Badassery On Motorcycles

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Amanda and Jenn discuss essay collections, historical fiction, personal favorites, and more in this week’s episode of Get Booked.

This episode is sponsored by Carry On by Rainbow Rowell and The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen by Hope Nicholson.

Subscribe to the podcast via RSS here, or via iTunes here.
The show can also be found on Stitcher here.




1. Hello Amanda and Jenn,

I love the podcast and have requests for recommendations in two categories – (both for me!)

• This is the time of year that I gravitate to mysteries – I’d love for you to recommend a good mystery series that is not just about solving the mystery, but also about the evolution of characters and the relationships among them. Sort of a literary fiction+mystery combo. For instance, I have just finished the latest in the Louise Penny Inspector Gamache series (A Great Reckoning), and I loved it.

• My next fiction read! I leave it to you – what book have you read recently that you would give to a friend and say “You have got to read this now!!!”? My recent reads have been “Swing time”, “Everything I never told you” and “The Nightingale” – bonus points for diversity!

Thank you in advance, I really appreciate your recs!




I just finished Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly and I was entranced! I don’t normally read books based on true events. But I would love some recommendations about other true events. It doesn’t have to be WWII or even about the same concentration camps just something page turn-ery (??). The front of the book says the Nightingale and I have already picked that up so not that book. I have memorial day week off so I plan to be reading a lot there and also 4th of July week.

Thanks so much
–Rye (yes, like rye bread)


3. Needed by June 1st, please!

In mid-July, my awesome bridal party (4 bridesmaids and 2 bridesmen, including my sisters) are going on a bachelorette trip to Monterrey. Most of these folks have been in a book club with me at some point and I would like to do a one-time book club during the bachelorette weekend.

Looking for something not too long (300 pages max), possibly a good love story or about a happy marriage, or something super funny. Not anything depressing or brutal.

Thanks so much!!


4. Hi Ladies!
I’m currently a Peace Corps volunteer serving in Vanuatu so while I have lots of time to read, I also have limited access to internet and the outside world in general. I’m afraid that while I’ve been in Vanuatu (since January) I’ve missed out on new and exciting books, especially the quiet ones that don’t get the huge publicity push. Could you recommend books from this year that are definitely worth the time (internet download speeds here are SLOW) and that I probably overlooked now that I live on a small island in the South Pacific? I like almost everything except right now I have a boycott on any “stranded on a tropical island” plot line as it hits a little too close to home. Thanks!


5. hi! I hope it’s okay that I ask for essay collection recommendations? I’m looking for essays that’ll help open my eyes to the world. I’m taking literature next year in school but I feel like i’m not ready for it yet, and reading essays may help me become more sensitive to words etc. Please help! Thank you!


6. Dear Amanda and Jenn,

First off, thank you for all the work that goes into your podcast. I’m always heartened to hear your recommendations because you prove that quality writing can be found in all genres from writers of all stripes!

My request: Happy lady adventure stories, please! I’m tired of love and crime. I’d like to spend some time with a woman protagonist excited about something else: food, coding, travel, fashion, the Olympics. Fiction & nonfiction welcome. 30+ protagonists too.

A few I’ve enjoyed in the past: Radiance (Valente), A Tale for the Time Being (Ozeki), Serve It Forth (M.F.K. Fisher), The Custom of the Country (Wharton), Fin & Lady (Schine).

Thank you for any suggestions you can throw my way.



7. I am a super recent college grad who is semi well-read (longtime avid reader of everything, basically and lit major) and my favorite way to pick books is to ask a bookseller their favorite book of all time or their current favorite read. So: what are the books that you would hand-sell currently if you could, or did hand-sell a lot when you were booksellers? could be all time favorites or current favorites.

(i have listened to every episode of the podcast so i know most of your very frequently recommended books/keep up to date with new books, i will read most any genre as long as i’m assured that someone out there really loves and recommends the book)

PS love you both/the show!
–am i allowed to ask this


8. Hi Jenn and Amanda,

I am hoping you can recommend some books to help me get my literary fiction mojo back. I have always read widely across a variety of genres, and until a couple of years ago literary fiction was liberally sprinkled among the science fiction, fantasy, crime and YA that make up the bulk of my reading life.

Skip ahead to now, and with a baby, health issues and a demanding job, I find myself increasingly reaching for books that have a low threshold for entry. Not bad or poorly written books, but ones that don’t require me to do the mental establishing work that is often required in literary fiction (which in genre fiction is dealt with via conventions of the genre – if I pick up a murder mystery, I can be pretty sure there will be a corpse, an investigator and some suspects, even if the book itself subverts those expectations)

So I suppose what I am looking for is literary fiction with some of the characteristics (and pleasures) of genre fiction, to help me get over the hurdle of the first page and rediscover the interesting prose, engaging characters and formal experimentation that literary fiction can do so well. I’m not at all averse to backlist or classics if they are what fits the bill.

Thank you!

PS For reference, some of my litfic faves are Margaret Atwood, AS Byatt. Kate Atkinson & Tim Winton. In recent years I have read & enjoyed Station Eleven, A Spool of Blue Thread, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Fourth of July Creek, A Visit From the Goon Squad, The Middlesteins and Seating Arrangements. I am conscious this is by no means not as diverse a list as it should be and would welcome an expanded perspective!

PPS No sad literary bros living their sad literary lives in Brooklyn, though. Please and thank you.


Books Discussed

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky, translated by Sandra Smith

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (rec’d by Kathleen Keenan)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Sweet to the Taste by Alyssa Cole

Penance by Kanae Minato, translated by Philip Gabriel

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

The Fire This Time, edited by Jesmyn Ward

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente

Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon

Red or Dead by David Peace

The Man with the Compound Eyes by Ming-Yi Wu

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid