Shelf Motivated is a library book chat podcast. Join librarians Sharon, Sarah, and Eric as they discuss books and reading, what they're currently reading and what they want to read next, book recommendations, and all things library related.  


Join us as we discuss Fall and Winter reading, our takes on what gets published when, and some of Sarah's least favorite things about how books look.

Sarah discusses:

  • The Bee Sting by Paul Murray 
  • The Fraud by Zadie Smith
  • Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward
  • Rouge by Mona Awad


  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Paperbacks From Hell series, particularly The Nest of Nightmares by Lisa Tuttle

Eric discusses:

  • The Last Devil to Die (A Thursday Murder Club book) by Richard Osman


  • Julia by Sandra Newman
  • Prophet Song by Paul Lynch
  • The 272 by Rachel Swarns
  • Secret Hours by Mick Herron

Sharon discusses:

Covid Reads:

  • The Hopkins Manuscript by R.C. Sherriff
  • Landscapes of the Detectorists edited by Innes M. Keighren and Joanne Norcup
  • Akenfield by Ronald Blythe
  • I Could Read the Sky by Timothy O'Grady and Steve Pyke


  • Return to Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village in the 21st Century by Craig Taylor
  • Fortnight in September by R.C. Sherriff

Briefly Mentioned:

  • The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius by George Orwell
  • Wifedom by Anna Funder
  • Orwell's Roses by Rebecca Solnit
  • Backlisted podcast


Summer Reading is drawing to a close. On this episode we talk whaling, nature writing, southern gothic novels, and housecats. We discuss some exciting to-be-reads, and as always, a cozy mystery.  

Books discussed in this episode:


  • On Lighthouses by Jazmine Barrera trans. by Christina McSweeney
  • The Outermost House by Henry Beston
  • The Whale by Philip Hoare
  • TBR- Soundings by Doreen Cunningham


  • The Lion in the Livingroom by Abigale Tucker
  • The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell - Robert Dugoni
  • TBR - The Murderer by Roy Heath


  • The Violent Bear It Away - Flannery O'Connor
  • Wise Blood - Flannery O'Connor
  • Cozy- Apple Cider Slaying by Julie Ann Lindsey
  • TBR - The Notebooks 1936-1947 by Victor Serge

Deep into the summer reading season we discuss how bookstores and libraries find their way into our vacation plans. Sarah pays tribute to the recently deceased, editor extraordinaire, Robert Gottlieb through her recent reading of his autobiography Avid Reader: A Life. Eric talks about a summer reading recommendation from Sharon and shares another great reading experience from UK independent press, Uniform books that takes us on a jog through England's southeastern coastal South Downs (the chalk hills). Sharon discusses a few books that she read from Sarah's curated Summer Reading List (not your typical beach reads) and provides a progress report on her Moby Dick summer reading plan.


  • An Avid Reader: A Life by Robert Gottlieb
  • Anybody Home? by Michael J. Seidlinger
  • The Donut Legion by Joe R. Lansdale


  • A Month in the Country J.L. Carr
  • A Downland Index by Angus Carlyle
  • Misfortune Cookie by Vivian Chien
  • Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff Vandermeer


  • Shy by Max Porter
  • Dive Deeper Journeys with Moby Dick by George Cotkin
  • Why Read Moby Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick
  • Ahab's Wife, Or the Star-Gazer by Sena Jeter Naslund
  • Last Call at Coogan's: The Life and Death of a Neighborhood Bar by Jon Michaud

Librarians Eric and Sharon discuss their reading plans for the summer, re-reading books from our past and the mental health benefits of slow and deliberate reading.

Eric's Summer Reading List: 

  • Flannery O'Connor - The Complete Short Stories, and The Violent Bear it Away 
  • Sarah Orne Jewett - The Country of the Pointed Firs  

Recent Readings: 

  • Ronald Johnson - The Book of the Green Man 

Shelf Inflicted TBR: 

  • Arkady and Boris Strugatsky - Roadside Picnic 

Sharon's Summer Reading List: 

  • Herman Melville--Moby Dick 
  • Philip Hoare-The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea and Albert and the Whale 
  • Sena Jeter Naslund-Ahab's Wife, Or, The Star Gazer 
  • Virginia Woolf--To the Lighthouse 
  • Jazmina Barerra--On Lighthouses

Recent Readings: 

  • Kevin Parr-Quiet Moon 
  • Katherine May-Enchantment: Reawakening Wonder in Anxious Age 

Shelf Inflicted TBR: 

  • Pirkko Saisio, translated by Mia Spangenberg-Red Book of Farewells 

Recommended Podcast: 

Katherine May: How We Live Now: Pathways for a Post-Everything World Podcast 

Eric, Sarah and Sharon discuss the eternal reader's dilemma "to finish or not to finish" a book once begun. Sarah discusses a recent Joyce Carol Oates selection as a comfort read and questions Sharon's gift of a book about a woman on the eve of her wedding having second thoughts as she is approaching her big day. Sharon reviews books from her month of reading Booker International Prize nominations, and Eric has some "deep" revelations from the world of cozies. 


