Jan 26

We answer listener questions, recommend a historical mystery and a book of poetry.


Thanks to all for your well-wishes. As you’ll hear from the audio, I’m not completely recovered (and I apologize for my voice), but I am feeling better. Thanks to all, and thank to Michael for pitching in and going solo last week.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (01:49)

 The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian, narrated by Mozhan Marno and Grace Experience, 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


Questions from abroad (05:30)

It was purely coincidence that the three listener questions that Michael picked out of our virtual mailbag all came from non-US listeners, but we enjoyed the international flavor nonetheless. Have a question for us to answer on a future (maybe far in the future) show? Submit it here.

Rose from Australia was looking for a book that we recommended on an earlier show that was a collection of stories. It was One More Thing: Stories and other stories by BJ Novak, which was our Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week in BOTNS #267.

Monika from Melbourne asks why books with reading group guides in the back of the book make her want to throw the books across the room.

Joanne in Canada issues a listener phone-in challenge:

“I’d like to make a suggestion for a listener phone-in. I’m looking for recommendations for my husband as I “curate” his reading. He likes “hard” science fiction, or books based on current science but extended into the future or an alternative reality. He has read lots of the “masters” and has particularly enjoyed William Gibson, Vernor Vinge, Gregory Benford, L.E. Modesitt Jr., John Scalzi, Ramez Naam, Neal Stephenson, Oryx and Crake. Not a fan of Robert Sawyer, books with “Mars” in the title, space operas, or anything bordering on fantasy. Ideas more critical than style, but good writing appreciated. I’m looking for contemporary writers, preferably writing standalone books rather than series.”

Michael recommends a book that is coming out in May called Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, and The Fold by Peter Clines (available now).

Have additional ideas for Mr. Joanne in Canada? Please call our voicemail line (209-867-7323) with a short (2-3 minute) message letting us know what book(s) you’d recommend. Thanks!


Don’t you forget about me (17:56)



Michael talks about Barry Unsworth’s Morality Play, a historical novel set in the 14th century with a mystery at the center. A traveling theater troupe acts out a local murder, and in the process discovers that the person accused may not be the one responsible.

A Mind of Winter: Poems for a Snowy Season, selected by Robert Atwan is a small, beautiful book of winter poems in a lovely paperback edition. This volume features poems by Wallace Stevens, Amy Lowell, Charles Simic, Mary Oliver, Sylvia Plath, James Merrill, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost and more.


  • tcheer4life

    I was going to recommend “The Fold” which I really, really enjoyed and suggested to a hardcore SF reader. He really liked it, too.

  • Katrina Gormley

    I am a cataloging librarian, and I feel like more Christian fiction books have discussion questions in the back than any other genre, although I am seeing more and more books with them included. My pet peeve regarding extra stuff would be excerpts and sneak peeks … I never read them and like Ann, it bugs me when I thought I had 25 pages left only to find out I really only had 5.

  • Joanne in Canada

    Thanks for featuring my question so quickly! I played the podcast for my husband. Mr. Joanne in Canada (aka Bob) wasn’t so sure he liked my description of his reading tastes–makes him sound awfully picky–but he agreed with the “no space operas” and says that series can be okay. He doesn’t usually read them all, but sometimes the first one is good. 8^D I look forward to my fellow listeners’ recommendations whenever they are available.

    Thanks, Michael, for your suggestions. I am #26 in line for 3 copies of The Fold at my local library and will look for Dark Matter in May.

  • Monika from Melbourne

    Hi, I’d like to make a recommendation for Mr Joanne in Canada, and that is the author Paolo Bacigalupi’s dystopian novels. I loved “The Windup Girl”, so much that I wiped out a whole day by reading it in a single sitting. Bioengineering, GMO, fossil fuel shortage. Before that, “The Water Knife”, sub-genre cli-fi, looking at a world where climate change has bitten and water has become a real scarcity. Not a Martian in sight, though. I look forward to reading my way through the rest of his works. And what about China Miéville’s brilliant novel “The City & the City”? Mr Joanne may enjoy the possible (rather than alternative) futures shown.

    Monika from Melbourne (so no phone call, I’m afraid)

  • Shannon Dunn

    THANK YOU for talking about reading guides! I almost universally despise them, for all the reasons stated. I often feel that they’re attempting to artificially intellectualize books. They’re pretentious. Just ugh.

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