Today’s guest KJ Dell’Antonia is an author and podcaster. I had the pleasure of joining KJ and her cohost Jess Lahey recently on their podcast #AmWriting, and I’m excited for KJ’s new novel The Chicken Sisters coming out on July 28.

KJ is also, of course, a devoted reader, who encountered a problem many readers can relate to:  she picked up a lot of the wrong books during a difficult time in her life, and those experiences changed her perspective on a hotly debated literary topic: trigger warnings. And here’s a trigger warning for this episode–KJ and I are going to talk about cancer, specifically breast cancer. It’s not the whole episode, and the conversation doesn’t go into detail, but we want you to be aware of that before diving in.

Today we’re also talking about moving beyond bedtime reading, covert audiobook operations, and how mystery novels could save your local bookstore…  

Let’s get to it!

Learn more about KJ’s work at her website or Instagram, and check out her podcast #AmWriting.


Readers, right now our Patreon community is a veritable celebration of summer reading. We’ve shared some wonderful bonus episodes recently, on topics like fantastic new romance novels, absorbing summer nonfiction, and our publicly-available episode covering spectacular books by Black authors. Our latest bonus episode is a casual home library chat with my husband Will about what summer reading is like for each of us this year.
Join our Patreon community now to gain access to a huge archive of bonus episodes, and join Brenna and me during our upcoming livestream on July 2nd.

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Books mentioned in this episode:

Some links are affiliate links. More details here.

• The Chicken Sisters by KJ Dell’Antonia
• Author Louise Penny (start with Still Life)
• The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
• Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life by Anne Bogel
• The Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley (try The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie)
• Author Margery Allingham (try The White Cottage Mystery)
• The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers
There’s a Word for That by Sloane Tanen
Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson
Life Among the Savages by  Shirley Jackson
All My Puny Sorrows, Miriam Toews
• Limelight by Amy Poeppel
• I Was Told it Would Get Easier by Abbi Waxman
• Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl
• Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

Also mentioned:
• #AmWriting podcast

Thanks to this week’s sponsors:

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17 Comments
  1. Sonya Campbell 10 months ago

    HAHA! When my kids were younger playing hockey I would read when they weren’t on the ice!! #kindredspirits

  2. Jennsev 10 months ago

    BEST EPISODE YET. And I have loved them all! Readers go pick up KJ’s new book…there is actually a chicken war of sorts in rural Kansas- Chicken Annie’s vs Chicken Mary’s. Devotees are VERY serious about their fried chicken random. Can’t wait to read the fiction version!!!

  3. Lennette Daniels 10 months ago

    I laughed out loud about the British series with an installment where nothing happens. In the manga world my daughter and I visit frequently, we call those “filler episodes.” I also enjoyed the books discussed on this episode because I am going through a reader-identity crisis where I am having a hard time picking books. KJ’s description of the types of books she wants to read matches what I am looking for in books right now. Can’t wait to check out some of the recommendations.

    • Charity Dušíková 10 months ago

      Another lovely episode..I found the trigger warning discussion interesting, especially since breast cancer isn’t a trigger for me, but suicide is. In the same year of high school, there were two teachers who used films that contained (apparent) suicide. One warned me, which was unnecessary since I knew that film already, and the other didn’t and I was blind-sided. Both remain favourite teachers of mine, but I still appreciate the one teacher’s discretion to approach me quietly and warn me and even offer to let me sit out that class.
      Also, I’m definitely curious to look up some of the titles mentioned in this episode!

  4. Kris 10 months ago

    I loved Love Lettering. It is one of the books I would want with me on a deserted island.

  5. Kate 10 months ago

    Loved this episode. KJ is hilarious, and I also gave up on poor little Flavia when the books went to such dark places and lost their original dry humor. The natural next step after Dame Agatha and Marjorie Allingham is Ngaio Marsh, who can be a little hard to find now, and Josephine Tey. For snarky-yet-comforting domestic memoirs, I love Peg Bracken; “I Hate to Cook Almanack” is one of my all-time favorite books and I still have my mom’s beat up old paperback from the 70’s.

    • Author
      Anne 10 months ago

      Marsh and Bracken are new to me—thank you for sharing!

  6. Sarah 10 months ago

    I have similar tastes to KJ and hope she loves the Louise Penny books! I’d also recommend Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell books, and Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series.

  7. Laura 10 months ago

    Such a fun guest! I am that mom on the soccer field, reading when my son isn’t playing, even though it’s frowned upon. Enjoyed the mysteries discussion and am looking forward to picking up your book!

    • Laura 10 months ago

      I also really enjoyed Shirley Jackson’s memoirs and love love Gaudy Night!

  8. April Kuper 10 months ago

    I read Through Louise Penny’s first five books – but after The Brutal Telling, I was so sad, I couldn’t get very far into #6. Tell me it gets better – that I should keep reading (??)

    • Laura 10 months ago

      I quit after 5 too- thought I’d given it my best shot!

    • GlendaS. 10 months ago

      I’ve read them all and, while there have been a couple I liked less, overall I’m glad I continued on with the series. YMMV.

  9. Susi 10 months ago

    Great episode! The BBC has done some amazing audio adaptations of the Sir Peter mysteries.

    And I would like to recommend Judith Flanders’ Sam Clair mysteries to KJ. The first book is called “A Murder of Magpies”. It is set in the publishing world of London and has a fun, witty female main character who turns sleuth after one of her clients was killed.

  10. Joanne 9 months ago

    Anne I listen to WSIRN every week & love it. I have a Stephen King recommendation for you. Bag of Bones

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