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You Need to Stay Curious about Books

Welcome to our last regularly scheduled episode of Book Dreams. We started the podcast because books, more than just about anything, bring us joy. So we thought, what better way to end the podcast than to spread that joy and talk about how to make great book recommendations for other people? Our guest, James Gilbert, is a bookseller at the Heywood Hill bookstore in London, which runs, in its words, “the most personalized book subscription service in the world.” James makes personalized book recommendations for Heywood’s subscription (and other) customers–including, for the past several months, Eve and Julie. James talked about the key to being a good book recommender, how to help people figure out what they want to read when they’re not sure of it themselves, how he decided which books to send to Julie and which books to send to Eve, and when it’s okay to recommend books you haven’t yet read yourself.

One more thing: This is not our last episode ever–we’ll continue to air bonus episodes every month or so. And we’re working on a new podcast! It’s called Rebel Nuns. We wanted to focus on stories about groups of people coming together to take collective action with a positive outcome, and it turns out there are many fascinating accounts, from ancient Mesopotamia all the way up until today, of nuns banding together to fight the powers that be in the service of causes they believe in. These stories are all-too-often hidden, and they reflect larger forces in society, and we can’t wait to tell you all about them. We’ll post updates about Rebel Nuns here in the Book Dreams feed.

Thank you so very much for listening to Book Dreams, whether you’ve been with us from the very beginning or whether you’re tuning in today for the first time. We’ve loved learning and sharing and bonding over all things book-related with you, and we’re excited to keep connecting over bonus episodes and all that is to come.

James Gilbert has been a bookseller and professional recommender of books for eight years at Heywood Hill, an internationally renowned bookstore in London that runs “the most personalized book subscription service in the world.”

Go Deeper

Heywood Hill (London bookshop)

Books Recommended by James Gilbert to Julie:

Bad Relations, by Cressida Connolly

Still Born, by Guadalupe Nettel

All Our Yesterdays, by Natalia Ginzburg

Ancestry, by Simon Mawer

Books Recommended by James Gilbert to Eve:

Dreaming The Karoo, by Julia Blackburn

The Glass Pearls, by Emeric Pressburger

The Passengers, by Will Ashon

Dreamland, by Rosa Rankin-Gee

Additional Books:

The Oracle of Night: The History and Science of Dreams, by Sidarta Ribeiro

Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee

Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr

Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel, by Wallace Stegner

Lost and Found, by Kathryn Schulz

The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan

My Former Heart, by Cressida Connolly

Time Song: Journeys in Search of a Submerged Land, by Julia Blackburn

The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery

A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara

A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry

Other Links:

Eve Yohalem

Julie Sternberg

Book Dreams Podcast


Lit Hub Radio

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