Oct 06


Reading under a blanket: cool weather only, or is it a year-round thing for you? Let us know.



audiobooksAudiobook of the week (02:00):

The Art of MemoirThe Art of Memoir
 narrated by the author, is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com allows you to listen to over 60,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook




Reading history through family fiction (06:27):

October is Family History Month, and we’ve been thinking about the big, multi-generational family stories that our parents read in the 1970s and 80s. Many of them were series, and we realized that those kinds of books don’t seem to be quite as prevalent today. Books like:

One contemporary author who is writing something somewhat similar is Jane Smiley. Smiley’s most recent work is a series of three novels that follow a family through 100 years of history.

Ken Follet’s most recent series is The Century Trilogy, and it follows 5 families through the 20th century.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on these types of books. What are we missing? What are your favorites?


Two books we can’t wait for you to read (17:23):


My Kitchen Year   The Last September

Michael recommends a cookbook, but he encourages you to read it from beginning to end. My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life, by Ruth Reichl. It’s the story of the closing of Gourmet Magazine and the resultant effect that had on editor-in-cheif Reichl’s life. It has recipes, yes, but the story of how food kept Reichl connected to her family and friends during a year of grieving is the truly special part of this book.

The Last September by Nina de Gramont is a tough book to categorize. On the surface, it’s a mystery/thriller told from the point of view of a young wife starting from the point of her husband’s murder. But really, it’s a novel about marriage, about friendship and family, and it’s a great, fast read that is perfect for this early fall season.


  • JanetS.

    Well, this was eerie. I frequently multi-task while I listen to podcasts so while I was listening to this one, I was opening my mail. I had literally just opened a package and set aside a book I had ordered when Ann announced her book she couldn’t wait for us to read….yep, the book I opened was The Last September. That has to be some sort of sign!

  • We see all! (Hope you enjoy it).

  • Corey McQuinn

    The Kent Family saga is great, but my favorite is Jennifer Roberson’s Chronicles of the Cheysuli. Multi generational fantasy series, eight books, I think.

  • Carol Kubala

    The first family saga that came to my mind was The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. Others that I remember being riveted to were Roots by Alex Haley, The Godfather by Mario Puzo and North and South by John Jakes. There are many books that tell the story of a family in one volume but I honestly can’t think of any contemporary that did it like authors did years ago. Interesting topic. Looking forward to thoughts from other readers.

  • Lisa W

    Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China is a somewhat recent family saga. It’s a personal favorite!

  • Edward Rutherfurd’s books cover multiple generations of families as well, at least the ones I’m familiar with. I’ve only read The Princes of Ireland (which does have a sequel, which I haven’t gotten to yet), but most of his books are single books covering generations, not a series.
    Something else I thought of was V.C. Andrews, whos books also cover generations, although I wouldn’t call them models of family values. 🙂

  • Kristen Smith

    While I have only read the first, my mom has read this whole series – The Clifton Chronicles by Jeffery Archer. He writes a lot of family drama stuff, but I don’t know if he’s ever done a multi-volume project before. It’s five books and they’re all out now I believe.

  • Anna

    This morning I spoke to a swedish forreign correspondent who’s been working in Italy for 30 years. I asked her if she could mention a few titles that really captured the italian society. She then told me about Elena Ferrante’s series of four books starting with L’amica geniale (My brilliant friend) who supposedly is a fascinating page turner about two female friends from Neapel that we get to follow over the years. It might not be a family saga, but a great long read where you get to follow two persons growing up during the spectacular 20th century from the 1950s to our days.

  • Elvina Barclay

    The Whiteoaks Chronicles or the Jalna Series by Mazo de le Roche is a multi volume series of books about the Whiteoaks family covering from 1854 to 1954. It was made into a TV series in Canada. I read this series many years ago and loved it. I also loved The Source by James Mitchener http://www.amazon.ca/The-Source-James-A-Michener/dp/0449211479 and have read it about 8 times. At it’s core its the story of a place and many families.

