Shelf Help

Shelf Help

Welcome to Shelf Help, a podcast where independent bookstore owners and a literacy nonprofit help you answer one of life's trickier and we argue most important questions: what should you read next?Listen as the Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock, VT, Still North Books & Bar in Hanover, NH and Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, VT, and The Book Jam help you solve your reading dilemmas.


November 22, 2022 16 min

Not Christmas books!

Our first question we've received that required clarification resulted in very unique interpretations this episode. The query arrived via instagram from Sara who wrote she needs books that help her in "getting away from the encroaching Christmas." When asked for clarification, she came back with -  "Christmas dominates the popular narrative starting late fall, hard to get away from. Stories that ...

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Modern Native American fiction

Sara was on instagram looking for modern Native American fiction.  And the booksellers were brimming with books to recommend. These included anything, anything, anything - fiction for adults, fiction for children, short stories - by Louise Erdrich, A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger, and for kids both Rez Dogs by Joseph Bruchac and Sea in Winter by Christine Day. Listen to the entire episod...

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October 25, 2022 12 min

New Cozy Mysteries! 

This was another question via instagram, this time from Keri who was looking for new cozy mysteries. The bookstore owners admitted that they are not necessarily cozy mystery readers themselves. This led to a side discussion about how to recommend things when you haven't read a genre or a particular book. Discussed books included Shady Hollow Series by Juneau Black (Juneau is actually two indie booksellers), ...

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October 18, 2022 19 min

Episode 22 - Astrological book pairings

The question - "Not necessarily a dilemma, but I would like books to be paired with your astrological sign!" - came via instagram from Nicole; and it had the booksellers so excited we delayed discussing it for a month so that Allie, Emma, and Kari could all be present to discuss. This query also resulted in our longest episode yet.

To start, we discussed personal charts and learned that...

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October 11, 2022 16 min

 I've read all of Shirley Jackson's work. I loved it! What should I read that's similar? from mrsmorganbakestoomuch via IG

Once again our booksellers began their recommendations with the query -- "are you sure you have read everything Shirley Jackson has written? There is a lot."  Assuming mrsmorganbakestoomuch had, they jumped in. The discussion highlighted Shirley Jackson's connections to Bennington, Vermon...

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October 4, 2022 15 min

Historical Fiction with an engaging story and characters (I've enjoyed Kristin Hannah) from Anya via IG  

Anya via IG was looking for "Historical Fiction with an engaging story and characters (I've enjoyed Kristin Hannah)."  Our three booksellers, Kari, Jack and Emma, started with the query: Are you sure you have read everything Kristin Hannah has written? They then took off, recommending books such as Lessons in Che...

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September 27, 2022 15 min

Children's books for young readers who have high reading levels and have difficulty finding just right books in terms of content (being sensitive enough with an engaging enough reading level) from Rowan via IG

Realizing Shelf Help rarely gets questions dealing with books for children, the three booksellers - Emma, Jack and Kari - had a ton of fun discussing their answers to this very common question for indie booksellers. They c...

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September 20, 2022 6 min

How to sit down and finish a book rather than just starting a new one? from Andrew via IG

For the first time in the history of Shelf Help, one of our bookstore owners, Allie sent another bookseller, Jack, in her place. And Sam relied on Emma to represent the Norwich Bookstore alone, as someone had to actually stay in the store and work. Very quickly the three booksellers, Kari, Emma, and Jack, bonded over their adamant and united re...

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September 13, 2022 18 min

A very specific request from Emma's mom -- "I am always looking for books to read. They can be romantic (but not mushy), suspenseful (but not scary), historical (but not boring), and preferably available on audio. My last "must have" in a book is that it must end happily. I do not want to cry at the end of a book. I can get that watching the news!" -- had the bookstore owners searching their vast knowledge of li...

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September 6, 2022 15 min

This request, via Instagram from a special group of Dartmouth alums, to find books about "magical cosmic beings like toads and fairies and butterflies with special superpowers!!!" had Sam perplexed but able to rise to the occasion and Allie thrilled to respond. Enjoy a bit of magic with this episode.

