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Episode 263
Everything Is Just Nice

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Amanda and Jenn discuss novels about ballerinas, career advice for the average Jane, gay vampires, and more in this week’s episode of Get Booked.

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Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese (rec’d by Rebecca)

Ann Patchett (rec’d by Wynnde)

The Last Painting of Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith

His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie (rec’d by Gina)

Questions

1. I just started watching Tiny Pretty Things on Netflix, and I’m very intrigued by the culture of ballet, both its beauty and ugliness (e.g. the need for a specific body type, the cut throat environment, etc.) I’d love to read a novel that dives into this concept, specifically about what it is like to be an elite ballerina. I’m not interested in a dry, informational read, but one where I can learn about the world and lifestyle of ballet through fiction. Thanks!

-Emily

2. Hi! Let me take a sappy moment to say finding this podcast was one of the highlights of a very sucky year. Can’t thank you enough for giving me something to look forward to every week (and a hefty book wish list!). 

I recently watched Mank and though I didn’t like it, it put me in the mood for a glossy and gossipy book about the Hollywood Studio System. I haven’t read anything in this realm with the exception of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, so I’m pretty open to anything whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, but would prefer if it didn’t focus on white men. 

Thank you both so much! 

-Sofia

3. Hello! I’m looking for a book to gift to my friend for her birthday. Some fiction books I have recommended, and she has liked in the past are, The Goldfinch, The Signature of All Things, and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. She has also told me she liked Where the Crawdad Sings and she loves pretty much everything Wally Lamb has ever written and John Green. She’s told me before she likes long meandering books with no plot. I’ve also definitely noticed she likes what I can only describe as books about angsty protagonists. Other than John Green I don’t think she reads any YA, but I do think she feels a connection to characters who suffer from “teen angst”, be they teenagers or not.  She also occasionally dips into horror, but I don’t think she’s ventured outside of Stephen King. As for nonfiction books, she likes what she calls “fucked up childhood memoirs,” like The Glass Castle, Educated, etc. She’s read most of the popular memoirs in this category as far as I can tell, so I’m a bit wary of picking out memoirs because I can’t be sure if she’s read them or not. I wanted to gift her H is for Hawk because it seems right up her ally, but I think she might have told me she listened to it on audiobook. I’m planning on giving her Parable of the Sower for Christmas, but I’m writing this in early December before I have given it to her, so I have no idea if it will be a success or not, but a lot of the plot contains themes she is interested in, so I have high hopes. I know this ask was probably overly long, I just wanted to be as thorough as I could be. Thank you both so much in advanced! 

-Anonymous

4. Hi Jenn and Amanda,

I’m a public librarian, and I listen to Get Booked and the Book Riot podcast to help me strengthen my readers’ advisory skills. It never really occurred to me to ask you for a recommendation for myself until recently, so I hope it’s okay that I have two (somewhat lengthy) requests.

Firstly, I am hoping to find a book that speaks to my experience as a woman in her twenties struggling to establish a rewarding career, to find a life partner, and to stay afloat financially. I must admit, I am a picky reader. I often find the writing style of romance/genre fiction to be too cheesy, but I also roll my eyes at lit fic that takes itself too seriously. If it feels like the writer is trying to show off with poetic language or overly complicated structure, I’m out. I like straight-forward writing and authentic dialogue. I am a Millennial, but books that feature hip, tech-savvy Millennials with personal brands turn me off. The books that have come closest to hitting the mark are Such a Fun Age and Writers & Lovers. In Such a Fun Age, I related to the issues of underemployment and the quest for health care, but I didn’t find the main character particularly likable. In Writers & Lovers, I related to the main character struggling with student loan payments and working a job in the service industry while nurturing creative goals, but the writing laid it on a little too thick. I am looking for a likable character who is actively trying to make a life for herself as an adult. Not self-sabotaging or reckless, just experiencing some hard knocks, and the shame, doubt, and/or loneliness that can accompany those feelings of failure. Oh, and no Dear Sugar, please. I know it’s a swiss-army rec for Book Rioters, but I just really don’t connect with Cheryl Strayed.

Secondly, I am hoping you can recommend a career advice book that is useful for the average Jane. The career books that I have read thus far seem to be written by/aimed at women in the corporate world are already quite successful & prestigious, at least by my standards. As a small-town librarian, I do not find these high-powered women relatable because it seems like they live in an entirely different world. That being said, I still want to learn how to grow my career and create opportunities for myself. 

Thanks in advance! My apologies for a specific and lengthy requests.

Take care,

-M

5. I am looking for a book where the main character comes up with and completes some personal project. In these pandemic times, I’ve decided to embark on my own personal project of interviewing different members of my family about their lives and compiling it all. I need some motivation/inspiration, ideally in audiobook format. One such book that I loved is the “Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society”. Something that has a feeling of accomplishment and a feel-good plot. Thanks so much! 

-Allie

6. Started listening to your podcast a few months ago and love it.

I’ve recently finished two series:

The fallen blade by Kelly McCullough

and

The chaos queen quintet by Christopher Husberg

What I like about these series is the world building and the characters. I didn’t quite like the religions described in the books, but they add a nice touch to enrich the worlds in which the series are set in.

Do you have any recommendations as to what to read next? I’d like to stay in the Fantasy genre because I’ve been reading too much Scifi lately.

Thanks in advance,

-Matteo

7. I need some gay twilight essentially. I’m talkin’ embarrassing w/w gay vampires. Pretty please <3

-Debra

Books Discussed

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipoitra and Dhonielle Clayton

June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

Carrie Fisher (Postcards from the Edge, Princess Diarist)

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

The Magical Language of Others by E.J. Koh (tw: self-harm, suicide, sexual assault, disordered eating)

Can’t Even by Anne Helen Peterson

Ask A Manager by Alison Green

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

The Noble Hustle by Colson Whitehead

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey (Book One: Kushiel’s Dart)

The Dreamblood Duology by NK Jemisin (tw: violence and abuse towards women and children, sexual assault)

Everafter by Nell Stark and Trinity Tam

Iron & Velvet by Alexis Hall 

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