conceive for reasons that are unclear to her. What nobody knows, not even her parents at the beginning of the book, is that her husband is abusive. He’s emotionally cruel, but also he physically harms her. He’s really sneaky about it. Like he’ll hurt her and give her bruises in places that are just out of the public eye or where she can cover up, so people are observing like golly, she’s clumsy. She is not clumsy. And it’s gotten so bad that she wants to get divorced, and this is something that is not done in 1662. It’s not that it’s impossible. It’s just not done.
But Mary’s situation is desperate, and she really doesn’t see what else she can do. She has to escape her abusive husband, and her parents tentatively support her. They say. But the trial of course is public. She goes before the counsel. Her character is called into question and accusations of witchcraft cry because she can’t get pregnant, and she’s not a happy spouse and shouldn’t she be serving her lord? And why would it look like this? But mysterious events began to swirl around her, involving accusations and perhaps the appearance of witchcraft. Mary isn’t friends with the right people sometimes. She has compassion where it isn’t [LAUGHS] proper for it go, and pretty soon her biggest concern becomes not will she get her divorce, but will she be accused of witchcraft and end up with a situation far worse than she currently has? Like the gallows has threatened her repeatedly.
And just when I thought okay, we wrapped up that plot line, what happens next? The story really kicks into gear. I did not think I cared about the puritans, but this was atmospheric and riveting. Ginger, this is one of those endings where it could have ended like four different places, where you’re like [GASPS] something happens next, and something happens next, and oh my goodness, what’s going to happen next? It had an exceptional ending and was so surprising, and it seems strange to say this but this felt really fresh to me because it’s something unlike anything I picked up in ages, maybe since high school English, so even though the material is centuries old, it was really unexpected. Ginger, how does that sound to you?
GINGER: That sounds so good. I feel like I’m a liar here because I admitted to not being a high emoter and I literally got chills when you read that first line, so. [ANNE LAUGHS] This sounds like something that would be hard for an author to get right, but if they did, I will care about this character, a surprising twist ending, yeah, this kinda sounds like the 1662 versions of Young Jane Young, so I am here for it. And my sister actually lives in Boston so I would be very interested in learning more about the historical time period, so I’m here for this one.
ANNE: And Ginger, I also have to throw in what we so often say about any historical novel, don’t miss the author’s note. He talks about his research process and the books he relied on and the people who pointed him in the right direction and the things he especially knew he had to get right for the story to be good, and I know you’ll love reading about that behind the scenes information.
GINGER: I love a good author’s note.
ANNE: There’s a book that I have in mind that’s short. It’s really short, but it’s really different, and the writing style is highly unusual and unconventional. Does that want to make you run away or are you intrigued?
GINGER: No, I’m intrigued.
ANNE: The book I have in mind is a French novel. It’s by Maylis de Kerangal, and I have to tell you this is one of those books where the ratings are all over the place. I adored it and I want to tell you why. Because I think you want to know what you’re getting into going in. The novel in English is called Painting Time, but the literal translation of the title is more like A World Within Reach or A World At Your Fingertips. This is a really strange comparison and so few people have read Painting Time that there’s hardly anyone I can discuss this with, so please read it so we can see if this gives you Kitchens of the Midwest vibes like it did for me. That’s a book we read late winter in book club and we talked to J. Ryan Stradal who’s fantastic.
This is a coming of age story about an artist. It’s a portrait of the artist as a young woman I suppose and Paula, the main artist we follow in this book reminds me of Ava from Kitchens of the Great Midwest, and that’s all I’m going to say about that as far as the two books are concerned. Paula is a young person who’s floundering just a little bit. She lives in France with her parents who are lovely and on the page quite a bit at the beginning and intermediately. She’s not sure what she wants to do with her life. She’s a little bit at loose-ends after graduating. She’s not sure what she wants to do for formal schooling, but then she discovers that she can learn to paint and not just any kind of painting, but there’s this famous institute of painting in Brussels and she can go. They tell her she doesn’t have to be talented. It is a craft, not necessarily an art. Although I would say the book might argue otherwise.
But she’s going to learn the art of trompe l’oeil, which is the art of illusion. Like for example, she’ll learn to paint wood like it’s expensive marble so she can always have a job painting movie sets or hotel lobbies. She thinks yes, this is what I want to do, and she throws herself into the work and the slim novel, the page count is in the 200s. Closer to 200 than 300. But this is the story of her learning to do the work and then doing the work, but she’s not doing it alone. She’s doing it alongside two people who become very important to her as you’ll see in the story, one more than the other. But it’s primarily Paula’s story.
