Always A Dongle, Never A Bride

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Amanda and Jenn discuss nature reads, author couples, seasonal book vibes, and more in this week’s episode of Get Booked.

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A List of Cages by Robin Roe, All the Rage by Courtney Summers (rec’d by April)

On Beauty by Zadie Smith, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif (rec’d by Elizabeth)

Miss Marjoribanks by Margaret Oliphant (rec’d by Gina)


1. My request is twofold. First, I’m a seasonal reader. I like my books to match the season I’m in (both metaphorically and literally). This is a literal request. I’m wanting books that literally feel like autumn. One concept that always reminds me of autumn is academia. So I’m looking for great novels that take place around academia or involve it in some way (college campuses, liberal arts majors, researchers, academics by profession). Reading Freya right now and it really fits the bill. The Marriage Plot by Jeffery Eugenides also fits this really well.

My second request is for my book club. We’ve grown interested in having discussions around spirituality, not necessarily a specific religion but just in the philosophy of believing in a higher power and why or why not we should believe in one. We all feel we would have benefited from taking a philosophy lecture during college just to understand the philosophy behind spirituality. We’d love to read a philosophy book that shares theories on life, religion and spirituality. But we aren’t looking for the densest read either so I don’t know if a “lighter” philosophy book exists but If it does we’d like to read it! Thanks!


2. I’ve been reading chapter books to my 6-year-old at bedtime since the start of the year. He loved Charlotte’s Web and The Mouse and the Motorcycle. Then we read the Zapato Power series, which was a huge hit with both of us — adventure, mystery, diverse representation. When we ran out of books in that series, our librarian recommended the Museum Mysteries series, which was extremely hit or miss. Now we’re midway through the Clubhouse Mysteries (also published as Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs), which has been awesome — it includes mystery and adventure but also some Black history. However, I know we’ll eventually come to the end and need some suggestions on what to pick up next! He’s enjoyed some Roald Dahl, especially Fantastic Mr. Fox, but I find I have to verbally edit Dahl quite a bit, mostly for gratuitous fat-shaming. A lot of the middle grade I love is just a little too mature for him at this point, so I would welcome your wisdom on this! Thanks!


3. Big fan of the show and listening for a long time. Finally found myself needing some recommendations.

For most of my life I’ve hated outdoorsy things and nature. The last few years I’ve started camping and can’t get enough of nature. Within the next year I’d like to start backpacking. Small at first and eventually I’d like to climb Mt Whitney.

I’m looking for books about being in nature or hiking / backpacking. I’ve read Wild and Into Thin Air / Into the Wild. Memoir or fiction is fine. I’m not looking for a mystery or horror type books, but ones that capture the feeling and experience of being amongst the trees. I’m in the Central Valley of California so bonus points if the book is around this area.

Thank you!


4. Thank you so much for your podcast – it’s always a highlight of my week to listen and I’ve discovered so many great books through it! And big, big, big congrats on 300 episodes!

One of my favorite reading projects is to find an author I love and then tear through their full catalogue. I’ve just finished all of Toni Morrison’s novels (which I’ve been working through for the past two years) and this inspired me to reach out to see if you could recommend me some new authors (and which book you’d start with!) for a project like this! 

My heart lives with literary fiction, though I also branch out in historical fiction, fantasy, and mystery. The hardest genres for me are science fiction and horror.

Some other authors I’ve had similar experiences with reading through all of their novels are Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters, Ruth Ozeki, Isabel Allende (mostly, still in process), Louise Erdrich (in process), Bernardine Evaristo, and Jesmyn Ward. I also love authors like Min Jin Lee, Kawai Strong Washburn, Alexander Chee, and Yaa Gyasi, but they have fewer books to pick up! Ideally, would love the recommendation of an author with at least five novels so that I can really dive deep into their work!

In case it’s helpful, my Goodreads username is Lionheartedisabelle

Thank you both so much for any suggestions you may have! I really appreciate it!



5. Everyone’s super ready for fall, but I’m still clinging onto the last few pool and beach days since I’m high key water obsessed and could use something that would help ease the transition to fall and spooky season. You coined the term best on a previous show: murder mermaids! They don’t necessarily have to be murder mermaids, but I like more of the darker lore than I do the romance. I’ve previously read Into the Drowning Deep (Grant), The Deep (Solomon), and Things in Jars (Kidd) and have Shallow Waters (Kopacz), The Mermaid of Black Conch (Roffey), and All the Murmuring Bones (Slatter) on my list. I also have started and stopped The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock about a billion (not really) times. I’m not ready to give up on it yet, but that’s besides the point lol. I have nothing against YA, but that’s not really what I’m looking for here. I’m excited to see what you come up with! Thanks a bunch!


6. Hello! I have a question that I’m preeeeetty confident you haven’t been asked before (but with 300 episodes, who knows?) :-p 

Not too long ago, I finished A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine. I loved this book so much, you guys. Anyway, in the acknowledgements she ended by thanking her wife and also-author, Vivian Shaw. And I’m like…”hang on”. And upon searching my bookcase (full of books I’ve bought but haven’t had a chance to read yet), lo. Strange Practice, by Vivian Shaw! 

Aside from the fact that I’m also really enjoying Strange Practice (I haven’t finished it yet), it’s been fun for me to compare the styles/approach/brain output of two incredibly creative people who found each other and are now sharing a life together.  It makes for a unique reading experience (especially since the books are so different). So the question is this: can you recommend a couple more books by a partner/partner duo? Genre doesn’t matter, gender doesn’t matter, I’m just interested in creative couples and what they’ve come up with. Thanks! 

-Reader G

7. Hello! I recently moved to the Arizona desert. I love it here, but we have precisely one season.  Unfortunately, it isn’t autumn. (Pumpkin spice lattes don’t make sense when it’s still 105 degrees outside).  I’m looking to escape into a veritable literary autumnal wonderland. Can you recommend any books that absolutely scream “fall”?  They don’t have to be spooky or Halloween-y, but it’s ok if they are.  Thank you so much! 

Books Discussed

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

Why Religion by Elaine Pagels

Zoey and Sassafras series (#1 Dragons and Marshmallows) by Asia Citro, illustrated by Marion Lindsay

Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott

The Home Place by J Drew Lanham

On Trails by Robert Moor

Colson Whitehead, Underground Railroad

Zadie Smith, White Teeth (cw: suicide attempt, racism, domestic abuse, homophobia)

The Merman by Carl-Johan Vallgren (tw: child abuse)

The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova

Tahereh Mafi and Ransom Riggs

Zadie Smith and Nick Laird

Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (cw: transphobia incl. deadnaming)