Today’s guest Chris Abi Zeid is counting down the days before a big life event that will significantly alter his reading life. But for a few more weeks he still has precious reading hours. All he needs is his next read — and listeners, he has one huge requirement. He needs a book with a big, beefy, juicy plot. Complicated characters are great, but they need to go somewhere and do something for Chris to be satisfied.

My challenge today is finding the three perfect titles that will carry Chris toward his next big adventure.

Let’s get to it!

Follow Chris on Instagram @chrisabzz.


Books mentioned in this episode:

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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley
The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
The River by Peter Heller
• The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
• Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
• Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker
• The Complete Opposite of Everything by Nour Abou Fayad
• Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
• This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
• The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
• Vicious by V. E. Schwab

Thanks to this week’s sponsors:

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  1. Sean Larkin 2 years ago

    I admit, I sometimes come here before listening in order to see which book are mentioned. I listen regardless, but I like to know what I’m in for. Seeing that Chris did not love The River makes me so excited to listen, because I often feel I’m the only one who really didn’t like it.

    • Terry 2 years ago

      I was disappointed in “The River” for some reason. Maybe the build-up was too much. I thought it was okay but found it predictable. I kept waiting for a big surprise…

    • Author
      Anne 2 years ago

      Sean, when it comes to anything at all in the reading life, it’s never just you—but that being said, I’m so glad that makes you excited to listen! (I loved that book and even so, I was excited to talk to Chris about why he didn’t enjoy this book, not just in spite of the fact that I personally loved it but because of it.)

    • Laura 2 years ago

      I loved the River until the end, which ruined it for me! I wanted to hash it out with Peter Heller.

      • Mary Lucey 2 years ago

        I also loved it but hated the end!

    • Kate 2 years ago

      I wanted to like The River so much because I have a thing for outdoors fiction, but could not connect with the two protagonists and the ending left me cold. It didn’t feel earned.

      And finally, someone else who didn’t love a VE Schwab book! I haven’t read Vicious, but was so looking forward to A Darker Shade of Magic after all the raves. While the action was fun, Lila kept making stupid decisions and Kell seemed very one dimensional, so I wasn’t eager to read more. However, the new one sounds intriguing.

    • Kelly 2 years ago

      I didn’t care for it either! I too was glad to see I was not alone in that.

    • Kara 2 years ago

      I didn’t like it either. I like the description of the river, but they kept doing stupid things.

  2. Jen 2 years ago

    I didn’t like The River either and loved the Seven Sisters. I couldn’t wait to listen to Anne’s recommended choices so read the transcript. I am going to look for the V.E.Schwab book in the fall and order the Jonathan Trooper book.

    • Jen 2 years ago

      Oops. I have read the Jonathan Tropper book. It definitely helps to check spelling!

  3. Amapola 2 years ago

    My problem with The River was not been able to understand all the technical and specific jargon of the sport. I have The Silent Patient on my TBR.

  4. Patricia Blaine 2 years ago

    For a book series that is satisfyingly similar to AND different from Harry Potter, I highly recommend the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage. This is another 7-book children’s series centering around a boy’s wizard training, but with a more sophisticated (in my opinion) sense of humor and more nuance in terms of “good” and “bad” (the black and white quality of this in the Harry Potter books was always a detractor for me, even though I loved the series). This might be a good “escapist” read on audiobook for Chris when he gets busy again. The reader might even be the same as the reader for the Harry Potter books? Not a hundred percent sure on that but the voice is similar and the reading and characters are really well done.

  5. Emily 2 years ago

    My husband is a physician and often during his interviews for residency he was asked what is your favorite novel? He of course had no time to read but fortunately his wife (me) told him about my personal favorite book in great detail, Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese. Great plot, great setting, great characters. This one stuck with me. I hope Chris can pick this one up!

    • Adrienne 2 years ago

      Cutting for Stone was so good! Some of the medical details were a bit gruesome, but a fabulous book!

      • Betsy 2 years ago

        One of my all-time favorite books.

  6. Nohra Alex Ghaoui 2 years ago

    Wooww !! One of my favorite episodes 🥰

  7. Angela 2 years ago

    Woohoo for plot-driven fiction! I get so bored with “meditative” work, but I do want strong characters who do something. You may want to check out Half of a Yellow Sun by Adichie, The Thirteenth Tale by Setterfield, and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.

  8. Susie 2 years ago

    I liked the story in The River, as did my sister and my brother, altho he nit-picked the fire details a little. What I didn’t appreciate was that those 2 college boys could not say one sentence without using the f word. I wish I’d known it before I picked it up.

  9. Rachel 2 years ago

    I did not love This is Where I Leave You but I absolutely loved Jonathan Tropper’s book The Book of Joe. Like Chris, I don’t reread but really want to pick this one up again and see if I feel the same as 17 years ago.

  10. Meg 2 years ago

    Plot-driven with complicated relationships for a doctor has to include A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. Set in Chechnya, it follows many characters (including the only doctor left in town) and like the Seven Sisters, it allows you to see their relationships in different light as it shifts focus from each character and reveals their pasts.

    • Author
      Anne 2 years ago

      That’s a great suggestion!

  11. Annie McCloskey 2 years ago

    I really think I have a great series to recommend for Chris! I am just starting the first book, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Not the kind of book that would ever end up in my hands if not for my 29 year old son who insists I read it. It’s part Harry Potter-ish, part Game of Thrones-ish and just a great juicy story. I will give the caveat that the first 40 pages are confusing and a little tough to understand, but once you go back in time, it’s an amazing book and story.

    • GlendaS. 2 years ago

      Re: your last sentence – thank you! I’ve started this book a couple times and never made it very many pages in. It’s still in my to-read list, so next time I borrow it I’ll go further in and let it hook me =).

  12. Jo Ristop 2 years ago

    Can we please have him on the show again!!!! I need to know what he will read next and I really enjoyed the conversation!! Would definitely love a bonus episode with him 😍

    • Mary 2 years ago


  13. Lyndsay Felten 2 years ago

    I really enjoyed this episode. Add me to the list of people who did not enjoy The River. I only made it about 40 pages before I quit (and quitting books is rare for me).
    After hearing Chris’ love for a big, juicy novel and his love for a family saga, I need to recommend Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer. A friend has been telling me to read this book for years. I finally did and WOW. I don’t know why I waited so long. It’s excellent!

    • Kate 2 years ago

      Oh gosh, I read that *years* ago and still think about it!

  14. Helen H 2 years ago

    Favorite episode!! Love Chris and his books! Please more!!!! Would definitely like to know his opinion on “Nothing to see here”! Amazing characters!

  15. Bethany N Maxwell 2 years ago

    Great episode! Since you are open to middle grade, try the Gregor the Overlander series. The audio narration is amazing!

  16. Mia 2 years ago

    Would definitely recommend This is How it always is!!! Amazing characters and LGBT portrayal.
    Also station eleven for that beefy plot!
    Amazing episode! I wish Chris got more recommendations from Anne!

  17. Margo D. 2 years ago

    Early in the interview Chris also mentioned the novel “About the Author” by John Colapinto. From his and Anne’s comments about the book, I dowloaded the kindle version and am now thoroughly, losing-all-sense-of-time hopelessly engrossed in the story that Colapinto unfolds through his problematic narrator. Thanks for also mentioning this thrilling read!

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