And I loved the up close look at what was going through her mind as she was learning the art and how she struggles so hard in the book. There’s a long interlude in the book where she has to choose a final project and she has to paint something convincing for her professor and she chooses to paint tortoise shell, which apparently is very difficult to paint, Ginger. I hadn’t thought about painting tortoise shell before ever until the book put it in front of my face, but it goes through how she does it and how she chooses her colors. And the book is told in this almost breathless, impressionist style. The sentences are so long. There are several that go on for pages. It’s not a Ducks, Newburyport situation. But it’s told in these really evocative descriptive phrases and bits where you feel like you are just right there and you can picture it all. So it’s so cinematic in that regard.
Paula learns to paint, but she’s also young and she’s growing up and she’s learning about herself and she’s forming these relationships with others. I just felt so tender toward these young people as I was reading about them. I also loved what de Kerangal did with perspective. This is mostly close third, like I felt like I was right there, like watching the students come into the room, but every once in a while she drops into somebody else’s point of view. Watch out for the woman with the black turtleneck, the professor, and you get her kinda wisened take on aw, this is what the students are always like at this point in the semester and she knows this is going to happen next and watch just in a few weeks how things change. There’s something about the voice that was so different from anything I had read before, so fascinating. I just wanted her to keep talking to me.
You say you want books that let you read and explore. You get to go to France and to Belgium, and then across Europe as she begins to find some work. You get plunged into the world of trompe l’oeil, which I found some really interesting paintings on garages, you know, and some illusions on murals and I don’t know anything about it. I didn’t know I wanted to know. I think in this book the author can convince you that yeah, it’s actually fascinating. It was originally written in French, translated to English by Jessica Moore, and the reason I know this is because now I want to read more of Maylis de Kerangal’s work and I don’t want to read it anybody else’s voice because I loved the translation so much. Not that I could have read the French version to save my life, but I felt like I was in wonderful hands. It was a lot of fun. It came out in April, so you can grab this now.
GINGER: That sounds so good, yes. I am very here for a coming of age story, especially one that delves me into a world that I don’t know much about, the exploration between art and craft is always interesting to me. Not sure always where the lines are and I love reading about that and then to hear that the author sorta reflected that impressionistic in the writing, I’m very excited. This sounds right up my alley.
ANNE: I am thrilled to hear that. So that is Painting Time by Maylis de Kerangal. The next book we’re going to do is another contemporary novel ‘cause I didn’t tell you, Painting Time is set … It’s identified precisely in the book at one point. It’s roughly ten years ago, but the next one is contemporary fiction and it is a book set in the world of books and publishing. Are we off to a good start?
GINGER: Ding ding ding!
ANNE: Coming June 1st, I think you’re going to enjoy The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris. Now the publisher describes this as Get Out meets The Stepford Wives, but I’ve never seen The Stepford Wives, and I’m too chicken to watch Get Out. I’ve been told I can do it. I just haven’t gotten there yet.
GINGER: That’s funny. I haven’t either.
ANNE: The Bohjalian was long. Painting Time was short. This one’s in the middle, in like high 3’s, so we’re not going to get you your doorstop, but this plenty of room to play and deliver a substantial satisfying story. This story centers a publishing assistant in her mid-20s who is the only Black employee at the publisher she works for and it has not been pleasant. She thinks her life is going to improve dramatically when they hire a new girl who is also Black. That is The Other Black Girl. Her name is Hazel and she gets a job in the cube right beside her. Hazel doesn’t turn out to be that ally and friend she expected, that she was so relieved at the prospect of not being alone any longer as the only Black girl in the office, and instead she feels more alone and isolated than ever.
And then Harris wretches up in the tension, like a good novel does, and their relationship goes from cordial to tense when events escalate at the office and Nella beings to receive these threatening notes at her desk telling her to resign right away and you can’t stay here and it’s not going to work and you have this long. And she’s like holy goodness, what is happening? And Ginger, the answer to what is happening in this story is fascinating.
Now because of what I know about Get Out in that description, it’s being marketed as a thriller. It doesn’t read like that for the first 75 to 80% of the book and I think it’s really important for readers to know that just so you don’t have that mismatch between what you expected pacing wise and what you’re getting, but what it is is so, so smart and satisfying. I was really enjoying the way the story unfolded when the book was basically unfolding in the offices of the publisher which is a world I love to read about. But then it takes a surprising turn and when it does just wow.
Ginger, I know you love those books that you just have to talk about with someone. You can’t keep it to yourself. You just have to say like oh my goodness, did you read that? What did you think? You have to tell me and this is definitely one of those books that will make you do that. When you read the ending, you will want to discuss it with a fellow reader right away. I also have to tell you to set the tone, the epigraph is from Tananarive Due: Black history is Black horror, which I didn’t understand at the beginning, but by the end, wow. That is The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris, how does that sound?