  • The Ninth Building by Zou Jingzhi, translated by Jeremy Tiang
  • While We Were Dreaming by Clemens Meyer, translated by Katie Derbyshire
  • Stillborn by Guadalupe Nettel, translated by Rosalind Harvey
  • Boulder by Eva Baltasar, translated by Julia Sanches
  • TBR: Whale by Cheon Myeong-kwan, translated by Chi-Young Kim; The Birthday Party by Laurent Mauvignier, translated by Daniel Levin Becker


  • Frontlist: 48 Clues Into the Disappearance of My Sister by Joyce Carol Oates
  • Backlist: Tacky: Love Letters to the Worst Culture We Have to Offer by Rax King
  • TBR: Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey 


  • Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
  • Slow Horses - Mick Herron
  • Dead Lions - Mick Herron
  • The Deep Dish Mysteries by Mindy Quigley
  • TBR: Middlemarch by George Eliot

Sarah, Sharon and Eric discuss strategies on how to read outside your comfort zone. Eric treats us to a beautiful reading from Sarai Walker's Cherry Robbers, and Sharon discusses the magic of folklore. 


  • The Cherry Robbers by Sarai Walker
  • The Taliban Cricket Club: a Novel by Timeri N. Murari 
  • The Kebab Kitchen Mysteries by Tina Kashian
  • The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller


  • Frontlist--Once Upon a Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller by Oliver Darkshire
  • Backlist--Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
  • TBR--Whale by Cheon Myeong-Kwan, translated by Chi-Young Kim 


  • The Other Irish Tradition Edited by Rob Doyle
  • Wild: Tales from Early Medieval Britain by Amy Jeffs
  •  Orlam by PJ Harvey

 Also Referenced:

Backlisted Podcast

BBC Countryfile Magazine Plodcast

Raised on Radio Interview with PJ Harvey on her book Orlam- YouTube

A discussion of reading journeys followed by a productive shelf motivated month of reads with some cracked open TBR's (To Be Reads). Hooray for the cold months!


  • A Mountain to the North, a Lake to the South, Paths to the West, a River to the East by Laszlo Krasznahorkai
  • Cold Enough to Snow by Jessica Au
  • TBR: The Colony by Audrey Magee


  • Motherthing by Ainslie Hogarth
  • Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • TBR: Babel R.F. Kuang


  • Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman
  • Soul Food (A Books and Biscuits Mystery) by Abby Collette
  • TBR: The Fascist Groove Thing: A History of Thatcher's Britain in 21 Mixtapes by Hugh Hodges

We discuss Colson Whitehead's John Henry Days and other books that we have been enjoying in February. 

John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead; Rattlebone by Maxine Clair; Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au; The Employees by Olga Raven, Translated by Martin Aitken; My Kind of Girl Buddhadeva Bose by Arunava Sinha; The First Edition Library Mysteries by Marty Wingate; The Survivalists by Kashana Cauley; The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

With a new year of reading in mind, we discuss our love/hate relationship with reading challenges, our best reads of 2022 and our reading aspirations for the early part of 2023.  

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery; Elena Knows by Claudia Pineiro, Translated by Frances Riddle; Rent Boy by Gary Indiana; An Impossible Love by Christine Angot, Translated by Armine Kotin Mortimer; The Running Hare by John Lewis-Stempel; The Lighted Window: Evening Walks Remembered by Peter Davidson; The Mountain to North, a Lake to the South, Paths to the West, a River to the East by Laszlo Krasznahorkai, Translated by Ottilie Mulzet; Chicago: City on the Make by Nelson Algren; Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labor by Kim Kelly; The Nineties: A Book by Chuck Klosterman

This episode we discuss what kinds of books we read most, A Christmas Carol, reading to our partners, and our ever-growing to-be-read lists.

Rock Crystal: A Christmas Story by Adalbert Stifter (translated by Marianne Moore), True Biz by Sara Nivoc, A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bissonnette, The Great Beanie Baby Bubble by Zac Bissonnette, Twelve Nights by Urs Faes (translated by Lee Searle), The Evenings: A Winter's Tale by Gerard Reve (translated by Sam Garret).