Get Booked

Hosted ByJenn Northington & Amanda Nelson

Get Booked is a weekly show of custom book recommendations from the bookworms at Book Riot.

E254: Magic Is For Dirty Commoners

Amanda and Jenn discuss characters with social anxiety, “intellectual angst,” gothic thrillers, and more in this week’s episode of Get Booked.

This episode is sponsored by The Storybound Podcast, Elsewhere by Dean Koontz, and Sourcebooks.

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Delicacy by David Foenkinos, translated by Bruce Benderson (rec’d by Catleen)

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller (rec’d by Heather)

Abby Jimenez’s The Friend Zone & The Happy Ever After Playlist (rec’d by Nicole)


1. I am in a book club with some friends where half of them fall under the conservative Republican camp while the other half fall under the liberal Democrat camp (like me).

As someone who believes in climate change, women’s rights and the need for radical change in systemic racism, I really want to suggest a book that this whole group can read together and that will help shift the mindset of the more conservative members. I am not trying to force them into becoming liberals. I am looking for them to be more open to the possibility of climate change and that racism not only happens at an individual level, but on a systemic one. (Note, we are a group of Asian-American women, so we are POC but our political views range widely.)

To have them be more receptive to my book suggestion, I am looking for books that won’t turn them off or are too out of their comfort zone (i.e., Hood Feminism, Stamped from the Beginning, etc.). So, I’m thinking of fiction books that are compelling but not too serious. Hoping these books will allow them to really empathize with characters that live beyond their world and/or imagine a world where Fox News isn’t the only source of truth.

For reference, past books we’ve read include Little Fires Everywhere and Miracle Creek. We are currently reading Dear Girls by Ali Wong. As you can see, we don’t read any controversial books and generally like popular fiction.

I’m pretty stuck on what to choose, so any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks so much,

2. So about a year and a half ago I moved to a new city. I’ve always considered myself a decently social and outgoing person, but since I moved I’ve struggled with some social anxiety. I think the continuous meeting of new people and re-figuring out how to connect with new people was very overwhelming, and at times I’ve felt like I was failing. I’m looking for a book where I can connect to the characters or writers on the basis of social anxiety. I’m imagining connecting to the main character and watching them grow/overcome their anxiety throughout the novel. Although I prefer fiction, I’m open to anything. Thanks!


3. So this is an oddly specific request. I just finished The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides and was just enthralled the whole way through. I loved what the New Yorker called the characters’ “intellectual angst” and was entranced with the unique, complex relationships between these three characters. Looking for read a-likes that feel the same as this one. In other words books that involve urban intellectuals in their twenties figuring out life and love and intimacy, where the relationships and dynamics are almost a character within themselves and maybe the whole plot (haha). I also liked how this novel and the relationships in it were very nuanced, not your standard cheesy romance. Other books I’ve enjoyed that scratch this same itch are Normal People, Conversations With Friends, The Idiot (Elif Batuman) and One Day. Thanks!


4. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but things are kind of terrible right now. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve become interested in the lives of everyday people during ongoing difficult times in history, such as the Blitz in England, the troubles in Northern Ireland, and other places and times throughout history. I’m looking for a book to recommend for my book club that addresses this. Due to the nature of my question, I won’t ask for something that isn’t scary, but none of us is a fan of gore or children and animals in danger. Fiction or nonfiction are both welcome.

Also, let me be the millionth person to thank you for bringing Red, White, and Royal Blue into my life! I’m a DC local and it is exactly what I needed. I like remembering my city as it was before the MAGAs arrived.


5. I absolutely love gothic thrillers that involve secretly badass women. Favorites include We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson , Rebecca By Daphne du Maurier and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I’m looking to find more books in this genre as we enter Halloween season! I prefer writing that is literary, but accessible. The book can be contemporary as long as it has some kind of gothic feel to it. Bonus points if it features a creepy old house!


6. Love the show! My sister and I are both really into YA fantasy, but we’ve been looking for some lighter reads in the genre and have come up pretty empty. It seems as if every YA fantasy book deals with heavy subjects, and are dark and intense. Romance is a must, but doesn’t have to be the main storyline. Thanks!


7. Hi Jen and Amanda,

I am in a reading funk and I am looking for cozy, fun reads that are dramatic but nothing really awful happens.

Something Harry Potter reminiscent would be great. Magic, fantastical elements, maybe even royalty, without the Game of Thrones gore.

I also loved Storied Life of AJ Fikry, so something about books or love of books might be fun.

Thanks so much.

Books Discussed

Humankind by Rutger Bregman, transl. by Elizabeth Manton and Erica Moore

When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

Blood at the Root by Patrick Phillips

Mighty Be Our Powers by Leymah Gbowee with Carol Mithers (tw: domestic abuse)

Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

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