GINGER: That sounds so good. I am always here for something set in the world for publishing. The idea that this might start with one tone and change. That’s actually a selling point for me. I loved Big Summer a couple of years ago for the same reason. It sorta started as this light, poppy chick lit and then it turned into a bit of a thriller/mystery. I find that really interesting and definitely something I’m thinking about. I think a lot of readers in my reading life is how do we make those changes, how do I have any influence on the publishing world as we are looking at who is publishing the novels and people of color being part of those voices and so, an exploration of this in the space of a mystery and a thriller, I am here for that. I have loved social commentary wrapped in readable fiction. Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan, Such a Fun Age was in that same space.
ANNE: Read it, so we can talk about it.
GINGER: I’m so glad to know that there is someone who has already read it so I know who to go the minute I’m finished. [LAUGHS] We can talk about it.
ANNE: Okay, Ginger, of the books we talked about today, I hope you’re going to read all of these but it’s my job to ask you what are you going to read next, so we discussed Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian, Painting Times by Maylis de Kerangal, and The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris, the only one that’s not out yet but you don’t have too long to wait, just until June 1st. Of those three books, what do you think you’ll read next?
GINGER: That sounds so good. I know I feel like I’m getting off a little easy here because the Painting Time is already out and you mentioned it’s the shortest of the bunch, so after I said I want long books, I do believe in some bookish momentum, so I think I’m going to pick that one up. It’ll be a short, quick read and I’ll know who I can talk to about it right away.
ANNE: I’m so happy to hear it, and I can’t wait to talk about it. Ginger, I’ve loved talking about your reading life today. Thank you so much for coming on five years later and talking books with me.
GINGER: Thanks for having me.
[CHEERFUL OUTRO MUSIC]
ANNE: Hey readers, I hope you enjoyed my discussion with Ginger, and I’d love to hear what YOU think she should read next. That page is at whatshouldireadnextpodcast.com/283 and it’s where you’ll find the full list of titles we talked about today.
Subscribe now so you don’t miss next week’s episode in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and more. We will see you next week!
To support our show and get weekly bonus episodes, access to our upcoming summer reading guide unboxing, and a peek behind the scenes, join our Patreon community at patreon.com/whatshouldireadnext. If you wish to do so, this is a great way to TANGIBLY support the show. Sign up to become a supporter at patreon.com/whatshouldireadnext.
Follow us on instagram @ whatshouldireadnext. We also just launched an instagram account for the Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club, and as our community manager, Gingers runs that account! Follow us there @mmdbookclub. If you don’t get our weekly newsletter, go to whatshouldireadnextpodcast.com/newsletter to sign up for our free weekly delivery.
Thanks to the people who make this show happen! What Should I Read Next is produced by Brenna Frederick, with sound design by Kellen Pechacek.
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.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I’ll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
Books mentioned in this episode:
Some links are affiliate links. More details here.
•Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
•The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
•Atonement by Ian McEwan
•Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer
•Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
•Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
•Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
•Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
•When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
•Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival by Joe Simpson
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
•So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
△Tangerine by Christine Mangan
•Palace of the Drowned by Christine Mangan
•Who is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews
•The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
•A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
•The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Smith
•Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
•The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
•Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian
•The Crucible by Arthur Miller
•Painting Time by Maylis de Kerangal, translated by Jessica Moore
•Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
•The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
•Tananarive Due (try The Living Blood)
•WSIRN Episode 112: Your best reading year yet with Laura Vanderkam
•A fun way to track what you’re reading
•Let’s do some literary matchmaking
•Literary matchmaking: wartime reads, Jane Austen, and dark memoir
•WSIRN Ep 40: Spouses of Readers Anonymous with Holland Saltsman of The Novel Neighbor
•Reading is better when it’s done wine tasting style
•Marginalia, or how (and why) to write in your books: One Reader’s Method
Thanks to this week’s sponsors:
With memory foam cups, no-slip straps, and a scratch-free band, Thirdlove bras look and feel great under any top. ThirdLove knows there’s a perfect bra for everyone, so right now they are offering WSIRN listeners 20% off your first order at ThirdLove.com/READNEXT!
From wardrobe essentials to everything that makes your space feel like home, you’ll find timeless pieces designed to stand the test of time with Jenni Kayne’s curated items. For 15% off your first order, you use code READNEXT at checkout.
Every Away suitcase comes with an interior organization system that includes a built-in compression pad to help you pack more in, and a hidden (and removable) laundry bag that separates your dirty clothes. Away suitcases are thoughtfully designed to last a lifetime — and they’ll fix or replace your suitcase ASAP if anything ever breaks. Start your 100-day trial today and shop the entire Away lineup of travel essentials.