Episode 257
Spiritually Hungover and Surpisingly Horticultural

Amanda and Jenn discuss books for garden inspiration, sci-fi for book club, Portrait of a Lady on Fire read-alikes, and more in this week’s episode of Get Booked.

This episode is sponsored by TBR, Book Riot’s subscription service offering reading recommendations personalized to your reading life, Penguin Teen, and A Drop of Midnight by Jason Diakité.

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Feedback

Sarah Dunant: Birth of Venus, In The Company of the Courtesan, Sacred Hearts, Blood & Beauty, and In the Name of the Family (rec’d by Isabelle)

Questions

1. Hi friends! Love the podcast so much – my tbr has probably tripled in size since I started listening. Fortunately, I’m not looking for a book for myself today!

I’m looking for a book for my mom, who’s an avid reader, and she has a specific request. She’s looking for a book “to build my self-esteem, how to communicate my thoughts, just feel better about myself overall”. My mom is deaf and has struggled with her self-esteem my whole life. Raving about therapy to her has only gotten me so far and after a recent conversation, we thought maybe some books could help.

Here’s the thing: we don’t want any self-help recs. We find a lot of those books to be mostly full of hot air and privilege. Instead, I’d love to get some recs of memoirs, essay collections, or even novels that deal with things like self-esteem, communication, etc. Must be written by a female author, preferably a woman with a disability, a woman of color, or a queer woman. My mom has gotten increasingly liberal over the years, so bonus if the book also touches on ideas of gender and/or ableism and how they contribute to some of the struggles she’s been having.

Thank you so, so much!

-Anya

2. Hey Amanda and Jenn! Let me preface this by saying Get Booked has been such a solace during these times. The recs have helped me a lot (I plan on starting The Switch this weekend, so thank you for that!) and listening to you guys talk has made people/the world seem closer.

Romances are one of the few things I’m able to read right now. I work with human rights issues and coupled with the pandemic and gestures at the world these books provide happy feelings, feel good moments, great humor, and the hope for a real life HEA (dare I dream?).

Tessa Dare, Lisa Kleypas, Sarah MacLean and Coutney Milan have been on my kindle for the past few months. However reading historicals has also meant virgin or inexperienced heroines for the most part. I was wondering if you have any recs on historical romances with heroines with more knowledge/experience/agency in that area.

Bonus points if the story deals with second marriages as I have been doing a course on the villainous women of fiction and the second wife (or stepmother) is commonly portrayed as an evil figure. It would be great to see some change in that.
Again, thank you both for the show and for the great instagram content as well 🙂

-Marilia

3. Hi! Something I’d like to do during the long pandemic winter (I live in the Northeast, where it’s not weird to have snow from November-May) is spend some time planning new landscaping and flower gardens for my yard, which is nice enough but lacks flair. I’d like a couple books to read to inspire and educate me (and also make me think of sunny, warm days!). I am a gardening novice, so please nothing too advanced. Many thanks!

-Adrienne

4. Hello, I recently watched The Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Tell It To The Bees; I’m looking for a book that’s similar and maybe a little less tragic? Although tragic works too.

-Jean

5. In sad and stressful times, of which there are many nowadays, I find myself listening to Strange the Dreamer & Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor on repeat. I love Taylor’s brilliant prose and the beautiful high-fantasy world she creates in this series that feels so full of wonder. Could you recommend something similar? If possible I’d like it to be available as an audiobook that’s not audible-exclusive. Thanks!

-Emma

6. Hi! I would like a recommendation for a very specific part of Donna Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch’. When reading ‘The Goldfinch’ the part I most enjoyed was when Theo was living in Las Vegas with his dad, and he befriended the Russian kid, Boris. I really enjoyed the themes of coming of age, found friendship (boyfriends), but also the sort of nihilist drug-taking and alcoholic teens. The overall tone of the Las Vegas bit of the novel, basically. I would love a book which has similar tones, bonus if that book involves queer characters! I have read ‘Why We Took the Car’ by Wolfgang Herrndorf which I feel had a similar tone. Thank you!

-Willow

7. I’m trying to start a book club with my friends, but we all have seemingly different tastes that seem to thread together in some interesting ways. Movies we all enjoy include the Star Wars series (including Rebels and The Mandalorian), Lord of the Rings, and Rosemary’s Baby.

One is into sci fi fantasy, but not thrillers. He has really enjoyed the Murderbot books, as well as The Name of the Wind series and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. The plot has to be there in the book, and interesting enough to keep him going, but he needs to like the characters. He also hates time travel. It’s an automatic DNF.

My other friend says he wants to read more, but seems to struggle to find a book that keeps his interest. I know he’s read The Lord of the Rings series at least twice, but aside from that, I’m not sure what other books he’s liked. He’s tried Dracula, but I’m not sure if he made it all the way through. He tried to read some of the Classics “because he ought to,” and I think he gets caught up in the ideas versus the books themselves.

We tried doing a book club last year, and we all enjoyed The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and made it through Slaughterhouse Five (they liked it, I was not a fan), and I suggested The River and it didn’t take for either of them despite the fact that I inhaled it. I was thinking on trying to lean into sci fi, but not hard sci-fi–I love Murderbot and Douglas Adams, but that’s about as sci-fi as I can get.

-Taylor

Books Discussed

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

The Right Way to be Crippled and Naked, edited by Sheila Black, Annabelle Hayse, and Michael Northen

The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham (tw: domestic abuse, alcoholism)

The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (tw: domestic violence, self-harm)

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry

Claire De Witt and the Bohemian Highway (#2 in series) by Sara Gran

Infomocracy by Malka Ann Older

The Chilling Effect series by Valerie Valdes

After the Flare by Deji Bryce Olukotun

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