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Amanda and Jenn discuss the Singularity, Russian nonfiction, and novels about platonic friendships in this week’s episode of Get Booked.

This episode is sponsored by A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom and The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom.

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



1. Hi Amanda and Jenn,

I have scoured the internet looking for some Russian non-fiction to get a sense of what it’s like to live there, and I would love your recommendations for memoirs or biographies that take place within the last century. I recently read ‘In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom’ and am hoping for something in a similar vein, but from a Russian’s perspective. Between our current political status with Russia (oy vey), and the fact that I just read The Bear and The Nightingale (which is fictional Russia and SO GOOD by the way) I am itching to learn more about this huge mysterious country.

Thanks for your help!

–Haley M.


2. A few members in my book club have recently suffered deaths in their families. One member requested that we avoid books that deal with death and dying. Although I don’t think we’re necessarily looking for humorous books, we would like something upbeat. Recent books we’ve read include The Little Paris Bookshop, Furiously Happy, Fates and Furies, Saint Mazie, and In an Unlikely Event. Thank you!


3. He just finished reading “Sapiens” by Yuval Harari, and loved it. He was telling me he wanted more after the last chapter or so, however, which discussed the Human Singularity and our future. He has been fascinated by the impending intersection of technology and society’s ability to effectively process it. His favorite example is to ask what your first thought is when you see someone wearing Google Glasses. He said there were so many books that cover such Futurist concepts, but that it was hard to know which was solid reading and which was some crackpot who spent too much time on Reddit.



4. Hello, Book Riot Women! I’m gonna be real with you, I don’t read a lot of classic literature, unless it was assigned in school. But I just finished ‘Of Mice & Men’ and I would love to read more like this! I loved how dark and heartbreaking it was-I don’t mind feeling emotionally wrecked after reading a book. I also found Steinbeck’s writing to be less dense as I sometimes find classic authors. If it’s scary, even better! Are there any other well-known (or underground) classics like this that I should check out? Also, I’m more likely to check out shorter novels/novellas. I loved ‘War & Peace’, but that’s a commitment. Thank you both!!!


5. I am a law student, and I currently have the opportunity to work with some inmates who are serving life in prison. One in particular would like more books to read, because they don’t have access to a library. I can send three paperback copies at a time, but I would like some suggestions on easy to read thrillers or adventures- maybe something that a teen boy would like. I am looking for some easier reads because many of these individuals did not finish high school, but I want to encourage them to read because it may provide a glimpse into things that they may never get to experience otherwise. Thanks in advance!


6. I recently finished reading Lab Girl by Hope Jahren and I loved reading about her friendship with her colleague Bill. As a woman who has several long-term, platonic and cherished friendships with men, I was struck by how few platonic male-female friendships there seem to be in the books I have read. It seems to me that these types of friendships in books tend to eventually blossom into romance. I would love to read more books that prominently feature platonic but deep male-female friendships. Suggestions from any genre are welcomed, but I tend to gravitate toward literary fiction and non-fiction of all kinds. Thank you and I love listening to your podcast!


Books Discussed

Katie Macbride’s post: Required Reading for Understanding WTF Is Happening In Russia
Molly Wetta’s post!: A Russian History Reading List

Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich, translated by Bela Shayevich

The Man Without a Face by Masha Gessen

Pushkin’s Children by Tatyana Tolstaya, translated by Jamey Gambell

The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky, translated by Tim Mohr

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku (rec’d by Kristen)

To Be a Machine by Mark O’Connell

Shaping Things by Bruce Sterling

Distrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon-Silko

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

Anything by Louise Erdrich (Plague of Doves)

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (with caveat)

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen

Jackaby series by William Ritter

Words in the Air, edited by Thomas Travisano and Saskia Hamilton

Ausma Zehanat Khan’s Esa Khattak/Rachel Getty series (The Unquiet Dead)

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford