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Amanda and Jenn discuss non-boring literary fiction, books set in Jamaica, unreliable narrators, and more in this week’s episode of Get Booked.

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Old Man’s War by John Scalzi (rec’d by Ericka)

Questions

1. Hi Jenn and Amanda, 

I set a challenge last year to read a book set in each state. I’ve read 23/52 (Don’t worry, I know there are 50 states, I’m counting DC and Puerto Rico). I wanted to wait to submit a question until I was closer to finishing, but I’ve hit a slump on this challenge.

Could you recommend books with a strong sense of place set in any of the states I’ve listed? I’m open to most genres, but my favorites are: historical fiction, literary fiction, travel/food writing, and SFF (which is hard for this challenge). I love stories that focus on intergenerational families, coming of age, subcultures, and female protagonists. My favorites so far have been Molokai for Hawaii and The Seed Keeper for Minnesota (thanks for posting that on your IG, Jenn!!!). Please no graphic novels, middle grade, or horror. 

Here’s my shelf for the challenge (you’ll see that you’ve already had a strong influence!) and here’s my overall Goodreads: 

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri  
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee 
  • Wyoming 

Thanks for keeping my TBR full and my library card active! I love the show and all the ways you’ve impacted my reading! 

-Stephanie

2. Hi! I’ve recently realized a certain type of series I enjoy and am hoping for more suggestions. Two series I loved are the Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier and the Samaria series by Sharon Shinn – fantasy romance where each book tells its own complete story and the successive books in the series stay in the same world but with a new cast of characters of the next generation. It’s the opposite of ending a book on a cliffhanger (WHICH I HATE) so it really works for me. Also want the series to be complete so I can binge read the whole thing at once. No YA please. Thank you!!

Other series I’ve read:

All of Octavia Butler (mostly loved, especially Earthseed)

Robin Hobb (too long omg but sign me for abridged version if that’s ever an option)

The Broken Earth series (doesn’t quite have the generational thing I want, but really liked the writing)

-Lindsey (She/her)

3. Hello. 🙂 My sob story: I used to love reading when I was a kid/teen, but when I started college I decided I should focus on classics and modern literary novels. I either disliked or couldn’t finish most of them, and came to the conclusion that I just didn’t like reading anymore. (A Prayer for Owen Meany and that incredibly annoying all caps dialogue was the last straw). HOWEVER! In the age of Covid, I have rediscovered my love of reading, thanks to sci-fi, fantasy, mysteries, thrillers, horror, and even a couple of westerns (I’m counting American Hippo as a western.) So…I think I’m ready to give literary fiction another go!  I am in search of literary fiction novels which are not jump-off-my-balcony depressing, smack-my-head-off-the-wall boring or roll-my-eyes-so-hard-they-get-stuck-that-way pretentious.  I love your show and you ladies are great, so any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! 

-KC

4. Hi Jenn and & Amanda! I read a few of your recommendations for other readers and have loved them so far. I’m looking for a book set in Jamaica, preferably by a Jamaican author. I mostly read literary & historical fiction and prefer books with beautiful writing over an elaborate plot. I have already read A Brief History of Seven Killings. 

-Abby

5. Hi! 

I recently finished Piranesi and That Starless Sea. I found both so fascinating and would love a read like. Maybe something where the main character gets lots in another world? I have also read Every Heart A Doorway and the Hazelwood and really enjoyed both. 

Dropping my good reads below. TIA!

-Jessica

6. Hello ladies!

My reading taste has always leaned more towards horror/ science fiction/ fantasy. I don’t often enjoy contemporary or literary fiction, but when I do it’s always a long, heartbreaking character study. Some of my favorites have been The Heart’s Invisible Furies and The Seven Husband’s of Evelyn Hugo. I would love to read an amazing character-driven story that spans a long period of someone’s life, but that is set in a fantastical or sci-fi world. Bonus points for authors of color or LGBT+ themes.

Thank you in advance!

-Jana 

PS: Your podcast is one of the only things keeping me sane right now, so keep up the fantastic work!

7. My recent favourite book was The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro and I found myself to be enjoying the fragmented and unreliable narrative. Are there any books in a similar vein that you would recommend? Not looking for thriller books with unreliable narrators though! Thank you!

-Jocelyn

Books Discussed

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins

Earthsinger Chronicles by L. Penelope (#1 Song of Blood and Stone)

Sacred Hunt (Hunter’s Oath) & Sun Sword series by Michelle West (rec’d by Liberty)

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson (cw: death by suicide, addiction, child neglect, racism and racial violence against Native peoples)

Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn (tw homophobia)

Augustown by Kei Miller (cw via StoryGraph: polite brutality, racial violence)

Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull

The Fairyland series (Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland) by Cat Valente (cw: mention of child abuse)

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi (rec’d by Jess)

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