Hey y’all! The ladies of Talk Crooked and I are back again with more reading recommendations to match the unspeakable subjects tackled by the podcast!
If you missed out on the first collaboration with the first ten episodes, check it out here.
As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments below!
Episode 11: Grand Theft Auto: Necrophilia
Topic Addressed: Necrophilia
Rec: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
Okay, so this recommendation doesn’t discuss necrophilia, because ew, and I didn’t want to go down the vampire route (Kae touches on it in the podcast anyway) so I’m going to give you a book about respecting the dead bodies via Caitlin Doughty’s novel, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. This memoir explains what it’s like to deal with bodies as they are prepared for cremation and burial, and though it’s a morbid topic, it’s completely fascinating and told in an honest, respectful way.
Episode 12: Oh Yikes, It’s a Cross-Pollination Situation!
Topic Addressed: Opioid Addiction
Rec: Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer
Sadly, many people have their own tales to tell in connection with opioid addiction. Kelly Rimmer channels that emotional distress between sisters, one with an addiction and one with all the intention to save her sister from it. This book left me an emotional wreck, so it could hit too close to home for some, but it’s beautifully, tastefully written and well deserving of a read.
Episode 13: Two Sides of a Coin
Topic Addressed: SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
Rec: Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas
This was a tricky topic to find out of all the books that I’ve read, which goes to show just how much we don’t talk about this issue (although, it seems that the world is starting to at least acknowledge the disorder- baby steps, right?) In the memoir, Ken mentions his time spent in Alaska, in which even those without SAD feel the effects of the lack of daylight in the winter and overabundance in the summer.
Episode 14: The Bet
Topic Addressed: Inappropriate Student/Teacher Relationships
Rec: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
So, I thought I’d take a tongue and cheek take on this recommendation, since I haven’t read any recent books with this specific subject. Main character Nikki, in an attempt to reconnect with her Sikh roots, starts a writing class for about twenty Punjabi widows. Thinking that she would help them learn and become more fluent in English, she is shocked to find that they don’t want to just learn English- they want to share their stories. However, even more shocking, these stories turn downright racy! Partly based on a joke, Nikki realizes that her student have had a lot of sexual repression and an inability to express themselves- so despite their cultural appropriations, Nikki allows these women to write their own erotic stories. Kaur-Jaswal’s novel is fantastic, and I highly encourage you all to listen to her audiobook, narrated by Bahni Turpin.
Episode 15: Community Immunity Leads to Less Global Problems
Topic Addressed: Anti-Vaxxers
Rec: Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott
This is such a relatively new thing that it doesn’t seem to have caught on in fiction novels yet, or at least none of the novels I’ve read. However, I have just read Five Feet Apart and the main character has Cystic Fibrosis, an incurable disease that often results in respiratory failure. In order to receive a lung transplant, main character Stella must remain six feet apart from those she loves, in order to not contract anything her poor immune system couldn’t handle. Even a cold could be deadly for her. However, this also means being unable to hug her best friends, family, or even the boy she falls in love with. Now, apply this isolation scenario to children of those who are unvaccinated. Get the picture? Compromised immunity, along with isolation, in children… it’s tragically sad, like this book.
Episode 16: Prince Charming is His Own Brand of Weird
Topic Addressed: Human Trafficking
Rec: Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao
Two young women who are best friends are separately sold into sex slavery by their families. In a traumatically heart-wrenching novel, Rao sheds a light on the dark side of cultural abuse and human trafficking.
Episode 17: The Cannibalistic Army Medic Gives Us the “Good” Stuff
Topic Addressed: Sexual Repression/ Serial Killers
Rec: The Whisper Man by Alex North
This debut novel showcases a freaky serial killer plot line and reveals some of the past that causes this killer to be such a monster. Though it is a work of fiction, North’s novel has the feel of true crime. It’s dark, twisty, and definitely shouldn’t be read before bed!
Episode 18: Life is Rated R
Topic Addressed: BDSM
Rec: Fifty Shade of Gray Series by EL James
You know what? Groan all you want about this book series and it’s writing quality, but it brought BDSM to the table and made EVERYBODY talk about this unspeakable subject. I also went to an EL James book signing event, and the women SHOW UP for this author, so clearly, there are some “freak in the sheets” women who are thrilled to have some representation in the mainstream media. *mic drop.*
Episode 19: Fight Fire with Fire
Topic Addressed: Robberies
Rec: I’ll Be Gone In the Dark by Michelle McNamara
While listening to this episode, I could only think of this book and what I’d learned about the Golden State Killer. As a young adult, this criminal would stalk his victims, rob their homes, and sneak off into the night. Then, things would escalate to him torturing those he robbed, and then he began murdering. Over DECADES, this murderer terrorized residents- and McNamara was determined to find out his identity and put him behind bars.
Episode 20: We’re All at Risk
Topic Addressed: Breast Cancer
Rec: Time is a River by Mary Alice Monroe
This novel follows main character Mia, a woman recovering from breast cancer and her husband’s infidelity. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve heard so many good things about it and my book club leader has recommended it to me too. With a bestselling author like Monroe, it’s definitely worth giving it a read.
Check out the latest episodes of Talk Crooked, available on Anchor, Spotify, Soundcloud or through your Apple and Android app stores. New episodes air every Monday, and Crooked News airs every Friday!
Additionally, stay tuned for more recommendations, with Crooked Book Recommendations, Part 3!