For our second instalment of Top Shelf—a Q&A series featuring smart, book-loving women that offers a peek inside their reading lives—we caught up with Brodie Lancaster.
The essayist, copywriter, co-host of the podcast See Also and author of pop culture memoir No Way! Okay, Fine (honestly, what doesn’t she do?) tells us which authors she’ll read anything by, the book she read in a single sitting, and the one she recommends to everyone (it’s one of our favourites too).
And if you’re partial to a recommendation or two, you’ll love Lancaster’s podcast with co-host Kate Jinx – a weekly dispatch that connect the dots of pop culture. Each episode is filled with Further Reading wormholes and matching recommendations to Add To Cart, or at least Open in New Tab. It’s that perfect combination of smart chat and gossip with your new very-well-versed-in-all-things-popular-culture friends.
A book you recommend to everyone
Writers and Lovers by Lily King. Nothing has better represented the absolute nightmare of writing a book (I say, with a barely-started novel open on my screen) or working a hospo job. I shoved it in the hands of friends and went out to buy more of her books immediately.
“Basically any time people express their honest feelings I’m a sobbing wreck”
A book that made you cry
I cry *a lot* in books (and movies. And life. Basically any time people express their honest feelings I’m a sobbing wreck), from YA fiction like Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell to horny Emily Henry books. But Sunbathing by Isobel Beech is probably the chicest answer. It’s a beautiful, rich and deeply felt book. I just adored it.
A book you return to or have re-read.
I’m currently revisiting a book about a very special year in the life of my beloved Tigers (Yellow & Black: A Season with Richmond). Konrad Marshall spent all of 2016 and 2017 embedded in the Richmond Football Club, interviewing players, administrators and coaches, and tracking their journey to eventually end a 37-year-old premiership drought. After the recent retirement of some of my favourite players, I wanted to go back and read about this time that suddenly feels very long ago in footy years.
A book you read in a single sitting
Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. I had somehow completely missed the massive hype around this book in 2020. One night I was describing the plot of the new M. Night Shyamalan movie, A Knock at the Cabin, to my podcast co-host Kate, and mentioned it was based on a book. She told me she’d read and loved it. Turns out she was talking about this book and I was talking about Paul G. Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World. I bought both and absolutely inhaled this one when I was home sick with Covid earlier this year. There’s nothing eerier to me, in films or books, than the combination of a remote setting and surprise visitors. (See also: the movie 10 Cloverfield Lane.)
You’re going on a week-long holiday. What is the correct number of books to take with you?
The deluded and realistic number is 3. Despite the fact I do great reading on planes and great staring-at-my-phone at all other times on holiday.
You read everything this author writes. Who is it?
Three-way tie between Emma Straub, Meg Wolitzer and Curtis Sittenfeld!