Episode Archive

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A monthly book club podcast conducted by two amateur book lovers. Each month Chris and Sarah discuss a piece of literature they've loved or have been wanting to read, and let the listeners weigh in as well. For February, we're reading Emily Wilson's new translation of The Odyssey. Join us!

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January 21, 2018 Sarah and Chris discuss NW, Zadie Smith's sprawling tale of the London working class. It's a re-read for both co-hosts, and they loved it just as much the second time through. Join in and see if you agree!

July 29, 2017 In the wake of Denis Johnson's passing, Chris and Sarah discuss Jesus' Son, the author's bleak yet beautiful collection of stories centered around the desperation of addiction. We also delve into why short stories are frequently so melancholy, and Chris briefly makes an embarrassingly mistaken reference to the Velvet Underground. Join us!

June 28, 2017 Ruth Rendell is known as a crime novelist, but in A Sight for Sore Eyes she stretches the genre's trappings into a taut and thrilling class-infused generational novel. Join Chris and Sarah as they get sucked into Rendell's bleak but utterly captivating world.

May 29, 2017 Sarah and Chris discuss The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler's classic noir crime novel. It's a cynical, gripping tale of twists and turns, and it's a whole lot of fun. Join us!

March 26, 2017 With Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale soon to reach a larger audience than ever thanks to a television adaptation, we decided to take on the novel for the Idle Book Club—Chris for the first time, and Sarah for the second. It's a masterful imagining of a modern dystopia, and it remains just as relevant as ever.

February 28, 2017 Shusako Endo's Silence is a classic of modern Japanese literature, a reflection on faith and humanity that is sweeping and ambitious as well as intensely personal. Inspired to read it after watching Martin Scorsese's recent film adaptation, Sarah and Chris do their best to reckon with this complex novel.

January 30, 2017 If you've never read Wuthering Heights, it probably isn't what you expected. And if you haven't read it since high school, it's worth revisiting this unusual novel of obsession and revenge. Rereader Sarah and first-time reader Chris hash out their reactions to Emily Bronte's classic!

December 31, 2016 For the final Idle Book Club of 2016, Sarah and Chris wrestle with The Sellout, Paul Beatty's very dark satire on race relations in modern America. Next month: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte!

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

November 27, 2016 Chris Kraus' I Love Dick is an experimental novel that blurs the line between fiction and memoir. In the years since its release, it has experienced a resurgence of popularity culminating in a recent Amazon TV adaptation. Join Sarah and Chris as they discuss whether they...loved it.

I Love Dick by Chris Kraus

October 1, 2016 What DO we talk about when we talk about love? Whatever it is, from Raymond Carver's point of view, it's not very rosy. Join Sarah and Chris as they discuss this classic collection of particularly short stories. Sorry for the delay!

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

August 17, 2016 The Idle Book Club tackles Sarah's favorite author, the prolific and award-winning short story writer Alice Munro. It's no surprise that Sarah loved this collection, Runaway, but does Chris? You'll have to listen to find out. (Spoilers: yes.)

July 13, 2016 This month, Sarah and Chris discuss Viet Thanh Nguyen's ambitious and bleakly comic debut novel, The Sympathizer. The story of a Vietnamese communist sympathizer among his fellow refugees in the United States, the book is a scorching examination of inside and outside perspectives on the Vietnam War and its reverberations. Next month: Runaway by Alice Munro!

Discussed: The Sympathizer, Tears of My Soul

June 9, 2016 This month, the Idle Book Club discusses Helen Oyeyemi's Mr. Fox, a 2011 book that blurs the line between novel and short story collection. Join us, as Sarah offers her reactions and Chris offers his confusion! For next month, we'll be reading The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, followed by Runaway by Alice Munro.

Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

May 10, 2016 Chris and Sarah have their first Philip K. Dick experience (in book form, anyway) with The Man in the High Castle, an ambitious and bleak alternate history novel depicting a world in which the Axis powers were victorious. Join us for an enthusiastic discussion!

Discussed: The Man in the High Castle

April 13, 2016 Everything I Never Told You is another story in the "mysteriously dead girl" genre—so how does it stack up? Sarah and Chris discuss the story's themes of racism, family interconnectedness, and empathy. Next month: The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

The Idle Book Club

A monthly book club podcast conducted by two amateur book lovers. Each month we discuss a piece of literature we've loved or have been wanting to read, and let our listeners weigh in as well.