Episode 111

I’m An Onion, I Have Layers

Amanda and Jenn discuss Hallmark movie read-alikes, gift recommendations, kids’ London reads, and more in this week’s episode of Get Booked.

This episode is sponsored by Libby and Bookaxe.

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



1. Hello Book Riot goddesses!

We’re getting dangerously close to the holiday season, which is why it hit me I have less than two months to finish the Book Riot reading challenge! I’m doing pretty well overall, but am now left with the really difficult (ie out of my comfort zone) books – and I need your help. I have four books left to tackle: a book about sports, a book published by a micropress, and a book of translated poetry on a theme other than love.

I’m a queer, latinx, feminist grad student currently earning my MSc in paleontology and the history of women in science. Normally, I gravitate towards fantasy, scifi, YA, and historical fiction/romance (I’m very much about reading as escapism). When I’m not reading fiction, I love popular science books and history books (especially about non-western countries). Maybe my tastes can meet these book riot prompts somewhere in the middle?

Note: I’m bilingual (spanish/english) so books translated from or available in Spanish are also super welcome!

–Michelle Barboza-Ramirez


2. I hope it’s not too late to ask for recommendations!

My mom has asked for books for Christmas but I don’t know what to buy her! She likes narrative nonfiction, like The Elephant Whisperer, Unbroken, and The Boys in the Boat. She also likes Jodi Picoult and reads a lot of historical fiction (The Red Tent, All the Light We Cannot See, and News of the World are some of her favorites). She’s generally read most of the super buzzy bestsellers of the past few years for her book club, so new, backlist, and/or under-the-radar picks would be awesome!



3.  Hi Amanda and Jenn!

We are traveling to London for Christmas with our daughters, ages 13 and almost 11, and I would love it if before we go, they could develop a deeper appreciation for (or at least understanding of) the historical significance of the city than they’ve gleaned from Harry Potter or schoolbooks. My ideal vision would be to visit some place like the Tower of London or Kensington Palace or the replica of the Globe Theater, they would say, “Oh yeah! I know about that place from my book.” I want them to have some reference points other than what I’ve told them.

Both girls are avid readers of YA fiction, and they especially love the fantasy and mystery genres — Harry Potter, anything Rick Riordan, the Divergent Series, the Flavia de Luce series, and Nnedi Okorafor are just some examples of books/authors they love. My older daughter also branches out to YA literary fiction such as “The Hate You Give” by Angie Thomas and “Between Shades of Gray” by Ruta Sepetys. Can you recommend any YA fiction in which London features prominently? I was wondering if “My Lady Jane” might fit the bill, but I don’t really have any ideas beyond that. Any recommendations you can provide would be greatly appreciated. You don’t have to worry about making different recommendations for their ages — they exchange books all the time, and the younger one has the maturity and skills to read what her sister does.

Thanks so much for all you do, and keep up the great work!


4. Hi Jenn and Amanda, I am writing in to request read-alikes to cheesy Hallmark-esque holiday romance movies. I personally don’t celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or any of the religious/commercial
holidays of winter but my kryptonite is the seasonal holiday tv entertainment. I especially love when they are set in the past and/or have themes of mistaken/disguised identity or leads that hate each other and then slowly grow to love and respect each other. Some of my favorite series/movies include When Calls the Heart, One Small Hitch, A Christmas Kiss 1 and 2, Snow Bride, While You Were Sleeping, and A Royal Christmas. Bonus points for books available on audio with non-irritating narrators so I can listen during my commute. Thanks so much!


5. Hello!

I have been under a fair amount of stress lately with a job change and the realities of adult-ing which has lead to some trouble sleeping. During these restless nights I have been reading a lot of fiction (which is great) – but I figure I might benefit from using this reading time to read some non-fiction about stress management, mindfulness, or meditation. Are there any well written beginner guides for these subjects (or others) that you would recommend?

Thank You!


6. Hey Jenn and Amanda
I was raised in a very fundamentalist religious environment where homophobia, racism and misogyny were interwoven into the rhetoric and doctrine. I have since broken away from it but still feel an involuntarily discomfort and, at times, lack of understanding when reading about some of these issues. I want to overcome this discomfort of and develop empathy for such topics and am hoping you can recommend me books that will expose me to any or all of these issues. YA or adult, any genre. I do prefer fiction to nonfiction but am open to highly readable nonfiction. Thanks!



7. I want to share my love of reading with my dad, especially as he is now retired and needs things to do during the long winter months. Unfortunately, I’ve never had much luck getting him to pick up a book, even when it seems tailored to his interests. The one book I’ve seen him read and re-read is The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a slim book of poetry by an 11th century Persian dude. This self-proclaimed non-reader can quote about half the book from memory and likes to weave snippets of it into daily conversation. I suspect he has a soft spot for old poetry and/or philosophy. Can you recommend anything that might have a similar feel to it? Any help is appreciated.


Books Discussed


Eternal Life by Dara Horn

Living With a Wild God by Barbara Ehrenreich

The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova, translated by Judith Hemschemeyer

Poetry collections in translation (not about love!) post

The Legend of Pradeep Mathew by Shehan Karunatilaka

Border by Kapka Kassabova

Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin, translated by Chi-Young Kim

The Agency series by YS Lee (A Spy In The House #1)

Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson (The Name of the Star #1)

An Affair Before Christmas by Eloisa James

A Mistletoe Affair by Farrah Rochon

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris (rec’d by Rebecca)

Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron

March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

Dreadnought by April Daniels

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

The Conference of the Birds by Farid ud-Din Attar, illustrated by Peter Sis