Today’s guest Lamar Giles credits his love of reading to his mom who was always willing to buy him a book. But there was a time when reading just wasn’t cool among his friends and he nearly lost the love. Luckily, it stuck and today we get to talk about two of his favorite reading interests–children’s books and horror novelist Stephen King.

This episode was recorded and aired last year as Episode 186: Finding the book that feels like it was written just for you. Lamar is an absolute delight to talk books with, and this is the perfect listen for in early summer when you might have young readers at home looking for something to keep them busy. But it’s also a great time to have a deep conversation about the serious business of reading, why it matters for a book to act as both a mirror of your own life and a window into someone else’s, and what’s happening with We Need Diverse Books, the nonprofit of which he’s a founding member..

Lamar is a busy guy as you’ll hear. In this episode, he talks about juggling two book releases in 2019. He’s back at it again this year with another 2 releases: Not So Pure And Simple, a YA book came out in January and The Last Mirror on the Left a sequel to last year’s middle grade novelThe Last Last-Day-of-Summer is due out in October. It’s my joy and my privilege to read and support his books.

Let’s get to it!

Photo: Hong Kong International Literature Festival

You can discover more about Lamar’s books at, follow him on Twitter @LRGiles, and of course, check out that surprise Wikipedia page


Books mentioned in this episode:

Some links are affiliate links. More details here.

• Not So Pure And Simple by Lamar Giles
• The Last Mirror on the Left by Lamar Giles
• Spin, by Lamar Giles
• The Last Last-Day-of-Summer by Lamar Giles
• Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
• author Stephen Barns (try Twelve Days)
• author Tananarive Due (try The Good House)
• author Eric Jerome Dickey (try Bad Men and Wicked Women)
• The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
• Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
• A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
• House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
• Experimental Film by Gemma Files
• The Terror by Dan Simmons
• 11/22/63 by Stephen King
• On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
• The Stand by Stephen King
IT by Stephen King
• With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss
• Different Seasons by Stephen King
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Alsberg
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
• WitSec: Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program by Pete Earley
• Fake ID by Lamar Giles
• Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
• Literally Disturbed #1: Tales to Keep You Up at Night by Ben H. Winters
• Underground Airlines by Ben Winters
• Golden State by Ben Winters
• How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon
• The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon
• Cilla Lee Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire by Susan Tan

Also mentioned:
• Lamar’s Wikipedia page
• We Need Diverse Books
• WSIRN Ep 176: Books in the freezer, & other horror stories w/Mallory O’Meara

Thanks to this week’s sponsors:

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  1. Kelsey Campbell 2 years ago

    This was great to hear again. Loved hearing his interview the first time. I had never had the desire to read “It” by Stephen King until I heard Lamar talk about it. And, the way he described it, he made me want to pick up a copy and read it. So, after hearing his interview, I bought a copy and over the next several months I dove into it. You really do see King’s genius in it. He is a master-storyteller and the passages about Derry’s dark history were my favorite parts. Like Lamar said, the setting comes alive like it’s a character itself. And I appreciated hearing his commentary on “It” after having finished the book. Lamar, you’re probably one of my favorite guests on the show.

  2. Steph 2 years ago

    My favorite episode so far! I can’t believe I missed it the first time. Lamar, I can’t stop thinking about “the terror from the Who’s perspective” in Horton Hears a Who! Adding “It” to my TBR list next.

  3. April Kuper 2 years ago

    I just started listening (I’d never listened to podcasts before & went through every episode of Strong Sense of Place – so yours was the next logical choice! 😂) I’ve loved it so far! As a middle school teacher, I so enjoyed listening to Lamar Giles. I loved hearing how much he liked The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. I didn’t know about the story Stephen King wrote, but we use the pictures at school to spark stories! Can’t wait to add a few of Giles’s books to my class library!

  4. Annie McCloskey 2 years ago

    This was a great “re-listen” for me as well. I am a HUGE Stephen King fan and probably am not the first person to say that I consider him our “modern day Dickens”. Lamar is charming and as a fourth grade teacher, I am buying The Last Last-Day-Of-Summer for my class right now! Thanks for sharing this episode again, Anne. Terrific work!

  5. Rhonda 2 years ago

    This episode made me go to Libby to look up this author, because I’m a 44-year-old woman who loves YA and borrowed a couple and placed holds on others. I have “It” on my kindle, and made it maybe 20 percent through a few years ago. Thinking I’d like to revisit it, because I love novels with a strong sense of place as well. And Lamar has given me ideas of themes to look for in this book. With a sprained hand, I can’t do my usual audiobooks and cross stitching combo, so that means more eyes-on-page reading.

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