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ReadICT 2023 Kickoff: Live with WPL's 'Read. Return. Repeat.'

Andy Take
Andy Tade
Beth Golay & Suzanne Perez at the ReadICT Kickoff at the WPL Advanced Learning Library

In this episode recorded before a live audience at the Wichita Public Library's beautiful Advanced Learning Library, co-hosts Beth Golay & Suzanne Perez join Sara Dixon and Daniel Pewewardy, co-hosts of the Wichita Public Library's 'Read. Return. Repeat." podcast to celebrate the 2023 kickoff of the #ReadICT challenge.

A departure from the usual podcast format, these book aficionados and fellow podcasters talk about the history of the challenge and explore each category and how it might be approached differently by readers. This episode is full of great recommendations for each category (including some from a few very brave audience members) as well as their own reading plans for #ReadICT 2023!

Enjoy the show!

This podcast was edited for length and clarity. Books & Whatnot is produced by KMUW and is part of the NPR Podcast Network.


Books recommended in this episode (by challenge category):

Category 1: A book with a non-human narrator

  • Penny, Karl Stevens
  • The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  • Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Circe, Madeline Miller
  • Watership Down, Richard Adams
  • Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
  • Robopocalypse, Daniel H. Wilson
  • The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein
  • Remarkably Bright Creatures, Shelby Van Pelt
  • Cinder (book #1 of the Lunar Chronicles), Marissa Meyer
  • Hollow Kingdom, Kira Jane Buxton
  • Nutshell, Ian McEwan
  • The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, Mitch Albom
  • The Travelling Cat Chronicles, Hiro Arikawa

Category 2: A book with a long title (7+ words)

  • A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life, George Saunders
  • The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe, Romaine Puértolas
  • We Had a Little Real Estate Problem: The Unheralded Story of Native Americans & Comedy, Kliph Nesteroff
  • The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home: A Welcome to Night Vale Novel, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
  • How to be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question, Michael Schur
  • Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City (Pulitzer Prize Winner), Andrea Elliott
  • Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes: Essays, Phoebe Robinson
  • You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain, Phoebe Robinson
  • Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
  • The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down, Colin Woodard

Category 3: A book about friendship

Category 4: A guilty pleasure read

  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill
  • Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, Jessica Townsend
  • The House in the Cerulean Sea, T.J. Klune
  • Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese
  • The Covenant of Water, Abraham Verghese
  • So Far..., Kelsey Grammer
  • Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey
  • World War Z, Max Brooks
  • Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Curtis Sittenfeld
  • The Thousandth Floor, Katharine McGee
  • Rat Queens (Comic Book Series), Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch and John Upchurch
  • The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made, Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

Category 5: A book told from a villain’s point of view

Category 6: A book about time

  • Watchmen (Graphic Novel Series), Alan Moore
  • Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zevin
  • This Time Tomorrow: A Novel, Emma Straub
  • The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, Andrew Sean Greer
  • Before the Coffee Gets Cold, Toshikazu Kawaguchi
  • 11/22/63, Stephen King
  • A Tale for the Time Being: A Novel, Ruth Ozeki
  • Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel
  • Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
  • Oona Out of Order, Margarita Montimore
  • Dark Matter: A Novel, Blake Crouch
  • Kindred, Octavia E. Butler
  • The Immortalists, Chloe Benjamin
  • The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century, Ian Mortimer

Category 7: A book with a color in the title

  • Redbone: The True Story of a Native American Rock Band, Christian Staebler and Sonia Paoloni
  • Redshirts, John Scalzi
  • The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
  • The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
  • Red Rising, Pierce Brown
  • White Teeth, Zadie Smith
  • The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
  • Brown: Poems, Kevin Young
  • Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, Erik Larson
  • The Color Purple, Alice Walker
  • The Last White Man: A Novel, Mohsin Hamid
  • Demon Copperhead, Barbara Kingsolver
  • Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery
  • Daughter of Black Lake: A Novel, Cathy Marie Buchanan

Category 8: A book featuring a LGBTQIA+ protagonist

  • Matrix: A Novel, Lauren Groff
  • Less: A Novel, Andrew Sean Greer (or any book by Andrew Sean Greer)
  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Becky Chambers
  • Manhunt, Gretchen Felker-Martin
  • Alice Isn’t Dead, Joseph Fink
  • The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin
  • The Broken Earth Trilogy (The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky), N.K. Jemisin
  • The Guncle, Stephen Rowley
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Skye Falling: A Novel, Mia McKenzie

Category 9: A book about death or grief

  • Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Big Read Title), Roz Chast
  • Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Atul Gawande
  • This Is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper
  • The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir, Thi Bui
  • Lark Ascending, Silas House
  • Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy), Jeff VanderMeer
  • The Furrows, Namwali Serpell
  • A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis
  • A Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken
  • Under the Whispering Door, TJ Klune

Category 10: A book set in the Great Plains

Category 11: A book about a secret or closed society

  • The Unfolding, AM Homes
  • The Secret History, Donna Tartt
  • If We Were Villains: A Novel, M.L. Rio
  • Unfollow: A Journey from Hatred to Hope, Megan Phelps-Roper
  • Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, Jon Krakauer
  • The Department of Truth (Comic Book Series), James Tynion IV
  • Rabbits: A Novel, Terry Miles
  • The Husbands, Chandler Baker
  • Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism, Amanda Montell
  • The Girls, Emma Cline
  • We Ride Upon Sticks: A Novel, Quan Barry

Category 12: A book by an author visiting Wichita (in-person or remotely)

  • Hang the Moon, Jeannette Walls
  • The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls
  • Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel, Jeannette Walls
  • Storm Watch (A Joe Pickett Novel), C.J. Box
  • The Lost Apothecary, Sarah Penner
  • The London Séance Society, Sarah Penner
  • The Grammarians: A Novel, Cathleen Schine
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom: 101 Stories of Gratitude, Love, and Lessons, Amy Newmark and Jo Dee Messina

Other Books Mentioned in this Episode:

Special Thanks to our audience members for sharing their recommendations!
Upcoming Author Events in Wichita

  • C.J. Box @ The Advanced Learning Library, March 2nd
  • Sarah Penner @ The Advanced Learning Library, March 28th
  • Cathleen Schine @ Watermark Books, March 30th
  • Jeannette Walls @ The Advanced Learning Library, April 12th

New to #ReadICT? Join the challenge! For more information visit wichitalibrary.org/readict.


Stay Connected
Beth Golay is KMUW's Director of Marketing and Digital Content. She is the host of the KMUW podcast Marginalia and co-host with Suzanne Perez of the Books & Whatnot podcast. You can find her on Wichita Transit in conversation with other riders for En Route, a monthly segment on KMUW's weekly news program The Range.
Suzanne Perez is a longtime journalist covering education and general news for KMUW and the Kansas News Service. Suzanne reviews new books for KMUW and is the co-host with Beth Golay of the Books & Whatnot podcast. Follow her on Twitter @SuzPerezICT.