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Amanda and Jenn discuss spies in romance, books like Our Flag Means Death, and more in this week’s episode of Get Booked.

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Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu, The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Alison Pataki, and By Any Other Name by Lauren Kate

Questions

1. This request is going to sound kind of sus, but I am fascinated by books about prison (both nonfiction and fiction). I loved Prison Break and Orange is the New Black, so maybe that’s where the fascination comes from? Idk. 

Today I’m specifically looking for fiction books about a character who has a spouse, parent, or child in prison, or perhaps the story of someone’s life both inside and outside of prison (i.e. how they got to this point, or how they are moving on after being released). I’ve already read and loved The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, and Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption / The Green Mile by Stephen King. Do you have other books to recommend that might have similar vibes?

(Note: I’m not looking for books about prison camps or the Holocaust.)

-Cathy

2. I recently BLASTED through the first season of “Our Flag Means Death” (which, if you have not seen, I cannot recommend enough) and I LOVED it so I’m looking for books to fill that void until the second season. My favorite aspects of the show are the unambiguous, unchallenged queerness of almost every character and the balance of clever humor and heart wrenching DRAMA. I’d also like to keep the pirate ship setting!

Thank you so much for any suggestions you might have!

-Olivia

3. Hi ladies! 

For a few years now, I’ve been questioning my gender and thinking more and more that I might be nonbinary. The problem is, I really have no idea how to articulate why it is that I’ve become fixated on this idea. A therapist I was seeing a while back helpfully said that, if I keep coming back to this line of thinking, there’s probably a reason. But it’s hard to feel confident about it or taking any action (like potentially asking people to use different pronouns) when I feel like I can’t even explain why. I’m looking for books about the experience of discovering and embracing one’s nonbinary gender. Fiction or nonfiction are both welcome. Really just anything that will give me some language for how to talk about how it feels to just not fit. For example, everyone I talk to automatically assumes it has to do with feeling more masculine or something, because they can only think within the constraints of a binary system. I know that’s not right, but when I try to explain what exactly it is that I’m feeling, nothing comes out right and suddenly it feels like I don’t even really know what it is I’m trying to express; I just feel wrong somehow.  

It’d also be great if I could find something to read that included anything about a person’s experience with figuring out how to outwardly express their nonbinary identity. I’ve had a really hard time figuring out what my identity is, but beyond that, I’ve also really struggled with simple things like how to dress–nothing feels quite right anymore. I’m sure that’s part of the process, and I’d love to hear stories of how others got through it. 

Thanks for all you do! I love the podcast!

-Teresa

4. Hi both! I have 2 requests, hoping you can take one each? I’ve had a pretty rough start to 2022 and I’ve made the decision to drop out of my PhD programme. It’s the right decision for my health, but its still difficult. Do you have any books, fiction or nonfiction, about someone stepping away from a difficult situation and it all turning out okay?

Secondly, thanks to said rough start to the year I’ve been finding it hard to focus on reading. All I’ve managed to read is re-reads of Sarina Bowen’s romance series – do you have any comps? Any gender combinations welcome, totally okay with sex on the page, and bonus points for characters with disabilities/mental health (but not Chloe Brown, read and loved it!)

TIA.

-Caroline

5. I am reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 and enjoying it, although it is different from my usual reads. I am curious as to what other books like it you might recommend – books that address climate change and a changed world.

-Filipe

6. I absolutely adore your podcast and, following your recommendation, picked up Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster. It was different than what I usually read (depressing literary fiction and some YA), but I devoured it much faster than usual and then read two of her other books, Tarnished Knight and Heart of Iron. While I enjoyed the others, I preferred the original. Kiss of Steel made me feel all swoony because (problematic as it is) I love a book with a ridiculously overprotective, caddish hero and a plucky, intelligent heroine. The steampunk setting allowed me to ignore the alarm bells that would be ringing in a contemporary novel (e.g. Fifty Shades, which I hated, and Beautiful Disaster, which made me feel damaged). Anyway, what I was hoping you could help me with was finding more books that are not depressing, feature all the slightly squicky swoon I enjoy, aren’t contemporary, and have a strong plotline besides the romance. I hope you all are well and thank you so much for all the reading recommendations you’ve provided me over the past few months I’ve been listening! 🙂 

-Amanda

7. I love fantasy, but like the people in the books to continue to deal with real life. I just finished rereading Sunshine by Robin McKinley and am looking for something similar. I like the Mercy Thompson series, but preferred it when she was an active mechanic rather than being kidnapped into fairy realms or dealing with her coyote God dad.      

The other thing I love is romances with an important and well developed spy subplot. My absolute favorite is Joanna Bourne, and I also liked A Gift for Guile and A Talent for Trickery by Alissa Johnson.            

I don’t think you can answer both but either one would be great! 

Thanks for any suggestions!

-Margaret

Books Discussed

American Marriage by Tayari Jones (tw: sexual assault, racism)

The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson (cw: drug use, sexual assault, violence, racism)

Books Like “Our Flag Means Death”: https://bookriot.com/our-flag-means-death-books/

On a Lee Shore by Elin Gregory

In Deeper Waters by FT Lukens

Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity by Micah Rajunov, Scott Duane, et al

The Heartbreak Bakery by A.R. Capetta

In the Shadow of the Mountain by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado (tw: child sexual abuse, human trafficking)

Always Only You by Chloe Liese

Gamechanger by LX Beckett (they/them)

American War by Omar El Akkad

Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn

Sarah MacLean’s Bareknuckle Bastards series

Creatures of Passage by Morowa Yejidé (cw: lynching, child abuse, sexual abuse)

Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews

Alyssa Cole’s Loyal League series