  • When I was younger I loved The Morland Dynasty books by Cunthia Harrod Eagles. They follow the fortunes of the Morland Family. I think I stopped reading around book 11, but I just looked and there are now 35 books! Which must win the award for longest family saga! The last book was published in 2011 so it’s contemporary too.
    Thanks for the great podcast, love listening to you two talk about books and bookish things 😀

  • Tracy Slater

    Oh my gosh, Ann, I was in the middle of doing my yoga, like I always do when I listen to your podcast, and when I heard Barbara Taylor Bradford I had to laugh in the middle of my yoga pose. That was totally the book that turned me on to reading when I was little and borrowed it from my mother, too. That and Danielle Steele, of course.

    Wonder about an episode on adult books that turn young readers onto reading. It might be a nice counterpart to the topics of YA books that adults reads, which we hear a lot about now, or adult lit that young readers are assigned in school and may be important for understanding literature but frankly don’t usually turn kids into readers per se.

    Anyway, thanks for another fun episode! Also loved the Karr and Reichl recommendations. Wasn’t sure I’d find the Karr worth it after hearing it discussed on another podcast, but Ann, you convinced me.

  • lisanne624

    Michael’s discussion of “My Kitchen Year” reminded me a bit of “Saved by Cake” by Marian Keyes. She’s a wonderful author of fiction, but she suffers from terrible bouts of depression. This book is a collection of recipes she used to help her through a particularly difficult period. She talks of how she wasn’t able to plan or think about the future, but she could concentrate long enough to make a recipe. It’s a very moving and interesting book. I really like the directions in the recipes, too. For instance, one calls for crushed nuts and she directs us to place the nuts in a bag, get a rolling pin, and “bash the living daylights out of them.”

  • Barbara McCabe Bocan

    Years ago, my Aunt loaned me her 7 books of the Williamsburg Series by Elsyth Thane. This series followed a family in Williamsbug, VA from the Revolutionary War to the 1950s. I loved it!

    This summer I started watching the “Masterpiece Classic”, “Poldark”. I loved the show & bought all 12 books in the series.

    Thomas Tryon also had 2 books which was a family saga. The books were part of the “Kingdom Come” series, which starts in New England in 1828. The series was to be a triology, but I believe he died before the third book was finished or maybe even started.

  • Carrie Mercer

    Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley is a graphic novel/memoir/food book that is gorgeous. Knisley writes/draws about her life growing up with hippie chef parents and their cronies, who were the predecessors of today’s foodies. Such a fun book, and gorgeous color palette that makes you hungry!

    Bucking the Sun by Ivan Doig is only one book but it feels like an epic saga about one family, and it takes place against the backdrop of the New Deal project damming the Missouri river, which was totally fascinating. Lush writing, heartbreaking family. Western in the best sense of the genre.

    • Thanks for two great recommendations, both new to me!

      • mkindness

        I have had Relish on my TBR shelf for years now. I really need to get to it!

  • Danielle M Silvestri

    I have to tell you guys that absolutely love your podcast! I just got into listening to them this past year… better late than never right? So I have been listening to you guys and love your insight to books and my tbr has grown emensly. Ann I am currently reading A little life what a great story so far! Anyway I have actually been dying to suggest to you guys my favorite books and this podcast i felt was perfect. This series follows a family each book is a diffrent daughter in the series. Its a series called the Sevenwaters triology (it was initally a triology but she added three books sense first being published) by:Juliet Marillier. So I know micheal is like me who likes fiction/sifi and Ann your more into more non sifi based so I feel you both would really like this series becuase although it does have magic in it, its very minor its more like an essense behind the actual story. I love this writer too becuase she does so well in just flowing everything together. Its a historical fiction set in Irland and you follow the daughter of a chieftain. I know you guys are really busy but I hope one day you guys can see if you like this author! Once again thanks for doing your podcast they are amazing and I tell all my friends to listen to you guys!!!

  • Jenny Warren

    Eugenia Price wrote lovely stories of famiies living in Coastal Georgia
    Beloved Invader
    New Moon Rising
    Also, her Savannah series

    Edward Rutherford’s London, Sarum, Princes of Ireland, Rebels of Ireland

    • silentsgirl

      I came in to recommend Genie’s books, and here you’ve beaten me to it. Wonderful to see another price fan!

  • Jenni

    Vilhelm Moberg wrote a four part series called The Emigrants about a Swedish family that emigrates to Minnesota. They follow the life of family Nilsson from 1850 to 1890. It’s a Swedish classic and has been both filmed and turned into a musical. The musical Kristina is by ex-Abba members Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson.

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