Welcome to Shelf Help a podcast where booksellers help you answer one of life's trickier  - and we’d argue extremely impor...

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August 30, 2022 17 min

This episode is for all those readers who love Lauren Groff. You will not be disappointed as Kari, Allie, Emma, and Sam tackle an anonymous question from Instagram, "what/who to read once you've read all of Lauren Groff".

Welcome to Shelf Help a podcast where booksellers help you answer one of life's trickier  - and we’d argue extremely important - questions: what should you read next?  If you've got a reading di...

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August 23, 2022 16 min

We are back from our summer recess with a list of books to enjoy as summer wanes. Specifically, we answer a question from Sarah on Instagram, "Looking for a light summer read this is well written, but is not a romance or set on a beach". Luckily, even though we proved a bit rusty on our recording abilities, the ability of Sam, Emma, Kari and Allie to recommend good books did not wane during our recess. We are pretty confide...

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Summer Break Announcement. 

Welcome to Shelf Help a podcast where booksellers help you answer one of life's trickier  - and we’d argue extremely important - questions: what should you read next?  If you've got a reading dilemma, you can email us a question or voice memo at We're here to help your shelves. 

Shelf Help is a collaboration between the Book Jam, a nonprofit designed to inspire reader...

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July 5, 2022 17 min

The booksellers tackle a question about great books for younger readers when the instagram handle courtpilling asked for "Middle Grade historical fiction set in 1700s-1800s".  Kari started us off with The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich, Allie wants everyone to read Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix, Lisa remembered two classics by Robert Lawson - Mr. Revere and I and Ben and Me. Emma brought us to Philadelp...

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June 28, 2022 16 min

Tom uses FB to ask the longest question we have received thusfar, "So I could use some advice! I sorta fell out of reading regularly for fun. Due to the events of the world, I've focused more on reading educational topics. I used to read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. Some of my favorite novels are the Dune series (and prequels), and growing up I LOVED the Lost Years of Merlin. I got the book series for The Magicians a few ye...

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June 21, 2022 18 min

Shelf Help Podcast #11

In episode 11, booksellers answer an anonymous question from instagram in which one desperate listener asks for the "best ways to get out of a reading slump". For this question, Lisa adds an idea for the first time - Hunting and Gathering, a "fun to read" gem by France's best-selling author Ana Gavalda. Kari suggests reading short stories as a great way to get reading again; she singles out...

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June 14, 2022 17 min

Episode 10, The bookstore owners attempt to answer our good friend Shari Altman's (from a great book resource Literary North) question -- "I am looking for strange and beautiful novels about middle age." We note that Shari is nowhere near approaching middle age; we then debate what defines middle age. Allie, Sam, Emma, and Kari recommend a few books in response to her query, including House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klu...

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June 7, 2022 13 min

Episode 9, originates with an email from Cindy, “I am a first grade teacher and want to teach a unit on graphic novels. I have some graphic novels, but it is hard to find ones that are appropriate for little ones and that the reading level is not too challenging. Help!!" Each bookseller discusses one book, ok maybe two or three. And, we have an opportunity to shout out the Center for Cartoon Studies located within a baseball th...

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May 31, 2022 18 min

In Episode 8, we appeal to the inner Sam as we discuss a question left for us on Instagram: please discuss "Ottessa Moshfegh-ish literary fiction. Something grotesque and damaged but beautiful."

Welcome to Shelf Help a podcast where booksellers help you answer one of life's trickier  - and we’d argue extremely important - questions: what should you read next?  If you've got a reading dilemma, you can email us a quest...

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May 24, 2022 13 min

In Episode 7, each bookseller describes one book that is either funny and/or combines a superb balance between fun and thought based on an instagram question from Karen

Welcome to Shelf Help a podcast where booksellers help you answer one of life's trickier  - and we’d argue extremely important - questions: what should you read next?  If you've got a reading dilemma, you can email us a question or voice memo at shelfhelpuv&#...

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