Taking a walk last week, I stumbled upon a free library in my neighborhood.
I’ve noticed these popping up all over the place, and I think they’re really fun, even if they court some controversy.
But I’ve never used a free library.
And…I realized I hadn’t read 95% of the books on the shelves of this one. I hadn’t even HEARD of most of them. And these are readers in my very own neighborhood.
Which begs the question, what kind of books end up in a free library? Do they reflect popular taste? Local taste? The owner’s taste? Are the books there because no one wants to keep them? Or are these the books people want to share the most?
I was going to pick one at random to read, but then I had a better idea. I took a photo of the shelves. I brought it up to Julia and Tod, and we’ve decided to open it up to you, our listeners, and make an episode out of it.
You decide: what do we read from this free library?
We’ve set up this survey with the photo I took, with a list of all the titles and authors I could decipher. There’s a lot of spy novels and romance. There’s an Algebra textbook and a guide to owning Pugs. There’s Jane Austen, and no poetry, and surprisingly, very little nonfiction.
The survey list starts in the upper left hand corner and moves clockwise through the shelves. Where the text wasn’t legible to me, I put a “?” Feel free to pick a book based on its cover, its color, its worn spine…be as mean or as kind or as random as you want.
What began as joke on Episode 32 (“Finnegans Wake and Bake”) has now become a communal reading effort.
Thanks to a couple hardcore listeners, we’ve decided to actually read five pages a day of James Joyce’s experimental book, Finnegans Wake. Today, August 1st, marks day one.
If you fall a few days behind, no worries. Pick up where you were, and join us when you can.
Right now, the discussion has begun in earnest in our Goodreads Group.
The general gist is that none of us know what’s going on. But this book is so damn crazy…it’s kind of liberating.
Will Tod, Rider, and Julia adore this bestseller as much as the average reader? And will the fact that Tod watched the miniseries, Julia listened to the audiobook, and Rider read the hard copy affect their responses?
Breeze through this epic and find out.
For our next episode, out Monday, we head to Hundred Acre Wood to hang with Pooh, Rabbit, Tigger, Eeyore and the rest of the gang.
Our guest author Stephen Dau selected both Winnie the Pooh and The House At Pooh Corner for us to read. So dust off those old copies and read along as we go hunting for Woozles and honey, and try to get to the bottom of these incredibly popular (and if you ask Tod and Rider, pretty strange) children’s classics.
For our next episode (out Monday, June 18th) we will discuss the high school novel, A Separate Peace by John Knowles.
This book about two friends at an all boys school during World War II is a classic. It’s often assigned in high schools across the country. And while Julia and Tod both read it in their teens, Rider somehow missed it…
So grab a copy, or dust off your old one (or find the Cliff Notes you read back in the day, you cheater), and get ready to head back to The Devon School.
As writers ourselves, we love a good short story. We also know there’s a lot of great stuff out there on the internet to read. And we ALSO know that sometimes you just don’t have time to read a whole book for this podcast, so we’re making it easy on you.
For Monday, we’ll be discussing “Above the Factory,” published in the online journal “Five Chapters.” Give it a read and meet us back here next week!
— Tod, Rider & Julia
Next Monday: The Chairs Are Where the People Go by Misha Glouberman and Sheila Heti.
With special guest Kathryn Borel, author of the memoir Corked.
Kathryn chose The Chairs Are Where the People Go for us to read– she knew we’d either love or hate this little book of essays about teaching improvisation, living in a city, and how to behave at parties. The discussion became lively, and there was much talk of messenger bags. If you don’t have time to read it before listening to the podcast, no worries; there aren’t many spoilers associated with a book of three-page essays.
Now, people, go to a chair and read The Chairs Are Where the People Go.
If you can’t get enough of our Sweet Valley opinions, please visit the hilarious Dairi Burger blog. We are superfans. There are recaps, there are pictures, there are even invented Babysitters Club books. Go for it.
— Lit Disco
As discussed in our NEW EPISODE, here are the author photos Rider found so…unappealing.
Anybody agree, or do we all think Rider’s been in Hollywood too long?
(Rider would like to add that it doesn’t help that both of these guys have chosen to designate themselves by the ever-so-writerly “two initials.” That’s another pet peeve of his.)
S.M. Stirling looking stern.
For our next installment (which will come out two weeks from today), we’re going as far from Half a Life as we can go. That’s right. We’re going to Sweet Valley.
We’re only tackling the first in the Jessica/Elizabeth Wakefield saga, entitled Double Love. You can very likely get it online for less than five cents.
And get ready for drama.
By now you’ve all listened to and enjoyed our first on-air game, “Bookshelf Revisit.” Well, guess what? We have at least three more bookish games to share with you. You’ll have to keep listening to find out what they are.
Our next episode will feature more book games as well as a discussion of Darin Strauss’ devestating memoir, Half a Life. Even if you don’t have time to read the whole thing (although, trust us, it’s a one-nighter), the discussion will still be interesting to you. We’ll talk about the nature of memoir and Strauss’ perceptions of the book’s major event, which occurs in the very first paragraph.
Give it a read and tune in in a couple of weeks to hear what we thought!
In the post below you’ll find our Episode 0, in which we talk about the podcast and books in general.
But very soon, we’ll be posting our first discussion of an actual book. If you want to read along, it’s going to be the novel Bright’s Passage by Josh Ritter. (The image below will take you to the book on Amazon, but feel free to support your local bookstore!)
It’s not a very long book, so we’ll post our talk in only a week or so. In the meantime, drop by our Facebook page and let us know what you think.